An opportunity to love

yellow_flowerEvery single day we live, there is a great opportunity before us. It’s an opportunity to love. An opportunity to practice kindness and patience and humility. An opportunity to put the needs of others before our own. An opportunity to embrace what is good and true.

Moment by moment we decide how we will respond to the circumstances of our life. Will we respond in frustration and resentment– excusing our selfish, vindictive, or rude behavior? OR, will we respond in LOVE?

Negativity, unforgiveness, and selfishness ultimately destroy us and harm the people our life touches. Their poisonous effects can be long-reaching. And, oh boy, do I know this too well from past experience. It’s not a place I want to go back to.

But when we put love into practice in ALL of the circumstances of life, even the most mundane or hurtful, there is great potential for something beautiful to transpire. And regardless of how things turn out, we experience peace and joy in the process.

When we respond in love–loss, rejection, failure, sickness, and all the other little things that plague us daily no longer have the power to hold our emotions and well-being in their prison. Living a loving life is one of the most beautiful and freeing things that we can ever experience. People and circumstances no longer have the power to control us.

But living this kind of life where we choose to love is something we have to commit to daily, sometimes moment by moment. Thankfully it does get easier over time with practice!

We often have no control over what happens to us–how others treat us and how the circumstances of our life unfold. But we ALWAYS have control over how we respond to those people and circumstances. And responding in love is always the best way for everyone involved.

Today we have an opportunity– an opportunity to love.

With love for each of you,

Lauren

p.s. I should add, that as a Christian, the biggest motivator and “empowerer” for me to choose love in all the circumstances of my life is the love I experience and see modeled from God through Jesus Christ.

 

10 Questions to ask yourself to feel your best

IMG_0677 (1)I have felt a little off the last couple of weeks.

Sickness invaded our four walls and we each took our turn with a summer flu/cold–one.at.a.time. I rarely get sick, so this took me by surprise. Especially since it was summer.

Even after recovering, I still didn’t feel 100% or my normal, cheerful self. I was less than content and noticed some of those old feelings of worry and despair had crept back in.

And then I realized that I had let some important things slip. I was not getting my walks as often as I normally do. There were days where I wasn’t venturing out of our four walls at all! And that wasn’t all I had neglected.

It dawned on me that I needed a “tune-up”. I needed to get back to the basics. I am only a couple of days into it and I have already noticed a huge difference in how I feel!

If you are in need of a happiness “tune-up” as well, here are several things you should consider. These little scientifically backed practices have proven successful in my life again and again. As long as I to stick with them ;). Continue reading

Modesty Matters

modesty_matters

I was browsing the athletic section of our local Marshalls recently. I needed new athletic clothes because mine were looking a little worse for the wear.

Standing in a sea of spandex, shorts with the tiniest inseams, and back-baring or nearly see-through tops, I was quickly reminded of why I disdain this task of shopping for athletic-ware.

It’s almost impossible to find something that isn’t seductive to the umpteenth degree.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. I often see more than I would prefer of other people’s bodies as I try to get in my daily walk in our waterfront Boston neighborhood.

I am not sure where as a society we go from here. Take our run or walk in a bikini or speedo? (Unfortunately, I have seen that once, too. Yikes!)

I realize I am stepping out on a ledge here and many people won’t agree with me (even those who are religious). And I am ok with that.

Modesty is a tricky and somewhat subjective topic. But I strongly believe that Continue reading

On choosing a spouse–the MOST IMPORTANT thing

First DanceWe had been dating for several months and he was a great guy. We were sitting in his living room together talking. And then it happened. He told me that he loved me.

I burst into tears. And they were not tears of joy. You see, I had planned to break up with him.

I grew up in a small town and attended college close to home. I was getting ready to graduate and wanted to move away and experience another part of the world. I had contemplated living in another country, even, as an English teacher. And, well, this man was tethered to the small town I grew up in by his business.

That night, I ended up not saying anything in return and awkwardly excused myself to go home. I didn’t break off the relationship because of the circumstances. But the situation left me feeling very confused.

I realized that things were getting serious and if I wasn’t planning on Continue reading

JOY in all circumstances

IMG_0386Recently we took a little trip to the Cape with our family. We’ve come to love our mini getaways to the beautiful coasts of New England (even though we live a couple of blocks from the ocean in our Boston neighborhood, ha :).

In the past, we’ve gotten really lucky and have chosen some pretty awesome places to stay. We’ve mostly gone out of season and have been able to stay in luxurious hotels and locations for far less than luxury prices. People can’t believe it when I tell them!

Like the time last spring when we ended up staying in this GORGEOUS hotel overlooking the ocean and the most beautiful lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard!!! (my favorite we’ve seen in all of New England. And we’ve seen a lot!!).  It also didn’t hurt that the hotel’s restaurant served the BEST hamburger on Vineyard ;). And not just in our opinion.

