Friday, May 31, 2019

Notifications



I received your text message. Seeing it was from you made me smile.

I am so thankful for the prayer you sent by email last evening. Thank you for praying for me and encouraging me.

Thank you for reaching out to me on social media. I love the fact that we can share in each other's day and connect when we live so far away from each other.

I love the jokes you sent me.  I laughed much longer than necessary. Thank you for making me laugh today.


Ding. Vibration. Ring.  All day long every day.  Our phones vibrate, ring, light up and alert us that someone is attempting to get into contact with us.  Sometimes, the notifications are annoying. They alert us while we are working, when we are with a client, trying to make dinner,  or working with kids on homework.  We silence our phone and stash it in a location to be picked up later when we actually have time to address other matters.  But there are also the notifications that make us smile.

When my phone rings, and it my sister or my best friend, I am so excited to see they are calling.  An email from a friend I haven't stayed in contact with very well can change the course of a day.  Even the occasional like or heart on social media. Or the comments of, "You are not alone, me too."  "I miss you, can we get together next week?"  "I love seeing how much your kids are growing up!" These notifications warm my heart, enable me to treasure relationships even more and crave community.

But that is the point.  Technological touch points throughout the day should encourage us to take one step further.  To reach out to the friend going through a tough time and actually sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee together.  To meet that group of friends that has promised to get together for the last year and haven't been able to find a time that works.  Our days should be filled with the physical presence of loved ones, not just the online presence.

My favorite notifications make me smile and sometimes blush. They make me feel good about relationships and affirm what I have been investing in and what I have been encouraged by.  Notifications are often the -I love you, I am thinking of you, I am praying for you, I miss you - that we all need and want to hear.



Friday, May 24, 2019

Close Attention



I wondered for three days if my feelings were justified.  Three days.  I had been hurt by an acquaintance when they were rude to me.  I love being a writer.  It brings me great joy to write about life, what makes me happy, what challenges me and what helps me connect with other people. The person who hurt me asked me about being a Professional Organizer.  I refer to being a Professional Organizer as my day time job.  The person asked me if I was "still holding on to the dream of being a writer."  I knew exactly how this conversation was going to play out.  I explained that I was very much a writer and just because I haven't sold a book to a publisher, doesn't mean that I am not a writer.  She scoffed and replied, "Well, I am glad you are having fun with your hobby," and then changed the subject.

I have come to realize that people do not view writers as writers unless they are on the New York Times Best Sellers List.  That a writer isn't a writer if they haven't written ten books and their name is recognized by the masses.  These two ideas are preposterous.  When this woman referred to writing being my hobby,  I knew that she already had a preconceived idea of what she thought a writer should be, and I didn't meet her expectations. She also thought that whatever I had to say wouldn't be relevant and changed the conversation immediately.

I could have retaliated. I could have spoken up for myself.  I could have volunteered all the ways that I am an actual writer.  I have written over 250 short stories, articles, book reviews and poems that have been published in print and online. I have written and conducted a memoir writing class and created a solid curriculum and instructions for writing a book of 30 short stories in 30 days.  I have 9 anthology book inclusions in the last two years.  I have written two books. One a non fiction short story memoir and the other, a children's book about my son Zach as a teen with Autism. I am working on my third book of fiction short stories. -But I didn't volunteer any of this information.  She isn't a friend. She isn't my intended audience. There isn't a reason under the sun why I should ever feel the need to justify something that I love doing.

I love when people tell me about their lives. About the jobs they enjoy, the work they struggle with, the unrealized dreams of what they hope to do someday.  I also am so excited when I hear of accomplishments and successes. I love knowing when things aren't working out the way someone has planned and how I can be praying for people. I love when my circle of friends live life together and share in every life happening.  This is what friends do.  They love each other. They support each other. They pray for each other.

I wonder how you have been hurt. Started a small business and all of your friends told you they thought it was so great, but no one bought anything or supported you? You shared your dream of what you wanted to do someday and then were told it was impractical and that you shouldn't quit your day job?  Worked yourself to the bone and proved yourself to be a loyal employee only to be passed over time and time again for the promotion you desired?  Finally succeeded and some never really committed to memory what you actually were working so hard to accomplish because it wasn't viewed a worthy? People and relationships are hard!  People are prickly, sometimes downright abrasive and often not supportive.  They are self centered, unwilling to praise others and do not let themselves be excited for someone else's success. To me, that is a sorry state of existence.

