Sally Breen http://storiesfromthesheshed.com Just another WordPress site Wed, 03 Aug 2016 21:58:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Be Still My Mind http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/be-still-my-mind/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/be-still-my-mind/#respond Wed, 03 Aug 2016 21:56:36 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=392 I coach women of all ages from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures. During our time together, they often ask me interesting and sometimes challenging questions, but two of the most frequently asked questions are:

  • How can I stop my mind from going in unhelpful directions and then becoming fearful and negative?
  • How can I stop being so anxious?

We all know we are not meant to worry. We have all read about the long-term, damaging effect it can have on our health, and in Matthew 6:25-34, the words “do not worry” are written least four times.

That is easier said than done when mind and heart are racing headlong into deep pits of darkness and despair at
4 a.m., while sleep is as elusive as catching a butterfly on a summer’s day. Or when you are frequently faced with the  same feeling of helplessness when trying to contain or control your  own mind.

The holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom writes that “worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.”

Wikipedia states: “Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil.”

I am sure we can all identify with both of these statements at some level.

There are many experts who have written extensively about what to do with these negative emotions, and it’s certainly worth spending time reading them. Here, below, is my list of things that I always encourage others to do when I am asked questions about dealing with fear, anxiety and helping our busy minds stay still.

First and without any hesitation, I recommend seeking proper medical help if your emotional and mental issues  don’t get any better after two weeks of trying the techniques suggested below. Counseling and medicine are part of God’s healing plan. Be brave enough to say, “I can’t do this anymore. I need help.”

If, however, it is a temporary phase you find yourself in, it might be worth trying the following techniques. They may be helpful.

  1. Identify the root emotion you’re feeling—e.g., anger, bitterness, fear—and write it down. Naming it brings clarity.
  2. Tell a trusted friend—who will hold you accountable for your progress—what is really going on, what you are worrying about and what you are going to do about it.
  3. Pray about it. Obvious maybe, but not always.
  4. Write down encouraging Bible verses that speak into your situation, then stick them on sticky notes everywhere—in your car, on your mirror, at your desk. Then read them when your mind goes to an unhappy place.
  5. Ask friends to text you encouraging words throughout the day.
  6. Picture in your mind wrapping up all the thoughts in lots of paper, placing the package in a heavy suitcase and throwing it into the ocean. Reimagine this when the thoughts return.
  7. Actually get some rocks or bricks, and write down your feelings and thoughts on them. Then throw them over a cliff or into some water. Watch them disappear.
  8. Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, sleep well and don’t over work.
  9. Breathe deeply and slowly for at least 5 minutes. Concentrate on breathing.
  10. Listen to worship music before going to sleep and in the car. Surround yourself with praise.
  11. Read Psalm 91 before turning the light out. Re-read it if you wake in the night. It specifically speaks about terrors of the night and how they won’t have a hold on you.
  12. Don’t take electronics to bed. They are a distraction, and the lights and sounds that they emit are not stress-free.
  13. Audit your rest. Do you get enough rest? Regularly enough?
  14. Do something creative. It restores both the soul and mind.
  15. Don’t beat yourself up about what you are thinking. Be honest, but not brutal.
  16. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Comparison steals peace and joy every time.
  17. Be thankful for something or someone. It stops all sorts of negative behaviors from taking root.
  18. Get a physical. I was once told by a consultant psychiatrist that more than 50% of all mental illnesses were medically based. It is worth checking.

All emotions simply roam the body looking for a place to land. Sometimes it is the negative ones that make an airstrip.
I hope this is helpful. It is by no means a complete list of all the possible things that you can do to help yourself, but it’s a start.

Let me know what you think.
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It Is Well With My Soul http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/it-is-well-with-my-soul/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/it-is-well-with-my-soul/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 23:57:50 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=382 “Through it all my eyes are on you,
It is well with my soul.”

This July marks our family’s arrival 12 years ago in the USA.

Back then I felt so sure of what I was sacrificing, now I am not so sure.

There were many things that I didn’t know about myself when I stepped off the plane and landed onto the scalding hot tarmac of Phoenix, so many things I couldn’t have known, and so many things I still don’t know.

