Transforming My Life

one day at a time


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Returning Home to Yourself This Christmas

Christmes-Scene-Animated-christmas-16186036-640-480My house is a mess.  Only half of my Christmas shopping is done and I haven’t  baked any cookies yet.

And since my son got home this week from college, it seems like all we have done is watch a whole lot of tv (and for me, eat a whole lot of store bought cookies!).

This morning as I write this, I find myself feeling panicky, guilty even.  This isn’t what “it” is suppose to look like.  I better snap to!  Get out the Monopoly game!

These are the gremlin voices that tell me I am blowing it, my kids are going to grow up disappointed, what’s wrong with me and why am I not doing a better job?  I’m blowing Christmas!

Then there is another voice.  One I often ignore.  This voice whispers quietly to me, so softly I must take the time to slow down and listen.  This is the voice I long to hear, it is loving, kind, reassuring and compassionate.  It reminds me what is truly important this time of year.

It whispers words of peace and kindness to me.

This is the voice that accepts where others are at, rather than, asserting my will over them.

I am invited into the moment with whomever I am with.  My “to do” list is still there but it has lost it’s power over me.

I am reassured it will get done.  There is abundance rather than scarcity.

I love the words of Brené Brown around this very subject,

The holidays she likens to a holiday circus, where we are the ringmasters, where life can easily become pageantry if we allow it to.

“The best performers make it look balletic and effortless. Of course, there’s no such thing as an effortless holiday show. If you sneak a peek behind most people’s red velvet curtains at holiday time, you’ll often see houses brimming with anxiety, maxed-out credit cards, crying children, and marriages that make the cold war look warm and fuzzy.

I’m convinced that the only way out of this is by cancelling the show. Not canceling the holiday, but giving up the show.”(http://brenebrown.com/my-blog/)

I love this analogy.  Rather than the ringmaster, I picture myself as the lion.  The ringmaster has a whip and is yelling at me to perform.

This causes me pause….Why the lion, and who am I performing for?

My family?  My friends?  Others?  This makes me laugh.  Most of us are too busy performing in our own shows to even notice.

The lion is the victim – no wonder I can become so resentful this time of year.

Could I possibly be performing for a ringmaster of my own making?

Need I forget that a lion can swallow that ringmaster whole?

We are all the ringmasters of our own show.  And we can choose to put down the whip and go home.

Those performance based voices grow fainter as I choose to leave them behind.

When I do, I return home to myself.

Home is where there is acceptance, kindness and peace.  Self-compassion that radiates outward to others.

Home beckons me to come and be.  To sit awhile.  To invite others in where it is safe and warm.

Rather than rush off to the store to get one more present, can I possibly create one, not from a place of performance, but stillness and calm?

To be in the moment and enjoy it.

No rushing around.  No panic.  It’s okay if the shopping isn’t done.  It will get done.  I can ask for help if I need to.

This is the voice that reassures me that my family does not need me trying to control and force them to do the things that I think the “perfect” families do.

Monopoly would be nice.  I can ask for that.  And it’s okay if they don’t want to play, no worries.  I am open to other possibilities.

For today, I am going to make myself at home.  To bask in the warmth and abundance.

What will feel good to me today?  What makes Christmas meaningful to me?

Today I will choose what really matters.  I will be.  Connect.  Accept. And enjoy the moment.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

 

 

 

 


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The Second Week of Advent – A God of Peace

319510714_6aa4f536cc_z-2Do you have something that you are facing now that is creating anxiety for you?  A situation, a conversation you need to have, unfinished business in your life, or something that you can’t control and you don’t know what to do?  Are you unclear which way to go, how to respond, trying to figure out what is the “right way”, the “wrong way” and afraid you will miss the signs or mess things up?  Me too.

I wanted to share a few quotes that really spoke to me from a newsletter I received from Rick Warren, (http://rickwarren.org)  pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and author of numerous books,  the most popular one, The Purpose Driven Life.

I need to remember these truths, take them in, and meditate on them.  I need to remember to take one day at a time with God and trust he will guide me.  We don’t need to work SO hard to figure things out.  

Rest in Him.  Peace in Him.  Be with Him.  

Hope you find these quotes as comforting as I do.  

From Daily Hope with Rick Warren….

