Mother’s Day Blessings

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day we stop to appreciate and remember those women who have had an impact on our lives.  A word that I think really sums up this celebration is blessing.  It’s a word I’ve been sharing about quite a bit with you lately, because it’s an important word, one that often gets buried in our lives underneath “challenge” and “problem”.  This Mother’s Day think about these different blessings:

Bunches of Blessings:
One of the easiest and most popular gifts for Mother’s Day is flowers.  Personally, I prefer the potted kind instead of the cut kind because they last longer.  Whatever your flower preference is, don’t forget that what you’re giving isn’t as important as remembering to truly celebrate the one you’re giving them to.  Think of not only what you’re gifting, but also the gift of having a mother this Mother’s Day.

Bountiful Blessings:
In this world of abundance, abundant gas prices, abundant unemployment, and abundant opportunities for growth, change and development, one thing we don’t stop to think about is having abundant blessings.  Psalm 23:6 sheds some light on where we get those abundant blessings: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  More so than anyone, mothers should be dwelling with God.  If they’re to be amazing mothers, they need a lot of strength, wisdom and many blessings from God.

Boxes of Blessings:
Sometimes our blessings come in disguise.  I’ve been meditating a lot on a song by Laura Story, Blessings, (on YouTube).  Her song reminded me that sometimes our blessings are like items that we get in boxes in the mail.  We don’t really know what’s in the box, but we hope it’s what we want.  Sometimes, the box doesn’t contain what we want, or what we did want is in the box but it’s not in good condition.  It’s the boxes of blessings that most often bring us to our knees asking for guidance.

Bundles of Blessings:
Mother’s Day is a celebration of the gift of life. Psalm 139 contains David’s thoughts on how God begins our lives with us.  God’s special plan for each of our lives includes our mothers.  If you are blessed with the opportunity to be a mother, remember to thank God for it, because not everyone is blessed with that calling.

This Mother’s Day, in all of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to say a prayer for all of the mothers around the world, and those who have a desire to be mothers.   Also, consider the bunches, bounty, boxes and bundles in your life.  These aren’t just lessons for Mom, they’re lessons that everyone needs to gather in their life.

Psalm 16:5 says “Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine.”  I hope that blessings overflow in your life (and your mom’s life) this weekend, and I encourage you to take the time to celebrate and recognize all the blessings God sends your way.

Reality Reflection: Letting Love In

This month one of the things we’ve been talking about is love.  As I was thinking about love I thought about all the different ways we can see love, feel love, express love, share love and define love.  Love isn’t black and white, it’s something that evolves, changes, grows, multiplies, and can be different for each and every person.  There’s a lot more to love than just saying “read a romance novel” or “get married.”  Love isn’t something you can really put in a box.  Plenty of people have tried though, and I think more often than not it’s those people who have the worst experiences when it comes to love (and try to ruin it for the rest of us).

If you want the best experience possible when it comes to love I think you have to be open to seeing where it takes you.  You have to be willing to take the good with the bad, to listen to the experiences of others, to try new things, and to work for it.  Sometimes it is effortless, but if you let it go for too long without contributing or exploring, the overall quality and longevity of love may begin to suffer, especially when it comes to relationships.

Yes, some people can go through life with a very narrow view of the world, very limited skill set or very limited interaction with others.  However, now more than ever people are wanting to get more out of their lives and actually have the opportunity to get more out of their lives.  We aren’t as limited as we were even 5 or 10 years ago in many regards, let alone 50 or 100, now more than ever we have the ability to become our best self ever and get the most out of our lives and the world we share.

The same is true for love.  Some people have very limited interactions with love and they leave it at that. However, I don’t believe that’s the way to live life.  I believe that our lives are better when they have love in them and that we’re better people when we choose love.  Love isn’t always easy, but in some ways it can be much easier if we’re willing to be open to how it changes and reveals itself to us and the teaching/learning opportunities that are presented to us.  There are tons of ways to have more love in your life, the question is are you willing to experience all that you may feel and see when you really let love into your life?

A Little Love for Everyone?

As we think about this month’s topic of love and the celebration of Earth Day later this week I wanted to share a verse that will challenge us on both topics: Psalm 24:1 says:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

First this verse reminds us that if we really care about God and are following Him, we’ll take care of what He has given us.  That means being a little more aware of what you’re buying and doing and how you’re interacting with nature and the impact you have on it.  We all have an impact, but we can make smarter choices to minimize that impact and protect the gift God has given us.

Second this verse reminds us that God created everything in the world, all of the plants, animals, creepy crawlers, and people.  I know it’s hard to imagine the God that created you and me also creating things like scorpions.  It’s also hard to imagine the God that created Billy Graham created Hitler too, but according to this verse, He did.