But I know the only way to travel the journey of hills and deserts, to walk along the paths of joy and grief is “through it all I have my eyes on you.”

This past year I have reflected on some of these things, and I can now say with a certainty that wasn’t there before, what “sits well with my soul.”

Here is my list of soul soothers:

  • Every photograph taken reaffirms my view that I love ugly and abandoned things.
  • Every creative project I put my hand to heals my heart.
  • Every bit of dirt I dig deep into, roots my thoughts.
  • Every step I take walking in the woods means I have less anger.
  • Every length of the swimming baths causes my prayers to go deeper.
  • Every deep breath taken in the rain melts my tears.
  • Every coffee sipped in silence with Mike speaks volumes.
  • Every time I hear another language or see another skin tone I feel less like a stranger.
  • Every trip on a bus takes me to my happy place.
  • Every folded piece of laundry that smells of starch sends me back my mother’s kitchen table.
  • Every touch of vibrant fabric or soft wool reminds me of how I am made.
  • Every possibility of mission returns my dreams to me.
  • Every giggle from a grandchild makes me Jolly.
  • Every hand held in friendship holds my faith still.

Each one of these simple yet deep moments sits well with my soul.

Our souls get bruised and bashed and broken by the world around us and by those who speak and act carelessly toward us as they pass by our lives. I think  because of this we need to know what brings us joy and then what acts like balm to our very being.

Worship and scripture ground and heal us, but what works well with your soul?

Do you know how to recognize the things that sit well with your soul? And if so, do you give yourself enough time and space to make them happen?

If you have experienced any sort of hurt or pain then perhaps it’s worth considering these things and putting them into the regular rhythms of days.

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Take a long look… http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/take-a-long-look/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/take-a-long-look/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 19:03:23 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=378 So you have all made it to the summer, you may be battered and bruised and broken but you have got there, to the long 12 weeks that begin with such optimism, all hopeful and hope-filled.

You got through the academic school year.

You have survived the many parent-teacher conferences, sitting on a small wooden chair while listening with a broken heart as your 6-year-old is described as “special” .

You have made numerous late night runs to CVS for yet another poster board when you realized your child’s project was due tomorrow.

You have read the varying mind numbing repetitive books that teach your preschooler, who “lacks focus”, how to read and make you fall asleep.

You have navigated the varying breakdowns and breakups of your children’s friendship groups. You have sat on the edge of your pre-teens bed as they wail about some life-ending drama that is going on in the halls and behind the lockers of the middle school.

You have put back together your teenager when they believed they would never make it to college/prom/graduation.

You have sat tight-lipped and terrified as your “child” sits behind the wheel of your family car, wishing there were training wheels on automobiles and comprehending very quickly this is God’s way of improving your prayer life.

You have agonized over the overwhelming school choices for your sensitive child, as sleep disappears like an early morning fog, as you wonder and wish for a clear answer from Jesus. Preferably the answer being written in the sky, which will then take the heavy burden of the decision of your shoulders.

You have gone to work wondering if they will be permanently damaged by the lively discussion that you and your partner had as you exited the house on several occasions or by the simple but yet so guilt ridden act of putting them in daycare in the first place.

You have thought often how you might not be a natural teacher or mother, and therefore unable to keep going with homeschooling your tribe especially when you discovered about two weeks into the last academic year that you don’t really like children, especially your own.

You have sought out the wisest advice and counsel for your child that struggles and sits alone, and you’ve sat with tear stained cheeks as his crying into the night cracks open your heart .

I have done it all, I am the mother who sent my child in the wrong outfit on the wrong day for a school trip.

I have let them go out to night clubs and have cell phones before their peers
.
I have let them follow their dream of becoming a model.

I have let my children hand in incomplete and inadequate projects and then we have deliberately torn them up in the school dumpster when they failed or were told they could do better.

I have worked hard to teach our children to be socially, emotionally and physically intelligent, only to discover they were bullied anyway.

I have sent my children to school without teachers appreciation presents and I have failed to make homemade cookies for school. I have written inside all the valentines day cards myself because I can’t stand the slow torture of a first grader writing 35 names at 7pm at night.

