A Season for Renewal

I’ve been in a season of rest – something I needed but it didn’t happen until I was required to have an emergency surgery.  This has been a time of renewal for me, something I would never have considered.

It is easy to become discouraged in the times when things do not go as I plan or hope they will, because I need this time to unplug. Discouragement is a normal experience, but the key is to accept all of the seasons God allows in my life.

A preoccupation with gratifying my desire for comfort, convenience or everything to work out on my time schedule  can cause my reactions to life issues to be disappointing and frustrating.  Pursuing these paths may throw me into chaos and rob me of peace and joy.

My focus, by contrast, can be to value the things God values: self-control, waiting on Him, trusting Him with things I don’t know, can’t see or blindside me.

Developing a heart of trusting God and believing He works all things together for my good, allows me to use my seasons of waiting as times of growth and refreshment. Sometimes, I find I need to hit the ‘reset’ button. And, I am finding that these things usually work out for the best, IF, I am willing to make the best of the way they are working out.

In this season and time of renewal, I have come to believe that I do not need to worry about what I “need” to be doing or what I might be “missing”. I simply need to avail myself today and each day to God, who has a path that I am to walk. His plans for me are not “cut and dried”, they are fresh and new every day.

Each day can host it’s own adventures, if I allow it to. If I relinquish any fear and / or control over how my day will play out, I am then free to operate according to God’s agenda, seek to do what honors Him and give it my best. And have the simple joy of knowing He accepts me.

I want to keep learning this pace of life and remain in a season of rest and renewal.

Do you need a season to come unplugged? Come on in, the water’s great!

Sheri 

Life: A Balancing Act?

Sometimes it seems that life balance means simply juggling plates and successfully keeping them all up in the air. Consider what balance means in other processes. In accounting, things must add up. In physics, what goes up, must come down. In life, we can’t live like a gazelle being chased by a cheetah all the time — we’d be a code red, high adrenaline, super stress, possible heart attack or stroke waiting for a place to happen.

Balance is more about a calm and stable mindset that allows us to make decisions based on personal values helping us learn to be intentional in the moment. Life balance may best be defined as the calmness and security of being able to manage the things we treasure, i.e. feelings, thoughts, talents, attitudes, behavior, personal well-being, etc. so in effect, we are able to assertively confront issues in life without an ongoing feeling of being overwhelmed.

A consistent balance allows our lives to continually improve, not necessarily with more money or more stuff, but by simply having an awareness that every day holds challenges and successes, and that truly what we look for is what we will find, be it good or bad.

As for me, I choose to live with the mantra, that indeed, Life is Good and, I’ve got the tee shirt to prove it! 

What does your t-shirt for the way you do / have done life read?

Sheri 

6 Steps to Finding Contentment

 Contentment is the fundamental pursuit in each area of life. We want to get the house painted or our certification completed or the kids grown or something that we are convinced will enable us to finally be content. However, it is really a condition of our inner person. Sort of an at-peace-with-me feeling. It is also a foundation to enjoying life and being intentional in the moment. Can it be done? If so, how?

1 – Practice delaying gratification. Yes, you can do it. When you consider making a purchase, use patience and consider postponing the ones that are simply for convenience. If you end up purchasing the item later, it will be well thought out. If not, you’ll be happier to have saved the time and money. To the one whom much is given, much is required.

2 – Make a focused effort to remain inspired and to be inspiring. Spend 10+ minutes each day reading something from the Bible, an inspirational author, or area of interest. Spend some time several times each week journaling learning experiences you glean from what you read, personal encounters, a movie you watch or just what comes to mind while you are in the shower. You will be amazed at how you can gain such positive perspective from your quiet times. Invest in others by offering an encouraging word in the way of a note, text or call to them when they are working on a particular event or endeavor or are facing a personal trial.

3 – Unplug from the technology of life and plug in to the simpler paths. Change gears for half an hour each day by taking a walk or a bubble bath. Find a neat little hobby such as painting or woodworking that you can enjoy and de-stress from the working hours in your day. Write a blog — oh, I resemble that! — on something that you have learned in an effort to enlighten others.

