Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You're going to be Okay (Coffee for Your Heart)

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to get cozy with your cup of coffee and join me at Coffee for Your Heart. (
 I sit with my coffee next to me, ready to invite you into my conversation this morning and what i want to share.
   today's topic? You're going to be okay

Have you ever felt like the world is crashing around you?
  Or maybe you've felt like there is no hope and nothing will ever be alright again.
Perhaps you're facing a time in your life that is very dark and exhausting right now. It might feel like it'll never end or like you'll never be okay again.
   I want to tell you that You WILL be okay. 
 You will be even better than okay even.
   You might be thinking, "But Rachael, you're not facing what I am. You don't understand."
Or you might be saying "That's easy for you to say. You aren't in my shoes."
 And I would respond by telling you,
 "I know. And I'm not pretending to understand your exact situation. Trust me. I've been down roads where people have tried so hard to relate their life to my life situation when in reality, it had nothing to do with my trials. "
   But friend, let me tell you that I know you will be okay because I used to be the one asking those dark questions. I have been down the road of depression and anxiety and grief and hurt and sin and pain. I know it better than I care to admit. And I have come out on the other side.  Because I have come out on the other side, I can tell you that though I don't know your exact scenario,
 I know that you will be okay. 
   Your tears may fall today, but there will come joy again.  And when it does, that joy will be so beautiful you may not even be able to paint the picture of it.
       You might have anxiety today, but there is a peace that passes all understanding found in the joy of Jesus.
    You might face a rough day and maybe not even make the right choices, but His mercies are new every morning.
   You might feel alone, but you are not.
When I was thinking of how to write on this topic and what I wanted to say, I thought back to the times when I felt like someone telling me I'd be okay didn't seem like enough. Those are hard words to embrace when you feel like the world is bleak around you. But when thinking on it (and seeing myself on the other side now) this one Bible verse kept popping up, and it is what i will close today on. You are going to be okay because
    "I'm absolutely convinced that nothing-nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable- absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." Romans 8:38-39, MSG

      So, finish your coffee and smile today. Because you are going to be okay. I promise.

*For more on this topic, you can check out Holley Gerth's new book You're Going to be Okay (found on Amazon)

Monday, February 10, 2014

A picture of grace

   Grace is one of my favorite topics to talk about, but one of the least of my favorite to experience. Because when I have to ask for grace to be bestowed upon me, it means I've done something wrong. Whether on purpose or by accident, everyone needs grace. And we all need to give it as much as we need to have it given.
   Can you think of a time when you needed grace?
Perhaps it was a serious moment; or perhaps it was something silly in the end.
   for me, I had to ask for grace many times over this weekend. It was a weekend of wifely woes for me. If I could erase the weekend and start over, I most certainly would. But that's not how life works and that is where the beauty of grace enters the picture.
  While hindsight, the "wifely woes" were not anything life or marital threatening, they sure felt pretty bad in the moment.
   Saturday started with my breaking the brand new carpet cleaner after we'd only had it for 30 minutes. Later in the day, I ruined (ok, maybe it was salvageable, but from my perspective it felt ruined) the potato soup for dinner. And into Sunday, I dented up the side of our "new" car by accident. It was a not a wife of the year kind of weekend by any means!
   None of those above things were life threatening. Nor were any of them things which couldn't be fixed.
 Michael generously went out and bought two of the parts to the cleaner which I had broken (just in case I do this again...which is possible. )  He rescued the soup (he truly is the cook in the house; I was honestly trying to salvage my morning blunder by helping with something he usually does....but I didn't get it all right)  and the car.....well...time will tell what we will do about that. For now, it's an ugly dent which sticks out hugely to me but isn't likely to be seen unless being looked for by another person. Perhaps when winter passes we will have it looked at if it should be fixed.
   But he had to show me grace repeatedly this weekend. While none of my  mistakes were on purpose, they still required forgiveness for something I'd messed up and he had to rescue.And probably even more so, I need to extend myself grace. Sometimes giving ourselves grace is harder than giving another person grace. We beat ourselves up over every little mistake, which is unnecessary.
    The weekend reminded me of the beauty of grace. I felt humbled more than once. God extends us the same grace, only on every scaled level. He literally allowed insults hurled at him, his body to be whipped and beaten and put onto a cross until death came upon Him. He did that for me. He did that for you. He did that because He loves us. And every day He extends His grace to me every time I mess something up. He stays by my side when I "dent up" my life with something messy. He welcomes me with open arms to say "It's ok. Together we will fix it."
  There are times the enemy will attack and I will feel unforgivable. There are times the lies will plague my heart to tell me I'll never be good enough or I'm a failure (ahem, this weekend on more than one occasion I found myself saying that...) But God is there to cover every one of those words with his grace.
  The enemy tells me I'm a failure. Christ says: You're my child. You've already won.
      Enemy tells me I'll never be good enough. Christ says: I'm good enough for you. Let me guide you.
     The enemy says to give up. Christ says: You got this. Keep going.
  This weekend, my husband was a picture of grace, for which I am thankful. And as I work on letting myself get over these blunders, perhaps we will even one day laugh about them.(Perhaps.) Until then, I soak in the picture of grace and hope that I can display it to others around me as it is displayed to me.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Not even close to an Olympian....and that's Ok.

Today is the kick off for the Olympics! I always get very excited to watch the Olympics; I don't even care if it is a sport I like or not.
 I love to watch the plethora of athletes and all their abilities. I enjoy hearing the life stories of all they overcome to be there in that moment. I love the different cultures all coming together in the name of a sport. I may have a side project going while I have the Olympics on, but the next couple of  weeks, I will be following the different athletes and the games.
  I have thought of this in relation to my running lately. The Olympic athletes spend months (well, years more likely) training for their event. They have time obstacles, tragedies, physical challenges and prioritizing choices to overcome on their journey to arrive at the "big games".    While I may not have any goal to be in the big games myself, in my training journey I have some of those same obstacles to overcome.
  This week, I battled sinus infection, causing me to choose to rest and recoup in order that I could be my best for the rest of my life duties. Taking a week off from running and strength training is always a battle for me, knowing it's best to rest but not wanting to give that up for a time.
    Some weeks I battle time obstacles. The more miles I need to put in for longer runs, the harder my time constraints become. I can only get up so early so many days a week....or can I? Is that a mind over matter issue or is that a prioritizing issue? I have to hash through the pros and cons of what that will play out in the rest of my day.
  This winter has presented many  challenges to the training because of the outdoor elements.  The gym only opens so early, I can only run so fast, so on those days, time is limited.
        I have choices to make all day long that will in some way affect my running/training. I can choose fruit or I can choose a cookie. I could choose soda or I could choose water. I could choose sleep or I could choose getting up. I could choose time with my family or time out on a run. Are there compromises to all these things? Sure. But these are some of the processes I go through when I am in training.
   The Olympic athletes face the same choices and obstacles along their journey. They just have a bigger goal in mind. Me, I'm just out to accomplish personal goals. Them? They are out there for the gold. They are the best of the best out there. Me? I'm just out to be my best. If I"m in last place, that's ok with me. I'm still doing something I love and achieving an end goal on which I set my sights.
    I have people say to me over and over "But I'm not a runner." "I could never do that!" "I just don't have it in me." and statements along those lines all day long. Trust me, I used to say the same things.  I may not be an Olympic athlete(Um, I'm not even sure I fall into the athlete title) but that's fine with me.  I will say to you, if I can do it, you can too!
 One foot in front of the other, one choice at a time, mind over matter, and goals set in day at a time.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

coffee for your heart

Grab your cup of coffee because it is link up Wednesday, where I get the opportunity to meet up with Holley Gerth and friends.
  Today's topic is a bit tougher for me to write. Today Holley asked us to write words we want to hear when we are having a hard day.
  Yet, I have struggled all week as I have thought on this topic for what to say exactly.

I can easily hand out encouraging words to others; I love doing that! But receiving them is another story for me. I struggle when people give me praise because I don't like being the lime light. The funny part about that is that Words of Affirmation* happens to be my primary love language, so you'd think it would be something I'd eat up all the time any time they come my way. (*The Five Love Languages  by Gary Chapman.)  Don't get me wrong; I appreciate hearing all the good things. It's just hard to accept them sometimes, as I don't always believe them myself. So, this topic is a tough one for me to conquer.

 When I am having a hard day, it could be occurring for any number of reasons.
   I could be disagreeing with my spouse.
I could be annoyed as a mom.
     I could be irritated with a coworker.
 I could just be worn out and weary and feeling under appreciated.
 I could be missing my mom.
A hard day looks different each time, so the words I most want to hear sound different each time. and I hesitate to share those things because I don't want others to fill me up with words just because I am writing this blog.
  If I had to choose words I'd like to hear on a hard day, I would say that "I'm proud of you." goes a very long way for my heart.
        " I appreciate all that you do."
 "You're so unique and talented. Keep on pursuing what God has for you."
Those are all words that would carry me to keep on keeping on.