I have rung up friends in the early hours of the morning to check the details of some important message that I have screwed up both metaphorically and physically.

I have moved our children to several different schools and even moved countries because we believed we heard God speak to us.

I have avoided going to children’s parties because they bring out the worst in our children and make me feel like I’m losing my mind.

I have hit my fists in the pillow in frustration when my toddler wouldn’t cooperate with potty training and my world was coming to an end because she could not go to preschool in diapers.

I have prayed without ceasing that my very human failures will be filled in and redeemed by God’s unfailing, unstoppable, unending love for my child. That is the only way they and I have survived it all.

The basic simple belief that God loves my child a whole load more than me and that my mistakes in their lives are redeemable. This enabled me to get up in the morning after a terrible yesterday and face the new day with hope.

So now as you enter the summer full of another set of completely different pressures and potential disasters waiting to happen, don’t be too hard on yourselves. Look at the big picture, the long run.

I used to say let’s look at the years, not the minutes. Let’s see what they are like by the time they are 25-30 and if you still feel you have failed significantly at that point there is always prayer and therapy, it makes a great graduation gift .

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I thought I ordered the Happy Meal http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/i-thought-i-ordered-the-happy-meal/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/i-thought-i-ordered-the-happy-meal/#comments Fri, 13 May 2016 16:21:02 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=370 I saw this quote printed on a card in my local bookstore and it made me laugh, mainly because it is so shockingly true.
It’s not uncommon to grow up thinking the best way is the happy way, and that there will be a “happy ever after”once you get to a certain undetermined point in the future. However,  my personal experience and my general observations of life can now inform me that it is not true.
There is no fixed point, no definite destination or a particular age that gets you there and there is rarely a “happy ever after” without a lot of  hard work here and now.
The way we raise our children, especially girls, to believe that there might be a hero or Prince Charming coming over the horizon of their lives and providing and producing the “happy ever after ” is simply a fantasy. Furthermore, all the money and time spent at Disney World promoting happy endings and fairy tales makes me believe there might be an awful lot of princesses in ordinary houses, living ordinary lives believing they have been sold short and feeling disappointed.
I believe I was very fortunate to have a mother and father that raised me somewhat differently. My father subscribed me to feminist magazines and bought me Simone de Beauvoir books. He said he didn’t care what I did as a job or career so long as it paid enough for me to support myself and any child I might have, sustainably and realistically as a single parent; very good advice.

Even with this realism I have to confess that during my life there have still been a few times when I thought that being happy was my answer and if not that at least the avoidance of pain would be better.
I don’t like pain. My personality is definitely designed to side step it and I was very successful in my early years to do just that. However, I soon discovered it’s simply not realistic, pain is unavoidable but how you deal with it is not.
There have been a few clear moments therefore when I chose to embrace the pain, just like grabbing hold of a crown of thorns knowing there will be blood and tears but doing it anyway.
Sometimes the “Happy Meal ” no matter how bright and shiny it looks, with the fun distracting toy in the bag is not the healthy option.
Sometimes just choosing the other meal, the one that will keep you satisfied for longer is the right choice. Sometimes recognizing where our need for being happy comes from helps too.

One day when Mike and had been married just a few weeks, he found me crying and moaning to God about something. In that moment, he looked me straight in the face and said: “Why do you think you have a right to be happy?” It was the best gift he ever could have given me. I believe in that moment he spoke heart burning truth to me.
I have spent the last 35 years trying to wrestle that answer to the ground but the pain and the sadness that I have embraced have been so good and glorious if viewed through the lens of eternity and faith.
Sometimes although we think we ordered the Happy Meal, what God promises is so much more than the fleeting fantasy we peer into the McDonald’s box hoping to find. If we are able to look up and around we can realize it is just an illusion created out of our brokenness and dreams.
Happy is not what is promised but we can choose joy even when it’s hard. We can choose to look with a long perspective on life, not a quick fix and then find a way of understanding God’s grace and mercy in it all.
Although there is no way of ordering a “Happy Meal” either for yourself or those you love, talking about the realities of life and how God meets us in that place is probably better preparation for us all.

