Developing Patience Reduces Anxiety

Recently, I woke up with the thought that God tells us not to be anxious (Philippians 4:6). Our willingness to live out this guidance principle from His Word allows us to meet the challenges of life in a more purposeful, less-stressed frame of mind. Patience is a huge piece of emotional wholeness and comes from our living intentionally, or as I like to coin the phrase, “Life by Design, not Default”.

Later this same day, I decided it was time to untwist the cords on my plantation blinds on two windows upstairs. They have been left in a tied-up state because they are not in my typical line of vision as I mostly am downstairs. At first, I was letting thoughts of irritation invade my peaceful mindset and not utilizing patience. I was focusing on not wanting to do this right now because it was too warm in the room and the many other things I could be doing that would be of more value than standing there untwisting the blinds. As soon as I recognized that these negative thoughts were actually making the project more distasteful, I challenged my thoughts to reflect back on my early morning musings about patience and anxiety. I began to focus on how thankful I am to have a nice home and to have the opportunity to delight in making it a cozy and peaceful home.

I often get a front-row seat to moderate anxiety, with my beloved fur-baby, Max. He is a 4 year old golden retriever, and really has a challenging time accepting change. He wants to be fed and walked at the scheduled time his internal clock dictates to him. If I move a chair or a lamp, he has to review what has happened and be given time to adjust. If my hubby, Jeff, who is Max’s best bud is away, Max may pace a while, whine at the door or lounge with his big head and beautiful puppy eyes, resting on my lap. He likes sameness. He is incredibly anxious and pants fairly loudly when he isn’t having his routine to go down the way he expects.

I’m a lot like Max. I like to sit in my same place whenever I am. I like to drink my coffee or tea from one particular mug. I like the bed made as soon as I get out of it. When I return home, I beat a path to place my purse in the same spot on the same shelf, time after time. I actually do not like to travel (yep, now you know my biggest quirk), because I like to sleep in my own bed! My reasoning for this behavior is that, more than anything, I absolutely detest having to search for anything or readjust to new surroundings.

I began to think of how God is teaching me to choose to be patient and work in a calm manner, rather than murmuring, and allowing my feelings of discontent to make me feel like I have a right to grumble. I thought how I have been given a gentle nudge by Jesus, who loves me and wants the best for me.

In this and numerous other incidences, when I stop and listen to myself and overwrite my dislike for doing certain things or being in certain places, I can happily agree that the anxiety I feel around being dissatisfied can quickly turn to peace and a serene state of mind, when I choose to accept my situation and simply be patient.

As Grandma always said, typically about uncomfortable circumstances, “It came to pass, not to stay!”

Where can you focus today to help you reduce your anxiety and experience emotional wholeness and more lasting joy? I’ll bet it’s closer than you think!

Live Life by Design, not default. When you are intentional, you catch many more moments that will take your breath away!

Sheri xo

100 Worthwhile Pursuits for Creating Your Best Life

The movie “Bucket List” challenges us to consider what we like to do and where we enjoy investing our time. However, I don’t want to count down to death so I’ve decided to combine the major focuses in my life into a list of pursuits that will challenge, encourage and inspire me to continue to grow, learn and mature in ways that I have yet to imagine!

I chose the term “pursuits” because I have a fond memory of one of my final conversations with my Mom, just days before she left this earthly life and entered into the arms of Jesus. She knew her time was short and I asked her if there were any words of wisdom that she had for me. Her answer was thoughtful, “Focus on what is important. Cease from worthless pursuits”.

My list of worthwhile pursuits starts here:

1-Write for the Glory of God and the refreshment of others.

2-Learn the values of “less is more”.

3-Give of my time, resources and life to others as opportunity arises.

4- Keep that which is necessary.

5-Enjoy the simplicity of life.

6-Continue to be a student of the Word and of people.

7-Mentor and be mentored.

8-Give God my life as a blank page daily to be filled by His plans for me.

9-Listen well!

10-Ask engaging questions to build authentic relationships.

11-Set healthy limits [boundaries] that I may be intentional in the moment.

12-Be alert to the moments that take my breath away.

13-Visit the places that provide moments and views that take my breath away.

