Archives For Extraordinary Days

Thanks to Veterans 1

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I’m not a fan of resolutions.  As I think about the changes I would like to make in the coming year, I feel like a failure for not achieving those changes in the past year….again.  And beginning the year feeling like a failure is a sure-fire way for my resolutions to fizzle out…….again.

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Rather than making resolutions, I spend some time reflecting on the accomplishments of the past year and I encourage you to do the same.  Look through pictures or the calendar to aid in remembering all that was achieved in the past year.

Did you get the oil changed in the car?  Did you clean out a drawer or closet this past year or spring clean a certain % of the house?  What books did you read?  Did you do a bible study, pray daily, or do devotions?  Did you learn to take care of your body by staying properly hydrated drinking 8 glasses of water a day?  How did your family spend time together?  Did you participate in a canned food drive?

By contemplating on accomplishments made, you will realize the successfulness of the past year and be ready to build on those achievements this year.

Review the past year in the following areas and make goals in each area for this year:

Personal growth

How did you grow personally in this past year?

  • What books did you read?  Recreational reading is also important as we need time to relax and recharge.
  • Did you do a bible study/specific devotions/read the bible in a year/etc.?
  • Did you pray daily or most days of the week or month?
  • Did you enjoy any of your hobbies or do things you like during your free time?
  • Did you develop your strengths or weaknesses by taking a class, finding a mentor, seeing a counselor, or reading specific books?
  • Did you ever give more than take?

Health

Were any lifestyle changes made?

  • Did you drink more water?
  • Did you cut back on soda?
  • Did you limit sweets to once a week?
  • Did you only go out to eat only 3-4 times a month?
  • Did you learn to eat more fruits and vegetables?
  • Did you decrease your plate portions?
  • Did you find a few activities to love and do to stay active?

Family

What investments were made in your family?

  • Did you enjoy any family nights?
  • Did you plan and do any activities during the Summer or holidays/weekends?
  • Did your family go on vacation or spend any weekends away together?
  • Did your family do any mission or volunteer work together?
  • Did you study the bible as a family or one on one as parent/child?
  • Did you tell your family members you love them regularly?
  • Did you hug your child often?

Giving

How did you give of your time and money?

  • Did you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or with another organization?
  • Did you go on a mission trip (domestic or international)?
  • Did you donate unneeded items to a local mission?
  • Did you supply canned goods to local food bank?
  • Did you support a missionary/favorite cause/organization/family in need financially?
  • Did you make a meal (freezer or fresh) or provide a gift card for friends or family going through a difficult time?

Organize and clean

How did you take care of your house and property?

  • Did you clean out or organize any cabinets, drawers, or closets?
  • Did you clean out the garage?
  • Did you clean up or add anything new to the landscaping?
  • Did you clean out or organize toys?
  • Did you clean out any files?
  • Did you add pictures to any albums?
  • Did you do any car maintenance?

Finances

Were any positive changes made regarding your finances?

  • Did you pay off any credit cards?
  • Did you use coupons?
  • Did you make a budget?
  • Did you take advantage of sales rather than pay full price?
  • Did you save any money?
  • Did you eat at home rather than eat out?

This is not an all-inclusive list so please feel free to add your own questions or areas.

In order to realize success in these areas this year, white space will need to be created on the calendar.

How do you spend your time daily?  Can less be spent on social media or watching TV?  Can you travel less for work or cut overtime hours?  Is getting up earlier a possibility?  A shorter lunch may provide some time to perform a few tasks.  Are there any other areas that can be cut back to realize your goals this year?  Decide on priorities and fill in the calendar with those first.

Did you do all that is on this list and will you be able to carry out all you set out to do this year?  Probably not.  And that’s okay.  All growth and achievements are something to be celebrated no matter how small.

Even if you’ve never realized your success in the past, I urge you to recognize it now.

I would love to hear what you plan to accomplish this year!  Please share in the comments below.

