ARE GOAL-SETTERS AND PRODUCTIVITY MINDED PEOPLE PREVENTING GOD FROM MOVING IN THEIR LIVES?

I’ve always had this fear that talking about productivity and intentional living would sound like I’m a proponent for a selfish, live-my-dream life. Or worse yet – that talking about making a purposeful plan for my time would sound very “un-christian” and lead you to believe I’m not open to the direction of the Lord.

“If your life is a gift from God (and it

 

Too often we say we’re “waiting on the Lord” as an excuse to do nothing of eternal value. We schedule our day and rank our priorities around jobs, kids, and relaxation; working church in on the weekend. After all, if God had something for us to do He’d fire up that burning bush to let us know, right?

 The problem isn’t the fact that we plan our day or schedule purposeful activities. When we’re praying and asking God daily to direct our lives and we’re open to His leading, He’ll let us know, in no uncertain terms, if He wants us to do something different with the time He has planned for us.

Photo Credit: mrlins via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mrlins via Compfight cc

 Time is the ultimate leveler of the playing field of life.

The Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, and Steve Jobs all had the same amount of hours in their day as we do. They impacted their world and generations to come by living with purpose and intention. Some put the work of Christ first; others had different motivations. But one thing they all had in common: they organized their time according to what they believed was their life’s purpose and passion.

 Being intentional with your time and planning your day is not pushing God out of the picture at all. As a matter of fact, quite often, an unexpected door of service for the Lord will be opened while you’re actually doing daily work for Him that you figured into your schedule.

So go ahead and plan your day and set some goals for the year. Just be sure some of those things hold lasting impact for the Kingdom of God, and when you feel like He’s leading you in a new direction – go with Him!

Leave a comment

 

 

 

Redemption doesn’t live in black and white

I grew up in a black and white world. I was raised in a Christian home with parents who had very definite rules. You didn’t question them and they never shared examples of how they messed up through the years. Black and white. Do it this way because we said so!

Photo Credit: FotoRita [Allstar maniac] via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: FotoRita [Allstar maniac] via Compfight cc

I attended a Christian school from 1st to 11th grade that also had very definite rules regarding dress code, church attendance, entertainment choices, etc. The rules were black and white. Follow them or go to school elsewhere.

About 12 years ago my husband was a youth pastor for a short time. I’ll spare you from the long story and just say that when a new senior pastor was hired he brought with him a lot of new black and white rules. I was asked not to wear pants anymore, my husband was asked to shave off his goatee and mustache: just to name a few. The situation didn’t last long. Black and white. Follow the rules or leave – we left.

November of 2011 our daughter told us she was pregnant. She was raised in our Christian home. We already had “the talk”. She was given a purity ring on her 16th birthday. She had attended True Love Waits and knew God wants you to wait until you’re married to have sex. She knew the black and white.

My daughter, Amber, and her son

My daughter, Amber, and her son

Here’s the problem. My grandson will be 2 in July. Although she’s asked God for forgiveness she still has not been able to forgive herself and move forward. She loves her son completely but she also feels she’s left to live a burdened life, unable to make any impact for the Lord because of her public failure.

That’s where I messed up. I taught black and white. I taught rules over relationship. It was all I knew.

I didn’t teach her enough about God’s grace and redemption. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, being a single mom is a consequence to her actions. Yes, God allowed this to happen to bring her out of a bad relationship and back closer to Him (she’ll tell you that!).

I failed by not sharing the stories of God using messed up people. Stories of people, where despite their sin and failure, God still used in mighty ways.

In Matthew Chapter 1 we read the genealogy of Jesus. Five women are mentioned among the men. Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba all had illegitimate sexual relations. Tamar played the prostitute and Rahab was one. Bathsheba committed adultery with David. Ruth and Mary were united to the others through the suspicion of inappropriate behavior. Ruth’s story about lying down at Boaz’s feet in the middle of the night on the threshing floor was, at the very least, suspicious. I’m sure a number of people didn’t believe in Mary’s immaculate conception.

I believe Matthew wanted us to understand the Messiah came from and came for the sinful and outcast.

David’s sin with Bathsheba resulted in losing their baby. Then God told David since he was a warrior and had murdered, he would not get to build the temple to the Lord as he so longed to do. But there’s more to the story and it’s not told enough. God didn’t cast David aside, finding him useless. David still pursued God’s heart and God used him to save up billions upon billions of dollars (in today’s equivalent) so his son, Solomon, could build the temple.

Then there’s Peter. He’s well known for the story of his lost temper, resulting in cutting off the ear of a soldier. He’s even more popular for flat out denying Christ. But Peter went on to be used of God in mighty ways. In Matthew 16:18 Christ said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Can you believe that?! The one who would openly deny God’s Son was the same guy God chose to build the church.

