Monday, January 15, 2018

Are You a “Possible” Woman?

Each month of the year has its own birthstone with its own unique meaning and historical significance. Garnet—a breathtaking deep red color--for instance, is the birthstone for January and symbolizes friendship and trust. In ancient times, color was the most important feature of a gemstone, so there was little difference then between a ruby and a garnet which are very similar to the naked eye. Today, we like to celebrate by wearing our own particular “birthstone.”

Mining for these beautiful gems seems almost impossible. Without having ever been to a mining camp, we can still imagine how difficult it probably is to dig out huge boulders, rocks, stones, and pebbles and then inspect them for their potentially beautiful “insides.” An all-consuming project for sure! However, at a gem fair, we might be able to more easily see a rock that looks rough, dull and nothing special on the outside, but when cut open, is absolutely the most beautiful thing we could see!

Impossible Odds
Some of us may even feel the same way at times. Surely, we’ve had our share of days when we feel “rough and unattractive” on the outside. Not a single piece of clothing looks good on us, our hair and make-up suddenly look strange in the mirror, and our feet are so swollen (from too much salt?) we can’t get them into our best shoes.

But we know how this goes. Our hormones have a habit of attacking us at the worse times. We are convinced we will never look or feel good again. We scream our lives are “just an impossibility.” Or so we think. But that is far from the truth. Each one of us was individually created with a unique personality and, for that matter, with a unique set of genes and hormones. Our “insides” are truly beautiful just like our birthstone gem!

I’M Possible Days
Did you notice that "impossible" begins with I-M? Yes, you are Possible! It's quite possible you are stronger than you think. Quite possible you are the best mom for your children. Possible you are creative, smart, and tenacious. Sometimes all we need is a special “moment” by ourselves or a few hours to take a breather. How might this look if we gave it a try?

·        Calling a best friend is a great way to get some perspective on our day.  
·        Distracting ourselves from what is bothering us can work wonders.
·        Turning off all electronics and having a quiet time brings peace.
·        Reading or having fun with a hobby is rejuvenating.
·        Even housecleaning can be therapeutic for some of us.
·        Try walking into a florist just to smell the flowers--it will bring a smile to  your face.
·        Help someone else who is having a bad day—your impossibilities will disappear fast.

We Get the Best
Have you ever heard “God loves you!” Truly, He does love every single one of us, every single day. Even on the not-so-good days when our hormones play tricks on us!

He is the God of possibilities: Our Heavenly Father. Unlike any father on earth, He is always and forever good, kind, and loving. He’s in the business of making sure every one of His children know how pleased He is with us when we seek Him for answers. God smiles when we each find our true purpose and gifts as women and use them to honor Him. We can count on Him.

“He replied, ‘What is impossible for people is possible with God'” Luke 18:27 NLT.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Leave Room for Yourself

Some of us had a fondness for "Pig-Pen" from the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. A little boy who just couldn't stay out of the dirt. We could relate because no one is perfect! Another famous person, Max Lucado, wrote a tiny little book called God Thinks You're Wonderful! In it the author writes, 

"Vagabonds and ragamuffins all, he [God] saw us before we were born. And he loves what he sees."   

Don't get this wrong; he still loves what he sees, even though we are divorced. Our messy life won't stop him. God sees our hurting heart and he understands. He is on our side to help us through these difficult days. Here is the clue: all the answers won't come right away. 

It would be wonderful if we did understand completely right from the start of our new journey why and how it all happened. But the truth is, we have much to learn first in order to survive all the feelings that bombard us. The good news here is that because we have already made it this far, we can be assured we have been blessed with the strength to endure one more day, and then another, and then another.

Space and Time
Sure, it would be a lot easier to just stay in bed all day with the covers over our head. We wouldn't have to deal with anyone or anything. Sounds good. . . then what? Eventually, we would smell stinky and need a shower like little "Pig-Pen." Maybe something to eat. And worse, the emotions would still be present waiting for instructions like a little kid. All this sounds very much like suffocation!     

There are better ways to deal with the healing process and avoid smothering ourselves. The goal is to move forward so space and time are ours to keep on our own terms. We must leave room for ourselves to become "us," only better. And it can be done, if we choose. There's that scary word: choose. It's risky, but entirely up to us. No one is going to make us do anything. If we want a better life, we must take responsibility to make it happen. Remember, Someone bigger than all this is on our side. Ready?

Leave room to grow. Whatever was not working for us before can be changed. Talk to people who are supportive. Listen to those who know; they are the ones who have been in your shoes. But, take advice with a grain of salt from those who say they understand, but have never been divorced.

Leave room to indulge. If one day seems just too difficult, stay away from those suffocating covers. Instead, indulge in a warm bubble bath, go out with a friend, browse a bookstore, eat in a fancy restaurant. Whatever you need to convince yourself life is worth living at least for another 24 hours. 

Leave room to cry, scream, or pound a pillow. Yup! You'd be surprised how much better you'll feel when you get those negative feelings out for good. There's no shame in it. You may need to buy a new pillow though (Smile!). The best way to do this so it doesn't destroy you or anyone else, is to set a time limit. Give yourself 14 minutes and no more. Then it's over until another day.  

