Seasonal Changes

Fall has just started. I see Fall as a season of shedding and preparation. The leaves on the trees change and begin to fall in preparation for winter. Animals scurry about to prepare food and shelter while there’s still time to gather. The weather starts to cool down and we prepare ourselves with warmer clothing and generally heartier food.

The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air…that’s how we really now fall is here, right?

While trees are shedding their leaves outside, it’s a good time to reflect inside on what you may need to shed during this season of your life.

Maybe summer changed you. Maybe you realized some things in your life aren’t meant to be anymore.

Do you need to shed some old habits? Do you have items that need to be let go? Do you have thoughts that need to be changed?

Embrace the shedding that Fall brings. Let go of old habits and make room for new ones. Let go of things that no longer suit you. Let go of thoughts that hold you back.

We tend to hold onto things just because it’s what we know. Sometimes we continue doing things because it’s what others expect out of us. Don’t continue doing things you no longer want to do. Don’t be afraid to change because of what others think of you.

Letting go can be difficult. However, it’s often a necessary step in preparing for more. Sometimes we don’t see the things that could be because we have too many things blocking our view.

Shake off the old season and step into the new.

Take advantage of the seasonal changes both inside and out.

 

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be seasonal!

xoxo

Ash

 

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Does Compassion Make You Stronger?

When you hear the word compassion what comes to mind? Being sympathetic towards others? Giving to charity? Helping the hungry?

Compassion is multifaceted. It doesn’t just help those who are being shown compassion either. It can help the one choosing compassion. Showing compassion can make you stronger.

 

Compassion can mean changing your perspective. This isn’t something I’d like to admit, but I used to think that we needed to help everyone in our own country before helping those in other countries. I became desensitized watching the news of impoverished countries and the same commercials asking for monthly support for a child in need.

My perspective changed when people I know personally went and helped others in another country. Seeing them hold children who get one meal a day somehow makes it real. I was able to let go of how I felt before and look at it in a different way. Being able to change your perspective makes you stronger.

 

Compassion can mean forgiving others. We can easily forget when someone does wrong or hurts us it is often due to their own internal struggle or problem in their life. The easy thing to do is get offended and react harshly. And what good does that generally do?

The strong thing to do is pause and consider the cause. Next time someone hurts you or lashes out at you, calmly ask them why they are doing this instead of being quick to anger. You might be surprised at how quickly anger can be diffused when you try to get to the root of it.

 

Compassion can mean doing the little things. Having compassion doesn’t always have to be about some grand cause. You can have compassion in everyday situations. Open the door for the mother pushing the stroller and carrying groceries. Let the person who whipped across the parking lot have the empty space without getting angry. You don’t know what kind of day they’ve had or why they’re in a hurry.

I could go on and on with the little things, but you get the point. Small acts of compassion in everyday life makes you stronger.

Thinking about others instead of just ourselves is not a weakness. I know on social media we really embrace the “take care of you.” That’s fine. We need to take care of ourselves to better help others. Just don’t get so busy focusing on you that you forget to care for others too.

 

“…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Col. 3:12

 

Be brave!

Be strong!

Be compassionate!

xoxo

Ash

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Embrace Your Scars

Scars…We all have them. I used to think I had to hide my scars or deny that they are there. Now, I see them differently. These scars I bear have a purpose.

They serve as reminders. Some remind me of what hurt me so that I remember not to go back down that path. Some scars are there to remind me of the strength God gave me to make it through that battle. When I think I might not get through my current situation, these scars remind me that I can.

Then there are scars that are there to keep me humble. These scars remind me that I played with fire and got burned. I thought I knew best, but I was wrong. These scars run deep and still hurt sometimes. They serve as a reminder that I am forgiven, and I need God, always.

Many scars fade over time as we learn the lessons from those seasons. Some last forever so we don’t forget what caused that pain or who got us through it. Some are there for others to see that they are not alone and someone else has been there too. Sometimes others are meant to see our scars so that we can provide the wisdom they need to spare them from the same pain.

Whether they are fresh or old, don’t waste so much time trying to hide them. We all fall sometimes. We get too close to the fire. We get burned. We get cut. We get bruised by this life. And that’s okay.

Because we get back up. We keep moving forward. And we use them to live better.

