Behind every smile…

I like to think I look like everything is okay.

I like to smile, and put on the front that I am fine.

Having an autoimmune disease will do that to you.

Most days, I am okay. Most days, that smile is genuine. Some days, though, there is a quiet strength behind that smile.

We spent a lot of time this past Sunday at church talking about our thoughts. Truly, what we choose to focus on in our mind impacts our choices and response to our world around us.

I just had a conversation with my son. I reminded him that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. People often act in a way they do because they are trying to project an image that they have it all together.

So, I smile because I want to keep pushing on. I am a fighter. My quiet strength is founded upon my belief that God has a plan for me. I trust that He will carry me through every challenge.

I don’t talk about my ulcerative colitis often. It’s just part of my life. I don’t allow it to define or control my life. I am grateful my UC is mild compared to so many others. I am so incredibly tired in my current season. Fatigue is an unwelcome friend to UC. Yet, I push on because I have life to do- goals, dreams, and well…dishes to do, laundry to fold, bills to pay. So, I smile and push on.

Every smile has an untold story behind it.

Your mind is a powerful thing…be careful of your thoughts you entertain. They impact you greatly.

My favorite quote to leave you with….In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

What favorite quote, saying, scripture inspires you?

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Okay with me

Success is progress not perfection. This was a favorite mantra in my former professional world. We strived to be the best and do the best, but we acknowledged that growth takes time.

I’ve learned a lot about me in the past few years. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses or to be politically correct…my growth opportunities.

I self reflect to a fault. I strive to grow. I desire to be a better wife, mother, friend, leader at work.

But mostly, I want to be better with accepting who I am in Christ. I am His child. A work in progress. I don’t have to be like everyone else.

At writing group last weekend, we were challenged to write about what we like about ourselves. That’s not exactly easy to do. But, we did it.

And, I realized those weaknesses (a.k.a growth opportunities) are actually things I have grown to like about myself. I understand myself better. I am a INFP personality type. Click the link for more information or to discover your personality type.

Yes, success is progress not perfection, and I am a work in progress.

I am okay with me.

I challenge you to reflect and ask yourself this question….what do you like about yourself?

#infp

Believe

It’s been almost two months since I posted last. I needed a hiatus of sorts. Life was coming at me fast, and I needed to stop and catch my breath.

In the course of these past two months, I have changed jobs and taken a step of faith. I’ve come home in a sense, returned to my roots of discovery, to the place where I first realized my calling to long term care. I have had to close doors so I could embrace new beginnings. Grief of endings is a real process, one that I also had to embrace.

I have witnessed the workings of healing and redemption in some challenging situations in my life.

I have taken time for me. To reflect. To rest. To breathe. To reconnect. To rediscover. To catch my breath.

I am choosing to believe to expect the unexpected. I am choosing to believe that with faith nothing is impossible. I am stepping out in faith to trust God that this journey is uniquely mine, but I am not meant to travel it alone. He is with me every step of the way.

Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered how you ever survived that struggle? Have you ever been completely awed when you realize all the connections of your life have been orchestrated?

I’m so grateful for every experience in my life even the hard times. Especially the hard times.

I am choosing to believe this year.

What is your word for the year? What are you choosing to believe in?

My Moments

It’s been a little while since I’ve been here. Life has been swirling around me a hundred miles an hour.

Today, I wanted to sleep in. My internal clock woke me hours before my alarm sounded. Except for the sound of my husband snoring beside me, it is still and quiet.

My dog nudges my arm. He misses me, too.

I could go back to sleep but a long list of things to do looms before me. I will face them. Like all things, this season shall pass.

For now, I will keep plugging away at the moments that fade into hours, into days, into weeks.

I hold onto moments. Sometimes, in those moments of frustration, exhaustion, or completely feeling overwhelmed, reflecting on moments is all I need to refresh my soul.

My moments are nature, family, friends, my dogs. What are yours?

God bless and I pray you may experience some moments of stillness, solitude, and beauty today.