14-Diligence in loving my husband and children so they will know the promise of my commitment.

15-Invest, include and invite others to gain the best God has for them.

16-Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, walk often and get enough sleep.

17-Manage my stress well so that I have the emotional energy to deal with the issues in my life.

18-Face and overcome the fears that seek to hinder God’s best in my life.

19-Recognize that with God all things are possible!

20-Read something uplifting and encouraging daily.

21-Live, eat, drink, work, sleep, travel, in moderation.

22-Resolve conflict before it becomes resentment.

23-Be thankful in all things and to all who demonstrate kindness.

24-Accept the things I’m unable to change; be proactive to change the things I can.

25-Avoid excess in all things.

26-Be the friend I’d like to have.

27-Help as many others as possible to learn to get what they need and want from life.

28-Always enjoy a front porch with rocking chairs.

29-Catch a sunset every chance I get.

30-Actively enjoy my husband =) and the things he’s interested in.

31-Love as though I’ve never been hurt.

32-Enjoy my work everyday.

33-Meet my neighbors.

34-Live simply in the home Jeff and I build together.

35-Enjoy living debt free.

36-Leave a legacy to our children that will carry them all of their lives.

37-Take lots of pictures.

38-Gain wisdom around the things of importance.

39-Enjoy fireside chats often.

40-An openness to trying and learning new things.

41-Memorize as many of God’s promises as I can.

42-Learn to cook like my grandmother – a dash of this and a dash of that! Yummy!

43-Remind myself to slow down, sip the tea, smell the roses, smile for no reason.

44-Cease from strife and worry – all things work out in God’s time.

45-Trust God’s heart when I am unable to see or understand His ways.

46-Allow my experiences to be stepping stones for myself and others to benefit in unexpected ways.

47-Appreciate the true value in every relationship I have.

48-See the good in all things – even if it requires much effort.

49-Truly believe and live out the fact that God is good all of the time.

50-Accept others as they are in hopes that they will become all they can be.

51-Remember the movies, songs, fragrances that bring back happy thoughts and great memories.

52-Cut all excess baggage so that I may travel light.

53-Stay connected to those who encourage me and to ones I need to encourage.

54-Provide a home environment that is peaceful and a blessing to all who visit.

55-Serve those who have nothing to give in return with a hug, a kind word, a sandwich, and hope.

56-Be a super resource to help people learn ways to improve the value of their lives.

57-Be open to constructive criticism.

58-Speak up for what is right and good.  Say no to what is bad.

59-Find a little humor in every situation.

60-Laugh at myself more.

61-Spend more time gazing at life in childlike wonder.

62-Minimize the things in life that pull me away from what is really important.

63-Create traditions that draw our family closer in heart and in presence.

64-Be open to learning there is more than one way to accomplish the same goal.

65-Eliminate my habit of nail biting.

66-Be present at the important events in the lives of those I love.

67-Realize that the less often I make life “all about me” the more I enjoy it.

68-Be fun and pleasant to be with.

69-Be open to anything that will stretch me in positive ways.

70-Live in the freedom I have to do life as I choose so I can serve in love and not out of obligation.

71-Ability to speak truth in love when someone needs to hear it for their growth and maturity.

72-Consider the impact my choices, words, and actions have on others before I make or do them.

73-Wisdom in leadership development.

74-Develop the heart of a coach so I can be Great in my coaching practice.

75-Set goals based on my values.

76-Accomplish goals that positively impact me and those I care about.

77-Value my husband as the one who God has given to me to share this life with.

78-Provide a great model for others to live authentically.

79-Be involved in organizations that increase the quality of the lives they touch.

80-Spend lots of one on one time with those I love.

81-Brand myself not as one who merely seeks financial success but adds true value to the lives of others.

82-To seek to understand rather than attempt to fix others.

83-Have a working knowledge of Biblical truth to give an answer to those who are hurting or to those who are simply curious.

84-Overcome my tendency to judge and replace it with a heart to encourage.

85-Have empowering and enlightening conversations in my travels and around home.

86-Stand at the finish line often as those who have struggled overcome pain, sorrow, and fear.

87-Create an environment of love and peace wherever I go.

