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Are  you tired of living on a battlefield? Does it seem like every time you turn around there’s an argument brewing?

As I was writing my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I included some practical ways we can choose our battles wisely and also diffuse some battles so we’re not constantly in a warzone with our children. But I realized recently, that these peace-making principles can apply to ANY relationship. That’s probably because our battles can be intensified or diffused altogether based on how we — as wives, moms, and girlfriends — choose to react.

Whether you’re going head-to-head with your teenager, your husband, a friend, or a difficult family member, these steps can help you bring calm to an otherwise chaotic situation:

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negativity_positivity1-300x245Are you feeling dragged down by the negativity around you? Maybe it’s the critical comments you hear others making at work. Maybe it’s the complaints you hear at home. Or maybe a friend is going through a “downer” phase and it’s beginning to affect your perspective, too.

Each of us, every day, is posed with the opportunity (and temptation) to be critical, and focused on the negative. But I’ve found that as we stay positive we are emotionally and physically more healthy, more happy, and more productive.

As I was writing my book, When You’re Running on Empty, I included ways that we can be someone who builds others up, not tears them down. And I also included ways to not get sucked into the negativity trap. See if these help you stay positive and productive today:

  1. Limit your time around the “drainers.”  Do you hang around people who build you up or tear you down? Are most of your closest friends those who fuel your tank or drain you with their negative waves and depressing attitude?  Builders are harder to find, but they do exist. Being positive is a choice and when it starts becoming difficult, you may have to make careful and conscientious choices in terms of limiting the amount of interaction you have with people who drain you.
  2. Look for the good in every situation.   One positive element of being around a drainer is that you learn what you’ll sound like if you become one of them. Look for the good in the situation everyone else is complaining about and you’ll be visibly — and audibly — living out God’s will in front of others.  First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That tells me we should be looking for the “thank you, God” in ALL situations…even the one everyone else around you is complaining about.
  3. Let it Go. Sometimes we just hang onto things too long. A hurtful comment someone made about us. A stressful situation we can’t do anything about.  Even trivial things that don’t really matter in the long run. Let it slide off your shoulders and move on. The freedom of living lightly (and not loaded down) is a choice. Decide to let go of things that don’t ultimately matter….and things that threaten your peace of mind.

REbookcoverFor more ways to keep positive, keep moving forwardrunningonemptycover runningonemptycoverand keep yourself from running on empty, see my book by the same title. And I’d love to hear how YOU prevent negativity from ruining your day.

frustrated-woman-at-computerIt happens to all of us at one time or another. You’re plugging along, doing just fine, and then it happens. Paralysis. Lack of motivation. Maybe even rejection or a  sense of defeat everywhere you turn. You feel stuck.

In whatever way you feel you are lacking forward motion, there’s a way to climb out of the trap you feel you’re in.

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Do you ever feel desperate when it comes to parenting? mominspiresbooksigning2

Rhonda and I know how you feel.

We each have had our moments when we’ve had to cry out to God for His wisdom, grace, and the ability to see it through.

I recently shared the stage with my friend, Author Rhonda Stoppe,  for a  book-signing talk and dessert for our newest releases — her book, Moms Raising Sons to be Men — and mine, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter.

In our time together, Rhonda shared that, as a young mother,  she was desperate to find someone — anyone — to teach her to be the mom she wanted to be.

“I cried out, ‘I NEED HELP, LORD!!'” Rhonda said. Maybe you can identify with her struggle.

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    While going through my daughter’s backpack when she was in the second grade, I found a paper on which she had written her spelling words for the week. I was pleased to see an “A” for correct spelling and grammar. But as I read her sentences, I realized whom I had become in her eyes:

“Busy – My mom is always so busy. “time_flies_2

“Time” – My mom never has enough time.”

“Speed – My mom does things with such speed.”

“Garden – My mom used to spend time in the garden.”

My heart sank as I realized two things: The first was that, to my seven-year-old daughter, I was her whole world.  Every sentence was about her mom. She observed me, studied me, wanted to be like me. And the second realization was this:  She saw me as a mom who was rushing through life, not as one who took the time to be with her.

I took a good hard look at my life that evening and realized that isn’t who I wanted to more

to do listA mother of three young children, who works part-time,  told me this past week that she wrestles with guilt feelings that she’s not  leading a ministry or serving in some capacity in her church.

“I sometimes wonder if I’m doing enough for God,” she said.

Have you ever found yourself saying that?

