Blog

The ultimate life goal: 1 Corinthians 13 Love

I often read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7* and think “I need THAT kind of love” and it’s usually in the context of my role as a parent.  THAT kind of love is pure and perfect, of which I am neither.  I often have no patience with my children (anyone else feel me on this one?) but the word of God doesn’t give us clauses, only the command that love is all that matters.  He even spells out what love looks like for people like me and I need a constant reminder of what THAT KIND OF LOVE looks like:

 Love is patient and kind;

Love does not envy or boast;

It is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

It is not irritable or resentful;

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

I try to imagine what my life would look like, what I would look like as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend if I loved with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.  I would be the best mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend!  Although in my mind, I must admit, THAT kind of love seems out of reach and impossible.  However, according to Romans 6, I am to walk in newness of life, and I must consider myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. I understand grace but the goal is to hope to attain a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. I may not see how I can give that perfect love, what is important is that I try.  I have to understand that THIS kind of love is non-negotiable.

It is made very clear that love is ALL THAT MATTERS.  When I read verses 1-3, this is how I read it:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal: LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing: LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing: LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS

In a nutshell, NOTHING matters but love.  You can have everything, but if you don’t have love, it’s all pointless.  Scripture can be a little confusing sometimes, and sometimes the way we interpret what it means causes great divides and controversy but there is no denying the clarity of decree in 1 Corinthians 13.  It doesn’t matter what I have, if I don’t have love, I have nothing.

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016

*Featured image made with wordswag

 

The stagnant life; why do adults stop “growing” when they stop growing?

A friend recently posted  a Jimmy Kimmel excerpt on Facebook where they were asking pedestrians to name any country on a map, and as you probably have already guessed, no one (with the exception of a child) were able to name a single country. Yes, not even the United States of America, where they live! Were there people who probably guessed a few countries but got edited out, most likely, but that’s not the point.  How can a person not even have the ability to point out the country they live in?

 Jimmy Kimmel Shows American geographical ignorance

Do you remember the show “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” Do you remember how shocking it was that children demonstrated more knowledge than an adult? As a former teacher, I can attest to the growth of American ignorance in the classrooms.  Facts that any breathing and verbal human being should know, many high schoolers did not.  However, I guarantee many of our average high school students today would still score higher than the average adult.  Why is that?

Not to oversimplify, but we stop investing in ourselves.  Chances are, if you are reading this blog (God bless you, I appreciate you), you do not fall into this category, but as a whole, we stop exposing ourselves to growth opportunities as we get older.  Why?  Simply put: life.  Family, kids, disease/sickness, adulting, whatever you want to blame it on, we focus on getting through each day rather than on growing through each day.  Do you feel me?  As a mom, wife, and business woman, there are literally more things I can do each day than I have time for.  Do I do them all?  No, but that would be awesome if I did!  Some days are busier than others but the reality is that we all have this never-ending list of “to-dos” or “could-dos” and then we have a list of “want to-dos” but those rarely make an appearance.

As I mentioned in my “blog introduction” I really want to focus on helping people live a full and thriving life, so today my focus is breaking through the mold of stagnant adulthood and move towards living a life full of growth.

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” —Gail Sheehy

How do we go about transforming our mundane, survival-mode, stagnant life to one that is thriving, changing, and growing?

  1. Read- at the beginning of all growth is the experience found from reading.  Reading opens your minds, works your brains, and explores new possibilities.  I remember spending countless hours reading as a child.  Each book was an educational experience for me.  As I began reading larger and more advanced writing, I had to keep a dictionary (before the days of google) nearby so I could look up and learn each word I did not know.  I learned the power of words and the beauty of expressing yourself and thoughts through the written language.  As I made my way through two Masters degrees, I became completely burnt out on reading because it seemed as though it was all I did, well, that and writing.  Then I started my own home-based business and I was thrust into the world of reading again.  I very quickly learned that successful people read. Successful people all have reading in common. Warren Buffet once said “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” I think it is important to note, not all reading is equal.  Reading the pages of the grocery checkout tabloid is not equal to reading the complex and enlightening readings found in the classics or the writings of Napoleon Hill or John Maxwell.  Find a book that interests you, comes highly recommended, and can help you grow.
  2. Experience life- go do something you have never done before or go somewhere you have never been.  Some people think traveling and going places has to be expensive.  It does not.  I had the wonderful blessing of traveling a lot as a child.  My dad was a pastor and we lived in a lot of places but more important than that was the constant “adventures” they took us on.  Some of my fondest memories as a child were the places we went.  We lived up north for a total of 9-10 years and one of the wonderful conveniences of living in New England are the incredible historical sites that are in close proximity.  Maybe that young exposure to history is what eventually made me love history and become a history teacher.  You don’t have to live in New England or a big city, you can find adventure wherever you live!  Whether it be a man-made attraction or natural, experiences are everywhere you turn.  Getting outside of your “bubble” inevitably leads to exposure and growth.
  3. Volunteer- or at least do something that doesn’t revolve around you.  Helping others teaches us, prods us to do more and be better, and makes us grateful for what we have.  There is literally no excuse for not volunteering, except laziness.  OUCH! I know, that one hurts a little.  But it’s truth, and it’s truth that hits home.  I grew up volunteering, I taught volunteering, but yet I rarely do (and shame on me).  There are a million and one ways you can volunteer, just pick one. If you don’t know where to start, go to your local church, school, or non-profit organization.  Teach your children by showing them; teach them the importance of giving of your time to those in need.

