Which One Are You?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

When life gives you lemons how do you handle them? Do you often feel blindsided and react to the “bad cards you’ve been dealt?” Do you complain that what you really wanted was oranges? Do you spend months focusing on the “bad news” or do you find a way to make lemonade?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that you should be happy when life deals you lemons. In fact, it’s critical to validate your feelings before doing anything else. However, after you’ve processed your feelings, what then? How quickly do you look for options in the midst of the challenges?

For example, imagine you’ve just been told that your job has been eliminated. How much time do you spend feeling angry and upset, complaining about how unfair it is? How long do you remain in that “victim” mindset? Although the news surprised or upset you, can you look for the hidden opportunity within the situation?

As you process this, where does prayer enter the picture? Do you try to figure things out on your own, or do you pray and ask God to direct your next steps – for Him to show you the doors waiting to be opened?

Over the past fifteen years I’ve heard a lot of women’s stories. Many are filled with tragedy. They talk about unhealthy marriages or job situations, loss of a spouse or a child and toxic relationships with food, their body, alcohol or other substances. However, I’ve seen two very different approaches to handling those situations. One road is that of a “victim.” These women react as if thy were still a child – one without resources or power to turn things around. The second approach is the road of a” victor.” These women fully embrace their reality and then look for options that can help them move forward. They take steps to move from where they are to where they believe God wants them to be.

My question is this: Which one are you? Take a look at your most recent setbacks or trials, and see how you handled them. My prayer is that you’ve discovered those trials were actually trails that led you to something better. If so, you’re well on your way to a victorious life – or what I call “living wholeheartedly.”  – Alicia

Advertisements

Freshly Heartbroken

Hailey Mae on couch

Warning: This is without a doubt, the toughest and most gut-wrenching, heart-felt blog I’ve ever written…

I am saddened beyond belief, feeling truly heartbroken. Tuesday evening, my beloved dog, Hailey, was hit by a car and killed – right in front of my eyes. It happened in a split second and I feel like my heart will never be the same. This hurts – I mean really, REALLY hurts.

“Hailey Mae” was a Cavapoo (King Charles Cavalier mixed with a miniature Poodle). She was not yet 4 years old and still looked and acted very much like a puppy. She was my constant companion and her absence has left a huge hole in my heart. She literally followed me everywhere I went… I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without having her push her way in and sit at my feet.

Hailey had a HUGE, vibrant personality, with a lot of energy and enthusiasm… a lot like me, but there was one big difference. It took me years to appreciate and value my personality (and to drop the belief that being so enthusiastic and energetic was somehow bad). But not Hailey! She was completely okay with her BIG personality. She made no apologies for how she lived life… and she DID live a lot of life in just 4 years.

Every morning when I would shower she would lie under our window seat bench and patiently wait until I was ready for the day. And sometimes when I would return home, I would find her in our master bedroom closet – asleep, with her head on my fuzzy slippers, or, curled up in our master bed with her head literally on our pillows. I understand that originally, King Charles Cavalier’s were bred to be lap dogs for royalty. We used to laugh and say that Hailey certainly embraced that role.

Unlike our previous dog, who would only get up on the couch with a lot of coaxing from us, Hailey sprang right up on any piece of furniture she wanted – she would even get up on the leather couch and shove the 2 throw pillows out of her way onto the floor, so she could nestle in right where she wanted to be. Then she’d look at me with her big brown expressive eyes and her ADORABLE face, as if to say, “AHHHH… this feels good.”

She was without a doubt, the cutest dog we’ve ever had, and she literally filled this house with energy and love… nearly every day I would stop and think about how much joy she brought me.

Hailey was also the best example of unconditional love. I was often mindful of that fact, and would think about how that was probably a drop in the bucket compared to God’s love for each one of us.

Whenever I was sick and resting on the couch, she was right there beside me. Whenever I was sad and cried, she would lick the tears off my face.

When I would get my purse and prepare to leave for a bit, she would flop into her fur-lined dog bed, and then flop her front paws over the front. She’d hang her head low and look at me as if to say “Awwwww… do you have to leave?” Sometimes, she would even go to the door and sit right in front of it, putting on her most adorable face as if to say “I’m going with you, aren’t I?”

The best was when you came in the door after being gone even for a little bit. She welcomed you with such enthusiasm it was as if she was celebrating the arrival of a celebrity or someone famous. I guess she realized her biggest fan had just come back on the scene.  She knew that to me, she was much more than just a pet.  She had become an important member of our family and a huge presence in my daily life.

Everything wasn’t ALWAYS so great with Hailey… like whenever anyone would come to our house. She would jump up and whine and insist they pay attention to her wiggling little body. Or, when she would go ballistic when she was out in our back yard and saw our neighbor’s cat. She would bark – more like screech, as if to warn us “THERE’S A CAT IN OUR YARD!” Or, when she would go to our back door and ring the bells that were hanging there, to indicate she wanted out… then moments later she would bark to be let back in. Then she’d want back out, and back in, and back out.  There were also times like when we had a family dinner and realized Hailey was no longer sitting at my feet… we found her on top of the game table with her head in the bowl of guacamole!

Then there were the times where she would grab the downspout with her teeth and bang it against the house until a squiny would come scurrying out whereupon she would chase it and unfortunately… often times catch it. She was really fast and a MUCH better hunter than our previous Labrador or even our Beagle. Or, when late at night she’d go chase rabbits in our yard and make me wait for what seemed like HOURS, until she was good and ready to come back inside so we could go to bed.

Hailey and I had a very special bond. But in some ways it felt like she was an infant and I was the only one who could truly satisfy her needs… and sometimes that felt like a bit of a burden.

For all of Hailey’s great and not so great qualities, she had one that ultimately led to her demise – sometimes she had a mind of her own. You see she had the tendency to obey when she wanted to, and to disobey if she had something else in mind. – I’m reminded of my own disobedience and the fact that that always means pain and suffering, rather than enjoying God’s best.

So I pray… for God’s peace to return to my heart, and, for confirmation that Hailey is okay. My only solace is the belief that she is in Heaven, cuddled up next to my mom who would most certainly be scratching her belly and kissing her sweet face.

In my devotional this morning, God’s word says: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus so we do not grow weary and lose heart.” I also read that when God’s servant, Elijah, was tired and overwhelmed, God comforted him. So I pray that I can keep my focus on Jesus, and that He will comfort me. It just hurts so darn bad….

P.S. The high school kid who was driving recklessly and therefore killed Hailey, did one thing right… after initially driving off, he returned to the scene of the accident shortly after it happened. He had to face the police, the crowd of neighbors and me and my family. I understand he is a young man who is struggling with life. So more than anything else, I ask you to join me in praying for him – that this might be a wake up call to him… that it would lead him to the love of his heavenly Father, and that he would come to know the incredible man God created in him.

– Alicia

Have You Crossed The Line?

Failure Success 87217567

This post may especially hit home with those who are moms of adult children, like me.  As a mother, your tendency is to nurture your children (no matter how old they may be).  You want to do things to help them, to make life better and easier.  And that’s a great thing, to a point.

However, there’s a fine line between helping and that dreaded word… enabling.  Do you think that doesn’t apply to you?  Keep reading, as it just might.  Let me explain…

Recently, upon graduating from college, our 22-year-old son moved back home.  He started his job, is actively looking for a place to live, and will move out within the next 2 to 3 months.  In the meantime (while he’s under our roof) I have a lot of opportunities to do things for him.  For example, cook, clean and do laundry for him.  I love him and enjoy having him home, and I’m doing those things anyway, so why not just add him into the mix –right?

In my 26 years of being a mother (to our daughter and then our son), I’ve made plenty of mistakes (as every parent does).  However, I’ve also gained some wisdom.  In particular, I’ve learned that doing too much for our kids, can quickly become damaging –it can enable unhealthy and immature behavior, which promotes a failure to launch.  If you’ve seen the movie, “Failure to Launch,” you know what I’m talking about.

So I made a decision: As a general rule, I will not do my son’s laundry –as to do so would rob him of the confidence he gains from doing it himself; I will not clean his bedroom or pick up after him –because being responsible for the cleanliness of your own living space is part of being an adult; and I will not hover over him; try to control his decisions about what to wear, what to eat and what to do everyday –for that would stunt his growth and ability to launch.

As parents, I believe one of our greatest jobs is to prepare our children to become responsible, productive and kind adults; to train them and empower them to stand on their own two feet.  The Bible (Proverbs 22:6) says it this way, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

So if by some chance your children are having trouble standing on their own, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror -to see if you’ve crossed the line from loving to enabling.  If that’s the case don’t panic, just start RE-training them (and yourself).

By all means, validate their feelings, encourage them, and pray for them, but stop there. The bottom line is that living wholeheartedly means loving yourself, God and others with all your heart.  Just remember that “with all your heart,” doesn’t mean enabling.

Post note:  Before you come to the conclusion that this sounds harsh, please know that this very morning, I made a double batch of scrambled eggs so that our son could have some with me.  It’s just that I don’t make this a daily habit.   After all, he needs to know how to make eggs for himself, which I am proud to say, he does.  🙂  Wishing a successful launch for your children!

 

What’s The Fog In Your Life?

I was recently out of town and ready to start the ten-hour drive back home.  With a full tank of gas, some snacks and a bottle of water, I felt well prepared for the drive.

However, there was something that I hadn’t anticipated; a thick, dense layer of fog that covered all but a few feet of the road ahead of my car.  I wasn’t prepared for that!  However, I knew the one who always has provision and I called out to Him.  I prayed, not just once, but every few miles.  I asked God to provide a calm heart, clear sight and sharp focus.  I then experienced the inner peace that comes onlyfrom relying on God.

Nearly an hour into the drive the fog began to lift, and by then I also had the advantage of daylight.  The combination meant I felt much more confident of my ability to handle the situation and therefore, could have easily forgotten my reliance on God.

The more I thought about it, I realized that is a much more dangerous place to be.  Relying on myself is where trouble begins, and to do so is absolutely ludicrous when I have an open invitation to rely on God.

It would be like walking through a heavy rainstorm and choosing to go by yourself (with just a newspaper for protection) rather than going arm-in-arm with a friend who has a raincoat and boots for you, AND is holding a large, industrial strength umbrella over your head.  Why would anyone make such a foolish choice?  And yet that is often what we are tempted to do.

The more I reflected upon the situation, the more I realized this simple truth:  Only when I am as reliant on God as I was in the mist of the fog, can I truly experience the peace and joy that God has prepared for me.  What a tragedy to bypass His perfect provision, in rain, fog or ANY situation.

Question:  What is the “fog” in your own life?  What situations prompt you to rely on God?