The Journey to Knowing ‘I am Enough’.

Several years ago, I had laser surgery on both eyes as a preventative measure against narrow angle closure glaucoma. During the weeks of my procedure and healing, I had to wear my glasses during my waking hours and not use my contact lenses. Not so bad, right?

Well, not anymore. But, it wasn’t always that way … At age 11, my already coca-cola bottle thick glasses were upgraded to bifocals. Pretty tall order for a little girl who weighed just over 50 pounds. Not the accessory that I wanted to add to my daily wardrobe. It didn’t matter how pretty my frames were, no one could see them for looking at two eyes that appeared to be a “uni-eye”.

The fun really started when I wanted to start wearing makeup. Guess what makeup does — it enhances your eyes so they can look larger. I tried every way possible to get mine to look smaller. I prayed often for my eyes to be healed.  If that wasn’t enough, I had overactive sebaceous glands and large pores.  So add acne to my list of “how do you see me now” wonderment and you get the idea of what middle school and high school were like for me. I was blessed to have cool, name brand clothes. But, no matter how I wrapped it, the package that I presented caused people to stare and whisper.

There were many times that I came home in tears wishing I never had to go to school again. (I homeschooled my girls, probably, in part, to feelings that I carried from this point in my life). Fast forward to age 17 – I discovered benzoyl peroxide, got my braces off and found a doctor that would fit me for contact lenses. With an overall improvement in my appearance, and starting college, I was moving up from stay-to-myself-shy to Sheri-the-social-butterfly. Suffice to say, my life in college was much different than high school.

While pregnant with my oldest daughter, I prayed daily that she would have perfect eyesight, straight teeth, and clear skin. (I did pray for my middle and youngest daughters as well… God has abundantly blessed!)

Over the course of time, I learned that my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth were not necessarily better because I had evolved from my moth stage to the butterfly phase. Regardless of the outward changes, inside I still felt empty, unlovely and unlovable. I equated outward appearance with love and acceptance. What a disappointment to find this wasn’t the case at all. What a joy to find that the more I learned to lean on God, the more my mindset began to change.

At 22, after having grown up in church and spending some years being the prodigal, I got my business straight with God.   At 39, I began doing a faith-based weight loss program, and during this season in my life I learned that God had been with me for all those years and was teaching me how to lean into Him to learn to do life well. Having lost my dad in a car accident at age 9, I missed out on the valuable male insight he may have provided about guys, dating, not compromising my values to feel loved, marriage, car repair, career paths etc.

I began to ask God for the abundant life His Word promises. This would take me on a journey that led me to value people without being driven by my desire for love and acceptance from them.  I began to see myself as He sees me. I saw that I am beautiful and that every struggle I have faced has served to draw me closer to Him and to the understanding that He has seen me at my best and my worst and loves me unconditionally.

All the while, He was patiently teaching me to love myself. He sent little messengers along the way, like the little four year old girl who put her hands on my face and told me that I was pretty, that Jesus loves me, and when I get to heaven He would heal all the “holes” (acne scars) on my face. 

So today, I can wear my glasses without feeling embarrassed. I smile when I touch my skin and find that as my daughter Rachel suggested, by eliminating foundation makeup and simply using a concealer as needed has caused my skin to actually improve.

Sometimes, I still ask God to heal my skin and eyes, because He is able to do so, if that is His best for me. Regardless, I am now happy behind my peepers, when I choose to wear them, and in my own skin. It probably helps me to be more intentional in my actions so that my inner beauty, the work that Christ has done in me, can shine through..

I am incredibly thankful for the ‘journeys’ that God has orchestrated to help me learn to see myself through His eyes and understand that His plan was for me to recognize that with Him, I am Enough!!

What is the Potential in Your Promised Land?

What are the circumstances you are struggling with just now?  Are you trusting God in this circumstance?  Is your faith for the small things or is it big enough to believe the Lord for the bigger concerns in your life?

Do you see God as big enough?  If not, problems may seem too big, and your failures may seem insurmountable, and your peace may be adversely affected by your trials. It’s time to remember that God is the same God who delivered the Israelites from Egypt, kept Daniel safe in the lion’s den and was present with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. Do not allow your inability to comprehend how big God is to limit the plan He has for your life.

If we are continually comparing ourselves to others and feeling as if we don’t measure up, we will be powerless to use our gifts and talents to glorify Him and bring the joy we long for in our lives..

