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The Power of Pride

image1It’s that time of year again.    The hustle and bustle begins, schedules start up again.     Over the years, and after experiencing some major life changing events, I remind myself that NOW is all we really have.  I also cannot shake the feeling that I need to be still.    

As the boys get ready for school, anxiousness bubbles all around.  As the school year begins, the first thing that comes to their little minds, is that they hope to be with their favourite friends in their classes.     Once the boys see their class lists, they are beaming, out of the corner of my eye I notice another boy in tears.   My heart breaks.    His mother tries to console him and tries to maintain composure.   I head to my car and pray for him, I pray that his day gets easier.    This may seem like a small problem, but in their little world it is everything.  Someone loses.   It is like a lens is shining on my past.      The new girls sits and looks around, she knows it’s up to her to find friends.    Acceptance is all that she wants.

Days start to fly by, and schedules begin. Classes, try-outs, prep camps are all in motion.    My boys are busy again, and I feel frazzled, as the family time starts to diminish.     How can I control all of this?  One activity – but seems to be taking up so much time.   Is it that I am overwhelmed and is it only me?   My boys seem to be full of excitement.   Why is it I feel so unsettled?  

It is such a fine balance, we want to support our children, but who is driving the schedule?   Is it me?  

The drive to be the best, to be an individual surrounds me, and overwhelms me.    It is everywhere, at school, in the workplace and has become part of our culture.    

Time is flying by, and I feel like I don’t know what is best.   The balance is hard to achieve.   I look to Him to guide me.

My goal as a parent is to develop kids that have a heart for the hurting, and realize that within they are good people, but mostly for them to be humble in their accomplishments.    Perhaps this is from going through being an underdog in my childhood – being the new girl and at times feeling like I needed to build a wall up so that I could protect myself against the disappointment.      Disappointment is all part of life; this is something I cannot protect my children from.   

The truth is, we live in a hurting world, and disappointment helps us grow.  Disappointment helps us develop if we are open to it.    I know this; there have been many times where disappointment has turned into something wonderful.   So why is it as parent I want so badly to protect and shelter my children from the reality? It is because I love so deeply.    I love my children, and the people that surround me.

Try-outs begin for sports, and I am reminded again of disappointments and accomplishments.  I see perfection in my children, as I watch them play.   They are so beautifully made.  So many parents looking the same, and at the same time many feeling worried for what is to become.  Why?  We want to shelter them from the disappointment.     But is it a reflection of their ability or ours?   Do you see where I am going with this?  Is it our pride that is driving this?  

Pride. 

 “That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  James 4:6b

What I have discovered through this process is that our kids are oblivious to the hierarchy.  They are also acutely aware of what we say and do.  They would not concern themselves with the hierarchy if we were not concerned.    The quest to be the best isn’t achievable.  It may be temporarily, but there are always winners and losers.   

The question I ask myself is what is the balance?   How do I set my kids up for success while ensuring that they live a humble life?

I think the answer is simple – I model it. I have not been always the greatest model, but I strive to be humble, kind, and show my thoughts through my actions.    The reality of every situation is that there will be ups and downs.   It is through the downs or disappointments that we learn adversity and how to overcome it.    But this has to come from within us.  

I will build my children up while reminding them, at the end of the day, some will win, and some will lose. It is in their reaction to the losses that our true selves become evident.

I believe in my children, but also tell them we all have learning to do.   

I recognize I am not in control, all I can control is how I choose to respond.

My choice is living in the moment, encouraging, and believing the best in everyone.  Hopefully by choosing this, my children will follow.

I wish there was a manual – God knows.  But there is not.  One thing I do know for sure – God is in control; when I try to control life – it gets messy.

