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Permission to Rest

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“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…”” Psalm 46:10, NIV

I am closing down my office till Tuesday. Did not work much this week, but it was very important to spend a few days with my mom before she leaves for Ukraine.
I finally realized it is ok to have time off to spend with family and friends. We get so busy! For years I did not give myself permission to relax, delegate chores and just be and breathe.😥

Yesterday I was blessed to receive numerous messages with birthday wishes via text and FB posts and I appreciate all my friends reaching out and showing their love. But there was only one girlfriend who actually called and sang “Happy Birthday “… 🎂

It made me think that we must be reminded to slow down, unplug and be fully present with the ones we love.

I came to realize that at least one day of rest per week has to be a nonnegotiable. For me it is Saturday. Regardless of my busy schedule it is a must. I am also going to unplug this weekend–no email checking or FB posting. 📖

Do you have a day of rest you keep? Do you unplug on occasion? Do you go to spend some time at the park, 🌳by the ocean, river or lake? When was the last time you got lost in a good book? Would you like to share your thoughts on this matter?

Blessings 

De-stressing The Holidays

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Today I want to talk to you not about the reason for the season, but about your relationships with your friends and family during this time of the year.
I am writing this blogpost after spending a beautiful afternoon in Malibu with a girlfriend.
A splendid California day with its bright sunshine in December was such a wonderful winter treat. Beautiful sunny day, blue skies and shimmering ocean—ahhh.
After going to church we chose to spend this day with each other, doing nothing “important”, catching up after months of being busy and not making time for a deep meaningful conversation. It was time to cancel shopping and running errands and talk “soul to soul” instead. Thankfully, with children all grown-up we can easily go for a stroll on a beach and drink hot tea on a porch overlooking the ocean— uninterrupted. For us this day it was time to slow down and spend time connecting, not consuming.
This time of the year we often get extremely stressed and overwhelmed, busy trying to do everything on our lists, run multiple errands and buy “perfect” gifts. We overlook importance of slowing down and “recharging”- with a book or a good movie, or by spending time with a friend without going shopping together and multitasking. Many of my girlfriends slow down in December only if they get sick… At times we have to be reminded to slow down, spend some quiet time in prayer and meditation, nurture our bodies and our most important relationships: with our Creator and loved ones.
Some women spend days and weeks planning and trying to throw “perfect” parties, especially during this season of festivities. I think it is a true gift—to be able to pull together a great gathering and enjoy all aspects of the proses. I am not writing about those, who breeze through holiday preparations with ease and grace. Not that many women do. Majority are trying to prepare for the holidays while juggling careers, kids and running regular household tasks.
Often the idea is great—it will be so nice to get together with friends and family. But somehow, regardless of initial good intentions of having a great time with friends, many ladies exhaust themselves in preparation, while making sure guests have a wonderful time. Occasionally they even force their family members out of their comfort zones in order to impress others, sacrificing peace and joy at home to please guests. Hospitality is important, spreading good cheer and happiness are important, but we need to ask ourselves: what are the true reasons for all our actions, especially in holiday preparations? Do we try to buy gifts, attend events and host people at our homes to enjoy each other’s company and please God, or do we try to fill up our need to be loved by pleasing people we barely know? Do we ever switch from doing things to bring joy to those around us, to doing to much and becoming overwhelmed?
What are our true priorities and motives? Is it God, our families and “other people”- in that order? We can enjoy the holidays to the fullest when we focus on joy, not our todo lists. Planing and writing down what needs to be done helps to give us a sense of control. Writing down on our lists why we are doing all those things and how we want to feel in a process is a good reminder of why we are scheduling all these activities. In my line of work as a life coach I help women to handle stress and challenging situations. I encourage clients to write down motives for their action, which helps to reflect on true reasons we do things.
When we are willing to carefully examine our motives for various actions we take, we can learn to break old patterns of wrong priorities and toxic overthinking in our lives. With enough practice it will become easy to focus on what means the most for us. For majority it is happy loving family and healthy caring relationships. We can start each day by praying and quietly asking: Dear God, how may I please you today in my actions and my words, how can I fulfill my purpose?

I wish you to have truly amazing holidays filled with love, while surrounded by true friends God put in your life.

Merry Christmas!

Lena Giffoni

My book “Return To Joyful Living: Reclaiming Life From Fear, Anxiety and Toxic Overthinking” will be available in January

Laundry Room as a Spiritual Retreat

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15 ESV

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Two days after I posted my previous blog entry Spiritual Desert of a Laundry Room I had a breakfast with a couple of girlfriends. As we were having a great time catching up one of the ladies mentioned a beautiful red lamp she recently purchased for her laundry room. Laundry room? Did I hear her correctly? I was not the only one surprised. We were curious why she decided to decorate such a place in a special way. The answer was unexpected as well as eye opening. For this woman her laundry room has become her spiritual retreat. She loves coming there at night not only to wash clothes for her family of five but also to enjoy some solitude and prayer time. She decorated it with splashes of color and items she likes to make it cozy and inviting.

