Make a Better Choice

Make a Better Choice

How many times do certain situations arise and we make a decision but after we make the decision we make excuses once the outcome doesn’t turn out our way? We often rationalize the time we said something mean about someone or the time we ignored that annoying friend because we weren’t in the mood to listen to them ramble on about the same issue…..again. We try to cover up or make since of the times we didn’t quite do a good job at work or put in our best effort because we see others slacking off. We convince ourselves that someone has said something mean about us so it’s ok that we made that comment. People don’t always answer our phone calls or texts when we are in a time of need so it’s ok to ignore so in so a few times. Your co-worker is getting away with it so why can’t you?

But our actions and choices have consequences, good or bad. When you’ve found out that someone has said something not so nice about you how does it make you feel? Even if that person tries to justify it, it doesn’t take away from that initial sting. What was said may even be true, but if this person values you why would they think that it’s ok to put you down? I have relationships with people who have been circling the same issue repeatedly, some of them for years! And I’ll admit I’ve had moments where I’ve been like “I don’t want to keep talking about this. Why haven’t they moved on?!”  Yes, some relationships are draining and there is nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed by that relationship at times, but what if that person gave up on you? Quit responding to your calls and texts? I am sure that just as they have things that they are struggling with, you too, have things that you have struggled with and needed their guidance with. So what if your co-worker is slacking and not putting forth their best effort. You, one, don’t know what they are dealing with and two, just because someone else is doing it doesn’t make it right for you to do it. You then see this co-worker get promoted and you’re wondering why you’re still getting over looked. What if the boss is aware of the fact that they are struggling and is giving them grace and this person then got promoted because of their work history? The boss knows their potential and has recognized their hard work.

Make a better choice. We have the will power to do so. We have the means to do so but we would rather make the bad decision because it makes us feel better in the moment. You know what I love about God? When He convicts me of my wrong doings. When he convicts me of my mistakes. Why? Because he is giving me a chance to do better, to be better, to grow. And more times than not we feel God pricking us and saying “Don’t do that. Don’t say that. Be kind.” and we will choose to do what makes us feel good in the moment but how do you feel afterwards? Not so good right? Because you know that you should have made the better choice. When we keep choosing the bad behavior over what God is prompting us to do then at some point God will shed light on that bad behavior in a way that is the most uncomfortable way for us. Someone might confront you about what you said or did. That friend that needed you, got tired of being ignored and moved on. Now you’re missing that relationship and you don’t know how to get it back. That co-worker that got promoted had the opportunity to chose a person to add to their team but they noticed that your worth ethic has been poor and choose to put someone on their team that would enhance the team by putting forth the best effort.

Don’t blame other people for the bad decisions that you’ve made. No one made you make them. You made them on your own. One of my favorite scriptures in the bible is Philippians 4:8. In this scripture it tells us that whatever is true, and right, and honorable and lovely to focus on these things. Meaning, whatever is good. Whatever is positive. What ever is encouraging focus on those things. Don’t magnify the negative things that the person is doing. Count it a blessing that you get to speak positive things into someone’s life. That you get the choice between being unkind and kind but you choose kindness. We need each other so let’s all make better choices to love each other. We all have things in life that we are struggling with. No one needs a reminder that they aren’t perfect. So remind yourself of that when it’s time to make that choice.

Your Stages of Life….

Your Stages of Life….

Are preparing you for what you messed up the first time or maybe even the second time. Each stage is preparing you for your do over! This all hit me while I’m on a cruise spending much needed time away with my husband. The husband I prayed for and asked God for. We all look at experiences we’ve had or choices we’ve made and say “Going through that helped build me into the person I am today.” I’m sure our experiences and choices added to who we are but God is why I am who I am today. God builds character. He allows us the free will to make those good choices (like marrying my fine, amazing husband) or the bad choices (like accruing debt from being greedy or being insanely irresponsible while going through a divorce). Then He uses those choices and like a house is built with bricks, He builds us.

I’m going to share with you my stages and then the lessons tied to them so you can see what I mean and maybe, just maybe by the end of this post you’ll have figured out your stages and what they’re leading you to. How is God giving you your redo?

In stage one-that’s the divorce stage. I made some awful, inexcusable down right stupid decisions. Many people have said going through a divorce is like death. It’s like the literal death of a loved one. The pain feels unbearable. So to numb this pain I did things that I normally wouldn’t do. Going out to the club, drinking, inappropriate relationships. I became a lot less focused on the details of the things that used to be super important to me. I was going to church but I wasn’t actually applying what was being preached to my life. I was just going through the motions. I wanted to be better but didn’t want to do the work to be better. I was having too much fun! Anyone ever notice that when you’re having fun doing things you shouldn’t be doing that this stage doesn’t seem to last that long? 🙋🏾‍♀️-I noticed. But those deep lesson stages last forever!

In stage two- this is where I started to regroup and refocus. I stopped doing the things I was doing in stage one and actually started applying God’s word to my life. I fully threw myself into church and being a single parent. Which was hard. But I was really blessed to be surrounded by people who helped me, poured into me and cared for my kids. People who prayed for me to find love.

I’ve always been great at money management but in this stage I became more aware of the importance of budgeting and setting money aside. Being a good steward is important 😉. I worked but every year I put my income taxes in my savings account. I used those funds to pay my mortgage, buy kids school clothes, car repairs, house needs etc. My incomes taxes carried me to Christmas where I got a Christmas bonus from work. I used that money to buy Christmas and to pay my mortgage until I filed taxes in February. I was very focused and strategic in this time period of my life. I wasn’t having as much “fun” in this stage. I didn’t really go anywhere or have the freedom I thought I had in stage one, but I was happier. You’d think choosing to cut out the “fun” I’d be a little less happy. But who says that always doing what we want or what we think is the cool thing to do brings happiness? We make choices that we think will bring us happiness because we compare our lives to the things we see other people doing and associate that with what we think is happiness. Especially with social media. Look at stage one……notice I didn’t mention happiness or freedom.

Stage three-this is my love stage. Every aspect of my life had kind of fallen into place and in walks my husband. It’s like all those romantic movies when the woman’s just living her life hoping to find love and then enters a handsome man to sweep her off her feet. Yep that was me. We didn’t tell a lot of people when we first started dating. Just a few select people knew. We did this because we wanted to have the chance to get to know each other without people chiming in. We also wanted to determine and set boundaries for our relationship so that when people did finally know that we were dating we knew how to respond or handle the questions we’d get.

And now I’m in stage four. Married, a baby, survived a 9 month deployment and on a cruise. But stage 4…..this is what I was working towards in my first marriage. This is my redo. All of those stages taught me the things I needed to fix within myself so that I could get to my redo. In stage one I learned how not to focus on the details of things so much. Remember how in my last post I mentioned being a control freak? Well stage one broke that. I mean hello I was going through a divorce-control is right out the window at this point. But it prepared me for stage 4. So now when my husband puts the pans in the wrong space. I don’t care like I used to. I just appreciate that he put them away. Now I’m a bit more patient and I don’t feel the need to argue or nit pick at everything. I’ve learned to bite my tongue and pick my battles, which creates peace in our relationship.

Stage two taught me that even though I was a good steward in my previous marriage, I could have been a better one. When grocery shopping I didn’t look at prices of pretty much anything. I didn’t compare prices or look for sales. Because we had the money I just bought what I wanted. Even when things were tight. I also maintained full control over the funds. What went where, what got paid when and how much got paid. What the budget was. What we could spend on what. But now in this marriage, because of stage two, I’m more price conscious because one, I had to be as a single mom and two, I learned to manage my finances with God as my partner so when he brought me my husband we are now able to manage finances as partners. (God’s leading us in this area!!).

And stage three taught me how to protect my marriage, which I didn’t do a great job of the first time around. I shared way too much personal information which took away my husbands trust. (Side bar, ladies don’t do this! Protect your husbands/significant others heart and vulnerability. It’s not easy for them to show their weaknesses but it’s important that they’re able to do so with you). I shared a lot of our personal struggles with one too many people and this only made our struggles worse! Ladies we can blow things out of proportion and we want validation that what we are upset about is right. But if you’re not connected with people who are mature enough to tell you you’re wrong (in love) or to encourage you or people who don’t know God and will give you godly advice you end up doing more damage to your relationship.

So now in stage four I’m getting my do over. I’m getting to do better the thing I messed up or took for granted the first time around-marriage. And I’m sure in this stage there’s something for me to learn and take with me to the next stage. But I want to encourage you to look back over the things that you’ve gone through and connect that to what you’ve asked God for.

Connect it to what you’re continuously praying for and you’ll see how you’re getting that second or third or fourth chance to get to the one thing you desire most but maybe messed up when you had it the first time. Your thing may be finances, or a home you lost, a career or small business that you made some poor decisions in and now you’re being presented with the opportunity to redo it and excel. Whatever it is count yourself blessed to be able to be better than you were before!

You Can do it All…..

But why do you want to?! For some reason I have mulled over posting this for almost a week. I’ve gone back and forth. I’ve prayed. I’ve asked God is this what He wants me to say. It’s not that it’s something awful but I do think it’s something we as women need to learn to be better at.

We live in a time of women empowerment. Women can do anything, should do anything they want, can do what they want, should be encouraged to be assertive, career focused, goal oriented, while demanding equal treatment and pay as our male counterparts. Nothing wrong with any of that. A lot of women paved the way and fought hard for us to have the liberties that we as women have today. While we are still fighting a lot of harassment and discrimination in many areas, many will agree we aren’t where we used to be.

But I want to talk about how, at times, we don’t make room for or allow our significant others to play the roles they can and should play in our lives. Such as helping around the house or taking care of the kids. In my first marriage I was a control freak! Oh my goodness. I wanted almost everything my way all of the time. IF I left him with the kids I always left specific instructions as to what they ate, what they wore- exactly. Like I literally would be like “Look in the third drawer to the far left and grab the pink shorts third down in the stack.” Who does that?! I couldn’t make this up people even if I had a deep desire to.

When I complained that I needed help around the house and he finally did something to help I complained about how he would do it and I’d often go behind him and redo it. (Insert bug eye emoji here). It’s awful I know. And although our marriage ended due to some very bad decisions on his part, I can’t sit here and cast all the blame on him and not accept my role in the ending of our marriage. Think about it -what does it communicate to your partner when you tell them what to do and how to do it and when they attempt to help you redo or complain about their help? That you’re ungrateful. That’s what it says. Who would want to help someone who won’t take freely the help and support given no matter how it’s done. It may not be exactly how you’d do it but it’s done. And any mom with tired, cranky toddlers who work a full time job or stays at home can surely use less off of their list of things to do.

We also have to remember that our significant others will do or will not do what we do or don’t put expectations on. If you come into a relationship and you do EVERYTHING then they’ll get used to that and let you do everything. I cooked, cleaned, took care of kids, worked, went to school full time, took care of the home, paid all the bills, got the oil changed in the cars, did all the clothes shopping including his! Need socks,t-shirts, pants, shaving cream, toothpaste, soap, underwear…..I got it. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to take care of those you love, there has to be a balance.

Relationships are partnerships. That means sometimes one of us is cleaning the kitchen while the other is doing laundry. One of us is bathing the kids while the other cooks. I want my husbands help at home now. Not only that, I need his help. I have found it to be a true blessing to have a help mate. To have someone come home and see I’ve had a long, hard day and tells me to rest while he makes the kids get their baths, eat dinner and get ready for bed.

I know not all women have significant others. I’ve been a single mom so I get the struggle which is why I think I’m better able to appreciate the role my husband plays now. He doesn’t always do things my way (notice I didn’t say the right way- just because it’s the way we prefer something doesn’t make it the right way) but he gets the job done. And guess what I’m a lot less tired, and cranky, and I’m a little chunky because he makes sure I eat.

Women, we are capable. We can do anything. We are strong and powerful and resilient and beautiful beings. But it’s also ok to be vulnerable and weak and to say I don’t want to have to do all of this all of the time. Please take some of it. Please help me with it. It provides balance. And it gives something even more valuable; peace.

So ladies let your significant others or husbands help you. Let them wash the laundry and occasionally shrink a shirt. Let them fold the towels weird. Let them vacuum the floor with zig zag lines or wash the dishes and not wipe the sink down. And while they’re doing that, thank God that you’ve got someone who cares enough to want to!

You Can Only Fix You

You Can Only Fix You

So how many of us have relationships and as the relationships shift we start to wonder if it’s us? If it’s something we’ve said or done or if there is some other lingering issue? Let’s face it, relationships are hard and when they change for either obvious reasons or unforeseen reasons it is difficult. It can be painful and confusing. We might even often find ourselves in a place of frustration and playing the blame game. We replay the times a friend or co-worker or family member has said something to hurt us or offended us over and over again in our head. Especially if the person you’re in a relationship with does something that brings back up those old feelings that you told yourself you had moved past. We drudge up these old feelings and then those feelings make us upset all over again.

