Our Own Reflection

Many moms can become lonely. Friendships can be hard to keep up when your families’ needs come first. It is a wise woman who knows this. Yet even though we may know that sometimes our wishes and desires have to be put off, that doesn’t mean we feel any less lonely at times. It doesn’t mean that our hearts don’t yearn for some good girlfriends who can understand our soul.

Just as our children need good friends in their lives to walk alongside them, encourage them, and be strong for them during those times when they aren’t feeling so strong – so also, do we as adult women need this in our lives. In fact, just when we may need this the most (when we become mothers) is when it becomes the toughest to cultivate.

So, what do we do? What do you do when you feel like there is no extra time in the day to get together with another woman for lunch? What do you do if you are having a hard time making friends who you feel truly care about you and your family? What do you do when you feel really lonely for women friendships?

I have been on both ends of this spectrum. I’ve been thankful – most of my life – to have been able to easily make and keep friends wherever I’ve lived. I always thrived with girlfriends in my life to help teach me things about myself, to encourage me, and to just be a sounding board at times. Yet, I also hit what I call a “desert” period in my life with friendships. I’ve had close friends leave my life and holes have been left that created quite a deep loneliness in my heart. It was a new feeling for me.

As lonely as this time has been, God taught me some special truths through it that I wouldn’t have learned had I been filling my heart and mind with only the words from the mouths of friends. Instead, I was forced to go straight to the mouth of God for what He thought of me, what He wanted of me, and how He would help me. I learned that it is good to have no one to depend on at times other than my Lord. For so often we can let others fill His shoes in our life when that is not their place. And oftentimes we can lose a little bit of what makes us unique if we are in the company of women who are stronger, or more verbal than we are. But with God – all He shows us is our own reflection. It may not be one we want to see at times, or it may be just exactly what we need to see to encourage us to move onward. But it is pure, it is authentic, and it is full of love for us and our future.

Nothing can ever take the place of earthly friendships. As women, we are social beings and we were created that way on purpose. God knows we need friends. But if you find yourself in-between friendships, or maybe in a position where you’ve been praying for years for sweet, Godly friends to enter into your life – then be encouraged. I believe they will come for each one of us in God’s perfect timing. Until then, know that you have the best friend of all who is right there beside you. He wants you to unload your daily heartaches and burdens on His shoulders, share your dreams and hurts, ask Him His thoughts and perspective, and He wants to be able to encourage you and show you just how beautiful and lovely you truly are. He wants to show you what HE sees in you so that you can blossom as a woman.

You can have a very special friendship with Him that will help hold you together until those women come. And you will find that even when they do, God will be the first person that you turn to with all those thoughts and feelings that you’d normally run to a girlfriend with. She’ll still be there to hear them – but they will be filtered with the wisdom, grace, love, and devotion of your Heavenly Father. The best friend a woman could ever have.

 

 

~ Dionna Sanchez

http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com

Nip It!

They were the prefect baby shower favors.

I left happily clutching my little pots of rosemary and licorice basil; sweet {& tasty} reminders of the mommy-to-be’s blossoming belly and the promise of precious new life within.

Just two simple little sprigs sat in the small containers.

The rosemary I repotted in a cute little green planter on my deck.  Over the past  5 months, it has doubled in size.  Maybe.

The basil, however, I planted in the garden…and it has blown me away. A far cry from it’s meager beginning, it has taken full advantage of the ample space to grow and the nutrient-rich soil offered it by our accommodating vegetable garden, and has burst into the most fantastic display of greens and purples.

To say it is 100 times it’s original size would not be too lavish of an estimation.

Beside it sits my sage {on the right, below}, dwarfed by the shear enormity of it’s neighbor.

But there’s a problem in all this glamorous mega-growth.

You see, it needs to be pruned to be worth much as a basil plant.

Sure it’s pretty to look at, but the whole purpose of it’s placement in our garden was to provide a steady supply of lush basil leaves for our soups, sauces and salads…not just lavender-colored eye-candy.

I was diligent, in the beginning, about nipping the little blossoms off the tips of the deep purple stems as soon as they started to appear.  This practice redirects the nutrients from the {all-consuming task of} forming little florets back down to the leaves, allowing for fuller, more flavorful basil leaves.  And generally, a healthier plant.

But I had allowed distraction – with life, small children, and gleaning the more noticeable harvest from the garden {like tomatoes, zucchini and peppers} – to preoccupy my time, while my basil plant grew wild before my eyes.

Now when I want to add basil to something I’m cooking up in the kitchen, I have to cut 5 times as many sprigs to glean half of what I used to.

As I studied the plant from my deck the other day – a beautiful monstrosity of licorice-scented stalks – I was reminded how easily I get distracted in other areas of life and fail to “prune” my character.

I get stuck in the hamster-wheel of SuperMom pursuit and pretending to keep all the pretty balls up in the air, while failing to let the main thing be the main thing.

Think: basil leaves.

How easy it is to fall into the destructive habit of judging and criticizing, nit-picking and questioning those around us.  Especially as we navigate these turbulent, and sometimes scary, waters of motherhood.

We need each other desperately.  And yet we continue to allow small differences between us to tear down and destroy the common beauty we share – desiring to be the best mothers we can to our precious children.

I didn’t realize when I cut ties with the mommy mafia, just how relentless “their” pursuit of my heart would be.  It’s a constant decision to choose unity over comparison and conflict.

God is so faithful to nudge my heart.  To remind me to nip these attitudes in the bud.  And yet how easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of life – and the {seeming} instant gratification of pointing out someone else’s weakness in a feeble attempt to make ourselves feel better about our own inadequacies – and I neglect this essential “pruning” of my mind, my tongue, my heart.  I allow my energy and time – the necessary “nutrients” needed for survival – to fuel negativity, rather than “deadheading” it and diverting my {limited} resources to fresh growth: encouraging and uplifting those weary ones around me.

He nudges, yes.  But it is up to me to listen to that still, small voice… and to make the choice to pour myself into the building up of others.  The seeking out of the gold, rather than the pointing out of the dirt.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is in constant need of pruning.  While a lavish display of plumes may appear to be what the world demands from us, a steady supply of delicious, enhances-everything-you-put-it-in leaves are what I’m after and what blesses the heart of our Creator.

Here’s to basil…and the delicate art of pruning!

{Just nip it}

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Shot Down

Have you ever tried to lovingly give someone support and advice only to feel like every time you do you’re “shot down” cold? I’ve felt that way and it’s very frustrating.  Not that I think I always know it all or that they should take my advice, but just that it would be nice to have them acknowledge the fact that I’m listening to them, that I care, and I’m trying to help in some way.
 
I don’t think people even always realize that they don’t listen to others. I think they just don’t like to give the appearance that they are helpless or maybe they don’t want to tell themselves that someone else might know how to solve what is going on and they aren’t ready for that conclusion or answer. Sometimes maybe someone else doesn’t even have an answer – they just want to show that they care. Yet, the individual who is hurting or feeling frustrated doesn’t realize that they fail to accept that comfort when it is offered.
 
It can hurt. Trying to help others who are hurting can hurt when you feel like they just want to vent but when you reach open your arms they always turn away.
 
I haven’t figured out what to do when this happens. All I know is that the love that I felt in the first place has to count for something. And when I feel like someone closes their heart off to me, I go to the Lord and ask Him to help the love in my heart only increase. I don’t want to let bitterness or hurt feelings on my part overcome the good intentions and compassion that I had for the other person in the first place!
 
I think being “shot down” by someone whom you are genuinely trying to listen, understand, and support will always hurt. But if you can bandage yourself up and keep going – those wounds can turn into reminders of what can happen to hurts that are left unhealed. They fester. And sometimes hurting people hurt people. They strike out in order to protect themselves. Maybe they feel like they said too much and so they go on the defensive because they don’t want to appear vulnerable. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve been in the line of fire many times.
 
We all need to be heard. We all want others to understand our hurts and to care. We just need to be careful about seeking help and then withdrawing it just at the exact moment when help is being offered to us.
 
~ Dionna Sanchez is the Owner of the Emphasis On Moms Ministry at http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com

Freedom From Control

We think we control our schedules and our days. But we’re wrong. God controls them. He’s in charge of everything. Our coming and our going. He’s in control when we’re sick, when we’re out doing errands and even when something shifts in our day that we are unable to avoid. He’s in control of it all.

And today God spoke to my heart while I was whining in my head about it all. He reminded me that I’m not in control even though I pretend to be.

I guess it’s good for me to have to relinquish control. It makes me have to rely on someone other than myself. It makes me have to adapt and change my thoughts, my plans, and my intentions. And if I didn’t have to do that I might become very rigid in MY set ways instead of consulting God about it all. I might forget to let Him direct my paths instead of directing them myself.

I know that God is teaching me something and ultimately, it will be for my benefit. He’s a much better director than I could ever be so I need to trust in the pages He’s written out for me. It might take some extra adjustments getting my pride to bend and mold, but I know He’ll work on me till it’s done. And only then will I truly find the freedom I crave.

~ Dionna Sanchez is Founder of the EmphasisOnMoms.com Ministry

Girlfriends

The Grass is Always Greener

When my life is really hectic and busy, I long for quieter days where I can putz and roam at “will.” I dream of a day where I can delve into a project or have everything around the house caught up on, so that I can read for hours with my children or play game after game with them without worrying about the time.
 
But then when those slow days seem to come, it seems like I look around me and feel like everyone is doing something exciting in their life but me. I tend to feel like maybe I’m boring or maybe I should look into a new opportunity or activity in my life.
 
Have you ever felt that way? We tend to always want what we don’t have. Have you ever stopped to wonder why that is?
 
I think it’s because we don’t know how to be content with what we have and where God has placed us in our lives. We take our eyes off of the road He has placed us on, and we look at someone else’s road. We fail to take into consideration that that someone could be looking at our road and wishing for our set of circumstances as well!  We just carry this mentality with us of thinking that we need to be doing (or not doing) what the rest of the world is doing!
 
We trip ourselves up a lot with this way of thinking. I know there have been many times where I have wallowed in a little bit of self pity only to remember later on that I had asked for that certain situation or set of circumstances to come up! And when it did, I was only ungrateful.
 
The grass is always going to look greener on the other side of that fence if we continue to look at what everyone else has instead of looking at how much we have to be thankful for. When times are busy, we can be thankful for friends who invite us to activities, or healthy children who are well enough to participate in sports. And when they are slower, we can be thankful for those times to recharge, catch up around our homes, and spend extra time loving on each other.
 
I think it’s all in how we look at it.

~ Dionna Sanchez (http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com)

Letting Go of Bitterness

Ephesians 4:31

Get rid of all bitterness.

Bitterness is such a touchy subject. It’s not like you can feel free to point out to someone you love that they are showcasing a bitter heart. Because usually someone who has bitterness in their heart isn’t very open to hearing points of view that differ with theirs! It’s like they are caught in a web, yet content to stay there.

We’ve all dealt with bitterness in our hearts at one time or another. Some of us are blessed enough to have escaped the long-term effects a bitter heart can have on a person. Others aren’t so lucky. They still waddle in their hurt, pain, and in whatever they have lost. They may want to escape, but they don’t know how. It’s like in a strange way, the hurt has become a friend. At least it’s something they are familiar with! Breaking free from that – well, it can be uncomfortable!

I’ve had a bitter heart before. I may well tread near having one again – I hope not though. Do you know what I learned from having a bitter heart? Not much. I learned that it cost me, though. It cost me joy, time, and it cost me freedom. Freedom from what it was that made me bitter in the first place. The more you try to bury something that has hurt you so deeply, the deeper it entangles your heart. I learned that once you become bitter, it takes a long time – sometimes years to break free and heal from that. But healing is possible.

God commanded us to get rid of all bitterness. That’s a tough pill to swallow when your heart wants to hold on to it with every fiber of your being. Maybe you were really wronged. Maybe someone you loved was really wrong. You can’t go back – you can’t change what happened. Something or someone may be lost forever. It’s done. But all that bitterness will do is rob you and destroy you. It will rob those close to you as well because they will feel and sense the effects of your bitter heart. You can’t contain a bitter heart; it spills over into many areas of life.

I often think of the Amish. A few years ago some students were shot at an Amish school. Maybe you remember it? It was a horrible incident. But do you know what the Amish did? They forgave the gunman. And they did it fairly soon after the incident, if I remember correctly. I remember feeling astonished and amazed at the huge steps their hearts could take as they were burying their sweet sons and daughters. And I was humbled by it because I knew that they were demonstrating how God would want each of us to respond.

You see, ultimately, God is judge. It is up to Him to hold others accountable. It’s up to Him to punish, discipline, and forgive. So by us letting go of our bitterness, we are not necessarily saying that what someone did was okay, or even that they will get away with it. Because they will have to be accountable to God for what happened. And that should be good enough for us… that is if we truly trust God. Do you trust Him with your heart and your life?

No one ever said that letting go of bitterness would be easy. It’s not. It’s dang tough sometimes. All we want to do is hang onto it and what little pride we may feel that we have left. But we need to trust God; that He knows what He’s doing with our life. And we need to allow ourselves to break free from the deep wounds that life gives us. We may never forget – and that’s okay. What we go through in life is what makes us who we are. But we can embrace and hold close to our hearts what has happened to us without letting it destroy us. All bitterness ever does is destroy. It’s good to remember that before you find yourself in the throes of it. Be prepared to find the courage to let it go. Only then will your heart truly have the chance to heal and be free.

~ Dionna Sanchez

http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com/newsletter.htm

Previous Older Entries