Be brave. Embrace your scars. They are a part of your story. Let them serve their purpose.

xoxo

Ash

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Rip Off the Labels

Sometimes we feel so stuck by our past mistakes or focused on the mistakes of others, and we forget about redemption.

We are too quick to label people.  Do you know what drives me crazy?

Seeing hateful memes on social media, memes that box people in and beat people down.

For example, the “once a …” phrases…

            Once a liar, always a liar.

            Once a cheater, always a cheater.

            Once a quitter, always a quitter.

Um, hello! Where’s the forgiveness, the redemption, and the hope? What kind of hope is being given when someone posts, shares, or likes statements like that above?  Seriously! Think about it. Every time you sin, screw up, or do something stupid, do you want to be labeled by it? I sure don’t. Do you want someone assuming that whatever it was you did wrong you are going to keep doing for the rest of your life? No, thank you.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  (Romans 3:23-24)

We have all sinned. All of us. We get that part, right? Many of us have heard Romans 3:23 time and time again.  But, we don’t usually hear the next verse.

We have been redeemed. We don’t have to walk around wearing our sins or mistakes as labels.  Imagine seeing people walking around with the labels liar, cheater, quitter, thief. Now, could that possibly save us from getting involved with some dangerous people? Yes.  However, if you looked at your own labels from past mistakes, would they scare people away too?

A lot of people would avoid people for the things they did in their past. They may have spent the last twenty years doing all they can to be a better person though. So, let’s stop with the labels.

Don’t let this world tell you who you are always going to be and don’t do it to others.

Be brave!

Rip off the labels!

xoxo

Ash

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Shopping on Holidays

Since we are getting closer to the major holidays, I thought holiday shopping would be a good topic right now.

So, here’s the question: Do you shop on holidays?

My goal is to not shop on holidays anymore.

Retailers have changed the meaning of holidays. They have turned them into sales: New Year’s Day sales, Valentine’s Day sales, Easter sales, Mother’s Day sales, Memorial Day sales, Father’s Day sales, Fourth of July sales, Labor Day sales, Thanksgiving sales (Black Friday), and Christmas sales. When I look at the meaning of each of these holidays, I don’t see “go out and buy something” as part of it. (And yes, I do realize that Christmas is a gift-giving holiday. So, we’ll let that one slide.) My point is that these holidays are not holidays merely so we can go out and buy things for companies to increase their bottom line.

Businesses used to be closed on holidays, especially small businesses.  Over the years, major retail chains began opening earlier and earlier and staying open later and later to compete with each other. Now there are small businesses open on holidays they used to be closed on because they feel the pressure to keep up too.

I remember when Black Friday sales used to begin at 8AM. Then they started opening earlier and earlier until they got down to midnight on Thanksgiving. Then some of them decided to go ahead and cross that line and open Thanksgiving evening. Is that really necessary?

Last year more companies decided to start their sales earlier and spread them throughout the week of the holidays, instead of just one massive Black Friday sale. I think this is a step in a better direction, but I still feel they need to scale back the extended holiday hours.

Our culture has really become one with a “must have it now” attitude. If I need batteries for the remote at 11:00PM, I should be able to go get some. By golly, if I want a cheeseburger at 1AM, I should be able to get one. We don’t always think about the fact that somebody else has to be at work during those times for us to have what we want.

There are other cultures where shops close in the early evening and don’t open again until mid-morning. When it comes to holidays in those cultures, many businesses will close several days before the holidays, or even the whole holiday week.

Could you imagine that happening here? People would lose their minds! They couldn’t possibly make it all night without something, right? And how in the world could you go a week with a business being closed?

I’m not saying we should do everything other countries do. I’m just asking that we bring back the importance of family time and enjoying holidays, not just for us, but for those who work behind the counters. I get that some people don’t mind working the holidays, but there are many that do.

Every time you walk into a store on a holiday, you are giving that business a reason to stay open on that holiday, keeping some, if not all, of those employees from spending time with their loved ones. So, I encourage you to think about this next time you are ready to buy something on a holiday. Start planning ahead. Get what you need before the holiday. Give business owners reason to let their employees be with families on the holidays again.

Be brave! Break the cycle. Make a difference.

xoxo

Ash