When you say you have forgiven someone you have to really mean that you have forgiven them and then put some action behind the words “I forgive you.” You cannot continue to live in that head space of “I’ve moved past it” and then five minutes later you are upset all over again. No forgiveness is not instant. It is a process. But it’s a choice. It’s a choice to move forward; to grow. It’s a choice to not let those same feelings come back and bring you back to the place that you said you moved on from. When those thoughts come into your head of how someone hurt you or irritated you, you have to remind yourself that you’ve let those things go. It is not worth staying in that place of pain and confusion. Especially if you are still in relationship with that person. You can’t be perfectly fine with them one minute and then think of something that they said three months ago and get mad all over again!

For example, I had some not so good situations in some friendships and after we talked those things through I told myself I had forgiven and moved on. But sometimes weekly or monthly, something would be said or done and it would trigger those old emotions and then I would be hurt all over again. I would replay the things that happened and would be upset. Keep in mind the person/people hadn’t done anything in that moment recently to upset me. It was just something said that triggered those feelings and it would take me right back. One day in church the message preached hit me square in the forehead. It reminded me that yeah I had been hurt but I didn’t die. I was still living to tell about the good things God has done in my life. I was still living to do His will. And I went- “Oh my goodness! I said I had forgiven, but really I haven’t. I’m still harboring feelings of resentment and bitterness.” And let me tell you, resentment and bitterness do not look good on you! People can see it and they don’t want to be near it. In that moment I realized I had to truly let those things go. They happened but life went on and while I was still holding those feelings the other people had long ago moved on.

So then how do we move past these things? How do we let go? Where do we begin? I first want to say recognizing that you are still harboring these feelings is the first start. Wanting to do something about them is the next step. Prayer is always good. There isn’t a single thing in life that you are struggling with that you can’t take to God. He already knows that you are struggling with it. He’s just waiting on you to give it to Him or ask Him for the wisdom to handle it. Another way to move forward is to remind yourself that most of the things people say have little or nothing to actually do with you. What the friend or co-worker or family member said or did that really bothered you is more about them than it is about you. It’s about their own struggles and their own insecurities.

People say they want to see you succeed and want to see you happy, and some genuinely mean it. But for some people seeing those around them succeed is a reminder to them that they have failed or feel like they are failing. I think we all need to determine what our definition of success is and then we wouldn’t spend so much time comparing ourselves to others. Comparison only makes us feel like we haven’t accomplished the things in life that society says we should have accomplished by a certain age. There is no age limit on success!!! Some people may have it all together at age 30 and some at 55. Who cares! Some people think owning a big house, nice cars and making a lot of money is successful while others, like me, feel that taking care of my home and raising well rounded individuals is successful. Being a good wife and caring for my family, that is a goal for me. That’s success.

When you’re in relationship with someone and no matter what you say they find the down side to it, it’s not you. It’s them. It’s the way they see themselves in life right now. They feel like they can’t do this or they can’t do that so then they project that off onto those around them because it makes them feel better for the time being. Initially we get upset at what is said and upset with the person. We say that they are a hater or that they do not support us. Once again, in some ways this could be true. But in all honesty they are wrestling with their own failures or what they deem as a lack of success in their lives.

So instead of allowing people in your life to speak negative things and then getting upset about what is said; one, distance yourself-set up some boundaries that that are good for you! Two, remind yourself that it’s not about you. You are doing great. There is nothing wrong with the fact that you are happy. Their negative comments are a reflection of their own unhappiness. You know what the third thing is, right? Love them. (Insert eye roll emoji followed by the word “Seriously?!” right here LOL!!!). Love them despite the fact that you might want to give them a piece of your mind but is it really necessary? Continue to encourage them and be a positive influence in their life. But do not allow yourself to get wrapped up in their negativity or lack of support. Continue to push forward, focusing on you and your goals because literally at the end of the day you can only control yourself. You cannot control what other people think or say. Continue to bless them and watch how God will bless you. Keep the focus more on you.  Continue to concentrate on developing into a better, kinder, wiser person and concentrate less on them and watch how things in your life begin to develop and change. More importantly, watch how much better you’ll feel as a person.