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

Bob Goff succeeding at doesn't matter1

Visit Jill Savage’s site to learn more about Hearts at Home’s Compassion International trip.

Sponsoring a child is an amazing way to make a difference in a child’s life and possibly save them from exploitation and poverty.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

You may also like:

Desire To Be Weak

A Scary Yet Amazing Trip

Does God Shop at Garage Sales?

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Waves of Grief

July 19, 2013 — 4 Comments

My family recently visited a water park.  My husband and I grabbed a double raft and hit the wave pool.  I was sitting on top of the raft while my husband stood at the side guiding me through the water.  Since the waves are only turned on every 15 minutes, we entered when it was calm.  We placed ourselves in the back half of the pool and visited with friends while waiting to ride the waves.

87799167The screams from those next to the “wave wall” signaled the waves were coming.  It was then I learned we had set up our raft at the breaking point in the waves.  My husband was having so much fun, he didn’t notice I was spending most of my time under the water resulting in him pushing me into the breakers and not moving away from them.

So instead of the fun ride on top of the surf I expected, the relentless waves continued to break over my head.  I could barely catch my breath before the next breaker.

I’ve found that mourning can look similar to my experience in the wave pool.  I lost my cousin and very best friend, Shelley, to brain cancer in October of 2011.  The grief was immense then but the mourning continues even today.

Sometimes the waves of grief comes on unexpectedly and I find myself drowning in the breakers of sadness.  This week has been especially hard.  There was a little girl with long blond hair at church last Sunday who reminded me of Shelley as a child.  Then someone wrote a Facebook post about their grandchild and used a nickname Shelley used for her daughter.  Another day, something funny happened and I thought about texting it to Shelley.  Then I remembered.

At times, when triggers catch me by surprise, I have to excuse myself to go somewhere private until I can gain control of my emotions.

Other times, I see the waves coming and the turbulent feelings that threaten.  Shelley’s birthday is one such occasion.

While most women stop celebrating and make self-depreciating comments about getting older, Shelley viewed it as a time to laugh and have a great time.

Since her birthday falls on May 21, she lightheartedly deemed the month of May, “Shelleypalooza” and would invite everyone to celebrate.  Tongue in cheek, she would share her wish list “just in case someone wanted to buy her a gift,” and would surmise nothing bad could happen to anyone during that month.

Because I see crashing waves of grief on May 21st, I make a plan to deal with the emotions.

I take the day off and spend it alone.  I allow God to comfort me by praying and reading the Bible.  Many memories Shelley and I shared were only humorous to us, which made us laugh all the more.  Now I think on those memories alone.  The entire day is a roller coaster of emotions, laughing and crying.  My family is warned about my warring emotions and the effect it may have on my patience and temper.

56385631If you find yourself in mourning over the loss of a loved one, please keep in mind the following:

Cut yourself a break when unexpected waves of grief hit – There will be times we are taken by surprise by a trigger and find ourselves grieving all over again.  There is nothing wrong with emotion.  If you’re in a professional environment, excuse yourself and find somewhere to be alone until you can gain control.  But accept you are dealing with very real human emotions and that’s okay.

Plan for expected waves of grief – Everyone mourns differently.  Some celebrate the lost loved one’s birthday with family and friends.  Others need to be alone.  Holidays may offer opportunities to honor our loved one by volunteering in one capacity or another.  Plan ahead and give yourself time to express emotion.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If your grief is monumental or you find that you can no longer function because of overwhelming sadness, call a good Christian counselor, your doctor, your pastor, or a crisis hotline.  The following site offers phone numbers for a myriad of hotlines.  http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/.  Reach out.  There are many who are waiting to come alongside you.

Waves of grief will come.  But by accepting our emotions, planning for the expected waves, and asking for help when needed, we can live a healthy life.  And I’m sure your loved one would want you to live a fulfilled life and not a holed-up existence refusing to carry on.

