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Mean Girls.

October 29th, 2008 by stephanie

Ok, so this one won’t be for our male audience today. For my girls, here goes…
If you’ve heard about or seen the movie by this title, Mean Girls, you will totally get this next few paragraphs. If not, I would still bet it won’t be too foreign of a topic for you. It’s when I see clips from this film or moments in television shows playing out this evil scenario that I come to relive a memory or two of what went on in junior high and high school. In those brief moments I, too, remember that I had to deal with those “types” of girls growing up.

You know the ones. They just can’t stand to see you succeed. Or, if you don’t’ dress like they do or live the lifestyle they live, you are deemed inferior. Your jokes just aren’t as funny as theirs or the most popular girl isn’t your friend, it’s their best friend – and you’re not. Whatever. Bringing back any memories from childhood?

But that is just what gets to me. I really thought that you left those mean girls behind once you entered adulthood. Silly me. I thought people actually did just that. Grow up.

But alas. Some do not. I was sharing with one of my girl friends recently about a gal that just can’t stand to congratulate, encourage, or compliment me. On the contrary, she has to get in little digs when a simple pat on the back truly is in order. My friend simply had this response after I finished sharing my confusion at this situation: “She’s a bully.”

Another friend of mine was relaying to me recently the abuse she has been personally taking of late. I am amazed at the antics and juvenile behavior that exudes from some women. Yes, the “grown-up, mean girls” of our lovely world. You know the ones. They gossip about you and work to make your life miserable. But you can’t seem to figure out why. What I find most interesting, however, is that what they accuse you of, they seem to have mastered as an art form.

Ok, so enough negativity, but what I am attempting to say is this, the next time someone gets their fix or their kicks out of bringing angst to your life, rather than let it ruffle your feathers take this approach: Pity them. Feel sorry for the people that share the same household or office that they do. (Imagine what those folks nearest the offender are actually going through!) It just might ease some of your pain. The point is, if someone is bound and determined to upset you or keep you “humble”, then they are certainly dealing with some major stuff of their own.

So, next time that “mean one” comes at you, just take a deep breath. Then sit back, relax and keep all hands and arms inside the car while traveling. Life is a bit of a ride to be sure, but please, don’t let any of these Les Miserables throw you from the train!

Just my thoughts.
S.

Straighten Up and Fly Right.

October 27th, 2008 by stephanie

It’s election time. And try as I might, without fail, I can be in mid conversation with someone that I assume believes and thinks the same way that I do and suddenly learn I was dreadfully wrong. Just as soon as I relax and begin to let down my guard a bit and share my thoughts, the one person in the room that I thought would shake their head in agreement comes out of left field and knocks my socks off.

You know what I am talking about. You have been there too. You’d think we’d learn. But no. We just seem to think that those around us think like we do. But that is not always the case.

Although America was built on the premise that diverse thought creates greater good, some folks just aren’t willing to accept that philosophy anymore. There seems to be a new norm of “if you do not think like I do, you are my enemy.” Hmmmmm. Not good. What happened to statesmanship? And how about just plain old respect for each other’s differences. But alas, nowadays, election season is more like gladiator season. (If there even was such a thing in the Roman Empire. But I digress.)

So, an actress, of all people, said something the other night that I really liked. She said, “America is like an eagle. It has a left wing and a right wing. And that is what makes it fly.” Or, at least, she said something to that affect. And I liked it.

As hard as it might be this week, let’s try to remember that it takes both wings to fly. Like the old song says, “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” But then, if you are a liberal, I guess that wouldn’t be your favorite selection. Oh, well, I think you get the point. FIrst: Never assume that the person you are speaking with agrees with you. And last but not least, if your conversation partner is from the other side of the aisle, just let it go. Don’t be someone that wants to cut off the other wing. The last thing we need is to cripple our nation as we enter a new presidential era. Let’s soar.

He’s in the Little Things, too.

October 26th, 2008 by stephanie

As I looked around the premises and took note of the repairs and maintenance that needed tending, I could hear my wallet crying out to me from the kitchen inside. “Are you sure we need to do this?” or maybe it went something like, “Can’t we spend our money on something more fun?” But as I pondered the uneven steps and the separated concrete of my front stoop, followed by the defective walkway, and the rotted wood in the deck in the backyard, I knew deep down in my heart – it was time.