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Life Lessons – Guest Post by Cheryl Smith http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/life-lessons-guest-post-by-cheryl-smith/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/life-lessons-guest-post-by-cheryl-smith/#comments Mon, 09 May 2016 16:24:56 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=366 When my friend Laura Boggess goes to the beach, she chooses a person she cares about and writes that person’s name into the sand. Then she prays for her. I remembered this act of friendship last weekend while I was at the beach, and decided to do the same thing.

I found a small stick and with two fluid motions, spelled out a name in the damp sand.

I made a big swirl on the first letter and took my time to connect each of the remaining letters, followed by a big swish.

L-a-u-r-a.

I retrieved my phone from the gallon bag in the green plastic pail and snapped a picture. I turned away from the sun and stuffed the phone back in the bag, “zipped” it closed, and placed the package back in the pail. When I turned around again to admire my work, it was gone. The waves lapped those cursive letters right out of the sand. There was no trace of my handiwork.

In that instant, I remembered a conversation I’d had with Laura. More than a year ago my daughter and I were traveling through West Virginia and she graciously agreed to house us for the night. Hannah went to bed early, but Laura and I stayed awake much later than is typical for me because time spent in heart conversation with a too-far-away-friend is more precious than a few hours of sleep.

We confessed how easy it is to feel insignificant when we compare our work to the great needs of the world or to the ministry of others. Ultimately, we encouraged each other with Truth from Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings.”

Later I asked Hannah to create a thank you gift for Laura, based on the conversation and the Bible verse. She’s a talented artist/hand letterer. I’m not sure if she looked up the verse in a different translation, or if our conversation actually took a slightly different turn, but here’s a picture of Hannah’s artwork, “Make a difference in the small places.”

Like the tide that returns to the sand each day, those words came back to me this week. Exactly when I needed to hear them most. Lately, I’ve been second guessing how effective I’ve been at my business/ministry pursuit. A little more than a year ago I started Oikos Services to give hope and employment opportunities to disenfranchised women in need of a second chance. On the outside, we look like a residential cleaning company, but the vision is for so much more.

It’s been slightly more than a year and I only have three employees. We do daily devotionals together, but their situations are still pretty dire. While many of my former colleagues are out changing the word, I’m left wondering: is what I’m doing really making a difference?

When Laura and I sat in her family room, I’m not sure either of us realized we were in the midst of what was, at least for me, an ongoing Life Lesson.

Make a difference in small places. Indeed.

The tides come and go. High tide turns into low tide. Low tide into high tide. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. Months into years. If we’re not careful, we can turn away from the task at hand, even for a brief moment, and think the impact we make on those around us has washed away.

That would be a lie.

We may consider quitting.

But that would be a mistake.

Especially when the Kingdom of God is at hand.

 

Cheryl is a wonderful entrepreneurial woman who I met a few years back when I was doing a women’s retreat in Virginia. I am so encouraged that she is really listening to what God is saying and then doing something about it.

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How We Treat Our Neighbor http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/how-we-treat-our-neighbor/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/how-we-treat-our-neighbor/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:12:07 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=356 Hope is at the end of the road on the other side of the barrier guarded by soldiers with families at home.
Dreams are found on the other side of the ocean controlled by the nightmare of weather and pirates.
So they walk or sail.
So they risk it all to be left hammering on the borders of Europe.

Desperation must be inside a mother’s heart to risk it all,
To get inside a frail boat and believe in broken promises.
All that she has is floating towards the absolutely unknown landscape.
All that she knows has been left at the shore on the other side with enough horrors for several lifetimes, absorbed into the very soil of that land.
All that she can see is uncertainties.
All that she believes has been shaken.

The story that she carries will one day be told like other stories, from other brave women, in other moments in history.
The story that she is writing will be dependent on the life she can build.
The way that she is welcomed will be the glasses she wears forever.
The way she is treated will form the fabric of her family in the future.

We are all human with the same hands that need to be held.
We all have hearts that can be shattered and scared.
We all feel the fear of a world we cannot control.
We all have tears that fall to the ground we stand on.

