"Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle."
Know thyself. ~~ Socrates
Sometimes I need to pause and reconsider what I know about the world and my place in it. I need to redefine what I believe and what I still need to figure out before I proceed with a choice or a plan. This week I am endeavoring to know what I know, and here is what I’ve figured out so far.
I value true friendship. I recently reconnected with someone I haven’t talked to in 15 years. For hours, we discussed the news about our children, our careers, our address changes, the death of her stepson. Our lives have changed, but much has remained remarkably the same. That conversation reminded me how much I appreciate true connections with people who care about me despite the time and distance between us. Knowing I have true friends encourages me to share my friendship with others who need my support.
I believe God always has a plan. Spring begins a new season, a time of hope and promise for the future. I am ending a long winter of rest and contemplation; but I know I have been constantly growing, exploring, and expanding my interests to new areas. I am eager to embrace new possibilities. This year we began attending a new church where we’ve been warmly welcomed and invited into a large and extended family. I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, because I know God always has a plan laid out for me, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.
I have learned that I am always learning. Last month I celebrated another birthday and spent an evening enjoying pizza and cake with family, the people who mean the most to me. As I grow older, I realize I still have much to learn about life and what is truly important. As I learn more about what I know, I realize there is still much I don’t understand. I am always questioning, wondering, asking for answers; and I am always grateful to find new leads. I look forward to following new directions from God, finding new places to explore, and discovering new horizons.
Thank you to all who read these words, share my friendship, and help me see that we still have much to learn together. Thank you for teaching me and reminding me that we are not alone on our travels through this world. I pray you are richly blessed in faith and friendship today!
What are you learning today? How have your friendships contributed to the lessons you’ve learned?
It has been a month for staying indoors. Winter storms and freezing rain made driving dangerous. Streets and parking lots became icy pools. I’ve enjoyed the warm and safe confines of my cozy home, but I look forward to spring when the sky grows warm and the world feels welcoming again. I’m excited to greet the new experiences that present themselves with sunny days and balmy nights.
But in truth, every morning of any season presents an opportunity to try something new. Each day is a chance to begin a different journey. We don’t have to wait for a date on a calendar or a change in the weather to begin again. God gives us many occasions to open the door and follow the path he has planned for us, and each morning we are free to step out and explore a promising future.
Why are you waiting to begin something new? This morning, I pray you strike out for a changing horizon. Remember God is always with you on your travels.
I stood in the checkout line of the dollar store, preparing to pay for my small haul of toothpaste and tissues. As the woman in front of me gathered up her bags, she suddenly turned and stuck a $10 bill in my hand. “Pay it forward sometime,” she said, and then she was gone before I could stammer, “Um, thank you.”
Paying it forward means giving to others what someone has given to you. I can’t always pay back the people who have helped me or shown me kindness over the years, but I can pay it forward by helping or showing kindness to someone else. Our gifts don’t have to be financial contributions to shoppers in the checkout line. There are many ways to show our care and concern, and this year, I plan to focus on paying it forward to people I encounter.
I can listen. We learn the most from simply listening to what others have to say. This year I will respect others by listening and paying attention to their words.
I can invest time. We make a difference by spending time in the lives of others. This year I will serve by interacting and spending more time with people I care about.
“When Jesus went out he saw a great multitude; and he was moved with compassion for them” (Matthew 14:14).
I can choose to care. We connect and build relationships by caring about the needs of others. This year I will choose to remember Jesus’ example and offer compassion to the people in my community.
How will you choose to pay it forward this year? How can you show attention and care for the people you meet?
Many years ago I spent my days teaching a kindergarten prep program for the school district. While I taught my students about sharing toys and rhyming words, I learned a few lessons as well.
We learn something new every day. Each day is an opportunity to discover and explore new ideas, experiences, and relationships. We never outgrow the desire to learn, and when we remain open to new possibilities, every day can be an exciting adventure.
