Positive Engagement

My heart is grieving over the events of this past week. My desire is to be more aware of the deep pain so many people feel in this country. If you are like me, you want to be part of the solution toward racial reconciliation, but it is hard to know what to do. I believe big change begins with small steps. How do we begin to turn toward unity and away from misunderstanding?

Here are a few things we ought to humbly admit:

We don’t know it all. We tend to form our opinions based on our own experiences and perspective which limits our understanding of others. It is wise for each of us to humbly admit that we don’t know exactly what another person’s life is like. We don’t have a clue about the pain they have felt or the biases they have experienced over the years. Let’s simply realize we have much to learn about each other.

We all need fixing. Instead of pointing the finger at someone else’s issues, we need to consider that we all have issues. No one is without sin. We all need growth, improvement, wisdom and understanding. Instead of focusing on the faults of others, let’s ask God to shine the light on our own hearts and help us see where we need to grow in our love and understanding.

We must reach out and engage. Let’s consider how many people in our little circle of friends are of different races or nationalities. Let’s be deliberate about reaching across the racial divide by engaging in conversations and developing relationships with people who don’t look like we do. Let’s be intentional about building new friendships and getting to know what someone else’s life is like.

We should pray. Are we actively seeking God’s help in the racial reconciliation of our land? Are we praying daily for the needs of those who are different than ourselves? Are we praying for healing? Let’s start today! Let’s start now! As we pray, God begins to open our hearts and minds to the opportunities to love, serve and build bridges.* God can do a healing work beyond  what we can ask or imagine.

These thoughts are just a start. One step at a time, one relationship at a time, we can build bridges and make a positive difference in this world. It begins by embracing those who do not look just like us, listening to their story and understanding their pain. May the anger subside, as love, growth and forgiveness take hold.  

Positive Mom notes: Moms, I encourage you to have conversations with your kids about how important it is to love all people, no matter what their skin color. Allow your kids to join you as you volunteer and serve with people of different races and nationalities.

*If you are looking for a place to serve and build relationships, consider volunteering with Engage Positive Parenting Initiative.

You Can Do Something Positive

Young african woman smiling at sunset

Perhaps you are feeling a little antsy right now. Perhaps that’s an understatement. You’ve watched all your favorite movies, cleaned out every junk drawer and taken your dog on three walks a day. Maybe you are wishing that you could do something – anything – meaningful. The good news is, each of us can find one positive thing to do to help others.

Selfless acts lift our spirits and help us fell as sense of purposefulness. We may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we can do small acts of kindness in our own sphere of influence. Here are some creative ideas gleaned from people around me that may spur you on to love and good deeds:

  • Several friends are using their sewing abilities to make face masks for health care workers and individuals.
  • Others are gathering groceries and leaving them on the doorstep of those who need help or have lost their jobs.
  • Some are making a deliberate effort to write at least one note a day to uplift the heart of another.
  • In my world, I help direct an organization calledEngage Positive Parenting Initiative. Since we serve parents in under-resourced areas, my team has joined together to assemble family fun packs filled with snacks and activities to encourage and help homebound parents.
  • One thing that all of us can and should do each day is fall to our knees and pray. There is a true sense of peace we experience when we sincerely go to the Lord on behalf of others. Ask God to comfort the hurting and bring hope to those in despair. Pray for our leaders and the healthcare workers and first responders. Pray for an effective vaccine to be developed quickly. Pray for those who are sick and dying here and around the world. Ask God to show you what you can do and who you should reach out to using the gifts He has given you.

Yes, everyone can do something positive! When we do these simple acts of love, we bring joy into our own environment as well as the world around us. Stay Calm. Stay Kind. Stay Strong.

Maintaining an Up Attitude During Down Times

Rich young woman wear gown open curtains stand at window

Here in Dallas we have been ordered to “Shelter in Place,” but that doesn’t mean we have to step away from joy and happiness. We can still open the curtains and let the sun shine into our lives. How do we stay upbeat when we feel downtrodden? Here a few ways to invite a little sunshine to brighten your days.

Give Thanks Every Morning. Things may seem gloomy, but you can always find reasons to be thankful – you just need to look a little bit harder. Thank the Lord that you can still go on a walk. You can still hear the birds chirping, and see the spring flowers blooming. Daily write down at least five blessings that you experienced in the last 24 hours.

Listen to Uplifting Music. Music can soothe the soul. The other day (before we were quarantined) I was at a friend’s house, and we sat down at the piano and sang hymns together. It was rejuvenating! Be deliberate about finding songs that strengthen, encourage and inspire you. Listen to them often and play them for your family. While doing the 20-second handwash thing, sing a praise song. “Oh How I Love Jesus” is my go-to handwashing song.

Play the Glad Game. When you feel like complaining, turn it around to consider what you can be glad about instead. You may feel frustrated about the fact that you can’t go out with friends, but you can be glad about the fact that we live in a day when you can facetime or conference call one another. Replace every complaint with something that makes you glad.