We will be judged for how we treated the neighbor.
For how well we love the stranger.
We are being observed as to how well we embrace the lonely.
For how well we house the homeless.
We are being noticed for how well we defend the marginalized and confused.

Have we space in our hearts to hold the grieving?
Have we got room at our table to welcome the stranger ?
Have we got time to listen to the lonely ?
Have we got hands that can work on rebuilding?
Have we got a passion to declare His hope ?
Have we got dreams that include new frontiers?
Have we got faith to believe in redemption ?
Have we got a story we know is worth sharing?
Have we homes that can gather the generations?
Have we got space to notice the broken?

The older I get the less I feel I know sometimes and there is less that I can be certain of, but this is a rock on which I can stand and a truth I can shout from my doorstep.
Jesus came for the lost, the broken, the hurting. He embraced the outsider, the stranger, the alien. Surely we can do that instead of campaigning about the signs on bathrooms and shutting our borders to children.

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Ten Things in Ten Minutes http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/ten-things-in-ten-minutes/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/ten-things-in-ten-minutes/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:54:55 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=351 Ten things to do in ten minutes, instead of looking at your phone.

I love my phone and I love social media, I am the person who likes seeing photos of my friend’s celebration meals and vacations but I have noticed recently how much time it takes up in each day. Five minutes each time adds up to an hour a day easily, which in turn can total 7 hours a week, making it practically a whole day. Wouldn’t we all like to get back 7 hours a week?

I find myself checking my phone while waiting at the Starbucks drive-thru or in the school carpool line. I check it when I am sitting at the coffee shop before my friend arrives and when traveling it’s a constant distraction.

I don’t want to stay away from it completely but I want to use my time wisely and make the most of both the phone and the limited free hours in a day so I came up with ten alternative creative and productive things to do with that 3-10 mins you have spare instead of checking your phone.

1. Look up not down at the small gray screen. Look up and the barista, engage in a conversation, find out their name or at least read the label on the t-shirt and ask them if their day is going well.

2. Breathe, take a long deep breath or several of them. Notice how doing nothing apart from slowly breathing makes us calmer and nicer.

3. Smell is the most sensitive of all our senses and the one that promotes memories more quickly than any other. Smell the coffee, the perfume, the bread. Notice the different places that have different smells good and bad. It will create memories deep in your brain that will last a lifetime.

4. Listen fully to what your friend or child is saying. Make eye contact and take the time to consider the words they are using and then reply.

5. Read. Have a book in your car, purse, or stroller so instead of sitting down and picking up the phone, sit and pick up the book, or magazine. The texture and feel is an entirely different experience.

6. Eat. Take the time to sit down and eat the sandwich or soup slowly, savoring every mouthful. Notice the tastes and the blend of flavors, someone spent time creating this for you.

6. Pray. Think about who and what’s on your mind and give it to God. He loves to spend time with us.

7. Move your legs and arms, not weirdly if you are in a public place, but maybe walk the grounds of where you work or your neighborhood.

8. Do a few simple exercises, several 5 minutes add up to a whole lot more than zero.

9. Consider a subject that you thinking about during the day, maybe its health care, education, politics. Process what you think and feel about it. Stretch your brain.

10. Play a game. Keep a pack of cards or crossword puzzle in your car. The new coloring books are great too. Create games for the younger children, I spy and guess that tune are always a winner.

None of these suggestions are revolutionary or have never been thought of before but just imagine how different our lives and communities would feel if we looked up instead of down. We would know our baristas names and the streets in our neighborhood. We would know and remember how our local store smells; we would be able to hear God’s voice more easily and respond to it. We could engage in deeper more meaningful connections with the people that God has placed in our lives. We would be creating memories made up of small moments that we can then reuse to warm our hearts when we feel the chill of life on some later day in the future.

I love contemporary culture and all that technology offers I just don’t want to loose all that the older, slower world valued too.

What do you do to combine both worlds and to keep your life real and meaningful?

