Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are You Neglecting Yourself?

That is the question I had to answer yesterday. Sadly, my honest answer was "Yes." As a very busy wife and mother of four, a new business owner, writer, speaker, volunteer, friend . . . the list goes on, I spend large quantities of my day investing in others.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's what I've been created to do. I LOVE talking to a friend on the phone for an hour just to help her get a sense of peace. I LOVE pouring into the lives of the young moms I work with in my local MOPS group. I LOVE kissing my kids' cheeks and watching them play with wild abandon. I LOVE massaging my husband's back because he's been working all day, and I LOVE when a new story line or chapter presses me so that I have to run to my computer to type it out.

Giving is what we were created to do. Give love. Give joy. Give our time. Give, give, give. Unfortunately,  in this getting, we sometimes neglect ourselves. Humans are complex beings. We are made up of body, soul and spirit. I love reading people's posts on Facebook about how they're running miles and miles in the early hours of the morning, or having "gym time." I enjoy reading how they've discovered a new, inspiring website or book. But what I don't see a lot of is a well-balanced approach in taking care of all three parts of ourselves.

For years, all I focused on was the spiritual. I was at every church event and prayer meeting and yelled at my kids when they would "interrupt my devotions . . ." I didn't exercise, had no career goals and didn't have much time for my friends. Now, I see how out of balance I was!

Today, I am making a concentrated effort to begin and end each day with God, but also in between to make sure I'm taking care of my physical, emotional, and yes vocational sides as well. If you're a household manager (because I hate the term "stay-at-home mom"), don't just run around chasing kids all day; contend to take care of your entire self. You owe it to yourself, and you'll be much happier for it.

So as you go throughout your day today, I pray you will, with me, focus on being a more balanced, peaceful you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Keep Dreamin'

I dream just about every night. Some dreams are wild, crazy, unrealistic figments of my very active imagination that have me flying through outer space with sparkly wings eating a piece of banana cheesecake and squeezing my little son's cheeks with glee.

What? I know. I said "crazy . . . and active imagination."

But then there are other dreams that wake me up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and I know . . . I've been in touch with destiny. Purpose has been born, and even if I don't always know the exact meaning of the dream, I know I'd better "wake up," be alert and pay attention . . . something's coming.

One of my favorite authors and speakers, Lisa Bevere, says, "God gives us visions (or dreams) to enlarge us." No one gets anything big by dreaming small!

Think back to when you were a child. What did you want to be? Do? Go? More importantly, WHO did you want to be? I'm not talking about singing to Mariah Carey in the mirror and wanting to be her. I'm asking you to close your eyes and think back to what type of person you wanted to be. Were you strong, courageous, funny, loving, nurturing? Did you have a small army of children nestled at your feet while you read them goodnight stories or were you taking the corporate world by storm? What did your husband look like? Act like? How did your wife treat you? One thing I'll bet---you were happy, weren't you?

So what has happened to us? When did we stop dreaming? Why did we allow the naysayers and the "Debbie Downers" (think SNL) to tell us who we would be or what we would become?  When did we believe the nonsense ourselves?

Today, I am asking God to reawaken the dreams in me. I believe He put them for a reason. And if I could look you in the eyes, I'd say the same to you, "Keep Dreamin.'" Because sometimes, dreams really do come true. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Thoughts on Whitney Houston

My heart sank as I read the text message a friend sent to me: "Did you hear the news about Whitney Houston?" I had a sick feeling in my stomach, and even before I grudgingly typed in "cnn.com," I already knew---she was dead. You don't understand, as a kid, I was the hugest Whitney fan. I knew every song of hers and would often record myself in our old tape recorder singing along to her tunes. She was such a picture of class and dignity, stirring my emotions as her heavenly voice echoed in my bedroom. I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

Fast forward several years, and now I'm in my mid-20's. Whitney's life is spinning out of control as most media outlets report scenes of wild parties and heavy drug use. I can't believe it! What happened to the classy, elegant Whitney I had grown up listening to? Her infamous Diane Sawyer interview airs and I watch her declare, "Crack is whack!" proving media reports to be true. How could this be? I wondered. Why would a woman who has so much give it all up for  . . . drugs?