Everyday Wonder

I believe when you ask God for a sign and are genuinely seeking His will for your life, He will reveal one.

We have to be attentive, though. Signs don’t always present as we expect but then again, we should expect the unexpected.

A sense of awe, of wonder, of anticipation should carry us, guide us.

Simple moments should capture our attention.

For me…the grateful hug of a newly widowed man expressing appreciation for the care his wife received, moments of a person confiding their fears and sadness because you listen, watching a bedridden resident mouth the words to a Christmas song with her eyes closed, and the thoughtful Christmas gift from my staff signed from “your lovely team.” A supportive husband and family, a leader trying to help me learn better boundaries.

Signs, some subtle, some screaming.

God’s calling on our lives…those things that bring us alive and center us on a purpose greater than ourselves.

It’s easy for me to question my calling when I feel like I made a mistake or things fall apart or someone is upset. I know I too easily become unraveled during these moments.

Yet, in those other moments of everyday wonder, I am reminded He is working, using every detail of my life to shape and mold my unique story.

And for that, I am grateful.

Unforced rhythms of grace

As I drove home from a very long day at work, I listened to the end of a recorded sermon from one of my favorite pastors.

The message focused on being worried and upset. The scripture she taught from is a passage near and dear to my heart because it hits so close to home in terms of what I struggle with.

  • Luke 10:38-42 Now as they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and kept listening to what he was saying. But Martha was worrying about all the things she had to do, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, you do care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself, don’t you? Then tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her.”

Martha, Martha, Martha.

I can relate to Martha. I am the busy one. I find it hard to even sit still and watch TV with my son without doing something else with my hands… folding laundry, flipping through my phone, sorting through the mail…you get the picture. 

In turn, I find myself holding those same expectations of others. It’s like I expect people to be busy all the time. 

As I listened to the close of her message, something captured my attention deeply.

She talked about being still, in His presence, in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Unforced… obviously means to not force something

To take that one step further, it means to be free….

Rhymth…a strong repeated pattern

Grace…the undeserved favor

When I think of it all wrapped together, it comforts and amazes me. 

And to be completely honest, convicts me.

Why?

I find it so much easier to wrestle in the unrest of anxiety and fear instead of rest at the feet of Jesus. I ask Him to please take my burdens, but I so easily take them back as I play through the game of what ifs and conjure up a multitude of circumstances.

In the famous words of Dr. Phil…. how’s that working for you?

Um, well, actually not so well. 

What if instead I chose to rest at the feet of Jesus like Mary?

How different would my life feel if I trusted in the unforced rhythms of grace?

As anxiety tugs at the deepest places within me, I ask myself those very questions.

What if I trust Jesus with my worries and fears enough to let Him keep them instead of me trying to take them back to hold onto them just a little while longer?

Could I finally find the quiet I yearn for in the unforced rhythms of His grace?

I believe I could. And you can, too.

It’s a sweet surrender…a little more dying to self. If we choose to trust Him, He promises to be right there with us.

Give Yourself Some Grace

Two things happened yesterday.

  • One, on only day nine, I missed a post for my Write 31 days. I was tired, had company, worked all day, and enjoyed my son’s last soccer game of his young junior high career.
  • Two, I received a rejection via email for something I had submitted that I really liked. I thought this piece was really great…only the receiving end did not.

Those voices started in…

I will never be good enough. I can’t even write a blog post everyday or a title worthy of having someone look at my writing…

I have two choices. I can listen to those voices-the ones telling me that I am not good enough, that I will never make it in this writing thing, that if I don’t even have the time to write a blog post, how will I ever write a book?

Or, I can listen to the voice of grace. Today is a new day. I am grateful to have this quiet time to write a blog post. My computer sits on my lap. Yes, I have a long work day ahead of me, but I have these moments now to spend time with God and write.

Grace. 

I am not perfect, but I can calm the shouts of inadequacy and instead listen to the whisper that I will keep trying, keep moving forward because I am worth it.

Where do you need to extend some grace to yourself today? Which voice will you listen to? It determines the path you will take.