4 – Get a mentor – be a mentor. Spend time with people you admire and learn about their lives and interests. They can be living instructional aids to learning how to do things in a different, possibly more efficient way. Find ways that you can share things or teach a class around what you have learned with others who will benefit from your time. Show appreciation for what you learn and for the opportunity to share. I especially enjoy spending time with young children and mature adults. The wealth of information and the creativity amuse and inspire me.

5 – Reach out and get to know a neighbor at home or work. Don’t worry, if you’re the new-bee you can still take the initiative. Every friend we have was once a stranger. Be observant in watching for common interests. Maybe you both have kids the same age, have dogs to walk, or at work, someone who goes to lunch at the same time as you.

6 – Finally, and this is not an exhaustive list, practice learning to be a great listener. By doing so, you will learn the true art of emotional intelligence and the high quality of “likeability”. When you work to listen to others at deeper levels, you communicate to them that you place high value on them and the time they spend with you. You will also learn how to take the focus off of your own issues and personal challenges and be an encourager to others. This goes a long way in developing strong friendships. And, when you build relational capital by listening, you may very well find that you have a great friend and listening ear in place when you are in need of sharing your heart.

Practice these steps on a regular basis for 30 days and judge for yourself if you don’t have a life that can be defined as being more content. And the good news is that if you are around people who are discontent, you may be the one to influence them to a more positive stance.

The one you encourage today, may be YOU!

Sheri 

How to Win Over Disappointments

Reflect on all the expectations you have for yourself, your life, your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, your job, the world. Embrace them and, then, toss them. Let them go.  Think about the little song we sang as children, “Row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream”.  In order to have life to be as we might hope or dream, we need to relinquish things we cannot control – other people, their choices and their circumstances.

We are then, better able to navigate life more peacefully and merrily.  When we allow our life to include only minimal expectations, we are able to accept reality as it is, without trying to force people into the boxes we think they would best fit in. We allow ourselves to see things as they are. Amazingly, life seems to work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out.

We are able to have more of a positive influence if we avoid having expectations of how others will or should respond to our choices.  It is sort of like dancing as though no one is watching. When we live and do and be based on what we think others will think or say or approve of, we gradually move ourselves into a place of expecting our significance to come from other people. They can’t provide that for us.

Significance comes from recognizing that we can live a life of meaning and purpose by reaching beyond ourselves to be a part of something bigger without expecting praise or appreciation. Simply doing and accomplishing something that is worthwhile is the highest level of growing our feelings of self-worth. If we become dependent on others’ approval, we may miss the enjoyment of the task we accomplished, because we subject ourselves to view ourselves through the eyes of someone else and what they think. And, what if that person is having a bad day? I’m just saying …

Release the expectations of reward and praise. Find fulfillment in the doing the things that you value. Do good because you love doing good, and expect nothing beyond that. Pay attention to the thoughts you entertain. Your thoughts will rule your life and you will enjoy or limit yourself accordingly.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have expectations.  Pay attention if you start to wish things weren’t the way they are or that someone else would do something the way you would recommend.  Accept things as they are, if there’s anything you can impact in a positive way, go for it! And then, move on. In time, everything eventually works out.

Learn to travel light (free of expectations that are dependent on the actions of another) in a world that is already wonderful without us painting it they way we think it should be.

The life you impact most, may be your own 🙂

Sheri 

How can I build trust in a relationship?

In a Word (or two)… Be Consistent

My mom gave me one piece of advice concerning parenting when my older daughter, was born. “Be consistent. Say what you mean and deliver what you promise.”

Consistency builds confidence in relationships. Trust comes when we establish a history of saying what we mean and meaning what we say.  It is not an easy task, but one we often look for in others.

Observe a young child at play and watch how they routinely do things.  If they drop their cup and it’s picked up, they learn the game really quick. It’s fun to have someone’s undivided attention. Consistently in life equates to a secure feeling. It’s  just plain comfortable. Consistency makes us feel safe.

