Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Be Careful What You Paint

I use these words to describe my friend Alycia:

Why?  Because she IS all these things.  She’s a business woman and a public speaker.  She’s a singer and a songwriter.  She’s a mother, a wife, and a homeschooler.  She’s someone I and a lot of other people look up to.

So, tell me, what kind of picture of Alycia do these words paint in your mind?  What would you expect her to look like, to sound like, to act like?

Take a second to really think about this.

Now, think some more.

Here’s another word that some people use to describe her:

Why?  Because Alycia has Bipolar Disorder.

Now, what does your mind’s eye see?  What’s your picture of her?

If I saw your picture, would I use these words to describe it?...

What does it take for you to say “I know all there is to know about them.”?  A word?  A label?  One non-typical encounter?

Be careful that you don’t paint someone’s portrait using just one of the colors on your pallet, especially if that color’s tainted.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Choose The Story You Tell Yourself

Like many newlyweds, Mike and I looked forward to a bright, “happily-ever-after” future following our brief courtship and joyful wedding.  The first couple decades included so many blessings…
Six wonderful children
Fun family trips to the cabin
Weekends at Grandma’s lake home
Good health, great friends, and Spirit-filled churches
Years of productive homeschooling
Continuous employment income
Peace, safety, and growth

…but also heartaches and rough patches, like…
Unwise decisions
Loss of parents and friends
Loss of forty-thousand dollars
Health issues that grew into crises
Loss of many pre-born children
Six homes in five years
Lost dreams

Now, our lists might pale in comparison to yours, but author Bronnie Ware’s guidance speaks to us all:
“…remember the happy times.  Even if they bring memories that also make you sad, try to focus on the good times.  It's easy to get caught up in feelings of loss, loneliness, or lack, rather than in the blessings that were once there."

While we can’t forget painful events, we can choose what we focus on.  And what we focus on ultimately colors our vision, shapes our feelings, and affects our future.

If we focus mostly on the recent or the difficult, we’ll live like that’s all there is or ever was—or worse, can ever be.  We’ll tell ourselves: “Life’s terrible!”

We’ll forget the starry-eyed love that filled our early years.  We’ll miss the encouragement for today that past successes give.  And we’ll lose the hope of a better tomorrow.

If we focus instead on the blessings and the growth—tempered by the wisdom that only pain and disappointment can bring—we’ll live like our past was a teacher, our present is a guide, and our future will be better than we can imagine!  We’ll tell ourselves: “Life’s wonderful!”

We’ll rejoice in past blessings that are still fresh today.  We’ll find strength for the journey in the struggles of the past.  And we’ll greet each morning with excitement and anticipation!

Regardless of your past or present, what you focus on is your choice, and yours alone.  Know, though, that whatever you choose writes the story you tell yourself.  And that story affects everything.

Choose wisely.  Choose ‘WONDERFUL’!