Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Quickly Things Change

Over the Easter weekend there was a terrible collision in the middle of the night less than a block from my daughter's apartment.  The drunken drag racing cost an innocent man a broken leg and the loss of his walking companion, a labrador retriever.

The neighborhood was awakened to the insistent urging of the car horn and many ran out to witness this horrible nightmare.  Fortunately, no humans died as a result and the folks inside the apartment that the car eventually crashed into were all fine, but homeless!

All of this caused my daughter to be quite distraught.  The suddeness of the impact, the urgency of the medical needs, the severe sadness of the broken-legged man, hit while walking and now unable to move, asking for his dog.  It created a feeling of being unsafe and caused alot of thought and worry about how the car could have plowed right into her bedroom.

We talked about the collision alot throughout Easter Sunday.  It weighed heavily on her mind and heart.

And it made me think about how unsuspecting we are when those MAJOR changes happen in our life.  Whether it be a car accident or a death, or less seriously an ignored child or loss of a friendship, we are never quite ready for the change and the swarm of feelings that come with it.

But one of the best things about God is that He is always ready to turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones.  He always has a Plan B.  He is always, always working things for our good.

Believe me, I know exactly how difficult it is to believe that when we are full of sadness, regret, depression...But those are the exact moments when we must have faith.  If we can look at each event, each person, each chance meeting as an opportunity....If we can look, actually look for the good, no matter how small....then we will see God's hand at work.

Yes, when life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade.  Or, change to chocolate!  Just keep your mind and heart open to that teachable moment, your opportunity to grow, change and become someone new, better, improved.

Dear God, I thank You for the wake-up call this weekend.  While we lift those up who were injured and saddened by the collision, we also thank You for always being at the ready when we have need.  We don't have to wait for the emergency team to arrive to call out Your name.  We don't have to live in fear that something dreadful might happen because we know that with You, we can make it and that You have a good and perfect plan for our lives.  Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life Lessons ~ Apply to self as needed.

I really enjoyed the first of several leadership classes that I attended this weekend, presented by East Hill Church.  It was great to meet new people, learn new skills and to consider behavioral changes.  Not changes in others, but in me!

Isn't it funny how we quickly apply rules, lessons, slogans, devotions, scripture, to the other guy?  Boy, they sure need that!

Well, the only person that we can change is OURSELVES!

There were two sayings or slogans I heard on Saturday that challenged me.  Of course, on Sunday, I immediately failed to put them into practice.  The first one was:

"Think all you speak, but DON'T speak all you think."  I think this could easily apply to Facebook and Twitter too!  Some folks just can't temper what they have to say and realize that everything they have an opinion on is not meant for the masses.

I mean, think how egotistical it is to think that all of your Facebook friends really will strongly consider your beliefs, morals, or voting tendancies.

Of course, writing a blog could indicate the same ego.  However, I write this for myself, rather than for others.  If others are interested in reading, I accept that.  But this blog is for me to clear my head and heart.

The other saying was:  "I can't be right with God and wrong with people."

Now that is a powerful statement.  We can try with all of our might to live a life according to God's plan but if we have a relationship with strife, or we feel angry, frustrated or disappointed with others on a regular basis, I would beg you to consider where you stand with God.

I'm not saying that we don't slip up and fuss about the bad driver or the errant child or being late because of our spouse.  But if we don't feel the "ping" in our heart, that self-correction or "Jiminy Cricket" on your shoulder saying, "hey, that's enough, Missy" ......well, a heart-check is in order.

Again, as I say this, I am saying it to myself.  If it hits you in the heart, well that makes two of us!

I had such a great class and learned so much on Saturday.  And yet as quickly as Sunday came, I let my mouth overload my intentions.  No matter how right anyone can be, letting unkindness flow from our lips is not going to correct anything.

We are each and everyone responsible for what comes out of our mouths.  Words can wound, or words can heal.  The right words spoken at the right time are like honey to the bee.  I can't manage others, but I can manage myself.  And I want to do better.

Dear God,  You see the situation that I am speaking of and I trust that You will help me to know the right way to make the situation right and better.  I immediately felt the "ping" in my heart when the words flew, and the words were like feathers and quickly fell on those around, like a heavy blanket.  Thank you for the "check" in my spirit and I will continue to trust that the right approach to correct the situation will be found.  I do know that saying I am sorry is important to crossing the Forgiveness Bridge.  Help me to be brave and big enough to do so, and with the right spirit.  ~Me

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sucking It In

For a few months now, I have had something on my heart and mind.  I wanted to start a friendship group.

I realized that if I experienced the dark times of loneliness, depression, regret and in spite of a loving family, felt desperate, then others might too.  I needed a place I could be forthcoming and honest about what I was going through.  WE need a place like that.  Where the love, care and concern are unwaivering.

