Wednesday, March 26, 2014

being intentional.

I recently stopped to notice that I have not been intentional in many areas of my life.

The automatic mode kicks in often, and this is not even the busiest season I've had in a really long time. As a matter of fact, quite the contrary, this is somewhat one of the slowest little seasons I've had recently. I go through the daily motions, and get from one designated place to another, and I interact as well as I can, but there is a difference. I am not thinking intentionally as I do these things.

We all have to fight for what we value: marriage, family, friendships, faith, peace, etc. These things will not come naturally, despite the fact that you simply really really want them:

If I want a solid marriage, the time I spend with (and without) Harris needs to be intentional - with the intent of making our marriage strong and thriving. What actions can I take to make him feel valued? respected? significant?

If I want a family that has good communication, I need to be intentional to create moments that foster good back-and-forth and offer a chance for everyone to feel safe to share. Is this an open door for me to ask how this person's heart is after what seems like it could have been a difficult day?

If I want genuine friendships, I must step out on a limb and be intentional about the degree of openness and realness that I share with them. How can I offer the feeling that I have an unconditional positive regard for this person, no matter what they can or cannot do for me?

If I want a solid faith, being intentional to practice a grateful heart and intentionally offering up prayers in the midst of a crazy schedule is what will make it happen over time. What promises do I hope for that I can be confident in?

If I want peace that surpasses the circumstances, I should be intentional in how I approach the day: not allowing the natural worries to flood my head, or the scribbles on my planner to overwhelm my mind. How has the Lord provided for me in the past? How can I be still and know that He is God?

These things I value, while my heart may eagerly desire them, do not simply happen without thought and action. I want to sacrifice things so that I can enjoy what I value and place each in its proper place. This even applies to other topics such as alone time, fitness, creativity, and other avenues. There just has to be intentionality for them to truly be present in my life... so here I go!

Monday, March 17, 2014

a tribute to the youth.

I would like to introduce you to some faces who have forever impacted my life. The blessing is that these are but a few I have had the pleasure of interacting with:

a spirit with peace like that of a river
a family with love that knows no condition
a girl full of joy that is infectious
I have had the pleasure of watching these young people walk through life, and unfortunately, over the past few years (and more recently), walk through tragedy. They have each faced challenges in life that far exceed the emotional and spiritual challenges that are typical of their chronological ages. Yet the most beautiful part about being in relationship with them, even if only for a time or in a small way, is that I have been forever marked by the faith that anchors them.
In times of both regular teenage life, as well as times of deepest grief and mounrning, I am in awe of the strength these young people possess. The fact that the Lord would entrust each of them with such a story, such a legacy of faith, is modern day Mary and Joseph if you ask me.
They choose to believe God is good. They choose to take Him at His Word.
The Lord speaks highly of this population that is oft overlooked in our culture. Judged, brushed off, and mocked for any number of reasons.. yet the youth will surprise you, and I dare say even challenge you. If adults would take the time to get to know young people, whether they be family, friends, or neighbors, I believe they would walk away catching a glimpse of some aspect of the faith that they lost along the way, or perhaps never knew.
Lord, in my eyes, these young people are not "deserving" of such heartache and loss, but who am I to say what their story should or should not be. The strength that the Lord entrusts in each one is a blessing to the world!
Turn to the youth. They will surprise you with character that has not yet been tainted by our world.
Thank you, each of you, for teaching me more than I know I needed to learn. My time with all of you has blessed me beyond measure. I pray for all of you constantly, and only wish I could take away the pain you've all experienced through loss. You have encouraged me to value the important things in life, and I know that I will always be inspired by the resilience that you show each day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

the benefit of a true friend.

If you don't watch the show The Bachelor, you'll probably still understand this post. If you do watch, it will only enhance your understanding of why I am advocating for every lady to have a true friend in her life. Allow me to explain:

Here's the part for the viewers:
[We cannot know the true nature of Nikki and Juan Pablo's relationship "post-show". From the viewer's perspective it appears that she is starstuck/lovestruck and smitten with this narcissistic man who cannot see outside of himself, and who likely has no intention of spending his life with her or sacrificing one iota of himself for the relationship. Maybe they really do have something private, secret, and special between the two of them that is taking its precious time to blossom out from under the watchful public eye. Maybe.]

Having been a starstuck/lovestruck and smitten girl myself in the past, I can honestly attest to the benefits, nay, the necessity, of having a true friend who can look you in the eye, risk hurting your feelings, and ask you the hard questions. A friend who can come alongside you and lovingly tell you that you're not looking at the whole picture realistically.

You'll think they're jealous.
You'll think they're just trying to ruin what you have.
You may even think they are not a friend, much less a true friend.

If someone comes alongside you and has proven to be a loving, true, and honest friend, I beg that you build a trust in that relationship so that when you do go through seasons of life, particularly seasons where you're making big choices [such as in a relationship], they can lovingly speak truth to you.

If you're as stubborn as I was (as I am), you may not receive it outright at first. You may hear, but not understand. I'd argue that "it's okay" [HA! If you watched the show, you'd be laughing here too] if that's the case. At least you're being challenged and not blindly encouraged into an area of life you potentially have goo-goo-goggles on for.

And for those who don't know what goo-goo-goggles are...

Typically when we are challenged by those who genuinely love us and have been a part of our lives and we get defensive or don't like the advice or guidance or questions we're being asked, we need to at least have an honest self-meeting that sounds a bit like this:

"Hey self, great to see ya. Lookin' good. Hey, why do you think we got so mad that friend asked us about that particular area of life? Why do you think we were enraged when friend said we're not acting like ourselves, or that we've changed?" 

I'd venture to say that the result of such a meeting would allow you the room to look honestly at the things you may have been a little foggy on, innocently ignoring, or actively avoiding. You may end up realizing, [not always], that friend was right. There are some red flags, and I should maybe take a step back and look at this.

For my viewers:
[Sadly, I don't think Nikki has that type of friend in her life asking her the hard questions. Asking her if she truly feels that this man can be a leader in her life. If he would sacrifice of himself if she were to get sick. If he has communicated to her the reasons he loves her for who she is.. 
I pray that he can and he does.] 

The best part is that, with this sort of true friend, if you're in a great place and taking wise steps, you can answer their questions honestly and openly, and leave that conversation without having to have a self-meeting. You can objectively look at the situation you're in and walk away with a smile because you're in a wise and wonderful season of life. 

Go you!

Thanks friend. Thanks self. Good to see ya. Until next time.