We live in a world focused on doing to the point that busyness is our badge of success and multi-tasking in the church is what appears to others — and ourselves — as ultra spiritual. But  although a relationship with the Living God produces a desire to obey Him and serve Him,  that service results in joy and rest, not perpetual stress!

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stressedwoman2These are stressful times we live in. But that doesn’t mean we have to fall apart as a result.

Everywhere I turn I hear of women who have experienced unimaginable heartaches, marriages that are in crisis, families that are financially strapped, and people struggling with cancer and disease.

Stress — whether it be personal, marital,  financial, or medical — takes its toll on us in many ways. And it’s natural for us to reach out to someone — primarily our husbands or those closest to us — to get the relief, encouragement or support we believe we need to get through stressful times. But depending on others during stressful times can backfire on us:

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Time FliesA married mom of two daughters, ages 2 and 6 months, asked me for advice on those days when she has a hard time just getting up and getting going.

I remember those days, feeling life was taking a lot out of me. Feeling my child was needing so much from me. And, at times, feeling I had so little left to give.  I survived those days by taking some advice from  Moses in Psalm 90:12. It was a simple prayer of his that refocused me on what was most important and warned me not to wish away that season of life too quickly:   read more

“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” (First Corinthians 9:27)

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to keep from running on empty, is to keep yourself moving. exercise

To the contrary, we tend to think the more we slow down and the more we sleep, the more energized we’ll feel. But, don’t buy the lie. Being sedentary makes us more sedate. Sleeping longer makes us more sluggish. On the other hand, the more we move, the more we’ll be able to. The more energy we expend now, the more we’ll have later.

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Have you noticed how draining negativity can be? glass-half-full

That’s why it’s important for you to keep positive…by keeping positive people around you.

For the past six weeks I’ve been sharing tips on surviving stress from my book,  When You’re Running on Empty. This week, you can keep from feeling run down by surrounding yourself with people who will build you up, not bring you down.

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focusDo you ever feel like giving up? I know I do. But that is usually when I’m focused on my feelings, rather than the facts.

My feelings — and yours — are unreliable because they change  all the time. Our feelings are influenced by our circumstances, our moods, and our hormones. And so, our feelings should never be left unchecked, or be the cause for our major decisions. We should, instead, rely on the facts — which never change.

Take a look at what happened when one songwriter decided to focus on the facts, rather than how he was feeling.

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WomanjugglingCall it my “dysfunction” but I used to try to please everyone around me. Life is less stressful, I thought, if everyone around me is happy. Yet, trying to please everyone is one of the key ingredients to feeling over-scheduled, stressed, or burnt out.

There is only one of you. And there are millions of needs, causes and jobs out there calling for your attention.  There are demands on your schedule every time you turn around. Therefore you must know Whom you are trying to please so you end up doing only those things He calls you to do.

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palm treeEver have one of those mini-vacations where you take a couple days to sit by the hotel pool, or enjoy a stay on a houseboat or spend a few days in the mountains? But when you come back to the everyday routine, you find that the sense of relaxation and rest is gone? That’s because you got away for a temporary fix. To keep from running on empty, you need a lasting one.

What if I told you that you have already access to a permanent stress reliever any time that you need it? read more

praying otterI’d like to say that every morning at the crack of dawn I am assuming this position (at left) and starting my day in prayer.  Actually, I can still remember days in my early 30s when I eagerly rose from bed at  5:30 a.m., spent some precious time in prayer and Bible study and then showered and got on with an extremely productive day.

All I can say now is Where did those days go?

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Closeup of a happy young womanAre you struggling with motivation today? Is it taking all you’ve got to just face what’s on your to-do list? Whether you’re stressed or feeling burnt out, how you face the day is key to getting through it.

I remember waking up one morning and thinking “I don’t feel like getting out of bed.  I don’t feel like doing all that I have to do today. I feel like I’m running on empty.

So I went to the Psalms that morning and what I found there in the Songs of Scripture was a pattern that  I needed to follow in my more

stress signI know how you feel.

Life seems to be going in a million different directions. There are so many things for you to do in so little time.  Kids are pulling at you or your job is pushing you. Responsibilities abound. And there’s only one of you.

I, too, know what it’s like to feel like you’re running on empty.

I hit that place in life about 7 years ago and was able to learn some things while there and bounce back….with a fresh perspective and momentum. Whether you are in full-fledged burnout, attempting to deal with stress in your life, or just desiring enough energy to get through your day, I want to offer you what helped me get back my fire, fervor and fuel. And this will prayerfully keep you from returning to a stage of burnout as well.

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