I think too often we’re afraid to tell our kids the stories of redemption because we’re afraid they use them as an excuse. We don’t want the have-fun-now/ask-for-forgiveness-later attitude. But what we end up with is black and white legalism that doesn’t allow for stories of redemption. Instead it throws the broken out into the world as useless to God. You crossed the line and broke the rule – you’re out. Done.…. I’ve seen it happen one too many times.

I think we can get so caught up in rules that we forget the main thing. God Loves Us. He knew we’d screw up, He knew we’d fall on our faces so He provided the way back to Himself through His Son’s death on the cross.

He wouldn’t have sent a Redeemer if there was no need for redemption.

There is a necessity and a time for dropping to our knees and repenting before God. There is a time for accepting consequences. But then there is a time for standing back on our feet and walking again with the Lord.

There’s a phrase in Shrek The Musical (yes, I’ve quoted the bible and Shrek in the same post ) that says, “beautiful ain’t always pretty.” The most beautiful Christian lives I know aren’t pretty. They’re messy and dirty and gritty and raw. And they’re where Christ can shine through the brightest.

Feel free to leave a comment here – I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

HOW I CHANGED THE WAY I INTRODUCE MYSELF AND HOW YOU CAN TOO!

It’s the typical way we introduce ourselves. We extend our right hands, shake, state our name, then here it comes; “and what do you do?” That question never bothered me, until October 2011.

Photo Credit: SalFalko via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: SalFalko via Compfight cc

 

Let’s backtrack for a second to 2010. I was sitting in a class room at the University of Georgia where I was enrolled in a three year senior management program. We gathered from across the country as a group of credit union professionals for 10 days of intensive class work, lectures, and assignments. We’d head home with a project that would be due just prior to our return the next year and was so involved we were grateful to have 52 weeks to complete it.

One of our instructors gave us the challenge of introducing ourselves as if we’d just met in an elevator and would only have a few seconds to make a great first impression. The only rule was that we were not allowed to use our job title at all.

She called me to the front of the class, extended her hand, stated her name and said, “what do you do?”

My reply, “Hi, I’m Kim. I’m employed by thousands of members of our community to protect and grow their financial assets and give them the resources to live out their dreams.” Not bad if I say so myself.

But then it all changed in October of 2011. I quit my job.

I entered the financial industry at the age of 15. My first job was in the credit card department of a small bank. Moving forward I spent the majority of my career in the financial service industry. I had worked my way up to second in command of a medium credit union and was pretty proud of myself.

So what now. I had walked away. I lost part of my identity. A large part that had been with me for years and a position I was pretty proud of.

How would I introduce myself now?

I had planned to take a month off to de-stress and try to get my health under control. At the end of the month I was going to either head back to college for a new career path or look for another job in the financial industry. One month to the day we found out our daughter was going to have a baby. We decided my new career was going to be a stay-at-home grammy for the little guy.

I had started a blog where I talked about health issues and with my new found time I immersed myself in studying health and wellness and began learning how to communicate through a blog. I had always enjoyed writing from the time I was a child and would compose short stories or devotionals but never had the courage to share any of my work.

I don’t recall how I first ran across the website of Jeff Goins but I was instantly drawn in by his expertise as a writer and his ability to inspire and communicate essentials that would help me grow.

After a year of tinkering around with my blog and cuddling my grand-baby I decided to get serious about my writing. At the same time Jeff was opening enrollment in a course he had created called Tribe Writers. The course is designed to take 8 weeks but you work at your own pace and once you’re enrolled you have access to the program for life.

I signed up and was nervous and excited to get started. I was expecting a few assignments, some feedback on my work, and a webinar here and there. Instead what I got was a welcome into a community of writers who offer their expertise and wisdom generously. The help and encouragement I’ve received has been overwhelming. I have been able to participate in numerous teleseminars and gain access to interviews from some of the top leaders in the field of writing and business. But mostly I have been given the tools and information I need to confidently share with a community of people – you!

The program continues to grow as Jeff has added new features and a new design to the course. As an alumni I will continue to have access to any new material that comes out as well as invitations to all the continued teleseminars, interviews, etc.

Although the program is called Tribe WRITERS I don’t believe the benefits are limited to just writers. Communicators on any platform; whether it’s writing, speaking, or as a business professional; will gain insight, inspiration, and know-how to excel.

The course has reopened this week so I wanted to be sure to tell you! Enrollment is limited to 250 and is open until March 27th or the 250 slots are filled: whichever comes first. Click on the Tribe Writers button below if you’d like more information about the course.

But now, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Kim and I’m a writer, speaker, and blogger. I continually study God’s word, time management and productivity. My desire is to equip others with the tools and resources they need to live a productive and intentional life for Christ.

