A reminder for those days when you’re glad it’s over!

Did you ever have one of those days where you go to bed thankful that the day’s over so at least you can’t say the wrong thing any more?

And not in a feeling sorry for yourself kinda way. You’ve just had one of those days.

Maybe you had an argument with someone you love, largely because you were tired and being grumpy, and you totally tried to turn it round and blame them? Or maybe that’s just me πŸ˜‰

And in that moment you have a choice …

You can either run with the blaming them routine and enjoy an evening of arguments and crossness.

Or you can do the really uncomfortable thing where you have to face up to what you were doing and say sorry, hoping that they love you enough to forgive you and put the evening back on track.

Yeah, that.

We all have them, it’s just that usually we don’t write about them in an email and send it out into the world.

Steve Furtick said:

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

(Incidentally, I didn’t even know who Steve Furtick was until I just Googled him, despite having versions of that quote rattling around my brain for ages. He’s a Jesus freak too and I’m looking forward to digging into his books.)

What would your today looked like if you stopped believing that everyone else has it so together?

How might you smile more knowing that the person next to you, while they have quirks and foibles different to yours (because you’re you and they’re them) is actually just as messed up as you are?!? πŸ˜‰

Seriously, stop beating yourself up. You’re brilliant! And sometimes, a mess, and gloriously human.

And made in God’s image.

And he doesn’t need a do over! πŸ˜‰

What about when it’s not the answer you were hoping for?

I could tell from the silence that it wasn’t really what she was expecting to hear.

Should I change my tactic? Tell her what she wants to hear? Make something up?

It was Skype so thankfully I was spared having to make eye contact. (My internet connection really doesn’t do well with video!) All the same though, I found myself feeling almost guilty that I didn’t have a better answer.

We were talking about blogging and what she could do with her blog. Topics of interest. Ideas for business. Best next steps. That kind of thing.

All of the ideas are great. You really could go with any of them. You know, there isn’t any one correct answer. Sometimes it’s just about trying something, anything almost, and running with it, seeing what happens.

Silence.

Ok, so not the answer she was hoping for.

What do you do when you’re holding out on an answer and when it finally comes, it’s totally not the answer you were hoping for?

Maybe a “no”, when you were expecting a “yes”. Or a “wait” when you wanted a “go”.

A couple of weeks ago I applied for a job. It sounded amazing and I could see so many ways it could be great, both for me personally and for us as a family. I had what I believed to be an inspired idea.

I talked to God about it. Told him that I was really excited about it but that if it wasn’t right for me and my family, that I didn’t want it. And I genuinely meant that. Really.

Until I got an email to say I’d been rejected before they’d even heard my idea.

I was gutted! It was totally not the answer I was expecting and I have to admit I cried, just a little. And then I pouted. And then I sulked.

And then, eventually, I got over it.

And less than two weeks later, I felt compelled to restart these daily blog posts. I’ve also got an outline for a book that has been a long long time in the making and life feels fun again. Great result all round!

But here’s the thing … sometimes the answer we’re waiting on is a whole lot bigger than some random job. Sometimes it really crucial life or death stuff.

What then?

How do you pull yourself back from the answer you totally didn’t want to hear? Or how about when stuff is falling down around you and you hear nothing but silence?

Is it possible to hold onto a scrap of faith then?

The correct churchy answer is that those are the times when you need your faith most and that you’ll dig in and God will do his thing and carry you. Et cetera, et cetera.

But what does that really look like? And what if all you can do is scream and cry and rail? What then?

You know what? I believe in a God who is big enough to cope with you and me on our very worst day. He has broad enough shoulders to carry the blame, even when he knows it’s not actually his fault.

Sure, shouting and anger might not be his favourite method of communication but it’s got be to preferable to silence.

What if God just wants you to show up, honestly, just as you are?

What if he doesn’t need you to have the correct words or the perfect prayer?

What if just wanted you to show up and be real?

What might that look like?

The perfect sacrifice?

It’s not about finding the perfect space to create. There’s no magic bullet that will mean everything is perfectly wonderful, with ease and success a dead cert.

Sometimes it’s not even about looking around and learning from your peers. Only you can be you. If your peers were about to do what you must, they’d probably do it very differently. Or at least, with their own flavour.

Only you can be you. There is no other.

It’s time to stop looking to others and to start trusting that your creator knows what he’s doing.

Listen to the nudges. Try stuff. Pay attention to what lights you up and makes you smile and do more of that stuff.

Doing the easy stuff doesn’t make you selfish. You’re not a hedonist because you like to smile.

You were put on this planet to be you, quirks and foibles and eccentricities and all.

