Blooming Where You’re Planted

I caught the end of the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus” recently. The movie released in 1995 and remains one of my top favorites of all time. The ending of the movie never fails to move me.

Mr. Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, is a frustrated composer who finds fulfillment as a music teacher. Mr. Holland spends 30 years as a teacher, something he never wanted to be. But when the school system cuts the music program and he’s out of a job, he realizes that teaching is the thing he loves to do the most.

I could write several blogs about how life takes us in different directions than we dreamed, but that’s for another time. Today, my focus is the end of the movie.

(SPOILER ALERT) Mr. Holland is packing up his classroom, getting ready to leave the school for good. He believes that no one will miss him and that the last 30 years have been a waste. As he’s leaving his classroom, walking through the empty halls, he hears clapping and music coming from the school auditorium. As he enters the auditorium, it is filled to capacity with current and former students, and it turns out that they are all there for a farewell celebration for Mr. Holland.

The governor of the state was one of his former students, and she arrives to give a speech about how Mr. Holland may feel like most of his life as been misspent, but in reality, he has touched the lives of every person in that room.

Besides the wonderful tribute to teachers, this movie can teach a lesson for all of us. We never know what impact we’re making on other people. A lot of us yearn for something greater than our daily routine. However, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of what’s happening right where we are.

In the way we conduct ourselves everyday, working honestly and ethically, showing integrity and character can make a bigger impact than we realize. Just smiling and talking with the person ringing up your groceries in the checkout line can impact their day. Showing kindness wherever you go can make a difference.

Whenever we think we’re stuck in a dead end job or frustrated with the mundane of day-to-day life, we need to understand what influence we may be having on others. I hope it’s always a positive influence. Your attitude makes a big difference there.

With an attitude of gratitude and always showing kindness, you may influence and impact someone else’s life far beyond what you can ever imagine.

Be grateful for wherever you are. Remember to always “bloom where you’re planted.” You never know the impact you will make.

 

Finding the Positive in Rejection

I’m privileged to blog for Novel.Academy about writing. Although I’ve been published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, I’m still struggling with my novel writing. I’m also interested in screenplays. Both of those seem like a pipe dream at times. But as daunting as it can be, I think it’s good to dream big.

But with many dreams, there are days of discouragement and rejection. So, while my post for Novel.Academy this week is geared toward writers, I think the words are true for all of life. The post is called “Secret to Victory: Let Rejection Your Fuel.”  Hope you will click the link and take a moment to read.

If you’re interested, my previous posts are linked below:

http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/blog/2018/04/18/the-one-thing-all-writers-must-do/

http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/blog/2018/03/07/one-secret-to-push-through-doubt/

Please share what you do to fight discouragement, doubt or rejection. I’d love to hear from you.

Scoring For the Other Team

This past weekend, the Senior Pastor at my church delivered a message called “Know Your Enemy.” Our enemy is Satan, a fallen angel. This enemy can have us turn on each other. He can have us do things that take us further from our walk with Christ.

Our pastor gave a good analogy of how sometimes we think we are doing good and doing the right thing, but maybe we’re not. Like a hockey player who has the puck but he is going the wrong way down the ice towards the opponent’s goal, and ends up scoring for the other team.

How often have I scored for the other team by my actions or attitude? Am I doing what I want or want Christ wants?

I’m also studying Romans 8 right now, via Dineen Miller’s “You Are Loved” book. In Roman’s 8:1, it states: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Dineen also states that the enemy’s mission is to condemn us and destroy our faith. If we have no condemnation as Christ followers, then how can the enemy do this to us? Easy – he is a deceiver. And if we’re not paying attention, then we’re scoring for the other team.

We need to remember how Jesus treated others. Are we so busy judging everyone else that we forget to take a look at ourselves? Are we so self-focused that we don’t care what anyone else is doing? Do we say, “I have to get there faster, I have to take care of my own stuff, I’ll ignore that because it has nothing to do with me.”

If we are no longer condemned as Christ followers, then what gives us any right to condemn others? If we are forgiven and set free, why can’t we forgive others? If someone lives a lifestyle different than mine, am I treating them with kindness or am I condemning them? Judging them? Spitting in their face because they’re different than me?

Or are we so busy trying to shine our light for Jesus that we end up with a strobe light in someone’s face instead? How can they see the light of Christ when we’re blinding them? Blinding with our attitudes and judgment.

It’s a dark world, but we know who has the ultimate victory. So, this week, as I think through all of this, I have to ask myself, “Is my light shining brighter in kindness, or in condemnation?”