So what about you? What do you do?

http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1583041

http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1583041

 

 

Why You Should Become a Serial Uni-Tasker

Silence. It is one of our most underutilized resources. Too often silence is met with the guilty feeling of doing nothing. Inactivity is thought to be a waste of time. We’re told unless we’re multi-tasking we’re not living to our full potential.

As I sit here in my living room I’m attempting silence so I can write. However, being perfectly still I hear the background hum of my refrigerator and the ticking off of seconds from the clock on the wall. Patches of snow are falling as they melt from my awning giving the occasional whooshing sound as they slide down the aluminum. No, silence isn’t here, but it’s as close as I can get at this moment.

Our minds are so often filled with sensory overload I’m surprised more of us don’t go insane. There is almost a constant barrage of noise and clatter attacking us every minute, vying for our attention.

So much of life is missed in the day to day clutter of noise and social media.

I’m on my laptop a lot. Probably too much. The other day I was reading a blog I love to follow by Ann Voskamp. For some reason, my grandson decided that I needed to stop what I was doing and look at his incredible little grin. As my eyes were on the screen he walked up and very gently placed his two chubby little palms on the lid and pushed it down on to the keyboard. We just stared at each other for a minute – he was laughing. Proud of himself for getting my complete attention.

Now what……

Well, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to step back, throw his head over his right shoulder, push his arms behind him, palms up, like a super hero ready to fly away, and simply spin in circles. He would pause each time he passed in front of me to make sure I was watching and to giggle and spin once again. He kept this up until he was a little too dizzy to stand.

Had I decided to reopen the laptop and try to continue reading my article between glances at my grandson’s antics I wouldn’t have benefited from the full effect of either.

Instead of focusing on what we might be missing in the electronic silence of a moment maybe we should try immersing ourselves in what actually has us engaged. Cut back on the sensory overload and “Uni Task.”  Yep, I coined that phrase last October! I don’t know who decided multi-tasking was the benchmark for productive individuals; probably the same person who was named “jack of all trades, master of none.” We don’t need to be militant about uni-tasking but trying to do too much just adds to the already confused state of our minds.

Colosians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…”    How can we work at something with our whole heart if we are only giving it a part of our attention? If you are reading, read; get all you can from the material. If you’re playing a game with your family, play hard; give them your complete attention.  If you’re working on a project, for Pete’s sake, work!  Whatever you’re doing, give it your all.

So what lesson could we learn from my grandson????

Sometimes we need to shut the lap top, put the phone down, turn off the tv and simply enjoy life where we are. Spin. Dance. Laugh. Just don’t get so caught up in our electronic avenues of information and mental clutter that we aren’t engaging in life with the people around us! Focusing on one thing at a time and not allowing ourselves to be distracted with every little thing that tries to steal our attention can actual allow us to live fully and with more purpose. We can begin to enjoy more of our day, and believe it or not, accomplish more.

Agree or disagree?  Do you feel multi-tasking is a necessity in our modern age of technology?  Let’s talk about it!

30 YEARS AGO TODAY

30 years ago today was a Wednesday. You could go see the release of Ghostbusters or The Karate Kid at the theater for $2.50 per ticket. On your way home you would have probably turned on the radio to hear WHAM sing “Wake Me Up Before You Go”. Once you finally arrived home you would have rushed to the TV for an episode of Magnum PI, Fame, or The A-Team.

30 years ago today I was sitting in the youth room at our church. We were either waiting for church to start or it had just ended; I don’t exactly recall. Either way, teens were congregating in groups talking.

us

30 years ago today a boy I thought was really cute walked up and sat down next to me. I remember his exact words as if it were yesterday. “Now that we’re alone, will you go with me.” (Remember this was 1984 and that was the current vernacular.) We weren’t alone, so I laughed first, then said yes.

30 years ago today changed my life. That one simple question and the one word answer.

30 years ago I said yes to being a girlfriend. Five years and two months later I said yes to being a wife.

30 years ago I was 14. He was 15. We were children.

30 years ago today the biggest decisions I made were what I’d wear to school that day, who I would sit with at lunch and who I would spend the rest of my life with.

30 years ago I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know he would be the only boy I would ever kiss (truly remains so to this day.) I didn’t know how hard life could be or how easy it would be to love him. I had no way of knowing how many fights we’d get into or how many times he would take my breath away.

30 years ago today I didn’t know the extent of the commitment I was making or that some days that commitment would far out way the love we felt at the moment as we engaged in marital warfare.

30 years ago I had no idea he would give me two beautiful kids. Or that he would stand by my side as we stumbled through parenting and watched two incredible little people become wonderful, loving young adults.

30 years ago I didn’t realize this boy would love me unconditionally and sacrificially in a way that is rarely seen.

30 years ago today was a gift I still get to unwrap each day.

