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I am going to be completely transparent here. I feel like Paul in scripture (Romans 7:14-25). I considered just quoting what he said, but he uses such language that I find myself getting lost in the verbiage and missing the meaning if I am not careful. Therefore, I read it again and again and decided to paraphrase. These are my words:

I know what I ought to do and what I ought not to do. But rather than doing the thing I know I ought to do, I do the thing I know I ought not to do, that is to sin. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do not is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not what to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not what to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members [or parts of my body].

The point of it all? I know what I should do – what is good and right and best. I know how to please the Lord with my actions, words, and deeds. God has blessed me with a lot of wisdom, but I feel like Solomon from scripture here. Solomon had so much wisdom and yet made mistake after mistake and it ruined him and his empire. I feel like I have a choice: to do what I ought to do, the things I know are best – the things that please the Lord and the things we are called to do in scripture. OR I can choose to let it go and just let things be as they are, just give up, basically.

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I must extend myself grace, as the Lord extends me grace. I must recognize that I am imperfect and always will be. But I hold myself to such ambitious standards – standards I could possibly never reach – and I expect these things from myself and extend no grace when I fail. I beat myself up and feel guilty. Sometimes this causes me to feel sleepy, because I just feel so emotionally awful inside, so I give in and sleep my life away.

What I am trying to say is I have a lot of good advice to give but:

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I think, I feel, but I do not do. I refuse to find myself to be a hypocrite. I will not express to my readers all this great advice and follow none of it myself. I will hold myself accountable for who I truly am.

I was once in a meeting where they asked us to come up with a purpose and mission statement, and recently I was instructed to come up with a chief aim (something I cannot explain very well).

My Purpose is, “To Live for God, making the most of each moment, loving and serving others as I go.”

My mission statement goes like this:

“I genuinely give life all I have and all I am.
I care deeply and intensely about each individual in my path.
I lead by example and am an example worth following.”

My chief aim is still a work in progress. It is supposed to be a short snippet that sums up the direction you want to go in life, or something like that -it is like your purpose summed up. So far, I have, “I live my life for God, serving him fearlessly in every area of my life.”  But I feel like that is too much like my purpose.

Then we were instructed to come up with how we were going to LIVE OUT our mission statement. Here is what I said:

I commit to life and individuals by doing the following:

I continually and completely Love God with all my heart, body, soul, mind, and strength, with enthusiasm and unfailing devotion.

I completely invest in my relationships and the direction they are going now.

I LOVE fully, deeply, with passion and emotional intelligence.

I am committed to enjoying life-altering relationships.

I push myself further beyond what I believe to be my “best self” every day and have integrity in this process.

Everybody fails. Everybody falters. But failing does not a failure make. Fail forward – which simply means to learn from your mistakes. Failure and mistakes make us fixer-uppers. (See this blog post: “Failure or Fixer-Upper”) Am I an example worth following? I do not know what others would say about me, but I feel like I do try to be such and my effort counts for something.

I will follow my purpose, mission statement, and chief aim to the best of my ability. I will be better today than I was yesterday and better tomorrow than I was today. I will grow and change every day for the better. This I commit to do consistently, but I also commit to extend myself grace and love to the extent that I know my Lord does.

So, in my transparency I say to you: Be your best. Do your best. But extend yourself grace. When you fall, get back up, dust off and hit it again, and again, and again.

There is a time and place for stopping something for various good reasons but when you find yourself making excuses for why you cannot do something that is a warning sign that you are giving up. At this point you must make a choice to let it go and give it up, or keep pushing on. There is a time and place for both.

I choose to hit it again and again until I am perfect, but extend myself grace. May you find it within yourself to do the same.

God bless you today and always.

Super Momma Maggie

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I am someone who journals – not religiously but I do journal somewhat often. And I fantasize that someday someone will read about my life and it will matter to someone all the things I have been through and how they shaped me. I journal not just for my own expressions of feelings, but also to leave something of myself behind.

