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A Brighter Love

Love Is

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It’s been some time since you’ve seen a post here. Thanks for patiently waiting.

I promise you there is good reason. I have several nearly completed blog posts and none of them seemed like they would suffice to post just yet. My heart has been so heavy with so many things going on. Addictions affecting families close to me, my family, and death everywhere. Incomprehensible sadness.

The feeling you get when you can’t help, you can only watch as someone takes themselves down a path of destruction. Or you see catastrophe unfold as you sit in your living room, unable to help those on your television, wondering why in the actual hell someone would do anything like this to another human being.

You’ve been there, you know.

These events impact your core. You’re left in disbelief, saddened, and even angry at this world we have to call home. How can I possibly make a difference, you ask yourself. Is there anything I can do to keep someone from making a life-altering decision? Will they listen to me or tell me to mind business?

Yes you can, but there is a catch. There is always a catch , right?

Listen. This post is a little personal and yet I know you can relate. I felt the urge to post something obvious, but that is a nice reminder for our broken and hurting planet. So this is what I decided on.

Yesterday, I sat pondering the last several weeks. My Mom gave me this sweet smelling candle to take home as a gift during our visit to see her. I’d been lighting it every day for the last four days.  I sat and watched as it burned. On the fourth day,  I noticed that the once white and clean wick had several lumps of soot accumulated at the tip. I’d seen this before on other candles, but that day my mind thought longer on it.

I had heard somewhere that you needed to trim the candle wick so it will burn brighter, smell better, and to minimize the smoke that was created by the burning of the wax. I had never done that before, and quite frankly didn’t think it was that big of a deal. But as I watched the flame burn, that little glob of black mess did seem to keep the candle from burning to it’s full potential.

That tiny little glob of black stuff had such a large impact on the candle itself. That seemed so stupid to me. Hmm. Maybe these people who advised the trimming weren’t so crazy after all. I thought it was a prim and proper thing, you know, like place mats and napkin rings.

But as my thoughts began to pave the way for a deeper realization, I was finally aware of the message I needed to receive: that glob of mess is the hardening of our hearts, heavy on our souls,  and is the very thing that keeps us from living and loving to our full potential. Like the candle, it keeps us from shining a genuine light from within. Our light can burn for hours, even days, but that is diminished by the energy we need to burn through this black mess. We try and we try, but the aroma we leave (decisions we make) are just not thought out, heart felt, or effective. The smoke clouds our judgement by blinding us to what really matters. It creates a fight or flight mentality. We become so selfish. We allow this crud to build up so much that it becomes heavy; we become so tired that it bends our once pure white wicks down to the pool of wax, putting the fire out altogether. We become depressed, sad, and angry. We become selfish.

 

I guess I’ve noticed a manipulation of sorts; a culture that entirely seeks satisfaction, entitlement and honor without offering anything first, not to mention that they’ll hurt anyone around them to get there, at any cost. It makes me physically hurt and nauseated to be around these people. Yet I do push through. I realize they are wicks remain untrimmed. Their lights aren’t as bright and their heart is clouded with fear and with hate, and no hope in sight. Ego drives their unhappy, and unfulfilled lives.

They are searching to heal their pain and torment, making decisions that they normally wouldn’t make if they would just know love in it’s purest form. I know I need to be able to be patient with these people, but it’s frustrating to watch and experience, nonetheless.

This is a list of, for lack of a better word, things that I have compiled based on the events of the last couple of months. It includes  general opinion and action worthy advice.  It won’t save the world, no, but I believe it could have an impact.

And be warned, if you are easily offended don’t read any further.

No.

I take that back. Buck up. Open your mind and your heart to hear something different today. It could change you, or someone you know. I pray it does, this world could sure use some good news. And please know, I am not bitter as I write these, my tone is just very forward. Don’t mistake my tone for a lack of compassion or experience.

So.. on we go :

