Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Steps to Becoming a Life-Long Learner

When I became a mom at seventeen, I didn’t know a lot. I dropped out of high school my senior year and I finished my high school credits at home. I grew up in a small town, and my graduating class was under forty students. I’d gone to school with most of those students since kindergarten. So you could say that my world was pretty small.

After high school I met and married my husband, started college, and moved to a new town. I learned how to take care of a house, how to clean, how to cook. Each “growth” step was hard, and thankfully my family and friends were still close.

When John and I moved more than one hour away for him to go to college, I felt as if we’d traveled to a different universe. I learned how to live in a new town and how to make new friends. I started a small business making hand-crafted teddy bears, so I learned how to be a business woman.

A year after we moved I had another baby, so I learned how to care for multiple children. I realized I was more interested in writing than making teddy bears, and so I started doing that. I attended conferences and started learning about writing. With each step came changes, and looking back I realize my greatest asset was my ability to roll up my sleeves and try something new.

Every day we have a choice: to take a step to follow a dream or to stay stagnant and continue on as things are. I’ve grown and changed throughout the years because I hadn’t been afraid to learn. The wisest man who ever lived once said, “Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper,” (Proverbs 19:8 GNT). He knew what he was talking about!

Here are five simple steps to becoming a life-long learner.

  1. Learn who God created you to be. For a season I enjoyed being creative and making teddy bears, but when I first started pursing writing I KNEW I was made for this. I find joy even in the middle of the struggle. I always want to know more and do better. Work doesn’t seem like work {most of the time}.
  2. Learn your learning style. I learn best with books and papers piled around me. I usually have to write down my thoughts to process them. When I read a book, I underline. When I attend conferences I take pages of notes, and that’s just me. Figure out how you learn best and use your preferences to your advantage.
  3. Listen. I’ve learned so much from listening to others. I build relationships with people who I respect and want to learn from. I read blogs written by people I respect. I pay attention to those around me in everyday life.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try something new. I try new recipes and visit new places. I watch how-to videos . . . and then try it myself!
  5. Teach. The best way to incorporate your knowledge is to teach it. As a mom you have a willing student in your child. Involve your child in whatever you’re learning. If you’re cooking, sit your little one on the counter to watch you. Let your child know the things that interest you.
Because of my willingness to learn, this teen mom became a best-selling author, an avid traveler, and a teacher at conferences. I cook, have a nice house, and always have a pile of books at my side.

Learning can take you far—you just have to be brave and start! Once you start learning and growing, your life will never be the same. Your child’s life will never be the same either as he or she learns to follow in your footsteps!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

If only our emotions were as adorable as our emoticons.....

I don't know about you, but some days, it seems like my emotions and feelings totally take the reins and leave me hanging on for dear life. Sound familiar?

Emoticons on Facebook or text messages can be pretty cute, even the sad or angry ones. I love using those things!!! But in real life...emotions aren't as adorable. 

It's easy to chalk it up to "That's just how it is" and "that's life" and give up claiming victory over our thoughts and emotions. 

Well guess what? We DON'T have to live that way. Jesus came that we might have life and more abundantly! 

But we can't deal with issues we haven't yet admitted are there yet, can we?  ;)

So to get started - take this quiz like I did, and see how you measure up in handling your emotions! You'll need a scrap of paper and pen to record your scores. Then let's talk about our results in the comments section! Because the best part of dealing with these issues is that we are NEVER alone in how we feel...

I'll go first. I scored "Mostly B's", which puts me under this category: 

If you scored mostly B's:
You seem pretty balanced, and that's a good place to be. You're comfortable with your emotions. You're not afraid to show them, but you don't let them rule your life, either. You're able to shed a tear now and then, but you also know laughter is definitely the best medicine.

But there were two answers where I scored a C (the most emotional choice) and some of the B answers were borderline between B and C. I want to be balanced in all areas, and not let any C's in my life to get the best of me. 

So how do we work on overcoming our feelings?

1. We apply God's word to our thought life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." We have to actively thought our thoughts captive. 

This is also referenced in Romans 12: 1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Do you see the common denominator? Our minds, our thoughts. Our feelings are based off these things. If we are thinking on negative, sad, depressing, or downcast circumstances and situations in our lives, our feelings are sure to follow. So we take the thoughts captive, and let our feelings follow. In order to take thoughts captive, you have to redirect them and choose to think on things that are of God instead. You can do this by praying, internally or out loud, and singing/worshiping Jesus when the bad thoughts come. It's a choice, and it's never easy, but always worth it. 

2.  We have to remember that feelings are not always true. In fact, I would say, MOST of the time, our feelings are very misleading and can override what we know to be true (God's Word) if we aren't careful. So remember that just because you might FEEL insignificant or FEEL unattractive or FEEL unloved or FEEL unworthy, that does NOT mean that you are. Quite the opposite, my friend!! :)  Fight those thoughts with God's word and His truth. And kick those bad emotions to the curb. 

What are your thoughts on this? Do you struggle with your emotions? How do you handle it? Do you have any other ideas to share?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Three Perfect Gifts for Your Parents (a guide for teens)

Sometimes it’s easy to forget parents are human. They mess up and hope you don’t see. They act up and hope you’ll forgive them (even if they shrink back from asking forgiveness). They get tired and cranky, know it, and feel bad about it.

Here are three perfect gifts you can give them during this time.

Photo Credit

1. Understanding. If you see one of your parents messing up tell him/her that you’re not perfect either but you appreciate what they do, and how they try.
2. Grace. Wait until the difficult moment passes and later offer a hug. Tell your parent that it must be hard having his/her role.
3. An offering. When you see that your parent is tired offer to do a small chore, make a cup of tea or suggest you watch his/her favorite movie together. It’s amazing how those little things can brighten
someone’s day!