88-Be transparent with others and allow them permission to be themselves.

89-Speak to a group or to one with words that refresh and build up.

90-Proactive in hearing the needs of others and in letting mine be known.

91-Overcome passivity with assertiveness.

92-Experience miracles often.

93-Live consistently out of love and grace.

94-Let go of every weight that anchors me to fear or pain.

95-Truly care about the success and joy of others.

96-Be the best wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend I can be.

97-Live in such a way that the bad things I do are forgiven, and the good things I do bring glory to God and encourage others to seek a better path.

98-Overcome fear of failure and recognize it as the means for the greatest success.

99-Eliminate negative and limiting self-talk.

100-Love with all of my heart.

I had a lot of fun creating this list. And, I am encouraged to focus on what will truly add lasting value to my life..

Sheri

60 Years of Simple Wisdom Nuggets

Today is a brand new day with new mercies. Your life is a blank piece of paper. How will you fill it?

Confrontation that seeks to clear the air and restore peace is in making the effort to listen to a person share their thoughts and feelings.

Whenever you are in doubt, don’t.

Finding value in life’s difficulties often results from asking the right questions… “What can I learn from this situation?”

When you don’t know what to do, do the next basic right thing.

Obstacles are the things you see when you take your eyes OFF the goal.

A good reputation is of more value than great riches.

Guarding our words spares us unnecessary trouble.

In order to motivate people and release their potential, one thing is required … you will need to believe in them.

Neither affluence nor education can surpass simple tenacity in the pursuit of success.

The one who finds wisdom enjoys life and the favor of God.

Do not withhold good from the one it is due.

The first lies we need to learn to avoid, are the ones spoken by our fears.

Anxiety in the heart causes depression; an encouraging word can bring peace.

Take care of what’s important to God and He will take care of what’s important to you!

A wise man changes his mind, a fool never does.

To be trusted is the greatest complement. It reveals the true character of the one trusted.

When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of making a change we become willing to take the steps necessary to move forward.

Concentrate on the condition that you want and not the one you are trying to dispose of.

Treat others they way you would like for them to be and that is what they will become.

We never miss the water until the well runs dry. Whatever we take for granted has the risk of running dry.

Relinquish what isn’t working for you … and you’ll become all you are meant to be!

Consider when you have been wronged that if they are able to live “with it” you are able to live “without it”.

Whatever you look for in any given circumstance, you will find. Look for the bad, that’s what you will find; look for the good, that’s what you will find.

The best days of life begin when you learn to want what you have as opposed to striving to have all you want.

Love is the commitment to the welfare of another.

Perhaps our time here is not so much to accomplish tasks but more to enjoy the presence of God in childlike wonder.

Attempting to solve problems with the same mindset that created them is a waste of time.

If people talk to you about others; they talk to others about you.

Every moment, every breath is a gift from God.

Love the people who treat you well.  Pray for the ones who don’t.

Learn not to trade what you want most for what you want right now.

Leaders look for and do the things others won’t.

Don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire.  Don’t be impulsive; you may find that your situation will actually worsen.

If you need undivided devotion; get a dog.

Whatever you do, do it without grumbling.  Grumbling makes every task more burdensome.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

Take long walks and lots of pictures.

Record the voices of your children and your parents.

Don’t feed your mind or body with bad things.

Learn to enjoy your own company.  Solitude can be empowering.

Sing while in the shower and in the car with children.  It helps you to engage, and it helps them to remember.

Fear is an awesome motivator but a cruel taskmaster.

When you do all you can do, God will show up and do what only He can do.

Read a portion of Scripture everyday. Apply its principles.

Doing your best trumps not trying when you can’t be the best.

Be thankful in every situation; the good ones for obvious reasons; the difficult ones for the lessons.

There is more opportunity for maturity during adversity than at any other time.

Whatever your current situation, it came to pass, not to stay.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

If someone will lie to you; they will steal from you.

Live by your values.  Work from your passion and strengths.

Relinquish your past mistakes, and accept yourself with laughter.

Say what you mean, and truly mean what you say.

Let challenges bring growth and not create excuses.

Let go of resistance and find a surprising peace.

Ask engaging questions to build authentic relationships.