I love observing people. Their word choices, their mannerisms, the flow of conversation and even the words left unsaid.  And in all these years of observing people, I have learned that it is very important to pay close attention to the people who don't clap when you win.

Never beg for affirmation. Never work for a friendship or for someone to like you.  Sometimes, it is time to circle the wagons and tighten your sphere down to the ones who naturally clap when you win.  To pare your relationships down to those that matter.  To surround yourself with people who build you up and not tear you down.  To only love  people that love you and take mutual joy in all of your successes and walk with you through the dessert of pain and suffering.

Those three days that I spent wondering if my hurt feelings were justified?  Those were three wasted days.  My feelings were justified and I do not need to look elsewhere to understand this fact.  There is a reason why this woman who hurt me is an acquaintance and not a friend and involved in my every day life. Her referring to my "hobby" reminded me exactly why she has been kept at arms length.  The next time she and I come face to face, I will be kind, I will greet her warmly, and I will move on.  Because I do not plan to waste energy on those that do not clap for me.



-Side note- Do not greet me with a round of applause the next time I see you. You know who you are my snarky friends.




Power




I have found myself many times thinking about trials and suffering. Probably because I have seen more than my fair share in my lifetime. My dad left my family when I was 12. I took ill with Lyme Disease when I was 14. Struggled with family dynamics and relationships when I was an older teen. I had to dropout of college because we were poor and I ran out of money. I married young and then struggled with infertility issues.  Dealt with harassment in the workplace. My first child had severe developmental delays and was later diagnosed with Autism. My husband was diagnosed with a medical condition that will forever change his life and he will never fully recover. I took ill again and faced 4 significant surgeries over the past two years. So many trials, some have questioned how I continue when faced with such adversity. That inner strength is Christ in me.

I was raised in a small family in the country in Minnesota. My parents were encouraging and poured into my sister's and my life. They provided a faith foundation and made sure we went to a Bible preaching church and answered our questions about God and His Son Jesus. We were provided with Bibles and shown how exciting the stories and lessons from the Bible were. We were able to attend summer camps and youth retreats where our knowledge about God as a loving Father and as the creator of the Universe grew. Our parents understood the importance of us as children developing a faith in Jesus that was our own. Not just a faith that our parents practiced. As a teenager, I discovered a saving faith in Jesus and continued to seek after Biblical knowledge, spend time in The Word and spend time in prayer.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -- In this verse alone, I found that faith was about hope and assurance. Two things that most people continually desire in life. But the most important aspect is confidence. Confidence in the saving grace of Jesus who died on the cross for my sins.

I do not practice a religion. I do not associate with a denomination. I identify as a Christian (a Christ follower) who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I place my faith and my trust in Him. I have placed my life in His hands.

With any faith or belief system, it is often personal, yet life changing.  And my Christian walk has been just that. Through each trial, in every challenge, I am reminded that I am not alone, I have a personal God who cares and provides for me.  I am also reminded that suffering is temporary and lasts but a night, and joy comes in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

I am joy filled person. And it is the Joy of the Lord that is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) I love life and live it to the fullest.  I enjoy being a wife, a mother, and friend. I want to encourage, help and serve others when I can and pour into their lives the way my parents did for my sister and I.  I also love being a writer.  I write about life and what matters. I write about my family and relationships with other people. I write about what hurts, what makes me smile each day, and I write about the importance of a personal faith foundation.  My strength isn't self supported. I have absolutely nothing to do with it. I am faulty human at best.  But I am strong because the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside me. (Romans 8:11)

When I tell you I am just 10 weeks into recovery from extensive surgery, most would still be curled up in bed and resting at home.  I get up each day, I pray and I ask for strength.  Strength which I do not possess on my own, but strength that is found in Jesus. When I smile and laugh and enjoy each day that is given to me, I know that each day is an actual gift and we are not promised another. So I choose to live each day to fullest, to seek out others who choose to do the same and share my faith. That is where my true inner strength is found.  A confidence in what I hope for, yet can not see.







Honor

Honor By: Kelli J Gavin  When my grandmother passed, I felt defeated and utterly broken. She was the last of my grandparents left...