I, thankfully, have never experienced the horrors of battling drug addiction, so I cannot speak from experience. However, I have faced enormous emotional pain, so thick I thought it would swallow me whole. I do know what it's like to feel like your life is totally out of control, and no matter what you do, you'll never win. I know what it's like to cry so hard there are no tears left. I think I can relate to the pain Whitney must have felt in her short life.

 Which brings me to the point: Where do you turn when you have nothing left? When your heart is shattered and your life destroyed, when those you thought you could turn to turn out to betray you, when your hopes and dreams come crashing down, who can you go to? The difference between "Christians" and "those who know their God" (Daniel 11:32) is as different as Mother Teresa and Chelsea Handler. Many claim to be "Christians," but not many can truly say they KNOW God. I have learned in my own emotional struggles that God is so much more than just a religious figurehead or distant unknown. He is such a friend! I have learned to truly "cast all my cares on Him" and allowed Him to sustain me (Psalm 55:22).

Drugs, sex, money, power---none of it truly satisfies or brings the healing our hearts so desperately seek after. My prayer is that Whitney's life will serve to be a "life lesson" for those who struggle. There is a God who is waiting on you to cast your cares on Him and trust Him as he exchanges your pain for His peace, your shame for his grace, your life for his purpose. So, next time you need a "fix," will you try Him? I guarantee, you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rejected and Alone

Christmas can be a very difficult time for those who are alone or have lost someone they love. Feelings of abandonment, rejection and depression can easily seep in. A dear, divorced friend of mine whose children are now grown and distant, was sharing with me how this time of year can be exceptionally lonely. My heart goes out to all in this situation. I can't help but think of Jesus. "He was despised and rejected, a man of many sorrows and familiar with suffering" (Isaiah 53:3). Those closest to him walked away and betrayed him in his darkest hour.

What about you? Are you like my friend, feeling all alone this holiday season? If so, take comfort in knowing that Jesus can relate! I say, if you are feeling alone, look up and look out. Look up to Christ, and tell him what you're feeling. Don't worry, you're not complaining: you're just being honest with a God who loves you. How about playing some soft worship music to set the atmosphere of your home? Pandora has a huge selection.

Next, look out. Who can you bless this holiday season? Remember, not all blessings involve money. Who do you know that is alone? What about someone in a nursing home? We know they are often rejected and left alone day after day. How about that neighbor you barely know? I've learned that in order to get what you want, you've got to give what you've got. If you need love, give some. If you need friendship, be a friend. If you need peace, make some. As you begin to "look out," watch your own feelings of loneliness evaporate.

As we begin to take the focus off of our own need, and look after the needs of others, God is able to do his "magic" and fill our lives and hearts with love, peace and joy.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and especially those who feel rejected and alone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Today was my mother's younger sister's funeral. All who knew my Aunt Marilyn loved her. I seriously doubt she had one enemy. Even her ex-husband's family and the family of her ex-daughter-in-law came to not only show their support, but to openly weep with those of us who wept. Sadly, sometimes it's only in death that the true life of someone really shines forth.

As I continue to reflect on the events of today, I realize that it is not in the lofty words we speak, the new ventures that come our way or even the pursuit of our own happiness that makes living life worthwhile. It's in the simple hug of a loved one we haven't seen in years, the easy banter between childhood friends reminiscing over memories of long ago and the simplistic knowing that we are right on target in where we should be in our lives.

Someone once said that "happiness is the highest human emotion." I'd like to offer another take. I say, "Living life fulfilled (whole and complete with a sense of joy and purpose--my definition) surpasses any human emotion! For happiness is a temporary fix induced by chance. Fulfillment is on a whole other level. It is a sense of wholeness in which happiness cannot compare

I suppose that's the beauty in the death of a believer. There is true fulfillment knowing you have touched the lives of others in a deep, profound way that will far outlive you.

So it's now up to you. What are you grappling after? pining over? regretting? Let today be a new day full of new dreams . . . not dreams of materialistic possessions or notoriety, but in finding your "sweet spot"--the place where you become fulfilled.