Be alert to the moments that take your breath away.

Manage stress well in order to have the emotional energy to deal with the issues in life.

Resolve conflict before it becomes resentment.

Catch a sunset every chance you get.

Enjoy your work everyday. If you don’t, find the work that will enable you to.

Meet the neighbors.

Live debt free.

Leave a legacy to your children that will carry them all of their lives.

Enjoy fireside chats often.

Develop an openness to try and learn new things.

Memorize as many of God’s promises as possible.

Remind yourself to slow down, sip the coffee, smell the roses, and smile for no reason.

Cease from strife and worry. All things work out in God’s time.

Trust God’s heart when you can’t see his hand.

Make amends and work out your conflicts.

Avoid destructive habits and people.

Keep your commitments.

Be a person of your word.

Don’t return evil for evil; overcome it with good.

Do as much good as you can, as often as you can.

Pray to God with real words in a real way.

Substitute acceptance for judgment.

Stay connected to those who encourage you and to ones you can encourage.

Find a little humor in every situation.

Minimize the things in life that pull you away from what is really important.

Be present at the important events in the lives of those you love.

Realize that the less often you make life “all about you” the more you can enjoy it.

Be fun and pleasant to be with.

Seek to understand rather than attempt to fix others.

Overcome the tendency to judge and replace it with a heart to encourage.

Stand at the finish line often as those who have struggled overcome pain, sorrow, and fear.

Live in such a way that the bad things you do are forgiven, and the good things you do bring glory to God and encourage others to seek a better path.

Today is my 60th Birthday! And I wanted to share some nuggets of wisdom I’ve gathered along the way in my life journey……. what nuggets have you gathered?

Sheri 

Growing Wise: My Child, My Teacher, My Friend…

This is a special tribute to my three amazing daughters on the birthday of my middle daughter, AnnaLynne!

Dear Angel, AnnaLynne & Rachel

From the moment I first saw your face, you gazing with eyes not yet focused, me gazing with eyes filled with wonder…until the moment when I watched you fly from the next to meet your appointments with life, I am certain that being your mom has been the most rewarding, fearful and joyful experience I could ever hope to have. I am convinced that it is you who has been the teacher, and I have been the student.

You begin making sentences, with “Why, Mama?” Later in your teen years, you said “Why not, Mom?” Your stream of endless questions kept your thirst for life as a continual quest. You never tired of learning and growing and exploring and dreaming and creating. All I had to do was comment that I wasn’t sure how or if a particular thing could work to set you in motion. You put your heart into the things you are passionate about. This is one of many big lessons I have learned from you. Be passionate about what and who you love!

Even before you could speak, your eyes asked questions and your tiny hands reached to touch, learn, taste and see. I would stop to teach you numbers, letters, animals, colors, textures, foods, shapes, trees, flowers, stars, and clouds. We read books and you became the much-loved characters. Your imagination was infinite. You would lead, and I would follow. I grew so much more aware of the world around me through the wonder in your eyes.

You taught me trust, delight, and hope. You gave my life meaning and purpose. You held a mirror before each of my attitudes and you role-played all my reactions. You became the reason for me to make better choices, to mean what I said, to live what I believe, and to internalize all that is good in my life. It is you, who connected the dots for me. In a sense, I grew up right along with you. I wanted to be more like you. I still do!

I understood why God said that to get into heaven, I would need to become as a little child. I learned that your spontaneous way of doing life was so much more freeing than the legalistic and controlled way I had attempted to live it. You wiped away the dust from my daily routine and colored the common things with fresh ideas and showered me with delight to hear your giggles and laughter. You made things new and gave me a reason to be myself again, to live authentically.

You gave me eyes to appreciate and see the value in people, whether they were aged or from different cultures. You saw the beauty in the plain and creativity in those timid or challenged.

And in this season of our lives, I can simply be there for you….  because you have grown into the most beautiful young woman, not so much my children, but now, my friends.

You taught me that love is my commitment to the welfare of another. You are the reason that it all makes sense for me now. I love you!

Your Forever Fan, Mommy =)

Sheri 

Being in Control ~ Real or Illusion

Letting go of the need for control is one of the (many) things I have to consistently work on to achieve positive results.