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Being the best – Guest post by Beccy Beresic http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/being-the-best/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/being-the-best/#comments Sat, 09 Apr 2016 16:58:15 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=344 Until recently I never thought of myself as a competitive person, there are many things I am not competitive about, such as running or games or sports. Then one day a couple of weeks ago, I was rushing around the house trying to get ready for the day, straighten everything in the house before I left and dressed Jackson (my 18-month-old); I was in a little bit of a flurry. For anyone of you who’ve had a toddler, you know that getting them dressed is quite a task in its self. Once I finally got in the car and was driving to work I started thinking about why it mattered that everything was right before I left the house and then it dawned on me… I want to be the best.
I want to be the best mother, the best wife, the best friend, the best sister, the best aunt, have the cleanest house, look like I have it all together and do it all whilst holding down a full-time job.
I think women are naturally competitive and that it surfaces in different areas for different people. For me, I realized that I was doing all those things for the wrong reasons. Now don’t get me wrong I think we shouldn’t settle for second best when we can do the best but I think it’s about doing our best instead of being the best. Plus I should be doing it for his glory and to build up those in my life rather than because I’m somehow competing against everyone else. The funny thing is as well was that I wasn’t actually looking for other people’s approval it was more about me living up to the impossible standards I have created in my head.

One story in the Bible that really resonates with me about this is the story of Mary and Martha.

In Luke 10:38-42 it says: ” As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

” As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I don’t think Jesus was saying that making preparations was wrong but instead it was that her focus was wrong. She was worried about all these things that she was missing what was really important and that was being with Jesus.

So how do I change my mindset? Honestly, I think it all starts with my focus. Is my focus on me or on my heavenly father because if it’s on me then I’m just doing “good” things with selfish motives and in the end that will just crumble.

I’ve started evaluating why I do things. Why does it matter if my house is straight and tidy? Well if it’s about my heavenly father and his work then I want my house to be inviting and calming for people but it doesn’t need to be perfect. If some mornings I run out of time then that’s okay. Also, when I start evaluating things it’s easier to make a decision based on things that really matter. If I sat down and had breakfast with Jackson  but I didn’t manage to finish the dishes then that’s okay. I want my decision to be based out of love for those around me and what the Lord is calling me to do, that means I can’t always be the best. If I am motivated by love and my doing my best rather than being the best I think I can truly do what God has called me to do. Being a mother, a wife, a friend and a sister are important and God has given me those relationships to honor and cultivate but I want to do it his way and not mine.

So here’s to learning what doing my best for Him looks like instead of being the best every day!

Beccy is a wife and a mother and also works as a Children’s Pastor in Greenville, SC. You can read her other blog posts at http://www.beresicfamily.com/

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Swimsuits and Shattered Hearts http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/swimsuits-and-shattered-hearts/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/swimsuits-and-shattered-hearts/#comments Thu, 07 Apr 2016 12:33:45 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=339 This week I thought I would write about my most recent life lesson.

I had a long list last Wednesday, it was written out in my planner and I was keen to start ticking off tasks and scribbling through the jobs I had finished.

At the top of the list was to mend my iphone screen.

There had been an accident with it a few days ago when it had fallen face down. I had picked it back up quickly hoping to avoid the painful truth that it was damaged, but it was already looking like frost on a window in winter.

I set off for the Apple store.

I entered and tried to attract the attention of one of the very millennial looking assistants that all seemed to have beards, tattoos, drainpipe jeans and no apparent need to do anything in a hurry. They are artists so they move carefully without speed.

One of them looks my way so I begin to explain my problem and I am redirected to someone stood in the middle of the store holding an ipad and taking names and notes. He speaks to me in a clear tone usually reserved for a kindergarten teacher. He explains it’s a waiting system but they will text me a series of extremely helpful and clear texts indicating when I am to return to the store. He also mentions backing up my documents and passwords and how they need to be known. This makes me nervous as I am convinced I have assignments of demons sent to me just to mess up my passwords and anything technical.

