Meaningless

I’ve mentioned in multiple posts how much I love to continually learn!

But the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. The more I realize I don’t know, the more things I want to learn. The more things I want to learn, the more I realize it will be impossible for me to learn everything I want to before I die.

Eternal

Morbid? Disappointing? Silly?

It reminds me of Solomon, the wisest person to ever live or ever will live. He is know for describing different things as “a chasing after the wind”. See Ecclesiastes 2 for an example.

The reason it reminds me of Soloman is, when I start realizing I’ll barely scratch the surface on some of the things I’m passionate about, I wonder what the point is in continuing down that road? Why do I want to go down that road in the first place? Because it makes me happy? If our lives are but a mist, it almost seems a waste of time. So…what isn’t a waste of time?

What is the whole purpose of life?

What’s the point in what we do if it doesn’t affect things on an eternal level?

So, what is affected on an eternal level? The greatest calling:  to bring others to Christ, so they too might have eternal life through a relationship with God.

That doesn’t mean we have to go to the opposite side of the world and preach the gospel to people of a different language. (There are wonderful people who do that, and you may do that…) But there are an infinite number of ways to reach others on an eternal level.

Maybe that’s why people have so many different passions…so we can try out all those different infinite ways of reaching others.

How do you use your passion(s) to reach others?

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A Boy In the Road…

Tuesday we headed out to look at a couple foreclosures. On the way, we spotted a boy walking down the middle of the street, straight toward us. He looked to be about ten years old. And didn’t seem concerned at all that a car was coming.

He didn’t have the demeanor of a reckless or rebellious kid. Something seemed to be off…. His eyes stared past us, his jaw and shoulders were set, and his stride was unflinching, almost as if he wished a car would hit him. My husband’s voice was strained, “That’s a troubled kid.” My husband has seen many of those as a teacher. He continued, “There’s anger in there.” I added, “He’s hurting.” When we see kids like that we know there’s something huge there and we want to help them. And many times you’re not in a position where you can. “I wonder how many people would just roll down their window and shout at him to get out of the way. They wouldn’t see the anger and hurt. They would only compound the trouble.”

We learned a couple years ago that things are not always the way they seem, and sometimes there are horrific things in people’s lives we know nothing about. And we need to be sensitive to that. We learned that lesson again on an even greater level only a few months ago.

We all have a desire to help those we are close to. What about those we aren’t close to? Or don’t understand? Or who are different from us? Or in a situation where we could get hurt?

Surprisingly, our pets reminded me of how we should be willing to help others.

Lester & Chloe

Backstory:  The first time our dog and cat met, Lester clawed Chloe. Ever since then, Chloe has steered clear of the cat. We are currently staying with my husband’s mom, and she has two dogs. We keep Lester separate from the two dogs at all times.

The other night, I noticed Chloe’s hair was standing on end, and she was trying to push one of the dogs around. That’s not normal. Before I could get after her, I heard Lester spat. The other dog was only a couple feet away from him. It took a couple minutes to keep tabs on both dogs, keep them away, and pick up an extremely poofy cat. When I set him down on the right side of the baby gate, I realized Chloe had helped me in keeping the dogs off our cat. Even after Lester was safe, Chloe would still place herself between the dogs (that were bigger than her, I might add) and the baby gate, and lean on them until they moved on. She kept her eye on them the rest of the night.

Who knew? Who knew that our dog who refuses to play with our cat or to lay near him, because of fear, would get between Lester and those who wished him harm? It’s cute. And a desirable trait in a pet. But it’s also a valuable lesson for us humans. Are we willing to stand up for/protect others when it could damage us? When the opposition is bigger? When the opposition is our friends?

 

Can Stress and Communication Co-exist?

I am stressed. Not as much now as I was earlier in the week.

In The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams, I mention a few situations that were stressful. And in Got Job? I mentioned part of the stressful process I went through in looking for a job. After God showed up at just the right moment in each of those instances, I declared I would never be worried about anything again! How naive!

Faith is a good thing. And I should have it. But I was being naive about my humanness. I am prone to worry.

A Little Foggy Ahead?