Whatever you do, don’t be satisfied with a stagnant life.  Always push yourself to grow and become better.  There are too many people counting on you, whether you know it or not, to not become everything you were created to be.

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
― John C. Maxwell

Commonality: the ties that bind

Have you ever been somewhere for the first time; another country, another state, a new school, a new church, or any other place where you feel uncomfortable and alone?  Then you met that person, the person that is from your country, your state, the person that dresses the same, the person with the same military upbringing, or any other little or big thing that you have in common.  What happens?  You immediately feel comfortable in each other’s company.  That doesn’t mean you will be best friends or even facebook friends.  What is does mean is in that moment, you no longer feel alone.  You feel like you have someone you share a commonality with and you are eternally connected in that moment.

 

 

"You like long walks in electrical storms too? Wow! We get a charge out of the same things."
“You like long walks in electrical storms too? Wow! We get a charge out of the same things.”

Now, take that same scenario and try to find something you have to disagree on.  Can it happen quickly?  Absolutely!  Do you all of a sudden have a reason to not like that person or maybe you are judging them now?

In which scenario did you get that warm and fuzzy and which scenario did you get that nauseating pit of your stomach feeling? The reality is that we are full of opinions!  How can we not be?  We live in a society that cherishes the freedom of speech and individuality…right? So we think.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that thrives more on our differences than what brings us together.  Instead of respectfully acknowledging that someone has an opinion that is different than your own and being okay with it, we live in a society where people immediately become offended that someone else has an opinion different than their own.  How could they!!  How appalling!

Funny-Marriage-quote-picture

Really?!  Is this the society we want to raise our children in?  Is that how we want our children to behave?  Of course not!  We want our children to be aware that we are all uniquely different and come from all walks of life.  Opinions, whether they be in common or opposed to our own, is a right everyone deserves to have.  It doesn’t mean they are a horrible person, it means they have a different perspective.

peace-offerings

 

Instead, why don’t we focus on what we have in common?  Regardless of how different two people are or how different their journey of life has been, they would be hard pressed to not find one thing they share in common.  Commonalities are the ties that bind us together!  In a world where division is as common as gnats on a humid southern summer day, why not cherish the commonality (#warmandfuzzies)

The Irony of Parenting Pt 1: “I need a break!”

If you are a parent, you know exactly what I am talking about.  If you aren’t but have a friend who is a parent, you know what I am talking about.  “Take a break” is code to my 6 year old daughter to stop talking.  I don’t even know how the girl is alive because she doesn’t stop long enough to take a breath it seems like. Parents need breaks and honestly kids need them too. Parenting is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.   You put your kids to bed and you do one of two things; you flop onto your bed and pray to God you get a decent night sleep or you grab a drink and maybe a snack and you hit the couch because for an hour or two you want to watch something besides Barbie or Paw Patrol (and maybe you sacrifice a couple hours of sleep because you would rather get some adult time than sleep).

You didn’t realize you would eventually become your parents and say no to 99% of every request.  You catch yourself saying things then shaking your head in disbelief that you’ve become “that person” but you have to stay strong because they can’t see you cave.  Maybe you’re brave and throw animals into the mix, then you’re not only wiping butts, your wiping up pee and poop off the floor from the “this was a good idea at one point” puppy.

It’s a circus, a full blown circus…but it’s YOUR full blown circus, with your little miracle(s).  We may complain, vent, and pretend like we have the most exhausting reality known to man but at the end of the day as we tuck them into bed, we can’t help but smile and see the beauty in the miracle they are.

Summer may be the most bi-polar season in a parent’s life, especially if you are at home full time during the summer.  It’s the season that we wait all year for, for so many reasons; warm weather, vacation, no early alarms to get the kids up for school, fun camps and activities, and maybe the trip to grandma’s house.  But then camp comes and the trip to grandma’s house, and you realize you are already ready for your “break” to be over.  The house may be more quiet and you may not be as stressed, but the way your heart aches from missing them is like no other emotion in the world.  The noise that normally stresses you out is now gone and the silence is an overwhelming reminder that your angel is not sleeping under your roof.  Then you pray; you pray for their safety and then you secretly hope that they miss you too and don’t get spoiled so much they don’t want to come home.

SO….you get the break you “so desperately needed” but then all you can think about is when they come home.  Oh the irony!

Finding fulfillment

We all know that feeling, the one where we feel unsatisfied, unfulfilled.  We may not have the life we pictured or we don’t feel like we are accomplishing all we feel we should.  So what leads to fulfillment?  What makes us happy? What gives us contentment?