As I started chatting it up with my closest peeps, I got a little braver and shared it with a few outside of my normal circle.  I was amazed and continue to be surprised at how many responded with, "I need a group like that.  If you start it, I will come.  Be sure to let me know when you start this group."

I wasn't alone any more!

Upon setting the first date for the first meeting, I realized that I could easily outgrow my apartment.  I got nervous about having enough space and reached out to a local church to see if they had space for us to use.

This prompted a chain of events that I could not have seen coming.  The small group pastor of the church wanted to meet with me.  So I went over to the office and met with her and an assistant.  I shared what was on my mind and heart.  They were so encouraging and supportive.

Then the small groups pastor asked if she could mentor me.  She suggested that I take part in a few classes that they offer, leadership classes.  Also, that we could meet from time to time and talk about my group and how it was growing and going....

I am so excited about this!  I don't know where it will lead but I am going to follow the path before me!

The first meeting was held Sunday, April 10.  We had 15 in attendance!  Oh, how this group touched me.

First of all, as I looked around the room I realized what a wealth of friends that I already had!  Secondly, to see the vision come to life right before my eyes was a feeling that I can't describe.  It felt great!  Heart Warmers warmed my heart!

Since that meeting, a mere 3 days ago, we have had 4 new friends join in.  Really, the goal isn't numbers.  I could say I am giving away $100 and get more to show up in 5 minutes!  But to see ladies who have the same desire and need to grow as friends is just amazing.  Let me say it again....I am not alone any more!

To describe the "heart" of this group, I would say the goal is to be able to confidentially and confidently be your true self, without judgment or fear.

To demonstrate this, I have a card I received a from a friend a few years ago.  On the front is a chunky, red-haired girl about 6.  She has a swimsuit top on, a swim skirt and her long hair is flowing.  She has her hands on her hips and turquoise sunglasses on and poking her tummy out proudly. 

The card reads:  I won't suck it in if you don't suck it in.  You're not sucking it in, are you?

That, dear readers, is what this group is all about.

Dear God:  Thank you for blessing me with this group of friends.  As we walk our paths together, sharing the joy and the burden, teach us how to be REAL with each other.  Help us to be true and accepting of one another, for we don't see all that the other is bearing.  Give us YOUR eyes when we look at the heart of our friends.  Be with us each time we gather and also while we are apart.  Alone we can easily be broken, but bound together with love we are strong and durable.  Amen. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

If it Keeps Gettin Better and Better

Sun is shining and blue skies ahead!  If it keeps gettin' better and better, I don't know what I'm gonna do!

The past two weeks have brought a new joy to my heart.  Frankly, it is a miracle.  During all of the extreme lows, depression, heartbreak, loneliness, regret....I knew God could heal me.  But I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER thought I could feel this way, this good, again.

Don't you say it!  "I bet she has a boyfriend."  Nope.  But the years of trial have brought a new day.  A new me.  A new outlook.  A new hope.

It has been work.   And there is more work to do.  There will be more trials.  Dealing with my inner woman is no easy task....just ask God about that!  But I can embrace the good, the bad and the ugly and keep moving forward.  He's still working on me!

Heart Warmers has its first meeting this weekend.  This is  a friendship group for women of all ages.  This has been on my heart for several months and the more I mentioned the idea to other friends, the more I heard the NEED for a group like this.  Never would I have thought that so many felt like I did.  I am looking forward to being useful by facilitating this group.  We won't be lonely together!

This blog, whether anyone reads it or not, has helped me so much.  (My stats say that there are readers in 9 states and one regular reader in Brazil!  Over 200 unique readers!)  And yet, it started as a way to get the thoughts and feelings out of my head and to make some sort of sense of them.  Many have commented, sent emails, and even met in person!

As I get my head and heart right, my body is following.  In 4 weeks, I have lost 18.1 pounds.  Tomorrow is weigh-in for week 5 so I will report that later.  But I feel great!

My devotions daily, no matter how small, quick, or wordy help guide me, my thoughts and actions.  By having a devotional time, it sets the tone for the day.  "Choose your thoughts like you select your clothes each morning."

My friends and family who cheer me on, who saw the depths of my despair, are now so excited to see a glow, someone called it "hope", on my face.

This is all such a miracle to me.  It is bigger than anything I could have dreamed.

And if it keeps getting better and better, if He keeps on pouring it on, if He keeps on blessing and blessing, if He keeps on bringing a song, if my prayers keep on getting answered, if my prayers keep on getting through, if it keeps getting better and better oh, Lord, I don't know what I'm gonna do!

Dear God, Oh how much I want to thank You, for all You have done for me.  Thank You for seeing how You work ALL things, EVERY UGLY THING, for my good.  Thank you for showing me that You can use me in spite of me.  Thank you for taking time to work with this broken vessel.  I want to honor You all the days of my life. ~Laura