My nieces lost their mother when they were quite young. Lately the older girls have been reading her journals and finding some comfort in knowing how she felt about things, how she thought, and what she dealt with.

I was considering everything I have written on my blog in the past week meanwhile listening to music. I came across a song called “Blank Pages.” I didn’t like the song’s lyrics, but the name really made me think as I am a somewhat over-analytical person.

My first thought was of all the blank pages of a journal that death leaves behind.

My sister journaled, but is journaling no longer. She is in Heaven living a different life – a life I can barely fathom. She has left behind blank pages in her journal and they will remain blank forever, never to be filled with the ink of her pen, her handwriting, or her thoughts and feelings.

This is something I must choose how to react to. Do I wallow in the fact that, until death, I will never sing with her again (something we did often), talk with her again or hear her words of love and wisdom? Or do I push through and recognize the positive – and yes, there is a silver lining here.

I choose the silver lining… Mary is gone but her girls – her four beautiful, amazingly unique girls – are alive and I praise God for them daily. Not only that, but she left behind a legacy of compassion and love. People came to her memorial and said what a positive impact she had on their lives. That was Mary. She was authentic – truly genuine – and knew how to be real, but with love; sometimes when I didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

Which leads me to wonder what legacy – aside from family and memories – am I leaving behind. How will people think of me when I am gone? And what I wonder more is how did I make them feel when I was alive? Did they feel the love of Jesus flow through me to them? Did they feel the compassion I feel for their hurts and struggles? What did they feel?

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But I digress…

I wanted to note here that the blank pages of a journal – the moments that were never lived and never will be lived – are hard, sad, and sometimes peace is elusive. I want to encourage you with words that may or may not be encouraging to you but they encourage me. God does have a plan – in life and in death—, and all things do (eventually) work out for good for those who love the Lord. I cannot explain why people die “before their time” but I can say that God knew their last day on the day they were born and God works through it all. For more information on my thoughts on this read “The Backside of Life.”

As a person with Bi-polar disorder, sometimes I struggle to monitor my moods. My medications help, but I still feel things, which is not an awful thing. But sometimes I struggle to find that peace and joy that is promised in scripture. (I will write more about my bi-polar and this later; perhaps in my next blog.)

I want to end on a high note – as they say. I want you to know that help and hope can be found in the Lord. We find him when we seek Him with all our heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. (James 4:7-8a)) And remember what I posted in Life is Worth Living, Philippians 4:4-9 which I will highlight here by saying peace is found by giving it to God. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7). I could go on. The Bible calls God our “Father” for a reason. And not just “Father” but “ABBA Father” which is more easily seen as “my Father.” (see this interesting article). We can be as near or far from God as we choose, but he is never any farther than a prayer away.

God bless you and yours today and always.

Super Momma Maggie

(I don’t know if my brother Dennis did any journaling, so I’m not sure what he left behind besides memories and material items. Of course, the memories cannot have a monetary value put on them, and I am grateful for every good memory I have with him).

Photo of quote above was unedited and found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dearbarbz365/3342471327.

 

As someone who struggles with depression, I have also struggled with finding a reason to live. Life gives us so many reasons to desire death: struggles, hurts, suffering of so many kinds. I see them as things that make me long for heaven. There was a time when my hardships made me want to die so badly that I did try to kill myself… and failed. And not just once. This led me to wonder, what am I living for? Why won’t God let me die or take me? What makes life worth living?

When I had my first child, she gave me a reason to live—to care for her.  But there were days when that wasn’t enough to keep me from longing for heaven. Then my sister died and left behind four beautiful girls and a husband who loved her. And I should mention, I was about 6 months pregnant when she died. This experience floored me emotionally and psychologically. At the time, I was not properly medicated for my bi-polar disorder and anxiety, and it was all I could do to hold it together. Having a life growing inside of me kept me alive, because if I killed myself I killed her, too.