And when I’m stressed, I need more communication to keep the stress level down. My husband and I learned that the hard way earlier this week. My stress level was increasing….where are we going to live? when are we going to make enough money to live on? (I wouldn’t be so stressed if this just affected us, but we’re depending on his mom’s good graces for our current housing.) My husband isn’t working a regular 9-5 job and I only had a partial idea of how he was using his time throughout the day. So the stress skewed my interpretation of his work.

We had a miscommunication. I had a melt-down. We came back together and came up with our best solution:  He would time-track his work in a little book. That way I could see what was going on–have a little security blanket. Much better than not communicating about it and better than me peppering him with twenty questions….or more.

It’s funny. When I’m stressed I withdrawal. But when I’m stressed I need more communication. What a contradiction!

Any tips from you about the best way to communicate during stressful times, or to deal with stress?

A Weekend to Remember

My husband and I attended Weekend to Remember. And it was one of the best weekends we have ever experienced together!

We drove straight there from my work and checked into the hotel. After a quick bite at Panera Bread, we walked into the hotel’s large ballroom to find a couple seats. Right away the speakers were entertaining, informative, and engaging. We had a full schedule from Friday at 7:00 pm until after 12:30 Sunday (schedule).

Saturday evening was “Date Night”. Each couple was on their own. My husband and I chose to go to The Cheesecake Factory. We ordered the Avocado Eggrolls for our appetizer, my husband ordered the Steak Diane and Herb Crusted Salmon, I ordered the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes as a meal, and we topped it all off by splitting the Mango Key Lime Cheesecake. Mmmmmmmm. Then we went to the movie theater. We chose to watch The Hunger Games, even though neither of us had read the book(s). Good movie.

My favorite part of the weekend, though, was the project assigned Saturday morning.

The instructions were to answer a number of questions about our spouse, along the lines of:  what attracted us to them in the beginning, what we learned to appreciate about them during marriage, how they have helped us grow, etc. Then, we took those answers and formed them into a love letter to our spouse, including committing to our spouse through God’s integrity and unconditional love. In writing my letter to my husband, I started crying when I wrote the words, “You have helped me come to a point of knowing I am a child of God, I belong to God, and I will spend eternity with God. You helped to bring me value–something I have never had before.” And then I continued crying when I read my husband’s love letter to me. A line I’d like to share:  “I am committing to God and you, to trust God more in our differences and weaknesses AND to demonstrate unconditional love through Christ.” Powerful stuff.

And the speakers ended the weekend with another powerful memory:  They had everyone stand. And those who wanted to, faced each other. We said our marriage vows. There were definitely tears. The meaning behind those words had become so much more significant, now that we had experienced some of the joys and trials a married couple can face.

After, we purchased a couple books: For Women Only and For Men Only. Both by Shaunti Feldhahn, with her husband joining her on “For Men Only”.

It was a weekend we will never forget. It was a weekend we wish never ended. It was a weekend to remember!

Weekend to Remember

People…And the impact they have on our lives

“Hi, Laura! This is ________ from _________. Not sure why but you have been on my heart all morning. Just want you to know that your sweet spirit is valued and appreciated! Praying that you have an abundantly blessed day!”

I received that text the other day and boy did it lift my spirits!

People are definitely important when it comes to pursing “impossible” dreams. No matter how determined we are in our pursuit, there will be key points in our journey when we need encouragement.

There will be people who temporarily appear in our lives, people who impact only a part of our lives, and those who have a huge impact on our lives.

"man's best friend"

My husband definitely has a huge impact on my life. I know it’s cliché to say my husband is my best friend, but it’s true! He is the first person to believe in me. He has helped me develop into who I am today. I know he loves me despite (or maybe because of!) my imperfections. I used to cry over spilt milk, literally. He would stop me, make me look into his eyes, tell me that he loved me; it was okay, an accident, and taught me the best four-letter word out there:  oops. I know if I have a hard day, I am coming home to someone who loves me.

The other person who has influenced my life as much (or maybe more) is my dad. He laid the foundation for who I am becoming. I remember growing up, my dad would come into my room before I went to sleep and we would kneel next to the bed. We would solve the world’s problems and pray together. There are three reasons why those moments had such an impact on me:  My dad listened to me, responding with care and respect—that showed me I had value. My dad would share his thoughts, explaining the “whys” behind them—that taught me to consider everything before making decisions. My dad made sure we prayed about specific things, instead of just going through the motions—that taught me the importance of prayer. I am constantly reminded of how much I owe my dad for who I have already become.