Embracing who you are is an act of worship.

Feeling and expressing thanks to the poet, when it’s God’s poem, that’s worship too.

Worship isn’t about waving your arms around on a Sunday morning or saying a perfectly put together prayer.

Be you. Embrace what God is doing in your life. It’s the best kind of sacrifice you can offer.

What if?

What do you do when you feel a thing tugging at you, refusing to let go? And you feel so unqualified to really have an answer, let alone the answer.

And so maybe you stumble forward, distracting yourself with other projects, procrastinating, until one day, maybe years and years later, that thing comes back.

It will not let you go.

And you thought that by now you’d feel better qualified to handle it but instead, you’ve just added to the list of reasons why there must surely, please God, be someone else who can do it.

But it will not let you go.

We read so much about legacy and worth and making a difference. The child prodigy and self-made millionaires leave us feeling like we’ve somehow missed our turn. We’re too late. All that’s left for us is more of the same old, same old.

“You’re doing ok. You’re a great mum. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.”

And yet still it will not let you go.

A yearning. An ache. A thing, deep inside whispering into the very edges of your soul.

What if you were carefully and exactly put together, quirks and foibles and yearnings and all?

What if the whisper into your heart were God’s spirit talking to your spirit?

What if the ‘it’ that will not let you go were actually a ‘him’? Calling you forward. Holding you gently, even when it feels lonely and impossible?

What if God, in his infinite wisdom, doesn’t need anyone better qualified? What if he wants you, just as you are? To love on and whisper sweet nothings to?

What if it’s less about legacy and what you’ll leave behind when you’re gone, and more about being you, fully and wholly and completely you, in the here and now today?

And what if you just started, one foot in front of the other? Letting go of the ‘what ifs’ and the not knowing and just be?

What if?

Do you need to be more dog?

There’s an advert doing the rounds here on the telly where a cat suddenly ‘sees the light’, tunes into the joy of embracing life, and declares that he will be more dog.

Chewing sticks. Running with abandon through long grass. Greeting everything and everyone with wonder and delight.

It’s just an advert so there’s no harm in it (and there’s lots to be said for greeting each day with delight) but, in real life, what would happen if different species decided to stop being the creatures they were created to be and, instead, starting copying the animals around them?

What if the chicken, seeing how relaxed looking the cow is, decided to stop rushing around pecking at stuff and instead, just ate a little bit of corn, every now and then, and chewed each piece 15 times?

And what if the goldfish, seeing the contented, smug looking cat on the other side of the glass, decided to try living on land for a little while instead?

And the snail, seeing how much fun the bird has, what if he decided to ditch his shell and take up flight?

It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d lost the plot but really, isn’t that what we do?

How many times have you wished you were more like so and so?

Or maybe you looked at the life one person had created, and tried to figure out how to reverse engineer it, so you could have the same life?

It’s great to look to others for inspiration of course. I’m not saying don’t be encouraged or inspired or uplifted by other people, but you are only seeing their show reel, the highlights. You don’t see all the backstage stuff.

What if instead of needing to make a bunch of changes to be more like someone else, all you really needed to do was step up and be more you?

The you on a good day you. The made in the image of God you.

Thinner. More patient. More organised. Better focussed. More loving. Taller. More Godly. Cleverer. More eloquent.

The list could go on and on.

What if all of that stuff was irrelevant?

What if you didn’t need to be more or less of anything?

What if God, in his infinite wisdom, made and loved you, just the way you are? The perfect vessel into which he can pour all his love?

What might today look like if you really knew and believed that to be true?

What if?

This is for when you’re having one of those perfectly ordinary days.

You know the ones where it’s just the same old, same old?

Same routine. Nothing new, unexpected or exciting. Just any old day.

But what if it was extraordinary?

What if today might actually be amazing? Maybe for reasons that are totally ridiculous and nonsensical.

It’s my husband’s birthday today. He’s 39 years young and he’s already starting to worry that next year he might have a bit of a mid-life crisis.

But then it hit me … you can only have a mid-life crisis if you’re in the mid point of your life. Half way. As much left to come as has already been.

I don’t know about you but even the last 5 years has contained so much incredible stuff, to talk about 39 years – wowzas!

Sure, it might all be downhill from here but what if every single one of the next 14,235 days (and yes, I cheated and used a calculator) contained something wonderful and brilliant?

And what if you could actually help bring the sparkle that made each day fabulous?

Silly stuff. Seemingly inconsequential stuff. Delightful, wonderful stuff.

There will be days when life is hard and it seems totally impossible to bring even a glimmer of light, let alone some sparkle and shine.