Listening to her I thought how a change of perspective could completely switch one’s attitude. Decorating a place you spend a lot of time at and leaving negativity at the door can be revolutionary in a sense how you perceive any task you complete in that space and possibly affect your overall satisfaction with life.

I remember praying for my loved ones on numerous occasions as I did household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry. My least favorite was ironing. I disliked it since childhood. We did not have a dryer when I was growing up, clothes came out wrinkled after being line dried and it was my responsibility to iron piles of clothes week after week. I became an expert at ironing, but I hated it. Later on even with a dryer there were still things that needed to be pressed. I used to set my ironing board in front of a TV and watch spiritual shows because not even sitcoms worked to sweeten a pill of this task… I also learned to pray more for my husband as I was pressing creases out of his dress shirts. Can you imagine my huge sigh of relief when I was able to send stuff to the cleaners where someone was doing laundry for me? Halleluiah!

Most people I know can easily identify their most and least favorite house chores. For me ironing tops the list of least favorite and it took a lot of prayer not to spiral down into resentment and self-pity when I was doing it.

What I do like is washing dishes by hand. There is something soothing about warm soapy water running through my fingers. It brings me to an almost meditative state of mind and it feels like a mini-retreat. I think that is what my friend experiences when she does laundry in a quiet room at night. Nobody interrupts her thoughts there and she can just be. Often this is as much “me” time as she allows herself.

Having downtime to unwind is necessary for everyone and there are many ways to do it. Often we think it is necessary to allot special time and find a place. But it can be as unorthodox as one’s laundry room or a quiet time by a kitchen sink.

It is funny how house chores can become uplifting spiritual experiences regardless if you like them or not. It’s all in a mindset.

 

Spiritual desert of a laundry room

 

 

 

 

imageIt has been a long day and you are very tired. You cooked and fed your family dinner, cleaned up the dishes and checked kid’s homework. All you want is to go to bed. After a week of work, taking care of family, cooking and cleaning, checking homework and running errands almost everything is done and the house is quiet. Resentment is building up as you are folding laundry. There you are, in a quiet house, feeling so sorry for yourself. It is late at night and you are exhausted. You are physically, emotionally and spiritually spent…

 

Does it sound at all familiar? Very likely it does. At times like this you may just want to sit down and cry, feeling sorry for yourself. Or you may get angry, harboring resentment towards ungrateful or innocent members of the household. You may begin questioning: ‘Lord, why do I have to do it all by myself? Why there is no help? I know, nobody can do this job better than I can… If I decide to ask someone to help me with laundry or house cleaning they probably will mess things up! Very likely my sweaters and delicates will be shrunk, my carefully sorted whites will end up being washed with a red t-shirt or whatever someone else puts away will take me hours to find! That is why I don’t delegate… Yes, I do feel resentful for doing everything by myself and I can’t help it!”

 

Is there anything wrong with this picture? Do you see any contradiction here? What do you think can help you to begin enjoying your life?

 

Is it possible you can you get help by delegating the chores? Can you learn to be patient with other people’s mistakes when they are trying to help and contribute? Unfortunately, a common reaction for most of us is to negatively react and unleash anger at the person, usually a loved one or spouse, who was trying to help. Additionally, if he gets scolded for doing things in a wrong way he may not even want to help again and give it another try. This in turn can make us even more resentful and subject to our own self-righteousness and self-pity. Why we allow such patterns to occur? It is never too late to re-focus and get out of this downward spiral of misery. Do you punish a baby when she is making her first steps and fall again and again? My guess is you just lift her up, encouraging and praising her with smiles and cheering. Why don’t we do it with the grown-ups in our lives? Why can’t we smile looking at the burned dinner someone tried to make for us and simply say “Thank you” biting our tongue and silencing our mocking comments? Why don’t we allow others to help us even if we know they are not going to do a “perfect” job? Why don’t we kindly ask for help when no one volunteers? Can we communicate love instead of hurt and resentment? How can we accomplish this? How can we become happier and cultivate loving and caring relationships? We should realize achieving positive changes takes work and continuous effort. Sometimes we should ask ourselves are we just generally lazy? Even worse are we tempted to leave everything as is and resort to unleashing anger at times to the people we love. Is that the kind of life we should be living?

