Reflections

As I sit here thinking back on the last several weeks, I am reminded how precious our time is here on earth and how important it is to live our lives to the fullest every single moment we are given and whatever we choose to do, we do it with unbridled passion. Near the beginning of the month, a lifelong friend, that had so courageously battled cancer and never given up hope that she would survive, was killed by her husband.  

She cherished life and her children/grandchildren. She loved her friends and always had something positive to say, no matter how bleak things were for her. She was always smiling, for as long as I can remember. Always smiling on the outside. Always a kind word. And the last time I had spoken to her weeks before her death, she was still hopeful and joyful, even though, as it turns out her life was less than joyful. She chose to live life in such a manner to leave a legacy of loving others with kindness and compassion. She will never be forgotten. She touched so many lives while she was here.  

After the news of her death and paying respects, joining in the sorrow of the loss that many of us feel and celebrating who she was, I realized that none of us know the time or day God will call us home. So, with the time I have, I better us it wisely.`

Prior to the first of the year, I had prayed and planned and envisioned what 2018 was going to look like, what I was going to strive for and what my theme for this new year would look like. My theme is the same: Focus on God, Be Intentional and Savor the Moments of Life. My visions have shifted.

I realized that as I attempted to build an online business with Plexus Worldwide as an Independent Ambassador, I loved connecting with others and offering them hope, through health and wellness supplements, I did not like the “business” side of it. No matter how many customers I gained or other people that signed up to do the same, that is not where my heart lies. I could go on living that lie, or I could get real and realized that God has a different plan for me. When doing something that you are not 100% all in, no matter how much you try to convince yourself, there will always be feelings of resentment or maybe resentment isn’t the right word, but feeling like if I continued on that path, my family and I were suffering, emotionally.  I just knew that it was preventing me from being the person I was created to be.  I will always have GREAT things to say and share about Plexus and the products they offer, and I will continue to use them because they have helped me to feel so much better, but this is not where my joy comes from.

Jesus is my joy! Reading the Word, learning Truth, sharing the Good News that is where I find my joy, that is where I feel fulfilled. Hope comes in many forms and loving others comes naturally to me. I always look for the positive in any situation. I choose to show grace and mercy as much as humanly possible. I have many flaws, as do others, but I look for the good.  There is so much evil in this world, so much hatred and greed and people that are all about themselves, I don’t care to watch the news anymore. That’s all you see most of the time. It’s sad, but the one thing that never ever changes is Jesus. He is the same today, as he was 2000+ years ago, and he will be the same 2000 years from now. He is the one constant in my life. He is my Lord and Savior and He is my friend. 

He has seen me go through so much in my lifetime, and He still loves me. He weeps when I weep and he rejoices when I rejoice. My life has been far from perfect, there have been many choices I have made that have caused others to hurt, emotionally and as he works with me to realize that there is nothing I can do to be perfect this side of Heaven, he has taught me that forgiveness and love can cover over a multitude of anger, hate, evil and despair. When the demands of being a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend become overwhelming, when there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all you hope to or need to, when the expenses outweigh the income, He always provides a way for things to work out. When you feel like you are in a tunnel and the walls are closing in, He is the One who lights the path and helps me to hold it all together. Days when I feel like screaming or crawling in a hole somewhere, He is with me. He comforts me. He lives within me. He guides me. 

I sit here in the midst of chaos. Toys spewed all over, crumbs left on the floor by a toddler, laundry overflowing that needs to be folded, dishes stacked high waiting to be washed, bills stacked up and I can choose to do two things, I can look at them as blessings in disguise or I can choose to be angry that no one else seems to notice. 

I choose to see everything in my life as blessings.  There are toys because He gave us this gift in the form of an inquisitive young child that wants to know how everything works and why the wheels spin on the toy truck, or loves the idea of the “black” sweeper, even though he can’t handle the noise of it, the crumbs and the dishes piled high mean there is food in our home to nourish our physical bodies, the laundry means we are fortunate enough to have more than one outfit to wear and a washer/dryer to care for those outfits.  The mess all around is contained by these four walls, we have a home to live in and a roof over our heads.  As I sit here typing this, I am watching my grandson, shred a piece of paper all over the floor, knowing that is just one more thing on my ever-growing list, but my life without him would be so lackluster and boring.

