Thursday, November 28, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day…wow…so many thoughts filling my mind. I could sit and ramble for a very long time naming my blessings and what I'm truly thankful for. However, that would bore you and add that to the triptofan from the mountain of turkey you are consuming today that would put you into a Thanksgiving coma!

Love, peace, health and happiness….I have been given them all, and today I am committed to having an attitude of gratitude that lasts longer than one day, or even one month.

QUESTION: What is the one thing you have never considered being thankful for?

Have a character building day!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Did You Say?

Sitting with the family tonight, having a time of family prayer and devotions, my 9 years old son asks a very serious question. "We say that we ask Jesus into our hearts. I'm confused. What does that mean? Your heart is just pumping blood. How do we know He's really there?"

I have failed as a good, Christian mom!! It's over, I give back every one of my chips of jewels that were to adorn my gold plated crown when I die and reach the eternal rest of heaven! Where did I go wrong? How in the world did I make my poor child believe that he must actually have a cracked open chest and Jesus actually lives in his little heart? Kids are so literal….and I forgot that!

It's not enough that we good intentioned parents realize how desperately we need Jesus, but that we find a way to share that with our kids in a way that actually doesn't scare them to death or freak them out or just honestly, causes them to say this isn't real, cause it just can't happen! How many times have you heard this phrase, "All you have to do is pray and ask Jesus in your heart."? How many times have I said it? Uggh!! Lord, I know you don't expect much out of me, but really, you could have stopped this one a long time ago!! Goodness, I feel like an absolute failure. So, what do I do now?

Honestly, I gotta tell you that I have no idea! God, (yes, it's me, again) I need Your help here! A childlike faith is what you tell us we need, and I've been shoveling grown up portions of the truth to someone who just isn't ready to deal with that, what do I do now? I know that the thief on the cross is as saved as saved can be, and living with you in Paradise, why can't I just remember to say that all you have to do is say, "Lord, I believe."

QUESTION: Have you found a good children's devotional book that you'd like to recommend? Post the title here, I'd love to check some new ones!

Have a character building day!

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's all in how you look at things!


Now this is a really great shirt to wear to remind yourself that even though things may look off, it's just a matter of what's most important. Does it really matter? Besides, how cool that this shirt will remind me to put things in perspective when my head hangs down in's right side up!!

Have a character building day!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Walk In Purpose

Characters by Susan's Design: These Boots Are Made For Walking

Characters by Susan's Design: These Boots Are Made For Walking: Seriously, this is NOT the style boot I was planning on wearing this weekend! How in the world can I possibly do the most bizarre things? ...

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Seriously, this is NOT the style boot I was planning on wearing this weekend! How in the world can I possibly do the most bizarre things? Picture this, I'm wearing my tennis shoes (yes, mom they were tied), walking across the living room floor, and boom! I'm on the ground! Absolutely nothing in the way, clear passage, and I end up with a chipped bone in the back of my ankle (which does not hurt...go figure), soft tissue damage and ligament damage on the top of my foot and ankle! Really?

I know there has to be a really good reason, and someday, I know God will reveal exactly what it is, but I have to say, I'm a little busy for this to happen! Now what? I guess, this means I have to humble myself (seriously? I am not good at that!) and allow people to help me. Wait, I've needed help for the past two years! Who am I kidding? You would think that by now, I'd be good at accepting help, but it just goes against my personality. I'm the one who always offers a hand, and is able to jump in and do what's needed when others can not. Is there a lesson for me to learn, still, again, once more....hmmm...i'm going to think yes is the answer. 

God, I don't like sitting here and You know it. Thank you that it's not as bad as it could be, and that I have wonderful parents and kids that are able and willing to help out. But, God, this is really hard for me. I feel weak and needy. 

WATCH OUT....GOD JUST SAID, "REALLY???" Of course I'm weak and needy, and that's not a bad thing to be at times. No, I'm not saying I think we should be incapable of caring for ourselves and the normal things at hand, but I know I am a weak woman of flesh, and I need a Big Savior! I also need to allow people to help me. It's their opportunity to minister to me, and allow Jesus to be visible to me through them. 