 

3 Things Stopping You From Turning Your Mess Into Your Message

Has God left the redeeming business? The Bible is filled with stories of redemption. From adulterers to murderers to prostitutes – coming to know the redemptive power found through Christ’s death on the cross. But in some cases you can attend the same church for years without hearing the stories of forgiveness and restoration among the people you see every Sunday. You may have heard about their sin, failure, or brokenness; but too often the gossip stops there.

Photo Credit: Celestine Chua via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Celestine Chua via Compfight cc

My daughter and I had a spontaneous dinner Saturday night with a great couple from our church. We just happened to be walking into the restaurant at the same time.

Our conversations came around to wishing we had more stories of redemption and healing from other Christians in our church.

I’ve always been a person that has lived my life like an open book. Don’t get me wrong! I understand there are things we need to keep private and I understand we don’t need to share everything with everyone. I certainly have a line I won’t cross and you should too.

But how would it be if we were willing to stand up and say, “Hey, I have really struggled with drinking for the past few years but the Lord has taken away the desire.”

Or, “as I’ve watched my kids struggle and fall I felt like a failure as a Christian parent, but God has changed hearts and used the brokenness to draw them back to Him.”

And, “I couldn’t believe I was facing divorce and single life again, I felt betrayed; but the Lord has brought healing and joy back into my life.”

What about, “I got caught up in my career for awhile, leaving other areas of my life hurting.  God took hold of my heart and my focus is back on Him first of all, and my family before my job.”

Then there’s, “oh man, we’ve really screwed up our finances but we are back to handling our money the way God would have us and we’re on track.”

ANYTHING! Just sharing with each other how God has worked in our lives.

 Why are we afraid to tell how we’re broken. After all, we are human. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

Three things keep us from turning our mess into a message.

We’re afraid of being judged by others. Why in the world do we judge anyway? We seem to have our own measuring stick to determine which sin is worse than another. We tend to seek out those we feel are “worse” than us so we don’t have to feel so bad about ourselves. And, after all, if we tell someone about the bitterness in our heart they’ll hold it against us and talk about us behind our back.

Wouldn’t it stop someone from talking behind our back if we were the first to admit where we fail? I think part of edifying the body of Christ should consist of sharing our victories and struggles with each other. Someone else has already been through what we’re going through or they will be someday. Hearing how we won that battle could give someone else strategy tips for the war they’re fighting.

We’re afraid of accountability. If we share our story now we have someone else who’s watching. What if we slip up again? What if they walk in the restaurant and see me with that drink in my hand? They’re going to give up on me and it’ll ruin our friendship.

Maybe if we could use that accountability to help the body of Christ it would grow stronger. When we’re injured with, let’s say, a broken foot we limp and use crutches and the rest of the body pitches in to help support the foot while it heals. Should the body of Christ look any different?

We don’t really want to let loose of the sin. It’s fun after all. It always is. It’s designed to be. Who would want to participate in something that is shown as a lose/lose situation? It’s exciting and it’s not hurting anyone but our self (at least that’s the lie we tell our self).

Sometimes we feel justified to hold onto bitterness or unforgiveness. Let me tell ya – I’ve held on to a few things because I was in the right, of course. The other person wronged me and they didn’t ask for forgiveness. Somehow, holding that bitterness left me feeling better than them. But in Matthew 6:14-15, the Bible says “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I don’t know about you but I’m willing to be transparent when the Lord lays it on my heart. If He can use my mess to somehow help someone else, I’m in. Couldn’t that possibly be God using us to bring about his promise from Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Psalms 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.

 Can you think of a time God has used your mess to be a message for His glory?  Or do you completely disagree with me?  That’s ok – let’s start a discussion.   Share with us here…..

ARE YOU LOST AND WITHOUT A COMPASS?

I’ve heard quite a few stories of people who have left their lives to go “find themselves”. I’ve always been confused with that statement because all you have to do is look in the mirror and there you are. Mystery solved.

 What they’re really after is finding their way to the life that gives them joy, a feeling of accomplishment, and a sense of purpose. Searching for the answer to – “why are we here and what are we suppose to do with the time we’re given?”

This quest isn’t ended as easily. You won’t find your purpose and motivation in the mirror. It can only be found by looking in your heart.

It’s your internal compass. The burning deep in your soul telling you you’re not heading in the right direction.

My mom is the queen of directions and travel. When she hears you’re headed somewhere for vacation she pulls out her stack of maps and tells you the best way to get to your point of respite. (She happens to be 81 years old so, yes, her maps are still paper.) As her finger traces the red lines on the map she can tell you each exit she’s stopped at, what small town sites are available, and what relative was visited. The journey is equally as important to her as the final destination.

 The “journey” of our lives can be planned in much the same way. You start by deciding on your destination (the person you want to become) and then choose the best route to get there (your actions and decisions).

When a business is trying to focus on their end product they often devise a mission statement for guidance. It’s used just like a map and compass ensuring they are heading in the right direction. As the business continues things may get rough and decisions will need to be made. Having a mission statement to go back to allows them to navigate troubling times and make decisions that keep them headed in the right direction.