Peter Lord used to say, “Ninety percent of what God wants to say to you is encouragement.” If all you ever hear from God is negative messages, something’s wrong. The wires have been crossed.  

If you feel overwhelmed or confused about a decision that you’re trying to make, you’re probably caught up in yourself and not God’s voice. The Bible says, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a NIV). He is not the author of confusion. So if you’re feeling confused, guess what? It’s not God’s voice speaking in your life.

Satan wants to drive us compulsively, but God wants to draw us compassionately. Satan wants to take advantage of our compulsions and use them to drive our lives. But God is our Good Shepherd. He wants to draw us in toward himself and peace.

If you feel like God’s told you to do something but you have increasing anxiety because of it, then the wires are crossed. Something’s not right.

The Bible us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

Peace, Grace and Happy and Holy Advent Season!!

Sheryl


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Stop Trying So Hard

poohquote1Stop what you’re doing.  Take a deep breath and then another.  Relax.  Take the time now to check in with yourself.  What are you feeling?  Where is your tension?  What are you telling yourself is going to happen?  Are you catastrophizing?   Stop.  It is all going to be okay. You have been running around too much today, your mind somewhere else. You do not need to take responsibility for so many things when they do not belong to you.  The fear and anxiety of what will happen if you lay them down.  I know.  It’s scary.  You can do it.  Turn them over.  That’s right, release them.  Surrender.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NLT)

All of these burdens are like boulders in our backpacks that we need to lay down.   Many of them have names.

Fear, Hurt, Anger, Disappointment, Shame, Betrayal, Scarcity…..

If we let them go, then what?  We may not get what we want, but maybe we will get what we need.  Can that be okay?   Maybe there is some plan or purpose we are unable to see.  The less we try to force our way, and our will, the more natural life flows and can fall gently into place.  If we will just allow it to.

It may feel like God has abandoned us.  He hasn’t.  He has been here all along.  He is working it out, in His way, in His time.  He knows.  He hears.  He cares.  So relax.  Take a deep breath.  And know….God wants you.

God, help me to trust enough to let go of the things that I am trying to control and bring my “boulders” and burdens to you.  Help me to believe and know that you love me more than I can imagine and you have me and my concerns in the palm of your hand. 

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

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Celebrate Surrender

copy-th3-e1393117170985.jpegLet’s choose to celebrate today.  Surrender this day.  Let’s just try it.  Quit the striving. Believe we are enough.  That there is enough.  Enough time.  Enough of us to do what we need to do.  Enough of God’s loving care to help us through whatever we are facing and going through.

Rest.  

Trust.  

Let go.  Believing God longs to show us compassion and is abounding in love.  If we choose to believe this, maybe we can relinquish some of the control we so desperately hold on to. Worry.  What are we worried about?  “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)  If God takes care of the birds, will He surely not take care of us?  How often I miss the feast because I am too busy making mud pies. (C.S. Lewis said something similar but way better)  We all need a little grace today. Let’s choose grace.  Believe in it.  Live it.  Radiate it.   

Live Abundantly.

Believe there is enough.

You are enough.

Just the way you are.

 

Fix your eyes on what is true, noble and good.

Imagine….

Letting go of who you think you need to be

Embracing who you are.

 

You are worthy of love, belonging and joy.

Stop struggling and striving.

No more perfecting, and performing.

 

Honor vulnerability.

Be.  Where you are now.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Let in the love.  Let in the compassion.

The grace in all that is good.

 

Courage to…

Feel, to

Throw off the mask, to live

Free from the expectations of others,

to say no, to say yes, to be true to yourself.

 

Celebrate

who you are.

your children, your spouse.

Picture each of them.

Acceptance, freedom

to be imperfect, flawed,

Permission to be yourselves.

No matter what, you belong.

 

Unique.

Each of us.

Beautiful

Just as we are.

 

Let in the love.  Let in the compassion.

Love with your whole heart truly, deeply,  

And Dare Greatly.

The themes of my poem,  I took from Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, which I love and highly recommend!

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

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Meditative Prayer for Our Relationships

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May we open our eyes, ears and hearts to the relationships that are all around us.

What Jesus modeled and the central message of the Bible is how to live in relationship with God and with one another.

In God’s Word we are given many “one another” verses found in the teachings of the New Testament – love one another, forgive one another……

Prayerfully take some time to meditate on these “one another’s”.

