What Happens to Us is Rarely Personal

It can take a lifetime to factor this simple truth into reality in our lives.  Behavior arises from people’s personal experiences and perception – their experience and view of the world. When we experience a person or situation, our mind immediately makes a judgment, to keep us safe. It is part of a self-defense mechanism and how the ‘fear, fight or flight’ process works. The brain makes a rapid assessment and comes up with a conclusion: this is safe, or not.

If something is similar enough to something that hurt us in the past, an emotional response can be triggered and we can unconsciously react to the current situation as though the incidents were one and the same.

Even if you are in a situation with a difficult person, it isn’t actually about you. It never was. If not you, it would be somebody else with similar qualities that triggers a reaction and creates the sandpaper quality in this person. The important thing is to recognize that the flaw is a part of them, not you.

It is important that you learn:
• how to manage and resolve conflict,
• how to relate in a neutral manner
• how to respond rather than react,
• how to not take it personally.

Developing compassion for those who are armed with rough edges in our lives is a slow process that also involves close examination of our own perceptions. With patience and persistence, it is possible to learn to remain calm and to recognize that the problem isn’t necessarily something we have done. We can set a priority to learn to manage our own well-being and remember not to take the actions of another personally.

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 

A Tribute to My Father

This weekend we celebrate a wonderful day to honor our dads. I love Father’s Day and that may sound strange from someone who grew up without a dad.

My dad, who was career military was overseas quite a bit of my young life. He came home in May of 1970 for what was to be a long season stateside.

Five short months later, just 2 weeks after my 9th birthday, Daddy lost his life in an auto-train accident. It wasn’t so strange at first because I was accustomed to him being away most of the time.

But as I grew up and witnessed other kids interacting with their dads, I began to sense the true weight of the loss of my dad. It would take some 30 years before I would come to realize that I hadn’t grown up without a Father.

I had merely overlooked the fact that although I grew up knowing and loving God, I had not fully realized that He was the Father who had observed every tear that I had cried, any time disappointments left me with a broken heart and dashed dreams. He had been there all the time to remind me that I was loved and supported. He had given me hope and courage when my strength would fail.

So although I don’t have lots of memories of an earthly father, I loved my daddy deeply and know that I will see him again…. the Father who loves me more than life … the one who dries my tears, watches me dance when no one else is watching, and understands when life doesn’t work out to be fair, is my Father God.

So Happy Father’s Day, to my Eternal Father, God, and King! And thank You, Lord, for a lifetime of love and hope that I will be able to share with You for all eternity! I could not ask for more….

If you are missing a special “Dad” this weekend, remember, God is with you!

Sheri 

Where Is This Drive Taking You?

Often, we get caught up in the drive to do more, make more, have more. We are resistant to relax and enjoy what we have, feeling somehow, like a Vegas high roller, that if we just focus all our time, effort and poker chips in forward motion we will one day hit the jackpot of having it all.

What is “all”? And does having it make life better? Consider that from the one who has much, much will be required.. When you get the promotion at work, they don’t just give you more money because you smile so bright. They add responsibility to your plate as well.

If you have a job that puts your name in lights or on the door, what happens when you are searching to find the dimmer switch to set your life back on “normal”? Sort of hard to turn it down, right?

What about travel? Those beautiful brochures do not highlight airport delays and lost luggage, but if you fly much at all, you will probably experience the frustration and stress of the not-so-pleasant side of travel.

My point in all of this, is that we often perceive many opportunities to be flawless and perfect and we enter into them thinking we’ve finally arrived at the place we want to be. We buy the big house and the cabinets in the kitchen are high enough that we need a step ladder to actually reach them. The reality is that our dream house, the one we chose or designed, still has areas that frustrate us.

The biggest stress can be that we are just resistant to change the way we look at things. We keep on doing the same things and continue to receive the same results. It’s pretty disappointing. So, why are we so opposed to making a few changes in the way we think? We want to date the issue but not marry it. We want the euphoria of life being a beach party that we won’t have to wake up from and go back to our real lives.

The good news is, we have options! We can change our minds and our focus. A little reminder to help us get motivated is that our life, relationships, health, business, finances etc. will not change until we do. That’s pretty cool, if you already have the ideal life. However, if you are like most, you are mentally doing your weekly routine, but living for the weekend.

