February 23, 2011

Just Go With The Flow

READY8 “I've just sort of gone with the flow and I ended up here. Crazy. I'm not going to start planning anything, my life is way better than anybody could have planned it.” ~ Rachael Ray

AIM8 So I’m a day and a half late with my message because Mother Nature threw me a curve ball on Monday. My children had President’s Day off from school and so we decided to drive about two hours north to visit my mother who had surgery last week. We arrived just after lunch and it began snowing as we walked into the house. I kept watching the snow out of the window and fidgeting because it was getting heavier and wasn’t letting up. We didn’t anticipate snow when we decided to visit, nor did the weatherman tell me that I would need to be concerned about the driving conditions. Well, the snow didn’t stop for the next nine hours and my parents ended up getting around ten inches of snow! Needless to say, driving home was out of the question. Our normal two hour drive would not only be treacherous, but would certainly take double or triple the amount of time to arrive home. So the kids and I decided to be safe and stay the night; we would wait out the snow storm until morning. Thankfully, my children had a teacher in-service day scheduled for Tuesday so getting home for school wasn’t a pressing issue.

Once the decision to stay was official, we proceeded to take a deep breath, relax and make the most of our visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Our curve ball allowed us to embrace some quality time with our family. We enjoyed a home-cooked lasagna dinner together at the dinner table. We watched an action-packed movie together. We played a hilarious family game. We just enjoyed spending time in each other’s presence. Yes, we didn’t have our toothbrushes or pajamas; however, I am thankful to have resourceful parents who shared all their amenities, their clothes, their food and even their medicine for my kids.

When life doesn’t go as planned, what do you do? Do you embrace the moment and go with the flow or do you whine and complain about your change in plans? We may not always understand why things happen, but we can choose to make the most of a crazy situation. You will most often find that when you look back on those circumstances, if you go with the flow, you’ll recall those situations with a smile and not with regrets.

By the way, we made it home safely. We didn’t have any road condition issues on Tuesday and we all felt fully loved by our family.

FIRE!8 Embrace the moment! Whatever happens today, pause, take a deep breath and just let yourself go with the flow. You’ll be less stressed and perhaps, you may even have a positive experience to smile about!

Be Excellent!

February 15, 2011

You Better Work!

READY8 “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin

AIM8 I have a confession to make. I am a hopeless romantic! I swoon over a good love story and just knew, without a doubt, that my fairy tale marriage was going to come true and I’d always have the happily-ever-after I always dreamed about. Shamelessly, this hopeless romantic got married on Valentine’s Day and can truthfully say that I am living in the middle of my happily-ever-after story right now and am looking forward to what the next page in my novel looks like. But my fairy tale story didn’t come without its evil villains and triumphs over troubles. I guess that’s why marriage is really a four letter word: W-O-R-K!

Wake up, friends! Yes, I said that marriage requires work! The studies on the divorce rate in America say that approximately 40% to 50% of all marriages end in divorce. This statistic means that out of every two marriages, one will not survive. Staggering reality isn’t it? Most of us have either been divorced, know someone who is divorced or have been affected by the divorce of friends or family. While divorce is a sad reality of life, God is a God of healing and restoration and only He can make a wrong situation right again. I am living proof of the God-given rewards for my faithfulness after a failed first marriage. Fortunately, I can honestly say, I learned a lot from that experience and am now reaping the benefits of a successful second marriage.

There is, however, HOPE for our hurting world!! Start today and make time to evaluate the current status of your relationship. Are you feeling loved? Do you praise and admire your loved one? Have you discussed your purpose or life-long dreams together? Is your relationship a safe place where you feel comforted and secure? If you answered no to any of those questions, it’s time for an intervention. Perhaps you and your spouse need to have a date night or a weekend away to reconnect and rediscover what made you fall in love with each other in the first place. If you feel you’re in a situation where things seem too far gone, throw away your selfish pride and ask for help. Getting a neutral party or professional involved can assist you both with weeding through the emotions and identifying the areas that need attention. You promised to have and to hold, for better and for worse, and you OWE it to yourselves to roll up your sleeves and W-O-R-K to make sure you give your marriage the priority it deserves. You are worth it. Your spouse is worth it. Besides, your happily-ever-after depends on it!

FIRE!8 Place random post-it notes in your spouse’s wallet or purse, in his car or on her make-up case that say “I love you.” Send a text or email in the middle of the day saying that you are thinking about him or her. Both of those simple challenges are guaranteed to start the sparks flying that will ignite your love flame again.

Be Excellent!

February 9, 2011

Catch The Little Foxes

READY8 “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” ~ Song of Solomon 2:15 NLT

AIM8 Love is so blissful…when the planets are aligned and life is balanced and normal! However, in this day and age, what’s normal and when is life completely balanced? Our marriages are attacked daily by the “little foxes” that seek to steal the joy and energy from our relationships. Foxes actually ruin vineyards by sneaking in under the cover of darkness, digging holes to expose the roots, biting and gnawing on the branches and eating the ripe grapes from the vines. Stress, excessive work, busy schedules, children, family, friends and other obligations sneak into our lives and ruin our precious time together. If we want to have successful, loving and thriving marriages, we have to recognize the “little foxes” in our lives that are seeking to ruin our vineyards of love.

Take a few moments to think about how much time you and your spouse are actually spending together. Do you take time to be together every day? (Watching TV together doesn’t count!) Do you take time to talk about your day? Do you have an activity or a hobby you participate in together? Do you eat dinner together? Perhaps you’re like two ships passing in the night on the way from one child’s event to another or from one job to another. Regardless of your circumstances, I’m sure you can pinpoint at least ONE little fox that is stealing your energy and preventing you from having a marvelous marriage. Do not fret, friends, there is hope! Even if you realized that you have LOTS of little foxes invading your relationship, you too can take control of those pesky varmints!

Start today by choosing to simplify your commitments. Freeing up your personal appointment books will allow you to schedule time to spend with your spouse. Be sure to limit your child’s extra-curricular activities too. They are KIDS after all and have their whole lives to be busy. Let them enjoy a low-key lifestyle. This will free up more time to spend with your spouse. Punch out when it’s quitting time at work. Guess what? That same work will be on your desk for you to address tomorrow.

Are you starting to see a pattern building? Your spouse needs you and you need your spouse. Be desperate about wanting to connect with him. Be intentional about making time to be with her. God intended marriage to last forever and if you WANT to make it work and make it last, you’ll start today to kick the “foxes” out of your vineyard. ‘Til death do you part? May your words and actions be the missions of your heart, dear lovers.

FIRE!8 Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to demonstrate your love to your spouse. Plan a date night this weekend and then get serious about ridding your marriage of the foxes. Even if you only concentrate on one fox now, you will reap the rewards of the additional time spent with your forever love. (And oh, the benefits that will follow!!)

Be Excellent!

February 1, 2011

The Most Important Gift

READY8 “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

AIM8 Birthdays are the perfect opportunity to gather with family and friends, play games, eat cake and have fun. When you are planning a special celebration, do you get stressed out about all the details, decorations and desserts? Are you worried that your party won’t be as lavish as the neighbor’s or that the treat bags won’t be filled with the right treats? Did you invite all the right friends and spend the most money? Stop right there! Where is the focus of your party? The birthday boy or girl? Let me encourage you to take time to evaluate what is truly important for your child’s birthday celebration. Spending boatloads of cash on an expensive location, piles of gifts and the best cake in town doesn’t always equal an amazing birthday. Simplify your efforts. Rejoice with your child about her accomplishments this past year! Celebrate the unique likes and dislikes about the person your child is becoming! After all the bows, bags and balloons are tossed away, what remains is really the most important gift of all: The gift of your love. Make sure that above all else, this year you give your children the gift of your love before you worry about giving them anything else. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving their whole life long.

FIRE!8 Make yourself a promise to simplify your celebrations this year. Enjoy spending quality time together and having fun, not worrying about the little details. Be sure everyone leaves your presence feeling loved and you will have given him or her the best present.

Be Excellent!