Most importantly, allow God to comfort you.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4

You may also like:

Grieving Through the Holidays?

Finishing Last

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude Challenge

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Disclaimer:  Material in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.  The inclusion of any link does not imply my endorsement of the linked site or its affiliates, or any information, content, products, services, advertising or other materials presented on or through such web sites. I am not responsible for the availability, accuracy, or any information, content, products or services accessible from such sites.  NEVER DISREGARD MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL CARE BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.

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View more pictures at Susannah Cushman’s blog here.

You may also like:

“Chau” or “Adios”

And We’re Waiting….and Waiting……and Waiting…..

3 Surefire Ways to Live Your Priorities

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Creating a Stir

June 22, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Took a walking tour of Gonzanama yesterday. Since white people are a rarity around here, we created quite a stir. People were coming out of their houses, sticking their heads out of businesses, and stopping their cars to stare at us. It was quite funny.

The people are very friendly, especially the children. The children have a hard life. Many work during the day to help their families and then must attend school at night. As we drove through town at 9:00 last night, we saw children walking home in their school uniforms carrying backpacks. It was a strange sight to see after dark.

We’ve had the opportunity to visit a couple of family homes in Portete. Both homes were very primitive. The toilet and shower were outside. And they were equipped very sparsely. Most people in Portete do not own a refrigerator or have other items that we feel are a necessity in America.

Houses are tucked into the mountainside making them only accessible by rocky paths or steep stairways. Although they have challenges that would stretch the average American beyond imagination, they are joyful and make it work.

We were privileged to have one family invite us to their house and make us lunch. The dad cooked the meat outside. He used a pan that fit into a chair that was missing the seat. He then set up a blowtorch underneath the pan. The picture is above.

The blowtorch kept falling and at one point caught the “nearby grass on fire. The daughter calmly walked in the house and brought out a bowl of water to put it out. He then cooked plantains in the meat fat. It wasn’t the healthiest of meals but it was excellent!

We led another day of VBS and loved on many kids. They loved every minute of our time together. They especially enjoy having their picture taken so I can’t wait to share those with you.

Last night we attended a women’s bible study held in a family home. The hunger these women and children had to learn more about Christ was incredible. So many Christians have lost that hunger somewhere along the way and it made me realize how we need to be intentional about holding onto it. Loving the bible, loving to meet together, loving our leaders, loving each other, holding each other accountable, sharing it with others. That’s what I desire.

Today, we will lead our last VBS with the children. All of us are very excited to work with these kids again. Today, we will be explaining how to come to Christ and allow Him to bridge the gap between them and God. We want them to know God sent His Son to die for our sins. He took our place when our punishment was to be death. Our desire is for them to realize the unfathomable love God has for each of them to offer such a gift as His Son to die in their place.

They can have eternal life in Heaven with a Father that never fails them if they just believe and pray asking God to forgive them of their sins. If you have not prayed this prayer, have questions about God and this gift He offers, please message me. I would love to speak more with you.

Please be praying for us today as we work with the kids and as we visit the same family who fed us lunch the other day. A couple of people will be sharing what God has done for them with this family. We are here to be the hands and feet of Christ. Pray that He will use us in powerful ways.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (The Message)

Disclaimer: These blog posts and other social media activity contain my own personal views & opinions and may not represent the views, beliefs, or ideas of my teammates or the church I am involved with currently or have been involved with in the past.

Kids of Ecuador

June 21, 2013 — 1 Comment

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Yesterday we led a VBS for the kids in Portete. The children were threatened by the priests, locals, and parents not to come to the event since it was being led by Christians. However, 63 kids had the courage to show up anyway.

We played games, made a craft, performed a skit that was mimed and narrated in Spanish, and sang songs. The kids had a great time so we are expecting even more kids this afternoon.

Many parents don’t know how to discipline so they allow their children to do whatever they want until they reach a certain age and then they change and punish by beating. We are praying the kids are not being punished in such a way because they attended the VBS.