People learn to trust when they experience people who do what they say.

Sheri 

Simplicity is the Key to Establishing Better Habits

Getting started on a new plan, venture, habit, exercise program, reading plan etc is not always the biggest obstacle. It’s the sticking-to-it that’s difficult.

The acronym K.I.S.S. can be a good fit here, reminding us to “keep it simple”.  Many times we are fearful to start something because we are afraid we won’t finish it. And we are right; if we don’t start it, we will NOT finish it. So the process to begin should be easy.

Do you have a treadmill or maybe a plan to walk every day? Have you been toying with it in your mind but so far no action has been taken? Consider giving up the approach of 30 minutes a day and make the earnest effort to do 5 minutes. You may be surprised how easily you can form the new habit if it isn’t overwhelming. Also, ask yourself, how likely am I to start big (walk for 30 minutes) and stay the course? What if I start small (treadmill for 5 minutes) and build from there, or simply incorporate the freedom that some days I will have 5 minutes to spend on it and other days I will have the flexibility to go for 30 minutes.

Often if we start with the 30 minute plan and the day comes when it doesn’t work out, we are tempted to quit altogether because we feel like a failure. Think about the fact that even 5 minutes on a walk each day is better than sitting home and beating yourself up for not doing 30 minutes. It is all in how you look at it.

It’s the same with saving money. You may not have $1000 to commit to a savings plan, but what about $100 or $10. The hardest part of any journey or new habit is the very first step.
 
And whether it is exercising or starting a savings plan, if you start simple, you will like it, love it, and then want more of it. It becomes a bit of an addiction ~ a healthy one, I will add!

Your tendency, as mine, may be that you want to do much more, because you’re excited. I still will encourage you to start as simply as possible. Staying with the program is much easier if you are changing or adding only a simple task to your regular routine.

So make it so incredibly simple that you cannot fail. After you have established that wonderful adrenaline rush from doing your new habit, you can build it to whatever level you desire.

Life is good ~ work, saving, exercising, living and loving doesn’t have to be difficult – set yourself up for success. Don’t allow failure to be an option!

My mom always tells me that “Winners are the ones who won’t quit”!  

Go on, get out there, you can do it! 

Sheri

What Shape is Your Miracle?

Have you ever expected a miracle to happen? I’m talking about when something that you may have thought could happen and then it became apparent that is wasn’t going to and you, more or less, as a last ditch effort say, “Lord, I need a miracle!” And then to anyone else who may have been listening you muttered, “Like that’s going to happen.”

I have experienced miracles of different shapes and sizes. The cool thing about miracles is that they are always so timely and when you receive them size or shape really doesn’t matter.

But more frequently, when we think of miracles, we think about needing one, not recognizing or receiving one.

It kind of reminds me of going to the airport. If you arrive to wait for a flight departure or even to pick up someone, you will hear and hear often, something to the effect of “high alert status, if you see a suspicious bag left unattended, do not pick it up…” I think it would be really cool, if each day, my phone or watch or car radio or microwave could broadcast a message every hour or so saying, “be on high alert status, God is everywhere working everyday miracles that you might miss if you are not paying attention.”

I’m convinced that we think of miracles at Christmas when the bonus comes or we hear about someone’s cancer being in remission or about a car accident that someone walked away from.

But what about a day when you wake up feeling refreshed and peaceful, enjoy a good breakfast, have a great day interacting at work, school or wherever you go, the project you’re working on just falls in place like a well-greased gear, you receive the call you’ve been waiting or praying for, dinner is a great wind down for the day, you catch an amazing  sunset and you have a comfy bed to fall into?

Have you considered that to be a day of miracles? Or did you notice how the whole day went like Christmas or the way you think your birthdays should go, but you rarely would notice on any other of the 364 days of the year?

