Tag: love

When You Know Better, Do Better

Lesson Learned from Grace to Serve – Part 2

The older I get the one thing that I continue to be astounded by is the bad, immature, and selfish behavior by those around me. I’m not talking about children or even teenagers, but the adults that I encounter on a regular basis. On a day to day basis, I am appalled by the lack of basic social manners and decency towards each other that is displayed. (see my post here about kindness) Scrolling through social media, at times, I’m surprised to see how many of my high school classmates are still behaving just as they did when we were in high school.

Not that I am sitting in a place to judge anyone, but most of my classmates and I are 40 years old now or older. Something about us should have changed and matured a bit. We should be making wiser choices and setting positive examples for the younger ones who are coming up under us.

The same thing applies to us in the Christian life. As my pastor said in Part 2 of his series, Grace to Serve, we have to start to grow up in our relationship with God AND with other people. Day after day, year after year, there is no way we should be the same.

But this is not something that magically happens. When you wake up on your next birthday, you don’t automatically just become a better person. (Ask any child how they feel on their birthday and they’ll tell you “the same as yesterday.”) Getting older doesn’t guarantee wisdom, maturity, nor good, sound judgement. Now, we’re all entitled to our mistakes, but does that mean we should be able to make that same “mistake” over and over again?

Does it mean that we can go through life completely oblivious to how our words and actions impact others?

Of course, it doesn’t. Hence the title of this post: When you know better, do better! 

What is your ultimate goal in life? Is it just to please your own selfish nature and then die? Is it to gain a bunch of worldly wealth and then die? Is it just to have all the fun you can have regardless of the consequences and then die? You know the reasoning that You Only Live Once. Some of us have used it as a justification to get away with anything and everything instead of as an opportunity to live a rich, fulfilling life where you worked not only to make yourself happy but to positively impact the world around you.

Every day we have the choice of whether or now we will remain the same or if we will become a better version of ourselves. Pastor told us that we are to work towards maturity in God, that we are to bear much good fruit, and that our ultimate goal is to be more like Him (Jesus).

I’m not sure what that looks like for you, but for me it means being a better person each day, striving to make a positive impact wherever I go, choosing how I will react to situations, and purposely, intentionally choosing to love those who are difficult to love.

I am working to do my part while here on earth and part of that deals with leaving childish things behind and behaving as a grown woman. Thinking, speaking, and reasoning like a grown woman. I may be a child of God, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t “grow” up.

I will seek the counsel of wise people. I will adjust my attitude, my mindset. I will work hard to see people the way that God does, to serve them for Him. I will work hard to help others achieve their goals. I will not allow greed, jealousy, envy, selfishness, or insecurities to rule me. I will let love be my guide: love for God, love for myself, love for others. I will not rely on myself to do it all either because I know that I can’t do it all alone. 

But most of all, I will strive to be more and more like Jesus every day. That is the ultimate goal! Choosing to become more and more like Him is a true sign of maturity. 

What Will Be Your Legacy?

Welcome to a new series entitled, Lesson Learned, where I discuss what stood out the most for me from Sunday’s sermon at church. Basically, it will be about the epiphany I got or the light bulb that went off, something that resounded with me at the time and that I think others can benefit from hearing. I hope you enjoy!  

Grace to Serve – Part 1

Last Sunday’s sermon was phenomenal. The title was “Grace to Serve” and it was all about how we were created to do God’s work here on Earth. Towards the end of the sermon, my pastor asked a series of questions, but one stood out more for me than the others. He asked us what type of “con” were we? At first we were puzzled, unsure of what he meant. Then he asked a profound question about how we were living our daily lives, “Are you a CONsumer or a CONtributor?” 

Take a moment to think about it.

Pretty mind blowing isn’t it? 

Image result for mind blown emoji

I mean if you really stop to think about your life, every aspect of it, you may be proud of yourself in some places and ashamed in others. The “consumer versus contributor” concept is not about money (although it can be). It’s about life in general. When you go about your day-to-day life, are you adding to other people’s lives or just taking what you can get? 

I know, personally, that I really had to consider just how much I am contributing to the world versus how much I am taking. What difference am I really making in the lives of others? How can I be more intentional about putting the needs of others before mine in my home, at my job, my church, and when I am out and about? 

Building a Legacy

My question to you and to myself is: What legacy will you leave behind? Will people remember you with your hand out because you were always begging for more, in your pockets because you kept everything for yourself,  or clenched in someone else’s because you were always lending a helping hand? 