We have another great day planned for these kids that are so often ignored and left to their own devices. They crave to be loved and that is what we are providing for them.

There is much more to share but unfortunately, there isn’t much time today. More tomorrow, hopefully.

Long Road to Ecuador

June 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

We made it to Ecuador.

We left at 5:30 AM Tuesday morning and arrived in Gonzama at 10 AM Wednesday. Spent the night on the cold tile at Quito’s airport and took the very bumpy and interesting ride from Loja to Gonzama.

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We avoided livestock in the road, watched as cars passing other cars on blind curves, we got used to cars coming straight at us in our lane, swerved to miss a napping dog in the middle of the road (he apparently always sleeps in the middle of the road according to Amanda, the missionary), and hit the endless potholes.

All of it only added to our adventure.

We hit the ground running after arriving, painting at the Community Center. All the white people attracted the kids coming out of the school across the street and they eventually came over to check us out. The kids taught us some of their games so we got a nice little break.

Laughter and squeals are a universal language.

Amanda shared with me that 1 little boy asked if she cried in Spanish. Sometimes we just want to share an emotion with another person no matter what language.

It was a very busy day that ended at 9PM that night. Today, we will be leading a VBS for the kids in Portete.

I’m unable to upload pictures at this time but as soon as I figure out the problem, I will share photos.

Desire to be Weak!

June 18, 2013 — 5 Comments

91300442Today begins our long journey to our final destination in Ecuador.  We left at 5:30 this morning.  We will experience 3 planes and 2 layovers, one of which is 8 hours long.  If all goes well, we should arrive tomorrow at 10:30 AM.  Sleep deprived, we will hit the ground running with orientation, lunch, a quick tour, and then beginning our work project in Portete, a long drive from where we are staying.

Today and tomorrow, excitement will mingle with nervousness and sleepiness.  Meaning there may be times when we will be silly, emotional, confused, groggy, and comical.  We will likely feel quite weak when we arrive.  How will we find the strength to actually work?

Saul (later called Paul) was brought to a point of weakness during a life-changing moment on a road he was traveling.  Saul had been breathing out murderous threats toward Jesus’ disciples and His followers.  He hated Jesus’ ministry and was determined to crush it.  He was a man who struck terror in the hearts of the people.

However, on this day on the road, a bright light suddenly appeared that made him fall to the ground.  It was Jesus wanting Saul to answer for persecuting Him.  Jesus told Saul to go into the city and he would be told what to do.

Saul was then struck blind.  He didn’t eat or drink anything for 3 days as he waited for instructions.  All the power given to him by man did him no good during this time.  All of the strength he had built within himself failed him now.  He was brought to a point of utter weakness.

Finally a man named Ananias showed up and told Saul Jesus had sent him so he could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Saul’s sight was restored and he began eating and drinking which gave him strength.

He then began preaching telling others about Jesus.  (Acts 9:1-22)

It’s quite remarkable for a man who once hated Jesus to become one of His most effective leaders.  By making him weak, Jesus was able to change Saul’s heart and use him in many powerful ways.

Although each of us on this mission trip have followed Christ for a while, there are times we, too, must be brought to a point of weakness.  We must be completely emptied of ourselves and our own agenda so He can work effectively through us.

So even though it may seem disastrous to begin a mission trip so tired, we are being brought to a point of weakness for a reason.  We are trusting God to fill our weakness with His strength, fill us with His power, and do what He desires.

Please be praying for us!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Other posts in this series:

A Scary yet Amazing Trip

Does God Shop at Garage Sales?

God’s Going to Fail Me!

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Disclaimer:  These blog posts and other social media activity contain my own personal views & opinions and may not represent the views, beliefs, or ideas of my teammates or the church I am involved with currently or have been involved with in the past.