Sometimes we put off the have-tos. We find our reasons and we rationalize them away. But then reality sets in. Like when my 81 year-old neighbor lost his footing and went reeling off that first, mis-placed front step. “Yep. It’s time.” I said. “Time to bite the bullet and get a few things around here fixed. And soon.”

So I had been praying about where to begin. So much to do. So little play money. You know the drill. The deck, the walkway, the steps and if I was really honest, the driveway and the carport too. What to do, what to do?

A few days later, there was a knock at my door. It was a neighbor. His son had been laid off, and he was looking for odd jobs to make the bills. “How about that driveway of yours?” He queried. “Would you like us to come over and do that for you?” My jaw dropped. How could he know? I had only told one or two friends of my dilemma. “Would I?” I replied with a smile. “When can you begin?” Three days later, the deed was done. The driveway looks great. And it was well within my budget. Talk about a blessing.

Should we really be surprised when God sees and meets our needs? If He can create a universe, my situation can’t be too hard to handle. What seemed like a big deal to me, was ultimately a little thing for God.

All I can say is, if you are struggling with something that you just aren’t sure may be God’s best or His plan at this time, trust me. If you write it down, pray about it, and spend a little time waiting on Him, you can be sure He’ll send an answer. It may not be a knock on your front door, but it will come. He’s a big God. Expect to see Him in the little things too.

Stephanie

Things Aren’t Life, and Life Isn’t About Things.

October 19th, 2008 by stephanie

Such were the final remarks of the political show host as he closed out his hour. We all know the statement bears truth. But it’s hard to live it out.

A boat. A cabin. A motor home with car to match. A new house. Such were a few of the possessions that someone I once knew owned – all at one time. While some people simply hope to pay their electric bills, others, as the one mentioned above, are blessed with “things”.

Now, let me be clear, “things” aren’t bad. They can be, wonderful. Those who have them and enjoy them know what blessings they can be. And, understanding this, they share their things with others in order to spread the joy.

Thing, however, do not contain life. Nor are they life giving. Without people, they just sit. Like in a museum where they don’t really do much other than offer us something to look at and ponder. For those of you who have had the luxury of things, you know exactly what I mean. Things are meant to be used and to be enjoyed. They’re fun and they do make life a bit less boring.

King Solomon was a man who owned many things. The Queen of Sheba after her visit to his palace in Jerusalem was said to have noted that the stories she’d heard didn’t do justice to what she discovered during her stay. But Solomon was not always a happy man. The book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon himself, explores this portion of his life. Sometimes we find that we work harder for things than we do for the things that matter most.

Now, I realize this can vary from person to person, but the fact is, what we invest our time, our energy, and our resources on says a lot about us.

Maybe we could all take a look this week and notice where we are investing most or ourselves. If we find we are more focused in, or on, things why not see if we can’t make a few adjustments.

Life. It’s not about things. They’re just a part of it.

Stephanie

Tough Decisions. Weighty Consequences.

October 17th, 2008 by stephanie

“But he killed my brother,” a voice says softly from amidst the shadowy circle of robed forms.

“He imprisoned my mother,” offers another with deep sadness in his tone.

“He beat my son,” whispers one from the back corner.

“But he has become a Christian,” the leader states in a voice that does not ask for, but rather commands, respect. The dark room falls silent. Only the light from the moon shines through the grid from the streets above.

This is not how it was supposed to happen. This hated man who had stormed the country in hot pursuit of believers in The Way. He’d had only one goal: Destroy any and all who had chosen this new religion. Why on earth would they now believe this horrid man had suddenly become one of them, let alone even bear to learn that the news be true? If the secrets in their hearts be told, some would rather see him dead, than saved.

“He is now one of us.” Came the dreaded words one final time that shake them from their thoughts. The men slowly file out the door, knowing they will return again. Tomorrow. After they have had time to sleep on this shocking, perplexing news. A decision will be made. But not tonight.

As they toss and turn in their beds, these men, the respected leaders of the new faith, The Way, will wrestle with yet another new dilemma. These are the men the people look to for direction and strength. The ones that will set the precedents for centuries of followers to come. But what to do? What to do?

Obviously, the above is a fictionalized version (from my over-active imagination) of what might have transpired when the new leaders of the church in Jerusalem, the apostles themselves, were first informed that the evil Saul, had become a believer. A follower of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s conversion is a wonderful study to be sure. (See Acts chapter 9 in the New Testament). But my thought for you today is this, if you think you have a big decision to make, and you may very well have a difficult situation on your hands, may you be comforted to know, many have gone before you. Men of great, and lesser, stature have been faced with weighty moments that hold a myriad of complications. Choices with consequences. Times rarely for the faint of heart.

