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.

 

When There Are No Words

As a writer, I don’t want to ever believe there are no words to write. Sometimes I stumble over what to say, but all-in-all words are very important to me.

However, as I watch my granddaughter grow, I find that I’m reveling in the moments of touch.  My absolute favorite times with her have been when she lays her head on my shoulder and falls asleep on me.  I could hold her like that for days!

I also love that when she wants to show me something or we need to walk together, she reaches up and grabs my hand. There’s just something so magical walking with her while feeling her hand grasping my fingers.

Here she is with her daddy.

I remember sitting in the movie theatre during my first date with my husband at age 17. (Yes, we were high school sweethearts).  He reached over and took my hand during the movie. My heart beat faster and my breath hitched….all the feelings of young love. I didn’t want him to let go. To this day, I still love holding hands with him.  It brings back those giddy feelings of falling in love.

There are not enough words for these feelings with my granddaughter or husband. I believe touch is powerful — as powerful as words.

When I was 20-years-old, and very foolish, I was in a motorcycle accident. I had a compound fracture of my femur, and they had to take me to surgery right away to stabilize my leg. They couldn’t put me under anesthesia, so they gave me a spinal block that numbed me from the waist down. I was awake for the surgery, as the doctors set my leg into traction until further surgeries (four total) could be performed.

During surgery, the shock of the accident wore off, and I realized what was happening. I started shaking, my shoulders convulsing. I was scared!

The anesthesiologist then did the most simple yet perfect thing. He laid his hands on my head to calm me down.  Just hands on my head. And guess what? That touch was the most comforting and calming touch I’ve ever felt. It settled me down and obviously, made a lasting impact on me.

There are many times when words fail us. It’s so hard to say the right things when someone is dealing with grief, or a tough medical diagnosis, or even when having a bad day. Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit beside them, hold their hand, or give them a hug. That gesture, that touch, can mean more than words can say.

 

 

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.

 

 

The Look in Her Eyes

I recognized the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see beyond her smile and her hugs. Deep inside, I saw fear. Fear of the unknown she is facing, and the new path she’s now walking. You see, my friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
I could see beyond her brave face, because I’ve been down that road myself…twice.

Our small group gathered around her and her family the night before her first chemo treatment, to pray for her. She was strong, and her faith was evident, but I think only someone who’s walked in similar shoes could see that particular look in her eyes – overwhelmed, fearful, but trusting, because it’s times like these where you need to trust God more than ever.

When you’re told you have cancer, before you can even comprehend those words, you’re suddenly whisked off for a battery of consultations, tests and scheduling.

Cancer barely penetrates your mind, yet it’s looming over everything you do from that moment forward. Your world has shifted upside down, and you’ve stepped on the roller coaster. And it can be quite the ride.
25fec-beckyandvince
Here is a picture of my husband and me where I can see “that look” in my own eyes. This was taken on a Sunday, on my birthday. We were having a great day, enjoy the celebration with friends. But the Friday before, I had been diagnosed with my second bout of cancer, and the next day, a new round of tests, doctors, and mapping out treatment plans was beginning. So, as I turned another year older, I knew that year was going to be challenging, and scary, yet I had my husband right by my side and my faith to guide me. But I still had that fearful look of not knowing quite what to expect, trying to hang on to faith, while facing an unknown, frightening path.

It’s the look I saw in my friend’s eyes the night we prayed for her.

While I’ve walked in similar shoes as my friend, her journey will be different. Everyone’s is. But I will walk beside her, and pray for her and her husband and family.

That’s all I can do, and trust that God will hold her like He’s held me.

Little Things

This summer seems to be filled with anger from an ugly political season and violence. Many people I know are also facing tough times, with health issues and tragic deaths in their families. For me, I’m just upset about computer problems. That may seem minor, but my entire job is on the computer and this time of year, having everything work is critical.

Ok, compared to what others are going through, I have no problems. However, all that to say is when you feel surrounded by sadness or anger, how do you battle through? How do you keep from being pulled into the pit of negativity? Life events may take us to negative places, but how do you not stay there?