When the baby was born – my second daughter – we named her Serenity Elizabeth Joy (Serenity because, at the time, she was serene, Elizabeth after my sister, Mary Elizabeth, and Joy because we knew she would just bring the world joy (plus it sounded great with the other names, I admit.) At 18 months old, my dearest Serenity E. J. became the strong-willed, energetic, outgoing, and defiant child that she is today. I love that girl with every ounce of my being AND she is one of my greatest challenges. She tests my patience, tries my resolve, and consistently checks on my own consistency.

I must admit, there were days I have wondered, “Why me?” I would pray and ask the Lord, “Why did you give me this child who I find to be such a challenge??” I prayed this prayer for nine years until one day it hit me like a slap in the face. I am the only woman who could possible parent this child. That is not to say that if I did die in some accident God couldn’t raise up another person to care for her. In Esther 4:14 Mordecai tells Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” This tells me that if I killed myself God could raise up another to care for her, but I believe she was given to me for a reason.

Scripture says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

I was placed here to do the works that God has prepared in advance for me to do.

And I am just now discovering what those “works” are. Being a wife, raising my children, homeschooling my children, writing the books that God has placed upon my heart, blogging to hopefully share some bit of wisdom that might help others, and (perhaps) I will go to massage therapy school to help others not only feel better but also get better.

All this and still there have been hardships. A week ago, I found out that my brother, Dennis, died tragically. He was very young – only 49. He had just had his birthday in May. I love all my siblings. Even so, for some reason, Dennis and I had some kind of special connection. There was a running family joke that we were twins separated at conception. He had a different mom who (as I mentioned in a previous blog) had died when he was young. Though Dennis and I had our struggles in our relationship, I always loved him deeply. If I were not properly medicated right now, I am not certain how I would have handled his death.

(I cannot stress enough how important it is to get help if you struggle with something – anxiety, depression, bi-polar, or just general inexpiable sadness. Doctors can help, and finding the right kind of help can mean the difference between life and suicide for many people. If you google how many people kill themselves each year you may find yourself feeling like perhaps you should reach out more. But I digress…)

I have realized though that if I wait for the perfect moment where everything is right in the world and thinking at that time I can live happily, perhaps then I will never truly live my life. I have found myself sleeping through the rough days sometimes – asking my amazing MIL to keep the kids. Or sometimes I have found myself floating – you know, just going through the motions but never really feeling any joy or happiness, sometimes feeling nothing at all.

This leads me to thinking how do I go about my life living it and not floating or sleeping through it? How do I experience life, allowing those experiences to shape me but not define me?  How do I live my life with happiness and experience the joy of the Lord on a regular basis?

The answer is so simple and yet so challenging for me to live out. The hardest part for me is that I have known it for years, believed it with all my heart, but struggle to feel it in my heart.

Philippians 4:4-9 says (my emphasis added):

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(And this next part is the HOW I live my life with happiness and experience the joy of the Lord on a regular basis.)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thingsWhatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

That sums it all up in a pretty little package. Just read it again and DO IT. Then read it again, if you need to, and make a decision to do it. Make a decision to “think about such things,” to pray to the Lord asking for help, thanking Him for the good stuff and the bad stuff, and accept the peace that He extends to you.

The Friday, after finding out my brother was gone, I had a rough day. I was wallowing in my sorrows and feeling sorry for myself. I have that right in this situation, but it was affecting my parenting, how I was treating others, and how I felt about myself. I listened to a song (the lyrics aren’t perfect but the premise is good) and it made me realize I had to shake the devil off and LIVE MY LIFE.

So, I commit here and now before the friends and strangers that read my blog, that I will continually do my best to be my best self and I will live my life – truly live. Mary and Dennis are gone but not forgotten. They can no longer live, but I can and I must. I must make my life worth living by choice.

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Sincerely from the heart,

Super Momma Maggie

(I plan to begin posting more on my other blog. It will be about my past life experiences that have made me who I am. If you are interested, check out www.maggieaspoon.com. And if you enjoyed this blog please like and share. Thanks!)

 

I recently wrote about cherishing life. In my last post I ended with:

“What I am saying is simply to cherish life as if each moment is special and unique, because it is.”

