My daughter and I recently took a trip to visit my grandma in Arizona. While my daughter had met her in person once before, she was only two and a half years old and didn't really remember. Thankfully, my daughter's spoken to her great grandma over Skype a couple of times, and they write to each other here and there. Don't you just love technology and how it can keep us all connected?
The trip was also a wonderful opportunity for my daughter and I to have an adventure together and do some bonding - something we both enjoyed.
We had fun walking with my grandma, admiring all of the pretty flowers and the orange trees (which smelled heavenly), and just spending time visiting.
It was a huge blessing to watch my daughter as she and her great grandma worked on a puzzle together, went through photo albums and treasures collected through the years, and spent time together. Most importantly, I loved to see the memories they were making.
One day, we went to my auntie's house where I got the chance to visit with her and even reconnected with three of my cousins. My daughter met four of her second cousins. It was such a wonderful day!
The trip went by way too quickly, but I know it's one my daughter (and I) will remember fondly for years and years to come.
Is there a particular trip or vacation that you remember as a child that still brings a smile to your face? I'd love for you to share about it!
Here are some of the pretty flowers we saw, along with an orange tree and a serene fountain. I enjoyed taking photos!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post I titled Just Be Held. I shared about how overwhelmed and frustrated I'd been feeling and how God used a song to remind me that sometimes we have to quit holding onto so many things and just allow ourselves to be held instead.
I posted that first thing on a Sunday morning. Ironically, my family went to church a couple of hours later and I discovered that the message was centered around editing your life.
I hadn't even heard the message yet and knew that it was meant for me. You see, as soon as I saw those words, I thought about how I'm right in the middle of the editing process for Finding Courage.
There's a lot that goes into editing a novel, but one of the most painful parts is cutting text. When I personally write, seeing that word count increase is a big encouragement. Word count is important. But when it comes time to edit, often the best thing an author can do is to delete text.
We delete words, sentences, and sometimes *gulp* even paragraphs that are unnecessary or don't fit with the story. It's painful. After all, it took a whole lot longer to write those sections than it did to backspace them from existence.
But guess what? When it's all said and done, the story is stronger without them.
I think the same is true of our lives. I know I personally allowed so many things to build up as the day progressed that I couldn't possibly keep up.
It's been helpful to reduce some of the things on my to-do list. But what's helped me more than anything else is releasing myself from my own expectations. Which isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. Because that means giving up a measure of control. Surely, if I map out every part of my day to make sure my to-do list is in place, it'll help make the day go more smoothly.
Except it never worked out that way. Inevitably, something went off schedule and things I just had to do began to pile up. At the end of the day, I felt exhausted. It meant shoving even more items to the to-do list for the following day, and so the trend continued. I went to bed feeling behind and that's never a good thing.
In the last couple of weeks, I've found that if I don't wake up with this big list of things to do in my head, I still manage to get almost everything accomplished as they come up through the day. The benefit? I'm not nearly as stressed! If something doesn't get done? Well, it doesn't seem to be nearly as big of a deal if it wasn't waiting there on a list waiting for me to place a check mark next to it.
Just like editing a novel can strengthen a story, editing our lives can leave us with more time for the important things that we might miss otherwise.
Does this mean I won't ever have stress in my day? I know myself well enough to realize that won't be the case.
But in the words of L.M. Montgomery, "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
Praise God for that!
My life has been hectic lately and for a variety of reasons. I usually start off impressed with my productivity on Monday, but by the time I reach Friday, I'm exhausted and frustrated with the lack of things I've accomplished.
I woke up this morning and found myself putting together a mental to-do list for tomorrow. By the time I'd turned the lights on and gotten something to drink, I was already feeling behind. And my weekend isn't even over yet!
I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who does this. It doesn't matter where we are in life, it's easy to let the busyness of our days make us feel like we're not doing enough.
The truth is, life is unpredictable and often messy. And guess what? There's not a lot we can do about it.
What does this mean for me personally?
Most of the stress I experience through the week is self-imposed.
Let me say that again. A majority of the stress and anxiety that manages to dictate my week is created by me. It's completely unnecessary.
There's a lot of freedom in that realization. I'm letting feelings of stress and lack of accomplishment color my days. I have the ability to release that and take each day as it comes. It is possible to do my best, enjoy what comes my way, and put it all aside at the end of the day.
I was driving last week and heard a new song on the radio by Casting Crowns called "Just Be Held." I especially love this part of the chorus:
Your world's not falling apart,
it's falling into place.
I'm on the throne, stop holding on
and just be held.
As I start the new week, I'm going to remember this message.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed (because, let's face it, it will happen), instead of trying to hold onto my control of the things around me, I'm going to make a conscious effort to release it and let God hold me.
If the day-to-day stress is a constant battle in your life as well, I challenge you to do the same this week. Let's see if it makes a difference!
It's Monday morning.
How many of you are starting out with a large to-do list already? I know I sure am. Monday is the busiest day for me, personally, because it's the only day I don't normally need to go somewhere.
Now, one might think that very fact would lead to a more relaxed day. But in truth, it means I start out the week with a mental list to accomplish as much as I possibly can today because it gets harder to do so as the week goes on.
So here I am, at 7:30 on a beautiful Monday morning, already feeling behind.
That's not the way to start off a new week and that's only setting myself up for feeling flustered and stressed.
Today, I'm going to approach Monday differently. What if I think about all of the things I'm thankful for as much as I do all of the things I need to get done? What if I don't keep one eye on the time in an effort to not "fall behind" and just enjoy or do my best at the activities or chores that I do tackle?
What if I let it all go? What if I give God a chance to fill my heart and mind with the joy and peace He has for me on this Monday morning?
Today, I'm going to do just that.
If you're struggling this morning, I challenge you do do the same thing.
Come on - Let's let it all go and see where this beautiful day takes us!