 Allow these words to soak in. Consider what it would feel like to bring these “one-another’s” together into all your relationships. How would you live differently?  Imagine what would change in our hearts and the hearts of those we come in contact with daily if we lived these out.  What would that look like?  Can you think of any of these that you need to give to yourself or someone else in your life? 

  • Love one another.
  • Have peace and accept one another.
  • Be humble and do not judge one another.
  • Be like-minded and have the same care toward one another.
  • Instruct and teach one another.
  • Encourage one another.
  • Minister to one another.
  • Serve one another.
  • Bear with one another.
  • Be patient with one another.
  • Be kind to one another.
  • Do not lie to one another and forgive one another.
  • Comfort one another.
  • Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another.
  • Have compassion and minister to one another.
  • Be submissive to one another.
  • Have fellowship with one another.
  • Spur one another on to love and good deeds.  Love one another deeply from the heart.

God’s Word is so amazing.  These “one anothers” that God gives to us are so intricately woven together that one cannot exist apart from the others.  In order to stand on their own they must stand together. 

 However we mix them we cannot have one without another. In order to really love one another we must be compassionate towards one another. In order to truly honor someone we must be humble towards that person.  If we are to be patient we must bear with one another.  When we minister to one another we show we care.  To instruct and teach with wisdom and encouragement makes all the difference doesn’t’ it?  As we serve others we need to seek to be humble.  How are we to accept and build another up when we are passing judgment? As we show kindness, pray for, and encourage another they feel cared for and loved.   What a difference this would make not only in all of our relational encounters but also in our own hearts as well. Jesus modeled this perfectly for us in all of his relationships.  .

May we not live with judgement or condemnation but rather seek to live out what it means to love one another, God  and ourselves moment by moment….. one day at a time.

Peace and Grace,

Sheryl

Choose Beauty

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Look around you, no matter where you are there is something beautiful there.  Sometimes just by choosing to slow down when you are tired, stressed or upset changes how you perceive the world around you.

Allow yourself to sit down, to close your eyes, to breathe deeply.  Take 5 minutes, a half an hour or a half-day to rest.  No matter if it is a moment or an hour, give yourself the time you need to let go and breathe in the peace and replenishment that you need.  Ask for eyes to see and ears to hear, allowing your thoughts, prayers, and your whole being to choose, that, which is good.

Jesus asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51-52

If we desire to live with full hearts, we must learn to be still and pay attention to what our hearts need. We cannot be expected to give and give and give.  We will only find ourselves burned out, stressed out and resentful.  In order to give we must allow ourselves to receive.

Try practicing this palms up, palms down exercise from Jan Johnson’s book, Practicing The Presence of God.  (Meditation written by me).

Find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable.  Begin to become aware of your breath.  You can close your eyes if you like.  Sit with you palms down and as you breathe, reflect on what it is that you need to surrender today.  Are you tired?  Discouraged?  Do you find yourself weary and overwhelmed, not knowing how you are going to get everything done?  Maybe there an upsetting situation that you find yourself in, something out of your control?  As you continue to breathe imagine yourself releasing these burdens and worries to God, whatever they may be.  As you do this begin to turn your palms up and imagine releasing these to God.

Now, with palms up, allow yourself to breathe in what  you need in this moment from God.

Could it be trust, faith, or a willingness to let go of something you are holding so tightly?  Imagine God lovely standing beside you taking your clenched fist, softly touching your hand and telling you,  “What is it you want me to do for you?”

Picture yourself receiving from God.  Imagine yourself receiving an overflow until your palms can’t contain it!

 “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20-12 The Message

 May we choose beauty for this day, in this moment.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

Please share with me if these meditations have spoken to you in any way. I would love to hear from you.


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A Thirsty Soul

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“Come, all you who are thirsty, 
 come to the waters; 
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
without money and without cost.

 Why spend money on what is not bread, 
and your labor on what does not satisfy? 
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, 
and you will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

In this moment I am SO thirsty.  I’m not talking about the panicky, “got to get a drink or I’ll pass out” thirsty (although, I  just filled up my glass for the third time because I’ve been running around all day not taking the time to take a drink) but rather the more subtle, whisper beckoning me to come, slow down and fill up my parched and weary soul.

