Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 27: Look Back but Don’t Linger

© Lunamarina |

© Lunamarina |

I drive to work in silence. Silence – that means no radio, no music, no phone calls, nothing. It’s my time to spend alone with my thoughts and in prayer prior to starting the work day, and it’s been my habit for years.

I reflect on the weirdest things while driving in silence. For example, one morning I began looking back over my past. Within 30 minutes, my mind traveled over at least the past 20 years of my life – past relationships, past mistakes, people who’ve come, people who’ve gone and just all kinds of things.

It felt strange.

I’m a thinker, so times of intentional reflection aren’t uncommon. But this time it just felt random and even a bit weird. It was early in the morning; the sun was barely awake and there was nothing in particular on my mind. I couldn’t identify any obvious triggers. I simply found myself looking back.

The next morning, I was keenly aware of my “looking back” again, but this time it was through my rearview mirror. You’re probably saying, “Okkk??? Aren’t you supposed to do that,” and yes, of course, I am. It’s imperative that I use my rear view mirror and even side view mirrors to look back – to see what’s going on or who’s approaching behind me. Is there an emergency vehicle I need to make room for or a crazy person driving two inches from my bumper?

I feel like I’m rambling now, so I’ll get to the point.

There I was, on two consecutive mornings looking back at different things for different reasons and was reminded that looking back over life isn’t always a bad thing. We’re taught not to dwell on the past. Remember, I even talked about it in the week 4 post and cited truth I believe from biblical scripture.

The dangers of spending too much time revisiting my past are shame, disappointment and comparison traps. If I linger in my looking back, I may get bogged down with where I was, what I did, who I did it with (HELLO, lol) what went wrong, what mistakes I made and where I could have been had I not done x,y,z. Who needs that? What does it do for me? How does it edify me? It doesn’t. It does the exact opposite. But we can’t always stop our minds from drifting toward the past, right?

The difference was, that morning as I reflected on my past I was overcome with an intense feeling of gratitude for my present. My mind recalled the melody of a song often sung by a deacon in my childhood church. The song was “Look Where He Brought Me From.” The whole church used to love for this deacon to get up and sing. He’d sway and sing as if his only audience member was the King of Kings himself. This song was one of his favorite tunes.

Look where he brought me from.

As a child, my understanding of “look where he brought me from” was limited to the intellectual knowledge of what those six words mean when used together, in that order, to form a sentence. Obviously “He” is God and I’m looking to see some place God brought me from. However, what that place was I had no earthly idea, because at that point I hadn’t really been anywhere. Yet, on that particular morning I looked back and marveled, “wow…”

It was my “AH-HA” moment.

It was beneficial for me to look back, just as it’s beneficial for me to check my rear view mirror periodically while driving. But just like while driving, I must be sure to look back but not linger. If I spend too much time peering in my rear view mirror while driving, what do you think could happen? For starters, I’m no longer paying attention to any of the traffic in front of me. Quite possibly the car in my lane stopped suddenly for some reason, and what will happen to me? I’ll probably kiss the rear bumper of that car because I’m lingering in my looking back.

The same holds true for lingering on thoughts of the past.

When I look back and compare where I was yesterday to where I am today, I have the opportunity to be grateful, to be thankful. I have the opportunity to rejoice over progress. And that’s what I want to do. I hope that’s what you want to do, as well.



Special note: This post was originally a voice recorded message, recorded on July 18, 2014. It was transcribed and edited to share as a post.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Week 26: BE a forever friend Friendship Day!

Friendship is a wonderful gift we receive packaged many different ways throughout our lifetime. There are new friends, old friends, fast friends, delayed friends, childhood friends, church friends, work friends, family friends… And the list goes on. But one type of friend reigns supreme above all others.

The forever friend…

To be and to have forever friends requires a willingness to get a little dirty. Just like any relationship between two totally different people, friendship can get messy. It journeys along a path of sharp turns, steep hills and even the occasional detour. Sometimes, if we’re not careful, life itself can become a chasm between friends. Not everyone will weather the storms or travel the changing seasons with you.

So what’s the secret to forever friendships? As I reflect on the forever friendships I’ve witnessed, there are a few ingredients I have found to be common between them all:

