Tag Archives: growth

Twenty-one Things I Would Tell A Younger Me

My upcoming birthday has caused me to think about what I would tell a younger me if I could go back and sit down for a meaningful chat with her. The fifty-nine year old me has learned some important stuff I didn’t know then.21 things

So here it is, twenty-one things I would tell a twenty-one year old me, if I could: 

1. Get over yourself. Everything isn’t always about you.

2. You don’t know everything and never will. So stop thinking you do.

3. Life can get messy. Clean up the mess and move on.

4. Practice good attitudes and choices. What you choose today becomes tomorrow’s reality.

5. Always needing to be right usually isn’t. Don’t be too proud to admit you’re wrong.

6. Lower the drama meter. Laugh more. Save serious for when it’s really needed.

7. Changing/fixing others is not your life calling. Offering grace and love is.

8. You can still be nice to people who don’t agree with you. Just remember they might not return the courtesy.

9. It’s not the end of the world if everyone doesn’t like you. Enjoy the people who do.

10. Learn to balance work and fun. Too much of either is…too much.

11. Simplify. Busy is not always a sign of productivity. If it won’t matter twenty years from now it’s probably not worth your time.

5912. Take care of yourself. You won’t be young forever. De-stress. Exercise. Rest. Eat Right. Smile.

13. Don’t worry. Worry is borrowing fear for tomorrow from delusional scenarios created inside your own head (it also gives you permanent creases between your eyebrows).

14. Comparing creates misery. Stop measuring your imperfect life against everyone else’s imperfect life. Enjoy the life you’ve been given.

15. Let go of regret, guilt and shame. It does no good to live there. God forgives the broken. So forgive yourself. It’s never too late to start over.

16. Don’t expect any person to satisfy your every want /need when the rest of humanity is just as flawed as you. The only one who loves you perfectly is your Father God.

17. It’s not God’s fault when others are stupid, mean, rude, disloyal, unkind…Forgive them so you can be forgiven and free of their hold over you.

18. Pain, suffering, loss, delay, irritation, frustration and the mundane is where you can learn and grow the most. Not what you want to hear I know. Sorry.

19. Life isn’t always fair and sometimes doesn’t turn out the way you hoped or planned, but remember God is with you in it all. He promised.

20. Pray more. Well actually, pray all the time. Your Creator holds the owner’s manual to your heart and He loves having conversations with you (don’t forget to listen).

21. The years fly swiftly. Relish each day. Each moment of your journey is the best part of now.

I’d love to hear what you would tell a younger version of yourself if you could?

 

 

A Beautiful Thing

 

My friend was married a few days ago. As ‘best woman’ I stood with her, my heart about to burst for joy,  knowing what a long, long walk it was to that ceremony. Me and Glee wedding

And I’m not referring to the stroll from the parking lot of the New Hampshire state park, up the frost-heaved sidewalk, onto pine needle dusted soil and down the center of the outdoor pavilion to a wall size fireplace, where the wedding took place.

I’m talking about a lifetime of hurt, pain, shame, guilt, addiction, rage and change.

We are often victims of man’s free will. It’s natural to recoil when wounded, especially when the hurt isn’t our fault. Then reactions become decisions, piling up and building insurmountable walls of defense.

During the past twenty years I watched my friend kick, scream, cry, fight and forgive for a hard won freedom. She was willing to do what it took to excommunicate the demons of her past and experience an internal peace and liberty.

She faced every challenge head on. It wasn’t easy. And required unusual determination, endurance and more time than most are willing to wait.

I was privileged to walk beside her for most of the process.

We talked, laughed, prayed and cried through many hurdles as she gave in and gave up to the beautiful grace of God at work in her heart, over and over and over again. As the years flowed by I watched a slow but amazing metamorphosis; a hard, angry heart turned marshmallow soft, a dry lump of clay gently crafted into a useful vessel of outpoured love.

The butterfly has emerged from the dark days of the cramped cocoon to fly freely into joy.

There is no sin, no shame, no wound, no hurt, no scar that the merciful love of our Heavenly Father cannot heal when we surrender our life to Him. He takes any and every broken and yielded piece of us and makes it new. He restores all damage, makes us whole, forever erasing the pain of yesterday.

When God renews, old things are passed away, sorrow and ashes turned into beauty. We are raised up to a life filled with promise and a future full of hope.

