Double for Your Trouble

We’ve all heard the saying about “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Ever feel like that is the case? The furnace goes up. The car battery dies. The phones die. The computer goes on the fritz. Seems like things all hit the fan at once sometimes and I ask “Lord, what is going on around here?” I have learned that these are all tests in the school of life and when we learn to respond in a patient and gracious manner, we can trust that God will give us double for our trouble.

So the other day I was having lunch with two friends. I decided to head over to a local Asian spot since I was in not in the mood for salty soups and sandwiches. I placed my take-out order and asked the cashier how long the wait would be.
 

“Ten minutes or so,” he says.

“Ok, that should be fine,” I answered and checked my phone for the time.

Ten minutes goes by. Then fifteen. Then twenty.

Ok, it’s been twice as long as the time he quoted me. I think I better check on my order.

“It’s on the grill now,” replied the cashier.

“Ok, just wanted to check on the status,” I replied and sat back down against the wall.
After a twenty-five minute wait, the cashier packs up my ginger broccoli chicken and says “Here’s your order”. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper, but I thanked him and hurried over to meet my friends, who I was sure had finished their lunches by then.  I was resolved to respond to the customer survey on the bottom of my meal receipt.
About a week or so later, I get an email from the company.
“We regret to hear about your take-out experience and we appreciate your feedback. We’d like to send you a “Be Our Guest” coupon to regain your confidence.”
Now THAT is customer service. But wait, it gets better. The next day, I received a phone call from the manager of the establishment. He, too, was apologetic, and offered not only a “Be Our Guest” card but he said,
“The next time you are in the area, stop by and your meal is on us.” Wow!
As I sipped my hot spearmint tea, enjoying my full course meal on the house, I sensed the still small voice speak to me.
“I’m giving you double for your trouble.” I paused and said a quiet prayer.  Somehow I felt that it was more than just the meal He was talking about.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you.
If you’re going through a tough season right now, take heart. The Lord, our God, sees everything you that is happening to you: the stress of the job, the family, the health issues, the financial woes. He is sovereign and He will not let anything happen in our lives without giving us His grace to endure. I love the verse in 1 Peter 5:10 that says  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Nothing is wasted with God. Every tear, every heartache, every broken relationship serves a purpose.  If you have a minute, listen to the song below and until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Looking For a Sign?

Seems like single guys and gals both have the same problem – how to read the signs that the person they are interested in is interested in them. This has long been an issue amongst my single friends, so I thought I’d share an anecdote about it, and do what I can to help the situation. I’m all for couples getting together and sometimes we shy folk, (yes, me included) have a bit of a time deciphering the signs. Now, I’m going to tell you up front, I’m going a bit out of my comfort zone with this post, so please do write and let me know your thoughts, ok?

This past Friday, I decided to go to the west coast swing dance. Most of you know that I love to dance, right?

Lord, please let me meet some new people tonight.


As I entered the ballroom, everyone was smiling and dancing, glad to release the cares of the week. The lights were dimmed and the rhythm of the music electrified the air.  I noticed a few new faces and smiled to myself.

Thank you, Lord. I see some new people here.

It wasn’t long before one of the new faces asks me to dance and to be honest, he was quite the dancer. Cute, too and plus, he made me laugh. I’m starting to feel something.

So the second time he asks me to dance, he starts telling me how hard it is for guys to know when a woman is interested. My ears perk up. Then he shares that he only gets phone numbers from women he isn’t interested in. Now I start to chuckle.

Hmmmm. Funny I feel the same way.

“Well, I have to tell you, we women have the same problem. And I will admit, I have been told I need to send louder signals.” We both smiled at the absurdity of it all and decided to enjoy the fun of the evening.

As I thought about the conversation on the way home, I analyzed why men are so afraid to ask. I think it basically boils down to two fears:
1)  the whole fear of rejection thing
2)  the ‘She’s not interested in me’  mentality

Both of which stem from a basic lack of – dare I say – faith. You knew I was bringing it around now, didn’t you?

Luke 11:9 puts it this way “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened to you.” This is a promise, kind of like an if-then statement for all my techie friends. If we ask in faith, God promises to answer. It’s a fact. This verse has been tested by yours truly over and over, so trust me, it does work.

Somehow many of us have a hard time asking for what we want. We feel we are unworthy. Or God is too busy to answer our prayer. Or some other lack of faith excuse. Just as we women want you guys to ask, God wants us to ask. How much more of a sign do you need?

Lastly, consider this: if we don’t have the courage to step out in faith and ask, the answer will always be no. So what will you do next time? Will you still be looking for a sign? Or will you take a step of faith and ask?

Hoping this post encourages some of you to have a bit more faith, and to step out of your comfort zone. What situation are you hesitant about? Asking for a raise? A date? More time with your beloved? Until next time, keep looking up.

Ariel 

12 Tips for Keeping Your Peace

It’s mid-January and already we’ve had a pretty bitter winter.  No wonder so many folks like to head south and escape to warmer climates. For those of us who live in more northern longitudes, rough weather certainly causes the stress barometer to rise, doesn’t it? We all battle stress and anxiety at some level and we each have different coping mechanisms. This week I’m sharing tips on how to maintain our peace and sanity during extra stressful times. Some of them you might already know but are you practicing them? Here we go with 12 ways to stay peaceful during stressful times.

1. Take a deep breath. Oxygen helps calm the body and signals the brain to counter the fight or flight reflex. When we are stressed we tend to take shallow breaths. Try a few deep, long inhalations and exhalations and feel the immediate calm. Close your eyes if you can and concentrate on breathing through your belly.                                              

2. Make time for solitude. Being around people all day long can be stressful. Talking drains our energy. Instead of picking up the phone to vent your frustrations, try talking to God. He always has a listening ear. Unless of course, it’s about work. In that case, you need to call somebody.

3. Slow down. The fast pace of life today is not only unhealthy, it is actually dangerous to our hearts, our brains, and our bodies. In order to live in the presence of God and the present moment, we must slow way down and that means not only our lives and activities, but our thoughts as well. My mind can go a million miles a minute. Ask my mother. It takes awareness to slow our thoughts down and we can’t do it if we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off. God’s pace is slow, have you noticed?

4. Pray and meditate. The time to pray and meditate is BEFORE things get chaotic. If I know I am going to have a busy day, I make even MORE time to pray in the morning. If my mind and my spirit are not properly prepared, there is NO WAY I’m going to stay peaceful. I remind myself that I am a child of God, that Jesus is always with me, and that all I need to do is trust and obey.

5. Turn off the electronics. Learn to appreciate quietness. It might feel awkward for a short time if you’re used to constantly having the radio or television blaring, but soon you will begin to enjoy it and your ability to hear from God will increase. Guaranteed.

6.  Go for a slow walk.  Even a short 15 minute break on a busy day can get you off the rat’s wheel and into a more relaxed frame of mind. I know it seems counter-intuitive but believe me, a SLOW walk will give you time to focus on your breathing and quiet your mind.

7.  Watch the negative self-talk. Capture the thoughts running through your mind at any given point during the day. Are they positive? Or are you thinking things like “This XXX is going to be the death of me” or “These kids are driving me crazy” or “I’ll never get all this done”. If so, time to replace the old recording with positive affirmations instead. You will get it all done. You will not go crazy and you can handle whatever life brings at you.

8.  Repeat a favorite prayer or scripture verse. Some good ones are:
–  “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.”
– “Do not be anxious about anything, but pray about everything.”
– “Lord, help me to be an instrument of thy peace.”

9. Keep your focus on God. He is bigger than all our problems and cares and He doesn’t want you to be stressed out either. Remember this verse:
“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

10. Be gentle with yourself. Realize you are only human. You were not built to do it all. Take a hot bath. Treat yourself to a nice cup of hot tea or cocoa. Put your feet up and read a few pages of that novel you’ve been wanting to finish. Take the pressure off  by doing little things within your control.

11. Set limits. Learn to use that two-letter word ‘NO’ more often. We each have the same amount of time each day. No one sets our schedules but us. When I was raising my sons, I learned things usually take more time and energy than I realize. I learned to build margin into my life so I wouldn’t be so stressed out.

12. Forgive yourself and others. Unforgiveness is one of the main reasons we lose our peace. Ditch the false guilt. Realize you (or they) did the best you (or they) could under the circumstances and tomorrow is a  new opportunity to practice and to let go.

Start implementing a few of these tips every week in the New Year and you will see results. When we learn to make peace a priority in our lives, everything else falls into place somehow. Post a comment and let us know what tips you use to keep your peace and until next time – keep looking up!

Make This Year Count

 Happy New Year, everybody! Can you believe it is 2015? I’m so excited about accomplishing new things this year and can’t wait to see what adventures this year brings. How about you?
What are your goals and dreams for the New Year? Need to lose those 20 pounds you’ve been carrying around for ages? Get your financial house in order? It’s been said that setting bigger goals is far more motivating that settling for smaller goals. Yes!
 
Now I’m a big believer in goals and have been setting them since I was a child, believe it or not. There is something about having a vision for my life and a goal to work towards that gives me energy and motivates me to move forward in life. As a soccer mom, I know how confidence-building scoring a goal is for a soccer player. In the same way, achieving worthwhile goals builds my confidence and gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Accomplishing my goals also gives me joy and we all want that in our lives, true?
The first step is to define SMART goals. You’ve probably seen this criteria before, but in case you haven’t here are the five keys to making SMART goals. A SMART goal must be:

S – specific – clearly stated

M – measureable – must be quantifiable

A – achievable – must be realistic

R – relevant – must be important to you

T- time bound – set a date/deadline to accomplish it by

A second major component to achieving our goals is we need to have a PLAN. It’s not enough to state our goals out loud, publish them on Facebook, or note them in a journal. Without a plan to implement our goals we will fail miserably. I’ve heard it said “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Make sense?