Which brings us to our challenge.  It can be really easy to be sloppy and lazy and not take care of the earth, after all there’s a really good chance that it will last through our lifetimes regardless of the damage we do.  It can also be really easy to just focus on the nice and good people and ignore those who display their faults and imperfections more than the rest of us do.  But this verse challenges us to remember that God has called us to care for that which is His; all of it.  That means attempting to remove our judgements, preconceived notions, prejudices and opinions and trying to see things from God’s perspective, which can be easier said than done.

But just like with caring for the earth and making earth-friendly decisions, treating all others with respect and courtesy, and maybe even love, is something you can get into the habit of doing.  God didn’t say it would be easy, but He called us to set the example for our fellow man.  So as we move away from Easter and toward Earth Day, I encourage you to consider how you can be more considerate of “everything” that the Lord has created.  What ways will you choose to show love today?

Love and Happiness

This month one of the topics we’re talking about is love.  It’s a big topic and one that impacts all of us on a regular basis.  Today I want to talk about one aspect of love that’s always controversial, the topic of happiness.  Some people see love as the answer to their everlasting happiness, and that’s not surprising given the number of happy endings and happily ever afters we’re seeing on TV and movies or reading about.  And love can play a role in happiness, some of the happiest people I know have love in their lives.  But there are also people who expect love to bring them that happiness or create happiness in their life and don’t experience it.  In some cases love did exist and then life happened and the love changed or died.  That happens, but it’s not the full answer to the love/happiness debate.

Let’s start with the good side of love and happiness: it works.  People who have love in their life, whether the love of a pet, a family member, a significant other or a career that they love and truly fulfills them are often happier than those who don’t.  Those bonds of love can be part of the reason that they’re happy and give them the courage and strength to work through challenges that happen as a natural part of life, meaning they’re unhappy less often than other people.  Of course the reverse can be true as well: those who are happy tend to have more love in their life.  It’s not really easy to love a grump, but it is easier to love those who have a good attitude towards life.

That’s not to say that love or happiness means you’ll never have problems or that life will be perfect.  That’s not true for anyone, not even the happiest or most in-love person.  Everyone has bad days.  Those who depend on the love of another for their happiness are taking a big risk and putting a lot of responsibility where it doesn’t really belong.  It’s no one’s job but yours to ensure your happiness, health or satisfaction with life.  If you’re not in a situation that makes you happy and you’ve really given it a full effort to make it work you should leave.  I’m not encouraging that you chase every rainbow or every bit of greener grass, but if you’re not in a good situation and you can’t make it better and the other people in the situation won’t help you make it better, then be encouraged that there are many other opportunities and people out there.  You may find that you have to kiss a few frogs first as the saying goes though.

We’ll be talking on the Life and Business blog tomorrow more about the relationship between love, happiness and relationships, but for today I want to finish here with a bit of encouragement.  Love can be messy, as can life. But I believe there is hope and happiness to be found in each and every day if we’re open to it and willing to work for it.

Reasons of the Heart

What motivates you?  Today I’m thinking about motivation as I deal with unmotivated clients and have personally struggled to find my stride again after dealing with some life and health situations. I think the biggest challenge is that we say to ourselves that we’ll deal with “x” when we’re through this challenge.  But as soon as we get through a challenge we’re hit with something else and that thing, “x”, that seemed so important still seems really important, but is just getting further buried under the challenges of life, things that seem more pressing than “x”.

So what if we backed up a whole lot and thought about why we get up in the morning. And no, I’m not really talking about the fact that you get up because the sun is up or the alarm goes off or the kids run in and bounce on the bed or because you have to go to a job or because the kids are up and may be heading to school.  Some of those things can be indicators for why you get up, but in most cases if we really were honest, they’re not the reason we get out of bed.  The unfortunate thing is that many of us don’t get out of bed because we’re excited and thankful for a new day.  We get up because we have to, or at least that’s the attitude we have about it.

Sure, you could stay in bed, and maybe your boss or kids would be willing to work with you on that.  Maybe the kids are willing to climb in bed with you with cups with lids and watch a TV show or two for an hour so you can mentally wrap your head around the day ahead or just rest with them and maybe even catch up on your emails or read a book.   Maybe your boss would love someone to come in an hour later and leave an hour later because it will help deal with the client issues that always seem to crop up at the end of the day better.  You don’t know until you ask.

But now we’ve completely gotten sidetracked.  The question, if you remember, is why do you get out of bed in the morning?  What really and truly motivates you to live your life each day?  Is there anything that you’re really feeling motivated by, or have you let life get the best of you and you’ve stopped looking forward to what the day will bring.  I believe each and every day can hold some really amazing things, but we don’t always have the open eyes or heart to receive them.

As part of what we do for the last week of the month I do want to take a look at being motivated, but I really want to work on tapping back into our hearts and listening to them again, believing in them and ourselves and opening up to the best this world has to offer, rather than just floating along.

“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.”  Blaise Pascal

Full of Heart

This month one of the things we’re talking about is heart.  The Bible is full of examples of heart, both the believing kind and the giving kind.  One of the greatest, most compassionate hearts is Jesus’.  There are stories recorded in the Bible and countless that didn’t make it into the official pages that show examples of how Jesus loved and cared for those He interacted with, especially those who were in need.  Sometimes we see heart displayed through grand gestures, but other times heart is displayed through the very simple things.

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, a day that people give hearts to each other both emotionally and literally.  Some couples spent a simple day or evening together, doing rather normal things, while other couples went out and really invested in an experience for their Valentine’s Day.  That doesn’t make one couple wrong or right, or more or less romantic, it just happens that they chose to spend Valentine’s Day as they did.  Sometimes the big gestures don’t mean as much as the little ones, for example if one person does a lot of traveling the more heart-felt celebration would simply be spending time together at home, rather than being out with countless other people.

For people of faith heart can be very important because it isn’t always about how far you’ve gone for your faith or how much you’re able to contribute to your church, but rather how big your faith is.  Heart sounds like a big word, as does faith, but that really just means that there are countless opportunities for learning how to live a life of love and faith, and that we can each experience love and faith differently.

Valentine’s Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean that the love story ends, just like Jesus’ story didn’t end on the cross or the ascension.  Each and every day is filled with opportunities to have a little more heart in dealing with each other and being a little more open to having Jesus show us how He would see the world, rather than letting our personal opinions and past hurts blind us.

“If I can just touch his clothes, that will be enough to heal me.” Mark 5:28

Reality Reflection: Bad Love

Today I want to talk about a difficult topic: bad love.  Most of what we’ll talk about today may not apply to you, but I do have a message for those who experience only good love in their lives towards the end so I encourage you to read the whole post.   I know right now the world is full of good endorphins and thoughts of how you can make your sweetie happier with Valentine’s Day on Tuesday in the US.  But there’s a dark side of love that I feel should be addressed and it’s not something we’re comfortable talking about or really want to admit exists.  Now, I’m not talking about bad love as in the situation where you don’t love the person you’ve married anymore and decide to get a divorce.  That’s not necessarily bad love, that just means for whatever reason or reasons the relationship didn’t work out or it ran its course and now it’s time for you two to move on.  We’re also not talking about the type of love that some people can’t understand like multiple partners or BDSM or same-sex partnerships.  Those people are in consensual relationships, it’s just not one that everyone can fit into their box that is their understanding of love.

The bad kind of love is really not love.  It’s the date rape situations, abusive partner, abusive parent, abusive child, or even abduction/slavery situations.  There are people around the world of all ages who have to fight to stay alive, to not give up hope, who pray for a chance to get out of the situation or for someone in their life to finally say something about the bruises or broken bones.  We’re always outraged when something like this ends up in the news, but yet we seem to want to stay blissfully ignorant to how many people actually deal with this on a regular basis.  Yes, in the past few years many parts of the world have started to stand up for people in bad love situations, but there are still major obstacles and things that need to be overcome.

I can’t pretend to know what someone who’s on the receiving end of bad love experiences or is going through. I’m thankful that my life has always had good or average relationships.  From what I’ve learned or heard about I know that for the person giving the bad love it can be, to use a word we’re all familiar with, an addiction.  They are addicted to the feeling they get when they bad love someone.  They may also not have a moral compass or they may think that they’re doing the “right” thing.  Years later some people do experience some guilt about the situation or their actions, but that’s not the case for everyone.  For those on the receiving end of bad love it can be a very difficult road not only get out of the situation but to rebuild afterwards.  In some cases they’re tasked with finding help for the person who hurt them all those years, especially in the case of a parent or child.  But it’s that first step that is the most difficult for most people: getting out of the bad love situation.

If that’s you and you’re in a bad love situation, know that you’re not alone.  There are people who will help you, and are willing and able to help you, it’s just a matter of you reaching out and asking for the help.  I know that can be very difficult especially if your situation is especially serious.  But you can’t blame yourself for being in the situation or believe that you deserve whatever is being dished out to you.  That’s not the way that anyone deserves to live.  At the end of the post I’ll list some resources that you can check out if you need to get out of a bad love situation, and I invite you to share resources you know about as well.

For those of us who experience good love it’s very important that we take off our rose colored glasses and realize that as much as the world has progressed in 2017, there is still a long way to go.  Find an organization that helps fight bad love and make a donation, share a tweet or post about them, donate your time or knowledge or skills, or help raise awareness in some other way this Valentine’s Day that there are people out there who need help and that there are resources available to them.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
RAINN

Darkness to Light
Youth dating and abuse resources
Domestic Shelters
Dr Phil’s list of resources
Male Survivor
The Safe Alliance