Monday, November 28, 2016

It Feels Good clean out my laundry/utility room.  It's been eating at me.  The only thing keeping me going in that room was that I had to do laundry.  (Laundry today or naked tomorrow, remember?)  So in I went--stepping over piles of not-quite-put-away-yet tools, stacks of I-really-need-to-give-these-to-Grandma pictures, sleeping bags, and, oh, the next-load-needs-to-be-put-in-the-wash laundry.  Admit it.  We all have that space, but I can't do every room at once, or nothing will get finished.  So it had to wait.  And like most big projects like that, I waited until my husband was working and I was at home. Yep.  The day after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday was cleaning day.  I even got most of it done before said husband came home for lunch to find the laundry room exploded in his office (unfortunately for him, his office adjoins my laundry room).  There was no turning back.  I wasn't putting all the junk back in like it was, so onward we went.  Keep, toss, or give.  Those were the piles.  My beautiful 11-year-old daughter was the sorter of the pictures.  That was truly helpful, and while we're not completely done with the pictures, we are making great progress.

 colors: UL varsity blue & electric lime
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The irony in all of this purging is that I really just wanted the pictures.  I know.  My husband didn't believe me either, but it really is the truth.  I got the carpets cleaned in the other end of the house, and afterwards we rearranged the furniture.  There is now a naked wall where there used to be a china hutch.  And if I'm being really honest, I haven't really hung pictures since we moved into this house...4 years ago.  Oops.  Between remodeling and rearranging, I just haven't quite made it to picture hanging...yet.  Progress is being made, though.  You remember my clutter confession? Well, I'm almost ready to post new and clutter free pictures.  Almost.  Rome wasn't built in a day, you know.  My initial confession was on September 9th.  Yes, I realize it's now almost December. Apparently, I had a lot of caca to go through, but it feels good to be getting closer to the end.  The lesson in all this is that sometimes you have to dig through the crap to get to the really good stuff. Now to just keep it that way, but that's a post for another day.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

What It Means to be Perfect

Perfect can be defined as flawless, without blemish, not making any mistakes, without fault.  While I'd love to say that I'm perfect, I'm not.  I can't be.  This is a broken world.  Outside of Christ Jesus, there is no one perfect, so why do we seem to expect others to be perfect..and get really disappointed when they are not?

Someone told me recently that I expect too much from other people.  My "expectations are too high" they said to me.  Which at first glance seems like it would be a problem--and without grace it definitely would be--but I'd counter that it's not.  What if I can see more ability in you than you can see in yourself?  What if I can see vast amounts of potential that is untapped hiding beneath the surface, but you don't feel it?  I speak from personal experience.  I've had people do that for me. They can see something I'm capable of that I don't see in myself, and in the end I was able to accomplish more with others' belief in me. Here's the spectacular part of that: it increased my own belief in myself and my abilities once I realized I was able to do it.

 color: UL varsity blue
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I'm still not perfect, though, no matter how much someone else believes in me, but the growing confidence that comes after accomplishing something huge can be off putting to someone that is still struggling to find their own confidence.  Once again, I will remind you that just because I am successful at something, doesn't mean that you can't be successful in your own endeavors.  Just because you are pretty, doesn't mean I'm not, too.  Just because I am celebrating a success of mine, doesn't mean I'm demeaning your struggle.

Make it a beautiful day, Friends.

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Have I Offended You?

It's okay to be upset with someone. It means you have feelings and you own your opinions.  You're human. 

But what if I don't know I've hurt you?  It's unintentional, accidental, or maybe just a flippant error, but the fact remains that I hurt you.  Should you tell me?  That's up to you, but it's been my experience that sometimes yours truly just has a big mouth, and I don't know I've said something to offend.  I don't know I've hurt you. And while I'm not saying I enjoy that conversation, I appreciate in the end that you told me.  

 colors: UL sunshine yellow & cherry red #JensWallsTalk

Let's explore this a little more.  Hypothetically speaking, of course, let's say I hurt your feelings.  I insulted you in jest, or I made fun of your favorite sweater thinking it was an "ugly sweater contest" day. Now you're hurt, but I don't know your hurt.  Have you thought of what that looks like to be mad at someone and they don't know it? You fester.  They move on.  You stew...and they're not thinking anything more about it.  Now you're really mad--and I still don't know I've wronged you.  See who's feeling pain here?  You.