In other words, I don’t want to keep scoring for the other side.

 

 

Smacked!

A couple of weeks ago, I was smacked in the face. Not literally. Despite my recent stings and falls, this was figurative smack in the face.

Have you ever been droning along with life and something just wakes you up and causes you to rethink nearly everything? Or at least inspires you to move forward? That’s what happened with me.

I heard two words that are so simple yet have impacted me deeply. They are: Take Action.

Pretty basic words, but when you think about them, they can inspire your entire life. These two words are my new mantra. Take Action.

Regardless of your dreams, goals, calling, diet plans, whatever, the only way to achieve any of them is to Take Action. Otherwise, you’re dreaming and planning, but not DOING. If you don’t take action, you’re not doing anything to accomplish your goals.

I have several things I want to accomplish including writing and finishing my novel, writing devotional pieces, and managing my health better. You know the old stand-bys of eat better, exercise, lose weight. I also want to grow deeper in my faith and have a stronger prayer life.

None of these can be accomplished unless I take action. Otherwise, I’m only complaining that I need to lose weight or bemoaning that I don’t have time to write or pray or whatever.

The solution is simple: Take Action.

Those two words resonate in my life all the way to my core.

What about you? Do you have something you in which you need to take action? Do you have a mantra that smacked you in the face and encouraged you? Please share.

In other words: Take Action.

What I’ve Learned from “The Voice”

For the past couple of seasons, I’ve been a fan of “The Voice” on TV. And this season, it struck me what I’ve learned from watching the show.
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First, I believe we all like to watch these type of talent shows because it’s always a thrill to watch people go for their dreams. I appreciate “The Voice” in particular because it’s a positive show. The coaches can teach someone, share their knowledge and help that person improve without tearing them down and being so negative. You can learn from being positive and from being encouraging. There’s enough negativity and tearing down of people in this world that I really appreciate watching singers grow in their craft from working hard and receiving positive encouragement.

But something struck me recently that applies in my own life. One of the singers was afraid to call themselves an artist, to call themselves a professional. Immediately, Pharrell Williams said “You are an artist and you need to own that. Don’t think of yourself as anything less.” (I’m paraphrasing). You know what? Pharrell is absolutely right. These singers obviously have talent and they need to own that talent.

In hanging around with other writers, I see that we’re guilty of the same thing. I see so many, especially early-on in their writing journey, afraid to call themselves “writers”. I was guilty of that as well. But yes, I am a writer. Whether I’ve been published or not, whether I’m struggling, and whether or not I feel like I’ll ever be able to complete my novel – I’m still a writer.

Owning up to be an artist of any sort doesn’t mean you walk around strutting your stuff like you’re better than anyone else. It means you acknowledge your talent, and like the singers on “The Voice,” you work hard to improve, to learn and to grow in your craft.

God will take you where He wants you to go on this journey, but you have to work hard and never stop learning.

By owning up and saying “I’m a writer” (maybe again and again), it’s a way to encourage myself to keep going and keep striving to sit down in front of that computer to write the words.

Everyone is an artist of some sort. Whether you’re in the creative arts or not, you need to own what you’re talent is.

Next time you’re struggling tell yourself “I’m an artist.” Maybe it will inspire you to keep going during those tough days.

What tips do you have? Would a mantra like this work for you?

When your day goes SPLAT!

Splat 1Have you ever had a day like this? Where everything has gone wrong?

Or is there a time when you’ve just crumbled, like this bread?
Splat 2
Just the other day, I felt just like these loaves of Snickerdoodle bread, literally falling in a grocery store and going SPLAT! Yep, I tripped with a bowl of fruit in one hand and a birthday card in another, and did the most magnificent belly flop ever! Not tripping and landing on my backside… No, that would’ve graceful in comparison. Instead I was completely laid out on my stomach, the fruit bowl and card flew ahead of me, while I flopped on the concrete floor of that grocery store.

Talk about going splat! And in front of all the people in this very crowded store.

Before you even say something against the store, or lawsuit, or even get angry because I fell in a public place, I must say the two employees of the store were immediately by my side. And a young man in his 20s who was at the nearest check-out line immediately reached for me, extending his hand and helping me to my feet. I think he knew instinctively that I wanted to get up as soon as possible.

Of course, once on my feet, I realized how hard I had banged my knee. But nothing was broken, I was standing. I’m sure I was a bright shade of red, so I chose not to have them write up an incident report. Amazingly, the fruit bowl stayed in tact so it was thrust into my hands, again by the caring young man, and I was on my way.