I’ve watched and tasted this. In myself, in others and especially in my beautiful friend who at long last has been restored to love and trust; so evidenced by the large and diverse group of people who came to celebrate this special day. God’s love was tangible, undeniable, surrounding all of us.

Knowing we are loved changes everything.

My friend finally knows, without a hint of doubt, she is valuable and she is loved.

Of utmost importance, by God.

Also by others.

And by the incredible guy who took her as his bride.

Freedom is such a beautiful thing.

     John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” ~Jesus

     2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

     Luke 4:17-18 “..the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him [Jesus]. Unrolling it, he found the place where   it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free..”

     “Everyone wants to change the world but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~Anonymous

The Test of Tenacity – My Special Education, Lesson #7

shower wasteI’d been after Jon all day to get in the shower. At 11 pm he decided he was going to use our bathroom, the one in the master bedroom.

Husband was already asleep. I was getting ready for bed. And here comes Jon, finally ready to cooperate.

There are three full bathrooms in our house, one of which is attached to Jon’s room, but he wanted ours. That wouldn’t be so bad if he was in and out in ten minutes but Jon takes a shower like he does everything else.

He’s in there three or four hours. I’m talking one or two o’clock in the morning. Light glaring in my eyes, water running, talking to himself, banging around getting into all our stuff, obsessively lining it all up on the counter and the edge of the tub like it’s his and dropping stuff into his shorts pockets when he leaves the room, like it’s his. 

So I told him no.

“Sorry Jon, you’re not using our bathroom this time of night. There’s two more in the house. Go use one of those.”

The scowl face appeared, his back turned to me and statue mode set in; body language that says, “You can’t make me.” I knew I was in for a battle and needed to be as stubborn as he is for victory. But I was tired and just wanted to go to sleep.

Over the next hour I popped out of bed to chase him out of our room every five minutes. Jon has the tenacity of a dog tick when he really sets his want to on something. I eventually got up, grabbed my iPad and locked both of us out of the bedroom. After all, it’s been many years since he’s been small enough to pick up and move or send to time out. It was the only way I could think of to redirect him.

I collapsed into our family room’s comfy chair, turned on my iPad, swiped through the channels on the TV app to HGTV and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up two hours later, I half expected to find Jon still frowning at that locked door, instead a young couple was looking for a house in Australia’s Outback and Jon was just getting into the shower in the hall bathroom.

After my short night, I woke up thinking about the word tenacity.  It’s not a word we hear often and is defined as: not easily stopped or pulled apart: firm or strong: continuing for a long time: very determined to do something:  persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.

Such a great quality when applied to goodness, growth, goals, grace, Godliness and those times when we need to push hard to get through to the other side; the don’t quit, keep on going parts of life; when backing down or giving in are not an option. Discernment is definitely needed for exercising tenacity in the right place and at the right time.

I’ve come to appreciate Jon’s tenacity, even though it’s sometimes misdirected. Hope more of it rubs off on me. Our standoffs over getting him in the shower are helping some. In fact being Jon’s overtime mom presents me with plenty of opportunity to practice.

An important requirement for this job is unwavering tenacity. I think I read it in the special needs parenting manual once. No one has fired me yet for all the times I haven’t performed well.

So I’m still on the job. 

Still learning the importance of being tenacious everyday.

With no plans on giving up anytime soon.

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

The Price of Patience – My Special Education, Lesson #6

Being Jon’s mom and caregiver requires a lot of waiting. Waiting for him to get up, waiting for him to get dressed, waiting for him to eat, waiting for him to get in the car, waiting for him to get out of the car, waiting for him to cooperate, waiting for him by staying home when I’d rather not.

Always waiting. Waiting and more waiting. It feels like a large percentage of my existence is about waiting for Jon.

All this Jon waiting has somehow earned me the ‘patient person award’ according to many folks who are acquainted with our situation. cat

I’ve been told more times than I can count, what a patient person I am, as if I came by it naturally, like my hair or eye color or the big round birthmark on my right knee cap; as if I was born with patience already piled high in my chromosomes and it was this propensity for patience that qualified me to be Jon’s mom when God was handing out kids in Heaven one day.

“I don’t know how you do it,” is what people often tell me.

There are days I don’t know either.

What I do know is patience is not natural to the human psyche (even mine), and any I’ve collected so far has come at an enormous price. It is obtained through continual acts of giving self away and deciding to love unconditionally, by intentional practice, careful perseverance and persistent prayer.

