Depending by which standards you measure life from - I could say that 2018 was a horrible year.
I had people come into my life that caused me such deep pain that I am still learning how to cope and move forward.
I had situations that stretched me further than I ever thought possible.
I saw things in people that I wish I could unsee.
2018 had so many plots twists the best fiction writer couldn't have wound this plot together.
As 2018 is coming to an end I find that I have two choices. I can drag this "horrible year" into 2019 or I can change my perspective.
I do not look at 2018 as a horrible year. I have learned so much about myself and where my place is in this world. I would have chosen to learn the lessons another way, but unfortunately the easy way is usually not the best way.
I had a situation in 2018 that changed me - it through me for a loop that I wasn't expecting and was not prepared for. I didn't know how to feel, I didn't know how to cope or move forward. It broke me and shook who I thought I was to my core.
So how do I move forward for 2019?
Easy! No actually it's not easy, there are not a magical amount of steps that will make it all shiny and new.
As with anything that has the greatest rewards is the amount of effort you put in to make it a success.
I am choosing that my 2019 will be a success story to the lessons I have learned in 2018. (I am sure that 2019 will have new lessons for me to learn😊 )
I have a saying for my experiences in 2018. Years ago I made the choice to stop looking at situation based on a good or bad scale. Everything is a "character building exercise". Each day there is something to be learned - to be gained. Once you change your perspective, then your life situations start to look differently.
Once the situations start to look different then you start to change your reactions and how you feel about life and your place in it starts to become clearer. And thankfulness and gratitude become a part of these experiences.
A few questions I ask myself on this last day of 2018:
I am looking forward to journeying with you in 2019!
It seems that in December the crazies set in. I start to feel dizzy with all that is going on in our family.
This December I am trying to be intentional with how I invest my time and energy. It doesn't always work out the way that I plan. But I have found so much more enjoyment in this Christmas season than I have in years.
So how I have I chosen to be intentional?
Almost every summer that I can remember I spent at least one week at camp. I loved the feeling of acceptance at camp. My absolute favorite part of camp - either as a camper or a counsellor was bedtime. Not for the reason that you are probably thinking.
At the end of a busy day, as quiet comes over the campground and the lights are turned off for the night - that was when the most honest and real conversations would happen. As I camper I loved this sharing time, as a counsellor I looked forward for the opportunity to speak truth and encouragement into the girls lives. Those are the moments that I continue to cherish today.
It is those camp experiences that inspired the bedtime moments with our daughters. Every night I make time to spend time praying with and listening to our daughters. It has become a part of our daily routine, they give their Dad a hug goodnight and I get to spend time with them individually. As we sit on their bed it becomes our sacred time and place.
Some nights it's just prayer time and tuck in, some nights it's sharing a burden or situation. They know that this is their time with Mom and that it happens everyday. They don't have to make a special time to talk with me, that may be awkward or uncomfortable.
I am so thankful that even now that they are teenagers they look forward to this time, and they miss it when they are away at a sleepover or camp.
I wish I would have kept a journal of all the prayer requests through the years. We have had the privilege to pray for so many friends and family. So many moments that have encouraged and shaped us. Admittedly, some nights I use this time as an opportunity to talk to them about some choices that they have made that may have not been the best use of their gifts and talents. But mostly this is our time to pray and be thankful for our day.
My oldest went through a difficult time in school and many nights she would cry herself to sleep. This Mama's heart broke repeatedly and I felt so helpless. I read as many books and articles that I could to find a way to help her hurt. Somewhere along the way I read that in order to wake up and start your day with a positive attitude you need to fall asleep with a positive attitude. So each night I would ask her what her favorite part of the day was. She would usually start telling me about something negative that happened that day, but I would encourage her to find something good. After a few weeks it was easier to start finding the good in her day and it even got to the point where the list would get so long that we would be chatting a long time. Maybe it was a ploy to stay up later, but the changes I began to see in her was such an answer to prayer.
Bedtime is my sacred time and place with my daughters. Is this something that you can create with your daughter(s)? Your daughter(s) need this space and time with you.
Just two minutes of your time can have an incredible impact.
I am on a journey of learning. My heart is ripe for life lessons. I have become more aware of the needs that surround me each day. I am not sure how I got here but I have to share a few things that I have learned.
The needs are great and we have a serious problem.
