Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gratitude #627

Yes, you read that right. I've been doing daily gratitudes for 627 days. Prior to this point and during my divorce I began the 40 Days of Thankfulness challenge. That challenge changed my life! 

I had no idea how many negative thoughts and words were creeping into my day until I began consciously taking note of the good things that were right in front of me. 

Because of the storm I was in, this was the perfect time to step out of the "boat" and find something better. I just did not have any idea how much it would change my life. 

Through 40 Days of Thankfulness I began making friends of friends of friends. Some of those friends have become a few of my greatest friends ever. 

Through 40 Days I began seeing that people were seeking something better. They wanted to be better and to live better. They wanted to find happiness no matter where they were standing in their lives. 

This prompted me to start a 365 Days of Gratitude group on Facebook for those that said to themselves, "40 Days did that?! I want to keep going!" Of course, 365 days of gratitudes is a huge commitment and when challenged with it myself, I quietly laughed and "said that would be HARD." 

You see, I accepted that challenge and kept going. I kept going because I knew I really wanted to engrain gratitude into every single crevice of my life, including my past, especially my past. I knew being thankful for every difficult time or difficult relationship was key to not being locked up in pain and misery for the rest of my life. 

As I grew in my gratitude, the book I knew I wanted to write began taking shape. Soon after I decided on a name. I would say the name of the book out loud to myself alone in the car or jot it down anytime I was on a conference call. As I continued to do this, I began envisioning the cover of the book and what would soon end up as the logo you see on this blog and on the other social networking sites we use. 

If anyone had told me during those difficult and emotional days of my divorce that something good would come of it, I probably would've doubted them. 

What I realize now is that my doubt was really doubting God.  

"He works all things together for good." ~Romans 8:28

It's always hard to see during a time of heartache, hurt, and struggle how things will work out for good when things seem that they cannot get any worse. 

I tell you this from my own experience that started exactly 24 years ago today. 

So what is my 627th gratitude? 

It is simply this: 

Thank you, Lord, for showing my doubting spirit over and over and over again that YOU will take anything bad that comes into my life and turn it into something amazingly beautiful. Thank you for teaching me that  YOU are bigger, stronger, and more loving than any struggle I will ever face. Thank you. 

*This post is in memory of my baby brother, John. He taught so many of us to "Stop and Smell the Roses." Life is too precious to complain and nit pick through our lives. Be thankful in all things. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Keep Calm & Fight On

It was 2007 and MySpace was my social network of choice. I remember teaching high school computers. I always prided myself in keeping up to date with the new and most popular technologies. It didn't take me long to realize social networking could be good and bad. 

Like anything else those crazy kids started using, I decided to get myself an account and see what all the hype was about. I knew it looked fun: adding music to my profile, adding an updated picture of myself, and finding a background I liked. 

What I didn't expect was how creating a profile would connect me to people I had not even thought about since I was in school (80's & 90's).

At first it started slow, but then I found myself amazed at how all of our lives had changed. It was great seeing so many of my friends had married, had children, and had abundant lives. It was sad to see those who divorced or maybe had not had life turn out as they had expected so long ago. 

It was in 2007 that I found a long time friend of mine in that crazy MySpace place. Candi and I had been only a year apart in school, but fate brought us to become friends and God brought us to be better friends as adults. 

I was a sixth grader and by all accounts was not cheerleader material. For some crazy idea (like many of my ideas), I thought trying out to be a cheerleader was a good one. Now, mind you, it was not even a whole year since my brother had been gone. Looking back, I see God played a HUGE part in this scenario. I tried out and made alternate. THAT was a door only God could open. So, I went about my business until one day by some twist of fate, the phone rang. The voice on the other end told me that one of the four girls moved and I'd be cheering on the squad in the fall. Really? What are the odds? I'm sure my parents were just as floored. :) 

Candi and I cheered different games since we were in different grades. We were not bff's and, to be honest, I cannot remember really talking to her that much. After high school, I was most concerned about getting out of that small town and moving on.  

Fast forward almost twenty years and we both found ourselves reconnecting in a way that did not even exist back then. I remember reaching out to her first and we immediately realized that it was not an accident that we had stumbled upon each other. We kept in contact almost daily. We both saw each other through some really rough and discouraging days. 