 In Numbers 13, a scout team had been sent into the Promised Land and reported that it was flowing with milk and honey.  However, in addition to their positive report, they add a but… The downside is that in this land of promise there are giants.   Men so large are reported that the scouting team is made to feel like grasshoppers. They momentarily forgot God’s provision and guidance to the nation of Israel in times past.   They neglected the fact that He had always kept His promises.  Instead of seeing the potential, they concentrated on the problems in the promised land.

God came to give us a full and joyful life, not a life lived from crisis to crisis.   He never promised a life free of problems but He did promise a life never free of His presence.

Someone once said that,  “The problem with Christianity isn’t that it has been tried and found wanting; but rather that is has been found difficult and left untried.”   Are we giving up in our darkest hour, because we aren’t taking God at His Word and living in the light of His promises?

Are we prepared to face life’s ups and downs? Or are we exerting too much energy on things that distract us from going deeper with God? The storms of life will come. It’s not a matter of if, but when!. It may be time to step out of our comfort zone and into God’s capable hands and allow Him to fulfill the work He wants to do in us.

We truly recognize the potential in our promised land, when we realize that God is at work in us and through us and that He specifically gave us the talents we possess to be used for His glory. His design for us is unique and special, and He reveals His plan for us step by step. His expectation of us is simple obedience.

William Hulme said, “Because I know the WHO, I can handle the WHAT, even without knowing WHY.”   If we are unwilling to believe this, we will probably see more problems than potential in our promised land. The Giants will make us feel like a grasshopper and will crowd out the view of our land of milk and honey.

God’s plan and His timing are perfect. The wisdom of His plan is that He wants to lead us into the promised land. He will do so if we hold on to His promises and rely on His Word.   Follow in His footsteps.  Celebrate the wonderful creation you are – and use and enjoy the talents that you have been given.  Be an inspiration to others, rather than murmuring because you do not do the things they do. Allow God is help you discover the things you do well and do them with all your might as unto the Lord! (Hint: The passion God may reveal in Your Life, may be in the places where He has allowed you to be wounded the greatest!)

The Gift of Being Present

In God’s creation, we (humans) are the most unique. For the most part, most every other living thing, animals or plants, (squirrels do like to store up nuts), live entirely in the moment. They don’t consider tomorrow’s weather; or worry about who they’re going to meet with this week; they are certainly not concerned whether they will be respected by others; or whether they’ll be successful in their lives. They simply live.

This unique ability may actually be one of our biggest challenges, often creating a fundamental source of unhappiness when allowed to roam. Could it be that the ability to ponder the future creates both worry and discontentment for many? How often does God admonish us in His Word to be still and wait on Him? If we focus too much on our regrets from the past or our fears for the future, we miss out on living in the moment… a huge piece of calm and contentment.

What if we were to reflect for a minute, on what it might be like to live as other beings of God’s creation…. the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees?

  • They live in the moment – observing their surroundings and God’s gift of nature. They don’t think about much of anything or anyone until it intersects their daily path.
  • They don’t worry – at all; although they may have to react to a predator occasionally. Yet, they do not waste today worrying about the future.
  • They don’t spend time thinking about what others think of them. They live content in who they are because that’s exactly how God designed them to live.
  • They know how to rest. Just observe your fur baby who lives peacefully with no guilt, no troubles and no fear, worry or doubt. We, on the other hand, tend to view “busyness” as the mark of worth or value.
  • They are free and unencumbered to focus their time and energy doing what it is that God designed them to do – being a beautiful flower for the benefit of nature or a family pet providing love and affection to their humans.

We may all benefit from cultivating the art of rest and contentment, thereby, experiencing the freedom of not frantically pursuing the next shiny object that often leaves us empty and unfulfilled. Being mindful of this, may help us to enjoy life by design, which translates to mean being present in the moment and enjoy the times of our lives!

The memories we create by being fully present are the moments we’ll remember all our lives!

Being in Control ~ Real or Illusion

Letting go of the need for control is one of the (many) things I have to consistently work on to achieve positive results.

My default setting is that I want to feel in control of how things will turn out — control of a trip that I’m on, of a project I’m handling, how a conversation will go or even getting my dogs to “go” in a timely manner..

Often, it becomes more frustrating than the way I had imagined it could be ~ IF I were truly in control.

For starters, I don’t think we can ever really control how things will turn out. We might think we do, but how often do things actually turn out exactly the way we’ve planned?