 

It’s 4 days before my daughter and I join 13 other people from our church for a mission trip to Ecuador.  The reality of what we are about to do is finally beginning to sink in.  Although I’ve been to Ecuador before, there are still butterflies.

132077687Will any of us be detained in the airport?  Will we find ourselves in a difficult situation because we don’t know the language or culture?  Will I be able to keep my daughter safe?  Will we get sick from the food?  The worries are sometimes overwhelming.

However, even though we are nervous, we are also excited.  We get to meet new people, attempt to communicate when we don’t speak the language, try new foods, see beautiful landscapes we may only see once in our lives, and spread the love of Christ in the process.

I’m personally excited to share this experience with my daughter.  The last mission trip really changed my perspective on life and I know it will do the same for her.

Affecting me in a deep and profound way were the two home visits we made in Quito, Ecuador.

One was the home of a disabled couple.  We discovered this couple must maneuver a wheelchair and walker up a damaged walk, climb a few stairs, and navigate some tight corners just to reach their front door.  Once inside their 2 room apartment, we found it furnished with only a couple of plastic lawn chairs.  A clothesline was strung across the living area with clothes drying above the concrete floor.  They had very little food in their tiny kitchen with tiny refrigerator.  Apparently any refrigerator is a luxury in Quito so they were blessed by someone who donated it to them.

100_2410The 2nd home we visited belonged to a mom of 5 kids, one who has cerebral palsy.  There was a steep staircase from the street leading down to their apartment.  The 2 room apartment with a concrete floor was sparsely furnished similar to the 1st one.  The other room held two beds that all six shared.

The kitchen, big enough for only 1 person to stand in, had no refrigerator or stove.  The bathroom was outside and was shared with the woman upstairs.  When one of the kids needed to use the bathroom, the mom was forced to lock everyone else in the apartment while she took the one outside to use the facilities.  And to top off everything, the mom had to carry her child and her wheelchair up the steep staircase whenever she needed to leave the house.

The missionary who arranged the tour explained the dad abandoned this family and left them to fend for themselves.  The mom had recently been fired from her job because she was caught stealing food from her work’s kitchen.  The little money she made could not feed her children, so in utter desperation she resorted to stealing the food her children needed.  This explained the meager food in the house. 100_2425and1

I suddenly felt the need to escape this woman’s apartment.  Choking back sobs, I ached to be alone.

The shame I felt was overwhelming.  Just a few days before leaving for the trip, I had complained about our carpet and countertops.  The stress of getting ready for the trip made me snap at the kids and my husband.

The appalling need in front of me was making me come to terms with the overly blessed life I was taking for granted.  Even more distressing was their joy in contrast to mine.  By their standards, I had it all and yet lacked joy.  By my standards, they had nothing but had unmistakable joy.

My longing for more rather than being content with what I had was stealing my joy.  When my family didn’t meet my expectations, they were subjected to anger and frustration.  In comparison to the Ecuadorians, the love for their family superseded all other needs.  Somewhere between the altar, the delivery room, and now, I had allowed that joy to turn to stress.

I came home a different person.  My family comes first (after my relationship with God).  Time with them is protected as much as possible.  All requests for time already spoken for on my calendar receives the same response, “I already have something on the calendar for that time.”  I have found this garners more forgiveness than the unwillingness to sacrifice time with family.  And since I use it regularly, nobody knows when my time is filled with obligations or family.

And when the “I wants” threaten, I turn off Pinterest and pull out photos from these home visits.

I can’t wait to see how God uses the experiences on this upcoming trip to change my daughter.

We may be nervous at the unknowns.  But we are also eager to get there and do what God has asked of us.  To learn the lessons He has for us.  To experience the culture and scenery.  And hopefully make a lasting impact on the people we serve all while God is at work changing us to become more like Christ.  It’s going to be an amazing trip!

You may also like:

Perfect Mom?  Hardly!

Can Anger Be Controlled?

Finishing Last

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson