Monthly Archives: October 2014

Life is hard. Be kind.

Life is hard. 

You don’t know what others are experiencing.

Many years ago, I worked in a large office. A couple of ladies there always made birthday cakes for co-worker’s birthdays. It was their thing, and they enjoyed sharing their creations. 

One woman, I’ll call her Alice, worked alongside us. She loved the birthday celebrations. She was always first in line to snatch a piece of cake. But Alice was not always pleasant. She was often short tempered and a bit confrontational. And she was a know-it-all. 

After several months of celebrating one birthday after another, her big day was approaching.

I overheard the cake ladies saying they weren’t going to make her a cake. “Wouldn’t that put her in her place?”

Alice was a prickly person who rubbed others the wrong way. I’m not even sure she realized it. She reminded everyone that her birthday was the next day and left work with a big grin, probably imagining the birthday cake she expected to receive. 

The thought of her being humiliated and disappointed sat on my shoulders like a sheet of heavy, wet canvas. I was not one of the cake ladies. I didn’t really have the time nor the inclination to make a cake. But I did.  

Life is hard.

I don’t know what forces combined to make Alice the person she was. But she didn’t deserve to be treated in such callous manner. So I made her birthday cake. That day I was the recipient of several eye rolls from co-workers. Perhaps they thought I was a chump. 

But life is hard. 

Maybe Alice had been hurt once too many times. Maybe she invented a big, tough persona to protect herself. Or maybe she was just a selfish, mean person. I don’t know. 

All I know is that I didn’t want to see someone be singled out and hurt. I didn’t want to witness a heart being broken.  

Maybe I was a chump. But I still believe you should give someone the benefit of the doubt, err on the side of kindness. Even if you’re wrong, you’ve done the right thing. 

Life is hard. Be kind anyway. 

Eight ground rules for achieving your dreams

Do you have a dream? A goal?

Is there a desire that has burned in your heart for years? 

Or has a new vision popped into your mind?

Here’s the secret to staying motived so you meet your goal:

Don’t wait until
you accomplish your goal to
be proud of yourself.

 Be proud of yourself every
time you endeavor to reach your dream. 

 
Be proud of every step you take to meet
your goal.
 
Here are eight ground
rules for achieving your dreams:
  1. Know that creativity is a process,
    not a product.
  2. Get started. Don’t
    quit.
  3. Recall the delight you
    experienced in claiming that big dream.
  4. Be brave. Pursue your
    dream despite the fear you may fail.
  5. Understand that failure doesn’t mean it’s
    the end. It means try again, harder!
  6. Establish
    discipline:

    • Be clear about
      your vision.
    • Be clear about
      what’s at stake.
  7. Be Content:
    • Contentment is
      being thankful for what you have.
    • Contentment must
      be learned, and you can learn it.
  8. The success is in the
    obedience.
I wish you all the success in the world, but mostly I wish you joy in your journey because at least one person will be impacted by your diligence, YOU!

I know, it’s hard to forgive, but . . .

Have you forgiven? I have. 

It’s not easy. 

I was badly wounded by people I loved and trusted. It nearly destroyed me.

I realized to move forward, I must forgive. But then I became a serial forgiver, having to forgive over and again the same ones who hurt me so badly. 

I’d forgive, then the feelings of hurt, rejection, and shame would return. And so would my bitterness. Those people were no longer in my life and were a thousand miles away, but every once in a while the pain would pop up as fresh as the first sting of betrayal.

So I’d forgive. Again.

It’s not easy.

It took me over a decade to come to grips with the pain of betrayal and rejection. 

It’s not easy.

I chose to embrace this thought, “When we forgive it doesn’t mean the pain never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.”

Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer has control over our emotions. 

If you’ve been wounded, I hope you can forgive. Forgiveness gives you a sense of power that allows you to face the pain and move beyond it. 

Forgiveness gives you freedom, and that freedom opens a door. 

Forgive. 

It’s not easy. 

But forgive anyway.

Slow down, and breath . . .

Like most modern gals, I’ve got stuff to accomplish and a to-do list that goes on and on. So, every day I get up and get to work.

That’s good, right?

Red tree

Maybe not.

One of my biggest flaws is that I fly through the hours, the days, the weeks, and the months intent of getting stuff done.

The past two weeks I’ve been watching the changes in my maple tree. It’s something I look forward to every year. Each morning I check out the rich color that seems to change hour by hour. When my tree is at its most blazing beauty, my kitchen glows orange.

Because of my yearly tree ritual, I’ve slowed down this week—just a bit—and sat, sipping morning coffee, absorbing the magic of autumn’s changing wardrobe.

And Psalm 90:12 popped into my mind: Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

I’m going to try to slow down a bit, to be mindful of time flashing by. That’s a good idea, especially at this time of year because we know you’ll blink, and it will be 2015.

Be blessed, friends! Slow down. Enjoy.

Choose hope. Don’t wear your grief on your sleeve . . .

It was a rare gray afternoon in Denver. The sky was moody, clouds pressing down, rain soaking the world. I sat at a traffic light, wipers moaning across the windshield when I looked ahead and to the right. 

“GRIEVER.”

Why would someone put a license plate like that on their car? 

Had their heart been so wounded by loss that they were compelled to shout it to the world?

Had they given up on hope? Claimed a new identity?

I’ve grieved mightily in my life—for relationships that fractured and for well-loved people that slipped into eternity much too soon for my liking. 

But I never quit moving forward. I never quit believing life would again be joyful. Honestly, at times I had to force myself to believe. I had to remind myself that I was, indeed, a prisoner of hope. I trusted that the good and the sad in my life was a condition of being human, and that God would redeem the pain and sorrow. 

To overcome my grief at failed relationships, I had to learn the practice of forgiveness. To overcome my grief at the loss of life, I had to accept that pain would be a part of my life for a season. After all, grief is hard work. But I believed grief would not last forever.

And in the end, I passed through that veil of grief. In the end, there’s always hope. Always. For me, because of Whom I place my hope in. 

Friends, don’t lose heart. Don’t allow circumstances to ensnare you with grief. Don’t cling to sting of the loss of a loved one. Don’t give up hope. 

When I was trudging through some of the darkest days of my life, I chose to give myself a new label. I chose to become a prisoner of hope. I believe that choice helped to propel me forward. It caused me to think of myself in a new way. 

I hope “the griever” has a legitimate reason for that license plate. I hope whoever it is doesn’t stay locked in that place, claiming that label.

Choose hope. Choose life. Choose to keep pressing forward.   

Book Recommendations with a dose of encouragement

I’ve been a bit remiss lately in sharing some titles that I’ve loved. 

Today I want to tell you about two non-fiction books that have moved me. Yes, occasionally I read books other than novels. I don’t read much non-fiction books, so when I pick one up, finish it, and recommend it, you know it’s good. 

Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World by Lucille Zimmerman has the distinction of being the only book that I’ve ever bought multiple (lots!) copies of and handed out to women in my life.  

This book is a wake-up call to women to remind them to carve out space for themselves. Renewed encourages you to care for yourself. It’s a how-to on how to live happily amid the stresses of everyday life. READ IT. It’s like a spring breeze after a frosty winter. It will wake you up and help you to appreciate the little things in life that contribute to your peace and satisfaction. 

Another book that blessed me is Secrets to a Happy Life by Bill Giovannetti. This book illustrates how God is working in your favor, how to move past negative emotions that ensnare your thoughts, and how to choose to be happy. Secrets to a Happy Life uses examples from the life of the OT Joseph, and boy did he have some difficult circumstances to live through. 

I found the stories told and lessons explained in this book to be so relatable. Bill’s writing made me stop, think, and pray about thoughts concerning past events that floated on the periphery of my consciousness, often dragging me down when I least expected it. 

Over a decade ago, I endured a huge ache in my life that I’m still recovering from. Reading this book was another piece in the puzzle to refining my response to that life-changing event. 

The chapters are divided into 11 secrets to happiness–all issues that impact everyone. The secrets contain beautiful, profound, and affirming words. We aren’t promised a perfect life, but this book shows us that we can choose a happy life. 

Both of these books are keepers. They’ll live on my bookshelf for those days when I need a bit of wisdom to pick me up and keep me going.  

13 Pieces Advice From Famous Authors

Morguefile.com photo
Writers and would-be writers are always looking for wisdom from those who’ve gone before us.
 
I’ve assembled some thoughtful comments and put them in a Q&A format for you to enjoy.
 
Question: When is the best time to begin a writing career?
Answer: “Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” ~Dr. Seuss
 
Question: From where does our writing ability come? Is it inborn? Learned?
Answer: As Mother Teresa said, “We are all pencils in the hand of God.”
 
Question: Is it difficult to learn the craft of writing?
Answer: “Yes, it’s hard to write, but it’s harder not to.”
~Carl Van Doren
 
And here’s more advice on writing from other authors:
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
~ E.L. Doctorow
 
“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
~Barbara Kingsolver
 
Question: How much time should a writer commit to his/her craft?
Answer: “The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.”
~John Irving
 
And as author Ray Bradbury said, “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”
Another thought to ponder is, “Either marry your work – take it seriously and do it every day – or date it – write only when you feel like it – but know which you are doing and the repercussions of both.”
~Anonymous
 
Question: Is writing all about sitting at a computer and pounding out a story?
Answer: Not necessarily so. As Victor Hugo said, “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labour and there is invisible labour.”
 
Question: What about word count? Is there any advice on pacing yourself?
Answer: “The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”
~Raymond Chandler
 
Also, “If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.”
~Isaac Asimov
 
Question: Must you have all the answers when you sit down to write your story?
Answer: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
~E. L. Doctorow
 
Question: How do you know you’ve reached a level of success?
Answer: “Success comes to a writer, as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed.”
~P.G. Wodehouse
 
Question: Is there a secret to becoming a successful author?
Answer: “The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write, and keep on writing.”
~Ken MacLeod
 
And I leave you with a final thought: ” May I never grow too old to treasure ‘once upon a time.'”
~Anonymous