As we grow stronger, we will climb higher. Life is about testing our limits, and we never stop growing and developing new abilities. When we are not afraid to face new challenges, extend our reach, and grab for a higher bar, eventually we will arrive at the top.
Friendships can be fluid. Sometimes people join us for a while, teach us what we need to learn in that season, and then move on to interactions with others. When we love the people who share our lives, and remain open to discovering new friendships, we find that we always have the relationships we need when we need them.
Play outside every day. We live on a great and beautiful planet of changing seasons and endless horizons. We are never too old to find wonder in the world around us. When we take time to notice new sights and appreciate the beauty God created, we experience joy.
Wash your hands. While playing outdoors is fun, it is important to clean up when we go back to class. We are responsible for taking care of ourselves, and when we spend the time properly maintaining our health, we stay strong and available to care for others.
Today I pray you love and learn, play and grow. Always know God is at the head of your class.
What have you learned from your experiences with children in your care? What do you want to teach the children in your life?
The older I get the more I am aware that I don’t have all the answers. I still have much to learn from the wisdom and experience of others. However, there are a few statements I can make about what I know for sure.
I’m positive each person has inherent value. We are all created by God and therefore are important to and cared for by him.
I’m positive we can all make a difference in the world by recognizing the needs of others and seeking to help meet those needs.
I’m positive the year ahead has good surprises in store. I’m excited about reaching out to more single moms online and in my community.
I’m positive I am always learning. I look forward to growing in understanding and encouraging others who are now going through the same struggles I experienced.
I’m positive that God will never abandon the people who believe in him. I have seen the evidence that God has protected and provided for me – even before I was aware of his influence – and now I am certain he will never leave me alone.
I’m positive God has a plan and a purpose for every life, and if we listen for his guidance and follow him, he will direct us exactly where we need to be.
I’m positive everyone wants to feel heard. Every woman wants to share her story and know her experience has purpose and meaning. What is your story? Leave me a comment. I want to hear it.
I’m positive I will never bungee jump, sky dive, or hike the Grand Canyon, though I admire people who do.
I’m positive that going to the dentist is important for my health, and I’m grateful to the people who perform this valuable service.
I’m positive I enjoy: long walks, sunrise, fall weather, cool evenings, talking with my friends and family, and connecting with my readers on this blog site.
What are you positive about today? How does your faith influence what you know to be true?
Last week I watched a man roam my neighborhood marking trees with fluorescent pink tape. Soon two other guys showed up, wearing helmets and wielding chainsaws. They selected and removed the lowest-hanging branches, and cut down one entire tree that bowed over a storm drain. Then the men ran all the scraps through a screaming chipper machine and swept the street free of leaves and sawdust.
Overgrown trees can be dangerous in violent winter storms. Brittle limbs tear down power lines, break windows, and damage property. Fallen leaves and twigs block drains and flood the frozen streets.
Overburdened trees cause damage and injury to themselves. The high winds of winter snap dry branches and split aged trunks. Trimming away heavy dead wood encourages the tree to expand and blossom in the spring.
Sometimes we have to remove the dead and heavy branches from our own lives. Over-cluttered spaces and schedules prevent us from reaching our full potential. Sometimes we need to reduce the burdens that hold us back and inhibit new growth.
This week I spent time clearing away the clutter that had accumulated in my office. I gave away books I will never read again. I sorted through overstuffed notebooks, tossed pages I no longer needed, and organized the rest into easily managed and findable files. I ran old receipts and documents through a screaming shredder machine. The space in my office is clearer, more open and organized, more conducive to thought, planning, and looking forward to the future.
Cutting back what we no longer need allows room for new expansion and life. When we periodically assess and eliminate the possessions or roles that that no longer encourage us, we make room for flourishing growth. When we are unencumbered by unneeded excess, we feel more ready to experience, explore, and learn something new.
What branches of your life could use pruning today? What could be eliminated to give you room to grow?