Posted on

How to Live From A Healthier Perspective

Have you ever been truly moved by a song?  Great song writers who pen stories of real life are my very favorite. Ben Rector is one of those men.  His song “30,000 Feet” touches my heart deeply. The character of the song has been in and out of cities singing and performing to the point that they “all just seem the same”.  That is until one night he meets an older man on a plane.  He and this man exchange stories and it’s a bit surprising to find how similar their stories are.  The chorus reveals these similarities when both men find themselves saying almost the very same things about their lives.

 

     “I have been better and I have been worse.
I have loved a pretty girl.
I’ve seen a couple places that I’d never thought I’d see
I’ve walked into harder times.
I’ve walked out the other side.
It seems like you end up getting what you need.
Looking down from 30,000 feet
Life’s been good to me.”

 

When I first heard this song I just cried and cried, because it is so true.  As Ben sang his song it was as if flashes of life went through my mind.

  • The good and the bad.
  • My Love that I treasure.
  • The places that we have seen that we NEVER would have thought we would see.
  • The many ways that I have gotten what I need.

To be truly honest some of the places we have been were amazing and some of those places stunk.  But each one of them yielded amazing fruit.

We just do not want to stay in the past.  When we live our lives looking backward it is hard to walk forward well.

The bottom line is that God has been so good to us.  We really do “always end up getting what we need.”  At some point I am anticipating living a life where I expect to get what I need instead of stressing that I might not.

I can hear some of you saying right now, “But Betsy, look at this time in my life…I did not get what I needed.”  Really?  If you needed it and you did not get it would you be here today?

There is another part of the song that I love as well. It reminds me that the perspective we have in this life is very important!

“Sometimes we can get lost
Living in the here and now.
Sometimes it take the skies
To see what’s on the ground.”

When we are in the hard places and life is overwhelming, we need a higher perspective.  We need the Lord to help us get above what we are seeing to be able to see a bigger picture.

So in the midst of the hard times of life we can recall where we have come from as well as Whose we are.  We have all come through places “we never thought we would see.”  Already we have seen Him bring us through many challenging places. He is faithful. Our good Dad desires for us to come to Him.  We can lean into Him and get His perspective at anytime…day or night.

Encouraging each other is a great way to get a fresh perspective.  Yesterday I got to sit with a dear friend and talk about stories.  She shared about hard times she had recently walked through.  She felt guilty because she thought she was “taking up our time” by sharing.  Honestly, I was so encouraged!  She is staying the path in the midst of storms.  In sharing the lessons she learned, my heart found faith and hope.

Being willing to share our stories is so vitally important. It is not that we always make the right choices at the right time.  In fact, not one person does that well all the time. We need to learn from where we falter and what recognize what our buttons are that get pushed.  This are learning opportunities.

Haven’t we all “been better” and “been worse” at different times in our lives?  We have “walked into hard times” and chances are we will walk into them again.  But it is the “walking out the other side” that grows us and refines us.  In spite of the struggle in the midst of hard, we can come out better than we started.

The most encouraging part of my friend’s story was how she left anger and bitterness behind with the junk of the story.  In the purification she recognized that kindness, respect and honor were the way to make a difference.  She could have drug the anger, bitterness and resentment around like a ball and chain, but she laid them down.  She is going to be part of a solution!  This world changer is going to make a difference in lives because of the decisions she has made.

Living from a healthy perspective means choosing to step out of the victim role and into the role we have been created to be in.  Each and everyone of us can be powerful  We all can be part of a solution.  In the midst of hate we can love.  Where there is drama we can walk in peace. When there is disunity we can be conduits of unification.

Just

keep

moving

forward.

When it is hard and we need encouragement it’s time to circle up the horses. Pull in and find a dear friend to sit with who is not just going to tell you what you want to hear but who loves you and wants the very best for you.  Be willing to ask for help is also important.  Just like Ben Rector’s song, sometime all we need to get above the problems to see life in a whole new light.

We can be a part of solutions.  We can make a difference!

Posted on

To Do Lists…Do They Rule You?

 

What is on your “To Do” List?

On days when your list is long, do you ever feel a bit anxious or hurried? I am asking because I do.  The list mocks me and, if I am not intentional, it rules me.

Today my list felt a mile long.  It is one of those weeks (months to be honest) when life is full to the brim.  I was distracted by all the things before me.