Leave room to be real. Find what sparks your interest and get involved. Remember, the world is still spinning outside your door. Go be part of it and start the rebuilding process. 

Achieving Peace
It's natural to be upset with God. This is not an angry God that wants to see you suffer. He not only loves you, he IS love. Think hard about that. He's not going to leave you in this dark place, so talk to Him about it. Be honest. He knows what you are going through! Achieving peace in your life is His blessing to you. Make it happen and you'll be on your way.   

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!" Psalm 139:13-14a NLT.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Your Personal Legacy

We are off and running into a new year. It's obvious time does not stay still! However, this last summer, London made an announcement that Big Ben would be placed on a "pause" for the first time in 157 years! Until 2021 the famous tower, where the clock is housed, is undergoing a renovation. There will be silence. So if you are traveling to London, be prepared (insert Smile here!). Most people will miss the "gong," but probably there will be some people who will enjoy the peace and quiet.

While preparing this blog each week, peace and quiet is the most valuable commodity in bringing you a message made just for you. Using instrumental classical music (no interruption of voices) playing in the background is the key for this blogger. Why? Because we strive to encourage and help those of us who are moving in the same direction on this journey. And you deserve our complete attention.

Starting Off On the Right Foot
Since it is the new year, it's a great time to start off on the "right foot." If you've never used a journal to express your thoughts, there is no better time than today. Yes, we all have busy lives and can't even think of doing one more thing. But, can you find just seven minutes in the morning by yourself? Maybe after the kids (if you have any still at home) go off to school. Even five and a half minutes would work. Try sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea and see where this could take you. You will be surprised.

Why make time for a journal in the first place?
There are many beneficial reasons to establish this new habit. Think about these seven and add others to it as you go along:

  • Removes all the negative thoughts clogging our heads.
  • Makes room for recording positive experiences. 
  • Keeps a running log of our successes on the job/college/life.
  • Great way to learn from our mistakes without beating ourselves up.
  • Records ideas and reflections before they leave our minds.
  • Good way to start making dreams come true.
  • Can be used for future projects like memoirs, legacies, and autobiographies.
Journals can clear our minds so we can move forward in an organized way. And eventually we can savor the fun of it all. Re-reading our own stories. Finding beautiful journals to write in. Discovering things about ourselves we never knew were hidden in our minds.

Writing in a journal is a worthwhile activity used by many people, including famous men and women such as writer Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Anne Frank, Mark Twain, poet Sylvia Plath, and even composer Ludwig van Beethoven. We would have little history on these people if not for their journals and diaries. We may not wish to be famous, but our thoughts, experiences, and stories may be of interest one day to our families. They might even read about themselves!

An Ancient Plan
Paper and books, of course, are ancient inventions. So "journaling" has been around for centuries. The Egyptians discovered papyrus ("paper"). Books in the ancient world were written on white-washed boards, fabric, animal skins, and clay. People have always loved to write down their thoughts!

But the very first "Writer" was God himself who inspired over 40 men to write 66 different books called the Bible. It was written over a period of 1,600 years originally in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Eventually by 1980, the Bible has been translated into 1,100 languages. A great "Journal" to read!

"Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another--showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way" 2 Timothy 3:16 MSG.

"Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place" Proverbs 16:3 MSG.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Are You Closer Than a Year Ago?

A good measuring device to see where we have come from and where we still need to go, is to ask ourselves how far we have managed to move forward over the last 365 days. For some of us just beginning this new single-again journey, we may be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or confused about where to go next. That is expected and normal, so believe us when we say, you are okay, dear friend. If we are just concluding the first year, or a few years of this adventure, it's okay to breathe now! 

Regardless of where we are right now, it's good to remind ourselves that we had the strength--no matter how shaky--to step out of our hurtful past and into a much better place. And so we can keep the momentum going and use that same strength to create a good life in the coming year. 

Is it time to re-evaluate where we want to go? It just may be that when we first started out, we were not so sure of our direction. We just wanted to get out of a bad situation. Amazingly, we are still breathing and that's a good thing! Life has so many questions, distractions, and interruptions weighing us down to the point we want to give up. But, listen, that is never a good idea.

Getting Closer
With the New Year upon us, we have many opportunities to re-invent or re-start our life, especially if what we have isn't working. It will require, though, looking forward, not backwards. Some new, self-imposed directional "points" will get us into motion. 

How, we ask? Understand first, the way in which we move ahead is up to us. Because we are each responsible for our own lives, no one else can determine exactly how this reinvention can be done. But with all that said, maybe we can tackle some of the what together. 

Living arrangements. It may be the right time to find our "forever" home. After staying with relatives, or a friend, or in a tiny apartment immediately after divorce, we can now look forward to finding the perfect solution that will work. Sit down and plan it out. Research. Ask a friend to help if that sounds better. Just have fun with it!

1920. No we are not talking about the 20th century. This is the average amount of hours per year we spend at our jobs (pre-retirement). Many of us can even state much more than this. So, it improves our health if we can really enjoy what we are doing. Is it time to find the perfect job that inspires us for the next 20-40 years? 