I am now going to be in the mall for at least 90 minutes so I decided to look for a new swimsuit. This is the worst possible shopping idea any woman can have. It doesn’t matter what size or shape or age you are, it’s a mixture of daunting and depressing. I have a healthy realistic view of my body, however, I am 57 years old and I have had 3 children and way too much chocolate to think this is going to be fun. I begin by going into places like JC Penny’s but nothing looked even possible. With about 30 minutes left I went into the final store and found a range of swimsuits that looked potentially alright, they would cover all the necessary bits of my body and they were on sale. I took several into the changing rooms and was in the middle of pulling something stretchy over my slightly larger than average hips when the text from the apple store came indicating I should return. I bundled the swimsuits into a pile, left them in the room and fled back to Apple. They told me upon arriving that they were not really ready, that the texts can be misleading so I sat and waited a further 40 mins only to discover the technicians were all in a meeting and wouldn’t return for another 20mins.

At this point, I decided to try to reconquer the swimsuit scenario and try to achieve something in this day, so I ran back to the store ready to buy the one that l could best wiggle and jiggle my body into. I dashed back to the swimsuit section grabbed a few more options, decided I was never going to improve on what I saw in the mirror without surgery or dark glasses so I handed my money over.

Returning to the Apple store holding onto the sweet victory of the shopping success I was greeted by the guy with a disappointed look on his face saying I had missed the tech guy just as I had left.

In that moment, I had a choice to fully realize how fortunate and amazing my life was compared to many others and to actively choose joy. I was hassled but not homeless, I was fed -up but not without food, I was disappointed but not dying. I am so very privileged.

I smiled, waited and eventually walked out 55 mins later with an unbroken screen but a shattered heart.

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Beauty in the broken things Guest post by Becky Forder http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/beauty-in-the-broken-things/ http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/beauty-in-the-broken-things/#respond Fri, 01 Apr 2016 23:30:58 +0000 http://storiesfromthesheshed.com/?p=332 A few months ago my lovely boss sent me an email about Kintsugi ,which is the Japanese art of repaired pottery. Broken pottery is repaired with lacquer dusted or mixed with powered gold, silver or platinum. The idea is that the bowl becomes more beautiful for having been broken, that the breakage and repair become part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. There is an embracing of the imperfect and the flawed.

Isn’t that the same way we should view our lives and the lives of others around us? So often we are ashamed of our brokenness, of the mistakes, of our pasts, of our tragedies. What I love about following Jesus is that he turns it all on its head and views it the opposite way. As I was recently reminded messy is the currency God works in.

I love that with Jesus tragedy is not the end. I love that if we let him he can take the pieces of our broken lives and make something new. I love that he is all about restoration and redemption. I love that, with Jesus, the fact I was a widow at 29 was not the end of the story but maybe just the beginning. I love that the years of pain and agony were not wasted.

I love that with Jesus not one of us is beyond his love – no situation is hopeless with him. No person is beyond his forgiveness, his love and his power.

I love that even when we make the biggest of mistakes there is always a way out, always an answer and always hope with Jesus. A few years ago when I was starting to get a sense I needed to do something new job wise I remember a wise lady saying to me “what happens if you do leave and what you go to isn’t right – what if you do make a mistake, God is so much bigger than our mistakes and is more than able to turn it around.”

I love that with Jesus there are so many times of challenge, that we aren’t allowed to stay still, it is always about moving forward to the new. Challenge is hard, it means being vulnerable but I love the new places it can take us and the freedom it can bring.

I love that Jesus takes our disappointment and moulds it into something new. Disappointment has been one of my greatest battles – disappointment that my life hasn’t end up how I thought it would but as we let go of the controls and give him the control we are taken on an adventure we could never imagine, way beyond our disappointments.

I love that Jesus never intended us to walk alone. I love that in the most broken of times, when our lives feel in pieces it is often when our relationships with him and with others are forged deeper and stronger. I love those real, authentic and vulnerable relationships, that are such gifts, and are so beautiful – that are always worth the risks they carry.

Life gets messy, our hearts break, our lives at times are shattered but it is never the end of the story– there is such hope and promise in Jesus, that he will take those broken pieces and rebuild it into something new and beautiful.

Becky Forder is a mum, a lawyer and a blogger. You can read more of her blogs at http://beckyforder.com/

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