Dear Lord God,

Open my eyes to reality, lead me in my actions and reactions.   Help me to be the parent my children need.   Life can be  chaotic, but it is through you that we achieve clarity.   Help me to be humbled and to be aware of my actions and reactions.  Show me  YOUR way father. I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen

Be blessed,

Ness

 

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The Gift of Friendship

gift of friendshipFriendships – we all have them.    Over the years, I have come to realize that these gems in my life really help me navigate through life’s hills and valleys.    As a young girl, I wanted so bad to be accepted.    I wanted that special friendship that many girls had, and many times I was envious.     We moved around a lot and it sometimes was hard to make lasting relationships.      But life has come full circle for me, and I am so fortunate to have a few friends that make me laugh until my stomach hurts, and help me navigate through the ups and downs in this life.       God has been so good to me; He gave me what I needed in His perfect time.

I have sorted through what makes a good friend many times, and there has been times in my life where I thought the relationship was something it wasn’t.     There are seasons in friendships too, people change, we evolve, we shift, and our focus changes.  Sometimes we have to let go, and see where the relationship goes.   Sometimes it will leave and come back.     Flexibility with the changes is key – if the relationship can be flexible, it likely will last.  

Some of the elements that I believe are essential in a great friendship are:

  • The friendship is built on trust. What you see is what you get, if there is ever a bump or problem you can deal with it open and honestly.
  • There is no envy or jealousy that exists in the relationship. You truly are happy when something good happens to the friend you love.   You don’t wish for what they may have, rather you are excited for them and want to throw a party for their new opportunities.
  • You want the best for them no matter what.   Sometimes this means being the only honest one in their lives to tell them when something may not be working.   You hurt for them when they receive the information, but you know that you have their best interests at heart.
  • The relationship is easy. It is not forced in any way.   It should be effortless in all interactions. 
  • You pick up where you left off every time you see each other. No time has passed.  It seems like it was just yesterday that you saw each other.   
  • There are no expectations; the relationship is based on love and is unconditional. As we overlay expectations, if someone does not fulfill the expectation there is disappointment.   The expectations of ourselves are different, we are not facing what the other person is facing in their day to day life, and therefore we should remove judgement from the circumstance, and always respond in love and understanding. Seek first to understand.
  • You can be completely honest always.

I am so very fortunate to have a few relationships like this.   I am thankful for my girls that keep me strong and give me a strong cup of coffee when I need it.   I am also thankful for the times where we laugh so hard that our stomachs hurt.   Thank-you for the wrinkles.  I am thankful for you, and wanted you to know it.    

Love Ness

Two are better than One

imageTwo are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NAS)

Over the years I have been lucky enough for almost half of my life to have my best friend by my side. 

What I have realized is that together we are strong.   

We have been through many trials together, and have grown up together.  There are so many moments I reflect on, that without him by my side I would have been lost.  He is strong when I am weak.

The question I ponder as another year passes, is why do so many give up so quickly on the relationship.  

In this day, it seems that individuals are ready to call it quits when things get tough or their partner is not behaving as they would like them to.  The expectations grow and resentment spills into the relationship.

I am sure the statistics are stifling, divorce has become commonplace. What happened to sticking together through thick and thin? I believe that society gears our girls up to thinking that the princess will marry the prince who will carry her off on a white horse in a beautiful sunset.

The reality is, the princess marries the frog or vice versa (dependent on perception).

Marriage is not a fantasy  – it is a commitment.  

  • it takes work from both sides,
  • it takes forgiveness,
  • turning the cheek,
  • biting ones tongue,
  • seeing the good before the bad,
  • and taking a deep breath and letting go.  

I have learned that men and women speak and think quite differently. I have observed that many spouses don’t see divorce coming when it is at their door, primarily because the communication at some point ceases to exist. The female expects the male to “know” what she is thinking; meanwhile the male does not hear any complaints – so that must mean she is happy. Women think very fluidly, everything in life is interrelated. If someone has an issue with her at the beginning of the day, it seems to feed into all areas of her life. Whereas men seem to compartmentalize things, work is work, home is home, kids are kids. So if for example, there is an argument earlier in the day – that moment has since passed – it is not related to the evening time spent with his wife. I know I am talking in a somewhat stereotypical way, but for the most part this is how women vs. men think. Most men see love through intimacy, whereas most women see love through actions (whether it be physical, or words). A marriage break down occurs usually when one side of the equation does not want to understand the other side any more. He/She no longer understands me, no longer acknowledges my feelings, speaks for me…. Do you see the tone? It is the comparison trap. The comparison trap then lends to a sense of entitlement which in turn leads down a road where, the only option is for the marriage to cease to exist. “I am a different person now, we are on different paths”. I often wonder, if the person left the marriage and we were to fast forward down 5-10 years would it be the same pile?