Of course there was a slow poke in front of me in line.  Other people checked and out and left. All my stuff lay crammed on the conveyor belt…it was too late to switch lines.  I listened as the elderly woman in front of me talked on and on with the cashier.

I have to be honest.

As much as I value the elderly I was not liking this lady today.  Her jabber was slowing me up from checking off my list. I really did not want to hear about her diabetes and how the company that makes this canned goods was going out of business.  I am now embarrassed to type my thoughts, but these are the honest truths.

I heard some folks talking loudly across the front of the store.  To get my mind off of the eternally long time it was taking me, I began to observe these people.  They were obviously a family or close friends.  They spoke in a language I had never heard.  Large backpacks and lots of children made them look a bit gypsyish.  One man was pushing two tiny babies around in a buggy. They seemed quiet pleasant as I tried to figure them out.

In the midst of my distraction I heard the lady in front of me speaking directly to me.  I focused as she is asking me if I heard the cashier say that her son was healed of diabetes.  I am instantly engaged.  I am also aware that this elderly woman’s demeanor had completely changed.  As she is left she looked at the cashier and told her that she knew now why she came to Walmart today.

It was my turn.  I jumped right in and asked the cashier about her son.  We began to encourage each other.  I told her that it was amazing how the Lord uses her to minister to people as she checked them out.  It crossed my mind that her conversation with some customers may be the only one they have all day long.  She is beaming and so am I.  She shared with me how the greeter prayed for a man’s hand this morning.  As I left she came around and hugged me, knowing we have each made a new friend.

I found myself smiling as I walked to the parking lot.  Even though I can not find my van, I am so touched by this woman’s ministry I am wandering and thinking.

I began to hear the people again. Their strange language is reverberating though the parking lot.  They are loading up in to multiple vehicles and as I locate my van I notice their license plates.

Florida

They had been displaced by Hurricane Ima.  I get a nudge from the Lord.  “Speak to the them.” I argued.  “But they don’t speak English. This could be humiliating for us all.”

As if to say, “I will make this one easy for you,” one of the men headed directly toward the buggy return, beside my van.  The flashes from the store came flooding back.

  • heavy laden backpacks
  • tiny little babies
  • lots of people

In spite of my potential embarrassment I began to speak.  I did not have a clue what to say, so I just jumped in.

“God bless you man.”

He looked at me with a huge smile and without even waiting for me to say the rest he said (in perfect English) “Thanks so much!”

I mentioned that I had seen their Florida tags.

Continuing in his joy he responsed, “YES! And we are headed back now!” He was obviously thrilled to be going back home.   I blessed their return as we parted ways.

I was so busy that I almost missed huge blessings.  My list was so big and distracting that I almost failed to see the Lord at work all around me.

I still have so much to do.  The list really is not any shorter than it was an hour ago.  But I am sitting in my chair typing this out so that I do not forget one single part.  I have temporarily kicked that stupid list to the curb.

So if you find yourself in the same place as me I hope you will remember this story.  May the daily grind of your day not overwhelm you to the point that life becomes all about getting the very next thing done.

May you see people loving people.

There are people all around us who have hard things going on in their lives.

It sometimes helps our perspectives to get our eyes off ourselves!  There is so much for which to be thankful, even in the Walmart line.

 

Posted on

How to Live an Overcoming Life

 

What obstacles do you face today?  Some of them may seem insurmountable.  Do you feel totally inadequate for the problems that you are facing?

I have an encouraging word for you.

Since the time my oldest sister was in the play “The Miracle Worker” I have been fascinated with the life of Helen Keller.  As I was reading a child’s library book about her life with our youngest daughter, a brand new aspect of Helen’s life came into focus.  Her life exemplified something that arrested my attention.

Her voice had been stolen through sickness.  Literally.

She had NO voice.

To learn to speak she held one hand on another person’s mouth to learn to lip read.  She would feel the vibrations of their voice combined with the movement of their mouth.  Anne Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, would spell the words being spoken to Helen, in her other hand.  Eventually, Helen would touch her own lips and imitate what she felt from the speaking person’s mouth.  She learned to speak. She was so determined to push past her obstacles that she would not stop.

Absolutely amazing.  But that is not all!

She worked to have a voice…and she used it.

Helen Keller used her voice (she had worked so hard for) to make a difference.  In the book, Helen’s Big World, it says, “Many people did not like her ideas.  To Helen, words brought freedom.  She would not be silent.”

I cried.  I am crying now.  She did not care what others thought about her voice.  Helen said what the world needed to hear.  She cared enough about the world that she dared to speak.  She was determined to make a difference.  .

Helen became a world traveler. She met all kinds of people.  Despite her inability to see and hear,  the cries of the hurting still reached her.   Helen Keller had every “right” on this earth to do nothing.

She could have played the impossibility card.

But she refused to remain locked in her isolation.

Helen rose above the obstacles.

To Helen, learning was a privilege.   She spent every waking moment trying to educate herself so that she could connect with the world.  Once she was able to communicate she became a world changer.

Helen herself said, “I love my country.  But my love for America is not blind.  Perhaps I am more conscious of her faults because I love her so deeply.”  She spoke against the war and child labor.  She spoke for worker’s unions, the right for women to vote and civil rights.  She spoke on behalf of people with disabilities and on behalf of children.

Grumbling and complaining about her hard life was not an option.  She did not vomit in anger, she spoke with love and conviction.   She diligently worked toward solutions.

I feel empowered!  If Helen Keller jumped the hurdles created by being blind and mute, who am I to be silent?

I have a voice and I see the challenges.

I hear the cries of injustice.

You have a voice as well.  Maybe you do not feel like you do.  Has your voice been stolen?  Did you learn that you should be seen and not heard?  In all honestly, have you felt like no one would want to hear what you have to say?

Just think about Helen Keller.  She could have used every one of these excuses and more.  But she did not excuse herself, she qualified herself.  Helen refused to let other people’s opinions impact her actions.

You and I can decide to make a difference.  Let’s throw off the limitations that have bound us and “run the race with endurance that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1)  If the road seems too long, stop and consider the ridiculously challenging obstacles Helen had to face when she was learning to speak.  She was not just an amazingly gifted woman, she was determined.  She did not give up.  When you think you can not take another step,  step one more time.  Step once more.  Just keep the goal in mind and keep stepping.

We “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us.  (Phil. 4:13)  We have within us all that we need, even though we sometimes have a hard time believing it.  No matter how big our challenges are Jesus is the great leveler.  Got a wall, He can scale it.  Standing at a valley, He can span the divide. If we look at the challenges and compare them to ourselves we may pale in comparison.  But look at them in light of Jesus and no obstacle can even come close.

Please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying this is easy.  We need endurance.  Helen Keller did not learn to communicate in a few days or weeks.  And if you asked her I am certain she would have said it was an arduous endeavor. But with each step she took she stepped out of her isolation and into the life of a world changer.

Coming out of the darkness and into the light is absolutely worth it.

Posted on

How Adversity and Passion Can Be Helpful

challenges, adversityHave you ever looked back and connected dots that you had never seen before?  Have you ever looked back, wincing at adversity that you dealt with in the past, only to see something that God used for great good.  This week, stories I have heard many times over just jumped off the page at me for the first time.  I was reading over my grandfather’s memoirs this week and tears filled my eyes.

I saw something I have never seen.  Part of our stories are very similar.

Grandaddy had a mean Algebra teacher.  He was totally humiliated and embarrassed in front of the entire class.  The teacher was condescending and hurtful to the point my grandfather wanted to quit school altogether. After recovering from this horrible experience Grandaddy vowed that he would become a teacher who would bring out the best in students. My grandfather lived in the basement of a church and cleaned that church in order to be able to go to college to become a teacher.

Today I realized that the same thing happened to me, but in college.  I had a professor who did not like me.  No matter what I did, I could not please him.  I finally asked for a meeting.  This professor, bless him, proceeded to tell me that I had no chance of passing because I would not be a good teacher.  Humiliated really does not even describe how hurtful it was.  But like my grandfather, I decided that very day that I would be a teacher, a teacher who encourages students and builds them up instead of tear them down.  I dropped the class and reworked my entire schedule.  I had to work on my Master’s in order to become a teacher.

So am left wondering how does adversity play a role in our stories?

Do we allow the passions we have to participate in our decisions?

Would I have become a teacher had that incident not happened?  Probably so.  But I am certain I would not have known the passion I had for teaching until I was challenged about it.

Often, just on the other side of our greatest challenges are our calling.  Our passions can be a road sign pointing to our giftedness.  For example, if you become enraged by some particular issue maybe you have what it takes to make a difference in that very area.

