imageJust because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I say this to my kids all the time.

It’s a reminder for me.

I can eat two bowls of salted caramel gelato.

I can watch endless hours of my favorite shows on Netflix.

I can ignore the tattooed girl in line at the cash register or be rude to the neglectful waiter at the restaurant.

I can let my bad mood ruin the day.

I can skip my workout.

I can gossip about my co-worker.

I can do all those things and a thousand others that seemingly have no effect at all.

Who cares if I watch 8 hours of Netflix or stuff myself with my favorite snack or gossip or stay in a bad mood?

The little things matter more than you know. Your habits matter. Your self-control and your kindness and your patience matters. Your simple acknowledgment of the girl in line at the grocery store matters.

And that’s why I’m challenging you to think beyond the things you can do. This is another one of my Live Like It Matters Challenges.

Think about what would be most helpful. Even good allowable things aren’t necessarily the best things. What’s permissible is not always beneficial. This applies to the choices we make every day.

This kind of thinking and doing helps you and others. Because in the long run, you’ll benefit from skipping the 2nd bowl of ice cream. You’ll reap the rewards of going to gym. And you can save yourself and your co-workers a lot of pain when you shut the gossip down.

Instead, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy one bowl of gelato. Watch only one episode on Netflix every now and then.

I’ll be kind to my co-workers and take every opportunity to encourage them.

I’ll be slow to speak when I’m in a bad mood and I’m going to try really hard to remember how good I feel when my workout is over. I’ll make sure to smile at those around me – even the waiter who never refilled my drink.

Because it matters. The little things we do matter.

Make the wiser choices. Think beyond what you can do and live like it matters.

  But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.    Galatians 5:22-23  NCV

In response to the Daily Post’s prompt
Second Thoughts.


Have you ever been doing something difficult and almost quit but didn’t because someone was cheering you on? I have. A lot.

It could be anything…..your first 5K, a new way of eating, a college course, your marriage, a new business proposal, volunteer work, staying organized, learning how to play the piano.

When you start something new, you’re excited and motivated. You can easily envision the benefits of taking it on.  You see the dream job, the business flourishing, the smiling kids at the community center, and the audience enjoying your rendition of Beethoven’s Fur Elise.


Then it gets hard. The college course requires more time than you thought. Your spouse isn’t living up to your expectations. The healthier way of eating means no more spontaneous Krispy Kreme runs. The bank wants more information about your new business idea. It takes a lot of practice to play the piano well.

The excitement has worn off. You’re tired and stressed. You forget the dream.

But then a friend reminds you of why you started it in the first place. She gives you the vision again. She says, “You’ve got this! Keep at it.”  She cheers you on.

You have the dream back. The tiredness isn’t that bad. You learn to manage your time to minimize stress. You keep practicing or you communicate better with your spouse or you find new healthier sweet treats to enjoy.

You think to yourself, “I CAN do this.”

Now you try it! Cheer someone on. Your frustrated co-worker could really use an encouraging word. Your teenager needs to hear you say you believe in him. Your friend needs to know she’s going to get through this tough season.

Look for opportunities to be a cheerleader.

Help someone see beyond today, beyond the frustrations and the pain.

You will be cheered on in the process.




It’s been a little while since my last Live Like it Matters Challenge. The challenges were initially a weekly feature posted on Wednesdays but lately I’ve issued them on different days and not weekly. I will continue to issue the challenges randomly for now.

My challenge to you today is to think about the next person, then act accordingly. You probably already do this. Like when you take your empty grocery cart to the corral, you’re thinking of the guy who will park his shiny new car in the parking lot AND the clerk who has to gather the carts to take them into the store.

My dad was the most excellent Next One Thinker I’ve known and actually inspired this challenge.  More than a year past his death and one of his small acts of “nextness” was appreciated by my husband the other day. The screws to the flat screen TV mount were taped to the bottom of the TV just in case the NEXT person wanted to mount it to a wall. Some would have thrown the screws away. Dad didn’t because he was thinking of the next person. The way Dad kept up with his tools, and his finances….the way he installed anything with extra safety measures…..the way he left us notes about where he kept documents….the way he taught us to be generous with our time and resources……all because he was thinking of the next person.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Another way you already think of the next person – I HOPE YOU DO THIS – is when you replace the empty toilet paper roll.  Do one even better and when the roll is almost empty, put a new roll close by so no one is caught without enough TP.

You’re a Next One Thinker when you don’t put the milk jug in the refrigerator if there’s only enough milk left to soak one corn flake. Why? Because the next person has no need for one teaspoon of milk. You do the better thing by using the milk, drinking it, or even pouring it down the drain, but you do not put the milk jug back in the refrigerator.

The next person is blessed by you thinking of them and doesn’t even know it. But they surely know it if you don’t think of them.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of someone NOT thinking of the next person. You’ve been sitting on the toilet when you realized there’s not enough toilet paper or worse, no toilet paper.  Or poured yourself a big bowl of Cocoa Puffs and reached into the fridge for the milk jug and discovered there’s not enough there for a mouse. And you think, “Why did someone do this?  How selfish and cruel?”

Don’t be selfish and cruel!  Think of the next person.  Jesus said it best, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.

There are thousands of ways to think of the next person. At home, in your job, at the grocery store, the bank or school. Even in traffic. Yes, traffic. Let someone merge!  Don’t flip them off and/or make a scowling disapproving face.

Refill the copier with paper. Take good notes for a fellow student that’s absent because of the flu. Clean off your table before you leave Taco Bell. Load the dishwasher so that the dishes get as clean as possible. Take the weird flavored Greek yogurt back to the dairy aisle that you decided you didn’t want. Clean up your popcorn and candy wrapper mess before you leave the theater.