I am not saying that everyone should stay in a marriage – because for some abuse exists, or staying in the relationship causes more harm than good.  

I am no expert, but here are the things I have learned in my relationship:

  • God brings us to the perfect partner that we can learn from and grow with.
  • No one is doing more than the other, we each have our strengths and the weaknesses are offset by the other spouses’ strengths.
  • We both have personalities that complement one another and make us stronger as a family.
  • Leading by example in our marriage will have a positive effect on our children in years to come.
  • My husband is my soul mate and my best friend, we will have times where we will not see eye to eye – but there is nothing we cannot get through together.
  • Resentment only leads to dysfunction within a marriage, and it will not be present in our home.
  • My husband is the greatest daddy I know, and has an amazing capacity for love like no other; I am blessed to have him in my life.
  • We need to seek to understand before judging any circumstance.
  • Work things out together before letting them fester.
  • I have his back and he has mine.
  • And last but not least, two are better than one.

Today I celebrate the strength and love that we share on our 16th wedding anniversary.  Thank-you sweetie for always being there for me.

May you be blessed. ❤

Celebrating My Roots ~ My Dad

imageWe all have roots.   The roots of our lives serve as a foundation in the people we have become, and contribute to where we want to be.

My dad has been a big part of my roots.   Today he celebrates his birthday, and I celebrate what he has given me.  Caring, loving, and gives his heart to every person he comes across.  He leads with his heart.    In the storms in our life, he has always tried to navigate through by looking at the positive, and putting one foot in front of the other.

Family and helping others is the center of his life.   That is what my dad has passed onto me.

My dad loves with his heart and soul.  

We love people, we love meeting them, learning about them, and lending a hand where we can.  You may call this aspect of our personalities  – wearing our hearts on our sleeves.  Many see this as a weakness, but I would argue it is an amazing strength.   It is the foundation that has helped us build relationships, and expect nothing in return.

 

This is a foundation of strength and love.

My dad taught me how to live, love, fall and get back up.   He also taught me that it is ok to wear your heart on your sleeve, because chances are if you do, many will love you back in the same way. What you put out there comes back full circle.

Thank-you God for my dad, that has contributed to my roots and the love in my life.   Happy Birthday Dad!!

Are You Lost in Translation?

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Sometimes I get stuck,  I get lost in translation.   I interpret, I misinterpret and I analyze.     The original meaning is then lost, and then I create a meaning that makes sense to me.       Have you ever experienced this?   

  • You interpret a look or action
  • You interpret something that is said
  • You assume you know the meaning behind a text that is sent to you

Don’t we all get lost in translation?   How can one really know the true intent of a moment and action, or a statement unless they seek to completely understand the context?  

To seek to understand before understanding.

I have been there so many times, analytical people or internalizers have been there. 

I assume.  I think I “know”.

I am reminded so many times that my interpretation may be skewed based on my perception, of where I have been and where I am.   

God promises us a future that is free of pain.  He tells us so many times to not lean on our understanding.   To look to Him for guidance.  

I need to slow my thoughts down, and take every moment for what it is.   And if I am confused or concerned, then I have the power to probe and ask questions of intent instead of bottling up and creating a story that is fiction.

Perhaps this moment, if we truly decide to be present, is taking in everything it is?  Perhaps it is allowing us to experience  the feelings and explore?  Perhaps really, it is to let go and respond with an intent that seeks to understand?

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)

In those times where I may experience concern, confusion, perhaps I need to look to Him to lead.    