 Mission statements are just as useful to you and me as individuals. They can give us a clear path and focus as we travel through life.

If you include I will work with integrity in your mission statement you have a clear focus at work when you’re faced with decisions that might tarnish your integrity. Adopting the statement that you will manage your finances as a resource directly from God will help you make decisions on how to use your money. For example, measuring your decisions against that guideline may make you think twice about the entertainment you choose.

Would you like to finally have a focus for your life? Would you like a purpose and a path? If you don’t already have your own personal mission statement my free ebook, “Your Life – On A Mission”, is a good tool to help you compose one that is just for you. At 22 pages it’s a very quick read and will assist you in the process. And did I mention it’s free. Jump over here to request a copy that will be sent directly to your email inbox.

 Do you have your own personal mission statement already? I’d love for you to share it with us here… If you download my ebook and create your own jump back over here and share it with us!

6 Reasons Why An Affair Will Help Your Marriage

About ten years ago my husband was speaking at a church and said he had something to confess. He hadn’t told me about this upcoming public confession and I was a bit nervous to hear where this was heading. He said he wanted everyone to know he had been having an affair with a young woman.

Photo Credit: Auzigog via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Auzigog via Compfight cc

He pointed at me.   He said he didn’t care who caught us and didn’t care who found out.

Our affair actually started about ten years ago. We decided to go away at least one weekend a year, just the two of us, to celebrate our anniversary and also start regular date nights. Well, as regular as our schedules would allow with two kids who were 12 and 9 at the time.

The other day I wrote about a time in my life where I was chasing dreams, climbing the ladder, whatever you want to call it. I was even pretty honest about how it was hurting my marriage. This wasn’t the first time we had gone through a rough patch. If we’re honest we all have to admit we’ve gone through those times. Some couples go through rougher patches than others and then we look at some and can’t even see a scratch, but it’s there, just kept behind closed doors. Anyway, rough patches will happen in every marriage.

In April we’ll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and I’m happy to say we’re still having this affair – and I truly believe it’s what has kept our marriage going strong through the rough times. Now we go away two weekends a year. Not only do we celebrate our anniversary but now we celebrate our 1/2 year anniversary too! (Yay for older kids who can stay alone for a weekend!!!!)

Here’s six reasons why I think you should have an affair with your spouse too!

  1.  Your kids need to see parents in a loving healthy relationship. If you’re thinking tv, movies, other families, etc. are giving your kids a good example of great marriages you’re wrong! Take a few minutes to think about your favorite sit-com or movie. The shows that highlight a good, working marriage are very few and far between.
  2. Your spouse should come second only to God; even before your kids. I’ve seen couples that put their kids first. Giving your kids the spot God should have in your life is a bad idea, not only for you, but do you really want your kid to think life revolves around them? And after your kids are grown and gone it’ll just be the two of you, so keeping that relationship solid is crucial.
  3. You need time to know each other, you need time to dream, you need time to just be together. Making time for each other keeps you connected and growing together in your values and dreams.
  4. Your kids need to see God honoring examples of a romantic relationship. Simply taking your spouse by the hand as you walk through the mall shows your kids you’re united and strengthens your bond as a couple. Physical touch is so important in any relationship, even if it isn’t your primary love language. Kiss each other good-bye and be excited to see them come home again. (My kids read this blog so I’ll stop there.) ;)
  5. You need to have excitement so that neither of you try to find it somewhere else. A woman needs to feel like a princess and a man needs to feel like her knight in shining armor. Sneak around together. Your kids can reach you by phone any time at all – so run away – at least for an hour from time to time to just be kids again. Go get ice cream or grab some snacks and have an impromptu picnic. Play hookie from life for just a while – together!
  6. You need to still try to impress each other at times – women get all pampered and men get all dashing – they’re the ones to hold your hair in a pony tail while you’re puking so they should get to see the best of you as well. You’re spouse sees you get ready for work, church or other gatherings and all the effort you put into it – they need to know they’re worth your efforts too!

There you have it, my valentines wisdom at it’s best!

What’s your secret to long lasting love? Leave a comment and let us know! We can all benefit from more ideas to have a healthy marriage!

 

WHERE’S GOD WHEN LIFE LETS YOU DOWN?

It all played out perfectly in my head. It was going to be a great accomplishment for me! I worked hard and I deserved it!

 I didn’t pray for God’s direction. What direction was there to pray about? I was working hard so it was the next obvious step. I did pray about it – It’s just my only prayers were asking for it to happen soon.

 I hadn’t even noticed that this thing I was working so hard at, a completely respectable thing, was becoming an idol to me. It was getting between me and God, me and my relationships, and me and my health.