This hit me hard. I have realized I haven’t done that. I haven’t lived like I cherish life. I haven’t lived each moment as if I know the brevity of life – but I do. I do know how short life is. With a sister dying at age 30 and a brother dying at age 49, I know life can be short.

However, I have lived my life as though it were a burden.

Not that my children are the the burden, or my husband, but rather Life itself. Life, for me, has been filled with so much struggle, pain and strife and enough death that I must admit it is something I’m not sure I want anymore.

I am not saying I want to kill myself.

What I am saying is I feel fed up with the struggles of life. I want life to be easy. My life has never been easy, but I know it could have been harder. (I cannot imagine how people life a happy life when they have been through even more than I have.)

For me, happiness is fleeting and joy is illusive. But I refuse to make that the state of my being permanently. And wha ti smore is that I refuse to give up!

I have a friend – a very dear friend – who confessed to me how unhappy he was with life. He compared himself to someone who lives their life thinking only of themselves – not because they are selfish or uncaring – but because they are indifferent. He said he feels “satisfied” with life, but not happy.

I don’t want to live my life like my friend – or like my brother, Dennis, who seemed to never overcome any struggle that came his way. His struggles stacked up like garbage similar to the the poem below. “Sarah Cynthia  Silvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out” but Shel Silverstein.

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Notice the end. When Sarah decided to take the garbage out it was too late and she met an awful fate.

I suppose this blog – part two – is about not just cherishing life, but living life. Truly LIVING LIFE. I have another friend who happened to leave the fellowship of believers to become an atheist for many reasons but one seemed to be that he felt like God himself was a burden and that we only needed saving because God condemned us, if He even existed at all. (This is a subject for another blog.)

I could go on forever about the subject of God but all I will say here is that it is not God who is the burden, but rather my response to what happens in life. The loss of my brother, for example, has given me a choice to give up on life or keep living and make sure I actually live my life not just survive it. But I digress.

Again it is 1 a.m. and I am blogging. This turned out long. I hope you read to the end.

Let me end by saying what I believe living life looks like:

Taking pictures (because someday that is the only image you will have of someone), making memories, always doing your best to be your best and giving yourself and others grace and love.

This is the quintessence of life: to live a life where you are your best self, not to please people but rather because, aside from religious reasons, it is logically the best thing to do.

Life is easier when I am my best.

And with that I bid you good day, as I have scheduled this to post tomorrow.

Super Momma Maggie

(To Read Cherish Life Pt 1. click on this link: Cherish Life Pt. 1)

 

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I love the song sang by  a music group called Acappella, “Friends are Friend forever.”  I doubt it was written by them, but I love the A Capella version.  It is so beautiful.  The general message of the song is that Friends are Friends Forever “if the Lord is the Lord of them.”  Such a sweet thought.  But shouldn’t we make the most of our friendships while on earth as well?

I have so many FB friends…. how much do each of them really mean to me?  Do I call you?  Do we chat on a semi-regular basis aside from the sharing of posts back and forth?  Do I do more than just read your page every once in a while?  Or do I just read the news feed and see your post… or not?  When was the last time we at least shared a personal message thread?

I believe friends can be friends forever, and I also believe that what we do NOW counts.  We can allow relationships to deteriorate and fall apart.  Or we can work at them and enjoy them as they flourish into intimate relationships.

Today I found out that a friend of mine recently died suddenly due to unknown causes.  I cried for three reasons when I found out.  One because the lovely lady, Wendy, has gone on to Heaven to be with the Lord and sadly left behind many friends, loved ones and a husband and children.  I cried because I too have lost my sister who sadly left behind her four children and loving husband and I know what that loss is like — what it is like to lose someone you love.  And I have seen how it has effected my dear, sweet nieces who loved their mother very much.