Then, the day came that we both merged ourselves over to Facebook. Funny how we all abandoned the "other" site. I remember her posting a status about taking Karly to the dr. Then, I remember her emailing me. Karly's test results were not good. I was speechless. What do you say to someone who's just got the worst news of their life? 

2009. It seems like forever ago. I remember crying for them, praying for them, and offering whatever I could to help. We went to visit them in Houston several times and even had the chance to join them during a service with Joel Osteen as Joel's mom prayed for Karly. My girls loved Karly, too. :) Her bright eyes and bright smile can capture lots of hearts. 

I enjoyed being around her as we'd talk about computers, video editing and such. She is definitely not a girly girl and I enjoyed that I about her. No matter what, she made me smile and calmed my spirit. Weird. She was going through a time of struggle and she was calming me. Not many people in our lives can do that, so when it happens take note, be grateful, and pass it on. 

This Saturday there will be a 5K run/walk for Karly's medical expenses. She will have to have another surgery soon and this one will take many weeks of recovery. 

When Candi told me it might be in the works I said I'd be there without hesitation. How could I miss it? I love 5K's, but, most of all, I love Candi and Karly. 

A friend and I decided to make team shirts in honor of Karly and when I asked Karly what she wanted her "saying" to be, she told me "Keep Calm & Fight On." 


So, this weekend I will be going back to the place I call home. The place where many memories lie. The place where my brother was laid to rest. The place where God grew me to be the person I am today. 

Is it ironic that the weekend I'll be there coincides with the anniversary of losing my brother? 

God doesn't do coincidences. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


As the creator of, @WingGratitude via Twitter, and the OTWG FB page, I want to say that I will never claim to know any answers. I sometimes type out the wrong inspirations. Many times I don't even know where the words come from which really is an indication to me that they are not my words, they are HIS words. 

Just like in life many of use tend to mess up HIS message. I am no different. 

Yesterday I posted this on FB/Twitter: 

Grieving is only a stepping stone. We don't have to KEEP grieving that person, illness, marriage or friendship. Grieve, but keep living. #WG

Our friend, Sandy is awesome because she quickly pointed out that she did not agree. She said:  

"I don't agree. Grieving is a process that continues for life. If it were drawn, one would use the infinity symbol. At times grief feels painful, overwhelming, or even non-existent. The path of grief never ends, it just becomes easier to walk on over time. We walk the path for the rest of our lives. Your last sentence is correct. We must keep living while we walk the path."

I happen to agree with her. What I really should have written was that we do not have to let the grieving DEFINE us. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in grieving that we forget who we are and what we have. 

Sandy is exactly right. 

Grieving is a process that never ends. I've said it before especially because I, myself, am living and still grieving. So, I made a point to comment to Sandy and let her know of my misspoken words. 

Grief is something that often consumes us and prevents us from truly moving forward. I think where most of us miss the mark is that we let the grief define our lives. 

Most of us know the steps of grief

I speak of this from experience. I have seen people who grieve an illness, a death, a friendship or a marriage and then pick themselves up and try to live and carry on. I have also watched as people close to me never stop grieving. I've watched it consume their emotions, relationships and, sadly, watched it prevent them from ever really experiencing life the way God intended it for them. It was the day that anger set in, stayed and invited bitterness that I saw someone, basically, lay down everything they had. 

I am far from an expert on grief, but I know that once we have to grieve something we are usually always grieving it to some extent everyday. I know that no one is above grief, but some think they are and end up in constant heartache and turmoil.

Paul said " One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on. . . ." ~Philippians 2:12

It is a strain to grieve and still be able to move forward. There have been days myself that you would have found me still in bed with the covers over my head and my face tear-stained. 
It's been 24 years and I am still grieving the loss of my brother, the loss of the family we once were, the loss of the possibilities that were once ahead of us, and what could have been. 

Two weeks before the day (which was actually this past Wednesday) I become overly emotional. I go into deep thought and prayer. I cry about things that, normally, do no phase me. I have learned over the 24 years of grieving that I have to let myself feel whatever emotion is present. Some years it is anger and some years it is acceptance. I am still learning how to get through it all, as many of you are today. 

Some people need permission to grieve. Most of us know that grieving is a given when we lose someone to death, but what about losing a friendship? Are we suppose to grieve when a long time friendship has ended? Is it ok to grieve an illness or a diagnosis? Is it necessary to grieve a marriage? 

The answer is YES!  We need to grieve anything that was once in our lives and anything that once brought us joy and happiness. We need to cry, and be angry. We cannot stop there, though. We have to get ourself to the acceptance phase of grief in order to be able to live each day more free than the day before. 

Do not let yourself fall into the depression, loneliness, or anger. As I have always said, make sure there are people you can talk to or can go to anytime. Surround yourself with positive words and presence. Better yet, make yourself available to someone else who is grieving. It is amazing how your experience can help others. Often we go through things not only to learn our strength but also to help others to learn theirs. 

Grieving takes more than a strong faith, although, it does help. Grieving takes strength and the ability to balance letting yourself feel the feelings, yet also reminding yourself to get back up and move just one step forward. 

Many days you will move one step forward only to find yourself 3 steps back the next day. Like Sandy said, it is a process. Do not forget to LIVE as you travel through the process. Do not forget to thank God each day you wake up. Do not forget that the process is your story (HIs story) and He is ahead of every single situation in your life. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Be Still My Soul

We all want to experience a sense of peace. We all want to live day to day in a state of relaxation and feel that all is right with the world. 

In a perfect world, that would be the case. Unfortunately, no matter what our social or financial status, we do not live in a perfect world. Everyone has struggles and everyone finds themselves dealing with some conflict. 

It's easy to tell ourselves "Well, they are good, they have a good marriage." "They have a lot of money so they have no worries." "They have a great job that they love, so they must not struggle at all." 

Lies. Lies. Lies. They are all lies that we are telling ourselves to make our situation seem worse. 

No one, let me say that again, NO ONE is living struggle or stress free. 

For many years, people thought I was living the perfect life. I'm sure they did not have a clue how wrong they were. On the outside everything can seem like all is well. On the inside, though, there's sure to be a much different story. 

Just like with our hearts, our lives cannot contain all the pain without beginning to slowly show symptoms of a much bigger problem. 

Every issue is a heart issue. 

People acting out in anger, people lying, people manipulating, people degrading, people judging, and people gossiping are really just reflections of their heart. They are showing you that something is really wrong. Their actions are really just small indications that they need to fix something bigger.

Typically, these people will deny any issue and blame the first person they can. 

Over the weekend, I was the target of blame. I could feel the anger, I could hear the anger, and I could see the anger. I was caught off guard by the actions that followed the anger and terrified of what might happen because of the anger. 

Fortunately, several people were able to be present and could serve as mediators. 

So how can our souls possibly be still with random situations of conflict popping up? How can we recover from being thrown off by others' rants? How can we respond with honor yet not be walked all over like a mat? 

It all starts with calming your soul when you're not in those situations. It's like a race that you must prepare for weeks prior. You can't expect to run a 5K without having a little bit of training first.

Here's my list of things that might be helpful. Start disciplining yourself now each day so that you will be better equipped to deal with the unplanned conflicts in your life. 

Be Still My Soul

1. Exercise 3-5 times a week. Whatever you choose. High impact, low impact, but be sure to focus your energy on digging deep to finish and strive to be better and faster. This helps focus your negative, angry energy on something else and keeps you fit in the process. Exercise also tends to make you want to eat better and drink more water. It's a WIN,WIN!
2. Add music to your daily regime. Listen in the AM, on the drive to work, while cooking, or before bed. Find tunes that calm your soul and remind you what life is about in a positive way. For me, it's KLOVE! :) 
3. Stay connected to friends. Whether you call them, email, text, FB or tweet - stay connected to those who lift you up and value you. Don't push people away. It will only isolate you and make you feel more alone.
4. Daily Affirmations. If you train your mind, heart and soul to affirm who you are, what you believe, and honor and remind yourself daily, you won't lose your cool when someone tries to throw you off. You'll be less likely to act out yourself, because you know honoring yourself means more than spewing out things you don't mean to God or anyone else. Church, for me, is a great place and great way to stay balanced and focused each week on the TRUTH. 
5. Gratitude You knew I would throw this in somewhere, right? It's true. A heart of gratitude is not by default. You must train your heart to be grateful at all times. When you train your heart and mind to be grateful, then those crazy outbursts or situations from others won't seem so big and will be less likely to derail you from a good day.