Heart in the Clouds

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recommendations

I really like reading new blogs. I can get inspired when I read about the journeys of some of my friends...and also those of complete strangers. So these are some recommendations. Please read them and follow if you're interested. Also, please comment below about blogs you follow and why...I am always looking for more reading material. Thanks!

The first is from an amazing friend of mine whom I've known since I was probably 10 years old...she is a stay-at-home mom who is incredibly smart and has a beautiful and honest and humble outlook on life. I love her, but I'm biased. ;)
http://www.alittlelostandfound.blogspot.com/

Another is from another friend and fellow pastor's kid. He just started this anonymous blog and I'm encouraging him to keep it up. I have found blogging to be incredibly cathartic and I think he's going to find the same thing.
http://waywardwalkhome.blogspot.com/

My mom has a blog! She's a great writer and has a lot to say that many people will relate to! Check her out!
http://melindafish.blogspot.com/

The next one is a blog by my online friend, Beth, whom I hope to meet in person someday. She is the original inspiration for me beginning my own gratitude journey. She is deeply honest, and she words it all beautifully. The change I've seen in her life since her gratitudes began has been a complete 180.
The Kindness Project

Next is a beautiful photo blog by a girl named Kelle Hampton. Her blog is full of gorgeous photos of her life and her family, but I first started reading with this post...get Kleenexes if you plan to read it.
http://www.kellehampton.com/2010/01/nella-cordelia-birth-story.html

My friend, Kellie, has a fun blog about crafty things, cool thoughts and great photos. Check her out!
http://thoughtsunperfected.blogspot.com/

If you're into crafts and homemade gifts and such, check out "Crap I've Made." She makes some really great stuff. Enjoyable!
http://www.crapivemade.com/

The next one by another Sarah (awesomeness!) is a beautiful blog! Check out what she has to say in today's post and follow her!
http://www.sarahjoyalbrecht.com/2011/04/26/grandma-through-the-fence/

Last one...I love to ogle the photos and creativity of this chick. She is a sewing and designing genius and her creations are so great!
http://grosgrainfabulous.blogspot.com/


Monday, April 25, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #13

There are times where I'm faced with decisions and I have to make a choice of whether I will respond or react. If you've ever taken the Life Languages test, you know that a "Responder" (points to self) is passionate and quick to feel and act and speak without much forethought.

While I know that I resemble that remark (sigh), I also know that reacting isn't a mature way to handle things most of the time. So this time I'm trying to learn to respond, putting some forethought into what to say and not say, and also listening to my spirit and to what God wants to say.

When you feel hurt, it's easy to jump down other people's throats or snap at them or play the victim. I don't want to do that. It's immature and it's a sure sign that I'm not practicing what I preach. So I'm choosing to take situations more slowly and to think things through before I immediately snap to a decision on what to do.

I know that God is working on my heart. Forgiveness and compassion are in there somewhere and I know that God is helping me bring them to the surface. Sometimes, the way he chooses to do that is simply to offer me the grace when I'm enduring trials...accepting that grace is a choice, though. But I'm learning.

I was listening to "Music Machine," a CD of kids' songs I used to listen to when I was child. There's a song about peace, and how all that peace really is is holding Jesus' hand. It's easy to let go of His hand when I want to do what I want to do, but I don't want to let go this time.

Are my feelings hurt? Yes. But that will pass. The things I could say through the filter of hurt wouldn't pass as easily, though, and would do more damage than good. They would be easy to say, but impossible to take back. I am choosing instead to hold on to Jesus' hand as hard as I can.


Today, I'm grateful for...

Sunshine and warm breeze.

Lilacs under the family room window...the scent is amazing right now.

Rest. Although I haven't totally followed my "Do Nothing Day" rules today, I got a couple of things finished and I am now ready to relax for a while.

Inspiration.

My sons. Even though I sometimes take their presence for granted, they snap me to attention with their kisses and hugs and their little thoughtful words that they don't know have such an effect on my heart.

Flowers and trees and singing birds...winter felt interminable. But it's over.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #12

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

"The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." - Matthew 28:5-6

There isn't much of anything else I can say today other than to whisper words of thanks. This weekend of remembering Jesus' death and resurrection never ceases to give me a sense of awe and gratitude. I will never understand a love like the love God has for me, but I am supremely thankful that the eyes of my heart are open to see it.



Today, I'm grateful for...

Hope. No matter what happens, because of Jesus I have hope.

