Archive | August, 2013

We all need a little encouragement from time to time…

18 Aug

f736ec5077fd99d25a9c7b39c1b0d42fMy Pinterest notifications are going off like crazy! I pinned the quote above to my quote board 29 weeks ago (according to Pinterest). To date, it has been repinned 567 times….I can tell you from the frequency of my notifications, the majority has been in the last week.  So it begs the question. Why?

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Joel and Victoria Osteen speak.  Joel is a pastor of one of the largest churches in America. I follow several pastors, depending on my mood and where I’m at spiritually. However, Joel has not been been a favorite of mine. In fact, I thought he was to “happy” for me.  He is always smiling, smiling, smiling.  From what I saw on t.v., I just couldn’t relate. When the tickets went on sale, I went ahead and shelled out the cash. Why? One, because I wanted to see what I was missing.  Maybe watching the message in person provided a different perspective.  And two, because I love to watch the mannerisms of great speakers regardless if I hold the same beliefs.

The event was titled “A Night of Hope”.  I read in the paper that it was a sold out event. The coliseum seats 13,000+! The overall message from everyone who spoke, including Joel’s mother, was one of encouragement.  To give a brief synopsis, the evening revolved around the following themes:

  1. God is greater than your problems.  Go to him (pray) for what you need.
  2. Don’t focus on yesterday. It is long gone. Look Forward.
  3. Forgive yourself. You can’t move ahead if you are always looking behind. Put down your baggage.
  4. You have all you need to be the person God created you to be and fulfill your destiny.

Joel’s critics say he teaches to much on prosperity and is a “dessert” preacher.  Meaning, he doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of scripture. Based on my perspective of the event, I can’t disagree.  Although everything he talked about DID line up with scripture, for me, it felt like he just skimmed the surface.  However, if you look at how often he fills a church of 5,000, filled this coliseum of 13,000, has followers all over the world receiving daily devotions, is a number one best selling author, (and the list goes on) his message  must be needed and WANTED.

As I was thinking about this and the overall experience, my Pinterest notifications were hitting my mailbox faster than I could delete them.  I realized Joel’s message and this pin, went together hand in hand.  We’ve all done things that in hindsight, we wished we could do-over. People move, change jobs, or schools, every day looking for a fresh start. The message at the Night of Hope gave those who wanted it, the encouragement to start again right where they are, forgetting what is behind and focusing on what lays ahead. This pin, sums up the same  message in a very short quote. “I hope you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” Clearly there is a thirst for this message.

So what can we do?

Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Understand that you are not, nor could ever be, perfect. Speak nicely to yourself. You are listening.  Learn to forgive yourself. Learn to love you for who you are. Be okay with your flaws. Be positive. There are enough negative things in the world. Don’t add to it.   Make small changes today to move you toward your goals. Celebrate your progress. If you slip up today, start again tomorrow. You are strong enough to be the person you want to be.  We only have one life to live. Make it count.

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Some rules should be broken….

14 Aug

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I love to read about behavior. It has always fascinated me. I love to dig into the real reasons people are the way they are.  I am intrigued at how two people with the same type of experience can choose entirely different routes based on how they interpret the event in question.  When you dissect a particular behavior, there is often a moment in time in  which a person made a rule, or an agreement, with themselves on how to move forward. For example, how many times as a child did you think, “When I grow up I’ll NEVER do ___” (fill in the blank here)…I’ll never drink. I’ll never publicly embarrass my children. I’ll never spank. I’ll never depend on anyone…the list could be anything. They are the rules you live by. They guide your future decisions and behavior.

I’ve been reading recently about a theory of how we interpret God based on our childhood experiences.  If you came from a home where there was little time for play or your parents were workaholics, you may feel that God is to big, to busy for your problems.  After all, he is the creator of the universe and tad bit on his plate…. If your parents were demanding, harsh, critical, you may feel that God is the same, punishing you for actions that do not line up to what you view as ‘good’.  If something doesn’t go your way, you instantly think God must be punishing you.  The problem is, our parents & grandparents are all human. They make mistakes. Lord knows that parenting is the hardest job on earth.  If we take one memory and affix that to the face of God, we are setting ourselves up for a life time of confusion and condemnation.

We started attending a non-denominational church a few years ago. Pastor Mike has a way of breaking down the Bible in ways that leave me utterly dumbfounded. In service, I often have those ‘light bulb’ moments and past events of my life suddenly fit into place. I find their meaning and/or purpose. One such time was when  Pastor Mike told the story of a little girl on the side of the pool. She is about three years old, still learning to swim.  Her dad is in the pool, chest deep. He calls to her, “Jump. Jump to me.” The little girl is scared. She doesn’t quite know if her daddy will catch her.  She thinks he will…but she knows it is deep and she knows she can’t swim well.  “Jump” he calls.  “I promise I’ll catch you. I’ll be right here. Trust me.” He continues to call to her, to plead with her to just try it once.  After much thought and twisting, the little girl takes a leap and lands, with a big splash, in her daddy’s arms.  He hugs her tight with a big smile and says, “see, I promise that I’ll always catch you!” It was then Pastor Mike broke down the lesson…He said, God is your heavenly father. He wants you to jump to him, to trust him. To let him help you swim through life.  How much does it break your heart when your child doesn’t trust you to catch them? To trust you not to let them fall or get hurt? How much do you think it breaks God’s heart when you do the same to him?

Light. Bulb. Moment.

So my question to you is, how do you see God? What unspoken rules or boundaries do you place on him? The truth is, if you really evaluate your belief system, you will see that you not only apply these rules, walls, or strongholds with God, you do the same with other relationships as well.  The rules you made, whether consciously or subconsciously, govern what you accept or reject.  They determine your future decisions.  Pieces and parts leak out and effect all of your relationships. Do you need to reevaluate those rules?  Where did they come from? What do they mean? Are they holding you back or moving you forward?  I’m on a mission to live my life to the fullest. To do so, you must breathe truth in those dark corners, sweep out the cobwebs  and have the strength to start again.  Forward progress. It is my goal.

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Refueled

8 Aug

lake jocasseeOur family starts dreaming about summer vacations early in the year…like right after the holidays.   We talk about all the cool places we’ve gone and where we would like to go next.  Very rarely do we go to the same place twice.  I’m kind of a  ‘been there, done that’  girl.  I’m the same way with books and movies. Once I’ve seen it, I’m moving on.  However this year we decided to do a repeat of our vacation last year.  We went back to Lake Jocassee.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

Lake Jocassee is pristine. It is nestled in the middle of a mountain range. The water is crisp and clear. Waterfalls are abundant.  It is simply beautiful, peaceful, devine. It is hard to believe this place is in South Carolina, but indeed it is.

There is something about being in the mountains that puts my spirit back in sync. Truth be told, it has been a year of growth for me.  Overall it has been good, but it has been equally as hard emotionally. I needed  time to relax and regroup.  I’m learning to listen to my needs (to even admit I have needs and that it is okay to have them, has been a challenge).  I allowed myself to focus on those for just a few days. It was nice! (To all my mommy friends…you should allow yourself to do this every now and again. It is GOOD for you! – Dr. Steen’s orders!)

I took the time to drink in the sounds of the morning, sipping my coffee in an adirondack chair before the rest of the Steens stirred.  Quietness is good for the soul. While boating, I soaked up some vitamin D, read a mindless magazine, and jumped in to cool off when the moment was right.  I watched our boys do their water sports. We ooohhh’ed and awwwhhh’ ed at their tricks…and laughed when they face planted. Honestly, we did! Our evenings consisted of sitting on the dock, letting our legs dangle down while we drank wine from a Dixie cup (not the littlest Steen of course).  We fed  the minnows their dinner (bread) for entertainment before heading back to the cabin for a round of cards or a tv movie. We were amazed to see the lighting bugs light up the forest beside us.  Kevin set up a campfire in the grill so Trenton and I could roast s’mores ….and then we ate them.

It.  Was.  Perfect.

Relaxed. Rejuvenated. Energized.

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