Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Other Side of Vacation

It's mid July and for us (and apparently MANY others) last week was vacation week. Ours was a special vacation - after many years of taking the children and making memories with them, life happens, kids grow up, get jobs, or become a teenager and don't want to come along anymore. So, sweet hubby and I took off on our own little vacation. Our first stop was to visit our oldest son and his wife.  A few days were spent enjoying them and a trip on a local lake.

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor, nature and water

Leaving them, we traveled to a couple of places we had never been before.  Of course, my favorite place on earth is the beach:

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor, water and nature

After a couple days there, we headed to Savannah, Georgia to tour the historic city. There was lots of walking down quaint streets, a riverboat cruise and romantic dinner with a view to the river.

Image may contain: bridge, sky, outdoor and water

Image may contain: tree, plant and outdoor

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Those are our Facebook worthy pics to share our fun time.  But it seems after every vacation, I bring something home, a truth that will hopefully lodge deep in the heart and become something regular that makes life more meaningful. Usually it is something like learning to slow down and cherish each other and beautiful things like that!  

This time the thought was to 'return grace'.  To fully explain, let me take you to the 'other side of our vacation", the one that didn't make the Facebook posts or be displayed in pictures. I mentioned before of my love for the beach.  What I failed to say was that my sweet hubby doesn't share that passion. Basking in the sun for hours, only interrupted by swims in the ocean followed by long walks on the beach just isn't his passion. While I see the magic of the beach atmosphere, he sees hot, muggy, sticky and sandy. But, being the trooper he is, sat along side of me, smiled, endured and let me enjoy my beach time. 

As we ventured to the city of Savannah, it was absolutely beautiful. But...it was July and there was a lot of walking.  The riverboat cruise was something I was looking forward to.  Upon boarding the choice was given for the 3rd and 4th decks, the 4th being open air.  Since we were early, we spent a few minutes in the 3rd deck, which was air conditioned. Upon my insistence that we MUST enjoy the cruise in the open air, we made our way up to the 4th deck.  The sights were beautiful but again...it was HOT!  Blazing sun, humidity and little breeze blowing drove many of our fellow cruisers back down to the lower, cooler deck. Asking sweet hubby if he wanted to go down, he said no and we remained on the top deck. He is such a good guy!

On the way home, we decided to rethink future summer vacations due to the heat. It was a wonderful time being together and we saw some beautiful sights. But the most cherished memory was of sweet hubby giving of himself so that I could enjoy myself. Even when what we did wasn't his favorite thing, he graciously went along for me.  Romans 12:10 says..."Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;".  That was what sweet hubby did on the trip, deferred his likes and gave honor to another. 

My return home take away is to remember that example of selflessness.  In day to day life, it is so easy to become irritated, annoyed and sometimes just plain grumpy!  Giving honor to one another is not making yourself a doormat to be stepped on.  It is the act of thinking of another's needs and desires beyond our own. It is kindness extended instead of a sharp response. Words of blessing, actions that speak love, looking at situations from another's perspective are ways to begin implementing honor. Recognizing grace received is worthy of grace returned. Even if our loved ones don't generate the spirit of grace to us, God does. He loved us from our beginning.  God knew our hearts, where our shortcomings would be, how we would sin and break His heart...yet, He loved us, forgives us from our sin and daily loads us with His grace and compassion. His love is alive in our hearts and when we draw on it, can help us return grace. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What True Hope Looks Like

HOPE.  Such a common word with a vast variance of meaning.  Often we use the word 'hope' in regard to something we would like. I 'hope' my favorite ice cream is in stock, I 'hope' it doesn't rain at the beach, I 'hope' my friends will join me for some fun. Almost a source of wishful thinking.  It can be used in well wishing for others - I 'hope' you feel better soon. Desiring better things to come into someone's life and circumstance. 

When circumstances become challenging, hope dramatically becomes more important. Hope is the spark of light that gives courage to continue on through a dark valley. Hope may be a thread that we grasp when we feel like we are at the end of our rope. 

Without hope, darkness threatens to consume us. When there is no light, no sign of change it can be overwhelming. Problems can become self absorbing until they are all that we see. 