For me, I find solace in little things. Admittedly, sometimes I have to look hard for the little things that are positive, but they’re there. The other night, in the midst of my computer frustration, a friend texted me. The conversation evolved from what I’m not doing to how to reach future goals. She lifted my spirits in unexpected ways.

Then the next day was just coffee and breakfast with a friend. Thinking that I really didn’t have time to be away from my desk, I felt rushed and hurried when I arrived to meet her. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see my friend. But I was concerned about the timing of our visit. As always, God showed up then. That breakfast had good conversation, serious thoughts that moved to laughter, and a sweet morning of sharing. I’m so glad I took the time. It was the boost I needed to power through the rest of my work day.

None of this will solve the grief my friends are experiencing with tragic deaths of relatives, or help others with serious health issues. But friends, family, and little moments can help all of us get through one day to the next. Knowing friends are there for prayers and support are God’s way of saying “I still have this.”

So despite the turmoil surrounding us, we cling to our faith. God’s still got this. He has us! He’ll make a way for us to walk through these trying times.

I’m determined to cling to His promises and to look for the little things.

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.

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.

2015: The Year of the Unchosen Path

Our message last week at church was called “The Unchosen Path.” And wow, did that title resonate with me when I thought about 2015. It was definitely the year of walking a path I did not choose!
Unchosen Path
I’ve called 2015 my year of change. Everything turned upside down. It was the year I finally felt my age, and felt “old.” I’m usually the one who still happily admits my true age and that I’m grateful to have made it this far. I didn’t have a fear of growing old. But some of that changed last year. I wouldn’t say 2015 was a bad year, it was just a hard year. And many times, I dwelled too much on the negative. It was so easy to do. However, my husband, God bless him, kept reminding me that there were still a lot of positives from 2015:

First and foremost, we learned we will be grandparents for the first time! Our daughter announced her pregnancy over Father’s Day weekend, and we’re anxiously awaiting the birth of our grandchild in a couple of weeks. It’s an exciting time as we watch our daughter embrace her pregnancy and impending motherhood.

Second, our son and his wife had their first home built and are settling in with their careers and life together. Life is good for our kids. Praise God.

Next, despite the serious health challenges that my mother faced in 2015, and the way both Mom and Dad’s world changed forever, there were good things that came from that as well. One is a stronger relationship with my father. I grew up as a daddy’s girl, and our relationship has always been good, but while Mom was in the hospital, Dad and I spent our evenings just talking and sharing, and found ways to laugh and cry together. An even deeper bond formed between us during dark and uncertain days.

There was also bonding with my brothers. One brother I was rather angry with, but we were able to have an adult conversation, and share our feelings openly and honestly about the situation. We ended with a mutual understanding of each other’s viewpoints and a deeper love and respect for each other. Amazing what happens when you can sit down and talk (not yell, not argue), and just try to understand what the other is feeling. Love that this happened.

Another brother had a complete life change in 2015, with a move to another state and more. Witnessing and sharing in this positive and happy change for him makes me smile.

And with all my trips back and forth to be with my parents (who live in a different state), I am grateful to have a renewed friendship with someone I hadn’t seen in several years. Those years melted away when we got back together. Oh, how I wish we lived in the same town, but I’m thankful to keep in touch with her and her husband and grateful to have a restored relationship now.

Also in 2015, my husband and I began leading a church life group. We didn’t feel qualified to do this, but we jumped in, even in the midst of everything that was swirling around us at the time. And guess what? We’re having a great time. Our life group members are blessing us more than they realize. So thankful we took the chance even when the timing wasn’t perfect. I guess there’s a lesson in there somewhere. 🙂

As usual, when you go through a difficult crisis, you find strength that you never knew you had. That’s God’s gift to us, because He is the one who strengthens us. He is always there, even on the dark days when you don’t feel His presence. He doesn’t waste the pain we go through at times.

While it was easy to focus on the negative of 2015, my husband taught me to focus on the positives that still occurred during a tough year. And lo and behold, there were many. 2015’s journey may have been a path I wouldn’t have chosen, but in the long run, it’s a path we conquered, and many of these good things that happened, wouldn’t have happened without the hard events first.

It’s amazing how our God works when we stop, reflect, and listen for His voice.

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.
086
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.