QUESTION: When do you feel weak and needy, and do you allow others to be Jesus to you?

Have a character building day!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I Have Seen the Light!

It's amazing how 6:30 am on a Monday morning is much more inspiring in the fall! I love to get the kids up and they are not waking in the dark! (Yes, I know, most teenagers walk around in a dark cloud, brooding and sluggishly preparing for their day regardless of light or darkness! Let's leave them out of this!) Beyond how the kids feel, I know that I am a better Mommy this time of year.

The cool crisp mornings, now filled with light in the sky, seems to have lifted a feeling of blah! You know the feeling, don't sit there on the Grammar Judgement Bench and roll your eyes, you know exactly what I mean! This time of year never fails to bring me hope, inspiration and feelings of refreshment. I am more rested, more creative and actually have more energy. OK, so maybe I'm a little different, but the leaves falling from the trees after having been changed to beautiful colors give me hope.

This is the season that the old falls away and after a period of harsh times, new life and opportunity will spring forth. It's a season of retrospect for me. I take a quick inventory of what my year has looked like, what have I accomplished and what do I need to do differently. I then use the next few months to really dig in and seek out ways to make the coming year better.

I have seen the light...and I'm thankful. The Light of my precious Jesus, the light of a new morning and the light of love that I see in my children's eyes (yes, even the teenagers at 6:30 am) are all I need.

What does fall mean to you?

Have a character building day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Characters by Susan's Design: I tongue in cheek call my blog Characters by Susan...

Characters by Susan's Design: I tongue in cheek call my blog Characters by Susan...: I tongue in cheek call my blog Characters by Susan's Designs, but I know I really had nothing to do with it! God has a fabulous sense of...

Oops...I did it Again!

Really? I know you are quite surprised that I could possibly make the same mistake, again. Well, I'm not, for goodness' sake! I don't intentionally set out to screw things up, I'm gifted, and trust me it doesn't take much! How many times have you promised yourself you'd never let that hurt ever happen again, or that you'd never be taken by surprise the next time? Me? I say that every time I experience heart ache, surprise, disappointment and keep adding to the list. You get my drift!

Well that's just dumb thinking on my part. No, I'm not being hard on myself, it's just a reality check that sometimes I have to take myself through to remember that that is exactly who I am, and that's a good thing! I have been designed to love freely, give graciously and look for the good in all people and situations. Some may say that's naive, however, those are the same people that always have a frown on their faces, and trust me, I'm forty-something, and need nothing else to droop on my face!!

I used to get frustrated with myself each time I realized I had been "fooled" yet again. I couldn't understand what in tarnation was wrong with me that I could fall for the same old lines and be so blinded by the sun or the stars or whatever it was that blinded me to the outcome! For a long time I just thought I had zero idea how to judge character or know whether or not this person or that person would be out to bring hurt, harm, sadness or joy that would come with a price! Know what? Yay me!! I'm not supposed to sit in judgement. I'm not in control of anyone else's actions or motives, only mine.

It may sound simple minded and foolish to say that even though I've been dealt my share of disappointments, I'm just as ready to open my heart to the next person! No, not romantic stuff, well, not all of the time, but I mean to people who cross my path. I am designed to be me: loving, compassionate, adventurous, encouraging and yes, even stubborn!

How much you want to bet that it won't be long before I say, "Oops, I did it again!" I will hurt for a moment, may even cry a few tears, but I will pick myself back up and thank God for making me who I am and do it all over again!

Question: What mistakes do you make over and over?

Have a character building day!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Get Real!

One of the biggest risks you will ever take is being real with someone. There are so many possible outcomes available, and not all of them are happy! So what are we to do?

How many times have I been in a situation, marriage relationship, girlfriends, parents, siblings, children or co-worker situation, that I wish I'd have been bold enough to be real? Too many to count! Those of you who know me personally, I'm sure are making faces of disbelief and asking when wasn't I real!?? Believe it or not, there are times that even I lack the confidence to be transparent and honest with someone because I honestly hate confrontation! Again, quit laughing!! (you know who you are, and so do I!)