Sometimes that prayer is nothing more than the desperate cry, “Help!”

I’ve found acquiring patience to be very costly, demanding and at times, downright painful.

2 Peter 1:5-8, lists eight virtues we should add to our character. One of them is patience. The word ‘add’ in this passage implies that we’re missing something, haven’t mastered it yet and like a diligent student, need to continue learning and practicing until we’re skilled. There’s nothing here that implies it will be easy.

Everyone I know resists the school of patience, wishing for the degree without going to class.

Many years ago as our youngest son, David, and I waited in a very long concession line at a movie theater, I witnessed a scene I’ll never forget.  The young man working the counter accidentally spilled a large coke he had just poured for the customer in front of us.

The sticky mess spread all over the counter, ran under the cash register and started dripping to the floor. The station had to be closed while the mess was cleaned up and everyone waiting in our line had to move over to the end of another longer one.

The man behind us, who’d already been mumbling in my ear about the long wait, immediately exploded into rage, yelling and swearing at the poor employee, calling him names and announcing his incompetence for the entire lobby to hear.

Sadly, this man had his young son, possibly nine or ten years old, standing next to him and Dad was setting a model for an impressionable young mind, that was less than exemplary.

I remember thinking how this guy needed to live with our Jon or someone like him for a while so he could possibly experience an all inclusive transformation into a man with a speck of mercy instead of a selfish out-of-control fool; red faced, eyes bulging, veins popping and mouth contorted, spewing anger and insults, over a spilled coke! 

In that moment I silently prayed for my children to never have to watch me acting like this man. I asked God to teach me to be more patient when life doesn’t go my way and humans don’t behave according to my expectations.

Most of us come into the world kicking and screaming. We demand our rights from the very first breath. We are selfish from birth. Our level of patience or lack thereof reveals our true self and it grows in how we respond to the various circumstances encountered throughout life, situations that test, stretch and challenge us to the core. plant hope growth in rocks survivor

Colossians 3:12-13 tells me to “put on patience” with the idea that if I decide what to wear when I get dressed in the morning, I can also choose to be patient today, right now, even this minute.

It might feel impossible initially, but as God meets, with His grace, my desire to endure, patience grows in the midst of any inconvenience, hardship or annoyance a day might bring.

I admit, being the perpetual mom of a guy whose quirky behavior often pushes me to the limits of my own patience can be tricky. But because of my son, I’m continuously pressed into patience. I certainly didn’t start out with much but Jon helps me grow this character fruit a little more everyday.

There are worse things I could be doing than waiting a little longer, laying aside my time and desires for another and learning to let go when life doesn’t fit my preconceived conditions.

Jesus patiently put aside everything for me, His own rights and even His life and in reaching for the unlimited grace and goodness of the One whose greatest joy is to lovingly improve me, I can do no less for my son or for others.

2 Peter 1: 5-8 “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Colossians 3:12-13 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…”

Philippians 3:3-8 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Birthdays

I wrote this eight years ago when I turned fifty. In honor of my recent birthday and because my sister-in-law has requested it, I am posting it now.

Birthdays are celebrations that mark time, change, and the passing of years with swift regularity. 

I hit the ‘big 5.O’ on my last one and unlike some women, am happy to announce how many years I have managed to remain upright, breathing and relatively sane through all the ups and downs of my existence.

When I was very young, I remember thinking 50 sounded, well…almost dead, but now that I’m here it’s not so bad. 

I’ve survived childhood in a crazy (literally) family, many years of marriage to the same guy, being ‘the pastor’s wife’, raising two boys–one with developmental disability, thirteen years of home schooling, rheumatoid arthritis (since the age of 26), a flood, three hurricanes, a few close call tornadoes and a myriad of church going folks (sorry, but God’s family can be..hmm..let’s save that topic for another time!) and various other types of humanity.

It’s quite a resume and a lot to be thankful for.

My mind, still running with the enthusiasm of a twenty something, finds the number shocking, though the rest of me recognizes beyond a doubt, I’m undeniably 50! How did I arrive here so quickly? 

My husband, Mike, finds great joy in the fact that I turned fifty before him and absolutely loved it when the application for an AARP card came in the mail addressed to me.  He came up with eons of one-liners and witty jokes for days and weeks afterward.  But I remind him often that he’s not very far behind me and will hit that nice even number very soon.