I believe miracles are all around. And we don’t have to look too far. Your puppy gets the going out thing. Your mom adjusts to a living change as she is aging. Your neighbor shares homegrown tomatoes from his garden. Your adult children communicate their love for you and their understanding in the way you tried to do your best in bringing them up. Someone arrives safely home. The car repair is 95% less than what you expected. The meeting you presented was insightful to the group. Someone commented on your blog post.

All of these little actions require that someone, for a moment in time, graced you with considering you in some way, as important, special, valuable, an asset or just plain family. They spent “time” on you, for you, with you. They gave of themselves in a way that touched you in a unique and special way.

These are glimpses of miracles. Especially when you consider that we are moving at the speed of wifi as often as possible to achieve all we can in as little time as necessary and wishing we all had 6 more hours in the day and 8 days in each week.

More often than not, just like at the airport, we become desensitized at the miracle messages that are moving all around us. We pause briefly when we hear that someone is sick, or has passed, or lost a job, or a had a baby and give the appropriate response and jump right back in.

How can we make more sense of the miracles all around? I believe to spot a miracle requires being thankful for what you have and accepting it as the blessing it really is. The people in your life. And even some that are no longer in it. The ability to think for yourself, find and do work that you love, to encourage someone, read a book, watch a movie, take a vacation or just wake up refreshed.

If you superimpose a grid over what a miracle is to look like believing they only come in one shape — outrageously large — you can miss out on the simple joys of how faithful God is to work out all of the details in our lives as opposed to never letting them come to closure.

What were you frantic about last year on this date? What about 5 years ago? It is wonderful when we don’t remember the struggle and can only remember that it is over and all worked out. Yet, when we faced it, it was beyond huge. Things don’t always work out the way we would like but they usually work out for the best, if we will choose to make the best of the way they actually do work out.

A miracle that changed my life forever was when I came to the understanding that I do not have to know how every day, project, event, trip, person, meal etc., is going to be, work out or what it will look like in the final outcome. I entered into the zone! That zone is the joy of not knowing how it all will be and accepting that this is okay.

It is actually like being a child again heading for their first visit to an amusement park. They do not know what to expect but based on the observations they’ve made of others accounting their experiences, they’ve decided that whatever happens, it will be really cool!

So, at least for today, will you set your heart on watching and waiting for a miracle that you need in your life and determine the many ways and shapes that God may bring them and remember to thank Him.

It might just be really cool!

Sheri 

What is the Value of Living Simply?

I don’t know exactly when I fully realized that what I really enjoy is a small, slow, simple life!

It’s here where I recognize that truly special days can be a rainy afternoon and a good book, or a lingering lunch with a friend or loved one where we reminisce about the goodness of God or share the ups and downs of life.

Enjoying simple things allows me to manage my stress and reserve my energy for the unplanned and unexpected times and be prepared to respond in a manner that will not bring regret.

If I allow it, life can be a noisy place with loud voices pushing or driving for me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. All the striving can leave me drained of joy and wondering if I am simply not enough.

When I stop spinning, I can listen for God’s still, small voice whispering for me to know that He is in control.

What if I never really achieve accolades beyond the people who are my primary circle of impact? What if life as I have chosen it is good, even amazing, in light of the fact that my heart is fully engaged?

Since leaving the frantic pace of life and learning to not keep up, I have found that I truly enjoy solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy.

I have found great delight in sharing my deeply rooted faith, doubts and insecurities, in quiet ways and through genuine relationship with some very special women in my life who have invested in me.

We haven’t had a fairy tale romance and I follow hard after God to be the wife that will always be for Jeff’s best. This keeps me humble and I need it!

I am a mom who delights in her girls and in knowing they are free to choose their appointments with life. I consider it a special privilege to affirm and support them in their passions!

I seek the Lord often to learn to embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. I am at peace with who I am and what I need and believe it to be an amazing gift of God to walk in this knowledge.

I enjoy a simplified life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. And for me, it is enough!

Sheri

How Can I Live a Life of Passion?