Think of the next person. We tend to forget how much it matters to do the small, kind, extra things.  IT MATTERS.  A lot.

But here’s the thing:  you will probably never hear a thank you for it.

Do it anyway.

When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.
Philippians 2: 3-4 NCV

Stay Informed

I apologize for my lateness on the Live Like It Matters challenge this week.

Normally, the challenges involve an act of kindness toward others. Something that can be done and the results seen immediately.

This one is different.

The events that have unfolded around the world this week have left me……I don’t know the right word.

Angry. Disheartened. Worried. Helpless.

I mostly feel helpless. What can a middle aged woman living in Alabama, USA do?

I came up with a few things:

  • I can pray. For the victims and for our leaders around the world and the future leaders of the world. I can pray for those that keep us safe….the military, our police, and any that are at the forefront of the fight.  I can pray for of us not to live in fear. And for those without hope, to find Hope. And I can pray for our enemies.
  • I can continue to live like it matters right where I am. I can be kind, say hello and thank you, go the extra mile, be happy for others when good things happen, laugh with them and cry with them.
  • I can stay informed. As much as I hate hearing about all the evil happening around the world I cannot stick my head in the sand and pretend it isn’t. That’s irresponsible. Sadly, I’ve been the person that won’t watch the news. But I can’t do that anymore. I need to get informed and stay informed about what’s going on with my fellow human beings around the world. Even if it hurts to hear about it. Even when it makes me angry. Even when I feel helpless a lot of the time. I know how to pray when I’m informed. I might have an epiphany of what I can do to help when I’m informed.

That’s the challenge this week. Get and stay informed. newsWatch the local or national news then go to other sources to find out more. Watch a well rounded variety of news programs, read several magazines, and check credible online sources.  Do not get your information from one source. The goal is to be accurately and fully informed.

One more thing:  fight the tendency to stay disheartened and worried and fearful.

Let’s shine.

And let’s pray, and live like it matters, and stay informed.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.        Romans 15:13 NLT


We are months into The Live Like it Matters Challenge now and I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am. Remember the point is to make us more aware of our daily interactions with others. Are we kind? Do we smile at others or scowl instead? Do we say thank you? Are we helpful?

Another way to live like it matters is to listen. It seems so simple but with all kinds of distractions at our fingertips we don’t do it well.

I’ve been guilty of multi-tasking while trying to listen and it doesn’t work.

You’re not listening if you’re checking Instagram or Twitter while your 14 year old is asking you about your first car. If you’re watching Netflix while your friend is trying to tell you about her day at work, you aren’t listening. Quit watching Periscope while your sister is asking about your plans for Thanksgiving.

Nothing says “you matter” like giving someone your undivided attention. I mean, “phone out of sight, TV off, looking them straight in the eye like there’s no one else around” kind of attention. That’s how you listen. You look them in the eye and really hear what they’re saying.

Don’t do the fake nods and the occasional glances in their direction and the “yeahs” acknowledging what was said when you really have no idea what was said.  Quit pretending to listen.

Just listen.

Instead of checking my phone when I get home tonight I’m going to listen. I’ll listen as my husband and kids talk about their day, their friends, or a new song by their favorite artist. I’ll get to hear how my children interact with one another……sometimes lovingly. Sometimes not so much. I’ll learn what made them laugh today. Or what made them angry today. I’ll find out if my husband had a rough day at work or not.

Later I will go to my bedroom to wind down and one of them will come in and lie across the bed.

I’ll ask, “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” is the usual reply.

Almost always he or she will start to share something. It may be trivial. But sometimes it’s not and it’s always important.

I’ll listen because I care deeply and I want them to know it.

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while she knows something.” 

                                    Wilson Mizner

The Extra Mile

It’s today and not Wednesday anymore. And Wednesdays are my usual day for posting my Live Like it Matters Challenges. I started to write last night even though it was past my bedtime but then my 18 year old son needed to talk. So we did. For an hour. I treasure our face to face talks because they don’t happen as often as they used to. It was worth the loss of sleep and not posting last night.

I witnessed something earlier this week and just knew that it would turn into a challenge. I was right.

This week I want you to go the extra mile. We’ve all heard the saying “go the extra mile”. These words of Jesus are recorded in Matthew 5:41: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” This is a hard teaching and one vastly different than most of us live, even when we claim we are kind and loving.

The extra mile isn’t easy. Especially if we’re forced to go the first one.

Most of us know the saying to mean to make an extra effort, or to go above and beyond what is required. I watched a garbage man (is that what they’re still called?) going the extra mile on Monday. After lifting the garbage can with the mechanical arm and dumping the trash into the back of the truck, the waste disposal man (I like that better) parked the garbage truck, climbed down from his seat, picked up the garbage container and walked it down the very long driveway to the side of the older home. I pass this home daily and have noticed that the garbage container is frequently at the side of the road, tipped over a lot of times. He must have noticed, too.

Then he went the extra mile. He did his job, then he went further. Because I know that walking a resident’s garbage can to the side of the house is not in his job description. He did something beyond what was required……something thoughtful and kind……..something extra. The ordinariness of his job turned extraordinary the moment he decided to do the “extra” thing.

What can you do this week to go the extra mile? What ordinary task can you turn extraordinary?  grocerystore(produce)

As I finish issuing you this challenge, my husband called to ask if I was going to the store. I had not planned on it. I was just there last night. What in the world could we need? I want to go straight home and change and go outside and talk to the kids and cook dinner so that I can get in the bed early. He knows that and said he could go but wanted to check with me first. But he’s been working a lot lately.

So instead of going straight home like I want to, I’m going to the grocery story for my husband. I’m going the extra mile.

This ordinary grocery store run just turned extraordinary.