We all matter already; we’re all important. I mean, we were created in God’s image and loved by Him before we were even thought of by our parents. Therefore, our mission in our lives should be to make our lives matter in an even bigger way. I’m not referring to obtaining fortune and fame. I’m talking about doing those things that will matter most to God, that will matter in eternity, those things that will most impact other people’s lives and eventually draw people to Him. Isn’t that what this life is all about?

Whether or not you’re a believer, you should understand that there is no way that we were put on this earth to just look out for ourselves, not when we’re constantly surrounded by so many other people, not when we’re constantly seeking companionship, to feel loved, appreciated, and accepted by others. Our lives were made for so much more than working, gaining material wealth, and dying. We were created to be there for one another.

Your life cannot be just about yourself. While we can work on making ourselves better every day, part of that should be about our working hard at helping other people. How do you feel when someone does something helpful for you, puts your needs before their own, or goes out of their way to make you happy? How do you think it would feel to make someone else feel that same way, not just once, but over and over again?

Moving Forward

I’m challenging not just myself but you as well to try to spend every day being more of a contributor than a consumer. What can you do to be more giving in your own home? How can you help out more at work? What can you do for your neighbor, your friend, that stranger you pass each day? What can you do to make the biggest impact here on Earth?

It can be as easy as being determined to do one good thing for one person each day. Imagine your impact on the world in just one year! 

What legacy are you leaving behind? What difference will you have made to the world around you? Will the world be a little better because you were here?

Will you be remembered for being a CONsumer or a CONtributor? If you don’t like your answer, I dare you to make the necessary changes starting TODAY. 

Peace & Love,

Michelle 

What Happened to the Golden Rule?

I’m sure while growing up all kids were often told to follow the Golden Rule, especially in school. This reminder normally occurred after one child had been mean to another child and had gotten caught. It was basically a reminder to be kind to one another. However, after hearing this over and over again, most children eventually learned to tune the teacher out and thought of the Golden Rule as another annoying school rule that only served to stop them from having fun. Its importance was not grasped by our young minds, becoming something we could all recite, but not something we practiced daily. (I mean, you have been to school, right? Not the nicest place at times.)

That was then…this is now.

But as adults, you would think that we would have this thing mastered. We would understand that we should treat others the way that we would want to be treated. I mean, the “Golden Rule” is not really some made up rule. It’s so much more than that. It is a guiding principal given by Jesus, yes Jesus, as to how we should treat one another. And it makes perfectly good sense. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all treated other people exactly how we wished they would treat us?

Some days I just want to hide in my house and not deal with other people. I get tired of dealing with rude customer service, people swerving in and out of traffic and blowing horns, people pushing past you without saying “Excuse Me.”  My list could go on and on. I’m not asking for everyone to behave like angels, but what happened to common courtesy and simple manners?

But I can’t stay hidden in my house just to avoid some rude folks, and Jesus wouldn’t want me to do that either. How can I be a light for Him, if I am hiding from the very people He wants me to shine His light on?

No, I’m not perfect (in case you thought that I thought I was), and I am writing this even for myself to remember that while I’m out and about and interacting with others, that it would be wise to remember Jesus’ urging that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Unfortunately, we can’t control the actions of others, but we can control what we do and say and how we react to how others treat us. It won’t be easy, but I feel like if more of us tried to show love everywhere we went, to be intentional with it, that we might be surprised by the reactions we get from others. (more…)

5 Things That Make You a Great Mom

I can’t lie about it. While it is extremely rewarding, motherhood is hard!  No one could have told me that it would be this like this. No one could have told me about the emotional ups and downs that I would experience as a mother, one minute wanting your love bug cuddled up next to you and the next minute needing to hide in the bathroom just to have a moment alone. You have your moments of Mommy Pride where you stand a little taller as you watch your child’s performance or when they bring home a good report card or even as you watch them sleeping at night.

But then you also have those moments of guilt where you feel like you’re not doing enough, you’re not good enough, or you’ll never get “it” all done. We even feel guilty about wanting alone time and just wanting to get away from it all. We begin to compare ourselves to the picture perfect moms we see in magazine ads or we see on TV or that people post on their social media pages. We start feeling as if we’re the world’s worst mom, that everyone else has it all together, and that our children are being deprived of a great parent.

Mommy Guilt is so real, so sad, and so hurtful to us.