But for everything else, there’s you.

And what if you being you, all sparkly and delighting in the silly small stuff you, happens to coincide with someone else’s dark day. They can’t sparkle but you help do it for them.

What kind of a difference might that make?

A pretty wonderful, fabulous difference I think πŸ™‚

So here’s to sparkling and shining, God helping us.

Until next time,
Keep smiling, sparkling and shining πŸ™‚

 

What really happens when you say what you think instead of thinking what you should say?

Have you ever had that moment when you’re about to say something, and, for a split second, you’re ever so slightly fearful of what the reaction might be when you say it?

And in that moment you’re faced with a choice.

You can either speak up, stand by what you believe to be true and deal with the consequences.

Or, you can tone down what you think. Say it in a way that offers wiggle room. Compromise.

Now don’t get me wrong, there needs to be room in this life for compromise and saying things kindly and with respect.

But compromising your beliefs because you’re afraid of what the other person might think?

Not so clever.

Something rather fabulous happened yesterday …

While dropping off some Operation Christmas Child leaflets at one of the local schools, I got to chatting with one of the members of staff about God.

I knew already that she’s a Christian and goes to church but when the conversation turned to our frustrations, I had a rare moment of ‘think before I speak’ clarity.

In that moment, I was about to tell her how much the anti-gay marriage petitions earlier in the year did my head in.

It was as I opened my mouth to speak that the slight fear cropped up. I didn’t know where she stood on this emotive issue. “What is she going to think if I say that?!?”

But I said it anyway and guess what she said?

“I am so glad you said that! I feel exactly the same!”

She must have said those same words three or four times and from the way she spoke, it was like I had, unwittingly, released something. Her face lit up. It was just magical to watch.

What really happens when you say what you think instead of what you think someone wants you to say?

You give the other person permission to be real too.

There’s a vulnerability in letting go of the pretence. And yes, it can be scary but by modelling it, you allow others in, strengthen relationships and give this world a dose of dearly needed honesty.

There is nothing this world needs more than you showing up as you, the real you.

Loving. Being loved. Saying what you really think, with kindness and humility.

Be you.

Because you are God’s work of art, and he doesn’t need a do over πŸ™‚

Can a pair of odd socks help you be more you?

After my day of imploring everyone who would listen that we all needed to lighten up and have a little more fun, I woke up to a brilliant comment on Facebook this morning:

“I tend to be serious, because I grew up with serious parents. When I act silly, my family thinks I’m crazy.”

It reminded me of how, on pretty much a daily basis, my husband will roll his eyes or sigh as I do a silly dance but you know what?

I don’t care! πŸ˜€

Ten years ago I would have done. Even 5 years ago maybe.

But today, I am who I am and even the people I love dearly can take it or leave it.

Take it he does of course and, more often than not, I can tease him into giggling along with me. It’s easy! I’m not playing pretend. I’m just being me.

But when you’re first trying this out, it can feel a little bit like acting. As if you’re putting on a character or playing a part.

I don’t want that for you. I want you to be you.

The ‘made in the image of God’ you that he created you to be.

Sometimes though, it can be hard to know what’s you and what’s your parents or your friends or your spouse.

Jim Rohn said:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If that’s true, not only do you want to make sure you spend lots of time with people who best reflect the person you want to be, but if you’ve been spending time with your fairly serious family members, it stands to reason that you’re going to become more and more like them.

But you know what?

You’re not them!

I have nothing against serious people of course. Even serious people have a funny bone hidden in there somewhere, just waiting to be scratched or tickled.

As I write that, I’m reminded of my granddad You’d have met him and thought it was a pretty serious guy but I can see his laughing face in my head right now.

My dad’s another one. He can sit silently in his own head for hours at a time, pondering the world you might think, but put him as host at a party and you’ll find him entertaining and sparkling.

‘Funny’ looks different for different people. It’s about finding who you are. What lights you up. Your quirks, foibles and eccentricities.

Don’t squash and hide that stuff. That stuff is what makes you you and it’s brilliant!

You don’t have to do it all at once.

If you’ve been serious for a long time, just take 5 minutes today to do something a little different. Stretch that funny muscle. Take it for a spin around the block and see how it fits.

And if you want to start really small, try wearing odd socks. You can keep those covered up if you want to, but you’ll know you’re doing it and it’ll help make it a little bit easier the next time.

 

Go on, I dare you! πŸ˜‰

The Weeping Angels secret to thriving on Facebook

I’m going through my annual ‘Facebook? Meh!’ phase right now. That time of year when I’m about this close to shutting down my account. Again.

I won’t of course. But right now, today, I’d love to and I get all inspired by the likes of Alexandra Franzen, who takes great delight in not using Facebook at all.

It was during last year’s ‘meh’ phase that she and I first connected. But that’s a story for another time.

I’ve been thinking about it lot over the last couple of days though.

About social media in general and how we can not just survive but actually thrive in 2013, when all the world’s a stage, every page we open online is craving for our attention.

Some of it is great. I love, for example, that someone can ask her friends to pray for her mum or sister or whoever, and within less than 24 hours, she knows that she has a whole circle of people praying for her nearest and dearest.

That for me is social media working for good.

And sure, it makes us more aware of the needs and hurts out there, but those people were already needing and hurting. Us knowing about it doesn’t make it any more real. It just allows us to offer support and prayer and love and kindness.

That’s got to be a good thing.

But you know how like the weeping angels turn to stone when anyone looks at them? What if there was like a reverse engineered version of that for Facebook?

A way of being on and engaged in Facebook when we’re on Facebook, but then, when we look away, it’s gone. Frozen. Turned to stone.

Unable to distract us.

So that when we’re not on Facebook, we can continue doing whatever it is that would best serve us at that moment?

Instead of being this gaping void of time suckery, it would turn to stone. Unable to touch us. I think I’d rather like that πŸ™‚

The challenge of course, for those of us who use Facebook for both business and pleasure, is that if I have ‘meh Facebook’ moments, you can be pretty sure I’m not the only one.

What if you woke up tomorrow and there was no Facebook or Twitter? (And telling me you’d switch to Pinterest is totally cheating by the way!) Social media isn’t going anywhere of course so it’s a pretty silly hypothetical question really.

Better questions would be …

How can you play on social media in a way that makes you feel magnificent instead of meh?

Who does God need you to show up as today, and what does that look like on a day to day basis, online and offline?

And how can you wake up today and reach out to people in the world who need you, in a way that makes them smile?

There are no easy answers.

But allowing yourself to get to the point where all you want to do shut yourself away in a quiet room and watch Doctor Who re-runs (the human equivalent of the weeping angel’s turning to stone) is not really an option.

This world needs you.

You are brilliant and wonderful and made to be like a light on top of a hill. Now is not the time for you to be hiding your light in a corner.

Now is your time to shine.

 

If you’re boring even yourself then we’re really in trouble!

You’re brilliant!

I know that. You know that. Your mum definitely knows that.

But what about those times when you’re being brilliantly boring?

I mean, it’s not like you’re doing it on purpose. It kind of creeps up on you.

And then one day, you’re sat at your desk, looking over something you just wrote and it hits you …

When did I get so damn serious?!?

What happened to that girl who loves to giggle? She still tells silly stories and puts a pink straw in her husband’s pint glass, purely for her own amusement.

So when did she stop showing up at work?

And yes, I am that girl. But I’m pretty sure you need to lighten up a little too sweet heart.

If your work is not making you, and the people around you, laugh, at least once a day, you’re either doing the wrong work or you’re not really being you.

The first is a conversation for another day. It’s the latter I want to talk about.

Humour. It’s a funny old thing. (Pun absolutely intended.) You might be rubbish at telling jokes and maybe the things that make you giggle make 98% of the population roll their eyes and groan but that two per cent?

They think you’re a comedic genius!

I don’t care how serious or grown up or right a proper you think you are, God gave you a sense of humour.

Some people seem to have had their funny bone severed when they hit puberty and never got it mended but even them, given a little encouragement, can remember what it’s like to laugh.

You’ve heard all the cliches about laughter being wonderful medicine and good for the soul and yes, this is true but you know what? Smiling and laughing every day just makes life feel nicer.

I’m 35. Sure, I don’t really want to suffer in my old age but I don’t much care about laughing right now as a way to make my body feel better when it’s ancient. But laughing today because right now today it makes me feel wonderful?

That I can commit to!

So here’s my challenge for you today …

Start by looking at where you are right now. When was the last time you had a right proper belly laugh? Are you smiling every day? What makes you smile? What makes you giggle?

And how can you let more of that out to play today?

You might have a really serious job and no, if you’re a funeral director, I’m not suggesting you play ‘Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer’ at your next service ‘because it’ll be a giggle and help lighten the atmosphere’.

There are times when quiet and still and somber really are what’s needed.

But for everything else, there’s Mastercard.

Ooops, wrong post. I mean, for everything else, there’s a place for smiling and laughter.

Recognise what makes you laugh and bring that into your today. It’ll make your day feel fantastic and you never know, you might just infect someone else too.

Wouldn’t that be nifty?