Going for the Goal!

Are you a goal-setter? This time of year is always full of the question, “What are your New Year’s Resolutions?” I have always been bad at setting goals. I know that makes me sound like a lazy bum who will never amount to anything, and maybe that’s true. I’ve just always been better at helping others shoot for the stars, rather than aiming and taking the shot myself.

I’m now in a time in my life where I desperately need to set goals and accomplish dreams. Of course, that begs the question, “What are your dreams, Amanda?” The response to which is simply…Crickets.

Don’t get me wrong I have dreams. I’d love to finish writing and publish stories that I have been writing since I was in high school. I want to be fluent in another language. I’d love to travel the world, go on a cruise, hike all the long, crazy trails that take months to complete.

I even have goals that I’m working toward. For instance, I’m training for a Spartan Race in May with my sister-in-law.

The odd thing is this. Most of these dreams and goals did not originate from my own mind or longings. A lot of them started with just trying something someone else was trying and learning to love it. So are they really my dreams? King Solomon wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” So I’m most likely never going to find a dream that nobody else has tried. I’m simply not that creative. I’m finding the line between dreams and to-dos is fine.

When someone asks what my goals are for the next six months, my first thought is of all the things I want to get done. Refinish my four antique school desks, get better at piano, learn the violin, practice my Spanish for 5 minutes a day, get my children through whatever grade they are in school without strangling them, etc.

Are dreams and goals simply things you need to accomplish? Or should they be so much more? I’ve always thought they were some passionate motivation for getting out of bed every morning. That vision of what could happen if you push through this last set of reps or that last mile on the treadmill.

Faith, Hope, and Love…

My Sister-in-law (who is a real life superhero) once shared this insight with me: “As a nurse, they tell you if a patient tells you their pain level is a 10, then it’s a 10.”

In other words, never underestimate what someone else is feeling. I might also add, never underestimate what you are feeling. A pastor friend of mine recently told me and my husband, “Feelings demand to be felt.” Seems simple, but how often do we feel something and shove it to the side, thinking it’s unfounded or stupid? I know I do that a lot. I tend to compare my “woes” with those around me (or even those in other parts of the country i.e. “Children starving in Africa”) and write my feelings off as immaturity or selfishness on my part. That does nothing for processing those feelings, and, as a consequence, they come back in full force later to incapacitate me.

People all around us are experiencing feelings of loss, pain, grief, insecurity and more. Maybe they’ve lost their job. Maybe they lost a loved one. Maybe it’s as simple as one of our children lost a favorite toy. Maybe they are simply afraid.

Remember that verse in First Corinthians? There exists these three: Faith, Hope, and Love…Our job is to offer those to people around us. Faith in a God that sees them and is working in their life for their good. Hope in that even though things look bleak right now, there is a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Love in that we don’t downgrade what they are feeling, but validate it and love them through it.

Hidden Talent?

So it’s late…I really should be sleeping. Instead I’ve fallen into a YouTube rabbit hole!

Are you ever blown away by the amazingly talented people with whom we share this earth? What ability! What influence!

I’d love to throw my voice out there, to be able to have an effect on the world. To have people type my name into a web browser and see a neat tidy list of my accomplishments and contributions. I don’t believe it’s a fame thing, persay. I’m talking about knowing that I’ve used what I was given and made an impact.

There’s a story in the Bible about a landowner who goes on a long journey. Before he leaves he calls three of his servants and leaves them with some money. Jesus never says that he told them what to do with what they were given. I guess, it was implied that they were merely stewards and that they were to do with this money as they thought their master would do. Anyways, the first two double their money and are richly rewarded when their master returns. The third, however, digs a hole and hides the money. He gets ridiculed a lot, but, since I’m a hoarder by nature, I think I understand his thought process. It’s not that he didn’t want to invest it, he just wasn’t sure what to invest in. Panicked he simply buries it to keep it safe. Better to bury it, than to lose it all together, right?

When I was in my early teens, I worked for a lady with horses. I mucked stalls, bathed and fed her horses and did some basic tack cleaning. Every time she paid me, I tucked it away in a bedside table drawer. After a few months, my dad caught me trying to shut my drawer on top of my stacks of dollar bills. Shocked he asked how much I had in there. I shrugged and said, “I dunno, probably around $400 now.” He took me to open my first bank account that afternoon.

Even now, my husband is constantly reminding me that we cannot just leave a chunk of money sitting somewhere. It needs to be in a mutual fund or something where it can earn some interest for us while we’re saving. I see the wisdom in it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me nervous.