  • Being physically present (or absent) is NOT an indicator of a genuine love. However, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that you tell people you love them, and when you can, show them. In the wake of the disastrous events in our broken world, it’s a must. We cannot be everywhere at once, but our spiritual response can be anywhere. In other words, how heart, mind and spirit react to an event where we cannot physically be, is still our responsibility. In my opinion, this is a powerful realization. Hold your thoughts captive when you catch yourself being negative. Control your thoughts and you will see change in your life’s outlook. Control the positivity of your non-physical response to life’s situations. Send good vibes.. prayers, whatever it is you believe can shed a positive and loving light.
  • Pushing someone away and then claiming they weren’t there for you is a copout. If you are unwilling to accept the love that is offered, that is yours to own. You cannot put that on the person who’s love you rejected. I suppose you can try, but what a waste of energy that is. And to the one whom offered that love, you don’t have to carry guilt for something you did that was honorable and good. Someone once told me “don’t own what doesn’t belong to you.” You don’t need to own resentment or sorrow or guilt for someones sooty wick and clouded judgement.
  • Because my spiritual or political beliefs do not match yours doesn’t make me less than. Nor does it make me wrong. I am loved, too. Our purpose on this planet shouldn’t revolve around bashing or hurting someone based on their hearts convictions. Because I’m not you, and haven’t walked where you walked, or experienced spiritual moments that match yours doesn’t mean I can’t love and respect you for where you are at in life and who you are. Isn’t that what grace is? Isn’t a love for humanity bigger than that? Are we all so selfish that we disregard all of that? If we spent a lifetime trying to prove we are right about everything, what did you really accomplish? Now give me a respectful, loving debate or conversation, and sure, I’m up for that. But if you are wanting to disagree with me to hurt my heart, please, carry on.
  • Stop lying to one another. Stop lying to yourself. Just stop. Be who you are and hold your chin up high – and hug someone in the process. Lying didn’t get anyone anywhere. I’ve seen so many people tell little white lies so often, they have forgotten what the truth really is. They begin to believe the lies they tell themselves. If you cannot be honest, keep it to yourself. Please. There is no use dragging anyone else into your selfish poison. Your lies don’t allow people to love the real you, and to take it a little further, it doesn’t allow YOU to love the real you.
  • A true conversation occurs when you can  honor one another’s thoughts and opinions. Respect and honesty go a long way. If I don’t agree with you I will tell you, but don’t for one second think that I’m going to go all over social media or behind your back bashing you. I honor your view, and I’ll respect it as well. Don’t mistake that for weakness. I’m as strong as they get. My closest friends and I have very opposing views on many things, but the way they respect and show me their love is why I call them my closest confidants.
  • Enabling bad behavior or contributing to someone’s self harm is not love. Quite the opposite is a great love that refrains and says no in order for someone to find a healthier self; to own their own life and make good, responsible decisions which empower their positive growth.
  • I saw a quote on social media the other day. It said “Listen to understand, not to respond.” Listening isn’t about us. It’s about hearing someone. Maybe they don’t want advice, maybe they want to be heard. It seems like we have lost the art of communicating face-to-face enough to really understand what listening with our ears and our hearts is all about.
  • Manipulative and narcissistic behavior are never ingredients for a good relationship. Get rid of your ego.  Look inward and rid yourself of this. It truly is toxic. This world is infested with these kinds of people. Where did they come from? Since when is it okay to treat people like trash to get what you want? Or even for fun? Lord, Jesus come soon..this world cannot take much more of this. At least I can’t. It is truly testing my patience. BUT even I know that there is a purpose for our pain..even if I don’t clearly understand it right now.
  • Help someone. When someone says ‘hi’ say it back. Get out of your head. Hold a door for someone. Be someone that someone else remembers how kind you were. Do you know what this does? It creates in you a self-confidence no one can take away. You can read as many self-help books as you want, but you’ll never experience real joy or self-worth until you’ve done something kind for someone.
  • If someone did you wrong, or if you are unclear about a situation, GO TALK WITH THEM. I’m so emotionally and physically tired of gossip, and slander, and people not being mature enough or brave enough to confront another person. It’s called respect. Stop hiding behind a keyboard and do hard things. They say usually if it is a difficult task, it is the most rewarding. I believe it. In the last year and a half I was accused of something horrible. It didn’t happen, but the person still believes it did. I hurt for her because she is the one going through pain over nothing. It ruined a friendship and I pray everyday that the unnecessary pain will heal. I’m still working on fully forgiving, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been.  I’m sure in time, it will be just a faint memory, but the point is, if honesty was at the forefront, and there was a mature conversation that happened – if love was modeled – the mess could have been avoided.
  • Own your mistakes. Nothing is more of a turn-off than to play victim and blame others for something YOU did. You’ll have family and friends there to support you and love on you, but being angry at them when they won’t accept the consequence of YOUR behavior is immature. Say your sorry, learn from it – it will make you a wise person.  OR you could continue to blame others and your path of destruction will never get better, and you will hurt so many more people, including yourself, in the process.
  • Remember we are teaching the next generation. I don’t know about you, but I want to see change in this world by the time my kids are grown – before that would be awesome. That cannot happen without leaders who are ladies and gentleman, and parents who are transparent and loving in their responses. I’m not saying perfection is the goal, I’m simply saying that we need to teach our kids values – not how to run an iPad and walk away.
  • Stop holding grudges. If you need professional help dealing with your hurt, get it. Stop hurting other people because you are hurting. Ask someone to pray for you or with you. Let go of the fear and find hope in those you love and who you know love you in return.
  • Stop being so bleepin’ lazy. Support your family. Pay your bills. Work and give with a joyful heart. Give your wife a massage. Clean out your husbands car. Stop complaining that your life is so hard and spend your energy doing something about it. There are far more people that are going through a tougher time that have the right to complain and they are doing more than you. Please.
  • If someone loves you, sometimes they will say things that may not feel good to hear. They’ll push past their, and your comfort zones because that is what love does. Again, wisdom can shut up and listen, or ego can play the victim card and be offended. Look back at those that told you what you didn’t want to hear, but you know they were right. Those are the ones you cling to, those are the people that love you unconditionally and are brave enough to hold you tight when you are trying to run away.
  • It’s ok to say no to things in order to take care of yourself and your family. You have priorities, and people should respect that. That’s not selfish. Being mentally,physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy is important for you and those around you.