I can be so aware of my need for water but ignore the signs of my thirsty soul.  When I say a thirsty soul I mean the parts of ourselves that need attention, care and filling up.  The parts of ourselves that are exhausted, weary and crying out that we have nothing left to give.

Dallas Willard put it well when he said, “Our soul is like the silent, invisible yet necessary Central Processing Unit (CPU) of our person.  Our soul and thus our soul’s health, is the driving force behind everything that matters.”

In the next series of blog posts I am going to be exploring this topic of caring for our soul.  Caring for your soul matters.  It affects how you feel, how you relate to others and the amount of joy and satisfaction you are going to experience in all areas of your life.  If we can become more aware of our soul’s cries, we can begin to give it more of what it needs.  We can choose to experience the richest of fare by having a deeper connection with ourselves, God and in our relationships.

I would love to hear what feeds your soul.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl


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No Shame On You

beautiful_nature_wallpaper_1920x1200“Love is patient” 1 Corinthians 13:4

 “Love never gives up” The Message Version

Most of us are familiar with the passage on love from 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.  We hear it used at weddings, funerals, and in sermons.  We see these sentiments on plaques and anniversary cards.  These words can be so cliché that we don’t take the time to ponder the impact they can have on how we relate to others and ourselves.

I was reminded the other day how impatient I can be with myself.  Arriving at a school field trip to the Des Plaines River with my 7th grade daughter,  I had not realized I needed to wear boots and jeans.  I began to beat myself up as they were sharing how muddy it was, that we needed to douse ourselves with insect repellant and to make sure to check for ticks.  When they began to tell us to look out for the poison ivy and oak,  my face felt flushed and my heart began to sink.  I looked at the other Mom’s as they turned and looked concerned at my athletic skirt and cute, new sporty shoes I had just purchased last week!   I was so embarrassed.  I was reading their minds, “Doesn’t she read the parents page?  What an air head!  What was she thinking? How irresponsible!  Wow, and I thought I was disorganized!”  All these critical voices were shouting at me.  I had to remind myself to fight the shame.  Thankfully my daughter’s friend’s Mom(I have always liked her and now I really like her!) ran me by her house to loan me a pair of boots and jeans.  I was so grateful I could have cried.  I was tempted to beat myself up and try to save face by repeating how stupid I felt, but I didn’t.  I reminded myself to be patient with my shortcomings, to practice self-love and acceptance.  I gave myself the grace to make mistakes and learn from them.

Shame is toxic and we are no match for shame on our own.  We need safe, compassionate others to be patient with us on this journey.  We need to give ourselves the love and grace we desperately need when we feel shame rearing its ugly head.  Those of us who grew up being held to a standard of perfection, where criticism lurked when we made mistakes, are especially vulnerable to these shaming messages.  I often have to remind myself to be conscious as I parent my own children to not shame them when I am tempted to do just that.

Today I will choose to be patient with myself,

To love myself,

 To accept myself,

Right where I am today,

I will give myself the freedom to make mistakes,

to make things right when I am wrong,

I will choose to love myself apart from the approval of others,

and commit to giving and receiving the gift of patience and grace towards my shortcomings,

imperfections and inadequacies, knowing who I am is more than enough.

Today I will be tender with myself.

Today I will give myself the grace, compassion and self-love that I deserve.

For I am a child of God and

I am loved.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

 

 


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The Power of Relationships

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I love this picture!  I feel happy just looking at it.  Here we are in Wisconsin at the Door County Half Marathon and 5K just a week ago.  I am  in the front row in the pick jacket with the hat with the braids hanging down. You would never know how cold it is because everyone has their jackets off to display our Center for Christian Life t- shirts from our race in December.  I however, was freezing my buns off and wasn’t about to take off my jacket!

When I think about how much I love being a part of this group, it is hard for me to believe how resistant I was to joining. Friends kept at me to come but it took me several years to even consider the idea.   I historically have thought of myself as someone who has a lot of people in my life.  I have been in many groups over the years – growth groups and a Mom’s group.  I have led groups, been in Bible study groups, church groups, and school groups.  This group was different.   I was scared to join this group.  Running brings up a lot for me – insecurities, negative voices and middle school gym class baggage.