Balance. Life can get totally overwhelming if we don't build some rest and relaxation into our days and weeks. Becoming a workaholic gets us absolutely nowhere, except, perhaps in a hospital. 

"Nobody on their deathbed has ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'" (Heard from Rabbi Harold Kushner). 
When was last time you picked up one of these?

Get rejuvenated and take a vacation once in awhile. Don't let being single stop you--invite and share expenses with a friend. Find an enjoyable lifetime hobby or craft. Connect with people. Create fun into life!

Keep it up. Go ahead and find other areas of your life that need improvement. Dwell on the positives, forget the negatives. Remember, positive momentum only goes forward, so pedal as fast as you want!  

Your Guide for Life
Many people start their day out on a positive note by spending just a few minutes visiting with God. He created the day's agenda just for you. He knows where you will grow, strive, and be encouraged by others He puts in your path. He knows your beginning and your end. He loves you beyond measure! 

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you" 1 Peter 5:7 NLT. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

18 New Ideas for 2018 To Improve Life

Let's make it simple this New Year! Have you felt, like us, there surely were personal things from last year that could have been done better? We are not talking resolutions here, just an awareness that our lives could still stand some bit of improvement or excitement. There is always room for that, right?

Without getting too serious (who needs that when recovering from the r-u-s-h of the last two weeks!), see if any of these ideas sound good:
  1. Simplify. Nothing wrong with paper. Digital calendars are fine for what they can do faster. Then they crash, we lose information, and our minds. Shop for a 2018 day planner. Really. 
  2. Organize. Make sure your purse has a pocket for everything: cosmetics, phone, keys, pens, water bottle, and of course, day planner. Let your purse double as a tote instead of carrying both.     
  3. Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize. Use it under make-up and at bedtime after cleaning. Takes years off the face.
  4. Do one good and new thing for your health. Change to smoothies for breakfast. Switch to a new salad dressing. Do spinning instead of zumba for exercise. Anything that’s new creates happy momentum. 
  5. Connect. Instead of texting, call someone for an invite to lunch.  
  6. Tackle the next thing on your Bucket List. 
  7. Find God. Find Peace. Don’t do life alone! He’s waiting.
  8. Exchange a real book in print with a friend. Or stop by your local library for a free one. Radical!
  9. Bake extra cupcakes and bring a few to a shut-in neighbor.
  10. Pick a subject you know nothing about and take a class.
  11. Practice saying “No” once in awhile instead of resenting your “Yes.”
  12. Declutter your home office. Place some things out-of-reach to force yourself to get out of your chair now and then. 
  13. Clean out the freezer. Not everything will keep for the next nine years!
  14. If you don’t have one, buy a Christian Bible and read for just seven minutes a day (or night). 
  15. Plant something unusual this year like, White Alpine Strawberries - a gourmet treat; Sunzilla Sunflowers - they are Giant!; or Parrot Tulips for multicolor magic!
  16. Go where you’ve never been (besides countries or states), how about the symphony, underground caves, a rodeo, or a fashion show. There’s a million things out there!
  17. Splurge this one time and hire a maid to do spring cleaning top to bottom.
  18. Buy a set of luxurious sheets and feel like a queen!

Have fun and keep going! Remember God loves your heart and wants to see you enJOYing the abundant life He gave you. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" Proverbs 4:23 NLT. 

[Update: catch the Fresh Start Momentum blog on Mondays and Thursdays in 2018. Be sure to click the Subscribe button to receive it automatically in your email box.]


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Seven Priceless Gifts Left Under the Tree

It's a good time for reflection
Most of us can agree we sure don't always receive the gifts we expected at Christmas! The long return lines at every store is proof. Sometimes returning a gift comes with a valid reason like the item of clothing didn't fit or, we received two of the same kitchen gifts we already have in our cabinets! And then there are those gifts that are perfectly fine, but some would rather have the cash. It's tragic we tend to turn a beautiful celebration like Christmas into a retail nightmare.

So, let's get rid of this disillusion and find something real. Often, the last week of the year is a good time for reflection--finding the priceless gifts left under the tree that will last throughout the coming year. Gifts that will make a difference in our new, adventurous life journey.

Seven Hard to Find Gifts, but Worth It!
They may not be obvious at first, but if we look hard enough, we'll find the real blessings to take into the New Year:  

  1. Survived the first...second...third...Christmas on our own!
  2. Shared time with new friends
  3. Discovered laughter is good medicine
  4. Enjoyed a calm and happy home  
  5. Found our heart's desire
  6. Made what's old into what's new
  7. Recognized change is good for the soul

Don't Forget the Key
Did you notice? None of these blessings needed gift wrap! They are ours to keep. But we do need a "tool" to further expand them into a whole new life of faith, confidence, and hope. The tool to opening these forever gifts is Prayer. Much of life is extremely difficult without a daily conversation with God. He is the Giver of Gifts and delights in presenting them to us. Check the verse today at the bottom of this message for a clue how to receive the best He can give. And never give up!

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” Luke 11:9 NLT.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Real Christmas Story

Christmas: The Birth of Jesus
"Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus."

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.

And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and the Angels
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Luke 1:30-31; 2:1-20