A friend of mine recently called, crying. She said she just needed to talk to someone who loved her, understood what it was like to be an emotional female, and would not take her conflict the wrong way. Her description is the type of friend I view her as. It was not long before she began to feel better, and I was glad she called me. That type of friend can be rare and should always be treasured.

Another person, whose friendship is a more recent development, is my writing partner. Getting away from the norm to talk about writing, goals, life, hardships….while drinking chai lattes and eating cookies just out of the oven….is the best! Those times bring relaxation, clarity of mind, and a sense of life coming together (even if it really isn’t!) In other words, her friendship provides a much-needed break from the daily grind!

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”  -Eleanor Roosevelt

Who has impacted your life?

Baditude.

Otherwise known as a “bad attitude”.

These past two weeks I have been sorely tempted to have a bad attitude, and sometimes gave in. Unfortunately.

Following a dream involves risk. And risks are compounded when you follow several dreams at the same time. Which is what my husband and I are doing. Risks always come with opportunities to choose a bad attitude.

I mentioned in a previous post, Financial Obstacles, that my job was not financially stable—I was hired to put finances in order. Sometimes things occur that make me feel like my input is not listened to with seriousness, or even though I am valued I am not respected for it.

Sometimes it is easy for me to view those instances as obstacles, a challenge, something capable of being overcome. Other times it feels like an insurmountable wall. When I just stare at that wall….that is when I begin displaying a “baditude”.

Depending on the situation, it might be easy to say, I shouldn’t have to put up with that. Or, am I really going to make a difference here? Or, are my efforts being wasted?

"Happiness is an attitude..."

We have been raised to believe we have “rights”. I may have a “right” to have a bad attitude. But should I? No! What does a bad attitude accomplish? Besides making us, and others around us, unhappy?

In the moment of having a bad attitude, I almost convince myself it’s okay because I am making known my frustration or disagreement. But there are better ways to communicate that.

It would be better for me to sit down and talk about what is frustrating me and why. My boss wants to dive in and address the issue immediately. I prefer to wait until I’m supposedly cooled down enough to not say anything I regret. I don’t know that either way is more correct, as long as we both approach the situation with a desire to understand.

I do not have control over someone else’s choices….but if I choose a baditude, I am getting in my own way. I will not have the opportunity to overcome obstacles others may throw in my path, because I am busy dealing with an obstacle I have given myself.

How do I approach situations where I am tempted to choose a bad attitude? Honestly, pray. I am a passionate person, and sometimes I need God’s help to rein myself in.

I would like to end with a quote:

“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”  -Francesca Reigler

Most People Never Get There

I receive quotes from Runner’s World via e-mail every day. And the other day I received one that made me think, I have to share this on my blog!

“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”   —Dean Karnazes

Think about it.

Most people want to take the “easy” road in life. They want to do what makes them feel comfortable. When things don’t go their way, they shout that it’s not fair. BUT at the same time those people usually seem miserable, at the very least not satisfied with life. They have no real joy.

Lester

Where does real joy come from? A favorite TV show? Fast food? Shopping? Relaxing? Puppies? Kittens?

Or is it something deeper? Discovery? Accomplishment? Giving? Learning? Loving?

I believe it is something deeper still:  a relationship with God.

I could go on and on about why I believe true joy can only be found with God, but to tie back to Karno’s quote….with God we gain confidence in accomplishing the impossible. The demands, resistance, struggle, and suffering become surmountable, even worthwhile.

The sentence that pops out to me is, “But struggling and suffering…were the essence of a life worth living.”

Have you heard the idea that if there are no conflicts in a marriage, the couple is not in love? The more one invests in a marriage the greater the chance of conflict, because people are making themselves vulnerable. At the same time, the more one invests in a marriage the greater that marriage will become.

The same goes for life. The more one invests in life, the greater the chance of struggle and suffering. At the same time, the greater one’s life will be.

Are you denying yourself an extraordinary trip?