I ran my first half marathon about 8 years ago.  I totally trained alone. I didn’t even plan on running it with anyone.  Thankfully I ran into a woman I knew moments before the race started.  Agreeing we would go ahead if one of us felt stronger, I ran the last 3 miles by myself.  Faced with the prospect of joining a running group meant I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable.  What if I couldn’t keep up?  What if I was the last one running way behind?  When running alone, I was able to avoid these questions.  I would need to be open to facing my limiting voices and pushing through the fear to be with others in an area that I did not feel strong.  I also needed to be willing to be last, if that was where I was.  My value and worth is not in how fast or strong I am.  What matters is that I am in the race to learn, grow and challenge myself to dig deeper.

Running is a perfect metaphor for how I live in my life.  I am choosing to believe I am able to do more than I think I can.   Rather than finding I can’t keep up with the other women, I have found that I can keep up with most of the women.  Running with others helps me run faster than when I run alone.  When I am slower, I can ask for others to run with me.  Much to my surprise, I have discovered that others who are faster than me actually want to run with me, just to be with me.  I am stronger than I think I am.  When those voices are yelling at me, “You are weak. You can’t do it!”  I am learning that with others encouraging me, I can press on to do above and beyond what I think I can.  When those voices are shouting, “Quit!  Your knee hurts. Your back aches!”  or “You are not as young as you use to be!”  I am learning to tell the difference between pain where I need to stop and listen to my body and pain that I need to feel and keep going because that is the pain that will stretch and grow me.

486805_10200885304997958_1447418013_nHere is a picture of me at the 6-mile marker.  I am elated!  You would never know by the look on my face that my knee and back are hurting.  The pain is so much sweeter when I have others standing on the sidelines cheering me on, silencing those inner voices that tell me that I am alone.  You would never know that a mile later I would be crying.  The good kind of crying – grateful for my life, my family and the gift to run and push through my limiting voices.

I am so thankful that I pushed through my resistance and decided to become a part of this community.   A community that encourages and supports each other to grow and become stronger, to fight through limiting beliefs and become more than you ever thought you could be.  Running is indeed a great metaphor for my life.  I need relationships that are life giving.  I need to have others who are for me,  on the sidelines cheering, because with others I can accomplish so much more than I think I can.  With others, I can live the abundant life that I desire and was meant to live.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl


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The Greatest Gift We Can Give

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I just left a friend after pouring my heart out about doubts and insecurities with my own value and self-worth.   I am so grateful for her willingness to simply listen without criticism and judgment.  I didn’t need her to “fix it” or tell me how valuable I was.  I just needed a safe friend to hold space for me in a time of discouragement.  I needed to feel heard and understood.

 I believe this is the most loving gift I can give to others and to myself.   A listening ear and the freedom to express feelings is a priceless offering I want to give to my children, my husband, and to others.  This can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar when I find myself unwilling to accept my own feelings.  I often judge and condemn my feelings or pretend they are not there.  I need to remind myself that there is no right or wrong with feelings.  They are what they are. The gift I can give to myself is the courage to risk opening up and sharing those parts of myself that I want to hide when they are screaming to be heard.  I need grace and compassion from others when I am unable to give it to myself.  I don’t need to be criticized or shamed.  I can do a good enough job with that on my own.  I often just need to get clear around what I am feeling.  At times like these, my thoughts get all jumbled up and I feel like I make no sense.  In these moments I tend to catastrophize.  Sometimes I need to yell and cry.

I love how Brene Brown says it in her book, Daring Greatly, “Empathy is a strange and powerful thing.  There is no script.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it.  It’s simply listening, holding space, with-holding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of  ‘You’re not alone’.”

Empathy and understanding is what my family needs most from me.  They need to know I am a safe refuge for them to share themselves vulnerably.  Unfortunately, I have not always done a good job at this.  The more I am willing to be vulnerable with my deep flaws and accept and love myself, the easier it is to accept and love others.    The path of vulnerability is the place where I am learning to heal and find wholeness. When I love and speak truth to these parts of myself  I silence the Critic that lives inside of me.  If I can be a voice of love, acceptance and encouragement to my children when they are feeling ugly, messy and discouraged it will change the course of their lives.

Today when I left my friend, I had a huge weight lifted that was holding me down.  Life no longer feels all doom and gloom.  I am connected to myself again.  My thoughts are no longer all jumbled and I make sense.  Each day I am committed to loving and accepting myself for who I am because that is valuable and I am worth it.  You are too.

Love and Grace,

Sheryl