  1. Commitment – I must say I’ve learned what real forever friendship looks like from my parents, and I’m more than sure I pale in comparison to the example they’ve set. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” I’ve watched my parent’s friendships over the years and thought to myself, “Wow, will I ever have (or BE) a friend (friends) like that.” A dedicated blog post still couldn’t contain all the ways I’ve seen them support each other over the years. Suffice it to say, I’ve seen what “ride or die” looks like, and it’s a beautiful thing. So it’s easy for me to crown commitment as the main ingredient in a forever friendship. People who are willing and planning to be friends forever, no matter what life throws their way. “Friendship divorce” is just not an option.
  2. Acceptance – Well, if you’ve decided you’re in it for the long haul, a little bit of acceptance will certainly go a long way. Let’s face it, people are different. I’ll admit, quirky could easily be my middle name. Relationships flow a whole lot easier when you decide to accept a person for all the quirkiness that friend brings to the table. Doesn’t mean you’ll always agree on everything, and it doesn’t mean you just let everything slide. To me, it mostly means you realize not everyone is just like you (let’s be honest; that’s really what we want – folks to be just like us). People are different, and some of those differences may make the friendship even cooler.
  3. Communication – Obviously to get around some of our uniqueness, quirkiness and individual idiosynCRAZIES (my word) requires the ability to communicate effectively. Forever friends should be people you can talk to about simple things as well as hard things. Sometimes that communication will land on an agreement to disagree, but it should always land on an agreement to move forward, together.
  4. Patience/endurance – As I mentioned before, seasons change. With some of my friends I’ve gone from having an all access pass to talk to them all day every day to barely being able to catch them on the phone at all. And it’s all been because their lifestyle or mine has changed. Children grow up, become active and require attention and participation from their parents. Schedules change, schools change, businesses change, parents pass away or distance prevails. But through it all, forever friends patiently adjust and endure.
  5. Wisdom – A little bit of wisdom helps one navigate the changing seasons of our lives that often stretch our friendships. I’ve learned that wisdom reminds me it’s not all about me. It encourages me to pay attention to the changing seasons in my friends’ lives and get in where I fit in at the time, confidently knowing that the strength of our friendship hasn’t changed. Life has.
  6. Maturity – The point here is simple. All of the above requires one major thing – MATURITY.
  7. Foundation“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14, NASB – This scripture from the bible is often quoted in reference to marriage. However, as a woman of faith in Jesus Christ I believe this scripture is a good foundation for forever friendships, as well. Forever friends share a close bond, similar to marriage. And let me tell you, it’s been quite a blessing to know I can go to my forever friends with a celebration, a dilemma, a sickness, a confession, a failure, an accomplishment, a dream or a goal and know they will not only support me but also pray for me. I won’t say I’ll never befriend someone who doesn’t share my faith. For sometimes, it is in those differences that we see and learn the most about humanity. But I will say that today, my forever friends and I share a common foundation of faith, moral standards and values that has created the firm foundation on which our friendship is built.
  8. Timing – At the end of it all, timing is everything. Forever friends come when you’re ready for them. Back in my twenties, a friendship revolving door seemed absolutely normal. But somewhere along the way I started wanting more and became mature enough to be and to handle more. It was then that I, unwittingly, started saying hello to the first of my forever friends.

Many people cross our paths throughout a lifetime. Some we’ll know and remain acquainted with for many, many years. Yet, few outside our own family members will hunker down in the trenches of our lives and earn the title of “forever friend.” Today, we celebrate them.

So, according to this list, how do you stack up as a forever friend? Did I miss anything? What other items would you add to the list of ingredients for forever friendships?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 25: Stand up to your giant, pt. 2

Last week, I was so encouraged by all of your comments here on the site, via email and Facebook. It always feels good to know you’re not alone, doesn’t it? I’m so glad we’re all ready to stand up and face our giants, whatever they may be, together.

I promised to tell you what happened that Monday morning after my giant revelation.

So, Monday morning arrived, and it was time to stand up to my giant of a sugar addiction. Addiction is a strong word but trust me, my sweet tooth had become obnoxious, with a mind of its own and just out of control. It had to be stopped.

I traveled to work determined to tackle my sugar monster giant head on. I, also, remembered the three pieces of Now and Later candy stashed away in a desk drawer. They were banana flavored, too, y’all. The only flavor that trumps banana is apple. You don’t hear me. I’m talking IR.RE.SISTIBLE. But I planned to go sweet-less beginning that day.

What to do? What to do?

I would tell you I marched to my desk and trashed the candy, but that’s not what I did. Nope! Instead, I decided they’d be my last treats. LOL… I’m just keeping it real. But they were indeed my last treats. Three weeks later, I’ve not had anything in the form of cake, candy, cupcake, ice cream, fro yo, etc. Nothing… Wow.

And I feel great.

So, to summarize I leave you with three simple steps to standing up to your giant:

Identify – In order to stand up to the giant(s), you have to first acknowledge to yourself what it is (or they are). It may be fear, food or procrastination. It may be a pattern of unhealthy relationships, something altogether different or a combination of a few things. The fact of the matter is you can’t face what you don’t first identify and acknowledge as a problem in your world. Know what it is and lock your sights on it. Make it personal.

Call it out – Now that you’ve made it personal, make it public. Call it out to someone other than yourself – spouse, friends, family, coworkers, church members, etc. Share with someone you trust and who you know will support and encourage you as you face your giant(s). When we call it out publicly, we put that giant on notice that we mean business. We came to fight, and we brought back up. By including others, we’re saying we want support. We want to be encouraged and held accountable. I called out my giant here on the blog for all of the reasons mentioned above, and I’m so happy to have your support.

Execute – It’s time for a new strategy. How will you move forward on a different path from the one you’ve been traveling? I decided it was time to return to my ways of old. I know that when my home is stocked with healthy food and good snacks, I’m less tempted to eat unhealthy food and bad snacks. So the plan I execute is to hit the grocery store for fruits and vegetables on the regular.

Returning to a healthier me is coming along slowly but surely. I try to consume more foods that are good for me and stay alert to foods my body dislikes (including sugar). I’ve even started exercising again. Lord, help me! I’m determined to cut off the head of this giant. Are you with me?

P.S. Special thanks to Tina Haupert of Carrots ‘N’ Cakes blog site. She doesn’t know me from Adam, but that Monday morning I stumbled across her blog post, How I Beat My Sugar Addiction, and it blessed me beyond measure. She may not view it the same as I do, but the way I see it she identified and called out her giant, and it gave me the courage to do the same. 🙂