Take Time to Pray. I know we all talk about praying, but do we actually do it? I encourage you to find a quiet place and time that you can get on your knees and cast your cares to Almighty God. Seek His guidance and wisdom as you face these challenging times. Find your solace in this sweet time of prayer. Pray for those who are sick around the world and the healthcare workers who care for them. Be much with God in the quiet places as well as throughout your day.

Do Kind Acts for Others. We may be confined, but we can still show love. What about calling or texting those who are lonely? Write notes to neighbors, family and friends to let them know you are thinking about them. Drop off groceries (or toilet paper) to those who are in need. Be a source of kindness and encouragement on social media and in your neighborhood. Possibly the most important acts of kindness you can show during this time is letting go of resentment and anger toward others.

Guard your thought-life and do not let your mind ruminate on the worries and what-ifs. Live wisely and thoughtfully but not fearfully. This can be a positive time, but we make it a negative one if we live with selfishness and/or anxiety.  Let’s inhale God’s peace and exhale needless fear as we walk together though this time. May we each turn our minds upward to make the best of each day that we have here on earth.

Staying Sane While Hunkered at Home

happy african american young woman at home

These are certainly strange times. Perhaps the fear of the unknown is only slightly greater than the fear of going stir-crazy while enduring two months of isolation from your community. How can you make the most of being homebound? Begin by focusing on what you can do, rather than feeling frustrated with what you can’t do. Here are five positive action steps :

Draw Close. Use this as a beautiful chance to draw close to loved ones both under your roof or at a distance. Avoid the temptation to constantly peruse social media, and instead be deliberate about engaging in conversation and experience eye contact. If you have kids, get on the floor and build a fort, read a book, play board games, do some art work or a puzzle, cook a meal or watch a movie together. It will require loving-kindness and patience toward each other, but couldn’t we all use a little growth in that area?

Reach Out. Consider ways you can reach out to help others who are in need or may feel alone. Perhaps you can offer to watch the kids of a healthcare worker or drop some groceries off at the local food bank or give gift cards to someone who has lost their job as a result of the quarantine. This is not a time to think only of ourselves, but rather to think of the needs of others.

Take Up. What are those projects that you have always said you would do if you just had more time? Here’s your glorious opportunity! Start a blog, write a book, read a book, learn a language, discover a new talent with art or floral design, take up guitar lessons, start working out – the possibilities are endless.

Weed Out. Most of us have drawers, cabinets and closets that need a little weeding out and cleaning up. Use this time to simplify and get rid of extra stuff that you no longer use or need. You will experience a sweet sense of joy when your place is organized  – and who knows you may discover things you haven’t seen in years. When life speeds back up again, you will be glad to have everything in its place!

Be Still. We all need quiet alone time to meditate, pray and rejuvenate our spirit. In the normal hustle-bustle of life, we rarely take intentional time to be still and listen. This is a good time to focus on who God is and to seek to know Him in a deeper way. Read the Bible, seek His direction and release your burdens to His care.

Let’s continually be aware of how God wants to use us to impact others during this unique time. May we be grateful for the blessings He has given us and be generous with love and good deeds.

 

 

Thriving Through Difficulties

inspiration, joy and happiness concept, silhouette of woman with many flying balloons on the beach

How is it that some people end up thriving after a dramatic difficulty or even trauma? That is the question researchers are asking as they study Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). We are all familiar with the term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but few are aware of what some call Super Survivors – those people who actually get better and move in an improved positive direction after a trauma.

Here are a few of the principles that have been observed in PTGers.

They grieve well. Studies show that those who eventually show improvement after a trauma, have first grieved their loss deeply. They don’t ignore the pain or put on rose colored glasses. They recognize the hurt or loss and don’t dismiss their sadness.

They ask hopeful questions. As they grieve, they also begin looking for glimmers of hope in the form of questions. They may ask, “Given my new set of circumstances, how can I make the best of this?” Or, “How can I grow and learn from this?” Or, “Is their a way I can use this experience to improve someone else’s life?”

They use their pain to help others. Often a PTGer will take pro-active steps to start an organization or interest group to benefit and strengthen others as a result of their experience. This not only gives them new vigor in life, but it helps them heal and feel purposeful.

They are thankful. Although they are not thankful for the pain, they are able to find reasons to be grateful for what they have experienced. They may be thankful that they grew stronger or that they were able to find meaning in life or discover a new life purpose as a result of their trauma.

Whether we are going through a life-jolting trauma or simply a heavy disappointment, we can learn from these principles to help us discover an element of positive in our pain. Some have said that PTG should stand for “Put Trust in God.” Interestingly, studies show that many PTGers rely on their faith or find their faith strengthened through the difficulties. In Psalms we read David’s words, “God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in time of need.” May each of us be strengthened by the comfort and hope He brings.

9781416580492

You can read stories of PTGers in my book, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.