December 31, 2014

2015 starts tomorrow.

Last year I began the year with a 100 day challenge where the word for that challenge was "forward." After the challenge the word stuck with me for the rest of the year but it morphed into the phrase "move forward." It might as well have been "keep swimming" for that was what it helped me do.

During the summer my life changed a bit and I started looking more long term down the road of my life. I asked myself what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to be at the end of the road. The first two questions were harder for me than the last, but answering the last really helped me hone in a little bit on who I wanted to be now. I also nearly froze while making those decisions, but my phrase for 2014 kept me putting another foot, idea, and step in front of the other. I simply kept moving forward.

During the summer the concept for 2015 also came to me, though like in 2014 I'm unsure of how it will morph but I have to start somewhere, right?

word for 2015

Originally the word was "Sabbath" and then I played with the idea of  "Sabbatical."

"Sabbath" of course has so much religious connotation being part of one of the Ten Commandments and all. Of course, I can't take the entire year off to rest but it is also a time of worship. Interesting...

I also considered how the word was used for the Jewish sabbatical year and learned the Hebrew word actually means "release." Okay, so let's put that in the pot.

Then I looked to see how "sabbatical" is used in society and it generally means "to take a year off from work to fulfill some goal, e.g., writing a book or travelling extensively for research." Hmmmm okay.

So, if you take a step back from the words and ideas and look at them from a little bit of a distance it seems that both words mean going deeper in a sense. Deeper in relationship with God. Deeper in goals. Deeper. But I can't deny the release aspect of the phrases because you have to release what doesn't matter to go deeper with what does. Hmmmm.

Maybe I should simply stick with the Sabbath/Sabbatical and then see how it morphs? Or if it does, for that matter. Yes, Sabbath/Sabbatical.

I know what works for me is the idea, like "keep moving forward" truly helped me out last year, I believe these words will need to do the same to help me out in 2015 if they are going to stick around.

So, did I choose a word? Or maybe I simply chose a place to start.... and we'll see where I end up next year.


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December 30, 2014

To release those habits:

I did it as much as I could the  night before. I might have gotten a little bit sick from it. I had made the decision it was the last night, ever, so I may have bought an extra pack. After that night I never picked up another cigarette. That's how I quit. And I'm afraid to say, yes, it was that easy for me.

Maybe I don't have an addictive personality, though other habits I have tried to give up would say differently. All I know is, generally, when I am ready to make a change and know in my heart of hearts it's time, then I am able to do it. These moments don't come around all that often. I gave up cigarettes New Year's Eve 1991. 1992 found me smokeless. That was 23 years ago.

I know I have been able to give up other bad habits, but I can't remember what they all were. What I can remember is the feeling.

Somehow in that moment I know I am fully and completely done with ____ and I walk away. Maybe any other time I wasn't truly ready to give it up? Maybe I simply didn't want to give it up for whatever reason. That's the crux of it, isn't it? We choose what we do with our lives, and sometimes even though our head might say it's ready to walk away our heart isn't so sure, so the habit stays around longer than we would like to admit.

New Year's Eve is tomorrow night. New resolutions, habits, ideas are being born a million a minute right now. It's something about this time of year. On Facebook I asked who else was ready to reorganize, rearrange, plan, and schedule, and several friends agreed with me. This is one time of the year the majority of people are trying to find ways to make their lives easier, better, run smoother, and more enjoyable.

new year

I'm doing it. I rearranged furniture through the entire house. At the beginning of December I began the bullet style journaling to see if it would work for me, and I will carry it into January. I have a stack, and a list still needing more titles, of books I will be reading in 2015. I have removed all games but Words with Friends from my phone. (*gasp*) And I have my word for the year as well. It's a magical time of the year when we all strive to be better.

And there's something to be said for that. None of us will ever be in a place where we can't find ways to improve ourselves. We can always be and do better. It's the working hard which brings us success, even if failure comes first.

But there is also something to be said for accepting yourself right where you are, flaws and all. To know that deep inside you are doing the best you can right now, and even if you fail at releasing the habits you want out of your life, you are still lovable, lovely, and loved. Actually, I believe until you can get to the point of accepting and loving yourself for the sinful mess you are because God has redeemed you right now before any changes happen, until you can do that then it's so much harder to move forward into any kind of improvement. You may get a baby step here and there, but for God to fully work through your hard work and bring things around you have to be accepting of who you are, not condemning.

