Sunday, January 24, 2016

There Is Life After Transitions

Transitions can sometimes be tricky. People will always perceive them differently. Some are good; some not so good. A transition can be a lot like a journey. You have to head down the road; some roads will be bumpy depending on which route you choose. A transition is about getting from one place to another or moving past something. A journey is very similar. It gets you from one place to another, but often takes longer and unexpected things happen and change the path along the way. With a journey we may think we know where we're heading, but the destination can transform and change on the way (sometimes in the blink of an eye).

Many people are faced with transitions every day, often not by choice. You may have experienced a divorce and find yourself transitioning back to being a single person. You may have fought an illness and found yourself transitioning from being sick to being whole again; or as whole as you can now be. You may have lost your job and are trying to understand and transition into whatever tomorrow will look like. Or maybe you lost a loved one and are transitioning to a new life with the feeling of a broken heart making it hard to get through today.

Some transitions won't be as hard though. Sometimes they may start out feeling that way; we'll feel increased anxiety, we'll feel unsure, and we'll feel pressured but then the journey helps us to discover new and better things. We all get comfortable, sometimes even too comfortable. Like the seasons, we need to change. We anticipate the seasons (all four of them). We expect them. We know when they're coming and know what they'll feel like, but often many of us still have a difficult time transitioning from one into the next (especially going from autumn to winter). By the time February arrives many are seeking warmer temperatures and sunnier skies. In their own way they try to rush the season, but the reality is that nature needs to take its course.

Some teens transition to being young adults with more grace than others. Many adults transition into retirement better. Sadly, a lot of elderly have a difficult time transitioning through the process of getting older.

Yes, some transitions present themselves to us and we're expected to just know how to handle them. Not necessarily fair, but a reality nonetheless. The better news is ... we'll try to get through whatever transitions we need to. We may not know what the 'LIFE' after a transition will look like (other than different), but the important thing to remember is that there IS life after transitions.

What transition are you currently facing?

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Am Constantly Being Amazed

There are many things we'd like to control in our lives if we could; the traffic, the weather, and maybe even winning the lottery. With work and patience we can have some effect on our finances, our relationships, and our health; but that's because we're involved (kind of a cause and effect kind of thing). Many aspects of our lives we will never have any direct participation in, yet we can still reap some of the rewards.

I can sit in church on any given Sunday morning lately and undoubtedly witness a baby taking his/her first step or cooing or giggling. It's their moment, but I get to reap the benefits by merely watching and listening. I get to look outside my window on a dark cold night and hopefully see a clear moon and a multitude of stars. I get to observe sunrises and sunsets. I get to observe people doing good deeds and helping their fellow neighbors.

When I stop what I'm doing long enough to pay attention I get to discover that I am constantly being amazed with what's around me.
This past weekend I was blessed to spend time with my family, both the young and the old. There were high points and low points; a new grandchild discovering new tastes and sounds and an aging grandparent trying to remember how to do the most basic of things.

Yes, I am constantly being amazed. Amazed that I have been blessed with a loving family and a most wonderful God that watches over me and leads my steps. Amazed that I can make it through some days, and amazed and grateful that I have other days to look forward to.

What amazing things have been happening in your life lately?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Keeping HOPE in the Big Picture

There are days when I scroll through the Internet headlines and am amazed (and appalled) with what I read. Stories about thieves who are arrogant (and stupid) enough to post their illegal endeavors on Facebook, video clips of professional athletes playing like schoolyard thugs, and politicians ... well don't even get me started on the public behavior of politicians. 

I fully support an athlete being caught up in the moment when they score a touchdown or a goal, hit a home run, or make a game-winning basket. When emotions are real you can tell, but when a touchdown is scored and a pre-choreographed silly dance is performed in the end zone it is obviously premeditated. It comes across as arrogant and showboating; definitely sets a different tone. They're grabbing the spotlight and hoping their fans will boost them up another level to a higher podium. Although, you know what they say? The higher the podium, the further you have to fall.

Whatever happened to humbleness? Whatever happened to being appreciative for a God-given talent? Of course, to be fair, I have seen award shows and heard people thank 'God' for getting them where they are and then I have to wonder if these are the 'same' people I read about on the Internet and see on the covers of grocery store tabloids. Where was God in their life when they were caught doing something less than ideal? People need to remember that with fame and exposure comes certain responsibilities. Whether they want to be or not, they are now in a position to influence other people (for good or for bad).

As parents, we try to teach our children about morals, values, the importance of being honest, and conducting ourselves with integrity. We do what we can, but in reality we can't be with our kids 24/7 (and then there is the whole debate about at what age you quit referring to them as your 'kids', lol). The way I see it, when you become a parent you are a parent for life; not until the day they turn 18, get dropped off to college, or get married. Sure, as our children become adults they will need to make adult decisions on their own about their finances, relationships, employment, etc. But as a parent, you should always be there to offer an ear to listen or just be there for them to ask advice or bounce ideas off of. While it's true that it takes a village to raise a child, we can't leave all of our mentoring to the people they're around; the people they read about or see on TV, the people they go to school or work with. We can hope though that we've given them enough of a solid foundation that they'll be able to tell the difference when people start giving them advice. We can all give advice from the couch and tell people what we think is best for them, but until we actually walk a day in someone's shoes or REALLY listen to their story we may not truly be helping.

So, where does that leave us? With HOPE. HOPE that our toddlers will learn to walk without too many bruises. HOPE that our teenagers will be safe when they get behind the wheel of a car. HOPE that our young adults won't get their hearts broken as they begin to have relationships. HOPE that everyone (not age specific) will make smart decisions about drinking and drugs. HOPE that our college grads will be blessed with jobs when they graduate. HOPE that we'll all remember to let God into our lives and our decisions. Having HOPE reminds us that none of us have to face anything alone.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A New Year Brings A Fresh Start

It's the first week of January. It's not just a new month, it's a new year. You've undoubtedly heard people already talking about their goals and New Year's resolutions. People will want to quit smoking, lose the same dreaded 5 or 10 pounds, get that new job, further their relationships, put some money in the bank, or perhaps strengthen their faith journey. But what if the new year wasn't just about what you want to be doing or where you want to be? What if it could be more about how you want to feel at the end of 2016 or how you want to be thinking? This time next year what do you want to be thankful for? What do you want to have been your most shining moment of the year?

I ended my 2015 by beginning a new, healthier lifestyle. I'm already on my way by laying the groundwork. I'm not where I want to be quite yet, but I am making strides and heading in the right direction. My first goal will be to stay focused and to stay on the path that I've already chosen.

My second agenda item (I hate setting too many goals, lol) will be to start listening more to myself. Every year I seem to hear the same little voice in my head that always repeats itself, 'don't forget to make more time for yourself', 'simplify your life', 'slow down a bit', 'try living more for today' ... You'd think I'd recognize the voice by now and pay more attention to it, but I suppose I'm a creature of habit. I'm great at talking, but not always at listening. It's okay - I can admit my shortcomings. It's how I grow.

Setting our entire next year in motion clearly isn't simple enough (or neat enough) to fit in the tidy perimeters of just one blog post. Our goals will change, as will our desires and aspirations. Our momentum will be like the speed of a roller coaster; it will go up and it will come back down as it twists and turns and leaves us dizzy, but exhilarated. In spite of our good intentions, our year ahead is a mystery at best. We'll be able to predict the outcome about as good as the weathermen predict the first snowfall (and I'm not bashing the profession of meteorology). I am merely suggesting that life can be unpredictable at times.

So go ahead and make some goals. Think about where you'd like to see yourself, but be open to change and spontaneity. It can make for a more interesting and eventful ride.