So how much will you put up with? What will it take? Consider where all of what you are driving at or striving to be or do will take you? And what will you have or be able to attain once you get there? One last point to ponder, is it worth what it will cost you?

When I’m striving for more than God has designed for me, I get nowhere. I only end up feeling frustrated, angry, and depressed. A little reminder, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) The Lord doesn’t want us to be driven; He wants us to be led–by His Spirit. (Romans 8:14) If we will let God be God in our lives, and yield to His divine plans for us, we will experience the abundant, victorious life that Jesus died for us to have.

Whenever I face disappointment or difficulty of any kind, one of the first things I want to remember is God’s promise that says, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8) Regardless of obstacles that come my way, God is in control, and He will move heaven and earth to perfect His plans for me. When it is God’s timing, nothing will be able to stop His blessings and rewards from reaching us. We don’t have to threaten, scheme, or give in to greed.

We can rest in Him, knowing that He has a bright and beautiful future for us that far exceeds our wildest dreams!

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

Who is My “Favorite” Child?

Every mom has a favorite child. She didn’t plan it this way. It’s the human nature of a mom. I have my favorite too.
She’s the one with whom I feel a special closeness. The one I reach out to in a rare moment to share a love that no one else could understand.

My favorite child is the one who smiled with her lips closed because she was embarrassed about her teeth. The one who had such gratitude for the opportunity to have them straightened and followed her orthodontist’s guidelines to the letter.

My favorite child is the one who worked very hard to complete her school work so she could bounce into the world and into the career focus she had her heart set on. The one who is rarely swayed to waste time or money and is willing to delay gratification for the things she values in life.

My favorite child is the one who had to hear the news that she has to say goodbye to a much loved pet. She’s the one who will hold a little tighter to the special people and pets in her life for fear of loss.

My favorite child is the one who saves her money to give a gift to a friend or family because she understands that receiving a gift helps others to feel special.

My favorite child is the one who has chicken pox when it’s hot and sticky and to keep her from itching, her mom bathes her in oatmeal and puts honey on her “spots” to kill the itch. Even though she doesn’t like it, she makes the best of it. She doesn’t laugh two weeks later when both of her sisters are going through the same torture.

My favorite child is the one who plans a tea party for her friends and includes her sisters and their friends too. She later discovers a special knack for entertaining and decorating and becomes the family consultant on such matters.

My favorite child is the one who plays by the rules to try to be fair to everyone, and if there is ever one item short of something, she steps up to be the one who doesn’t receive it so that another will not be left out.

My favorite child is the one who has an amazing offer to do something really cool and when her mom doesn’t “feel right” about it, she chooses to honor her mom. She later finds it turned out to be a bum deal.

My favorite child is the one who works tirelessly at her job or on her project to help another, even after she clocks out or at the expense of her own time to relax.

My favorite child is the one who calls her mom to tell her she’s concerned about her sister because she’s not eating, she’s seeing a loser, she’s not sleeping, or a host of other out-of-character traits that she is observing. She reminds mom that the sister might listen to mom when she won’t hear it from anyone else.

My favorite child is the one who has to part with special items to pay her bills or to insure that she can buy something special for a sister’s birthday.

My favorite child is the one who goes shopping with her sisters and foots the bill, because she can and she loves to see how excited they are.

My favorite child is the one who plans the events that keep the family connected.

My favorite child is the one who is alone, away from home and family for the holidays, and calls to say hi knowing it will break her heart when she hangs up the phone.

My favorite child is the one who when using a questionable word, apologizes to her mom to preserve the purity of their relationship.

My favorite child is the one who sees her mom’s tears and cries with her and for her.

My favorite child is the one who calls from across the country or the world and says, “Mom, I can’t do this anymore!” And knows, that mom is on it. She learns quickly that she may need to come home or just have the encouragement of venting her feelings and know that her heart is heard.

My favorite child is the one who has to tell her mom some hard things about when she was growing up and has to muster up incredible courage only to learn that the bond between her and her mom only grows stronger as each one opens her heart.

My favorite child is the one who chooses to give back to her community, her country, and her world. She sees the value in growing up without everything because it helped her to develop empathy and compassion for others with whom she can relate to on a deeper level.

