The Freedom of Letting Go….

If there is one thing to be discovered about the root of most of our problems / issues / concerns / anxiety / struggles / failures, I would say it rests somewhere in the midst of an inability to let go of things that we believe ‘should’ bring a particular outcome.

I hope you will stay with me here. Learning the grace of holding to what is important and relinquishing what isn’t working is a tremendous game changer.

Consider the morning flight of an eagle… he lives in the moment, totally focused on his flight, likely sharply focused on a search for food. He’s not thinking about how unpleasant the weather is, what other birds think of him, will his next nest building be successful, or why he doesn’t have feathers as cheerfully-colored as the cardinal. He doesn’t have the anxiety that is associated with all of this comparison and desire to have things a certain way.

Our brains are bigger that the majestic eagle, which gives us the ability to solve problems, write poetry, build bridges and unfortunately, the ability, to create many issues or problems that we would be better off not having to deal with. We can easily step into feeling anxious, frustrated, depressed or angry over things that happen or might happen to us, then turn this feeling into an over-thinking session.

If we choose to relinquish what we cannot control (if we can’t control it, what’s the point of holding on anyway?), we are quickly able to reduce our stress and our propensity to procrastinate, improve our relationships, learn to embrace change, let go of difficult habits and become more present and intentional in our lives. This would certainly provide some freedom, right?

Stress and anxiety often come from wanting things to be or work out in a certain way when they can’t or won’t. A longing or a desire to avoid failure, difficult tasks, confusion or discomfort, often leads us to procrastinate. If we choose (and, it is a choice), to let go of the way we want or expect things to be, we can learn to accept and appreciate things as they are, allowing us to enjoy peace over chaos. This requires us to focus on the fact that God is Sovereign and it is all in His hands and under His control.

When we experience significant loss, such as a divorce, death of a loved one, or loss of a job, there is a grieving period that we will face… it’s best to step in and allow the grief to come as you feel the pain or loss. Pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice that we make when we choose to hold onto or obsess over things we cannot change. When we choose to release it, we can allow the process to grow us. This often requires a moment-by-moment choice in the early phases. If we are willing to ask God to be with us and to strengthen us, He will help us learn the things He wants to teach us during this season of our lives.

Fear is often the deep root of our unwillingness to let go of things we cannot change or control. When we want (or feel we deserve) things to be a certain way, we can become immobilized in starting our own business, losing weight or anything that requires us to step out of our comfort zone.

Things that don’t align with our ideal are often the very things that help us to grow or experience things beyond anything we ever imagined. The fantasy in our ideals is that they whisper (or yell) that our life will be “easy”, that we must ‘know’ what we are doing at all times and ‘feel’ totally competent and successful. We tell ourselves that if all of these ‘ideals’ do not align, we will avoid them and refuse to move forward.

It is God who is the initiator of all change in our lives, and He offers us the ability to let go of what isn’t working for us so we can pursue our desire to grow, build, create, and truly experience the best of our lives. The pathway to achieving anything of value is growing through the processes of our lives. When we attempt things we don’t know, we learn new things, new skills, and with practice, we can get really good at doing them. My husband, Jeff, says, “When we learn better, we do better!”.

We can learn to be thankful for the challenges that lead to achievement, the discomfort that leads to growth, and the uncertainly that leads to learning.

It is all a choice!

I just lost

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!

Simplicity is the Key to Establishing Better Habits

Getting started on a new plan, venture, habit, exercise program, reading plan etc is not always the biggest obstacle. It’s the sticking-to-it that’s difficult.

The acronym K.I.S.S. can be a good fit here, reminding us to “keep it simple”.  Many times we are fearful to start something because we are afraid we won’t finish it. And we are right; if we don’t start it, we will NOT finish it. So the process to begin should be easy.

Do you have a treadmill or maybe a plan to walk every day? Have you been toying with it in your mind but so far no action has been taken? Consider giving up the approach of 30 minutes a day and make the earnest effort to do 5 minutes. You may be surprised how easily you can form the new habit if it isn’t overwhelming. Also, ask yourself, how likely am I to start big (walk for 30 minutes) and stay the course? What if I start small (treadmill for 5 minutes) and build from there, or simply incorporate the freedom that some days I will have 5 minutes to spend on it and other days I will have the flexibility to go for 30 minutes.

Often if we start with the 30 minute plan and the day comes when it doesn’t work out, we are tempted to quit altogether because we feel like a failure. Think about the fact that even 5 minutes on a walk each day is better than sitting home and beating yourself up for not doing 30 minutes. It is all in how you look at it.

It’s the same with saving money. You may not have $1000 to commit to a savings plan, but what about $100 or $10. The hardest part of any journey or new habit is the very first step.
 
And whether it is exercising or starting a savings plan, if you start simple, you will like it, love it, and then want more of it. It becomes a bit of an addiction ~ a healthy one, I will add!

Your tendency, as mine, may be that you want to do much more, because you’re excited. I still will encourage you to start as simply as possible. Staying with the program is much easier if you are changing or adding only a simple task to your regular routine.

So make it so incredibly simple that you cannot fail. After you have established that wonderful adrenaline rush from doing your new habit, you can build it to whatever level you desire.

Life is good ~ work, saving, exercising, living and loving doesn’t have to be difficult – set yourself up for success. Don’t allow failure to be an option!

My mom always tells me that “Winners are the ones who won’t quit”!  

Go on, get out there, you can do it! 

Sheri

Who is My “Favorite” Child?

Every mom has a favorite child. She didn’t plan it this way. It’s the human nature of a mom. I have my favorite too.
She’s the one with whom I feel a special closeness. The one I reach out to in a rare moment to share a love that no one else could understand.

My favorite child is the one who smiled with her lips closed because she was embarrassed about her teeth. The one who had such gratitude for the opportunity to have them straightened and followed her orthodontist’s guidelines to the letter.

My favorite child is the one who worked very hard to complete her school work so she could bounce into the world and into the career focus she had her heart set on. The one who is rarely swayed to waste time or money and is willing to delay gratification for the things she values in life.

My favorite child is the one who had to hear the news that she has to say goodbye to a much loved pet. She’s the one who will hold a little tighter to the special people and pets in her life for fear of loss.

My favorite child is the one who saves her money to give a gift to a friend or family because she understands that receiving a gift helps others to feel special.

My favorite child is the one who has chicken pox when it’s hot and sticky and to keep her from itching, her mom bathes her in oatmeal and puts honey on her “spots” to kill the itch. Even though she doesn’t like it, she makes the best of it. She doesn’t laugh two weeks later when both of her sisters are going through the same torture.

My favorite child is the one who plans a tea party for her friends and includes her sisters and their friends too. She later discovers a special knack for entertaining and decorating and becomes the family consultant on such matters.

My favorite child is the one who plays by the rules to try to be fair to everyone, and if there is ever one item short of something, she steps up to be the one who doesn’t receive it so that another will not be left out.

My favorite child is the one who has an amazing offer to do something really cool and when her mom doesn’t “feel right” about it, she chooses to honor her mom. She later finds it turned out to be a bum deal.

My favorite child is the one who works tirelessly at her job or on her project to help another, even after she clocks out or at the expense of her own time to relax.

My favorite child is the one who calls her mom to tell her she’s concerned about her sister because she’s not eating, she’s seeing a loser, she’s not sleeping, or a host of other out-of-character traits that she is observing. She reminds mom that the sister might listen to mom when she won’t hear it from anyone else.

My favorite child is the one who has to part with special items to pay her bills or to insure that she can buy something special for a sister’s birthday.

My favorite child is the one who goes shopping with her sisters and foots the bill, because she can and she loves to see how excited they are.

My favorite child is the one who plans the events that keep the family connected.

My favorite child is the one who is alone, away from home and family for the holidays, and calls to say hi knowing it will break her heart when she hangs up the phone.

My favorite child is the one who when using a questionable word, apologizes to her mom to preserve the purity of their relationship.

My favorite child is the one who sees her mom’s tears and cries with her and for her.

My favorite child is the one who calls from across the country or the world and says, “Mom, I can’t do this anymore!” And knows, that mom is on it. She learns quickly that she may need to come home or just have the encouragement of venting her feelings and know that her heart is heard.

My favorite child is the one who has to tell her mom some hard things about when she was growing up and has to muster up incredible courage only to learn that the bond between her and her mom only grows stronger as each one opens her heart.

My favorite child is the one who chooses to give back to her community, her country, and her world. She sees the value in growing up without everything because it helped her to develop empathy and compassion for others with whom she can relate to on a deeper level.