My default setting is that I want to feel in control of how things will turn out — control of a trip that I’m on, of a project I’m handling, how a conversation will go or even getting my dogs to “go” in a timely manner..

Often, it becomes more frustrating than the way I had imagined it could be ~ IF I were truly in control.

For starters, I don’t think we can ever really control how things will turn out. We might think we do, but how often do things actually turn out exactly the way we’ve planned?

I know my life has been a series of unexpected outcomes, despite my best intentions to get to certain goals. Even the goals that I reach turn out to be much different once I achieve them than I had originally planned.

Through my personal life journey, I’ve found that when I want to control the outcome of things, I become more anxious and tense. I’m less happy with how other people do things, less happy with myself, and less relaxed in the moments that I ordinarily would be able to enjoy. My relationships and responsibilities suffer because I am preoccupied with how I “think” things ought to be or how they turn out.

So how do I deal with this reoccurring struggle? What I am discovering is that I am unable to stop myself from wanting to control things. I can’t even stop the urge to control outcomes from coming up in me. So I have to just notice the desire to control things, and let the urge happen. I have learned that I don’t have to act on urges (emotions) that rise up in me, especially if they are truly not the best for me or others.

I’ve found this to be easier said, than done. My goal is to remind myself to see the urge, not as a command that I am required to follow, but simply a suggestion from the child within me. I can then be aware to look for the good things that can come from the situation, even if it’s uncontrolled. I don’t need to control things to enjoy them, I can just let them happen.

That said, I still take action. There are things I can control that have a positive effect on me and hopefully, on those important to me. I can look up information regarding a trip I’ll be taking simply because I’m curious and can then be aware of what opportunities may be available to me on a new adventure. I can be free to let conversations flow naturally. And my furry friends can take their leisure in enjoying being outside without me pressuring them to “hurry up”. These are all simply stress-management exercises from which I can greatly benefit.

I can experience the freedom of letting go when I realize I have a choice: I can choose to try to control the outcome, or I can trust in the moment.

I choose to trust as often as possible…..

Sheri 

A Season for Renewal

I’ve been in a season of rest – something I needed but it didn’t happen until I was required to have an emergency surgery.  This has been a time of renewal for me, something I would never have considered.

It is easy to become discouraged in the times when things do not go as I plan or hope they will, because I need this time to unplug. Discouragement is a normal experience, but the key is to accept all of the seasons God allows in my life.

A preoccupation with gratifying my desire for comfort, convenience or everything to work out on my time schedule  can cause my reactions to life issues to be disappointing and frustrating.  Pursuing these paths may throw me into chaos and rob me of peace and joy.

My focus, by contrast, can be to value the things God values: self-control, waiting on Him, trusting Him with things I don’t know, can’t see or blindside me.

Developing a heart of trusting God and believing He works all things together for my good, allows me to use my seasons of waiting as times of growth and refreshment. Sometimes, I find I need to hit the ‘reset’ button. And, I am finding that these things usually work out for the best, IF, I am willing to make the best of the way they are working out.

In this season and time of renewal, I have come to believe that I do not need to worry about what I “need” to be doing or what I might be “missing”. I simply need to avail myself today and each day to God, who has a path that I am to walk. His plans for me are not “cut and dried”, they are fresh and new every day.

Each day can host it’s own adventures, if I allow it to. If I relinquish any fear and / or control over how my day will play out, I am then free to operate according to God’s agenda, seek to do what honors Him and give it my best. And have the simple joy of knowing He accepts me.

I want to keep learning this pace of life and remain in a season of rest and renewal.

Do you need a season to come unplugged? Come on in, the water’s great!

Sheri 

Life: A Balancing Act?

Sometimes it seems that life balance means simply juggling plates and successfully keeping them all up in the air. Consider what balance means in other processes. In accounting, things must add up. In physics, what goes up, must come down. In life, we can’t live like a gazelle being chased by a cheetah all the time — we’d be a code red, high adrenaline, super stress, possible heart attack or stroke waiting for a place to happen.