Psalms 130:5 says "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I do hope."  A footnote in my Bible says, "in biblical thought, hope was synonymous with certainty. The psalmist puts his hope in God's Word and is standing on the promises of God."

Psalm 71:14 says "But I will hope continually..." The Hebrew verb translated hope describes a confident expectation that God will intervene and deliver.  Biblical hope is much more than wishful thinking, but a confidence in something bigger than ourselves or our circumstance.  

The best thing about hope is that it is one of God's attributes.  God is the God of hope.  He doesn't give glimpses of hope that disappear, He IS hope, He has given us hope and as we trust Him, He will fill us with joy, peace and the promise that we will abound in hope.  

Image result for romans 15:13

If you are struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel today, hold on to hope, cling to God who is our HOPE.  Be confident, read God's Word and look expectantly for true hope. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Great Relationships

Image result for building great relationships

Life changes us. As the years go by, our seasons of life change, our outlook changes and our priorities shift. Usually, the older we grow in age the more we value relationships rather than things. When some life has passed and we embrace momentous milestones such as careers, marriage, children, it becomes clear that life is not all about us. That shift in meeting the needs of others brings a beautiful balance of mutual trust and love.  People become important and connections and relationships when nurtured become precious and vital. 

I'm looking to continually improve in the areas of relationships, how to foster them and to grow in being one that gives in order to make others great. When you learn to treat people like you want to be treated, it’s amazing how much better life becomes. One of my favorite mentors on relationships, John Maxwell shares some great relationship principles:

1) We see people through our own lens.
Your self-awareness, self-esteem and self-perception establish the foundation of all your relationships. The way you view yourself and the way you see life shapes how you see and relate to others. Whether you see the cup as half-full or half-empty will transfer every time.

2) People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.
Caring about people isn’t automatic. Not everyone cares. I’m sure you’ve run into people along the way that it’s clear that they just don’t care.
You can’t learn to care, it’s not a skill, but you can decide to care. You can ask God to help you become more caring.

3) Listening from the heart is a game changer.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is to truly listen. We are often in a hurry, there is so much to do, right? So, when you slow down for a minute or an hour and truly listen, you communicate that you value that person. It can be life-changing for them.
Listening from the heart requires the ability to make a soul level connection. You communicate empathy, interest and a desire to be helpful far more by listening than merely by your words.

4) Believing the best in people usually brings out the best of people.
What you look for you will find. We are all flawed and imperfect, but when someone calls out the best in us, we often rise to that higher standard.

5) Hurting people hurt people.
When the response to a situation is greater than the issue at hand, the real issue is always about something else. The wise leader learns how to get to the real issue.
People who are hurting don’t necessarily want to hurt people, but it’s like a lion with a thorn in his paw, he can’t help it. If we can help people take the thorn out, we can help them live better. In turn, if you are in a relationship with them, your life becomes better too.

6) Admit wrongs and forgive quickly.
Taking responsibility for your actions is core to healthy and productive relationships. If you make a mistake, own it. If you treat someone poorly, ask forgiveness. Getting defensive or blowing up never makes a relationship better. You might be right, but if you need to win, you’ll lose in the long run.
When you are wronged, forgive quickly. You’ll live with less stress and enjoy life more fully.

7) Always give more than you take.
There may be a few people in your life that you think it’s impossible to out give them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t purpose to be generous anyway.
And with the majority of people you will ever know, you can set your sights to give more than you take. However, this is not about a scorecard. If you keep track, you’ve missed the point. It’s a heart level thing. It’s a way of living, and when your motives are pure, it will bring you great joy.

8) Add value to people.
You can add value to people in simple ways and big ways. Adding value is no more complex than the idea of how you contribute to their life, so their life is better.
It can be as simple as a kind and encouraging word, and it can be as involved as a lifetime of mentoring. Sometimes it involves enough love and courage to have a tough and honest conversation.
The greatest value you can add to anyone is the message of Jesus Christ. The gift of eternal life is the greatest and highest value you can bring to someone.

