Over the years I have asked some friends and family who are also gifted in putting words on paper to write a guest post for this little Journey.
As I looked back over those looking for one to share with you during this anniversary week celebration of the seven year mark for the blog, I found one our Rachel wrote that I posted during the first Christmas Countdown I did. Which also happened to be in 2013…so happy Christmas Countdown to us as well!
Here are the words she shared on December 20th of that year.
They have added two more little birds to their nest and her “free time” to be able to write is rather limited. I urge her constantly to keep jotting down her thoughts because they will make a treasure as you will see when you read this one <3
Shaping by Rachel Maxwell
My mom has graciously allowed me to guest-post on her blog. I am not a writer by trade and truth be told, I adore the thesaurus feature on Microsoft Word. I am humbled she would ask me to share some of my thoughts and His word with you!
Let me introduce myself. I’m the eldest daughter, Rachel. I would be the one with the two young boys that provide much of her material or humorous anecdotes. (And, all of her stories are true.) Graham (our 2 1/2 year old) keeps us on toes, wears us out, and loves us unconditionally.
It’s a beautiful combination I pray he never loses. Emmett (our 6 month old) is following right in big bro’s footsteps – absolutely delighting us, already moving everywhere, and just enjoying watching his hero brother at play!
A couple weeks ago as the boys napped and my husband was at work, I decided to tackle the basement tree. A 6.5 foot, artificial, pre-lit, three-piece tree seemed pretty simple to me, so I went for it.
Don’t worry, the tree is up and I am unharmed! But it’s in the process, the ‘simple steps’ is where Christ likes to speak to me the loudest.
You may have your qualms about an artificial tree, and I would have whole-heartedly agreed as I pulled these three pieces out of the box and set them on top of each other. The branches are all twisted and bound close together making it painfully obvious this tree is fake. It’s just ugly coming out of the box.
There are gaping holes where branches aren’t there and you can see the plastic ‘trunk’ that the makers have twisted a fake piece of garland around trying their best to conceal the plastic, the fake-ness of this tree. Being the mature mother of two, I rolled my eyes and got to work.
I went through each branch and started shaping and spreading out each one. After an hour of labor, I had cuts on my hands to prove I had done my best to shape the tree. I turned on the lights, backed away, and admired my work. That tree had gone from an eye-sore to a delight.
And then I cried.
You see, I am that tree.
I am ugly out of the box and I need lots of work.
Every sin like a branch where you can see straight to the trunk of my heart. Every argument, every quick tempered response, every muttered word, every part of my sinful nature is a branch on my tree. But thankfully, my tree doesn’t stop there and it is not finished.
Christ works on me shaping each branch with His scarred hands, removing the ugliness and creating me into something beautiful – His image.
His work in me doesn’t stop with one branch, He continues to shape and reshape me until I’m closer to perfect than I was before.
And then when His light shines in me…I am now beautiful.
You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.
2 Samuel 22:29
He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.
We are all works in progress.
What a beautiful reminder back in 2013 and today <3
This is my cousin Betty, who you may remember put together that fun Gratitude Journal I shared a while back. Info at bottom of post.
She is actually cousin by marriage but love her so much we just cut the in-law right on out and yes, this photo was taken a few years and pounds ago and back when I got to visit a hair salon more frequently than every 3 months … or more…Lord help us…
She has a fabulous coaching/teaching business she developed around communication and while it’s great for anyone in the business world, it is also very helpful for all humans because we do tend to struggle with communicating and being communicated to.
Betty is also hilarious and so when she posted last week about difficult people, I had to respond with the person who hopped into mind when she prompted her readers to think of a difficult person to deal with. Here is the result of my answer to her…enjoy! (and more importantly…learn!!!)
Take it away Betty…..
When the Difficult Person in Your Life is You
guest post by Betty Lochner
Last week, I wrote a blog post about how to better communicate with difficult people. It resonated with many of you. My cousin immediately sent me an email that read, “Yes, as a matter of fact there is someone who is driving me crazy and it’s ME!!!!”