Balance is more about a calm and stable mindset that allows us to make decisions based on personal values helping us learn to be intentional in the moment. Life balance may best be defined as the calmness and security of being able to manage the things we treasure, i.e. feelings, thoughts, talents, attitudes, behavior, personal well-being, etc. so in effect, we are able to assertively confront issues in life without an ongoing feeling of being overwhelmed.

A consistent balance allows our lives to continually improve, not necessarily with more money or more stuff, but by simply having an awareness that every day holds challenges and successes, and that truly what we look for is what we will find, be it good or bad.

As for me, I choose to live with the mantra, that indeed, Life is Good and, I’ve got the tee shirt to prove it! 

What does your t-shirt for the way you do / have done life read?

Sheri 

Begin with the End in Mind

How often do we neglect developing new habits because we think a positive outcome will take too much effort? Or maybe we start to improve our lifestyle only to give up prematurely because we don’t get what we want fast enough. It’s easy to allow today’s challenges to become tomorrow’s excuses.

Have you wondered how you became  a member of the Start-Big-Finish-Small-if-at-All-Club? Perhaps, you’ve set targets that are difficult to reach. Often, the pain of disappointment may leave you feeling burned out with little desire to follow through. Remember, you do have options. The breakthrough you’ve needed could be to practice thinking small to help you transform your life.

Often, we may be full of ideas and eager to establish a new plan. We may soon realize it’s easy to bite off more than we can chew. We want rapid success and no hitches. The size of the task and the time it takes to get there may make it tempting to throw in the towel. By focusing on the here and now, it is easier to find a steady pace.  Besides, slow and steady worked for the tortoise!

Whatever you hope to gain in your endeavors, you need to decide precisely what it is you want, and be specific as you define what exactly it is you hope to achieve. Reflect in why you desire this outcome. Goals are often more “real” if they are written. Decide what is a reasonable length of time to realize your desire and be realistic. Make it measurable so you will have a target at which to aim. Once you have a clearly defined idea of the what, why and how long to reach your goal, you can break down the entire process.

Here are a few tips for breaking it down into bite-size pieces:

1. Brainstorm all of your options and determine what can be divided into smaller, detailed steps. Each task is a stepping stone towards achieving your end result.

2. Simplify the action plan. Think of the steps as actions. When you understand what actions are needed to achieve your desired result, you can pull these together into a plan.

3. Establish daily and weekly tasks. When you create your action plan, work out a series of targets that you believe are possible to reach on the way to your goal. Keep it simple with many small victories to keep the momentum.

4. Keep on track. The small-scale approach is flexible and allows for instant changes.  Continue tweaking and completing the simple tasks so the end result will be well within your grasp.

5. Focus on your daily actions plans and not so much on the end date. Like the tortoise, concentrate on one small step and repeat consistently.

6. Master the art of delaying gratification. Though you may be tempted, avoid trying to rush things and bite off more than you can chew. Refer to the reasons why you want the desired goal. Concentrate on where you are in the journey, and not on what’s next. Reflect on how far you’ve come and what a waste it would be to throw in the towel.

In order for us to grow, we will need to allow ourselves to be stretched at times. In most endeavors, if we don’t grow, our plans and goals won’t either. Long-lasting lifestyle change requires an investment of your time and effort, as well as some patience. The road to achieving great things is much less intimidating when you break down the end result into smaller steps.

And absolutely nothing can compare to how you will feel when you finally make it to the place you wanted to be.

If this encourages you, share it with a Friend!

Sheri 

Simplicity: How Less Becomes More

One of the greatest freedoms I’ve come to experience is trading off the complicated for the simplistic. I’ve read that to the one who is given much, there will be much required. Living a life of simplicity became a pursuit for me to embrace that “less is more”.

My reasoning on this is that I can adopt the philosophy of Chickfila Restaurants. They do one thing, chicken, and they do it well! Sure they’ve added condiments and two ways to cook it and great lemonade and tea, and don’t forget the brownies. But they have focused on one task and have mastered it. It’s simple and delicious!

I’ve realized through this and other models that the times in my life when I get away or take a walk or escape in a great book, I am enjoying the beauty of simplicity.

By simplicity, I am not implying that everyone should downsize to a two room cabin and live off the land, although some of you would probably find that to be a cool idea.

