Please join me for these thoughts on growth and development and the hard places of continually pursuing it.
Mom, Aunt Donna and I all went to get pedicures last week. It was a special occasion. Actually, after pulling off my socks it appeared one could conclude it as a rare occasion! The only attention I had given my toes since October was a trimming. The French pedicure had nearly grown off—off, off and away! What remained on the quarter top portion on my great toe was chipped, somewhat discolored and left a residual white color even after the polish had been removed. Talk about embarrassing—when the pedicurist is filing the top of the toe in efforts to buff out that funky look.
I would certainly have never snapped a “before” pic of my little piggies to share with my social media friends and family. I do imagine the image along with the typical getting-a-pedicure caption would have acquired some comments. Like, “it’s about time,” or “how long has it been?” or “should you see a doctor for that?”
Oh, honestly, it may not have received the comments, because my social media people aren’t social media trolls, but it would have at the least, created some similar thoughts. I know it seems unheard of, especially after the political social media funnels of the last couple weeks. Actually, I’ve been tempted to chime in a time or two, even wrote a blog post, but had to trash it. I call it a “funnel” because it appears to take social media’s intention of connecting people in one direction. Down. And down really, really fast. People unfollow or defriend or step away from participating altogether. I’m not sure some “friends” would even acknowledge one another if they saw each other in the store after some of the exchanges I’ve read. But moving on….
Overall, people really do know how to keep negativity to themselves. We haven’t forgotten Disney’s classic film, Bambi and that sweet little rabbit who was working on keeping thoughts to himself. Yes, God bless Thumper! We all know the feeling, “if ya can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Nevertheless, we tend to only share what we think would be well-received. Or what we’re proud of. Those not-so-stellar realities in our life don’t need to be showcased. I mean, how many times have we cropped dirty dishes out of the pic or tried to eliminate our kitchen’s cracked grout from making the photo? I could go on. The pile of laundry, the busted fence pickets and falling braces—I know, sounds crazy but it happens around here. Ya know what else happens around here? Shattered light fixtures from soccer balls and basketballs. From the patio to the playroom we’ve got a few that have bit the dust. Then there’s the challenge of avoiding the ongoing sheetrock repair! At the moment, and I figure it may not be a very extended one, but at the moment we have every area of sheetrock repaired and painted! Did you hear the angels sing?! It’s a glorious thing!
Life is just life. And sharing it with others doesn’t require perfection. I mean, you’re probably gonna notice when The Meadows need to mow under the trampoline in a few of our backyard pool pictures. We just don’t like moving that thing every time we mow. So it gets to looking a bit shabby. Or creepy. Like potential snake-home creepy. Now I’ve gone too far. Shared too much. Let me get back on track.
My approach to sharing socially is to follow Thumper’s approach—only share, or say, what is nice. If I don’t have anything nice, I just don’t share. Which explains why there are occasional periods of no participation.
Even here on this blog, we’ve shared some un-pleasantries, but not until we have something to offer from it. A difficult season isn’t for our misery, it’s for our development. Seeking the Lord and gaining insight through the season creates a gift in us to share with others in the right time. Please Note: in the right time.
It’s my heartbeat every reader who visits our online home will receive a little dose of inspiration, strength, joy and encouragement. Personally, some of life’s moments drain those qualities from me. Like the challenging season with our daughter or the unexpected job loss with my husband. I couldn’t write about those when they were unfolding. I had nothing good to give from it. But in time, the Lord turned those into trophies for His Kingdom and tokens of encouragement for us on earth. *check out Living in a Layoff or The Other Side of Failing
When we’re scrolling Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram, or hanging out on LinkedIn, or browsing Pinterest, and any other social media site (cause I just can’t account for or even know them all), let’s remember that those are the highlight reels. We aren’t sharing the behind-the-scenes. Not because someone is faking it, but because they may be in the waiting period—waiting for something good to come from it.
In honor of this post, I’m sharing my toes. Recently pedicured! I chose to go bare. No polish. First of all, I’m so grateful I have my feet, but I’m not a fan of the look. My yucky bone sticks out on my right ankle and my toes curl under. But nevertheless, here is something I wouldn’t typically share—my little piggies. Overgrown-grass-under-the-trampoline pics coming soon (summer will be here before we know it)!
Ephesians 4:29 ESV Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
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I’m grateful to say I’ve received quite a few cards in my life. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but there’s just something super special about going to the mailbox and getting a card! My love for words could play into it too. I mean when people send me a card I know every one of those words are just for me. It’s a little gift sealed inside. You may have thought Hallmark had the market on stitching the perfect sentences together for cards covering every life event, I mean they did say, “when you care enough to send the very best.” But my mother-in-law found a line to top the infamous Gold Crown Hallmark. It’s Blue Mountain.
It became apparent over the years that if the card was Blue Mountain I was most likely going to get a little teary-eyed reading it. Only a girl who loves words puts more emphasis on what’s in the envelope than what is in the gift box.
Well, just this week while prepping Caden’s room for painting, I found a little book my Dad had given to my Mom titled, Think Positive Thoughts Every Day. And guess who was the publisher? Blue Mountain!
So how in the world did this book get in the nightstand of Caden’s room? Actually I do know the answer to that, but it’s a story full of many words, so I’ll refrain from sharing those minute details. However, did I take a moment to flip through the book? Of course!
And on the inside were my Dad’s written words, “May everyday of your life be positive in your walk- love you- you make me feel positive about myself- Mike.”
Both of my parents loved words. And they shared them. A lot of them. Frequently. Actually to paint the picture, I never remember there being silence in my home growing up. Whether we were happy, mad or just ho-hum we were talking.
I thought that’s the way things were. For everyone. Until I got married. Brandon is a guy who cuts straight to the chase. We’ve both learned from one another. I’ve learned the value of silence, and he’s learned the gift of conversation. Occasionally I’ll nudge him, “Babe. Words are nourishment to my heart. I just need more, so would you please start over and tell me this story in a way that I would tell it, not sparing any detail?” He’s so precious and he fills my love tank with his words.
But reading my Dad’s message to my Mom not only brought back the memory of the talking, but of the positivity. My parents would be the first to tell you they trudged through life with their own luggage of shortcomings and hang-ups, but I have to tell you, they were both positive people.
We didn’t have a puppy-dogs-and-rainbows home. We dealt with our own fair share of ugliness, like most families. Nevertheless, their effort to think and speak good thoughts were fundamental in molding my personality, my character and my mindset.
So—did my parents never have anything to feel negative about? Oh contraire mon frere! If you’ve stumbled upon this site for the first time, I first want to thank you so much for visiting, and second, invite you to watch the video of our story in the link at the end of this post to see the heartache and uncertainties my parents faced in their life. My story is their story.
So how in the world did they do it?
- Train. Train. We have to train our minds to think good thoughts. We have to develop a habit. Might sound crazy, but people who are Negative-Nellies have wired their brains to naturally jump on the bad news train. They’re put-out they just washed their car when the sky grows dark, instead of being grateful they don’t have to water their flowers for the day. (By the way- so sorry if you’re name is Nellie—I actually know a Nellie who is super, super positive).
- My parents had each other. My Dad passed away eleven years ago, but when he was alive he or my Mom one, was carrying the positivity wand. When my Mom would get all Debbie-Downer, Dad would challenge her to get in gear. (Actually, he was always much more direct than that. He’d say something along the lines of “knock it off” followed by what good thing they had to focus on). And yes, when Dad got down, as he more and more frequently did closer to his death, my Mom would speak life into his soul with good things. Whether we’re married or not, let’s be sure to surround ourselves with people who are positive thinkers and speakers. (Again, so sorry to the Debbie’s— I’ve got a Debbie in mind now that is the picture of positivity).
- To stitch the first two together, I have to tell you, it’s more than a mindset. These words right here, “in light of eternity” are game changers. When we compare our present trial to eternity, we realize how temporary the rigmarole of life actually is. No matter what we are facing, and people, I say that with much sensitivity and sympathy, understanding just how very difficult the things we face can be, but with all my being, I have to tell you that you can trudge through it with genuine joy, peace and happiness. You can take any circumstance head-on and still hold on to optimism knowing you’re in a win-win situation with the hope of eternity. My parents buried a child with that hope and my Dad passed on with that hope. And on top of it—they’ve lived the days with smiles! Authentic smiles ☺️
Your heart will feel blessed as your mind gears toward good thoughts and your mouth shares them.
2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
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Many of us are spending some time this evening reflecting back on 2013, thankful for the memories, or perhaps wishing things had gone a bit differently. There may be some time set aside in how we plan to approach the next year. My husband and I sit down each year and make plans for the next. We map out how we plan to use our time, what we intend to do with our kids, what area of ministry we plan to serve and where we want to direct our money. In other words, New Years provides a time to regroup and perhaps, redirect our focus. How we approach that is entirely up to us. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter a couple of years ago. Brooklyn had had the most fabulous fifth grade year. Her teachers made the school days interesting and fun; the students were friendly, polite and had an encouraging dose of enthusiasm for their time at school. Brooklyn couldn’t imagine it could get any better.
The night before her sixth grade year started, she shared those very thoughts with me. We discussed how blessed she was to have experienced such a wonderful school year in fifth grade, but that sixth grade could be just as good, if not better. She wasn’t convinced. She couldn’t see it being any better, nor nearly as good as what she had. She just didn’t think it was possible. I spoke with her about our outlook. If she had already determined in her heart that sixth grade wasn’t going to be as fun as fifth, then it wouldn’t; but God could have even more wonderful things in store for her new school year. And He did! She absolutely loved sixth grade. What a great life lesson to learn so early.
My daughter’s thoughts weren’t immature though. They were human. But I believe as adults, we may be inclined to see it in the other direction. It can be hard to imagine things getting better when we’re living in the muck and mire of a difficult time. Life circumstances can be downright brutal. However, if those realities consume our thoughts, we’ll never see brighter days.
I was honored to have met a man who illustrated the characteristic of a positive outlook. Nate Waters sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of 19 from an altercation with his mother’s boyfriend. Due to the resulting diagnosis of quadriplegia, Nate was dependent on nursing home care for over ten years. At a time when most young people are discovering life and the world, Nate was attempting to accomplish tasks most of us take for granted. But none of this kept him from pursuing his best. Even a doctor telling him he would never have the use of his arms or legs prevented him from attaining his goals.
Nate could have spent the rest of his life in bitterness and anger. He could have accepted the limitations many associate with his diagnosis. He could have, but he didn’t. Nate didn’t focus on the injury or the unfairness. Nate Waters had unwavering determination, immeasurable optimism, and immense drive. Those characteristics were noted from everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.
This amazing man made no excuses. He graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. He worked at Williams as an accountant and gave back to his community through his involvements in fundraising and public speaking. He seized every opportunity meeting political leaders like Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, Rudolph Guiliani and Colin Powell. A dear friendship was formed between Nate and T. Boone Pickens who was instrumental in helping Nate reach the goal of independent living. Nate had his own home, could make his bed, brush his teeth, do his own laundry and partially dress his self. Although he needed nursing assistance, it didn’t limit his drive or his attitude. The immense progress he experienced in his rehabilitation gave him great optimism in his on-going efforts to recover. None of which would have been possible had he not been determined to think optimistically and try for what others deemed impossible.
Nate Waters passed away April 20, 2013 at the age of 35. Nate touched countless lives and I’m deeply grateful mine was one of them. He inspires me to dream big and continually strive for what is beyond my reach.
In the New Year, let us glean from Paul’s words:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
May we let go of what is behind….
May we press on…..
May we have an optimistic outlook knowing the One who calls us….
Happy New Year!!!!
~~ Nate Waters~~
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