It made me think that there are times we simply need to slow down and embrace our own difficult selves. And usually, that means we need to stop listening to the negative voice in our head.
If you’re frustrated, or just mad at yourself, you’re probably not treating yourself very well. You may be thinking, “How can I be nice to myself when there are so many reasons not to?”
The truth is that we are in constant communication with ourselves. And much of that time we are not very nice about it.
What you tell yourself about yourself becomes who you are.
The good news is that you can learn to tame the negative voice inside your head. Below are five strategies that will help you communicate more positively with yourself.
1. Be Self-Aware.
It’s hard to change something when you don’t realize you’re even doing it.
The first and most important step to taming the negative voice in your head is to listen to your inner chatter. Do you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself? Do you scold yourself, or spend time beating yourself up over something you wish you had done differently?
What voice are you allowing in your head: the critical one or the encouraging one?
2. Flip the Script.
When you hear yourself listening to your negative voice, take a minute to flip the script. Immediately think of at least 3 things that you’re doing well or that you’re grateful for. Place things in perspective and look for the positive. You have an opportunity to reduce your negative thoughts by recognizing them and then changing them into positive ones. In other words, slow down and talk nice to yourself. Choose the language you use with yourself carefully and tenderly.
3. Be Your Own Best Friend.
To have more positive relationships with others you need to start by having a positive relationship with the most important person – YOU.
Do you support yourself? Give yourself slack? Forgive yourself?
If you aren’t your own best friend, it can have a big impact on how you communicate and build relationships with others.
4. Hang Out with Positive People.
Positive people can be a huge support system, if you allow them to be. Hang out with people who think positively. If you find yourself becoming a magnet for negative people, it won’t help you. It may even be time to find a few new, more positive friends.
5. Use Positive Affirmations.
Here’s a powerful tool for starting your day with positive energy: read positive messages or inspirations aloud to yourself. Your mind takes repeated messages and files them away as important. Make the messages it stores positive, uplifting ones.
You can control your self-talk.
The bottom line is this:
Our actions are inspired by our thoughts. Our actions become who we are. If we can change the way we think, we can begin to change the actions we take.
To have more positive relationships with others, you need to start by having a positive relationship with yourself.
Begin this process by trying one or two of these strategies. Be patient with yourself. It will take some time to change the way you’ve been talking to yourself.
And the great news? You’ll soon notice your difficult self becoming a little less difficult.
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She teaches online courses on how to be a better communicator. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude. Learn more about her at Cornerstone Coaching & Training.
My husband is many things but above all he is loved and treasured by those of us who know him best. He is a man of integrity and dedication. He is serious and asks everyone to give their best, because he always gives his best. He is also hilarious and caring and kind.
He is my best friend and has made my life infinitely better since our first date. The Fab Four tend to ask for him when they FaceTime me, and I can understand why. Our three kiddos know their dad has their back no matter what and while they love to tease him mercilessly, they know he is the glue that has always held us together <3
When his company ordered everyone to work from home, I was concerned how this people person guy who thrives on the office environment was going to adjust.
Well, like everything else he does, he has done it well and with grace.
So I asked him to write a post sharing his views on what it has been like for him to work from home and adjust to the changes of this season.
I love how he decided to do it so grab a coffee or tea..or water…or whatever and sit back and enjoy….
From the desk of Russ Reimer:
My better half recently asked me to consider writing a guest blog for her and I looked at her with that look that says “ Are you talking to me?”.
She assured me that she was talking to me and that she was somewhat expecting me to get this done. I have learned that this is a woman you do not cross due to her strong German ancestry and a fuse which can be ignited quite quickly.
As Laura does so well, Here are some random thoughts from me for you to consider during this extreme trial for so many.
#1 Working from Home
I am the type of person that has traditionally gone to an office setting early in the morning, worked at my job throughout a full day and then returned to my home in the late afternoon/evening.