May I suggest this: when the big shocks come that demand the right reaction, accept that you and I may not always make the right call, like the disciples inevitably did. However, may we strive to not be swayed by emotion or fear, and in the end, do our best to make the best decision. Know that we gave it our all. And the rest, we must leave in God’s hands.

S.

I’m Not So Sure Anymore.

October 16th, 2008 by stephanie

So a friend and I were talking about the plots and story lines of certain pieces of literature. It was just a conversation, but I admitted to her that I hadn’t read certain classics and best sellers as I just didn’t enjoy the premise or appreciate the amorality of some of the content.

Then, while watching some television that same night, I started noticing one particular plot that played out before me. Here is what I found:

Our heroine is the supposed moral compass amidst a crazy mix of characters.

Her father was an illegal immigrant that held the secret, only to have finagled connections that helped him finally obtain his citizenship legally.

Our heroine’s sister is a single mom that is having an affair with a married man.
The son of her sister is portrayed as a pre-adolescent with strong homosexual characteristics.

Her boss got a woman pregnant, and then the woman died. Leaving the son with the unsuspecting boss, now father.

The boss’s sister is really his brother, who had a sex change. And is actually the true father of the boy, as he, too, slept with the same woman.

A co-worker, who happens to be an executive, slept with and married the boss’s father, the owner. When the owner suddenly died, the executive had another woman impregnated with the owner’s seed in order to claim an heir.

The mother of the boss, years earlier, killed a woman that was having an affair with her husband, the company’s owner.

And this is a comedy!

So I began to realize, my shunning certain literature while investing in “entertaining” television left me feeling a wee bit hypocritical.

All I can say? We’ve come a long way from I love Lucy and Gilligan’s Island. That, we can be sure.

Just my thoughts.
S.

It’s Not How High, It’s How Far.

October 15th, 2008 by stephanie

I jokingly shared with a friend while we were out walking that I was considering writing a book titled Lessons from the Yoga Mat. But then, I would imagine there are probably lots of book products already out there like that. Yet I digress.

While working to place my left toe behind my right ear and attempting to stretch my other extremities toward the far wall as directed, or at least, so it seemed, our yoga instructor calmly stated, “Remember: It’s not how high you go, it’s how far.”

Once again, a life lesson struck me as my body pleaded for relief. I never cease to be amazed at how moments of epiphany manage to locate me during times of self-imposed contortion. However, they do. While my classmates ponder the energy in the room, I find myself drifting off to the land of ethereal revelations.

So, I pondered the weighty proverb, then asked myself: How many times in life have I chided myself for not reaching the heights to which I felt I should have attained by now? When, perhaps, I may have missed the point of seeing just exactly how far I’ve really come. And, then, to accept that realization. Why, is it we have to climb higher and higher, when in reality, true success might just lie in the progress we’ve made in the journey? Nahhhh. We’re all about materialism. Right?

But seriously. Some people go really high in life. And we refer to it as “Look how far they’ve gone!” Yet in matters of life, have they really made progress? I personally know a few mega-successful people that have managed to achieve amazing heights, yet at severe personal cost. They’ve gone super high. But I am not so sure they’ve gone very far.

So, I took stock of what I felt I should have accomplished. Then I took a good look at the wonderful things I have had the privilege to do. And it made me smile. These “things” most likely wouldn’t appear very high in some people’s eyes, but they seem pretty far to me.

If you are feeling a bit low of late, or that you haven’t quite hit the mark, take a good look backwards. Notice where you started. Then see just how far it is that you have come. I’ll bet it’s a lot farther than you’ve thought, or even imagined.

So, for this week, when you’re tempted to focus on how high, stop for a brief moment and take notice rather, of how far. It might just put a smile on your face.
?
S.

Go Out There and Sell It!

October 14th, 2008 by stephanie

It was a special feature on a Sunday morning show and was focusing on the most beautiful “ugly” people and things. Fascinating piece to be sure. The moment that struck me most, however, and that has lingered in my mind, came when they interviewed the man who heads up an agency that sells ugly people. You heard me right. He makes money off of their–ugly. Hmmmmm.

The owner showed a woman, in black lingere, who was about 300 pounds or more.. He went on to say that she was the happiest, most enjoyable client that they have. The office loves it when she comes in. I was mesmerized.

