Unplug!

We have now said goodbye to August and hello to September!  With a new month comes a new challenge.  On this Take Action Tuesday, we would like to challenge you to simply unplug.  Yes, that’s right.  In this world filled with all kinds of technology, gadgets, and devices, we are issuing a challenge to unplug!  Turn off those devices.  Don’t just put them on vibrate as they will still be a distraction for you when you’re with friends and family.  Turn it OFF … or better yet, leave it at home!  Now, I know that right there will send some of you into shock at the mere thought of leaving your precious smart phones at … ~gasps of horror~  home!   It CAN be done, and you WILL live to tell about it.  I PROMISE!

Think about how it used to be in ancient history when dinosaurs walked the face of the earth (smile, that one was for my daughter who thinks I’m as old as dirt at times).  There was no such thing as a smart phone back then.  You had no other choice but to play in your cave or entertain yourselves outside being one with nature.

Technology has advanced so much through the years that we have every kind of device you can think of.  There’s the desk top computer, the lap top, the iPad, Nook Color, iPhones, i-Pad minis, i-Pods, etc., etc., etc.  Who needs ALL of those things?!  We certainly think we do, but the world continued to spin around all those years we went without those devices, too!   We were forced to actually be creative and use our imaginations back then when we would play Cowboys and Indians.

How many times have you been in the presence of someone and felt completely alone or ignored by them because they had their cell phones out?  I have been guilty of checking the phone when I hear the “ding” or that special tone that goes off indicating a new text message, email, or Facebook message.  I was really bad about it at one point, but I have since learned to do exactly what I’m asking each of my readers to do – I learned to unplug, to leave that phone at home, or to leave it on the seat of my car as I went off trail riding!  Yes, it’s possible to live without being glued to our smart phones!  I am proof!

One major disadvantage that came along with the smart phones is easy access.  Everyone has such easy access to you that they end up getting mad when they are unable to reach you.  This happens when employers give a smart phone to their employees expecting them to be able to reach the employee at all times – even after hours!   They are expected to keep up with emails and respond immediately, even if that means taking time away from their families.  Sad, but true.  I can understand if you’re on call at your job, but for an employer to say that you don’t work a simple 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and that you’re supposed to be readily available at any given hour of the day or night?  That’s ridiculous!   People need and deserve time off and time spent with family without the burden of constantly having to carry their work phones with them.  That is asking a bit much, in my opinion!  People are allowed some down time and vacation time with their families!  Whatever happened to Family First?!

What about friends that have gotten mad when they’ve sent text messages that have seemingly gone ignored when you’ve chosen to put your phone away?  That has just recently happened to my daughter.  She put her phone away this weekend when we were together, and while it was a delight for me to have my daughter’s undivided attention, her friend soon took issue with it and accused my daughter of ignoring her.   A series of heated text messages followed from this person to my daughter, too, which was truly uncalled for!   So for this, I might add letting people know of your intend to unplug so they don’t get mad, or (in the case of some of my friends), concerned and worried when they don’t hear from you on a regular basis as they are used to doing.  (Now, though, my friends know that if they haven’t heard from me, it’s probably because I’m on the back of my horse trail riding some where or out back grooming them.)

With that said, consider accepting our challenge so that you are able to enjoy life simply and peacefully without carrying that smart phone or any other device around that connects you to the world wide web or allows others instant access to you all of the time.  You and your family deserve some time just for yourselves without the outside interruptions that dings, buzzes, and beeps bring.

Pull yourself away from your devices long enough to give the person you’re with your undivided attention.  Something beautiful will happen.  You will actually connect on a deeper level with the person that you’re seated next to, and you will get to know them better by having uninterrupted conversations with them.  They will feel important and close to you!  Relationships will improve!  And opportunities for memory-making-moments will be introduced.

So, give it a try.  Let those you know and love in on what you’re doing, and challenge them to do the same!

Here’s to everyone that wishes to unplug even if it’s just every once in a while.

 

Labor Day 2014

Do you realize that Labor Day is not just a holiday that indicates the end of Summer?  It also isn’t an excuse to go to the lake or grill out (although it is perfectly all right if you do!).  There is significance behind this holiday.

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September every year.  Our celebrations are actually due to the American Labor Movement and in dedication to the social and economic achievements of workers every where.  It is an annual tribute to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country.

Everyone likes a good sale, too, and Labor Day is actually one of the biggest holidays!  It ranks right up there next to the Black Friday Christmas sales in the retail world.

Also, are you prepared to put all of the white away?  You know there’s a “rule” that we can’t possibly wear white after Labor Day.  What are your thoughts on that?  Do you dare to wear white after Labor Day, or do you swear by that “rule?”   I have a pair of white sandals that I am NOT ready to put away, so I will be one of those that others stare at in disbelief as they mouth things like, “What is she thinking?!  There’s no white after Labor Day!”  I guess I’m a bit of a rebel.

So, how are YOU spending Labor Day 2014?  If you’re in retail, you’re probably working while others are out shopping for deals.  If you are lucky enough to have this holiday off, make the most of it.  Enjoy every single minute of it.  Whether you’re working or playing this Labor Day, be responsible, safe, and have FUN!

Get out there and make those memories!

 

Enjoy The Moment

This is the last official holiday of the summer.  What are your plans?  Whatever you do, please take time to enjoy the moment.  Forget about the problems you have been dealing with.  Put them on the back burner for now.  There isn’t much that can be done about them any way at this point in time.  Just take the long weekend to try to relax and unwind the best that you can.

If it’s where you can, plan an outing with your family or friends.  Take advantage of every single moment that you can spend with those that you love.  Make memories with these precious people in your life.

A lot of times we are sitting in front of someone, but we are not present with them.  Our minds are a million miles away, and often times, it shows on our faces and in our lack of contributing to the conversation.  Put down those cell phones also and pay attention the ones that are there with you.  Vow to be intentionally focused when you’re with family and friends.  Focus on them and enjoy the moment instead of thinking of what is on your “to do” list next week or what work you’ll have to go back to after the holiday weekend.  Simplify your life.  Life is to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest not packed with so much to do with so little time.

Take this weekend to just … be.  Whether it’s being one with nature, being in the presence of those you love dearly, or just being still and one with God and the universe.  Enjoy each and every moment that you have been given this weekend.

Blessings to you and yours!

Reach

The prompt word has been posted for tonight for this edition of Five Minute Friday.  It is:  Reach.

And now we begin:

I have reached a point in my life where I no longer worry about the opinions others may have of me.  When once it used to bother me when I would hear people whispering about me and giving me those up and down looks, now I just take a deep breath in and give it to God.  I realize that I am not in control of any one else.  I am only in control of myself and my actions.   If you haven’t reached this point yet, give it time.  As you grow older, things of this sort will not matter as much any more.  You won’t sit up at night losing sleep over this like you once did.  You won’t try to go out of your way to reach this person, to change their opinion of you, to make things better like before.  You will just simply pray for them and hand it all to God to work out.   It used to bug me when someone didn’t like me before.  I wanted everyone to like me.  The reality of it is that not every one will.  I like me and God likes me, and that, my dear friends, is enough!

STOP!

Share your Five Minute Friday thoughts with us here in the comments, or if you have your own blog, link up with us over at Kate’s virtual house.

 

 

 

 

Attention To Details

Today we are going to talk about your listening skills.  Do you think you are a good listener?  Are you sure that you pay attention to details in a conversation?  Or, do you sit there as the person is talking thinking of all of the things that you will say the moment they stop talking?  How about this.  Have you been known to interrupt a person often as they are speaking to be sure that your voice is heard in the conversation?  Do you interject when you really should be listening silently and actively paying attention to every single thing they are saying?

If we are honest with ourselves, we can be rude creatures.  We just have to get our two cents in, so we interrupt or talk over people.  Then we rationalize that what we said just had to be said at that very moment to make an impact.  Well, what happened to politely listening, then speaking at the end when you’re sure the other person has finished speaking?

I’m not calling any one out on this, just asking you to be more aware the next time you’re engaged in a conversation with someone.  I have been guilty of this very same thing, so please know, I am no saint when it comes to this.  I do strive to be a better listener.  I even fold my hands in my lap as I wait patiently for my turn to speak.  This helps me be aware of my need to remain silent until the appropriate time to speak.

How are you when it comes to details?   Can you remember what someone said after the conversation is over, or do you really halfheartedly listen as they are speaking?  I have also been guilty of this as well.  Again, it is something that I am working on to give the individuals my undivided attention.  They deserve this, and I would want the same when I am the one that is speaking.

Then this one takes the cake.  How about a person that listens attentively, pays attention to details, waits patiently until you are finished speaking before they give their thoughts on the subject matter, AND remembers what you’ve said not just immediately after the conversation but stores this information in their head for later use?  Now THAT is impressive.    I know a person just like this.  He is the shy, quiet type.  He sits quietly when in a crowd of people, rarely saying anything much at all, just soaking it all in.  He would rather be in the background instead of in the spotlight, although he’s no stranger to the spotlight either when it’s appropriate.  He is aware of everything that is going on, although some times people think he has tuned out somewhat.  He is storing up the information to pull out of his brain bank for special occasions like holidays or birthdays. Then there’s the “just because” gifts that he gives from that stash of important data filed away.

This individual just recently called me asking if I would do him a favor.  He said he needed me to check out something for him, and possibly do a blog post on the place he was sending me.  I gathered my pen and paper, preparing to write down the address for the location he wanted me to go to for my assignment.  As my pen was still in motion writing down the address, he tells me the name of the place: The Jim Booth Art Gallery.   My ears perked up immediately.  Then he tells me that my assignment is actually to pick up my birthday present from this location.  Oh my gosh!  Imagine my excitement!  I have never been to this art gallery before!  Now not only do I get to tour the gallery and soak in all of the beauty before me, but I get to take a beautiful picture home with me!!

Now as good as the above was, is, and sounds, here is the best part.  He remembered that I had commented on this particular piece once before.  I had almost forgotten that until he asked if I remembered the picture.  I had to stop and think for a second, then it occurred to me.  I HAD remarked about how pretty I thought that picture was, never imagining in a million years that I would own one and have it hanging up in my living room!  He made all of that happen … and he gave me a wonderful birthday present … all because he was paying attention to details when we were having a conversation together.

Who is this individual I speak of?  None other than our “behind the scenes” computer guru who posts his weekly column for We Care Wednesdays:  Gregory C. Johnson, aka The Quiet Computer Guy!

What is the picture that I am absolutely thrilled to have on display in my home?  Look no further than the below … in all of it’s beauty and wonder … Jim Booth’s painting of the Morris Island Lighthouse as it once stood complete with the home of the lighthouse keeper!  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you … my most favorite lighthouse of all:

Morris Island Lighthouse with lighthouse keeper's house

Let’s all take notes from Mr. Johnson, shall we?  Thank you, my dear friend, from the very bottom of my heart for always listening attentively and paying attention to details, even though I have been known to ramble a lot and get lost in what I am saying along the way.  Thank you for surprising me with an early birthday  present as grand as this and for ALL of the many “care packages” you have sent throughout the 17 years (as of this writing) that I have been blessed to call you my friend.   Whether you know it or not, you are family.  And, I see I am going to have to watch what I say around you in the future.

We Care Wednesday: Without Spoken Words

Card0

Sometimes cleaning the house can turn into the discovery of forgotten treasures. This past weekend buried in a stack of books I was dusting I found the following card I purchased years ago:

Card01

I love card shopping. A good card is a great way to send a message to someone. With all the advancement in technology, one could say that greeting cards are a thing of the past. I hope that never happens as I believe there is a special connection when you send something to someone that they can touch. It is a way to convey our thoughts without spoken words. Needless to say, the card was never given to the intended recipient. It was not sent because I changed my mind or my feelings changed but the situation itself never developed to where I felt I could share this with the intended person and I realized it never would.

As I stood looking at the card and reading the message I started to think about the message and how it could be interpreted in different ways. Of course, the initial intention of the message is to convey the love you have for another which was the reason I purchased the card. Let’s look at the message again:

“To be with you and have your love… is all I ask of life”

Is this not what we as children want from our parents? In our hearts is this not what we want from our relationship with God? Without spoken words, God has given us His love and understanding if we will open our hearts to let Him in. We can do the same for those important to us in our lives. Actions, without spoken words, can convey our feelings much more so than verbalizing our feelings. Even the smallest gesture can make a gigantic impact on someone without you having to say anything.

Is There A Thief In Your House?

I saw a saying on Facebook this week that went something like this:

You would never invite a thief into your house.  So, why would you allow thoughts that steal your joy to make themselves at home in your mind?

That statement makes a very good point, but I thought it needed a little more.  Thus, this blog post was born!

We do it all the time!  You know it’s true as you’re guilty of it yourself.  Intrusive thoughts worm their way into our minds throughout the day.  Some times we can quickly dismiss them when we realize the garbage that is trying to fill our heads.  Other times it is hard to stop obsessing over those same thoughts that just will not go away.

We beat ourselves up over things in the past.  Things that we have no power to change now.  The past is history.  It’s over, except for the memory left behind.  Good or bad, it is up to you whether you allow the good from the situation to remain engraved in your memory or whether you will allow the bad that occurred to overshadow the fun times and good memories.  Which would you rather focus on?  Surely not the bad.  Then why DO we allow those bad thoughts to remain?  Kick them out!  Don’t let them live in your head any more.  They threaten to steal every bit of your joy and happiness.

It sounds silly to even say this, but I’m going to any way.  When an intrusive negative thought just will not go away, command it to do so.  Even if you have to say STOP! out loud – DO IT!   Force those negative thoughts out by the power of that one word and allow good memories to rush in to take their place.  If this doesn’t work, try putting a rubber band around your wrist.  If you find yourself obsessing over a negative thought, something that brought you pain in the past, or a situation that was simply out of your control, pop that rubber band!  Once you feel the sting of it against your wrist, it will bring you back to the present day and make you realize that the pain that thought provided was not just emotional pain and mental anguish, now it is physically causing pain.  This alone should be enough to make you stop hurting yourself with the thoughts that you’re allowing to remain.

Whatever it takes, replace the negatives with positives!  Drive out the negative thoughts with bible verses that you’ve memorized.  Drive out the negative thoughts by reciting a poem.  If that fails, then put on some of your most favorite music and turn it up as loud as you can stand it.  Then sing to it to the top of your lungs.  I promise you that you will feel better afterwards!  But please … don’t put a sad song on repeat.  Find something uplifting that will leave you feeling like you’re ready to soar through the sky afterwards like a beautiful eagle or a butterfly visiting the various different flowers on a bright afternoon.  Let the music lift you higher and take you to your happy place.

So answer truthfully.  Is there a thief in your house?  Consider your head the house that we’re speaking of at this point. Have you allowed negative thoughts to occupy your mind?  Have they strolled through, kicked back on the couch in your mind and put their feet up while they sip coffee, refusing to leave you in peace?  If so, it is time to kick that thief out!  Do not allow them to steal one more happy thought from you.  Do not allow the thief to take one more positive thing from your mind that is the house.  Drive the thief out.

It will take practice, but you can redirect your thinking.  It is possible if you view your brain, mind, or your thoughts as the horse and you as the rider.  That horse likes to be stubborn at times and do what it wants to do.  It wants to go where there is no trail and carry you through briars and bushes, getting you all tangled up along the way.  By the time this horse finishes, you’re battered and bruised.  But, you can take back control at any time.  Pull back on those reins before it’s too late, and redirect this horse.  You are the confident rider taking charge and are back in full control again.

Take action today and no longer allow your thoughts to run away with you.

You CAN do this!

I have faith in you.

 

Nothing Personal

Have you ever read a status update on Facebook and just knew that your friend was talking about you or that post was meant specifically for you?  If you have, consider that maybe it really and truly was nothing personal.  Maybe it was just a generic post that was put up because the individual that posted it liked what it said.  Or, maybe the situation warranted that saying in the past but may not apply currently; however, they just like the way it sounds.

It is hard when we’re in an emotional state not to take things personally.  If we could reprogram our brains to function rationally at all times and not emotionally, we would never run into this problem.  Here’s the thing.  We are humans, and thankfully, we do run off of emotions.  That is not a bad thing, but it does get us into a little bit of a pickle on occasions.

There are those that wander around in this world so closed up emotionally that hardly anything bothers them because it simply cannot get past the walls that they’ve put up.  Then there are other people that are the complete opposite that wear their feelings on their sleeves.  I tend to be one of those people, although I have tried really hard not to take everything on!  I have tried to take a deep breath when I have been upset to try to ground and center myself, but there are times when I am not as successful as I would like to be in this situation.

I have been told that I am driven by my emotions.  There have been others that have told me that I am “too sensitive” as if that is a character flaw that I possess.  In my opinion, it’s not.  I would rather be the way that I am any given day than to be someone that is so closed off emotionally that they will not allow another person into their hearts or their lives.

It does take a lot to trust someone and to allow them in to see the real you.  In opening up emotionally, you make yourself more vulnerable.  A lot of people think that leaves you wide open to being hurt, used, and abused.  Not so fast.  I would rather live my life as an emotional, sensitive being loving others and trusting them to love me in return than I would to close myself off from the rest of the world.  Yes, loving means taking a risk of being hurt.  To me, love is worth it and so much more.  I’m not just speaking about romantic love but love of friends as well.

If others have hurt you in this life, whether it is a situation of the past that is still troubling you or something that has just recently happened, please know that God is close to the brokenhearted.  He will bind up your wounds.  He will be there to comfort you and fill you with His unconditional love if you only allow Him to do so.  Let God in, and consider tearing down those walls so that others are allowed into the inner depths of the chambers of your heart.  Not everyone is out to hurt you.  There are some out in this cold, cruel world that just want to love.  Allow us to wrap our love around you.

Date Nights

Remember what it was like when you were young and in love? How you looked forward to a phone call from that special someone and even more so to the upcoming weekend because you would be going on a date with them! Just because we are older now and married does not mean that we have to lose that feeling or that excitement.

Why do a lot of married couples feel that they no longer have to do all of the things that they once did when they were dating? Just because they’ve “caught” the one they were chasing after does not mean that the romance has to end. The days of whispering sweet nothings in your special someone’s ear does not have to cease, and neither do date nights!

I know that with demands from the job, a family, etc., some things fall by the wayside. Romance in your marriage should not be one of them! Make it a priority! If people would continue to do all of the things that they once did to win their mates over, their relationships wouldn’t be in ruins today. Be purposeful about time spent with your mate.

My husband and I have learned this the hard way. Things were great in the beginning of our marriage. We were happy and so much in love. Then other things started creeping in, and we stopped making our marriage a priority. We focused more on the children, our jobs, household chores, everything BUT taking time out for each other and our marriage. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, then, what happened next. We started drifting further and further apart. We felt disconnected from each other. The slightest little thing would irritate us or aggravate us. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what was going on!

Do not let this happen in your marriage!

We finally realized that something was missing, and we became intentional about the time we would spend together. We started making time for each other. All other things had to wait on days that we would plan an outing for just the two of us or a romantic evening together. We would make sure that the children were well taken care of, and then off we would go!

Whether we spent time on a dinner cruise, walking hand in hand on the beach, or grooming horses in our backyard, it was time spent together doing something that we enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, unless you want it to be. It’s just important to spend time together. One of my most favorite things to do is just talk. Hold hands across the table as we are dining out, and just talk to each other without a lot of interruptions, except from the waitress occasionally checking on us. Then take a walk by the water’s edge holding each other as we pause to look up at the moon and the stars sparkling for all the world to see but feeling in that moment that they’re dancing just for us.