 

Photo Credit: Lel4nd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lel4nd via Compfight cc

God tried to get my attention a few times. But I wasn’t listening to His leading so He got right in my face and stopped me in my tracks. Against everything I wanted at the time, I finally had to leave that setting. God knew what it was going to take to get me out of the situation; whether He orchestrated it or simply allowed it I can’t really say. Either way it worked and He knew it would.

Today I was reminded that He had actually answered my prayers back then. Although I only prayed that what I wanted would happen soon God had answered with a firm NO. Actually He screamed it but He had too. I can be so thick headed sometimes. And this “no” wasn’t just an “it’s not happening soon” kind of no – it was an “it isn’t happening at all” kind of no.

This may sound like I was short changed. It may seem like God didn’t allow me to have the success I had worked so hard to obtain – but that’s not it at all. Remember hindsight is often 20/20 and I’m looking back on a situation. Now, years later, I can clearly see how God knew what was best.

In truth, there’s no doubt I would have had a nervous breakdown, gotten divorced or died of a heart attack. You think I’m being dramatic? Ask my closest friends.

You see sometimes in our own head things can make perfect sense. You work hard and do your best – which you always should – while excusing the parts of your life that are being thrown to the wayside. You think right will always win out in the end the way it does in your favorite movie.

But that’s just not how life works sometimes.

The other day I was reminded of how God had taken me from this situation. As I got in my car to head home that day the first song that came on the radio was “Stronger” by Mandisa. Toward the end of the song she sings that God knows how much we’re hurting and He’ll get us through and make us stronger in the end. Through song I was reminded that even though walking away really hurt at the time, God knew and He was in control.

I have to admit even though it’s been a few years and I know God made me stronger through the process I had a bit of an identity crisis after I left that situation. I used to be able to introduce myself in a way that I felt was important and was hoping for a new title I was working hard to obtain.

That’s when song number two began to play. This time it was “Hello My Name Is…” by Matthew West and it immediately began pushing back the sting of the past as it was starting to surface. Prompting me to remember that I’m a child of the One True King. My identity can’t possibly be built on a stronger foundation than that!

 

Are you finding yourself in a bit of an identity crisis? What’s your “situation”? What stage of it are you in? You’re either seeing it come at you in the distance, riding through the storm, or looking back at the road you just crossed. Any way you look at it, you’re close. Take a moment and listen to Mandisa explain how God is not only going to get you through but He’ll even use it to make you stronger. Then take another minute and listen to Matthew West remind you that if you are God’s child you have the only title that ultimately matters.

Let’s talk!  Leave me a comment – is there a time you can look back and see how God took care of a situation even though you didn’t understand it at the time?  I’d love to hear!

 

Why I want you to forget everything I’ve ever told you

Forget anything I’ve ever told you.  Forget about making a mission statement for your life and forget about setting goals.

Forget about forgetting about the past.

Do me a favor and focus on one thing today.  Those you love. 

Photo Credit: Jason Paluck via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Jason Paluck via Compfight cc

Thursday I felt a piece of my childhood blow away like a dandelion gone to seed as I sat at the funeral home in honor of my uncle.

From there I drove to a fundraiser dinner for my friend who needs a lung transplant.  I was called away before my food arrived because my daughter had my 18 month old grandson at the ER with a bad asthma attack.

My day ended with a call from a lady at church who was given the honor of taking a newborn into her home.

Then yesterday I was back at the ER with my friend who is on the transplant list for new lungs because she was having cardiac “events” due to her heart being overtaxed from the lungs inability to provide enough oxygen.

I have felt the wonder, frailty and brevity of life in one week.  It’s been a bit overwhelming. 

I tell you this to remind you to love on those you love.  Be sure they know it.  Be there for them.  Focus on them.  Our life is so short in the scope of eternity and the greatest gift we have while here on earth is love.

I Peter 1:22-25 says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.   For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  For,  “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.”

We are to have sincere love for one another.  Not the kind of love where you’re acting the part but you’re heart isn’t in it.  Not the kind of love where you’re ok being around the person for brief periods of time and usually send a birthday card.  Not the kind where you’re playing the part because the other person has something to offer you.  No, this is to be sincere love; genuine, heartfelt and non-hypocritical.

The word “deeply” in verse 22 doesn’t simply mean deep in your heart.  It’s actually meaning stretched to its limits with full intensity.  That sure doesn’t sound like some light condescending love.

There is a catch though.  At the beginning of verse 22 it says “now that you have been purified”.

We can’t completely love each other and feel the power of this love until we have gotten rid of all the junk in our lives and begin obeying the truth.

We have to get rid of the self-seeking behaviors that can often creep into our relationships with others.

Does that mean we have to be perfect people in order to love?  No, not at all.  When Peter wrote this he was well aware of our imperfection and his.

He just wants us to be able to experience love at its greatest.   Pure love that we can only experience once we get the junk out of our hearts.