I think anytime I’m trying to decide what to invest in, I start to get overwhelmed and nervous and would much rather just “bury it.” You see, growing up I heard many (so so so many) sermons and challenges about not “burying your talents,” but using them for the Lord. Always in the context of “you know what you should be doing, but you’re not.” Never in the context I needed. Which is “what am I supposed to be doing?”

Honestly!! Tell me what I’m good at!! I’ll start using it for You, Lord, right this very minute!!

I have tried many things in my life, all the while hoping to discover some hidden talent that blows everyone away. You know what I’ve found? Nothing! Not a thing!

Anyone else with me? Or am I the only one?

Be honest! I’m a great listener! That IS one thing I’m good at.

No, no, I’m Fine. Really.

You know how in the midst of a bad day, it feels like everything is just failing and falling apart. You may not be able to put your finger on why or what, or it maybe that you have multiple things that are truly going wrong. Either way, later on, it usually happens that you look back and you almost feel ashamed at how much you overreacted.

I know that a week, or a month, or maybe a year from now I’ll look back and see that. But right now, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Dramatic, right???

This morning while in the midst of an already difficult grocery shopping trip with my youngest three, I received the news that my oldest son had broken his leg. Normally, this kind of news is not big enough to send my world into a tumble. I have four kids, odds are one of them will hurt themselves bad enough to seek medical care a few times a month. Today, though, it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Having struggled with depression, I have in place all the thought processes and coping mechanisms to help myself get out of the dumps. So, honestly? I’m just fine, really. I’m just…exhausted.

I’m tired of the division, the hatred, the endless drama that has become our “normal.” Every little change and every little disagreement gets blown out of proportion and it’s suddenly “the end of the world as we know it.” Guess what? Everyday our world is changing. Some bad, some good, but whether we are noticing or not, it’s changing. And furthermore, it will all be okay.

I’m not saying sit back and adopt a “Que Sera Sera” attitude. Though with some things, that is a healthy approach. I’m saying, If you see the need, Take the Lead!! If something is bothering you. Find a way to fight it or change it! And, NO!! Trolling people on Facebook and other social media sites will not change anything. Not really.

I’m saying write a letter to your governor, mayor, council person, pastor, dean, etc. Sign a petition. Join a group. Attend a town meeting. Get on the board at a local community group. Make a difference. Sitting around drowning in your own sorrows is not going to do you or anyone who feels the same any good. I’ll bet there are hundreds maybe even thousands who feel the same way you are feeling, but they’re too afraid to say anything. Or maybe they feel just as lonely in this as you do. Reach out! Not only to commiserate, but to encourage.

Anyway, thats my soap box tonight. Thanks for listening. You can go back to your scrolling now.

It’s not Personal, Its Business

A few weeks back I had a conversation with a friend about my oldest girl. She revealed she thought Capri was “very spoiled” for the first few years of her life; and that once we finally gave her a younger sibling she “started shaping up.” I would be lying if I said her statements did not make me want to respond with a dig of my own at one of her children. I am proud of myself, however, that I responded with a simple “she has always been a bit of a drama queen, but I wouldn’t call it spoiled necessarily.” The conversation turned to other things and eventually the night ended. Here I am, though, still thinking about her comments and taking it personally.

Want to know a secret? Your child’s behavior is not always a reflection on you. I am going to go a little deeper and say, Other people’s perception of your child’s behavior is not a reflection on you, either.

How personally do you take your child’s behavior? Do you feel like how they act in public and at home is a reflection of you parenting?

Let me switch it around for a second. When you see a toddler throwing a fit in the grocery store do you instantly assume that parent is a bad parent? I can honestly say my first assumption is never against the parent. Often my first reaction is one of “I’m so glad my kids are behaving right now.”

Being a mom now for over 8 years I have found you can do everything “perfectly” (if there is such a thing) and your child will still misbehave. All too often they misbehave in a very public setting.

The truth? Our children are human beings. I know, shocking, isn’t it? In all seriousness, though, all human beings have free will. What comes alongside of free will, is a choice of how to react to the pressures and circumstances around them. You can be disciplining and parenting with consistency and love, but they can still choose to react with disrespect and stubbornness. Want to know what a good parent does when their child reacts with disobedience? A good parent keeps parenting with love, firmness, and consistency. A good parent realizes they cannot control their child’s reaction, but they can control their own reaction to that child’s action.

So the next time someone makes a comment, snide or otherwise, about your child and their behavior, remember this: It’s not personal, it’s business. As in, NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!!