It was only after I got into my car that the tears came. OUCH! And of course, I was a little in shock. One second you’re walking out of the store, on your way to your church life group meeting, and the next you’re splayed at on the floor, having done what I’m sure was a spectacular belly flop. I’m surprised my breast implants didn’t break!

Once in the car, I wasn’t sure what do next. My hubby was home sick, and I was scheduled to facilitate our life group meeting that night. But I was happy to be in my car, away from all of the prying eyes of everyone in the store.

What about you? Have you had a day when everything goes wrong? When you’re whole day takes a wildly different turn?

How many of us lash out in anger? How many lash out with tears? How many of us want to crawl in a hole and hide?

Part of me wanted to stay on the ground (I immediately sat up from my belly-flopped, splayed out position), just to have a moment to collect myself. But there were too many people around. I can still hear the gasps of those who witnessed my great tumble.

But the other part of me wanted to run…rather limp…away as fast as I could. Being angry never really crossed my mind. Suing the grocery store seemed ridiculous – nothing was broken, no permanent damage. So, I drove on to my life group meeting and my friends.

I turned to them, tears in my eyes, trembling, and feeling somewhat ridiculous. And they showered me with hugs, ice packs and Tylenol. And onward we went with our meeting. I have no idea what I said, or how well the meeting was facilitated, but I think I just wanted to keep pushing forward. To move on as quickly as I could from the spectacle of falling down.

Could I have done that had I chosen to stay on the floor? Or crawled inside a proverbial hole? As tempting as that was, I think it’s always best to move forward from the days where we go splat.

I want to be the type of person who can put the past behind me. If I had crawled into my shell or driven straight home, I would’ve missed that time with friends – embarrassed as I was to have them see my tears – just from a silly fall.

There’s always something to learn from those tougher days – in the times when we stumble and even fall on our faces. The beauty is, we don’t have to stay in that place. We can find a way to limp out of there, and find healing with friends and loved ones, even during your most embarrassing day.

Fighting Back from Discouragement

We’re several weeks into the New Year… and this is traditionally the time when we’re already failing in our resolutions that we made three weeks ago.

How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of tennis. The first Grand Slam of the year is going on now with the Australian Open. And a major upset of the tournament just happened — Roger Federer lost his match. The first time since 2003 that he won’t be in the second week of the Aussie Open. (This is one of the reasons I feel like he’s the greatest of all time… his consistency in the sport to reach semi-finals and finals of the tournaments…but that’s another discussion for another day.)
Roger-Federer-5-418x300
Last time Federer was upset this early in a slam, everyone was talking that his career was over. It must have been a discouraging time for Roger. His desire to play the game is still so strong, yet, these defeats will happen. So, now, at the ripe old (in tennis years) age of 33, is this his swan song?

I can’t wait to see. After the last time he was defeated early in a grand slam in 2013, he played inspired tennis for 2014, and was so close to reclaiming his #1 ranking. He started out this year with his 1000th career win (see why I believe he’s the greatest of all time?). I believe that Roger will take this defeat and turn it into an even stronger, burning desire to compete and win. I don’t think he’s giving up yet. Wimbledon will definitely be the tournament to watch for him.

Watching tennis inspires me again and again to fight my discouragement. I fought for years with my weight. About 2 1/2 years ago, I started to win the battle and lost 85 pounds! It felt so good. Now, the pounds are creeping back and discouragement is settling in. It would be so easy to have the attitude of giving up and belief that I will never beat this.

That may be true. I’ll be fighting my weight for the rest of my life. However, knowing I have achieved success makes me hungry to achieve that success again. And that takes hard work. Roger Federer is the great tennis player he is from hard work. And like Roger, I need to go back to the “practice court.” Sometimes you have to start with the basics and build back up again.

I need to start with what’s in my diet that’s sabotaging me. I need to get back to my strong exercise routine. We’ll see if I ever equal that 85 pound weight loss again. But I know I need to fight back. I feel stronger, more energized when I know I’m doing the right things. Whether I lose another pound or not, I’m going to fight this discouragement, one day at a time.

Roger will fight his discouragement one practice, one tournament at a time.

So, if you’ve fallen away from the goals you set for the new year, today’s the day to take a step, pick up your racquet and step back on the practice court.

Fight against the discouragement. You might be surprised how far you’ll go.