This has worked well for me as I have been gainfully employed by one company for many years. I am what would be referred to as a “dinosaur” in the work place. Not a bad thing. It is just how my working life has gone.
In contrast, my wife has had multiple jobs in her life (19 to be exact) and has done each of them with much energy and passion. If you know my wife, she is a social, interactive person who provides much color to a simple conversation. Her ability to adapt and work in many different settings has equipped her well.
We are now working together from home.
We are fortunate that we have an office area in our home which Laura established residency in when we first moved here. She can be in her office with the doors closed which allows her to write, email and interact with the world. I am happy for her.
My “temporary” workspace is the kitchen table. My new normal has caused me to be adaptable and flexible to interact with my colleagues all across the city and the country each day by email, instant message or phone calls.
I am getting into a routine, however, I (like many others) are seeing the days turn into Groundhog Day which makes me aware that so many others are having to be on the front lines dealing with real-life emergencies that cause angst and uncertainty in their lives.
My message to you in this time of uncertainty is that God calls us to be adaptable just like Jesus was with so many different situations he was faced with.
Being around small children, being a teacher, being a physician, providing support to so many in his daily walk, suffering, being a servant and ultimately giving up his life for us.
He led by example and did it well.
Do all things without grumbling or complaining. (Phil 2:14)
#2 Putting a Gas Grill together (husband and wife)
Our gas grill blew over in a windstorm and was damaged beyond repair. The decision was made by both of us that we would purchase a new one. This was done this past weekend.
It was certainly my hope that I could avoid assembling this item due to the extreme frustration and time consuming process.
No success on this as we brought home a new gas grill in a box to be assembled in our evening hours. I have done one of these before and told myself never again. I must have had a senior moment. We began the process this week.
We have decided to do this together and, just as I suspected, it is reminding me of an attempt in our early married years to hang wall paper together.
Hanging wall paper quickly became my job and I must say, I enjoyed it once the job was completed.
I believe the grill assembly process will be successful, however, doing this together will likely put a strain on nearly 39 years together. Our goal is to have steaks on the grill by this weekend.
I just hope we are able to enjoy them in each other’s company.
While I am confident we will get the grill completed and operational, I am aware that life is not always full of cooperation.
There are heartaches, there are disappointments, there are times when you see your young and/or adult children struggle and there are times that create so much self-doubt that you can lose all of your confidence.
Knowing that you can stand tall on the promise of God and lean on him when times are difficult (Philippians 4:13) provides a level of support like no other.
Trust and he will find you.
#3 Graduating Seniors
While we have all been inconvenienced in many ways by the Covid-19 outbreak and our lifestyles have likely changed forever, there is one special group of people that my heart aches for and that is graduating seniors in high school.
We all know or are connected to someone that is in this category and for those of us over 18, we can each remember our graduation as a real sense of accomplishment.
Some of us went off to full-time work , some joined the military, some went on to start a post-high school education and some of us got married. A tremendous time in a young person’s life.
Some of us have fond memories of high school and some that are not so good.
I would ask that you consider saying a prayer for those young people in this situation.
Ceremonies may or may not be held, graduation parties will be disrupted and the satisfaction level may be empty due to this interruption.
Reminder that the Bible tells us to: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding ( Proverbs 3:5).
Say a prayer, send a card and recognize these young people.
They need us to show them support and that they will make a difference.
Blessings to each of you and may Laura return quickly to her job of blogging!!
It’s me again….if you know my husband, you can just hear his wise and calm voice all through that and you can understand why he is definitely the better half here. We did get the grill assembled with our marriage in tact and I want to say that having him here this past month has been a gift from God to me. He always kept his work separate from our home and to see him in action has been a treat.
I hope you all are holding up well. These are tense times and times full of many thoughts and emotions for not only our own situations but those around us. You are loved, deeply loved. If you don’t have a home church that does Sunday internet services I would invite you to any and all of the following: