Archive | December 2014

Make 2015 Your BEST Year Yet (part 1)

Do you love beginnings? I do!! I relish the start of each school year, dreaming of my new students and the magic we will create. Not surprisingly, I do the same with each new calendar year. I adore Christmas, but I also adore clearing all the Christmas decor, stashing it away until next year. I love the cold, crisp mornings readymade for quiet introspection. I enjoy making resolutions. Yes, I’m one of those people!!

Here are some ideas for us this year:

1. Make a resolution. Or don’t. Or make several.

No one knows you and your life better than you, so do not allow this post, an article, or segment on GMA dictate what your life should look like.

Some are choosing one word for the upcoming year. Hope, Health, Courage….Love the idea, but it doesn’t work for me at this time.

It might be that you choose one passage of scripture to memorize and live out for the year. I rather love that idea. I’m sure of one resolution: practicing gratitude instead of complaining. I mentioned this in a previous post. This is something that has been on my radar for years! Oh my, it’s difficult, but it’s important for my health-my mental, spiritual, and physical health. As I’m learning to truly embrace this, I must surround myself with like-minded people and people who will hold me accountable if I spiral off into a full blown rant. And I’m clinging to two passages:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV), “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Phillipians 2:14-16 (NIV), “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

2. Say no. I KNOW your life is filled with endless obligations. I challenge you to find at least one thing you can say NO to in order to make your life a little nicer. For now, I’m saying no to chopping veggies. I know it sounds silly, but buying bagged salads and bagged veggies is a time saver and little blessing for me at this time. For now, the extra cost is worth it. For now, I’m saying no to joining a book club. I long to do it, but I know my limitations. Realistically, I can’t squeeze it in. I will do it later. I know those are two silly examples, but they are very real decisions I made, based on my life at the moment. A bigger NO is my refusal to stress out and make an idiot of myself over things I cannot control. I have a dear, dear friend who has suffered from myriad health problems and hospitalizations. One of her issues is diabetes. I’ve noticed she indulges in quite a few poor dietary choices. Hmmm. Well, I’ve taken her to task, offered advice, shamed her. I know… Nice friend, huh? Truthfully, it all came from my love, concern, and fear. Thankfully, she knows my heart and loves me. And thankfully, I’ve realized her battles are not mine. I cannot control her diet or her choices. I’ve tried-and failed miserably. I almost ruined our friendship. Deep sigh. So, I stopped. I still cringe at times, but I don’t say a word. I am saying no to destroying our relationship and I’m praying for the Lord to have mercy and help her change. What can YOU say no to at this particular moment in time?

3. Say yes. Say yes to something you’ve wanted, whether it’s trying that scary looking sushi, accepting that date, taking a night class, or taking a solo road trip. My YES is to accepting sincere offers of help. It took me YEARS to finally accept help from others. I thought I had to be perfect, to have everything under control. Oh my, WHAT was I thinking?!?! It was my mom’s heart attack in the last month of a school year several years ago that finally broke me. I really feared we’d lose her. I was packing up my room for the summer, making substitute plans, posting grades, getting end of the year gifts ready, reading up on cardiac diets, spending days at the hospital….I needed help. Ordinarily, I would’ve turned it all down but a very sweet, persistent friend wore my down. And I bless her to this day for teaching me that we need each other and it’s okay, in fact it’s HIS plan.

You know what you secretly long-and fear-to say a resounding YES to. Take a deep breath and say yes.

More next time! Be blessed!

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Don’t Forget a Single Blessing! (Part 2)

You’ve opened the gifts, enjoyed the meal, and you may be bargain shopping, returning unwanted gifts, or contemplating taking down the tree. Whatever your day’s agenda, let’s not forget to bless our Father.

“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)

Blessing God, thanking Him for the many, many blessings in our lives will only improve your life, your health, your relationships. It’s certainly done that-and more-for me.

5. Control your thought life.

Oh. My. Gosh. This may be the most important step of all. Have you read Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind or Battlefield of the Mind devotional? If not, RUN to your bookstore or online site and get both! (See below to order her book.)

As I wrapped up the semester at school I was faced with a challenge. Giving assessments, posting grades, hosting parties, attending meetings …. It never fails that teachers are exhausted at the end of the term. BUT I also had to pack and move into a new classroom. Please understand, I adored my old classroom. I had tons of storage and I’d been quite happy there for about a decade. I loved my “neighbors” in the hall. And I was tired. It would’ve been easy to be upset, to whine and complain endlessly. Although I briefly indulged a time or two, I realized how important it was to NOT go there. I didn’t allow myself to whine about the move because (and this is key) I could not change things. Sooooo, every time I felt tempted to whine, I focused on the good stuff. I would have a NEW classroom. (A new wing had just been built.) I would be with my grade level team for the first time. I would have a view. It allowed me to clean, trash, and donate. As I write, I’ve packed and moved a few things in. The district has extra people helping our precious custodians clean, wax floors, and move our furniture and heaviest boxes. The move is still hanging over my head. I’ll move in New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day–and I’m okay with that. (The old Julie would NOT be okay with it. In fact, she’d gripe about it and ruin her Christmas!) Lesson learned: if you cannot change things, change the way you think about those things.

6. Some people don’t like you. Make your peace with that.

Joyce Meyer says, “Statistics say that 10% of all people won’t like us, so let’s enjoy the 90% who do and stop worrying about the 10% who don’t!” Easier said than done, but I’m getting there. I am done working my tail off to gain the approval of a few and ignoring the precious people God has blessed me with. Again, it boils down to your thought life. Focus on what you DO have instead of what you don’t have. Happiness follows.

7. Give!

What greater joy is there than that giving brings? Whether it’s a hug, smile, a gift of cash, or simply listening–give, and give often.

Have a bLeSsEd 2015!

To order Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/battlefield-of-the-mind-joyce-meyer/1100216246?ean=9780446691093
To learn more about Young Living Oils: https://www.youngliving.org/julielclarke

Merry CHRISTmas!

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Christmas Eve…it’s still dark and so very quiet right now. I’m pondering all that His birth-and death-mean. I don’t expect to ever fully grasp this amazing, life changing gift this side of heaven. All I know is I’m thankful. I’m so thankful for the gift of Jesus. My prayer is that I purposefully, continually seek His face and allow His glory to shine bright and call out to those around me. I want everyone to know my Savior and King.

Merry CHRISTmas! May we draw nearer to him this season.

Don’t Forget a Single Blessing! (Part 1)

“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)

I’m sure you’ve read that practicing gratitude improves our lives. Why not make this a resolution for 2015? Ready, set, GO!

1. Start small.

Blessings come in tiny and huge packages. The key is to actively seek AND thank Him for the myriad blessings He showers on us.

There’s a traffic light on my route that was installed a few years ago. It makes one of my weekly errands so much easier. I’m STILL thankful every single time I go through that intersection. Every. Time.

I’m thankful for everything–from coffee in bed, fluffy cumulus clouds, the laughter of children, and finding a dollar on my walk to hearing “no cancer” when I found a lump in my breast last summer and having a dear friend accept Jesus as her very own Savior. Some people tease me, calling me a Pollyanna, but it’s this deliberate CHOOSING gratitude (choosing joy) that has changed me. It has made my extremely demanding job, the sometimes daily migraines, the scary month with the lump all okay. The thing is-I’m okay because my God is in charge and He loves me.

2. Choose “your people” wisely.

My husband is a wonderful man, but there’s one political issue that gets him going and can turn him into Negative Ned. I finally just told him how hearing about this every time he heard or read a news report was really bringing me down. It took a few times, but now he stops himself. Bonus: he’s avoiding those discussions with others and is more aware of which people and which topics can turn his thoughts and attitudes the wrong way.

I have a sweet coworker who can be incredibly negative. Obviously, this can make me negative if I’m around her too much. What to do? Maybe your spouse or parent or friend is negative. Ugh. Limit your time with them when they’re complaining. Pray for them. If you can, visit with them about how you are trying to stay more positive and how you’d love their help. If they notice the conversation turning to whining they can help you stop and switch directions (and attitudes). Maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a little more aware of their words. More likely than not, you’re going to have to control and limit contact. Some people aren’t going to change or help you keep things positive. If I have to be around someone I know will bring me down, I “pray up” before seeing them and get away from them as soon as possible.

Cultivate relationships with happy, positive, grateful people. You will become what you think about and surround yourself with.

3. Express gratitude to others.

My husband brings me coffee in bed every morning. And every morning I thank him. We thank each other for cooking dinner, washing dishes, checking the mail, taking out the trash. And we mean it! I also make it a habit to thank my students, my coworkers, and my bosses.

My school district offers a little award to employees who go above and beyond. Well, I think all of my coworkers go above and beyond! Every year, I take the time to nominate a dozen or more coworkers. From time to time, I text, email, or write a note to my husband and dearest friends, reminding them of how very important they are to me and why. Look for little ways to express appreciation to family, friends, and coworkers. (Hint: If I don’t have time to write a note or fill out the nomination form, I put it on my calendar.)

I’m pretty verbal, so words matter to me and I express appreciation through written and spoken words, but I have friends who express it differently-through cooking a meal, baking cookies, or running an errand. Discover how you like to give and receive gratitude. And discover how those dearest to you enjoy hearing or seeing or reading your gratitude. Words don’t mean as much to my hubby, but actions and attention do. He feels appreciated when I put my phone down and really listen to him, when I cook, when I do dishes when I run errands with him.

4. Be a good steward.

That lump last summer was scary. I’m choosing to view it as a reminder to take better care of my health. I’m choosing more and more good foods, walking more frequently, going to bed earlier.

It’s so important that we take care of what we have (children, spouses, health, friends, money, jobs, and so on). Be a good parent, spouse, friend, and employee. Don’t take your family or income for granted. Be good to those people in your life. Be an excellent employee. Spend, save, and give wisely.

Part 2 Coming Soon. Be blessed–and be grateful!