 

There are a few common denominators here. Love. Respect. Honor. Wisdom. Peace. Or even the lack of these things.. We can cling to the good ones if we could only trim our wick – heal our hearts.

Love does that.

The thing about love  is that it builds people up even when our flesh wants to retaliate. It’s peaceful. When you experience the enlightened heart, mind and spirit that comes with love, you know it.  We all say we understand love, then why don’t we show it? We say ‘I love you’ like it’s a disposable phrase. Do you really mean it? Do you just say it because it’s what we do? Really feel it. Look someone in the eyes when you tell them. Tell them WHY you love them.  Even when people are jerks sometimes.. do it. Like Mother Theresa stated “love them anyway”.  Hands down this is the hardest thing to do for me sometimes. I know days when I’ve wanted to whack the living  out of people, but I don’t of course or you’d see a lot more news stories of a mad woman running down the streets chasing cars.

We have moments that are teaching moments in our lives. We do learn from them if we are wise. If we are unwise, well, then we are offended all of the time. When we are wise we reflect, we look at the big picture, and we aren’t selfishly seeking to be right all the time. With love at the center of our decisions, and for me God’s Word and His Holy Spirit direction, we can’g go wrong. It may be a tougher road, but looking back it is fulfilling and it was a road of hope and understanding, of grace and mercy, of self-reflection and positive action/reaction. There are moments we take for granted that softly slip away. Of all the choices you you get to make, choose to be present. Choose to respond in love and do it as if it were your last moment. Savor the time you have, our life here is just so fleeting.

I know it sounds cliche, but Love IS a universal language. Some say it’s a state of mind, some a spiritual event, that love is God come down in human form, and others say it’s a chemical response, that it is us… However you define it, there is one thing I know: we all understand it some how. It is a unifying factor this world is missing. Our wold is, resentful, narcissistic, heartless, arrogant… We are missing a big mark here. We’ve become a race centered on ourselves, looking inward for peace and acceptance when the very cure for the disease is an outward OFFERING.

That offering is.. you guessed it. Love.

I want to challenge you today. Take one bullet-point above at a time and ask yourself “Is this me? Do I need to make this part of my life a priority? Do I need help in this area? And if so, take positive action to move your life in an honorable direction. So, trim your wick, open your heart, mind and soul and be courageous. Do what most others won’t. Then you will experience and exude a REAL love and your life, and someone else’s life will be better for it.

Try it. I dare you.

 

Proverbs 4:23

 

Hurricane Harvey | Teachers & Students Among Those Impacted

There are so many catastrophic events that we’ve seen on the news and/or personally experienced lately. We all want to help in so many ways and it’s difficult to pick just one cause.

I found one that caught my eye. 

Having school-aged children myself, I often wonder what the parents of these children will do to try to get their lives back to where they once were, or at least close to it. I am sure it has been challenging financially, emotionally, and mentally to put a foot forward to rebuild, let alone to get their kids back into a school routine. 

The victims of Hurricane Harvey have lost so much: homes, cars, belongings. Right now, their immediate needs are food, water, and shelter, and within the coming days and weeks, they’ll need so much more. That’s where you come in.

When schools are able to re-open, many children, and their teachers,  will be without pens, notebooks, backpacks and many other school supplies. Sydney Paige has partnered with Roonga to change that by running a school supply and backpack drive. Their goal is to provide 3,000 packs to Hurricane Harvey’s school age victims and their teachers.

This is a large anticipated need. Low-income children make up more than 75% of the Houston Independent Public School District. There are also districts in the area that have similar economic conditions making it difficult for families to afford replacing basic school supplies that were lost in their recent hurricane.

A backpack and school supplies certainly won’t fill all of the needs for these victims, but it’s a wonderful start. Letting children know people care can go a long way towards healing while going back to school can provide a small glimpse of normalcy in their world – one that’s been turned completely upside down.