And I also cried because I had let her go a long time ago.  When was the last time I SPOKE to Wendy?  I mean really spoke?  We were friends at camp when I was 15 or so.  She was a joy to be around but I never really tried to get as close to her as I could have.  We did not share an intimate relationship.  I would call her a friend, not an acquaintance, but we could have been closer if only I had put in the effort.

So with all the social media that begs the question, what about people who have more than 300 “friends” on Facebook?  I know I have exactly 418.  I have “cleaned out” my Facebook before, deleting people who I knew only by mutual friend and we’ve never actually communicated.  Some of them I had never even gone to their wall to see what was up.  Those are “FB acquaintances” and IMHO perhaps they should be deleted.  But my mother calls her FB a ministry…  She prays for her FB friends and hopes that her communication with them, even if it is only through them browsing HER wall from time to time, might bring them to God or draw them closer to Him.  So should we keep every FB “friend?”  I leave that judgement up to you.

Wendy will always be in my heart and I look forward to spending Eternity with her singing (she had an amazing voice), laughing and loving each other.  But somewhere inside I know that on this earth I could have done better.  I could have done better. I didn’t.  I never called.  Goodness I didn’t even have her phone number for the past several years.  I only saw her at camp when I visited and that has been several years.  So really we just had a Facebook relationship at this point.  To me that is letting her down…. letting our relationship deteriorate because of MY lack of effort.

Friends are friends forever, but only if we make it that way.  We can let friends drift away from us.  It starts slowly, creeps in.  Less seeing each other, less talking on the phone or in person.  Then one day you may realize you haven’t gotten together in a while and perhaps you do, or perhaps don’t.  Sometimes all it takes is a move to a far away place, say from Texas to Oregon (or the other way around, both of which I have done).  I have people in Oregon that I still call friends and whom I enjoy watching their life on FB, but I haven’t spoken to them, even in a personal message, in a long, long time.  I am letting those relationships deteriorate from a more intimate relationship to more of an acquaintance… or perhaps them not even counting me as a friend at all.

I must put an aside her about acquaintances.  There is something to be said for having them.  There are several different kinds of relationships and not every relationship has to be super intimate.  My MIL has acquaintances everywhere she goes, or perhaps some of them could be called friends.  She knows the names of the workers at the places she frequents.  She calls them by name and even knows some details about their life, such as their mother’s failing health, and from time-to-time may ask them about it.  Are these relationships meaningless or pointless?  Should we eliminate all contact from people (on FB or otherwise) who aren’t intimate friends?  That is not what I am saying here.  I am simply making the point that you get out of something what you put into it.  My MIL has worked at these relationships, starting with learning their name by face, not by name tag.  The relationship can progress into something more, or not, but either way these relationships mean something.  I have noticed that if I just remember someone’s name, call them by name and say “Hi,” and ask them how they are doing it brightens their day.  …For a moment or perhaps the feeling lasts all day but isn’t that “Hi” worth the effort?

My whole point as I write at 4:30 in the morning is this: Work at a relationship when it matters to you and don’t let friends slip out of your hands.  You never know when tragedy will hit.  Not to be depressing or anything, but death comes to our door often without notice.  When it knocks, who knows how many people will regret not calling, writing, or reaching out to that friend.  Make not that mistake.  Avoid regrets in your relationships — this goes for all relationships.  Reach out to those you care about and to those you love and let them know you care.  IF you have like 300 FB friends, consider either “weeding them out” and/or contacting one a day and just expressing your feelings for them.  One a day is 365 people a year.

Lastly, if you have lost someone and you know you didn’t reach out to them as you should have, forgive yourself.  While I regret not being closer to Wendy like I would have enjoyed, I will not spend my time regretting it.  I will spend my memories of her with gratitude that I knew her at all, ever, and that she counted me among her friends.  May she rest in peace and may her friends and loved ones find a little peace and comfort today and every day until they meet her again.

God bless you as you build your relationships.  May they be everlasting and may you cherish them always.

Supera Matris
~Maggie

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I share my life with the big wide world; my life as a mom, a wife and a Christian. I work to have original content that is deeper than you might expect but still enjoyable to read.

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