My favorite child is the one who cries alone in a faraway city when her heart is breaking with disappointment, having put great effort into making a job, a relationship, or another important event a success and things didn’t work out as planned.

I cheered as you learned to crawl, toddle, walk, run, swim, dance, ride a bike, drive a car. I watched you grow tall, walk alone, run from evil, dance for joy, endure the difficult times and press on when you felt like giving up. I have waited while you crossed the road, and prayed while you crossed the oceans. You were God’s best instruments for teaching me unconditional love, hope, trust, delight, how to pray, how to forgive, how to laugh, how to let go so you could soar, and how to view life as a series of miracles every day.

And, you will always be my baby! 😉

Mom (Sheri)

What Steps Can I Take to Live More Simply?

This journey isn’t so much about eliminating the number of shoes or books we own, the square footage of our house or giving away every non-essential item we own.

Simplicity, for me, has become the removal of the unnecessary things that tend to distract me from discovering and enjoying what I value most in my world.

5 Steps to consider if you want to live more simply.

1. Simplify your wardrobe. Adopting a minimal wardrobe has afforded me less stress when choosing what to wear each day. Eliminating items I rarely wear and only purchasing clothing, shoes and accessories that I feel most like myself in, has given me more time each morning and the ability to eliminate chaos.

2. Eliminate digital distractions. When meeting with someone, I intentionally allow my phone to take a coffee break. For me, multi-tasking simply means I am able to screw up two things at once! I work when I’m at work. I am intentional when I am in a meeting. I continually strive to remember that I own the phone, it does not own me!

3. Learn to be vacationally-minded in your work. Changing the mindset in how we view our work can transform the way we work. God designed us to create! Realizing that creating is our work makes getting to it a lot easier. If the goal is only for a promotion, prestigious title, or a larger paycheck, it will not be enough to fulfill us in the long run. On vacation, we are intentional in getting the most out of the moments we have and creating special memories. Focusing on seeing ourselves as ‘creative’ beings helps us to view our work as our gift or contribution to something bigger. We develop pure intentions and ultimately greater joy in doing it.

4. Learn to say no to things. It’s tempting to believe that saying yes to everything is the path to success. However, if we treat everything as a priority, we will not reach a high level of success. Unnecessary commitments and obligations can cause stress and friction in our relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. The ability to say no provides space to focus on the things we value most. It’s not about being involved in everything, but rather learning not to trade off “best” and settle for “good”.

5. Embrace the mundane. Life is truly lived in the morning coffee chats on the porch, car rides to school or work, standing in the grocery line talking to a neighbor, reading to your kids before bed time, caring for a loved one, walking the dog, and clearing off the dinner table as a family. It is these moments that we often hurry past. Yet it is these simple memories that last a lifetime. These are the experiences that write our story and shape our lives.

I invite you to consider what ‘keeping it simple’ could mean for you…

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

How can I let go of my fear of what others think of me?

Choosing to do something or not do something based on what we “think” others would say about our choice prevents us from having the freedom to make the best choices. Having to first “check in” with a panel of judges, internal or external adds confusion to the decision-making process.

Accountability and support are extremely important. And the folks in our life, who are committed to our well-being without attempting to control us, can provide excellent guidance for us. Having listened to our hearts and shared in our joys and sorrows, they are in the best position to offer objective advice.

A good indicator of these supportive relationships is that we feel valued and not judged, when sharing our thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams with them. When we are making choices that align with our overall direction in life, those who support us are willing to cheerlead and urge us on. And, if we are considering a choice that may not appear to be the best for us, they have the courage and our permission to remind us of our values and question us on the choices we may be considering.

The key difference in someone who believes in us, respects our choices and our right to make them, is that they will ASK questions as opposed to TELLING us what they think we should do.

To get over believing what other people think about us, it is wise to remember that their opinions of us are really none of our business.

A possible reason for listening to the panel of judges is a fear of failure. However, consider the fact that we never truly “fail” unless we quit trying to find a way that satisfies the pursuit we are on.

An effective way to face the fear of failure is to visualize the worst case scenario and ask ourselves what would we do if it were to happen?

My grandmother always said, “when people are talking about ‘you’ they’re leaving someone else alone”.

Yet, the truth is that people will always be talking; they will always be judging. This is something we have no power to change. But we do have the power to choose what we believe is best for ourselves!

Sheri