Not only are you the one growing your pain and hurt muscle while I'm living in ignorant land, but eventually we'll probably have to interact again.  You'll still be mad, and I'll still have no clue.  Do you see how this is working?  Not well for you.  In addition to the unhappy stew you've made for yourself, you're not doing me any favors if you don't tell me I've hurt you. You're robbing me of the chance to apologize and ask forgiveness.  You're robbing me of the chance to make it up to you. You're robbing me of the opportunity to take our relationship to a deeper, more authentic level.

All this is to say that if I've wronged you, please tell me.  I'd appreciate if everyone could coordinate and not do it all today, but let's be honest and real.  In the long run, we'll all be better for it.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

There Are No Ducks

Life is hard sometimes.  It's easy to think that if we could just get our ducks in a row, it would be easier to handle the hard things. Here's the truth: is going to happen anyway.

 color: UL antigua blue

If difficult situations are going to occur no matter what we do, then how do we prepare for that? Truly there are only so many things we can be prepared for.  Sometimes we will just be caught off guard. As I was practicing blindfolds last night at karate, I got a push from behind that I wasn't expecting.  It jarred my back a little, but I had to immediately recover because someone was coming for me. (To explain a little more, it wasn't a real attack situation.  I was blindfolded and searching to catch my opponent who is not blindfolded. It's part of my ongoing, black belt training.)  An attacker is not going to wait for me to get set up and ready.  They want to catch me off guard--when I am most vulnerable.  

The enemy is the same way.  If he can catch us when we are unfortified and unsupported, then he thinks he has a better chance of picking us off.  You're not always going to have time to prepare when it hits.  Know what you believe, know who you are, know what you will do before the attack comes. Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.  That's what Jesus tells us.  He knew this world is troublesome at times. (He told us it would be.) So He gave us a place to rest in during and after toils the world will throw at us.

We can't do this alone, friends.

Make it a beautiful day.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Democrats are People, Too.

It would be very easy for me to complain about all the complaining going on about the election results, but we all know how lovely that is to endure.  But here's something impacting I did notice about all the post election grousing: I'm really surprised by who's doing it.

We usually associate and are in close community with people who think similarly to us.  Obviously, not everyone that is a friend will think exactly like we do, but it stands to reason that we don't want to go around arguing all the time, so we gravitate toward people that have similar core values.  So imagine my surprise when I saw persons that I respect and get along with being vocal with their disappointment in the election results that I was relieved about.

There appears to be a trend of mass "un-friendings" on Facebook due to just such issues.  Why?  Did our friends suddenly become a stranger we didn't know?  Probably not. Did our friends suddenly have a massive change of heart on major issues?  Probably not.  Were they taken over by aliens?  I'm going with no.  So why was I surprised by their unrelenting passionate views expressed opposite of mine?  Maybe some of those relationships are more superficial.  I see them at the gym and talk sometimes, but apparently not about politics.  I work with them on a professional level on extended projects, but we never quite get around to chatting about discipline techniques we use with our kids. We may talk about disciplining our kids, but never quite get around to discussing our personal financial practices.  You get my point.  Some people we just don't go in depth with.  It doesn't mean I dislike them.

They are still good moms, dads, employees and neighbors in many ways.  Our world would be a boring, unimaginative place if we were all the same.  God is creative.  He made us to be, also.  I can like your creativity, admire your tenacity, or be inspired by your journey while at the same time not agree with the way you choose to only eat carbs on Wednesday (or whatever your particular belief is). It's okay. If we can look at each other and understand that we are all on the same team (um, hello, humans), then things look a little differently.  I believe at the heart of things we all want our circumstances to be better, but we have differing ideas on what that looks like and how to get there.  So stop throwing the hate bombs.  Stop harassing.  Look for opportunities to discuss with an open mind.  It may not change your mind, but at least you'll have a new understanding of your fellow human that we're sharing the planet with.

Ultimately, the President is one person.  We (as in you, me, and the millions of other human beings that comprise our nation) are the face and heart and soul of our country. Let's start treating each other that way.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Your Pain is Showing

Have you ever had someone tell you they would rather pretend they like you than actually do the work to have a real relationship?  It seems like an odd question and who would put themselves in that kind of situation in the first place?  It seems it would be better to walk away from a relationship like that...but what if you can't?  It might be a co-worker, client, or even a family member.  Then what?