 

Changes happened when we get to the point where we want them to occur. You can be happy if you use the right approach. Change your perspective. Don’t attempt to change others or make their lives miserable. Establish a new habit of gratitude that leads to happiness. Focus on love. When you feel resentment and anger towards someone try to remember what you appreciate about this person. Focus on what you like about him or her. Meditate on love.

 

It takes time and effort to build a mutual loving and caring relationship. For a garden to flourish it not only needs to be planted, but fertilized, watered, weeded and pruned. It is our choice to be together with someone. It is our choice to work on connection and partnership. It is our choice to sow kindness and love with generosity of heart to reap joy and peace.

 

 

 

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 

 

Male And Female- Go Figure…

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“So God created humans in his own image, in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

I get it- we are different. But could our Lord Almighty not go to such extremes?! Us, girls, like to talk, they- usually- not that much. Well, no one knows how to listen these days- males or females- with the exception of your shrink- so there is another problem right there. We need love, romance, flowers, being swept off our feet- constantly- and they demand respect. Oh, my. And we supposed to be in pairs! Why?!

So a woman goes into a relationship thinking that there is a prince charming in this world who can complete her. Yeah, right! That famous phrase from “Jerry Maguire”: “you complete me” is misleading, to say the least. You are God’s complete creation, and don’t you ever forget it! In His ultimate wisdom- only He knows why- he intended for many of us to find a pair. At the same time Lord created you very special and unique, and He did so according to His plan. Another person can enhance you, but not “complete” you.

To make matter even worse nowadays people are waiting to start families. When two people meet after they became accomplished adults and are used to make their own decisions for quite sometime, there will be additional challenges in a relationship– trust me on this.

Lord created us in His image, so there is similarity, but He did not cancel gender, cultural and socio-economic differences.

After all, “male and female he created them” according to His divine design.

We are “wired” differently and that is a fact. It takes grace, forgiveness, lots and

lots of prayer and a salad bowl full of Fruit of the Spirit with extra helpings for two to become one. Yes, we do need His Amazing Grace all the time.

We all know men have no weaknesses, but if they hypothetically did they will allow only a few people to witness such “flaw of manly character”, a wife usually being #1 on a list of confidants. In such case a husband needs wife’s confidentiality. It is not advisable to share his secrets and weaknesses with others- it will turn against you if he finds out. Trust is a must. He also needs your tenderness, understanding, devotion, love, care, strength, advice, help as well as a listening ear- after all, he is a biggest child of them all- just never tell him that! It may take quite some time to learn just to listen, giving your undivided attention and not just to daydream when he is talking about sports or carburetors. Switching a conversation to stories about you is another no-no. That what you have girlfriends for- to vent about life, to complain, to support each other. Men cannot just sit there, listen to what is going on in your life and nod- guys are natural problem solvers. When we are just venting about something, what men hear is that we are having a problem and they need to fix it.

Bottom line is- men and women are different by design. To grow in a relationship be yourself, getting to know who you are and who Lord created you to be. Learn to like and respect yourself and you will be able to do the same to others on a highest level. Getting a tiara and wearing it around the house from time to time may assist you to be more tuned-in to your inner queen. “Love your neighbor as yourself” implies you love yourself first. Not the self-centered and totally egotistical kind of love, but respect and confidence that you are wonderfully made in the image of your Creator.

Some women believe that a man in their life is supposed to meet all their needs. Whom are we kidding? Are we expecting a mere man to provide for us? Aren’t we attempting to take God out of the picture? With such expectations we are telling our Heavenly Father that He and what He is giving us is not enough, forgetting that Lord is the only one who knows all our needs can meet them.

is not right to have anything to stand between you and God, even the most beautiful relationship in the world. Sometimes we get too attached to a person, and when Lord chooses to take that person away- either just out of our lives or to heaven- we are overwhelmed with grief, forgetting that there is a reason for us to be here and to press on. Lord never wastes a sorrow or a tear. He chose the parents for you- for better or worse, places you lived at and people who came into your life-all for a season. He allowed everything to happen for a reason, to put you in circumstances where you can fulfill His purpose for your life. No one is designed to give to others what you have to give. You are God’s masterpiece, “wonderfully made” by Him. There is a unique purpose for your life, even if you can’t see it yet, blinded by today’s sorrow of loss. Life is a box of chocolates, even when the box is stained, torn and overall unappealing, there are yummies inside- just wait and see!

And here is a final thought: many people think that contribution in a relationship should be a 50/50 deal. There is a slight problem, though: everybody’s idea of

50% is different. In math it makes sense and 50%+50%=100%, but in real life it

does not always adds up this way. Just give of yourself in love, without always

expecting to be met in a middle. As we are reminded in the most beautiful Bible passage about love:

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

…13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13

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