it’s just a light bulb!

I am so beyond excited for the latest endeavor in the area of ministry involving single adults.  I have started a Divorce Care Program though my amazing church as a Connect Group & community-wide outreach.  When I divorced 19 years ago this type of support group was probably not unheard of, but just not available in my area.  Falling in love with reading & being hungry to learn as much as possible about relationships, dating, etc., has helped me tremendously.  The #1 asset has been counseling other singles.  I learned to minister through my own pain, rejection, & inferiority.  You’ve probably heard the statement that if we wrote our problems on a piece of paper, put them in a stack to trade with others, we would happily take ours back.  Each story I hear reminds me of the redemptive grace of God & makes me realize just how far I’ve come in the season of singleness!  I’ve branded the name of the group journE³y focusing on the goals to encourage, empower & equip single parents.

Recently I sat with a friend who’s in the process of divorce.  It’s fresh, painful, overwhelming & just downright not fair. I am a well-adjusted, single woman, yet I have a personal vendetta against divorce.  While listening (key factor here!), I realized it doesn’t matter how educated, christianated (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but….you get the gist), successful or strong-willed someone is, when the heart & soul (mind, will, emotions) are involved we become vulnerable.

We daily live our lives unconsciously.  There are actions we do & never realize they’re being done until it’s totally our responsibility to perform them all.  Trash, clogged drains, yard maintenance, pool upkeep, & the simplest thing of all, replacing light bulbs.  When a parent has to factor everything that was done as a team to now being done solely by them, the slightest infraction can be the straw that breaks the camels back.  I picture a child afraid of the dark who is lying in their bed envisioning each bedroom accessory coming to life with monstrous teeth & claws hovering to consume the frightened child.  The fear of the unknown is gripping & can paralyze.  One day everything is manageable & the next it brings a flood of tears to our eyes imagining how we will fit this into our schedule.

The maintenance issues can’t even begin to compare to the psychological impairment divorce brings to a child.  Rejection, confusion, insecurity, separation anxiety, uncertainty, &  more. Children are resilient, yet these emotions can scar a child & affect future relationships.

If you’re a single parent, I applaud you with tremendous respect & affirmation.  If you’re a married couple who have single parent friends, step up & offer assistance.  A note of warning, don’t let their stubborn facade of “everything’s fine” stop you.  Our church practices & encourages performing ARK’s.  Acts of Random Kindness have secured new, tremendous friends for me since we’ve promoted it.  Examples could be from something small like changing light bulbs to making sure you invite them to dinner with your family.  I will not regress at the numbers of times I prayed someone, anyone would just invite my son & I to dinner after church that never happened.  I finally stopped praying & began inviting other singles to join me.  While this is awesome to form community, it also creates isolation.  A single parent was once a family unit & sometimes, it just feels good being surrounded by family.  One of our connect groups is family game night.  This was the one I chose to attend last semester & I can’t tell you how much I gained from those amazing weeks of association.  Besides becoming obsessed over the game, Taboo, the relationships are priceless.

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Life isn’t merely a destination, but who you become in the….

Blessings,

g

Maintenance

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Remember my beloved Volvo – Jean?

I’ve recently been performing some required maintenance on my car. You know, the battery dies & you replace it. Shoes (tires) wear out & I have to get new ones.  I live in Texas, in June & looking at 100+ degree heat waves.  My AC goes HOT &  I prefer not to arrive at my destinations looking (& smelling) like I just left the gym. Then…it’s the tune up required after 100k+ miles & probably brakes.  Because I’ve learned & teach sound financial principles, I purchased a used car that had all these points checked & approved prior to my purchase.  Of course, I’ve doubled the miles on it within the past 4 years, so…..it’s time.

I am frugal, economical, & even tight when it comes to these type things (OK…. most things!).  I shop around securing the best prices, request price matches, & order online as opposed to local parts places.

A friend asked a very normal question during a casual conversation discussing my maintenance investments.  “Why don’t you just trade your car in & get a new one?”  I say normal in the eyes of a society ridden with debt, stressed to the max & overwhelmed from one day to the next. I choose not to live that way!