At the end Peter emphasizes the shortness of time we have here on earth by comparing us to grass that withers.

Before the season of life changes and you wither like the grass – LOVE.  Love with all your heart!

 

 

 

5 REASONS WHY I HATE MY LOVE LANGUAGE

A few years ago (wow, actually 15, time flies) we were living in Virginia while my husband was going to college.

We attended a church down there and for a couple of weeks our Sunday school class worked through the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out my love language. Words of affirmation.

Photo Credit: srgpicker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: srgpicker via Compfight cc

Maybe you don’t think that sounds too bad. It’s certainly cheaper for my family than a love language like receiving gifts. It’s also less demanding on someone else’s schedule than if I felt the most loved through quality time spent together. It should be pretty easy for those that love me to just throw a few words my way, right?

We also figured out my husband’s love language; acts of service. He feels like the king of our castle when I bring him a bowl of ice cream as he sits in the recliner at the end of the day. He he feels well taken care of when his dresser drawer is filled with clean socks or I deliver iced tea while he’s working on a household project.

While he goes out and cleans the snow off my car in the morning (which I love by the way) I would rather he tell me that he thought I cooked a great meal, that I look beautiful in that dress, or that he loved my sense of humor. Anything!

To make matters worse – when it comes to things that are important to him, words of affirmation doesn’t even make a blip on his radar screen. He does what needs done because it needs done and that’s how he serves his family. He doesn’t need applause or appreciation. So while I spend time telling him how awesome I think he is, he doesn’t really care; at least not to the extent that I care. That’s my language, not his.

Me – I NEED TO HEAR HOW WONDERFUL I AM SOME DAYS!!!!

So why do I despise my love language?

  1.  Too often I act according to what I think will get some affirmation out of someone.  I’ve even been guilty of leaving a project lying around so someone would come home and say, “wow, you did a lot today, I love how well you take care of our family.”It’s horrible to be needy this way when you write a blog. I want comments and emails telling me something I wrote touched your heart. I want to hear that you thought my analogies were funny.
  2. It can trap me into a prideful state when I do receive the appreciation.  You think my dessert is the best? Yeah, whose the man? I’m the man woman!  It can make me start to feel like things I accomplish are in my own power and I’m doing pretty well on my own. When I know for a fact the only thing good and useful that comes from my writing, as an example, are from days I’ve spent in prayer asking God to lead my thoughts and words as I share something with you.
  3. It can send me into a downward spiral toward a bit of depression and self-doubt when I’m not affirmed.  On date nights if I’ve put on great makeup and styled my hair and put on some absolutely adorable outfit and I don’t hear that my husband thinks I look nice I start to think the work I put in was useless.  If I do something for a friend (not for the intention of praise) but don’t hear that it was appreciated I can doubt how much they value our relationship
  4. Sometimes my eyes are closed to the love someone else is trying to show me through their love language.  It comes naturally to show love according to your own love language. However, since my husband’s love language is acts of service I need to recognize that and value the times he shows his love by running to the store so I don’t have to go out in the cold.
  5. I don’t always show love according to that person’s love language.  My dad’s love language was definitely not gifts and it would disappoint me when he didn’t say he loved what I bought – if I had to guess, looking back, I think his love language was simply quality time; maybe sitting together watching a John Wayne movie. The same is true for my daughter. When she wants to watch a movie together or go shopping I need to recognize that she’s showing and needing love since her love language is quality time. My son’s love language goes back and forth from words of affirmation to acts of service (a bit of both genes) so I need to be sure I’m telling him the same things I need to hear and doing little acts of service on a day when he needs it.

Knowing that our focus shouldn’t be on receiving the praise of other people I’ve decided I really need to focus on words of affirmation, but in a different sort of way. You see when all is said and done and I’ve gone to my heavenly home and stand before my Lord and Savior – it’s only His words of affirmation that will ultimately mean anything in the scope of eternity.

While I’d love to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” and I’m intentionally living for that goal: I’ll be completely satisfied with – “She’s Mine Father. My blood has covered her sin and she belongs to me.” There are no other words of affirmation that will compare to being called His child and accepted into His embrace to spend eternity with Him.

So whatever your love language is – words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gifts, or physical touch – remember to try to show others love through their love language and appreciate times they show you love through their own.

What’s your love language? Leave me a comment by clicking here – I’d love to hear from you – “words of affirmation”, remember? ;)

One word. 365 days. A changed life. ~ Choose your’s and discover the impact one word can make!

So it’s January 15th.  If all the poles are correct 91% of us have already messed up or dropped our New Year’s Resolutions all together.

There has to be an easier way to bring a needed change to your life.

There has to be a simple way to begin a journey of intentional living.

I think I’ve found one and wanted to share it with all of you!

