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?

Grace Giver

I think this is all part of the test, Tammy.

These were the words spoken to me by our chaplain at work. He was referring to my struggles with the IT issues and having to reschedule a portion of my licensure exam.

The night prior, I had made the decision to extend grace towards the representatives on the other end of the phone. It certainly was not their fault I was in this situation.

After eight phone calls, I was definitely feeling frustrated, but I felt God asking me to be a grace giver. And, I knew my son was listening, too.

I am in a book study group reading Because He Loves Me:How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

On the day of my test as I waited for two hours to see if I would be able to take my second round of tests, I read ahead in the book, grateful I had tossed it in my car. In chapter three, she talks about the concept of spiritual amnesia. She provides some real life everyday examples…a late repairman, a child who failed the spelling test, an overcrowded freeway… everyday encounters with life. She provides examples of grace responses and self-righteous responses.

This really stuck with me. I would say how ironic that the very place I read this would become the root cause of my extreme frustration just a short while later only I don’t believe in irony. I think God orchestrated the occasion.

I need opportunities to extend grace just as much as I need to recognize my need for grace.

So, maybe Pastor, you’re on to something…maybe there’s more to the test than what I anticipated.

And that, my friend, is a very good thing.

#write31days #grace

Grace in Every day Places and Spaces

Write 31… it’s that time of year again!!

I have been quiet here. My life has been spent like this…

Studying. When I haven’t been sleeping, eating, working, spending time with family, or at church, I have been studying. A lot.

Today was supposed to be the day.

I started the morning with my normal routine. I read a devotional on grace from a devotional my friend had given me. The author talked about grace not being all about comfort. Sometimes, God’s grace is what pulls us from one situation to another. Grace doesn’t always feel like grace. It’s not the fuzzy blanket and warm cup of tea on a cold day kind of comfort. The author cited the book of Judges where God set judges to save them, but they still wouldn’t change their ways. They couldn’t see grace in their everyday spaces and places.

Today, I pondered those words and reflected on something I had told my friend a few years ago. I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

Hear me out on this. When we are comfortable, we can easily become complacent. Growth doesn’t happen in the land of complacency.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This verse has taken on new meaning for me. When my heart is focused on Christ and I delight in worshipping and being with Him everyday, then His desires for me become my desires for me.

Some days, it takes effort to recognize grace in everyday places and spaces. Like today. I conquered one test, but when I went to finish the last two, the testing center was experiencing technical difficulties, and I was told I would have to reschedule. I walked away disappointed. I confess…I cried out in tears once in the privacy of my car. I had been ready. I had prayed on the drive there.

Even if life doesn’t turn out like I want, I know His hand is there. Grace in everyday places and spaces.

I will get the test rescheduled.

All will be well. There are lessons in seasons of unexpected waiting.

That’s His grace in everyday places and spaces.

Join me for 31 days of everyday grace. #write31days #grace

Comfortable with Uncomfortable

I remember sharing a thought with a friend once…I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

In the valley of comfortable is the land of complacency, stagnation, and indifference. I have been there more than a few times.

In Joshua chapter 7, after experiencing a great victory, the people face a defeat. Joshua laments, Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all-to deliver us into the land of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?

How does God answer him? Get up!!

How easy do we forget our victories when we are faced with challenges, defeats, and mountains??

I am not comfortable now. I am being stretched and challenged. More than once recently, I have felt God telling me to get up when I felt knocked down.

This morning, I can smile. I have had some challenging days, but I have sensed the Hand of God all over my life. Little things have caused me to step back and smile. Progress not perfection. Seeing my son interact in such caring ways with residents. Positive interactions with the staff and residents. Allowing myself to take feedback, reflect, and be willing to grow from it instead of internalizing and being defensive.

Sometimes in the midst of struggle, it can be hard to find the light in the desert.

The light is there. When we keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on God, it keeps our focus on where it should be. My friend, I don’t know what your life looks like, but if you are feeling uncomfortable…trust God to use your situation to stretch you and grow you closer to Him.

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.