How Would You Describe the Speed in which YOU Do Life?  Life balance isn’t about having it all or how many plates you can juggle, but more about relinquishing what doesn’t work for you so that you can be rightly aligned and fully intentional with what does.

Resisting the Hindrance of Resistance…Growth requires becoming an expert at navigating inevitable life change by learning to accept what you cannot change and eliminating excuses for not changing the things you can. Reflecting on where you and how you are impacted by things outside of your control is an excellent exercise for some super new habits!

You Are What’s Eating You… How much sleep are you losing, or how many ways are you indulging yourself over unresolved issues, relationships or projects? The more baggage we carry, the sooner we show signs of aging. So travel light to find the fountain of youth.

Live Free… Give of your resources generously. The level of your ability to freely give is directly proportionate to how ‘free’ you truly are. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Avoid the temptation to clutter your life or schedule with unnecessary weight. To the one who has much, much will be required.

Live Out Your Passion… Find ways to do what you love and share it with others. Express love as often as you are able. Do all that you do as if God were your employer.

Be intentional… All work and no play dulls our senses to the beauty all around us in the people love and the things we enjoy. Learn to adjust your speed of life to take time to smell the roses, experience the beauty of a sunset or the warm hug of a dear friend. The day may come, that you will be very glad that you made the effort!

Sheri

In Simplifying My Life, How Can I Learn Contentment?

Contentment is the fundamental pursuit in each area of life. We want to get the house painted or our certification completed or the kids grown or something that we are convinced will enable us to finally be content. However, it is really a condition of our inner person. Sort of an at-peace-with-me feeling. It is also a foundation to enjoying life and being intentional in the moment. Can it be done? If so, how?

1 – Practice delaying gratification. When you consider making a purchase, use patience and consider postponing the ones that are simply for convenience. If you end up purchasing the item later, it will be well thought out. If not, you’ll be happier to have saved the time and money.

2 – Evaluate the important areas of your life: spirituality, mate, family, work, friends, finances, health, personal development, rest / recreation, etc., and determine what defines your values in each of these categories. Such as, “for R & R, I need to be out in the fresh air and sunshine and I need unstructured blocks of time…”. This will enable you to establish a thought pattern around the way you make decisions in the important issues of life. The process for making better choices is made simpler because your values are defined and explain why you do things the way you do them.

3 – Make a focused effort to remain inspired and to be inspiring. Spend 10+ minutes each day reading something that inspires you. Journal what you glean from what you read, personal encounters, a movie you watch or just what comes to mind while you are in the shower. You will be amazed at how you can gain such positive perspective from your quiet times. Invest in others by offering an encouraging word in the way of a note, text or call to them when they are working on a particular endeavor or are facing a personal trial.

4 – Unplug from the technology of life and plug in to the simpler paths. Change gears for half an hour each day by taking a walk or a bubble bath. Find a neat little hobby such as painting or woodworking that you can enjoy and de-stress from the working hours in your day. Write a blog — oh, I resemble that! — on something that you have learned in an effort to enlighten others.

5 – Get a mentor – be a mentor. Spend time with people you admire and learn about their lives and interests. They can offer guidance in learning how to do things in a different, possibly more efficient way. Find ways that you can share things or teach a class around what you have learned with others who will benefit from your time. Show appreciation for what you learn and for the opportunity to share.

6 – Reach out and get to know a neighbor at home or work. Don’t worry, if you’re the new-bee you can still take the initiative. Every friend we have was once a stranger. Be observant in watching for common interests. Maybe you both have kids the same age or at work it may be someone who goes to lunch at the same time as you.

7 – Practice learning to be a great listener. By doing so, you will learn the true art of emotional intelligence and the high quality of “likeability”. When you work to listen to others at deeper levels, you communicate to them that you place high value on them and the time they spend with you. You will also learn how to take the focus off of your own personal challenges and you may very well find that you have a great friend and listening ear in place when you are in need of encouragement.

By putting these steps into routine practice for 30 days, you will be able to determine if your life can be defined as being more content. And, in turn, you can inspire others to do the same!

Sheri