Time To Get Tough

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We have the power to cripple the people in our life but we also have the power to teach them to fly. I can do this with anyone who crosses my path. So many of us don’t know what love is supposed to look like. We want so much to be needed that we fall into a pattern of making the people around us needy. We gain this sense of purpose when we can fix things or save people from uncomfortable circumstances. We cannot even see that what we think is love is crippling the people we claim to love. Love is guiding and nurturing but it’s also teaching and encouraging the ones we love to walk on their own. How did I miss it before? Holding someone back is not love. Encouraging someone to be less than they can be is not love. Love is letting go and allowing people to be. Doing something for someone who can do something for themself is crippling. We have to understand love and recognize what it looks like. We have to define it, make a list and check it twice to know for certain whether our kind of love is crippling. It’s a scary thought but we have to look it in the eye and make the decision to grow the people we have in our lives. Are they growing , shrinking or standing still because of the way we are loving them? Tough question to think about but time to ask.

A Lesson Learned

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There was a time in my marriage when my husband would make suggestions for a particular outing. It pains me to remember how much I would resist his ideas. I guess I was so caught up in thinking it wouldn’t be something that interested me instead of realizing the gift that he wanted to share an experience with me that was important to him. Let this be a reminder that everything is not about you. Sometimes it’s about loving another person enough to spend time doing something they want to share with you regardless whether it sounds appealing, even if you are tired. Don’t miss those moments that could really make a difference to someone who loves you enough to share what lights a fire in their heart. If you are the type of person who does not go along with others ideas, you are withholding the blessing from the person who loves you enough to desire to do something with you in the first place. Worse than that, you deny yourself the blessing of growing in your relationships and maybe discovering that you too would really enjoy what that person genuinely wants to share. I know it made a huge difference in my own marriage and I hope this lesson makes a difference in all of your relationships. We can bless others or hurt them. We can choose to love others or love ourselves. There’s always a choice. Make it carefully and remember how hurtful your resistance can feel to others. There will come a day that they will just stop asking, a day that they stop trying to share their life with you and I promise that day you will be full of regret.

What Is Love To You?

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What happens when two people interpret love in entirely different ways? Maybe relationships fail in the misunderstanding of what love is to the other person. If we love in a way we think is love instead of loving someone a way he or she needs to be loved, someone is going to end up hurt. So what is love to you? How do you define it? What does loving you look like? Maybe that is the one question that we fail to ask that could be the breakthrough in every relationship. To me, love is gentle. It does not force its way. It is listening with the intent to understand and only offers advice when asked. It is a phone call asking are you okay and a heart that whispers, I am here for whatever it is you need. It doesn’t tear me down, it builds me up. It supports, encourages.

Don’t ever tell anyone they are difficult to love. We all want to love and be loved. We are all worthy of love. We all desire to hear what is right with us not what is wrong with us. Words mean something. They can rip someone apart or lift someone up. If your words are causing someone pain, pause and recognize they are not a reflection of love to the other person. Sometimes you may think someone is difficult to love but the truth is you never learned how to love them the way they need you to love. Instead of saying you are the problem, ask how can I be the solution? Sometimes you simply need to really hear what someone is asking of you. Sometimes it’s simpler than you could ever imagine. Loving someone is about the person you are loving as much as it is you who is doing the loving. Ask the question. Do it soon. What do you need from me? How can I love you better? Tell me what love looks like to you? Then and only then you might have a chance to get it right.

You Reap What You Sow

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There’s been a disturbing topic that has come up the last few weeks. I guess I have been numb to it until my eyes were forced open and I started to see the pattern all around me. I see it on social media and in the news and unfortunately it breathes its ugly life into families as well. People find fault with everything and everyone like they get paid for it. We are not put on this earth to fix people and especially not to determine who needs fixing. We are all sinners, a work in progress and we have enough work to do on our own selves before we even should have time to notice another persons flaws. None of us are worthy of that job and I do believe the generational seeds of criticism, blame and unworthiness have been planted so frequently that they are now growing out of control everywhere I look. The crops from those seeds are destroying relationships, our families, our countries. It is time to pray for crop failure that is tearing people apart and taking humanity out with it. Plant love and praise and watch how different your relationships begin to grow in a positive, healthy direction.

Today I say no more! Those seeds have no place in my home. I won’t receive them and I will resist them with every ounce of strength I have left. In this house we will find reasons to build one another up. We will speak positively toward one another and we will grow in the direction of love. Remember that you reap what you sow. Plant love and everyone wins. You want to see some change? Start here. Tell people what is RIGHT and GOOD about them and if you can’t see anything, the problem most likely lives inside of you. The time for change is right now.

Don’t We All Need More of That?

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It wasn’t so long ago that I had a real blow out pity party for myself. I was feeling isolated and alone and resented the fact that I lived so far away from the precious family who raised me and who I missed dearly. For years, I felt like the outsider looking in at all the moments I continued to miss. I had to challenge myself to find a healthier perspective than the one that was weighing me down to the depths of despair. I looked at the family I was raising and realized how much precious time I had wasted allowing myself to get caught up in nonsense. I tried so hard to change my way of thinking. Will this really matter a year from now after I let chunks of time slip away because I was engulfed in senseless drama? The change came slowly and I welcomed it excitedly. Slowly but surely I got my priorities straight.

My mom leaves tomorrow after visiting for almost 4 weeks. I see things so different now than a few years ago. Time is only what we make it. It can be quality or it can be quantity and slowly but surely I am learning to give my relationships purpose and focus. We must embrace the time we are given to spend with the people we love. Each turn of the hand of the clock is a blessing and we must find a way to put substance into every opportunity to connect. We waste so much precious time marching for the latest cause, but how much time and energy do we put into the people who are there beside us? Maybe loving them, enjoying them, listening, appreciating them is our real purpose and we are missing the mark trying to save a world when it is the people around us who need to be saved. They they need us to slow down and pause long enough to really see them, to connect on that level that is so difficult to find in these changing times. We create moments and we make memories when we focus on doing just that. Maybe that is where real change comes from. Pay attention to the people around you. Make time for them and find a way to make them feel special. Don’t we all need so much more of that?

Lead with Love

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This mindset that we have to punish people and inflict pain on those whose views differ with our own is the exact thinking that leads someone to shoot into a crowd of innocent people. Why do we feel someone deserves to pay? Why do we have to jump on the bandwagon of asserting our own consequences? Airlines, rental cars… these people are just as guilty when it comes to thinking it is our right to personally manipulate and control others. Disguise it anyway you wish but this is the source of a scary problem that gets worse every single day. When you declare sides, you push away solutions and you create war. When only one side can be a winner, we all lose when we are one country, one people and we lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish in the first place because we get lost somewhere in our desire to fight. Imagine if we all came together behind something that would lead to a change directly in response to the problem we claim we are trying to eliminate. Look around at where people are putting their energy. Those things will not stop the next shooting. Lead with love, not anger and then things will fall into place. Why is that so hard to understand? Lead with love in your words, lead with love in your thoughts and follow through with love in your actions. Whatever you bring to the table is all you will ever have to serve to others. It’s a tough lesson to swallow. Time to eat!

Misplaced Aggression

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I started the day a witness to misplaced aggression. When you don’t keep yourself in a place of balance, whatever you have an excess of tends to spill over onto somebody else. Often times our frustration with another human being is a result of them not meeting our expectations. One of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn is that people are not always on my timeframe and their way of doing something can look very different from my way of doing something. We can resist who someone is all we want but until we surrender to who someone really is and allow them to be themselves completely, we will always invite conflict to a table that was meant to bring peace. We are all so very different and until we learn to embrace our differences rather than have contempt for one another because of them, aggravation and aggression will replace acceptance and love.

Do you Grow Others or Deflate Them?

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The world can seem so small sometimes. Not in its size but in its actions. As individuals we just want to feel loved and wanted and accepted, at least by the people in our inner circles. Often I wonder if we are aware of how we make others feel. I’ve watched people grow or completely deflate as a direct result of how someone treats them. Do you ever ask yourself, what are my words and actions telling the people in my life? Am I making them feel cherished and special or am I making them feel unwanted, unloved?

I wrote a post in December about what my son had planned out when my daughter came home for Christmas break. For a week he talked about getting two inflatable decorations for each side of the driveway and he also filled her room with all kinds of balloons. How do you think that made her feel when she arrived home and what does that say about the kind of person he is to want to purposely make her feel special?

This is a reminder to be more patient when you talk, more attentive when someone is around and more appreciative of the ones who go the extra mile to make you feel good about yourself for no particular reason at all. These people are our heroes of kindness and civility and are often the ones who crave the same kind of love and kindness they give so freely. Remember that today as you interact with those around you. Awareness is the key to change. Pay attention to how people react to you. Are you making them smile or shrink? What is their response? How are you making them feel? You have a chance every single day to build someone up or tear them down. Be accountable for your words and actions and how they affect everyone around you. Do good. Be kind and make the world a nicer place.

Will Goodness Prevail?

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If withholding respect becomes a practice you think is a game, don’t be surprised when people stop extending respect your way. The more common disrespect becomes the greater chance of experiencing it on a daily basis. The way you treat people defines who you are. It isn’t about the person you disrespect. It’s about thinking you are on another level and last I heard we were all created equal. It is the flawed humanness in us that ranks people. We create the inequality that was never meant to be. It tells a story about what is in our heart and honestly sometimes the picture can be very ugly. I’ve never felt that anyone has ever had to earn my respect. I’ve never felt that I was in a position to determine who deserved what. I may get mad but at the end of the day my heart wins out. My thinking is imperfect. It is tainted by my experiences. Sometimes a person is exactly the way they were meant to be and the real problem is how I have chosen to see them. I was taught to respect people period. It didn’t matter if I liked someone or disagreed on every single thing. Respect was never optional. Now I look around and see disrespect everyplace I look. It’s a dark day for me. I will pick myself up by the bootstraps and I will move on but right now the darkness feels so darn chilly. I am grateful that witnessing bad behavior does not suck me into it. It makes me work even harder to make sure that kindness always comes first. Is respect becoming extinct? I sure hope not because thankfully there is so much good out there to counteract the bad. May goodness prevail.

How Do People Treat You?

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Something I’ve decided to get serious about lately is reteaching people how to treat me. I have to be consistent and selective when it comes to what I will accept in my relationships these days. I am constantly working on myself but the missing link was working on the interactions within my relationships as well. So what message am I trying to send? My time is important. I am important and I hope I reciprocate the same. We are too distracted and our lack of attentiveness can really make the person on the receiving end feel isolated and unimportant. We can also be pretty flat and sometimes someone needs a little bit of our enthusiasm to make them feel special and loved. So ask yourself, how do people treat me and what am I doing to encourage or discourage their behavior? How do I make others feel and am I being mindful in my interactions? There is always room for growth so why not give it a try?