ImageHer question was posed to my car, yet I couldn’t help but think how sad it is applied in relationships.  Being single for the past 20 years I’ve seen my share of disappointments in marriages, engagements & even friendships.  The “new car smell” has worn off & the “check engine light” is on requiring necessary, routine maintenance.  Wait!! Why pay for maintenance when you can trade in for a newer model!  Zero money down, free financing for a year, low-interest rates!    Newer models doesn’t necessarily refer to being age specific, but newer in experiences.  I immediately grieved for the marriages that are hanging in the balance right now.  Engagements being called off because he/she loved her/him, but doesn’t like her/him at all.  How many times do we see couples invest in their weddings without one fraction of investment afterwards in their marriage??  You see them too!  Many times a divorce is in process & the couple is mediating about who will pay for the credit card debt acquired because of an elaborate wedding.  Don’t get me wrong…..I love weddings, but have learned  I would now beg couples to invest in personal development, financial management & accountability instead.

There are many, many great *books available which will aid in answering questions & scenarios that are guaranteed to surface.  My ultimate reference is the Bible as it offers wisdom of the ages, timeless council & advice.  Invest in your relationships regardless of the stage & consider it the pre-loved inspection!  When maintenance is required, the resources are mapped out, emergency deposits were made &  you’ll never be left stranded!

Blessings,

g

*Not an exhaustive book list, but several of my absolute relationship favorites!–>>> Bible – God; 5 Love Languages, 5 Love Languages of Apology, & many other books by Gary Chapman; Wild At Heart – John Eldredge;  Men Are Like Waffles & Women Are Like Spaghetti Books – Bill & Pam Farrell;  His Needs/Her Needs- Willard Harley; Love & Respect and many other books by  Emerson Eggerichs; Intended For Pleasure – Wheat, Wheat & Rainey; The Anatomy of Peace – Arbinger Institute; Walking With God On A Road You Never Wanted To Travel and many other books by Pastor Mark Atteberry; Sexperiment – Ed & Lisa Young.

Buried–Parable of the Talents

There’s some things going on that I’d like to touch base with you about.  Have you ever gotten to a place in life where you’re not really bored, but feel a change is stirring?  I’ve learned to pay attention to these stirrings & entertain what they may entail.  During my years as a nurse, this generally meant I had to learn something involving new skills, areas of expertise or simply a change with the floor I worked on.  Each step brought me increase, not only financially, but in self-confidence & self-esteem.  However, these changes often required being uncomfortable or stepping outside of my comfort zone.  Later on I would mentor, precept & train others through the same processes with great intrinsic satisfaction.  I have a life motto– Never simply learn something for yourself, learn something well enough to teach it!!  Whether it takes devoting 10,000 hours or daily slight edge adjustments, do it!

Within the past few weeks I’m finding myself at the threshold of the familiar feelings.  Restless, indecisive, contemplative.  I admire John Maxwell & his wisdom & I’ve quoted him for years with this:

“People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to.” ~John Maxwell

I’m not sure what it takes for you to change, but any of those examples are amazing catalysts.  I’ve had a particular scripture resonate within my being to the point that I’m afraid I’ll miss the will of God if I miss changing.  Here it is:

Parable of the Talents

14“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.15“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.16“Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.17“In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.18“But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.20“The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’21“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’23“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.25‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

26“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.27‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.28‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

29“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.30“Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Worthless! Yikes!  I never want to be referred to as this! He admitted to being afraid & there are probably many more explanations as to why he buried the one talent.   I don’t want to bury what God has carefully orchestrated for me to gain knowledge of!  At this juncture I feel like example #2 in having learned enough to want change. This doesn’t mean I’ve arrived by any stretch of the imagination!  I’m ready to stretch my faith, stack new knowledge on wisdom & embrace the new.  Better still…….multiply the talents entrusted to me!

ImageWhat’s going on in your life?  Are you stuck?  Which of the catalysts for change is screaming your name? YOU  possess more talent than you probably care to admit.  Others could benefit by you exhibiting courage enough to step out & change!   One of my favorite men recently said, “I don’t mind getting stuck in traffic; don’t get stuck in life. – Bob Goff”

Bury the things worthy of forgetting & utterly leaving behind– excuses, self-sabotage, insecurities, fear, doubt, unbelief & others opinions.

Blessings,

g

Trigger Points

A few months back my pastor quoted a very familiar scripture.  We know it well when used in the context of turning our backs on God.  Rejection of who God is in our life can be defined at various stages, situations or conditions.  Let’s look…….