Every single child is a gift and a blessing. Some require more care than others. Extra care that you aren’t sure what that looks like or if it will ever happen where less one on one care will happen, but you embrace them. You love them. Living with someone on the Autism Spectrum is overwhelming, rewarding, crazy, chaotic and sometimes very stressful. Being able to cry out to Jesus and sit with Him in the midst of the chaos, keeps me sane. I think.

If you are living a life that is not what you want, you do have the power within yourself to make the changes.  It may not be easy, it might be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you are worth it.

May you know that Jesus Loves You~right where you are.

Blessings~Carlene

Rest in the arms of Jesus Sam! I love you and miss you deeply. (Samantha Howard Freels, July 7, 1965 – January 12, 2018)

Samantha

 

 

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Be Kind

Kindness1

Our son reminded me today that he always tries to be kind to everyone he meets because he doesn’t know what they are struggling with and he might have an interaction with them in the future and he wants to be remembered for his kindness.

He has no idea how much that touched my heart to hear him say that, in the course of our conversation. He has no idea how my heart swelled and tears formed in my eyes because he learned something that I have tried to model most of my life.

Being kind isn’t always easy, but it is so worth it. When we decide to show genuine caring and kindness, we choose to show grace in all situations. We may not feel like being kind; we may be hurting or have been hurt by others or their actions or words, but kindness costs nothing; much like a smile or a simple hello, it can have a ripple effect.

While we were out shopping today, picking up last minute items needed for our family Christmas celebration, I was thankful for the kindness of the cashier that checked us out with a smile and simple conversation. Was she kind because that was her job or because she knows the secret that kindness can spread like wildfire? I choose to believe she knows.

Living a life of kindness starts with having love in our lives and hearts. I know that not all people are as lucky as I was to grow up in a loving family, that loved unconditionally, no strings attached. I have sorrow in my heart for those that did not. I have a few friends that lived with conditional love. I cannot imagine living like that. So, I know I am very blessed and I do my best to not ever take that for granted.

A simple act of kindness goes a long way.  The ripple effect comes into play when one person experiences it and passes it on. It may be in the form of a hug, thanking a Veteran, a smile, giving to the needy, saying a prayer for someone and so many more things.  It doesn’t have to cost a single cent, just a few moments of your time.

There is no special skill required to show kindness. Love helps. When you have the love of the Father within you, kindness expressed is easier because God was so kind to us when He gave us His One and Only Son so many thousand years ago. He showed the ultimate act of kindness because He loves us that much.

My mother has always said, “Be kind, you never know what someone is going through.” She is a very wise woman.

But I think Jesus spoke it the best:

 Matthew 25:34-40 NLT

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[a] you were doing it to me!’

May you know how much Jesus Loves YOU~right now, in this moment and always.

Blessings~Carlene

Words Have Power~Use Them Wisely

Personal growth

When you do something for the first time, no matter what it is and you have success, how does it make you feel? On top of the world? Excited? Fuel your passion? But what happens if you try something you have never done and you don’t succeed like you thought you would. What happens? Do you try again or accept defeat? Do you give up and say defeating things to yourself? Things like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a failure,” “I can’t do this,” “What was I thinking?”.

Listen up people, our words have such power and sometime’s we don’t even realize that we speak them over ourselves or others. We speak and don’t stop to think about the impact our words can have. We don’t even have to speak it, we can just think defeating, negative thoughts, and they too can have power, if you let them.

As many schools across the nation gear up for students coming back, flooding the hallways and classrooms with chatter, backpacks, books and forming new memories, I encourage you to speak life into others and over yourself, too.

It is so easy to get caught up in what the world thinks about you. Your looks, your attitude, the clothes you wear, the books you read, the exercise regime you have or don’t have. There are so many times that all it takes is for one person, whose self-esteem is so low that one comment, not even made directly to them, can have such an impact on how they view themselves and if they are good enough. Good enough to get a raise or a promotion, good enough to be chosen for that one sports team they really want to be a part of, good enough to have friends and not feel so alone and isolated.  And we are all guilty of saying things, without meaning to hurt anyone, that our words and actions do. At least I am guilty of that.

I remember when my children, were school age and struggling with math, I made the mistake of sharing with them how hard math was for me, how much I struggled and how much I disliked the subject. I didn’t learn algebra or geometry because it wasn’t a requirement for me to graduate high school. That statement has haunted me for years because I indirectly influenced how and what they thought about math and numbers and equations and learning about it. They began to believe that if it was difficult for me, it was difficult for them. However, I didn’t realize how much that one statement affected them until they needed to buckle down and become proficient in those areas so they could graduate high school several years ago.  Only when my daughter referred back to my statement of how hard it was for me, did I realize that I had negatively impacted her learning. Boy did I feel horrible.