A New Perspective on “One Word” for the Year

If you’re like me, you know several people who choose “one word” for the year and try to live by that word. I’ve done it myself. Many are talking about it now as we’re preparing to go into the new year.
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This has got me thinking (always a dangerous thing! :)) There’s a song out now that keeps echoing in my head:

“When you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus. There’s power in the name….”

Last year, my word was “shine.” I wanted to shine Christ through me and shine in all I did, I wanted to make sure my focus was on Him.

And every time I felt like I was failing, or when I was having a bad day, I would pray. And the first word out of my mouth was “Jesus.”

I had already picked out my word for 2015, which was “time.” You know, time for God, time for others, better time management at work. You get the idea. The thing is, none of that can be accomplished without Jesus first.

While it’s great to ponder whatever word is on your heart for the new year, or if you don’t utilize “one word”, let’s not forget to name the most important: Jesus. Nothing we want to accomplish in the new year can be done without Him.

So perhaps, every year, every month, every day, we already know what our “one word” should be: Jesus.

Wishing you many blessings for 2015.

Stay focused on the one who saved us.

Being Positive, Even on a Bad Day

I’m feeling like a bit of a louse recently. Whether I can cite the excuse of the holidays, or how busy work is, or whatever, those reasons don’t excuse poor behavior.

I was unintentionally sharp with someone, who didn’t deserve my attitude, and who happened to be on the receiving end of a bad day.

We’re all guilty of snapping at someone who was just in the way of our bad mood. But because we all may understand that doesn’t make it right, and now I feel like a heel.

I’ve done what I can to rectify the situation. But that impression of me and my actions are still out there and still affected this person.

No matter how nice I will be going forward, does this person I treated poorly have a long memory or will my actions always be part of how they treat me going forward?

I can’t take it back.

What lessons can be learned?

First – the golden rule still applies: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. In other words, treat others with kindness. In fact, I love the phrase “kill them with kindness.” If someone is being rude and having a bad day, the best way to diffuse the situation is to stay calm and treat them with kindness.

I’ve found the yelling or matching their level of rudeness only escalates the situation.

Second – the other lesson I’ve learned is to be forgiving. It is true that if you hold a grudge against someone, even if they are in the wrong, you’re the only one who continues to be hurt. You’re not hurting them by holding that grudge and by remaining angry.

We all need to “Let Go and Let God.”

God needs to work through me to make me aware of my actions and how those actions affect others. My thoughts, actions and words can have a positive influence or a negative influence.

When I had that bad day recently and exhibited poor behavior to someone else, I may have hurt them, but I’ve also hurt myself.

The whole conversation would’ve turned out different had I been able to hold my tongue, answered their questions and moved on, instead of lashing out at them.

Taking a deep breath, not having a snap response, especially when it’s not a good day, can make all the difference…not just to someone else, but to myself as well.

To the person to whom I snapped, I hope they forgive me. And I hope I show that same spirit of forgiveness the next time someone else has a bad day and snaps at me.

How do you handle your bad days? What do you say when you do have a bad day and have hurt others?

How do you show a spirit of forgiveness?

I’d love to hear from you so maybe we can all help each other be a positive influence.

Gratitude – All Year Long

I’ve written about having a spirit of gratitude before, but I think this is a topic that never grows old, so here we go once more:

Thankfulness should come more than every November. We need to live our lives with a spirit of gratitude. Imagine how your attitude would improve if you approached everything with an attitude of thankfulness: for your job, your commute, your family, your health…

Sometimes in this world, we’re frustrated with our job, marriage, family, co-workers and more. But what would happen if we approached each day with an attitude of thankfulness. Being thankful for all we have.

What if, in the midst of that frustration, we took a deep breath, and said “Thank you God for this job,” “Thank you for the abilities you’ve given me” or “Thank you God for my family, friends, co-workers.” We know there are others in this world who suffer much more than we do. So, our gratitude for our lives should be an everyday occurrence.

How would that change your attitude?

Romans 12:1 from the Message says:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”

Do your work with a spirit of gratitude…thanking God for your abilities to do your job, for your family, for your health. Place them before God as an offering. The audience of one!

Have that spirit of gratitude every day! Something to remember when those tough days come, when you’re in a bad mood, when work overwhelms you or the holidays overwhelm you. Be thankful for the blessings, for the provision of food, gifts, decorations, plus the job that provides that.

Be blessed for the rest of this year, and as the new year approaches, think about having that spirit of gratitude all year long for 2015.