Grandaddy taught for decades. He became a principal and eventually the superintendent.  He had a heart for his students and watched for the most challenging ones.  There are stories of children who did not have food or clothes and the the measures he went to in order to honor them, as well as help them, are astounding. Coaching them as well as encouraging them, he cared about all aspects of their lives.  He loved his teachers and did all that he could to help them as well.  So many lives are better because he perservered.  In spite of the challenges of going through that horrible year, a man grew that made an indelible impact on this world through his teaching.

So what are your challenges?  What subjects or situations cause you to become the most passionate?Could it be that the challenges before you are the ones could be used for greater good?   May we rise above the mountain of adversity the we come against. We will impact lives more that we could ever realize.

Posted on

Just A Few More Steps

When was the last time you attempted something really hard?  I have been in the midst of learning one of the most challenging things I have ever learned and I hit a wall today.  So in that place I chose to remember another time I needed encouragement.

Two years ago I decided to take a hike at Young Life Camp.  Because we live in West Tennessee most of that hiking is easy.   I knew NOTHING about this trail except that some of the campers ran it for exercise so I was not too concerned.   I just wanted to be on the mountain trail.

The cool fall weather and the gorgeous leaves (not to mention the complete quiet) were not disappointing. Even the acorns were beautiful.  I thrive in the mountains and was soaking it all in.  The first 20 minutes were fantastic. Everything about the time was wonderful.

The grade slightly began to increase.  I was excited to think I was getting closer to the top.  I saw signs that marked one mile and then two.  Surely I was getting close.

Then the grade increased even more.  The acorns that were beautiful were now slippery to maneuver. I was having to pay attention to my steps instead of looking at the leaves. I am not sure that I saw a single bird during that part of the hike.

By the time I saw the 3 mile marker I began to wonder just how far I was going.  However, I was determined.  I would finish this hike.  With every bend I would think it was the last one before the top.  The final part of the hike literally felt like I was climbing steps the entire time.  My out-of-shape-self was truly struggling.  Every single step had to be intentional and careful. I made myself keep going. The very last steps were the hardest by far.

The view of the top of the mountain was breathtaking.  A hawk was soaring just in front of me as I stood awestruck.  Minus still trying to catch my breath.  The challenging part of the hike seemed forgotten.  I was so glad I came.  I was proud of having completed it.

Today I was reminded of that first hike.  Not knowing where you are going on a journey and not knowing how long it will take to complete can be freeing or it can be frustrating.  Not knowing what you are getting into can also be the grace of God.  Realizing that you could be in over your head might keep us from ever starting.

I was floundering on this new trail today. At the point of tears I was reminded that there is a time in certain journeys for dogged determination.  There are times when we just have to grit our teeth and keep stepping.  I was picturing myself on the last steep steps of that hike and realized that if I had stopped short I would have never enjoyed the view from the summit.

I do not have to compare my journey to anyone else.  Although that trail seems like nothing to strong high schoolers who literally ran up it, my journey is not theirs.  And things that may seem simple to some of us may be challenging to others.  When the monster Comparison tries to steal from us we have to shut them down.  when we score a personal victory we need to enjoy it.  It is great to rejoice in a personal win!

If you are in the midst of a hard trail I am beside you cheering you on today.  Do not give up.  The summit will be worth it. if for nothing more than to know you finished!   You really can do it.  If you feel at the end of yourself just lean into the Lord and know that “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Phil. 4:13)

What is the mountain in front of you?  Have you approached it one way only to realize you might need to come at it from another direction?  Have you stumbled on your way and considered turning around?

Then last year I did the hike a second time.  I shaved 15 minutes off my time and I noticed I was stronger.  The exercise over the year had paid off.  I totally enjoyed the entire trip up the mountain.  It was much easier having the knowledge I gained the first time.

I passed one group of teenagers doing the hike the second year.  They were at the point where the grade had increased and one fellow turned around and headed back down the mountain all by himself.  He did not think he could do it.  I prayed and prayed for him as I continue?

What about you?  Have you headed down the mountain? Even if you are at the bottom, it is not too late.   You can see yourself do what you truly desire to do.  I believe in you.

I would love to hear your stories.  What was your journey like? Did you see the summit?  Or did you head back down the mountain? What was your summit? How do you feel about you story today?