I’ve been reading a book by Psychologist Shad Helmstetter, What You Say When You Talk to Yourself and it has been eye opening how much we can make statements and not even realize that we begin to believe what we have said and those lies become beliefs.

In the Word of God, God even warns us to take our thoughts captive and to not speak or think things that are of the world and not of Him.

Proverbs 4:23Good News Translation (GNT)

23 Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

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Proverbs 4:13Good News Translation (GNT)

13 Always remember what you have learned. Your education is your life—guard it well.

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Proverbs 18:21New King James Version (NKJV)

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

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Our words have power. We can destroy people with thoughtless statements, or we can choose to think before we speak and we can build others up. We can encourage one another and believe in people and instill belief in others.  A tiny spark can set a forest ablaze.  A positive statement can have a ripple effect and change the world!

I am reminded of something my mother used to say to me, “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. In other words, be kind, think before you speak. Remember this acronym to help you:

 

May you know that you are Worthy, You are Loved, You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and may you know how much Jesus Loves You!

Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

Stand Up & Be Kind

“Bullying is something that we need to talk more about. We need to stop it from happening if we witness it. All of us have the power within us to make a difference, but the fact is many people allow it to go on because it’s easier than getting involved.

Cyberbully

When I was a child, I was bullied because I did not fit into the mold of the correct size of peers my own age. I was very tall and I felt oversized. I used the excuse of being big-boned like my grandma and that was how I was created. The fact of the matter was there was nothing wrong with me or my size. I was the right weight for my height, but that didn’t help me feel any better. It was like I had to make excuses for why I was the way I was all the time. We have all heard it said, “kids can be so cruel.”  I have learned over the years that if parents don’t teach their children the right way to be toward others and to see differences as just that and not reasons to be mean, children will continue to be cruel even if they don’t realize they are. Most children are honest to a fault, because they haven’t learned that sometime’s being honest about how someone looks or how they dress, may be the best they can be and being different can be scary to others.

I grew up with a sister that is deaf. So, I automatically became a defender, even if she didn’t want one or need one. There was no way I would let anyone mistreat her with words of ignorance or any other actions. The truth is she didn’t need me to stand up for her, she did this quite well and still does today.

When our children were going through grade school, junior high and senior high school, they too faced times of bullying and as a parent, that was not okay with me. They did not want me to step in, that would just make it worse, put a target on them, so to speak. I did step in, I did contact the principal, guidance counselors, teachers and anyone else that needed to be talked to because I wanted my children to not only get an education, but I wanted them to feel safe at school and not afraid to go.

I have learned over the years that most people who target others to bully, demean or belittle have their own issues of insecurity or have never been treated kind, and they lash out instead of facing their own difficulties.

STOP BULLYING

As we have progressed as a society, and electronics have become a way to live, communicate and thrive, it has also opened up doors, bigger than any of us can close on our own, on bullying. Now it doesn’t have to be done face to face; it can be done through social media posts, Instagram photos and cyber attacks that can’t be traced.

Most. if not all reputable websites have policies in place against bullying others, being vulgar or using profanities, but the Web is a huge and controls put out there to monitor such actions can’t keep up.

I know I can’t change the world all by myself, but I can choose to create ripples of kindness instead of ripples of hate. Every word and thought I have I choose. Every way I choose to react is a choice. Each time I see someone being belittled or hated on, I can choose to speak up against it or I can turn away.

My choice is to be kind and to show kindness still exists.

Tonight, a dear friend, was telling me about her day at work and how she had to defend someone because another co-worker was being insensitive and mean. She talked about how it angered her that the person being mean thought it was okay to act like that. She talked about how she was bullied when she was younger and I think that those of us that have been treated unkind know what it’s like and we don’t want another person to feel that way. Ever.

My mother always taught us that it costs nothing to be kind. We never know what kind of battle someone is facing. But we can always be kind.

My challenge to all of you reading this is this: be a little kinder, turn the other cheek, remember we all have struggles, real or imagined and being mean, hateful, spiteful, or hurtful doesn’t help. Think before you speak. Love each other. And the Golden Rule, if you can’t say something nice, keep your words to yourself.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers, and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – Galatians 5:13 NLT

There is enough evil and hate in this world. It’s time we start taking the world by the horns and showing others what living in love and living like Jesus is all about!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You!

Blessings to you!