The last time we escaped to the Cape we ended up renting the cutest little suite–perfect for our family of four for dirt-cheap.

So, you can imagine my disappointment when our Continue reading

I’m inspired…

floral card
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/stephaniedavies/product/floral-note-cards-box-set

I recently received something in the mail that was such a boost to my spirit. It made my day—month, really.

It was a card from a childhood friend I have reconnected with.

This friend and I attended the same church during a period of time in our youth. We sat under the loving teaching of dear Fran Sprano (who illustrated her lessons with stories of building planes during WWII! and from her childhood on a farm), shared starry-eyed young girl dreams for the present and future, and enjoyed/”suffered” our way through church camp during the summer.

She was a kind and thoughtful friend, even in our youth. And as an adult, I now know, one of those Continue reading

Surrender

laundryLife is crazy, right?

Kids spilling milk, laundry baskets spilling clothes, hurtful words and negativity spilling out.

I love, though, how peace and joy are for RIGHT NOW in the midst of the crazy and messy and hurtful. In my early to mid 20’s I believed the lie that perfect circumstances were necessary for happiness. Well, I would have never said that (I had been a church kid, after all), but it was exactly how I  lived my life.

I kept thinking that happiness was just around the bend with different circumstances. Oh my.

And then I finally learned to thank God in the midst of the chaos, uncertainty, and challenges of life. Like, actually thank him for the difficult circumstances in addition to the good ones. To really thank him for what he was doing in me through them–for what he was teaching me and where he was leading me because of these hard things.

When I finally learned to Continue reading

How I finally ditched acne (my acne cure)

IMG_1499Acne and I have a long, complicated relationship.

She first introduced herself during my teen years in quite a furry. I went from having smooth-as-a-baby’s-bum skin to pimply skin almost overnight.

It was hormones, I was told. And they were right. But I wasn’t excited about this new friend and look I had acquired–one that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. And Clean & Clear just didn’t cut it.

Not only did I now have these lovely little white bumps covering every square inch of my t-zone, my skin also produced a ton of oil, and my complexion had an uneven, reddish color. You know, the look you get when you’ve been bawling your eyes out. I now know that this is a sign of inflammation.

Oh, and lets not even talk about blackheads. I’ll just say nothing–no strip or cream or magic potion–could remove those nasty little boogers.

Foundation also became a dear Continue reading

When I felt small

IMG_2566A couple of years ago I felt small.

Brance and I  had moved our little family from a rural part of the country (where I had grown up and lived my entire life) to the happening northeast city of Boston.

It took a good year for me to feel completely acclimated to my new environment. By which I mean, not feeling like I was taking my life in my hands every time I drove my car. And public transportation and I are now dear friends, but it wasn’t always so.

All the while, we had a new baby and preschooler I was trying to teach. Brance’s dad had recently passed away. We had left family and friends far behind. And Boston winters! I was not prepared for the depression that would set in from months of being cooped up (thank goodness I have since discovered the “miracle” of vitamin D and walks!).

But I think the hardest thing of all was the betrayal that we experienced again and again by people who claimed to be Christian. Many who were leaders, pastors even, in the Church. It was awful.

The thing that tipped the scale, though, was Continue reading

A new perspective

sailboatsOne thing I’ve learned that has helped me immensely is to view any challenge or failure I face as an opportunity. It’s so good, that when I began doing this several years ago, it literally transformed my life.

This is not something I did in the past and it made for bumpy ride–an unhappy, bumpy ride.

In the past, I sought perfection and every time I faced a challenge or failure I would feel discouraged or defeated. I would focus on what was wrong and how my life wasn’t perfect. Doing so left me unhappy and it kept me from truly living. It also kept me from taking good, healthy risk.

And then, a beautiful thing happened.  I learned a different way and was finally able to reclaim my life and happiness!!!

  • I learned to look at the difficulties I faced in life differently–to view them as opportunities for growth.
  • I learned to no longer be defined by what was going on around me–be it bad or good.
  • I learned that my value doesn’t hang on the opinions and approval of others.
  • I learned that if I couldn’t be happy in the present, right dab in the midst of whatever was going on in life, I would never be happy.
  • I learned that thankfulness is a gift from God that has the power to transform our hearts.

And so, finally, I  learned the secret to being content regardless. Even when things don’t go my way. Even when faced with challenge and failure.

When I finally stopped viewing challenge and failure as doom and I stopped looking to my circumstances for happiness, things brightened immensely. Not that my life got any easier or my circumstances magically improved. My perspective did and that was enough.

With Love,
Lauren