Thursday, April 25, 2019

Are You Building a Monument or Cathedral?

For the past several weeks I have been feeling as if the things I do just don't matter.  I have questioned if the efforts I put into being a mamma are really making a difference in the lives of my children.  I have cried and worried that because of my child's lack of obedience I have failed in some small way.  I have felt lost among the daily routine of everything.  I have felt that I just can't hold my ground through the next fight. 

My biggest question?  Does what I am doing really matter in the grand scheme of things?  When should I throw my hands in the air and just give up?  Is the struggle really worth the fight?  Ok, so that was like three really big questions, BUT, if you're a mamma reading this, you too have the same questions.

Well, I have your, and my, answers.  YES!! What we do makes an enormous and important impact on the world!  Even if you never get recognized for your efforts, you DO make a difference.  How do I know this?  I read a very timely post from a friend that spoke to my tender, bruised heart, and reminded me it isn't the grand accolades in your cap to be seen of the world that are important, it's the small every day things that are seen by God that are the most important things you will ever accomplish.  I'd like to share that same story with you at this time.  I know it's a long story, but its well worth the read.

Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?, What's for dinner?'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4) The passion of their building was fuelled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof. No one will ever see it'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.  No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're gonna love it there...'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

➖Original author: Nicole Johnson

So, as Mother's Day quickly approaches, I encourage you to look at the cathedrals you are building.  They are going to be AMAZING!  Build with your whole heart!  Keep going even if you are discouraged, don't ever quit.  You are a mamma, you are strong, you are working with God to create great things.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Be A Risk Taker

I came across this little "gem" the other day and just knew I needed to share it with my readers.  (I know it's been awhile, but I'm going to try to do better).  I hope you enjoy this little "insight" as much as I did.

            "From time to time, it can seem like we're guarded about our work.  We keep our cards close to our vest.  Our factory is a safe place where our team can take risks and innovate and make discoveries that lead us down the path to a creation that's truly worthy of our passion and enthusiasm.  Risk-taking is the essence of innovation.  The greatest risk is to risk nothing at all.  We don't wait for opportunity.  We create it.  It's not about being perfect.  It's about effort.  And when we bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens.  That's how change occurs.  Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat.  If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door -because every day is just another chance to get better.  Innovation leads to progress.  Pleasure in our job puts perfection in the work; and we let our work do the talking.  We don't work for recognition - we do work worthy of recognition.  We didn’t end up where we thought we were going - we ended up where we were meant to be.  We always say: "Start strong, finish stronger.  We started this together, and we're going to finish this together.  Good, better, best.  Never let it rest.  Until our good is better and our better is best.""

            I really liked this for a few reasons.  First, it made me stop and really think about what I'm doing in my life right now.  I know I don’t work outside the home - however - if you are a stay-at-home mamma, like me, you KNOW you're the CEO of a major corporation, and sometimes you get stuck in a rut and lose sight of who you really are.  Your life is tied up in getting kids off to school on time, getting your adult children ready to start life on their own and figure out what the heck you're going to make for dinner!  And most of the time you are doing all those things at once as well as laundry, dishes, paying bills and making sure the house doesn't burn down!  That is a lot to put on the shoulders of us mammas!! 
            Which brings me back to the thoughts in the quote above - why am I keeping my "cards close to my vest"?  I have sooo much to offer the world!!!  God put me here for a reason and it is up to me to figure that reason out!  True I am a mamma and a wife, but I am more than that!  I am a person with feelings and an extremely creative ability to make people happy - truly happy.  I need to find a way to share those creative talents with others while fulfilling my CEO obligations to my family. Well, I did it!
            I took a chance and a major risk to start my very own business.  I love to make "edible art" with the many sugar cookies that I create each month.  I can't tell you how many times I have had someone say, "I don't really like sugar cookies, but these are AMAZING!" or "I can't decide if I should eat it or just look at it".  I do both, and I have the tookus to prove it too!  When I am free to let my mind create something that looks amazing and tastes just as good, I feel that I am doing what the Lord has asked of me to do - increase my talents.  I am also super excited to be able to share this talent with everyone instead of just family and friends.
            This risk was super scary for me because I have always been afraid of being rejected.  Everyone has a fear of rejection, its part of who we are.  But, if we take the risk and decide to try, amazing things can and will happen.  Because I decided to face my fears, I am now going to open my very own home based bakery.  This is something that I have wanted to do FOREVER, but because of my family situation I haven't been able to.  Now that I will be approved to sell my edible art from home, I can fulfill my dreams of being a mamma AND having my bakery!
            I am so grateful for the many people in my life that have given me the courage to take risks and build my own door of opportunity.  I'm gonna see innovation as the ability to change and create opportunities for the better.  If you are struggling to remember who you truly are, don't be afraid of the unknown.  If you feel you don't have anyone in your corner shouting words of encouragement.  If you feel beaten down by the everyday things of life.  Remember there is One greater than us all that will be our biggest support system and when you lean on His loving arm He will carry you to higher heights and let you soar!  Go ahead, be a risk-taker.  He's got your back and will help you build your door of opportunity!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Seeing Through Other People's Lenses...

  The holidays have come and gone once again.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved every minute of it.  Including the last minute house guests for four days at Christmas.  I loved it!!  I'm just grateful for the rest I get to now take….well, ok, I wouldn't call it rest.  I'm playing "catch-up" on everything - but I think I'm almost there. 

            During this super busy time, I was actually able to break away for an evening to spend with my hubby and our dear friends. We attended a theatrical performance that was very entertaining.  It was a "spoof" on A Christmas Carol.  You'd have to actually see the show to understand anything that I would write about it…so I'll just leave it at that.

            A few days after the show, I actually had time to read the entire program (OK, so I was bored and didn't want to do my laundry or dishes so I employed delay tactics).  What I read was really eye-opening.  The main actor wrote:

            "I've heard it said that while we are the MAIN character in our own "life-movie", we're merely SUPPORTING characters in the "life-movies" of the rest of the 7.5 billion people on planet earth.  What?!?!  Seven point five billion people are right now experiencing their own versions of life and their versions are all completely different than yours.  What?!?!
            Thoughts like those lead me to wonder: Is my color green the same as your color green?  What about red?  Does a soft-serve vanilla cone taste the same to you as it does to me?
            Wait.  You don't like soft-serve ice cream?!  Are you some kind of alien???  And what do you mean you don't like that song, or that team, or that book, or that hat, or that politician, or that --!
            Do you see what I mean?
            The complicated truth is that we all face the day with prior experiences that can change, tint, or taint our attitudes and feelings.  The first step towards lasting progress is learning to view the world through other people's lenses. …."

            I love what he said, "…The first step towards lasting progress is learning to view the world through other people's lenses."  How many times do we jump to conclusions or make snap judgments against people without knowing the full story?  (I could tell you my insights on judging others, but I've already done that in another blog).

            So, my first step to seeing the world through other people's lenses is to be more kind.  No, I'm not going to go out of my way to tell people what I think and feel about them just to try to make them feel better about themselves, but I am going to share a smile with everyone.  You'd be amazed what a smile can do to someone's day! 

            Another good thing to do is take a breath!  How many times do we get "hurt" or "offended" at the drop of a hat, then turn right around and jump down other peoples' throats because we are now having a "bad day"?  Sometimes people say or do things that are hurtful or mean and they don't really know what they are doing.  It's just their personality.  It doesn't make it right…but if you choose to turn around and fly off the handle, that doesn't make things any better either.  So, if someone is rude or mean, take a breath and choose to be the bigger, better person.  You could even go so far as to say, "Gee, I'm sorry you're having a rotten day.  Hope things get better soon."  Then smile and walk away.  Don't feed into their negativity.

            I have found that if you let others express their own opinion once in a while, you will better understand where they are coming from and what exactly their viewpoint is.  For example, I recently asked my young children a question just to see what they would say.  I knew the answer I was looking for, but I wanted to see through their lenses.  When I asked them, they both answered the question the same, it was just different wording from each of them.  This started a huge argument between the two of them.  I was able to diffuse the situation by getting them to breathe and then I repeated the answer they both gave me.  I was able to calmly point out that even though the wording was different, they were both saying the same thing.  As it is in life.  You may be saying one thing and someone may be saying the same thing just a bit differently, but in reality it's the same answer, just different wording.

            A good thing to remember is, you are only one of 7.5 BILLION people on the planet.  Not everyone is going to think just like you.  How you see the world and how others see the world are completely different and that is OK.  I am often heard saying that if everyone thought just like me (or you) in any kind of relationship, one of us is unnecessary.

            I am grateful for the diversity all around me.  It gives me perspective on what others think and feel.  It also helps me to see things just a bit different.  This has happened to me several times.  For example, I posted a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner video on YouTube a couple years ago (I also wrote a blog that uses this video).  The content in the video is amazing!  It just happens to not be completely accurate on how history happened.  I've had several comments about the blog, some of them nice, others not so nice.  I just ignored the "not nice" ones, but the one that got to me most was from a gentleman who stated that the historical facts weren't entirely correct in the video I shared.  He then went on to list a site that does in fact give accurate information.  I was so touched that he took the time to share this with me that I actually looked up the information and was fascinated with what I found.  I kindly thanked him for the information and we both went on our merry way.  There weren't any "slandering words" that were exchanged.  I didn't take down my video.  He accepted my work and I accepted his information that was kindly given. 

            This is what is meant by "looking through other people's lenses."  Have an open mind to see things a different way.  Don't take offense at every little thing.  Be willing to step back, take a breath, and accept people for who they are and what they think.  Sometimes you're gonna have to agree to disagree.

            So, as with all the insights I share with you, may you take what I have written and use it in your life, or just choose to see things through my lenses for just a moment.