On first response, it's hard to not be hurt and maybe even lash out in anger--bite back like a wounded puppy.  Then in the back of your head you hear it: hurt people, hurt people; healed people, heal people.  People that are hurting inside or that feel pain (whether physical or emotional), are the ones that so often seek to hurt others.  Or maybe they don't.  Maybe they just keep their pain inside and don't let it show...except that it shows to everyone but themselves, apparently.  Hurt people hurt people.  Out of the abundance of the heart flows the tongue.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Here's a news flash for those of you reading this that are hurting: please get help.  You aren't hiding anything.  We know you're hurting.  It's time to deal with it.

colors: UL cherry blossom & electric pink

 colors: UL crimson red & warm stone

Healed people, heal people.  I'm not saying that people that have worked through the hurt have miraculous healing powers, but I am saying that they may have a greater propensity to see past the initial slight.  People that have been healed, understand that a healthy person doesn't pretend.  People that have been healed don't need to pretend because they are comfortable with who they are, or are working to be.  No one is perfect, aside from Christ.  No one.  But I am still likable (lovable, I dare say), worth being around, and worth knowing.  Do I mess up?  Absolutely.  Even healed people mess up on occasion, but we're willing to talk about it and work it out.  But we don't need to pretend.

How can you be a genuine lover of people today?  How can you be real with yourself and those in your life?  Real and sometimes difficult is much richer than fake and semi-hidden unhappiness.

Make it a beautiful and real day, friends.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Biting More

We wrapped up our current session of Financial Peace University this morning.  We talked about the "Great Misunderstanding": that to have more we must hold more tightly to that which we have--wrong!  We talked about how far we have come in the past 2 months.  Changes that have been made in our lives and in that of our children and their children.  We've changed our family tree if we can grasp and hold onto and truly implement the lessons we've learned in the past 9 weeks.  But it feels like there is so much to do! 

It's a bit cliche, but I'm going to say it anyway: how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  As we worked through the class, each week we covered a topic that is critical to our financial peace.  It can be a bit overwhelming to look back at the whole 9 weeks and see all that has yet to be done...I haven't even made it past baby step 2 yet.  I don't want you to jump to baby step 4, though.  It's like building a house.  The foundation has to be set before you put the roof on or it just won't stand.  It will crumble and fall and you'll have a bigger mess than when you started.  It's okay to know what's ahead, but I have to focus on where I'm at right now.

 expresssion color: UL Sugared Plum
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The same thing is true of my house decluttering.  I know I have a long ways to go in a couple rooms, but I need to focus on one area at a time or I will get totally overwhelmed.  In my efforts to intentionally get more organized, I was looking for resources and plans that are practical and applicable.  I came across the Flylady.  She's been doing this for years, and like Dave Ramsey, has a proven system that breaks it down into bite sized tasks.  Here's what she says that I've really been trying to take to heart (and it applies to cleaning your house and your financial house):

So no matter where you are, don't bite off more than you can chew today.  Look at what you can do and start little bite at a time.

Make it a beautiful day, friends.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

If You Don't Fix It, It's Not Fixed

Of course it's not fixed.  So what on Earth am I talking about?  Anything really.  Relationships. Clutter. Intentionality.

I talked with you a little while ago about organizing and decluttering my house. It's not done yet. That makes me sad to say that, but I am on my way to fixing the problem. I have noticed, though, that there are several problem areas. For instance, the front door area. We walk in, we set our stuff on the dining room table, we walk away...and it's still cluttered like before, even though I just cleaned it. Result: I still can't use my dining room table. I can't just clean it off and expect the behavior to change that got it that way in the first place. I have to implement specific procedures to fix that specific problem.  

 color: UL bright white

I don't have a definitive answer yet, unfortunately, but I have acknowledged that there is a problem. And now I'm trying to find a solution. One of them may have something to do with mouse traps... Not for mice on my dining room table, but to deter people setting things on the table. Before you get all up in arms that I'm trying to catch my children in mouse traps, understand that I just want to startle them to make them remember not to set things on the table. This is as much for me as it is for them. Okay.  Maybe more for me than them, but the result is the same.

Sometimes we have to take drastic measures to change our behavior. I am both laughing and serious as I type this. What will you do to fix a problem or challenge and your life today? I hope it doesn't involve mouse traps, but maybe it does call for a little bit more drastic of a measure. 

Make it a beautiful day, friends. 

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