I know my life has been a series of unexpected outcomes, despite my best intentions to get to certain goals. Even the goals that I reach turn out to be much different once I achieve them than I had originally planned.

Through my personal life journey, I’ve found that when I want to control the outcome of things, I become more anxious and tense. I’m less happy with how other people do things, less happy with myself, and less relaxed in the moments that I ordinarily would be able to enjoy. My relationships and responsibilities suffer because I am preoccupied with how I “think” things ought to be or how they turn out.

So how do I deal with this reoccurring struggle? What I am discovering is that I am unable to stop myself from wanting to control things. I can’t even stop the urge to control outcomes from coming up in me. So I have to just notice the desire to control things, and let the urge happen. I have learned that I don’t have to act on urges (emotions) that rise up in me, especially if they are truly not the best for me or others.

I’ve found this to be easier said, than done. My goal is to remind myself to see the urge, not as a command that I am required to follow, but simply a suggestion from the child within me. I can then be aware to look for the good things that can come from the situation, even if it’s uncontrolled. I don’t need to control things to enjoy them, I can just let them happen.

That said, I still take action. There are things I can control that have a positive effect on me and hopefully, on those important to me. I can look up information regarding a trip I’ll be taking simply because I’m curious and can then be aware of what opportunities may be available to me on a new adventure. I can be free to let conversations flow naturally. And my furry friends can take their leisure in enjoying being outside without me pressuring them to “hurry up”. These are all simply stress-management exercises from which I can greatly benefit.

I can experience the freedom of letting go when I realize I have a choice: I can choose to try to control the outcome, or I can trust in the moment.

I choose to trust as often as possible…..

Sheri 

6 Steps to Finding Contentment

 Contentment is the fundamental pursuit in each area of life. We want to get the house painted or our certification completed or the kids grown or something that we are convinced will enable us to finally be content. However, it is really a condition of our inner person. Sort of an at-peace-with-me feeling. It is also a foundation to enjoying life and being intentional in the moment. Can it be done? If so, how?

1 – Practice delaying gratification. Yes, you can do it. When you consider making a purchase, use patience and consider postponing the ones that are simply for convenience. If you end up purchasing the item later, it will be well thought out. If not, you’ll be happier to have saved the time and money. To the one whom much is given, much is required.

2 – Make a focused effort to remain inspired and to be inspiring. Spend 10+ minutes each day reading something from the Bible, an inspirational author, or area of interest. Spend some time several times each week journaling learning experiences you glean from what you read, personal encounters, a movie you watch or just what comes to mind while you are in the shower. You will be amazed at how you can gain such positive perspective from your quiet times. Invest in others by offering an encouraging word in the way of a note, text or call to them when they are working on a particular event or endeavor or are facing a personal trial.

3 – Unplug from the technology of life and plug in to the simpler paths. Change gears for half an hour each day by taking a walk or a bubble bath. Find a neat little hobby such as painting or woodworking that you can enjoy and de-stress from the working hours in your day. Write a blog — oh, I resemble that! — on something that you have learned in an effort to enlighten others.

4 – Get a mentor – be a mentor. Spend time with people you admire and learn about their lives and interests. They can be living instructional aids to learning how to do things in a different, possibly more efficient way. Find ways that you can share things or teach a class around what you have learned with others who will benefit from your time. Show appreciation for what you learn and for the opportunity to share. I especially enjoy spending time with young children and mature adults. The wealth of information and the creativity amuse and inspire me.

5 – Reach out and get to know a neighbor at home or work. Don’t worry, if you’re the new-bee you can still take the initiative. Every friend we have was once a stranger. Be observant in watching for common interests. Maybe you both have kids the same age, have dogs to walk, or at work, someone who goes to lunch at the same time as you.

6 – Finally, and this is not an exhaustive list, practice learning to be a great listener. By doing so, you will learn the true art of emotional intelligence and the high quality of “likeability”. When you work to listen to others at deeper levels, you communicate to them that you place high value on them and the time they spend with you. You will also learn how to take the focus off of your own issues and personal challenges and be an encourager to others. This goes a long way in developing strong friendships. And, when you build relational capital by listening, you may very well find that you have a great friend and listening ear in place when you are in need of sharing your heart.

Practice these steps on a regular basis for 30 days and judge for yourself if you don’t have a life that can be defined as being more content. And the good news is that if you are around people who are discontent, you may be the one to influence them to a more positive stance.

The one you encourage today, may be YOU!

Sheri 

Who’s Cheering for YOU?

Several years ago, I walked in the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race held annually on July 4. For me, it’s more about hanging out with friends and family who walk along together.

I’m not a runner. Not even a sprint walker — but I am a finisher. Mama taught me that the difference between winners and losers is that winners don’t quit. They may have to find 1001 ways to keep trying but the simply DO NOT quit!  I finished the race and it’s a cool feeling. I had some side effects from the heat and needed some extra R and R, but it’s all good.

What was incredible to me was how much benefit I received from people who showed up to sit on the sidelines and simply cheer us on.  The longer I walked toward my 6.1 mile goal, the more I felt the momentum to not only finish but enjoy it.  These people had come to sit outside in 90+ degree temps to cheer their friends / family and some complete strangers on toward their goal. Totally cool folks!

We had a group of 15 and some had race numbers and some did not. Some ran, some sprint walked, and some like me, strolled for the fun of hanging together. We were practically the last group going in. They were rolling up the wire fencing behind us at the starting line.

All along the way, as our group, The Tortoise Team 🙂 was strolling along, and most people from the sidelines had left to join their family and friends at the finish line or headed home, I was amazed that many had stayed behind to cheer for us. We were bringing up the rear and I didn’t know them, people on chairs and in wheelchairs, policeman, fireman, moms and dads with little ones in strollers, EMS teams, people singing, folks handing out water.

As I trudged along, I thought how much I appreciated these people for staying there to clap for me and whistle and say, “You can do this! Good job!” “Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep the faith!” The more I heard it, the more magical it seemed. These people just seemed to enjoy encouraging people to continue toward their goal, the finish line and the opportunity to rest and high five their peeps. I thought what great parents and coaches these people must be, if they cheer their kids on in such a positive way.

I thought how good it must make them feel to show up and support people they don’t know and watch them change from putting one foot in front of the other to dance with enthusiasm at the sound of someone cheering them to their own personal victory.

More importantly, I thought, this is the kind of person I want to be in the lives of others. I want to be the one who is known to cheer my hubby, kids, grandkids, family and friends, to their own personal victories. I want them to know that I believe in them.

How about you? Who are you standing or sitting on the sidelines to support and cheer on toward their goal? If no one has noticed, let me be the first to say, thanks for standing for your team! They couldn’t do it without you! We appreciate you. We need you. We don’t give up because of you!

Hang in there! Happy Trails … wherever they lead!

Sheri 

How can I build trust in a relationship?

In a Word (or two)… Be Consistent

My mom gave me one piece of advice concerning parenting when my older daughter, was born. “Be consistent. Say what you mean and deliver what you promise.”

Consistency builds confidence in relationships. Trust comes when we establish a history of saying what we mean and meaning what we say.  It is not an easy task, but one we often look for in others.

Observe a young child at play and watch how they routinely do things.  If they drop their cup and it’s picked up, they learn the game really quick. It’s fun to have someone’s undivided attention. Consistently in life equates to a secure feeling. It’s  just plain comfortable. Consistency makes us feel safe.

People learn to trust when they experience people who do what they say.

Sheri 

Where Is This Drive Taking You?

Often, we get caught up in the drive to do more, make more, have more. We are resistant to relax and enjoy what we have, feeling somehow, like a Vegas high roller, that if we just focus all our time, effort and poker chips in forward motion we will one day hit the jackpot of having it all.

What is “all”? And does having it make life better? Consider that from the one who has much, much will be required.. When you get the promotion at work, they don’t just give you more money because you smile so bright. They add responsibility to your plate as well.

If you have a job that puts your name in lights or on the door, what happens when you are searching to find the dimmer switch to set your life back on “normal”? Sort of hard to turn it down, right?

What about travel? Those beautiful brochures do not highlight airport delays and lost luggage, but if you fly much at all, you will probably experience the frustration and stress of the not-so-pleasant side of travel.

My point in all of this, is that we often perceive many opportunities to be flawless and perfect and we enter into them thinking we’ve finally arrived at the place we want to be. We buy the big house and the cabinets in the kitchen are high enough that we need a step ladder to actually reach them. The reality is that our dream house, the one we chose or designed, still has areas that frustrate us.