For me, simplicity is managing my life. There is lots of freedom in: Letting people handle their business. Inviting and including family and friends and not holding the proverbial gun to their head if their plans aren’t an extension of mine.It’s packing light, in luggage and baggage. It’s having enough fluff in my schedule to be spontaneous if I choose to be. It’s having less for me to dust and more time to enjoy the things I love.

In my life personally as well as others, I have found a common link between having cluttered lives, disordered hearts and higher maintenance lives to be the enemy of creativity and motivation. I have also observed that it is a primary instigator in creating more stress.

I value time for fireside chats, walks, catching sunsets, reading, and a host of other activities that require no carry on bags, except maybe a cup of tea or coffee. While every moment and every day cannot be filled with leisure, simple and often pleasures keep me balanced and having the ability to manage my routine.

Simple living has afforded me the extravagant pleasure of being intentional in the moment with the people I choose to invest my life in. I feel that I can afford the time to really listen and learn. I can sincerely rejoice or weep in the moments that are defining in the lives of others.

I have learned through my experience that the best time I spend each day is praying that God directs each decision and encounter I will face today. I feel better equipped to show up and get into the game. I am alerted to little moments of cool happenings that I may have otherwise overlooked.

What are the little whispers you hear as you allow quiet times to refresh you?

Sheri

6 Steps to Finding Contentment

 Contentment is the fundamental pursuit in each area of life. We want to get the house painted or our certification completed or the kids grown or something that we are convinced will enable us to finally be content. However, it is really a condition of our inner person. Sort of an at-peace-with-me feeling. It is also a foundation to enjoying life and being intentional in the moment. Can it be done? If so, how?

1 – Practice delaying gratification. Yes, you can do it. When you consider making a purchase, use patience and consider postponing the ones that are simply for convenience. If you end up purchasing the item later, it will be well thought out. If not, you’ll be happier to have saved the time and money. To the one whom much is given, much is required.

2 – Make a focused effort to remain inspired and to be inspiring. Spend 10+ minutes each day reading something from the Bible, an inspirational author, or area of interest. Spend some time several times each week journaling learning experiences you glean from what you read, personal encounters, a movie you watch or just what comes to mind while you are in the shower. You will be amazed at how you can gain such positive perspective from your quiet times. Invest in others by offering an encouraging word in the way of a note, text or call to them when they are working on a particular event or endeavor or are facing a personal trial.

3 – Unplug from the technology of life and plug in to the simpler paths. Change gears for half an hour each day by taking a walk or a bubble bath. Find a neat little hobby such as painting or woodworking that you can enjoy and de-stress from the working hours in your day. Write a blog — oh, I resemble that! — on something that you have learned in an effort to enlighten others.

4 – Get a mentor – be a mentor. Spend time with people you admire and learn about their lives and interests. They can be living instructional aids to learning how to do things in a different, possibly more efficient way. Find ways that you can share things or teach a class around what you have learned with others who will benefit from your time. Show appreciation for what you learn and for the opportunity to share. I especially enjoy spending time with young children and mature adults. The wealth of information and the creativity amuse and inspire me.

5 – Reach out and get to know a neighbor at home or work. Don’t worry, if you’re the new-bee you can still take the initiative. Every friend we have was once a stranger. Be observant in watching for common interests. Maybe you both have kids the same age, have dogs to walk, or at work, someone who goes to lunch at the same time as you.

6 – Finally, and this is not an exhaustive list, practice learning to be a great listener. By doing so, you will learn the true art of emotional intelligence and the high quality of “likeability”. When you work to listen to others at deeper levels, you communicate to them that you place high value on them and the time they spend with you. You will also learn how to take the focus off of your own issues and personal challenges and be an encourager to others. This goes a long way in developing strong friendships. And, when you build relational capital by listening, you may very well find that you have a great friend and listening ear in place when you are in need of sharing your heart.

Practice these steps on a regular basis for 30 days and judge for yourself if you don’t have a life that can be defined as being more content. And the good news is that if you are around people who are discontent, you may be the one to influence them to a more positive stance.

The one you encourage today, may be YOU!

Sheri