I realize for everyone it’s different, but I do believe that regardless of what makes us each individually happy, it starts with a few fundamental things; gratitude, passion, and goals/dreams.

img_20160421_202711

Gratitude

“ Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.” —Jim Rohn

Honestly, I think most people lack gratitude because they aren’t grateful for what they already have.  I was once told that the first thing you should do before your feet hit the floor is to state 5 things you are grateful for.  That person obviously didn’t know my propensity for falling back asleep due to a life long relationship with the snooze button (although reading The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins will make you think twice about that habit).  So, for me, that ritual must take place AFTER my feet hit the floor.  It doesn’t have to be major things, it can be as simple as the fresh coolness of a breeze on a hot day.  What I have found is that the more I find to be grateful for, the more I realize how much I have to be grateful for.  Gratitude is one of those funny things, it is so powerful that gratitude can actually have a physiological impact!  7 Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude shares some of the amazing benefits of being sincerely grateful. Try it for a week then tell me how much more happy you are and how much more fulfilled you feel…I dare you!

 

passion

Passion

Have you ever met someone who is so passionate about what they do, it is as though it is literally pouring out of every pore of their body?  Maybe that person is you, and if so, kudos to you!  Passion is one of the most powerful emotions God gave us, and when used in conjunction with our talents, it makes us unstoppable and valuable.  However, when we lack passion, it is almost like we are stuck in a black hole; no hope, no excitement, just a mundane existing.  Unfortunately, I think there are more who find themselves lacking passion than those who have it.  If that is the case, then how do we change that?  It may be an oversimplification, but the best way to do that is tap into what makes you passionate.  curiosityYou don’t have to turn in your resignation letter, move, or sell all of your possessions to go discover who you are.  Just start thinking about what makes you happy, what makes you feel good about yourself, what you feel you are naturally talented at.  Passion doesn’t have to be solely about a career, although ideally you can marry your passion to a lucrative income producing activity, it can be your family or giving back to your community.

“If you don’t have an obvious passion, follow your curiosity” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Some lucky few, find that passion very early in life and live amazing lives fulfilling that passion, but the majority of us spend our entire life chasing our passions.  Don’t you think that we get so caught up in “making a living” that we forget to make our life worthy of living? I am always inspired by those who go back to school in their 40s and 50s to pursue what they always wanted to do but weren’t able to do for one reason or another!  But shouldn’t we give the world the opportunity to meet the best us?  Usually if we are passionate about something, we pour our heart and soul into it, and when we do that something beautiful happens.  find-your-passion

 

Goals and Dreams

Unless we work on self development or we have a career that we are working to progress in, we don’t usually set goals or make dreams.

Goals are like a road map for our lives, if we are navigating life without them, we won’t go anywhere.

Since I have recently been on a weight-loss journey, I will use that as an example.  I had gained 40 -50 pounds with my second daughter.  I used to joke that baby-weight is like superglue, it is impossible to get off.  Throw in a thyroid autoimmune disease and you have a serious weight loss problem.   It wasn’t until my youngest was 1 did I start losing…some, a whole whopping 8 pounds.  Then I gained it all back during our move.  Then I found what has now led me to 35 pounds down!  When the weight started coming off, I decided to set a goal, a BIG one; be pre-baby weight by her 2nd birthday.  I also set two others: get to my pre-1st baby weight and lastly to get down to 140, my ideal healthy weight for my height and body structure.  Guess what?  I am now 9 pounds from my final goal.  I use a combination of intermittent fasting, keto coffee, and the keto lifestyle and hoenstly, it’s not always easy (although way easier than anything else I have ever tried).  So why have I stuck to it and changed my lifestyle for the last 5 months? Because I have goals!  Let’s talk about my strategy and why it has worked:

  1. I set goals (obvious, but you have to start somewhere).
  2. I set goals in increments.  I didn’t set the one big goal because that was too daunting!  Over 40 pounds is a lot of weight, especially when you have Hoshimotos.  Always set your goals in achievable increments and set them with a timetable.  Why?  It keeps you on track!  That is why companies have deadlines, if they didn’t nothing would ever get done.
  3. I rewarded myself and gave myself mini cheat days.  I love the saying “work hard, play hard”!  You can’t just drive yourself into the ground.  You have to reward yourself for small achievements. You have to enjoy what you have accomplished, because if you don’t, nothing will EVER be good enough.

I knew what I wanted, I laid out my goals and I had a plan I could stick with.

Last but not least, and hopefully you are still hanging out with me:  DREAM BIG!  The company I am with pushes us to do a lot of self-development and they push us to dare to dream.  Dreaming is very different then setting goals.  Goals seem feasible and we can develop a working plan to achieve them, while Dreams are usually so “high in the sky” (if you are dreaming right) you have no earthly idea of how you will ever achieve them.  Do it anyway.  Put it on a board where you can see them, where it inspires you to never give up that dream.  Some call it the law of attraction, but I truly believe if you want something bad enough, you eventually find a way to make it happen.

 

“Success without fulfillment is failure” ~Anthony Robbins

…and no one wants to be a failure

 

Be grateful. Have passion.  Set Goals and dream big.