If you want to help, please go to:  https://www.roonga.com/hurricaneharveydrive/

Here you will find options for different age groups of students that you can donate towards. There are also teacher bundles you can select to help them begin to rebuild their classrooms little by little.

Don’t miss out on helping these children and teachers affected by Hurricane Harvey. Getting them back to school to resume their educational endeavors is a headway into normalcy. Any way you can help in the recovery process is so beneficial.

About Sydney Paige: Sydney Paige manufactures high-quality backpacks from eco-friendly materials: 100% cotton canvas, natural leather, nickel free hardware and recycled polyester. Its mission has always been to provide a backpack filled with supplies to a child in need for every backpack purchased.

About Roonga: Roonga partners with non-profits to provide the right quantities of necessary supplies to those who need them.

For more information, please visit www.sydneypaigeinc.com or contact Susana at Susana@chicexecs.com

Thank you for the consideration.

Hebrews 6:10

And the Winner is…. Dusty Dreams & Grace!

OMgoodness!

I’m so excited to be writing this. For some time, I’ve prayed for guidance and have been pondering whether to launch my very own blog. Well,  I’ll take this as reassurance that I’m on the right path!

Here is the announcement!

I’m so very honored to share that I was nominated for the Liebster Award by a peer blogger, the lovely Laura Vaughn at This Mom Blog. If you have a moment please show her some love and support by following her blog! Her page is beautifully set up. She writes about her family and also gives great motherly advice!

What Exactly is The Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award an award dedicated JUST to bloggers. It dates back to 2011. It’s an honorable award given by bloggers to bloggers. It’s such an honor to have peer support in the blogging world, there are so many blogs out there! The Liebster Award allows us to support one another so we can all experience positive growth.

Q/A for My Liebster Award Nomination

  • What has been your biggest challenge with blogging?

My biggest challenge has been regarding technology. I’m fairly savvy as it pertains to the computer, but maintaining and building a site, while expanding a following has been a challenge, but a great learning experience at the same time.

  • What are your hobbies other than blogging?

I love to do a few different things. I LOVE to be outdoors; camping or fishing. I crochet, make home-made bath and body products, play guitar and sing, I love to read.. Let’s just say I have plenty to do to keep me occupied when I’m not actively being a Wife and Mama!

  • Tell us about your blog and why you started blogging.

I’ve always had a love for writing and expression. My main avenue to do that in was in my music. Although I still use music as an outlet, writing allows so much more opportunity to express myself in a genuine way.

  • What and who motivates you to write?

My husband and kids are my drive. I would love to have this be my primary source of financial support in our home. Also, the amount of positive feedback from fellow bloggers and other followers encourages me to keep going.

  • What has been your proudest mommy moment?

Wow. This is such a hard one, so I’m going to cheat here. Mo most recent proud moment has been when my oldest decided to get baptized in July. Nothing could make a Mother more proud than to know her children are positively modeling the life you hope they would live.

  • What has been your biggest mommy fail?

I’m sure I fail daily, as I’m not perfect (not even close!) but I would have to say it was when I missed the end of year graduation/preschool program for my oldest. Ugh. I was so devastated! I thought it was a different day and totally missed it. I cried for a good 2 hours!

  • What is your number one piece of advice for a new mom?

Dear New Mom, you are enough and you’ll get through this. NO ONE can do this better than you, so give yourself some credit. You’ll be tired, you’ll feel like you can’t get anything done – and that is ok! Your baby needs you, and you made just for that baby of yours! Love yourself, and respect the process. Know that it’s okay to ask when you need help, and if you feel like you can’t take anymore, breathe and know you aren’t alone in this Motherhood journey!

Now, for My Nominations!

As a 2017 winner of the Liebster award, I also have the privilege of nominating 5 more deserving bloggers. After a day of reviewing, I’ve decided on my five top blogs:

Tara Frieden’s blog on her professional page here

Emily at Dainty Kicks

Sarah Rogers at This Modern Momma

Valerie at Sunflowers and Mimosas

Stefanie at Free Spirit Blonde

Congratulations goes to you women, and thank you for your well-written, informative and inspirational posts! I always look forward to a new publish from you all!

In response to your nomination, you need to follow the guidelines found here.  Here are your questions that you can give answers to in your post as well:

  1. When do you find time to blog?
  2. What inspired you to begin your blog?
  3. What would you like your readers to get out of reading your posts?
  4. When you have days that it’s hard to sit down and write, what do you do?
  5. What would be your go-to weapon in the case of a zombie apocalypse? (sorry I had to do it!)

I can’t wait to read your responses!

I wish you nothing but the best in your future blogging endeavors!

And thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my posts, send kind words, and support my new journey. I appreciate it so much.

<3 Jo