Jesus replied to Peter, “I can guarantee this truth: Before a rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you don’t know me.- Matthew 26:34

ImageThe story goes that Peter actually fulfilled that truth.  What isn’t revealed was the different take on this scripture.  It’s unlike anything I had ever heard taught before.  Why did Jesus reference a rooster?  Why didn’t he reference daylight or a specific person or event?  There are amazing lessons in each word spoken by the divine Savior.  Applicable lessons used  thousands of years later!  The sound of roosters crowing was an everyday occurrence in the life & times of Peter.  Each time Peter heard a rooster crow, he immediately realized his denial.  It goes even further than this.  Peter was reconciled to Christ & became one of the most profound leaders in the revival of the New Testament church.

There is something even deeper than his reconciliation.  As I pondered this teaching, I realized we all resonate with this.  How do you think Peter felt when he heard the roosters crow thereafter?  This was a daily reminder to Peter & would have been the perfect opportunity for guilt to eat away at his character & stand to serve Jesus.  How many times have we been out of the will of God, reconciled back to Him & yet……something would immediately cause guilt, remorse, or shame?  Those “somethings” are triggers & the enemy has recorded each & every one that  pushes our buttons!  I grew up on a small farm & had vicious roosters! The crowing was tolerable, but they had long, sharp spurs (talons) that could wreak terror!!  Think about it!  Does a certain smell, or lyrics to a song take you back to a time gone by?  I know it can with me!  I can hear the music from the late 70’s or early 80’s & suddenly transport to a dance floor!  I can even remember conversations!   I finally forgave Willie Nelson for being the typical male!  Seriously!  Can a phrase create a sudden lack of trust even though the phrase was spoken in a past life (divorce, past relationship, etc.) by someone long forgotten?  I constantly & continually struggle with releasing a fear of commitment because of this. I said it!  It’s out here in cyberspace now right?  Triggers, like the mechanism of a gun, in a split second, can be vicious & change the very atmosphere in our minds becoming a catalyst spiraling to sway our decisions.

How do we counter these triggers?  The best advice I can offer is to, first of all, know who Imageyou are RIGHT NOW.  I am not the same person I was 20 years ago or even last week. I seek to grow, change & develop into who God wants me to be.  This realization is empowering on many levels. Reminders of our past are perfect for triggers to arise & attempt to destroy us!   You are not the same person you used to be & hopefully don’t live there anymore!  But wait…..we can’t blame the enemy for some things, because we refuse to move on, let go, & refuse to live in the present.  Do you know someone who has the same hairstyle they’ve had for years because they used to get complimented on it then?  For the record…..Bald is beautiful guys!  LOLOLOL!  There are classic hairstyles ladies,  but let’s face it……some have to go! Another person may refuse to become technologically advanced because of intimidation or lack of self-confidence?  How about wearing the same perfume / cologne?   We set up the perfect battlefield –our mind– & the fight becomes self-inflicted. It’s a comfort zone that can literally be a prison.  I can’t imagine the constant state of turmoil many have by living this way. Please understand I’m not attacking / judging to be mean or degrading.  This is a different dispensation of time & one slight adjustment could make all the difference in how we view ourselves. One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 5:17.  If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away & behold all things have become new!!  Learn from the past, but please don’t dwell there!  Many, many years ago I had to look in the mirror & quote a mantra that, I must admit, was very painful to quote.  I continued & to date, it is the easiest, most uplifting thing I do.  YOU are amazing & once you take the time to know the real you, no one will ever be able to convince you otherwise.

The second & most vital piece of advice is to learn who you are in Christ.  You are fearfully & wonderfully made, the apple of His eye, made in His image, His handiwork, His friend & the person He surrendered His life for.  Each of those descriptions have scriptures attached  & committing them to memory will be your greatest shield of defense when a trigger happens.  Instead of reacting to the trigger, respond with the living word.  Anything spoken to you that is contrary to what the word of God says about you will soon dissipate.  Don’t misinterpret that there will never be triggers, instead…..you will be more discerning & equipped to face them.

On another note, sometimes things are said that convict us of something we need to seriously work on. Know the difference & I believe we are strengthened when we put forth the effort to change the things we can.

You are beautiful, yet not defenseless   When your “rooster” crows, pull the trigger back with confidence, conviction & clarity!

Blessings,

g

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Lessons Learned

Wow!  I’m so far behind in posts!  I have some notes saved to write, but I chose this to be the first!  In a world of best practices, advice, personal development, & etc., this pretty much sums up what I believe!  I respect this lady immensely!!

We could read & meditate on one daily & start over through the rest of the year!

Always remember lessons are invaluable, but your life is beyond even more that to someone!  YOU make a difference!

Blessings,

g

 

45 Life Lessons & 5 to Grow On by Regina Brett , a columnist for The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift..

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