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

 One of the most amazing prayers that I feel explains this so well is the prayer of St. Francis.

 

 Prayer of St Francis

May you be blessed today friend, and take time to slow down and seek to understand.

Love One Another

 

love oneWe are asked to love one another…

Sometimes it is hard to love one another isn’t it?   Life gets messy, people are emotional, stuff happens.

But we are asked to respond in love.     Before we can do this, we must love ourselves.   Some may be thinking, I already love myself, its simple.   But do you really love yourself from the inside out?

I believe that in order for us to love ourselves, we must nurture ourselves and not look to external means for validation.   Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you ever feel envy?

  • Do you ever feel jealous?

If you answered yes to one of these questions, then perhaps you need to investigate the why.

It has taken me most of my life to love myself.   I often wondered why this was.   But as I look back, I know that when I looked in the mirror I did not see beauty.   I saw a blank face staring back at me.   I know that it came from believing what others said about me, in my youth and childhood I was bullied.   I would never change that experience for anything in the world, because every moment helps us become who we were meant to be.     Letting go of the external validation was such a big step for me, and not being critical of myself or others was a leap.

Here’s the thing, when we are critical of others, it is simply a reflection of ourselves.   What do you see when you are looking in the mirror?

Really look to understand the why’s ….

I am so thankful for the love of family.   This is something that has carried me through over the years.   For me the definition of family are those that love you unconditionally.    

mom and dadToday I celebrate my parents 40th anniversary, quite a milestone these days.     What have I learned about my messy life, and sometimes messy family?   We love one another with our whole hearts, and although we may not agree and often have fiery conversations, what you see is what you get.     I was reflecting this morning on how we got through all of the difficult times together, and realized it was through our love for one another.   Every difficult time allowed us to discover something about each other.   Love carried us through.  

I am so thankful for the love my parents show to us.   My mom is the kind of women that shows strength in all she does, and at times will sacrifice and go without to extend the hand.   She is the kind of lady that “what you see is what you get”, and does not sugar coat.   I am thankful for this, because I am pretty much the same that way.   I have realized honesty is always the best policy and although some people may not like it, but this is who I am . Both of my parents are hugely compassionate, they would do anything for a friend or someone they love. I am so thankful for this, and although I wear my heart on my sleeve, anyone that knows me, knows I would go to battle for them.   My dad has a heart of gold, he wants to help and lift up.   He likes to focus on the positive and balances my mom’s pessimism at times.   He wants to let go of the past, and move forward onto the future.     Letting go is something huge – a lot of us carry too much weight…. This holds us back from being all we can be.   One of the biggest things I have learnt from my dad is forgiveness.   My dad has forgiven always, and immolated this.   I have a bit of a problem with forgiving quickly, but I truly believe this is why my dad is always smiling.   Although the years show on his face, the lines show happiness. My dad’s strengths can sometimes be my mom’s weaknesses and the opposite is true as well. This is why they balance each other so well.

Love one another.

Love has carried me through the good, the bad and the ugly.

I am thankful for the love that made us strong. I am thankful for love that is unconditional.

Loving yourself is always the biggest step forward.   And if you are fortunate enough to find someone to share this life with, likely their strengths are your weaknesses. Remember that we were brought together for a reason. Appreciate all those that have been brought into your life. When I look in my husbands’ eyes, I know he was perfectly made for me.  

Love one another as you would love yourself.   In the good, the bad, and the ugly, ask yourself if you can show love first. It has ripple effects.

May you be blessed today, who can you show some love to today?

Ness

 

Two are better than one

Awakening the Soul

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NAS)

 

Over the years I have been lucky enough for almost half of my life to have my best friend by my side.  Many times I have taken him for granted, thinking he would always be there or not realizing how very lucky I was.  However, I have been given many opportunities to realize that “two are better than one”.  

Our love goes back to a time, 16 years ago when I was at such a low place in my life.  After being physically assaulted by men, I had no respect for myself or anyone else.  In fact, I remember saying to myself, “I…

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