So... in that vein.

I have tried my hardest to release bitterness I have been holding onto, but I haven't been successful. I have pretended it away, hiding it in the corners of my mind, but God saw it and has been pushing it around to get my attention. See, I have to admit it's there before I can clean it out. Oh I can encourage others to forgive with the best of them, but apparently I wasn't fully ready to release the hurt and anger I had such a tight grip on.

Am I ready now? Is there a flip of the mind switch I can hit like I did with the cigarettes? Should I spend tomorrow morning doing morning pages on all the hatred, ugliness, and bitterness that lives in my heart so that I can move past it the next day? Maybe that's not such a bad idea.

But what I do know is if we want to move forward we need to...

well, I'll be honest with you. There is no list. There are a million things which might work for you, which might help you into moving in the direction you want to go, but until you let God do something with the work you are doing, you might be working in circles.

I'll start with the journaling, include some praying, and hope that the switch does happen, because I believe in my heart of hearts I am ready to walk away from this angst. I pray you allow God to work in your heart of hearts as well.

Some possible journal prompts I will be using if you are interested:
  • what is it that is bothering you?
  • why is that bothering you?
  • what do you wish had happened?
  • what do you wish would happen?
  • what if it never happens?
  • can you accept they are as flawed as you are?
  • can you accept they did the best they could in that moment?
  • what lessons can you take away from the person/situation?
  • not to put roses on a stinky mess, but how can you look at that event/person differently?
  • what is your benefit for holding onto the angst?
  • what would your benefit be to release it?


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December 27, 2014

Instagram Moments

I woke up this morning a little later than usual. The sun was up, and as I stepped out of the bathroom to quietly make my way to the rest of the house my eyes met this unexpected sight.


It was not supposed to snow, the weather men said nothing about that yesterday, so it truly was unexpected and it stopped me in my tracks and I gasped. I couldn't help myself. If I had been 2 I would have ran to the window and squealed.

Being not 2 I grabbed my phone before I ran to the window. It was a moment in my day which needed observing and remembering. Sometimes they are joyful like this, sometimes it's a moment I'm overflowing with love and gratitude, and sometimes it's a moment I realize has helped me leave the rest of the day behind.

Oh, some people use journals, and I have tried many times only to forget about them as equally often. It was actually this magazine page from bella Grace which gave me the idea. It had a calendar with little squares for us to write a moment of joy every day for 31 days. I looked at those daily squares and saw instagram pictures. Why not share and tag through instagram? Even if no one else does it I can have a visual remembrance of something every day which was worth remembering.

I don't know if I will do it for a month or all of 2015. I'll start and we'll see where I end.

I'm tagging them all with #takingtimeforlittlethings and if you would like to join me that would be awesome.

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December 23, 2014

Rage against the other....

Every situation is different. Each circumstance has details and specificity which only that one can claim. But it seems regardless of the situation or circumstances, our favorite thing to do is to rage against those we see on the opposite side of us. If I were to change one thing I have seen in this past year it would be that we would no longer rage against the "other."

I'm sure you know what I mean. We don't often catch ourselves doing it, but we are pretty good at spotting it in others. And because I have been there I understand the why of raging against others: we are defending ourselves. From something as benign as a marketing ad, to something as close to the heart as our religion, and all the stuff in between like our food habits, schooling choice, and where we live seem to be up for debate these days. And not just "talk it through" debate... no... we are angry. We will rage.

And I, for one, am tired. Are you?

God created

I read this article this morning about an inconvenient truth, and I think it is spot on. I think the internet allows us to hide behind a blank wall rather than say things to their face, groups keep us from individually thinking because we have the support of others, and sometimes we speak without even thinking. When we do these things it keeps us from seeing those we are raging against as real people.

Everyone has a heart story. Something has brought that person from there to where they are now. And when we understand that story, when we see them as a real person rather than an issue, when we look them in the eye and know God created them, I believe our rage dissipates.

The question is: which is more important to us? Understanding or being right?