The biggest stress can be that we are just resistant to change the way we look at things. We keep on doing the same things and continue to receive the same results. It’s pretty disappointing. So, why are we so opposed to making a few changes in the way we think? We want to date the issue but not marry it. We want the euphoria of life being a beach party that we won’t have to wake up from and go back to our real lives.

The good news is, we have options! We can change our minds and our focus. A little reminder to help us get motivated is that our life, relationships, health, business, finances etc. will not change until we do. That’s pretty cool, if you already have the ideal life. However, if you are like most, you are mentally doing your weekly routine, but living for the weekend.

So how much will you put up with? What will it take? Consider where all of what you are driving at or striving to be or do will take you? And what will you have or be able to attain once you get there? One last point to ponder, is it worth what it will cost you?

When I’m striving for more than God has designed for me, I get nowhere. I only end up feeling frustrated, angry, and depressed. A little reminder, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) The Lord doesn’t want us to be driven; He wants us to be led–by His Spirit. (Romans 8:14) If we will let God be God in our lives, and yield to His divine plans for us, we will experience the abundant, victorious life that Jesus died for us to have.

Whenever I face disappointment or difficulty of any kind, one of the first things I want to remember is God’s promise that says, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8) Regardless of obstacles that come my way, God is in control, and He will move heaven and earth to perfect His plans for me. When it is God’s timing, nothing will be able to stop His blessings and rewards from reaching us. We don’t have to threaten, scheme, or give in to greed.

We can rest in Him, knowing that He has a bright and beautiful future for us that far exceeds our wildest dreams!

Sheri 

What is the Value of Living Simply?

I don’t know exactly when I fully realized that what I really enjoy is a small, slow, simple life!

It’s here where I recognize that truly special days can be a rainy afternoon and a good book, or a lingering lunch with a friend or loved one where we reminisce about the goodness of God or share the ups and downs of life.

Enjoying simple things allows me to manage my stress and reserve my energy for the unplanned and unexpected times and be prepared to respond in a manner that will not bring regret.

If I allow it, life can be a noisy place with loud voices pushing or driving for me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. All the striving can leave me drained of joy and wondering if I am simply not enough.

When I stop spinning, I can listen for God’s still, small voice whispering for me to know that He is in control.

What if I never really achieve accolades beyond the people who are my primary circle of impact? What if life as I have chosen it is good, even amazing, in light of the fact that my heart is fully engaged?

Since leaving the frantic pace of life and learning to not keep up, I have found that I truly enjoy solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy.

I have found great delight in sharing my deeply rooted faith, doubts and insecurities, in quiet ways and through genuine relationship with some very special women in my life who have invested in me.

We haven’t had a fairy tale romance and I follow hard after God to be the wife that will always be for Jeff’s best. This keeps me humble and I need it!

I am a mom who delights in her girls and in knowing they are free to choose their appointments with life. I consider it a special privilege to affirm and support them in their passions!

I seek the Lord often to learn to embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. I am at peace with who I am and what I need and believe it to be an amazing gift of God to walk in this knowledge.

I enjoy a simplified life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. And for me, it is enough!

Sheri

How Can I Live a Life of Passion?

How Would You Describe the Speed in which YOU Do Life?  Life balance isn’t about having it all or how many plates you can juggle, but more about relinquishing what doesn’t work for you so that you can be rightly aligned and fully intentional with what does.

Resisting the Hindrance of Resistance…Growth requires becoming an expert at navigating inevitable life change by learning to accept what you cannot change and eliminating excuses for not changing the things you can. Reflecting on where you and how you are impacted by things outside of your control is an excellent exercise for some super new habits!

You Are What’s Eating You… How much sleep are you losing, or how many ways are you indulging yourself over unresolved issues, relationships or projects? The more baggage we carry, the sooner we show signs of aging. So travel light to find the fountain of youth.

Live Free… Give of your resources generously. The level of your ability to freely give is directly proportionate to how ‘free’ you truly are. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Avoid the temptation to clutter your life or schedule with unnecessary weight. To the one who has much, much will be required.

Live Out Your Passion… Find ways to do what you love and share it with others. Express love as often as you are able. Do all that you do as if God were your employer.

Be intentional… All work and no play dulls our senses to the beauty all around us in the people love and the things we enjoy. Learn to adjust your speed of life to take time to smell the roses, experience the beauty of a sunset or the warm hug of a dear friend. The day may come, that you will be very glad that you made the effort!

Sheri