This may seem small and like one of those “where have you been” moments! Just know that this happens more often than you may think in relationships and marriages. That is why it is so important to make time, be intentionally focused on your mate, and spend time together. Continue to keep the love, romance, and passion alive in your marriages. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married five years or fifty years. Show your spouse that they are important to you, that you love, cherish, and treasure them, and that nothing else matters in that moment but them.

My husband and I aren’t just planning a date night this time. No, today we are taking an entire day to go on an adventure together – just the two of us. I am looking so forward to our time together. As he was sitting near me drinking his coffee this morning, I asked him for his thoughts on this whole subject of date nights. Here is his response, in his own words:

I have really enjoyed our time together. It gives us time to reconnect and appreciate each other. My wife is a blessing to me. I feel much closer and the bond is greater than before. It’s like another level of intimacy has entered our marriage, and I look forward to our time together. It makes me appreciate my wife, care for her, and cherish her even more. My world feels complete when we’re together talking, snuggling together, holding hands, hugging … just showing affection. It’s huge! I have also realized that this is key in a relationship to maintain the connection, to show the other that you care and appreciate them. You reach out to them for no other reason than to hold them, to have that actual connection, to share your feelings.

I will leave you with that as we begin our adventure together today. Make time for those that you love. Carve out time for memory making moments together.

Date NightsDate Nights1

 

Change Is Possible

I firmly believe that if a person truly wants to change, they will find a way to make the needed changes in their lives. It might take a situation where the person reaches rock bottom before they finally make that much needed change, but I believe that everyone has it in them to do so if they set their mind to it.

There are addictions of all kinds (i.e. drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc.). It can be hard to get out from underneath the grip that these things may have on you, but I know that all things are possible with Christ! You don’t have to try to do this alone. He will help you if you only ask. I’m sure you are filled with remorse for having let yourself down as well as your family, but if you ask forgiveness and truly show that your heart and ways have changed, you will slowly gain the trust back from those that you love and who love you.

I have encountered a lot of negativity when I have been supportive toward someone close to me that has just within the past few months admitted that they were addicted to one of the above mentioned things. I will not call the person out, identify them in any way, nor will I state which addiction they have as they deserve privacy and respect. I will, however, say that I have had to endure countless “lectures” on how this person is never going to change, how they don’t believe that this person’s heart has been changed, and how they don’t believe that this person truly wants to make a lasting change. They feel that this person is talking the talk but is not walking the walk. They are standing in judgment of the individual to the point that it angers me. Why such strong emotion? Because this is someone that I love, and whether I’m considered naive, “in denial,” or just plain stupid, I still have faith in this individual. Why? Simply because I know that this is not truly who this person is nor what they are about. I have faith in this person because I know that they have the strength within them and through God to conquer this and squash this addiction once and for all. I know that this person is better than this, they just have to think more of themselves than to allow this cycle to continue.

This person has had a “rock bottom moment” within the past few months so much so that I truly believe the change that they have made for the better will be a lasting change. Sure, in the past it has only lasted two weeks at the max before things reverted back to the way they were before. However, I don’t see that happening now. I see a person that is in recovery. I see a person that has sought help all on their own for their addiction, and I see a person that desperately wants to recover and live a different life. I see a person striving to do so every day. Sure there will be struggles and temptations along the way, but this person can draw on the strength that the Lord provides so that when they are tempted God will deliver them from evil.

The sad thing about this is the ones talking negatively are the ones that were addicts at one point or another in their lives. They sought help and recovered, and yet they doubt this person’s heart and ability to fully recover themselves. How would they have felt in the mist of their recovery process if they had heard such negativity from people that simply did not believe in them? Would it have helped them thrive and continue on in recovery, or would it have caused them to relapse.

People can change. Change is possible if the person is sincere. No one knows their heart but God. However, I choose to see the good in them and will encourage them on their road to recovery.

Temptations

This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word: Change.