9) You can never encourage anyone too much.
We both know the answer, but let me ask anyway. Have you ever been encouraged too much by someone? Of course not.
Whether it’s your kids, an employee, volunteers at the church, a co-worker or your neighbor, take the time to give frequent and sincere encouragement. 

10) Trust is the lifeblood of all relationships.
When it comes to a relationship, trust is like a promise. And you should never break a promise.
In fact, that’s the essence of trust. People are counting on you to keep your promises. This reflects your character and ultimately who you are. No reasonable person expects perfection, but they do expect honesty, kindness and doing what you say you’ll do.

Keeping principles like this in front of us give us the guideline and encouragement to help us find great relationships. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Welcome July - Welcome Changes

Image result for welcome july

Welcome July!  Summer is in full swing, the weather is heating up, vacations are planned and if you can believe it, 2018 is over half way through! That caused me to do some reflecting.  In January, I picked a 'word of the year', one to give guidance and hopefully instill the characteristics of into my life. Much time is spent reading and listening to relevant material and this week, I realized progress has been made in this area, but there is much more needed....and time is moving along quickly. 

July is a special month because my firstborn son was born in July. Becoming a mother was one of the life changing milestones that gets reflected on each July. The son turned 27 this year, but I never will forget the moment he was born. Being a mother is an area of continual learning and growth! 

Where are you at as we face the mid point of the year? Are there areas you still want to improve?  It would be easy to give up on goals and aspirations since so much of the year has gone by. Next month is August and school begins a new year and then you know once fall arrives, the rest of the year is a blur.

But, what if we took one month and renewed our focus?  Determined to not give up on what we started at the beginning of the year but to enter July with a plan to move toward areas we want to grow in. If we spent 30 days focused on one area to improve, things could look different for us come August 1!  Where are you today and where could you be 30 days from now? Be encouraged to pick one area, make a few changes.  We can start small, but end big.

Where do you want to grow:
Personal Health - weight, diet, exercise
Spiritual Health - Bible reading, prayer, worship, service, stewardship
Better habits - time management, being on time, becoming more organized
Relationships/Service - loving others, meeting needs, growing in communication

Whatever area you choose to better, three things will help you meet that 30 day improvement.
1. Plan - write down your goals. Put them in sight.
2. Partner - tell someone about your plan
3. Progress - track your habit formation in writing

There is something special about a new month, it is ready to be explored, made the most of and an open opportunity for us to be better.  

Friday, June 15, 2018

Showing Dad Some Love

It seems like Mother's Day just happened...like last weekend! My Mother's Day was wonderful. Especially as I learn through life's seasons that it is not about gifts, pampering or being doted on that is important. When all my sons gather in one place, that is truly the best gift!

Image may contain: 5 people, including Kayla Fullbright, Joyce Fullbright and Josh Fullbright, people smiling, people sitting and people standing

Image may contain: 5 people, including Joyce Fullbright and Josh Fullbright, people smiling, people sitting

Now, here we are with Father's Day approaching.  Father's Day is a bit of a challenge for me to find the perfect gift. My father passed away many years ago. I focus the gratitude of fatherhood to my husband, who is a wonderful father. He loves his sons and daughter in law fervently and always seeks their best. How do you express love for a true man''s man who is filled with integrity and purpose?  A home cooked meal is a must, but sometimes I long for something extra special to show my love and gratefulness.

DaySpring shared a fantastic printable - 8 Notes for Dad's Bathroom Mirror.  Simply download these notes, print them off, cut out, write a personal message on the back and tape onto his bathroom mirror (or hide in his car, by his nightstand, or even next to his workout equipment). They are colorful, based on Scripture, powerfully encouraging while being quick and to the point - you know guys don't do mushy!  
Here is the link:  Dad's Notes

I'm excited to share these with my sweet hubby and find creative ways to let him know how much he is loved and appreciated.  If your dad is still alive, be encouraged to spend some time with him. There is nothing like a father's love for a daughter.  It frames the foundation of her relationships.  If the memories are not good ones, be encouraged to look to our Heavenly Father - God who loves us with an unending love and continually offers His grace to us.  

Share some Father's Day love this weekend!