David turned sixteen last month in the days following, took and passed his driving test.  When he pulled the old 1995 Acura we gave him out of the driveway and took off alone into the big wide world for the first time, I just stood in the window and watched him go, like a mother bird watching her little one jump off the edge of the nest to try out new wings. 

It was a strange sensation and I’m not sure there are words to describe what it was like watching that car disappear down the street and around the corner.  For now I’m glad that our “little bird” still returns to the nest whenever he and his new wings leave.

Jonathan’s birthday was yesterday and at twenty six, he is caught in a time warp. The years add up but, unlike his younger brother, he changes very little.  Occasionally I hear people say that they would like to return to the simplicity of being a kid again but Jon has never left. 

From my observation, there’s advantages and disadvantages to never growing up.  Like the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, Jon is often in a world of his own, one that doesn’t always mesh with the reality around him.  He can be joyously oblivious to the harshness of life, especially when it doesn’t directly affect him or be deeply frustrated when the real world presses in on him and becomes difficult to cope with or process.

This year, for reasons I can’t exactly define, my son’s birthdays made me sad and happy all at once.  Is it because they are at such opposite ends of a time spectrum as they age? One marking time with little growth, the other moving ahead so rapidly I can barely keep up?  Or is it that I’m just a sentimental, goofy, fifty year old, menopausal mom?  

There are moments I look forward to clocks, calendars and birthdays becoming non-essential items. In the meantime, I want to embrace every day as it comes, with the simplicity of Jon’s world and the exhilarating speed of David’s. 

At a half a century old, I’m still not sure I know how to do that, but by God’s grace I remain willing to learn.

Ephesians 5:15-17  Act like people with good sense and not like fools.  These are evil times, so make every minute count. Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do.

 

Offended

Proverbs 18:17 “The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.”

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It is unwise to make judgements based on a one sided story and limited facts. Be careful about believing everything heard or read. There’s always two sides to every situation, sometimes more.

When I don’t bother to obtain all the facts, assumptions are made founded on skewed perspectives. Relationships can be damaged, sometimes severely.

Picking up an offense that has nothing to do with me, based solely on what one person has said is a waste of my time, energy and emotion. It’s not worth it. I don’t need more drama in life than I already create on my own!

The Bible calls this gossip and also calls me foolish for partaking.

Jesus said offenses will come (Luke 17:1) and tomorrow has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34) so why borrow offense from others?

If I’m not part of the solution, I shouldn’t make it my problem.

Quietly pray for all involved and move on.

Let God and the people concerned sort it out.

Proverbs 10:18 ESV “..whoever utters slander is a fool.”

Proverbs 17:9 ESV “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

Matthew 18:15-18 (MSG) “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”

Lessons From My Garden~Weeds & Bees

Observations made as I worked in my garden today:


Weeds don’t need any help to grow. 

They don’t need fussing over, fertilizing, pruning…most of the time they don’t even need water, but the plants providing the most beauty and benefit need diligent care and some Miracle Gro.


Lesson 1~God speaking: Check your heart often, Diane.  Weeds sprout up from nowhere and everywhere. Weeds of bitterness, resentment, anger, envy, gossip, lethargy, disillusionment…so many! 

They grow fast and are hard to pull out once firmly rooted. Get rid of them quick before they take over your universe!

Give attention to your heart’s essential growth. Fruits of love, joy, peace, kindness, lo-o-o-o-n-n-ng suffering, patience, goodness, self control…so many! 

They grow slowly but once rooted, are firmly planted. Keep them fed and watered until they take over your universe.

Me: “Yes Lord, You are my Miracle Gro and I submit to your loving cultivation.”

 

A bee buzzed in angry circles as I fertilized a plant where he was collecting nectar. 

I told him (Yes, I talk out loud to creatures and plants. So now you all KNOW I’m crazy), “Listen up Mr. Bee, I’m the one who put this flower here. If it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be enjoying it, so don’t get mad at me. There’s plenty more around here, so move it!”

Lesson 2~God speaking: “Diane, everything you have comes from Me, so don’t get mad at Me when I’m trying to make improvements in your life. Some may come disguised in perplexity and inconvenience but don’t be like that bee.”

Me: “OK Lord, got it. But you’ll probably have to remind me again tomorrow. I might forget. “

God speaking: “Well, just come back out to your garden. You’ll remember.”

Didn’t know a garden can teach you things?

Go plant one and listen.