So I got to thinking. According to the amazingly successful, positive, mental-attitude, power brokers of our day, we all sell something. Husbands and wives sell who they are if not their latest idea or goal to each other. We sell our next idea or project at the office. We sell our plan to the foundation or board that whom we are currently working. But in the end, what really does the selling is of course our–confidence.

What “sold” this obese woman to her now agency, and to those who are now buying her “look” is confidence. She liked who she was and in turn, they liked her. They bought it. In their minds, she had made fabulous lemonade out of what the average Joe would certainly label as sour lemons. And if she was so comfortable with her self, why not the world in turn?

Confidence is key, to be sure. With that, whatever it is today or this week. that you need to do, sell it with confidence. Whatever you aren’t looking forward to, get out there and confidently sell it. Fake it if you have to up front. But do it. And see what happens. (You also might to check and be sure that you are spending time with confident people. Remember, we become like those with whom we associate.)

“Make it work, people. Make it work!” as the beloved Tim Gunn from Project Runway likes to say. And we know, no one sells it quite like Tim!

Best,
S.

Go To the Ant, O Sluggard.

October 13th, 2008 by stephanie

So besides the squirrels in my basement and my kitchen, I have had an ant issue of late. I think I finally have that situation under control. However, the process was a tad interesting and thought provoking to say the least.

As much as I was determined to see the slew of insects depart from my bathroom, I, in a sense, hated to see them go. I was so mesmerized by their deliberate and orderly precision and work ethic, that at times, I felt myself just staring and watching in amazement. Let me explain.

One night, before heading to bed, I noticed, in amazement, that a certain team of ants had returned to “clean up”. I had accomplished a massacre of sorts in the early afternoon, but by evening, the little ant soldiers came for their dearly departed and carried them off to the nether regions of my wall.

I was stunned. I don’t know about you, but I am not so sure that if you passed out, that I could lift you up and walk with you above my head a few miles. But these creatures completed the task with such orderly dignity, that it was all I could do to lay the new trap down on the floor and wait for it to claim its new victims.

All that said, I was amazed at the responsibility factor of these tiny but mighty creatures. I mean, think about it. How many of us truly clean up after ourselves, let alone our team, or our kin? Now that is something to consider is it not? We live in a culture that is so “me” centric, that I don’t know if people even remember the song He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother let alone understand it’s meaning.

So, I got to thinking. Maybe I am my brother’s keeper after all to some extent. I mean, think about it. When you and I are in need, how precious it is when a kind soul comes alongside to assist, or meet our needs. I hope you have not lost that wonderful caring spirit. If you have, may I suggest you consider carrying your weaker brother, if even for a few feet, this week. It’s not too much to ask. Knowing that at some point, you may ultimately, desperately, need for them to return the favor.

For a bit of extra homework, check out Proverbs chapter 6.

or try this:  http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1905
S.

Don’t Let Your Dreams Die with You.

October 10th, 2008 by stephanie

It was just some girls, sitting enjoying sandwiches on a cloudy fall day when out of the blue one of my friends announced, “I want to take you to the cemetery.” Ok, now, I’ve had a lot of invitations in my day, but I can honestly say I have never been asked to join someone on a trip to a graveyard – for a Sunday drive. No one we knew had died of late, so I didn’t quite exactly know what to say.

As we piled into my car, our guide directed us to the site where we would finally discover the reason for this very odd excursion.

“Over here” she pointed. “This is a good place to stop.” There were three of us in the car. The other person that was along for the ride gave me a subtle sideways glance. Had our friend lost her mind? What on earth were we doing here?

“Now, I want you to look out there.” She calmly instructed us. “All of those people had dreams. Some just never got to live them out.”

We all grew quiet. It was clear. We now got it. She looked us straight in the eye and said, “I came here awhile back and decided that I was not going to die with my dreams.”

Wow. Talk about an object lesson. As the breezes swirled in and out of the car windows and the colorful leaves fluttered across the pavement, we sat and peered out at the gravestones. Each of processing. Contemplating. “What were my true dreams?” I thought to myself. Had I been so busy of late and distracted that I had not only ignored my inner passions and goals, but perhaps had not even taken time to, shall I say, – dream?” It was one of those memorable, learning moments. One I hoped I would not soon forget.

I came across this quote today. Thought I’d leave it with you.

“Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. … Before they know it … time runs out.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

May you and your dreams both live to meet each other.

Best,
S.

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