Let me try to explain - society has become so inwardly focused that we have lost sight of what is around us. In my analytical discussions I have concluded with all my earthly wisdom - that it all stems from the self-improvement industry that took over the book publishing world a couple of decades ago. While improving yourself is not a negative action, not sharing the improvements with the world around you is. The majority of the self-improvement books didn't include that chapter.
So what we see today is a society that is looking for the next thing to make them happy, for other people to make them happy, to buy the next trendy item to make them happy. They are not going to find happiness in any of those locations.
What I have learned is that heart happiness comes from a two minute investment.
A couple of years ago I tried something different for lent, I decided to "give" instead of "give up". You can read about it here. That experience has never left the way that I look at relationships around me.
I see the needs around me and I want to help - but the needs are great and I am just me.
I have friends that are traveling down some dark roads and through deep water and I wanted to add a little light and encouragement to their day. So I began taking two minutes out of my day and investing in those that need support and strength. I would pray for my friend and then text them a scripture picture.
I could write all sorts of fancy words and quotes but nothing that I could text would bring comfort and support the way God's holy word can.
Finding two minutes is easy- sitting in the car line, one less scroll through social media or sitting down at the end of your day. A short prayer and God's word will have a tremendous impact on those with needs around each one of us. All of us have an opportunity to be the hands and feet and light of Jesus to the world around us.
I am so enjoying investing my time this way. I am finding more two minute opportunites in my day and searching for more cell phone numbers to send messages to. Many times I will be praying for someone and I word or scripture will come to mind and then I know what I need to send to them, many times I get a reply that says, "That is just what I needed to hear today." and that just makes my heart smile. Our Father knows what they need and I am happy to send the text message for Him.
I created a board on Pinterest where I keep scriptures that I want to share and then I have saved them on my phone. If you want a head start you can follow my board for options.
Let's be an encourager to the world around us. Think of someone that needs encouragement and invest two minutes of your time. You won't regret it.
I tend to worry more than I should. It's not a good quality - as in I even lose sleep because I play the worst case scenario repeatedly in my mind. Control freak (maybe?) I worry about a variety of things in my life but mostly our daughters.
With each stage of life there are new experiences, trials and changes. Ah change!!!!! Change and I are not good friends, we do not get along. Give me my structure, schedule and lists and it's all good.
Our family loves after church visiting. Generally we are one of the last families to leave. It was like that when my husband was the Youth Pastor and now that he plays on the majority of the music teams we can generally be found at the front of the church cleaning up music equipment and visiting.
One particular Sunday I was visiting with someone and I was sharing about our oldest daughter going to work at camp this summer and that she would be gone for four weeks! I don't know how I am going to handle it!!!!! She goes away to a youth retreat weekend, or a sleepover and I miss her terribly and have trouble sleeping. You know what my friend said to me:
"Do you think you can take better care of her than God can?"
Sometimes you need a friend to give you a kick in the butt. At first I was like, "Wow, harsh!" Then I slowly began to realize how true her words are.
Two weeks later I had an opportunity to exercise this new found wisdom. Our daughter left for a youth retreat at a Christian College that is a couple of hours away from our home. I dropped her off at the meeting spot - went back to my vehicle, paused for a moment and prayed for her weekend.
As she came to mind that weekend and worry began to settle in - I would stop and pray.
And you know what happened? I found peace and I felt freedom. It was AWESOME!!!
Whenever I would quiet my heart to pray for her, I would listen to what my heart was telling me to pray for. So instead of worrying I began praying that she would meet a mentor - someone that would be a positive influence in her life, that would be a good listener for when she needed someone other than her Mom and someone that she could connect with occasionally.
On Sunday I was excited to pick her up to hear about the weekend. I got to the church early and wrote in my journal while I was waiting anxiously for her return. Eventually my very sleep deprived daughter arrived and had enough energy left to share about the weekend. She had an amazing time - lots of fun activities, found a new love of lattes and she met an amazing girl that is a student at the college and just happens to be dating a guy from our church.
I could feel the smile in my heart, as I was so very thankful for a Father who listens, and cares and protects what we hold so very dear. This girl, this answer to prayer has attended our church a few times with her boyfriend's family and she always makes time for our daughter and the other teens she connected with that weekend.
There is freedom in giving our cares & worries to the One that holds us in His hand - that knows the number of hairs on our heads.
The next time worry sets in and steals peace and freedom from you, quiet your heart and place your worries at the foot of the cross. He's got this.
Each morning as we put our feet on the floor we have a day full of opportunites ahead of us. Make them count!
Here is a list of ways that you can make the best of our life! Enjoy every day!