Often, there are times that I have really screwed things up, and just need to say it out loud, confide in someone and let them help me through the situation. However, I am not one that likes to be wrong! I cringe at the thought of my circle of influence ever knowing that I'm afraid! Admitting failures and sins is something I'd really like to never have to do!

Guess what, I can even have trouble when it's a good thing! Can you imagine? What would be hard about saying to someone, "You make me happy." or "I like being in your space." or even "I love you."? Fear of rejection gets in the way, way too often! Now, stay with me, can you imagine being rejected by your spouse? Can you imagine being rejected by your best friend? Is it possible that your parents could ever make you feel insecure? We all know our siblings can, I mean that's what they're for! Right? It does happen, and I know, unfortunately, I've made others feel the same. *Let me take a moment here and just say that I humbly apologize to all who I have made feel rejected at any time in our relationship, and ask for your forgiveness.*

How amazing would it be for us to have the freedom to go to that one person and say it's time, and I need to be real. Each of us need an accountability partner, someone that we trust with our innermost longings, biggest failures and deepest fears. Choose wisely before opening up! How do you know who the right person is? There are a few traits that I would recommend looking for in a person before baring your soul! Here's what I look for:

1. Is she (since I'm a girl, I will only have a female accountability partner and I recommend you find someone of the same gender as yourself for yours, we are talking about an emotional entanglement, and let's be pun intended....this can be tricky!!) a Christian, open about her faith and a prayer warrior?

2. Is she someone I look up to?

3. Is there wisdom in her words and actions?

4. Is she one that speaks well of others to you?

5. Is she an encourager?

6. Has God brought her into my life for this purpose? (here's where a prayer or several will come in handy! Ask God is this who I should be real with.)

There is an unimaginable amount of peace that comes when you are able to open your heart and bare your soul and just being transparent with someone. No judgement, no looks of shock or dismay, just genuine care and concern for another's well being: spiritual, emotional and physical. Am I able to be that for someone? I'm praying that God will see fit to open my heart to someone, have me become a better listener than speaker, be compassionate yet honest with no condemnation or ridicule.

It's time, friends....Get Real!

QUESTION: Is there something in your closet of skeletons that when it fell out into the open wasn't received as badly as you were afraid it would be?

Have a character building day!

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Want To Be Ready!

Ever have those days where you wake up ready to face anything thrown at you and own the world? I have that day everyday, for about 2 minutes! Then, wham! Reality settles in and the feelings of doubt in my abilities start. Ok...not every day, but too often! So, what am I to do?

Now I didn't say what I really do, rather what should I do! If my mornings started the night before that would be incredibly smart! How do I do that? Well, I'm so glad you asked! Preparing in advance for the next day starts with the checklist:

1. Are backpacks ready and kids' clothes picked out?

2. Oh good grief, do we have milk for breakfast? Food for lunch boxes?

3. Yes? Well now I need to be thankful for God's provisions for this day as well as tomorrow!

4.  I really need sleep!

5. The alarm? Did I set it? Ok, we are good!

6. Quit hitting the snooze! Susan, for heavens' sake get up!

7. Thank you, God, for a restful night and every breath I take today. Show yourself to me!

There you have it! 7 simple steps to being ready! Ok, we know there is so much more involved. What are we really striving to be ready for? The day is only 24 hours so only so much can take place, right?  Haha!  Are you serious? In all honesty I never know what will unfold and neither do you. Stuff happens! Being ready for anything simply means trusting that when the unexpected happens, my Strong Tower will never crumble! He's prepared for what I am not!  Hold firmly to His promises to have planned for your good!

Ok, God, I'm ready! (I will need to be reminded of this often! Just sayin')

QUESTION: What do you do to be ready?

Have a character building day!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yeah, I'm a Princess!

Did I Really Think I Knew What I Was Doing?

In our minds, we know everything: the right things to say, the right places to go, the right people to surround ourselves with and what it means to be happy. HaHa! Who are we kidding? If I really knew all of these rights, I can assure you I wouldn't have made the choices I've made and done the things I've done! The stories we write in our minds are powerful. Write a story of success and self worth and you will more than likely be successful and feel pretty good about yourself. There is, however, a catch to this...bear with me!

When we tell ourselves the story of how life is going to be, we typically leave no measure of open mindedness to the possibility we don't have it all figured out! Not that we shouldn't strive for success and happiness, of course we should! Trust me, I've written the negative stories, too often, and that's no good for anyone!! (another time we can talk about that!) While the story of success is what we write, we actually only read the ending. What about the middle of the story? You have to know not just what you want to become, but you have to know that along the journey you're going to have choices to make. How do we know what direction to take? And when you make the wrong choice, and you will down the road, how do you get back on the right path and make up for lost time?

Are you a strong enough person to admit you were wrong? Great! I wasn't! You see, the ending of my story was picture perfect, I just didn't take time to consider that getting to the end would probably be tough! The first bumps along the journey slowed me down momentarily, but I was full of energy and confidence and nothing was going to stop me from being the first one to get to the end of the story! I'm awesome like that! However, what happens over the second and third bumps? It's harder and harder to stay motivated, takes a little more energy and determination and the ending of the journey is looking further away in the reality of living then it ever did in my mind.

So, what do you do? I can tell you what not to do from experience, but let's keep this as positive as possible! First things first, you have to be in contact with the One who gave you the dream to start with. Yes, you know who I'm talking about, God. His plans for us are to prosper and never to bring us harm. So pray about it. (Susan, please read this part over and over because you are the worst at skipping step God!) Then share your dream with someone you trust, someone you know will encourage you, pray for you, hold you accountable and cheer as you cross the finish line. You become like the five people you hang around the most...(ok, so I have 5 kids, therefore I may be a bit simple and childish about life right now!!) I think the most important part of reaching your dream is knowing what to do in the middle of the journey, the part you didn't think about, the how you actually get there!

Wait, you don't know the middle? Neither do I! This is where the need for being open minded comes into play. As we travel along, wrong turns, bad choices or just plain whining will happen. It's these times that we need to ask for help. Maybe you're on the right track and just lack the confidence to remain there. Maybe you're way off base! Keeping yourself open to the possibility of being completely unsure of what to do will help if you will set aside the attitude of knowing it all and allow yourself to be open and vulnerable and teachable. The end of the story is great! Don't change it! However, be prepared for a few rewrites along the way!

QUESTION: Have you come to a place in the journey where you wanted to give up? What kept you going?

Have a character building day!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Building character in our kids

A few of my favorite characters I've designed!

I tongue in cheek call my blog Characters by Susan's Designs, but I know I really had nothing to do with it! God has a fabulous sense of humor, and He giggles (laughs out loud) regularly at my total chaotic life that I used to think I was in control of! Isn't it funny to know, that even when we think we have it under control, we are in control of nothing about our lives! Stay with me, I promise I have a point that makes sense!

I planned my perfect life, pretty images of how my life would be. Well, that didn't work out! I've pretty much made a disaster of the first 40 years of my life, but, wait, there's more! My five beautiful, healthy and talented kids, yes I said five, have turned my world completely into a reality that I never dreamed of! I am so thankful!! These kids have given me so much joy over the years, joy that I never could have imagined! They are truly gifts from God.

Oh, did I mention that I am a single mom to these five amazing kids? We are a team, for sure! I try to run a business from home, oh that home is the one that my parents opened to us after the brains of this outfit decided to go back to college at the age of 40! (That's a completely different post that will come later!) Not much has worked out like I planned, and you know what? I am so thankful!!

Stay tuned as this messed up mess of a woman reveals a message of hope, because I know someone needs to hear it! If nothing more than to laugh with me and realize you aren't as messed up as you thought you were!

Thanks for stopping by!

QUESTION: What have you had to give up control over?

Have a character building day!