Simple things. The laughter of my children, a kiss on the cheek from my husband, a beautiful sunset (like the one last night), listening to my own heartbeat in the silence...

Perspective.

The newness of Spring. It reminds me that Winter doesn't actually last as long as I think it does...in both the physical and spiritual senses.

Weakness. The ability to admit your weaknesses to yourself (and to others, for that matter) is actually a sign of strength. It's the person who puts on a brave facade or pretends that their life is perfect who is truly weak.

Laughter. I'm grateful that there are people in my life who can make me laugh. Laughter is good for the soul. :)

Joy in the journey. It's something I'm learning. I've never really been a "joy is in the journey" type of person. I've always been impatient to get where I'm going, and to get started on what I consider living. However, I've been learning that the majority of life is actually the journey and the waiting. If you can't be thankful and joyful in the waiting, you are going to miss out on most of your life. Existing from event to event is no way to live.

I hope you grasp the full meaning of Easter and that you catch hold of the hope that it represents. It wasn't just a one-time event...Yes, it happened in a few days' span of time, but the truth of this time of remembrance is that it is an eternal event, and the ripple effect will continue until the end of time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #11

I’m checking in! Here I am! *waving* I haven’t gone anywhere, except maybe in my head.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways my attitude has affected my circumstances in the past, both for the better and for the worse. A lot of instances come to mind when I think about how it has had such an effect on the course of my life, influencing my decisions and opening or closing doors. Ultimately, I know that God is always working in my life, but I am also well aware that my attitude determines a lot more than I give it credit for.

I’ve seen it in people I know, as well. I have seen some who choose to have a terrible attitude about life and about other people, and have ended up losing much of what they care about because of it. I’ve also seen the flip side - all the good that can come to a person because of the blessing of positivity.

A positive attitude can affect change in your life. It can soften the hearts of hard-hearted people around you. It can open doors. It can be a beacon to those in your life who feel like they are in despair. Something about a positive person makes other people feel at peace, like everything is going to be okay.

Having a good attitude all the time is REALLY hard…next to impossible, really. *points to self* Still working on it…

Negative people are inwardly-focused. It’s all about them. They are often most comfortable playing the victim in all of their relationships as a means of controlling others. It’s always everyone else’s fault. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…negative people are often in denial that they are the common denominator in all their failed relationships.

I desperately don’t want that to be me. I know myself, though. I have a really bad negativity habit that God has been gradually working on. I’d love to see it gone for good. It’s got to be gradual, though, because I think God wants me to see the little victories He brings about by the lessons I’m learning. Even in regards to something as simple as an attitude adjustment. I will likely never see the end of this “work in progress” in my lifetime. But HE began the work and HE has the blueprint in mind.

I think life is a series of surrenders…We can choose to surrender to God and remain open to Him, whether He does what we think He should do or not. Or we can be enslaved by our own negativity and fear, and surrender to a victim mentality. Sometimes all you can do in a situation is surrender. Letting go of what could be, even some good things, can leave us open for the best that God has for us. Letting go of pain, of negative attitudes, of bitterness, of anger, of unforgiveness, of the desire to control, of the possibility that things could have been any different…these are the surrenders we need to make.

Negativity is a big wall made up of a bunch of old baggage. Drop the old baggage. Negative people hoard bad experiences and keep them like notches in their belts or like badges of honor, when (really) the honor is in letting go and forgiving. God isn’t hindered by our junk. But WE are hindered by it--there’s no room to receive the good things He has in store for us if we hold on to our old stuff.

A positive person is someone who continually loves despite being hurt. A positive person is someone who is able to periodically go through that pile of old baggage and get rid of the unnecessary items. A positive person is gracious and grateful. (Please, God, let that be me someday.) I am learning to let go of my bad attitudes, but it’s so easy to fall back into them. Negativity is a self-indulgent, me-focused addiction that I know God can help me break. I’m thankful that He is with me.

Today, my friend Beth posted a quote by Chuck Swindoll that I thought was so fitting and kind of spurred me on even more in my desire to write about this idea. Here’s the quote:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fac that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

So I want to encourage you to make positive attitude choices, my friends. I want the best for you and I know God does, too.

Today, I’m grateful for…

Good choices.


Green grass.


Blossoms.


The bittersweetness of life…it’s more sweet than bitter, though.


Learning to let go.


Friends, both near and far.


Love.


Emptiness and learning to let God fill the voids.


Encouragement.



Getting my creative juices flowing again. Here are a few photos from an engagement session I did this past weekend. They were a really great couple to work with!