Disclaimer: true understanding is required on both parts to fully work. If the other continues to rage it might mean they need space to work through that anger.

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December 16, 2014

Kindness notes


kindness

This is my bedside table this morning. The magazine is the lovely bella Grace I mentioned before. I haven't finished reading it because I'm slowly savoring each article. Last night I read "It Only Take a Moment" by Kyeli Smith, and it finished with the quote above and the two page spread challenging readers to do something kind for the next seven days.

"There is a moment for you in every interaction - from the smallest encounter at the grocery store to the involved interactions with your lover, from the most casual to the most intimate - to bring kindness. Kindness brings connections. And connection will heal the world." ~ Kyeli Smith

I admit to trying to be kind to others, but sometimes I forget. It's not just this season either. Every day, whether during the holidays or not, can bring it's own level of hustle and stress which we can get enveloped in if we aren't careful. What we are trying to do becomes the most important and everything (and everyone) else can take a back seat.

But is that the way we really want to live?

Me either. But being kind doesn't have to mean huge extravagant exercises in giving, though I do wish it always could. I'm a giver, but must stay within the constraints of time, talents, and pocketbook. Sometimes it's the kind word spoken, the extra dozen cookies made, or the smile of assurance that another isn't alone which makes the most difference. So as we go about our every day life we can take time to reach out to someone we know or don't know and be kind. Because kindness does matter, and we can see the results when we decide to take the chance to do it.

Are you willing to take bella Grace's challenge to do something kind for the next seven days?

If you are looking for a ways to actively be kind, rather than in the flow of your day, please check my friend Jennifer Peterson out! She has a lovely ebook you can get for free titled "31 Ways to Brighten Someone's Day." Just sign up for her blog and you will receive it! How kind is she??



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December 15, 2014

Being brutally honest...

If I were to be brutally honest with you, I would let you know that last week I was a mess. Oh, don't get me wrong, I generally am some type of mess, but last week it was a messy mess.

You see, on Saturday I tested for second brown at KICS, and the week leading up to it my body stopped working properly. Without going into details no one really wants to read, and isn't the focus of this writing anyway, let me say from my brain to my toes I was not functioning smoothly in any way.

I was totally stressed over the test. I was panicked. I was worried. I struggled with what to say about Exodus 3-14, how to do the Japanese low sudo, and if I even had to do the jump side kick. Why this test freaked me out more than any of the others, I'm simply not sure. I get nervous when I test, and I'm used to that, but this was... more.

But here's the thing, I never had a moment of revelation. I had friends and family supporting me and encouraging me. I had instructors reminding me that I already knew the material and I was only there to show them what I already knew. I told others the same thing, because I knew they were right. But I never had a moment where I thought, "Okay. It's all going to be okay." Not until the test was nearly over.

jump side kick Stacey Spar 1

I was a nervous, messed up a few times, slightly panicky, working hard to stay calm person. But I tested anyway.

Being brutally honest, sometimes when we go through things we are a mess. But we need to push through, and keep going anyway. We need to remember that what we know and what we feel aren't always the same thing. We need to keep our feelings from controlling us, while still acknowledging them. Peace doesn't always come first. Sometimes we push through the storm to get to peace on the other side.

So, I want to let you know that if you are struggling right now, it's okay. If you are a mess, I so understand. If you are a little panicked, worried, and stressed you are not the only one. But don't stop doing what you know you can or should do. Yes, sometimes we do things messy, but that doesn't mean we lose. We only lose when we keep those feelings from doing what we know we should do.

And, being brutally honest, I've been there before as well so I know that's when we lose.

Let's keep going and moving forward, friends. Even if it means we have to do so in the messiest craziest of ways.

done

Pictures thanks to CaptRon Photography

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December 9, 2014

Remember those last minute Christmas gifts?

I know a lot of people wait until Christmas Eve to finish buying Christmas gifts. I have in the past been done with purchasing gifts by Thanksgiving. This year I am still waiting for the last of the presents to come in so that I can wrap them. Sometimes the gifts I give hit the mark and sometimes they don't.

What mark? The one where the gift is the perfect one, makes a difference, was longed for, looked forward to, and will not be forgotten. I heard on the radio yesterday that most times we don't remember what we get for Christmas. I believe that to be true.

So, do you want to give a gift that you know without a doubt would make a difference in the life of another? Maybe it would be a sewing machine for a young girl? Do you wonder why that would make the difference in her life?


Hansini had been outcast, beaten, and condemned because of her belief in Jesus. That may be hard to fully understand, but in other parts of the world this is a regular occurrence for many. She refused to do anything but stand for what Christ taught, however, and held on to the belief that He would take care of her. Then one Christmas she received a sewing machine for Christmas through her church's gift distribution program. Her life changed drastically. She was able to earn money sewing and pay her families debts and bills. Then the other villagers asked if she would teach their children how to sew as well. She teaches these not only the machine but also the love of Christ who helped her when she needed it.

Would you consider giving to the Gospel of Asia catalog and praying for the gifts that are going out? Your gift sent could be the one long prayed for.

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December 8, 2014

Ignore the reptiles; push on toward your own path.

People of this time do not have a corner on troll-ism. Apparently Madame Curie had to deal with it as well. Can you imagine? But she has a friend in Albert Einstein who chose to encourage her in ignoring those trolls, or reptiles. Can you imagine?

We don't imagine this, do we? We imagine them working and being praised and held up and accomplishing these amazing feats.

We don't imagine Edison's multiple failures when trying to create the light bulb, we only see the result and imagine it always being such.

But they struggled, fought with doubts, learned from failures, questioned themselves, and wondered if they were on the right path. They also trusted the voice that told them to keep going. They listened to the instinct that went against what others said. They worked hard. They didn't give up. They continued.

We want a path to follow which will lead to the same results others have received. It doesn't exist.

There is a path meant just for you, and I don't know what it holds. I only know that only you can make it happen. Whether it's in the sciences, arts, within your personal circle, or into the world at large, if you don't work towards what is in your heart no one else can.

And on the days where you doubt, worry, stress, and question, trust this:

isaiah 55 9

Note: originally I had said Albert Einstein created the lightbulb. Oh goodness. This is what happens when you write something up while watching the Avengers. Thanks to my friend who pointed out my error. Goodness, I'm glad I have those!

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December 3, 2014

This is what I want you to know...

Today is not the last day. Yesterday does not define who you are. Our attempts and failures do not distinguish us from others.

I know what you're thinking. "That's not fully true." I know, I'm sorry. Many people will define us by our mistakes. Many people think they know us because they know an instance in our lives. But wait...

Do you know what's most important? How you define yourself. And you have two choices.

(1) You can go with what strangers think. Those people who use a single moment to try to define all of you? You can choose a moment or two in your life and define yourself by those. You can say you are your mistakes. You can.

(2) Or you can go with what those who love you think. You can see the bigger picture. The whole picture. You can remember each mistake taught you something you wont soon forget. You can say you did the best you could at the time.

You can condemn yourself, or you can give yourself grace. It's up to you.

Why would I want you to give yourself grace?

Because it's easier to give grace to others when you do.
Because you are an amazing individual with so much to offer.
Because God gave you grace first.

merciful grace

It's your choice. And you get to choose every single day. You can either listen to the negative, condemning, critical words about yourself and believe them, or you can listen to the love filled, graceful, caring words about yourself and believe them.

Please, choose well. You will pass your choice on to others you know.

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December 2, 2014

It's a dare!

Sometimes with the business of life we get distracted by all the things yelling at us. Chores which need to be done. Decorations which need to go up at this time of year. Packages which need to go out NOW! But the truth of the matter is, while all these are good and possibly even necessary things, it's also necessary that we take some time out to really notice our life around us.

And of course, what I appreciate in my life may not be what you appreciate the most in your own life. Oh, sometimes we fight over silly things like this, but the truth is we are all individuals who have unique lives and the best way to embrace our own life is to embrace the fact others have different lives than we do. And it's a good thing.

Yesterday the Brave Girls Club started a December Dare which can help us get to what we appreciate in our own lives. Yesterday's prompt was "I love this" and today's is "I appreciate this." Of course, there is a different prompt for each day, and a way to win prizes. Crazy right? So go check out Brave Girls Club December Dare. Then take time to participate! We all need to see our lives through the best perspective.

appreciate hope

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