I organize my life into 5 major areas and create a goal for each of those areas. Let’s say, in the area of health & fitness, I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year. The next thing I need to do is list 3 – 5 action steps I am going to start immediately to accomplish each goal. Action steps for losing the 10 pounds might be:

1. Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes every day.

2. Ask myself if I am really feeling hunger before I eat something.

3. Reduce the amount of fats, sweets, and salt I consume by half.

Third, I need to understand the WHY of each of my goals. This is sometimes obvious, but as our goals get bigger and harder, it is important to be very clear on WHY we want to achieve a certain goal, or we may lose momentum and give up mid-way through. The why is our motivation. This takes some soul-searching but when we understand the why we gain clarity about our values.

The last component of achieving goals is the most important. Without this component, we will surely fail. We must learn to develop the power of FAITH. I must BELIEVE I can accomplish what I set out to do and that God is going to give me the grace to do it. Faith is KEY to accomplishing anything good in life but it must be backed up with action steps and of course, prayer.

So, write and share one of your goals with me. If you need help defining your goals, write me and I’ll help you out. Here’s to moving forward in 2015 and until next week, keep looking up!

 

Turn the Page

Happy 2015! It’s a brand new year, full of promises, plans, and projects. So many things to look forward to: projects to complete, fun times to be had, new people to meet. The list of possibilities is endless and that is something to get excited about. Thoughtful goal setting helps keep my joy meter on full because I always have something to work towards, accomplish, and look forward to. 

Yet before we get into all of that, I want to talk to you this week about turning the page. As it is with reading a scary novel, it is sometimes difficult to turn the page of our lives after a particularly difficult year. We tend to carry over not only our unused vacation time at work, but also the hurts, offenses, shame and guilt from the past.  The problem is many times we don’t realize we are carrying this negative baggage.

January 1st is a perfect time to let go all of the stuff that is weighing us down emotionally and spiritually.  Life is way too short to hold onto negative feelings. If we want to start the New Year on a positive, joyful and energetic note, we must cast aside any feelings of unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, inadequacy, or low self-worth. Often these demons dwell in our sub-conscious mind.  So what are we to do?

Now I am not saying to ignore or allow inappropriate behaviors continue by any means, but once we have taken the appropriate action and done what we can to set healthy limits and boundaries, it is important to let go of any negative energy  we have accumulated. People are human and so are we. None of us is perfect and we are all prone to say or do the wrong thing at some point, most often unintentionally or without thinking. We have a choice: either to stew and marinate in the event or take a few minutes to clear it out of our mind and body so the effects don’t accumulate.  Stored negative energy eventually causes physiological disease.

Time marches on, and so must we. When we hold onto negative feelings, we are preventing ourselves from living a life of peace and joy. Isn’t that what we all want? To rise each glorious day and meet it with expectation, hope and joy?

I think so. At least I know that’s what I want.
So if you are starting off this New Year feeling less than joyful, I would encourage you to do the following simple but effective steps to clear your energy and your spirit:

1. Ask yourself what it is you are feeling and why. In this fast-paced world of ours, it is easy to ignore our feelings, brush things under the rug and move on but these are neither healthy nor wise behaviors.  

2. Take appropriate action to rectify the situation, conflict, or relationship. Yes, you can do it.

3. If it is something you cannot control, surrender it to God. His shoulders are much more capable of carrying the weight than ours are. 

4. Take some deep cleansing breaths, and with each exhale, say “I am letting go of (such and such)”.  Feel the tension in your body and then consciously release it with each breath.
5. Forgive yourself. It all starts within. Check out Psalm 32:1-5 for some encouraging words.

I guarantee you will feel much better. The skip in your step will return. You will feel light and free and ready to take on the world again.

It truly is a new day and we are new creations, being transformed slowly but surely by every difficulty, hardship and pain we encounter. Think of the process as a type of sanding for our souls. We are the clay on the potter’s wheel and each of us is being transformed into a beautiful masterpiece with a divine destiny.
Life is a novel. Turn the page on yesterday and write a new chapter this year. What exciting things would you like to do? Places you would like to visit? People you would like to meet? It is true. The world is our oyster and it is up to us to discover the pearls.

Wishing you a fabulous New Year and may you soar on wings like eagles and shine like the noon day sun!

Until next week, keep smiling and keep looking up!

Ariel