 But quite honestly, I believe what I most want on a long, hard, discouraging day is unspeakable. And that is a hug.
 Yes, a hug, and a listening ear.

  Not a person to tell me how good I am (or am not).
     Not someone to fix it all with a know it all attitude.
       Not even the type of words that would flow so easily were I complaining about a given situation (i.e.-oh, but you're so beautiful; oh, but you do such a good job! etc...)

A hug goes a very long way in communicating what words cannot.
  A hug says I love you and I"m here for you no matter what more than any word could.
    A hug allows permission for tears to flow or for no words to be said.
A hug says more than a thousand words most of the time.

 So, if you asked me what I most wanted to hear on a hard day, I'd say in general, not much. I really just want to know I have a friend there for me with a giant hug, willing to listen, but also willing to just sit in silence if need be.

  Drop a comment and let me know what you'd most like to hear on a hard day, please. I'd love to know.

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Push Through the Block"

   I've kind of had a writers block of sorts the last few days as I thought about what I wanted to share. I started something, but scratched it because it wasn't really what was on my heart. And honestly, this  particular blog was one I hadn't planned on writing, but it's what kept coming back to me, so I suppose it's the "push through the block" post, if you will, hence today's title.

      January has come and gone already. Where is the time going???
  Most people spend January pursuing new goals or being excited about fresh starts. After all, it's a new start of a new year, right? But as January fades into February, many times those goals and that excitement go by the wayside.
 I have learned to look at resolutions in all new perspective for my own life. When a new year begins, i don't really set new resolutions. I don't think it has to be a new year to do that. I do, however, evaluate and try to figure out what I can do differently or how I might want an area of life to change. But starting in 2013, I took January to really do that. Instead of jumping into it on January 1, I take the month to reflect, pray and see where I might want to head through the new year. Goals and changes can honestly be made any time.
  Today is February 3, and it's difficult to believe that the year is trotting along that quickly already.
  So where do you stand with your "new year resolutions?" How are they coming along?
As much as I wanted January to be full of peace and quiet, the month took on its own chaos. Then again, that's what real life is.
 We can set all the goals and plans and ideas we want, but when it boils down to the nitty gritty, often times we don't have a say.
 We can't control how other people will act, sometimes changing the outlook of a given situation.
     We aren't in charge of time or sicknesses or  even financial disasters.
We certainly have no control over the weather, temperatures or forecasts.
What I can control is how I respond to those around me, which may not change the situation itself but it can change my heart's response as well.
  I can choose to make the most of whatever means I have; be it how I use my time every day, how I handle the illnesses that come to those I love around me, or how I use the most of the money God has given me in all situations.
        I can choose to appreciate the seasons rather than complain about what is not most desirable.

These choices are not always easy or even carried out every day. But that is also the beauty of not only a new year, but better yet, a new day. His mercies are new EVERY morning!

  So, in light of moving into February and the fact that January was more chaotic than I would've chosen, Here are some pieces I am choosing to work on as the year proceeds.
    ~ I've already shared my word for the year is "Pray", and that is an every day, every moment aspect I work on and learn and grow. I am a talker (in case you didn't know already ;) ) and what I am learning to do more of is rather than talk about whatever is bugging me or causing me worry, to stop and pray about it. (Duh, right?) It's not simple for me...but I am working on it. As I have chosen the word "pray" I am continually relearning lessons in my life about prayer.
~ Choose gratitude over attitude. (By the way, the more prayer is involved in my day, the more gratitude shows through as opposed to attitude)
~  Do my best to view myself and situations through God's eyes and not mine. My eyes require glasses. I don't see clearly and my view is often out of balance. God's vision is perfect. I have to ask for His eyes when mine are blurry.  This applies to my body image, my heart's responses, how I am as a wife, a mom, and employee and a woman. Seeing through His eyes will make a world of difference rather than looking through my own.

 Many other "goals" are incorporated into my year (like running a half marathon again after some time off... putting out more writings and things along those lines) but when I boil it down to the nitty gritty, the above statements are what will really make a difference in everything I do.
  Whether that is doing laundry,
     making coffee,
   helping with homework,
       wiping tears,
             cooking a meal,
        Cleaning up a mess
 or whatever I do....
It is all for the glory of the Lord. And that is a goal worthy of chasing. One day at a time. Not through my strength but through His.