We judge ourselves so harshly as if we are never allowed to have an off moment. Being a mom is the one job that comes with no manual, no set of instructions, no training in preparation for it. We are all doing the best that we can, and we deserve a pat on the back (or a nice trip to the spa) for all that we do.

Here are 5 things that make YOU a great mom:

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

  1. You provide for your kids’ needs, and you try to give them most of what they want. I know people are thinking, “That’s not a big deal. That’s what you’re supposed to do.” However, if you think about it, this is a pretty BIG deal. Making sure to provide for your children probably takes precedent over your taking care of yourself. Most of us will go without something we need or want just to make sure our children have what they need. That type of selflessness is commendable and although it just comes naturally to moms, it is worthy of honor. In a time where people are driven by their own selfish desires, being a mom who gives her last and her best for her child is amazing.     Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
  2. You discipline them and teach them right from wrong. While it’s easy to be distracted by how cute your child is, there comes times when you have to correct them for what they’ve done wrong. You know what’s best for them even if they don’t believe it. So while those tears may be hard for you to see, the fact that you must instill in them the values and morals that they will need in order to be successful in life is more important than trying to avoid seeing a few tears. You know that in the long run having children who will go on to become well-disciplined and self-sufficient adults is so much more important than trying to make them happy all of the time.         Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
  3. You hurt when they hurt. I know nothing breaks a mom’s heart more than seeing her child hurting and not being able to do something about it. That’s part of the reason that disciplining can be so hard. We feel their pain; we have a deep connection with them and that mama bear in us wants to jump in and protect. That instinct to protect our children makes us special because that level of love is unmatched. We’d give our lives to make sure our children are protected and do whatever it takes to make sure they are comforted in their time of need.                                                                                                                           
  4. You dream about their future and the adults they will become one day. Prom. Graduation. College. Wedding. Family. As a mom, you don’t just worry about your child during their childhood, you hope and dream about the bright future that you see for them. That’s why you work so hard, why you discipline and talk to them, and why you try your best to set them on the right path. All you want is the best for your child, so although you still have dreams for yourself, your child’s future success is always at the front of your mind. It’s why you will sit with them for hours assisting with homework or why you will sign them up for activities that will help them pursue their passions.  If you could, you would create the future that you wanted for them, free from all hurt, harm, or danger, and give them the best life you possibly could ensuring success in everything they do.                                                                                                                     Photo by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash
  5. You spend quality time with them. All of the toys, money, and gifts in the world can’t equate to the time that you spend with your child. Don’t get down if you can’t provide them with the “best of the best” of everything. So what if you can’t take them on a Disney vacation every year? In the end, that’s not what’s going to matter or what they’re going to remember. They will remember the bedtime stories, the trips to the local park, the encouraging words you gave as they tried something new or struggled with something difficult, the way you comforted them when they were sick or were crying, laughs you shared around the dinner table, and the nights snuggled up on the couch watching a good movie.  What matters is the time you spend with them. And as the saying goes, it’s about the quality, not the quantity.

I promise you that what you’re doing right now IS enough.

All of the other things that we feel like we should be doing are just fluff, the extra icing on the cake. I’m not saying that being the team mom for your son’s football team, or making homemade costumes that will rival anything found on Pinterest, or being able to feed your kids organic, homemade food every day is not important; however, if that is how you measure your worth as a mom, you’re wrong. Who cares if this time you picked up the store-bought costume before you swung by McDonald’s on the way home from a long and exhausting day at work? Give yourself a break. Yes, our jobs are to provide the best life that we can for our children, but the problem comes when we begin to compare ourselves to other moms or when we set impossibly high standards for ourselves based on unrealistic expectations or when we don’t give ourselves credit for all that we do.

You’re a mom, not Superwoman (although I think we should earn that title for all that we do).

Cut yourself some slack. When you look back, what are the things that really stand out to you when you think about your mother or the woman who helped to raise you? Are you being judgmental about her parenting skills or are the first things that come to mind only about how much you know she loved you, the little things she did for you, and overall how she made you feel? I know what I think of when I think of my own mother and all that she did and provided for me. Knowing what I know now about parenting, I admire her strength, love, and tenacity even more.

You’re doing a great job. Don’t let anyone (not even yourself) tell you differently. Instead of trying to find new ways to be a “better” mom, take time out for yourself. Have that glass of wine. Spend some time with friends. Go on a mini-vacay alone. Believe me, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to take on motherhood even more. Taking care of you is the best way to make sure you’re always ready to take care of your kids. You deserve it.