My favorite child is the one who cries alone in a faraway city when her heart is breaking with disappointment, having put great effort into making a job, a relationship, or another important event a success and things didn’t work out as planned.

I cheered as you learned to crawl, toddle, walk, run, swim, dance, ride a bike, drive a car. I watched you grow tall, walk alone, run from evil, dance for joy, endure the difficult times and press on when you felt like giving up. I have waited while you crossed the road, and prayed while you crossed the oceans. You were God’s best instruments for teaching me unconditional love, hope, trust, delight, how to pray, how to forgive, how to laugh, how to let go so you could soar, and how to view life as a series of miracles every day.

And, you will always be my baby! 😉

Mom (Sheri)

100 Worthwhile Pursuits for Creating Your Best Life

Loved the movie “Bucket List”! However, I don’t want to count down to death so I’ve decided to combine the major focuses in my life into a list of pursuits that will challenge, encourage and inspire me to continue to grow, learn and mature in ways that I have yet to imagine!

I chose the term “pursuits” because I have a fond memory of one of my final conversations with my Mom, just days before she left this earthly life and entered into the arms of Jesus. She knew her time was short and I asked her if there were any words of wisdom that she had for me. Her answer was thoughtful, “Focus on what is important. Cease from worthless pursuits”.

My list of worthwhile pursuits starts here:

1-Write for the Glory of God and the refreshment of others.

2-Learn the values of “less is more”.

3-Give of my time, resources and life to others as opportunity arises.

4- Keep that which is necessary.

5-Enjoy the simplicity of life.

6-Continue to be a student of the Word and of people.

7-Mentor and be mentored.

8-Give God my life as a blank page daily to be filled by His plans for me.

9-Listen well!

10-Ask engaging questions to build authentic relationships.

11-Set healthy limits [boundaries] that I may be intentional in the moment.

12-Be alert to the moments that take my breath away.

13-Visit the places that provide moments and views that take my breath away.

14-Diligence in loving my husband and children so they will know the promise of my commitment.

15-Invest, include and invite others to gain the best God has for them.

16-Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, walk often and get enough sleep.

17-Manage my stress well so that I have the emotional energy to deal with the issues in my life.

18-Face and overcome the fears that seek to hinder God’s best in my life.

19-Recognize that with God all things are possible!

20-Read something uplifting and encouraging daily.

21-Live, eat, drink, work, sleep, travel, in moderation.

22-Resolve conflict before it becomes resentment.

23-Be thankful in all things and to all who demonstrate kindness.

24-Accept the things I’m unable to change; be proactive to change the things I can.

25-Avoid excess in all things.

26-Be the friend I’d like to have.

27-Help as many others as possible to learn to get what they need and want from life.

28-Always enjoy a front porch with rocking chairs.

29-Catch a sunset every chance I get.

30-Actively enjoy my husband =) and the things he’s interested in.

31-Love as though I’ve never been hurt.

32-Enjoy my work everyday.

33-Meet my neighbors.

34-Live simply in the home Jeff and I build together.

35-Enjoy living debt free.

36-Leave a legacy to our children that will carry them all of their lives.

37-Take lots of pictures.

38-Gain wisdom around the things of importance.

39-Enjoy fireside chats often.

40-An openness to trying and learning new things.

41-Memorize as many of God’s promises as I can.

42-Learn to cook like my grandmother – a dash of this and a dash of that! Yummy!

43-Remind myself to slow down, sip the tea, smell the roses, smile for no reason.

44-Cease from strife and worry – all things work out in God’s time.

45-Trust God’s heart when I am unable to see or understand His ways.

46-Allow my experiences to be stepping stones for myself and others to benefit in unexpected ways.

47-Appreciate the true value in every relationship I have.

48-See the good in all things – even if it requires much effort.

49-Truly believe and live out the fact that God is good all of the time.

50-Accept others as they are in hopes that they will become all they can be.

51-Remember the movies, songs, fragrances that bring back happy thoughts and great memories.

52-Cut all excess baggage so that I may travel light.

53-Stay connected to those who encourage me and to ones I need to encourage.

54-Provide a home environment that is peaceful and a blessing to all who visit.

55-Serve those who have nothing to give in return with a hug, a kind word, a sandwich, and hope.

56-Be a super resource to help people learn ways to improve the value of their lives.

57-Be open to constructive criticism.

58-Speak up for what is right and good.  Say no to what is bad.

59-Find a little humor in every situation.

60-Laugh at myself more.

61-Spend more time gazing at life in childlike wonder.

62-Minimize the things in life that pull me away from what is really important.

63-Create traditions that draw our family closer in heart and in presence.

64-Be open to learning there is more than one way to accomplish the same goal.

65-Eliminate my habit of nail biting.

66-Be present at the important events in the lives of those I love.

67-Realize that the less often I make life “all about me” the more I enjoy it.

68-Be fun and pleasant to be with.

69-Be open to anything that will stretch me in positive ways.

70-Live in the freedom I have to do life as I choose so I can serve in love and not out of obligation.

71-Ability to speak truth in love when someone needs to hear it for their growth and maturity.

72-Consider the impact my choices, words, and actions have on others before I make or do them.

73-Wisdom in leadership development.

74-Develop the heart of a coach so I can be Great in my coaching practice.

75-Set goals based on my values.

76-Accomplish goals that positively impact me and those I care about.

77-Value my husband as the one who God has given to me to share this life with.

78-Provide a great model for others to live authentically.

79-Be involved in organizations that increase the quality of the lives they touch.

80-Spend lots of one on one time with those I love.

81-Brand myself not as one who merely seeks financial success but adds true value to the lives of others.

82-To seek to understand rather than attempt to fix others.

83-Have a working knowledge of Biblical truth to give an answer to those who are hurting or to those who are simply curious.

84-Overcome my tendency to judge and replace it with a heart to encourage.

85-Have empowering and enlightening conversations in my travels and around home.

86-Stand at the finish line often as those who have struggled overcome pain, sorrow, and fear.

87-Create an environment of love and peace wherever I go.

88-Be transparent with others and allow them permission to be themselves.

89-Speak to a group or to one with words that refresh and build up.

90-Proactive in hearing the needs of others and in letting mine be known.

91-Overcome passivity with assertiveness.

92-Experience miracles often.

93-Live consistently out of love and grace.

94-Let go of every weight that anchors me to fear or pain.

95-Truly care about the success and joy of others.

96-Be the best wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend I can be.

97-Live in such a way that the bad things I do are forgiven, and the good things I do bring glory to God and encourage others to seek a better path.

98-Overcome fear of failure and recognize it as the means for the greatest success.

99-Eliminate negative and limiting self-talk.

100-Love with all of my heart.

I had a lot of fun creating this list. And, I am encouraged to focus on what will truly add lasting value to my life..

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 

How Can I Avoid Relational Conflict?

Avoiding conflict seems like it would be the best thing to do to keep peace in our relationships. However, in my experience as well as coaching / mentoring others, I have found that ignoring tensions or avoiding conflict in relatinships, often becomes more painful than facing them. And facing conflict, with a goal to resolving it in a healthy way, can be considerably more pleasurable than avoiding it.

The biggest difference between a person who enjoys success and peace in relationships, and those who do not, is typically determined by how committed he / she is to managing conflict and resolution.

Negative options for dealing with conflict may include: avoiding it, giving in, becoming passive-aggressive or bullying the other person.

A positive, more beneficial way of resolving conflict may be to collaborate and problem-solve together, while committing to learn and grow by honoring the other person.

Sometimes the best way to avoid issues escalating, is to face them early on. Resolving conflict in your life is the pathway to intimacy, growth and peace in all of your relationships!

It never hurts to add a little humor….

Sheri

How can we handle people we are close to who have very different opinions?

Being easily offended or defensive when someone has a different opinion that does not support our views is a negative response that hinders emotional maturity.

Allowing respectful diverse view points into our thinking helps us grow and gain insight from different perspectives. Limiting ourselves to ideas only from people who agree with us can inhibit or destroy significant relationships.

Assuming that we are being rejected if others do not perform as we desire or show support in our endeavors results in unhealthy thought processes.

If we work to communicate with one another with kindness, patience, and understanding, we can cultivate ways to operate in love and empathy, opening opportunities for growth and strong relationships that impact us personally, spiritually and professionally.

Might it be possible that God intended diversity to mature and teach us how to love in a way that transforms us as well as others?

I believe it is worth pondering… 

Sheri