And your kids will thank you for it.

Natural Soul

Natural Soul

I’ve decided to love myself

starting with the inside

‘cause then I know

loving the outside will come easily.

No longer will I be spending

long periods of time in front of the mirror

trying in vain to morph my real image

into some virtual image that has been

implanted in my head.

Contemplating crazy ways to change myself

into what I’m “supposed” to look like

what the world has told me it takes

to be considered a “beautiful” woman.

I’m going to love myself

from the inside, out

starting with what I like to call

my natural soul.

My soul that hasn’t been bleached or plucked or waxed or permed or arched or shaved or clipped or dyed or painted or lipoed or Botoxed…

that part of me that hasn’t been

“fixed” or made to fit the image of an ideal woman.

I’m going to love myself

from the inside, out

that part of me that reflects

the real me

that part of me that can never be changed

that part of me that hasn’t been touched

by stereotypes and unrealistic expectations.

 

I’m going to love myself

from the inside out

starting with

me and my natural soul.

We Are Called to Love

It’s November already.

Wow.

Where has the time gone?

I remember the beginning of this year and the promises that I made to myself to make this year my best year yet. I was determined to be #unbothered by life and people, to focus on setting goals and achieving them, and to change things in my life that were no longer working for my good. I am happy to say that while I may have lost my cool a few times (or many), I didn’t reach all of my goals that I set, and I haven’t made every change that I wanted to make, my life has improved drastically by what I have accomplished thus far.

Spend more time in the presence of God. Check!

Lose weight. Check!

Transfer to a new school. Check!

Reduce my debt. Check!

These were just some of my goals that I made and achieved, and my life has definitely been much more fulfilling. I must say that I am quite proud of myself. When I do my check-ins with my accountability partner, I get a certain sense of satisfaction when I realize all that I’ve done to improve my life and my state of mind.

However, lately something has been missing. There’s been this empty space that’s been longing to be fulfilled. While I’m not a selfish or self-centered person (although we all are in some way), I didn’t feel like I was doing all I needed to do in the area of service. My heart has always gone out for other people (I mean, I am a teacher), but I have not been consistent with going that extra mile to help others.

Lately, I’ve felt the need more to do more to help others especially when I consider how I can have a bigger impact on the lives of my children. How do I really get them to love and to appreciate and to be grateful for their lives and all of the blessings they have?

How do I get them to understand that they should give more than they take in this world?

What is the legacy that I want to leave behind that my children can take up and continue even when I am gone?

That’s when I decided enough was enough. The end of this year would be the beginning of my journey in purposeful serving. In other words, I would be purposely seeking opportunities to be a blessing to others. Some things that I have done thus far:

  1. Gotten more involved in my Raktivist (Random Acts of Kindness Activist) community on Facebook, getting inspired by all of the wonderful, beautiful things other people are doing to serve others selflessly. These people have hearts so big that I don’t know how their chests can contain them.
  2. I’ve joined a campaign this month called Neighborly November. Instead of just doing 30 days of Gratefulness in which most people document 30 things for which they are grateful, we are challenged to put action with our gratitude. Every day I must find a way not to just speak of my gratitude but to actually live it out. (Created by Carrie Wisehart)
  3. I took my younger son (6 years old) to my school’s sorting of the items from our Harvest Drive. We had an enjoyable time while running food from the center of the gym floor to the designated areas around the room. More than 100 families were able to receive food just in time for the beginning of the holidays because of this Harvest Drive. I felt so fulfilled just watching all of the volunteers running back and forth cheerfully sorting food even after a long day of school and work.
  4. I started working on a community service project with my team at work so we can get our students involved in serving others while learning the concept of giving without expecting to receive something in return (more to come on this in future posts).

While it’s easy to live in our bubbles and focus on just our own problems and needs, God has called us to love and serve one another, to use our gifts and talents to be a blessing to others and that’s just what I want to do. I want to do it and teach my children and my students the same thing. I pray that my children and my students will learn to love helping others, not because they will be rewarded, but because it feels good to do so, that they become intrinsically motivated to do what’s right.

I write this post not because I want any accolades or praise but to hold myself accountable. If I tell everyone what I am going to do, I know that people will be checking to see if I’m doing what I said I will do even on those days when I don’t feel like it and just want to focus on self.

Maybe I can motivate others to do the same.

Maybe I can start a small movement.

Maybe I can open more hearts to the love that God has called us all to show.

Stay tuned for more…