I decided to join a community of sorts.  Some of you may have already heard of it from friends that participated in the past or maybe someone who decided to join in this year.

OneWord365 – it’s very simple.  Pick one word that is going to be the core of your focus for the year.

I wasn’t sure what word I wanted to choose.  Quite a few passed through my mind.  Organize, simplify, joy, persevere – there were quite a few in the running; all very valid choices that were making my decision difficult.  I finally took my own advice and went back through my free eBook “Your Life – On A Mission!”.  As I was re-evaluating my personal mission statement I found my word.

PURPOSE.

Purpose

Why PURPOSE?  Because it’s foundational to what I’m aspiring to become in my life – a godly woman of purpose and intentional living.  It’s the corner-stone of this blog.

I’d like to encourage you to join in this year.  You can go to the OneWord365 website and see a list of words that might inspire you.  Or you could do what I did and grab my free eBook (It’s a quick 22 page read) and it might help you discover your word for the year.

Whatever word you choose there will be others there with you along the way.  You can join in and develop friendships and accountability or you can simply keep to yourself and focus as you go about life  this year.  So whether you’re looking for a community to help you grow or a simple focus for personal growth – either way I’d like to encourage you to pick your OneWord!  Go ahead leave a comment telling me what your word is and why!  I’d love to hear!

MY WISH FOR YOU…. HARDSHIP & PAIN??? REALLY???

Call me evil – that’s ok because I DO wish this on my worst enemy.  I even wish this on those I love the most – I wish it for you and I don’t even know you!

I urge you to read past what you may feel are offensive or depressing impressions to find out what this has to do with your joy.

Photo Credit: Stephan Geyer via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stephan Geyer via Compfight cc

I wish you could walk your sweet baby through the mall and have people laugh or point and comment because he was born without eyes or a sealed palate.

I wish you could sit in your high school English class while the other students make fun of you, slap you, or call you embarrassing names until you slump into total humiliation.

I wish you could sit in your closet, door closed tight, while you listen to your dad scream at your mom in a drunken rage, all the while praying he doesn’t come through your door again.

I wish you could look at a filthy glass of dirty water that you have no choice but to give your children to drink, knowing full well it might kill them.

I wish you could gather your kids and what few belongings you can carry and walk miles on end in search of safety and freedom, even though it means living under a single tarp.

I wish you could gather with others in a dark basement with only a few cherished pages left of your bible and quietly pray and worship for fear you’ll be caught and beat and imprisoned.

I wish you could live under any circumstance that you’ve failed to open your eyes and see.  Put your feet in the shoes of another who can’t even lift their face up because life has smacked it one too many times.

Why?  Because I think a lot of people are running pretty low on the compassion meter in general.  Go ahead and say you’re not like the others.  But you are – at times.  We all are.  Me included.

Ok – so I don’t actually wish any of these things actually to happen to you;  I just think we need to remember there is always someone worse off than us. 

There has to be one person who is actually worse off than any other human.  Isn’t that true?  It has to be.  There is one meager soul who sits at the bottom.  But guess what; it ain’t you!  I know that for a fact because you’re reading this, you’ve been blessed with the ability to read and understand print.  In one way or another you have access to the internet when some haven’t even had the fortune to hit the power button on a computer.  Yep, it ain’t you!

I’m on a year long study of joy right now and I’ve come to realize that personal joy increases as you increase your compassion.  Compassion isn’t pity; it isn’t feeling sorry for someone and offering a smile as you walk by.  Compassion is acknowledging someone else’s difficult or even horrific situation and acting on their need.  Even if the only help you can offer comes in the form of your heartfelt prayers and love.

Compassion is a forerunner of gratitude.  How can you not be thankful after seeing the plight of the less fortunate?

Gratitude leads right to joy. 

Want more joy in your life; live gratitude.  This may seem trivial and you may be thinking I’m nuts by now; but if you can’t see the many things in your life that are gifts, blessings, and treasures around you I don’t see how you can live out a joy-filled life.  If your eyes are closed to the apparent good a deep-seated joy can’t begin to grow.

There should also be gratitude in our hearts because of things we don’t have or haven’t experienced.  I haven’t had to experience the loss of a child or our home burning down – I personally know others that have – I am grateful for those things that I haven’t had as well.

If you need a little help noticing the everyday or small things to be grateful for you could read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; on her web site she offers pages you can print with daily prompts of things to look for that you might otherwise miss in your busy life; things that are worth a moment of heartfelt gratitude.

Start now!  Take the first step - leave a comment sharing one thing you’re grateful for today.  I’d love to hear from you!  Here – I’ll get us started……

Tell me a story ~ And make it a good one!

Dropping through the air with nothing but a rope tied around your ankles; wind rushing past your face as you plummet, scared, and not knowing when it’s going to happen. Then all of a sudden your ascent slows. You begin to feel sick; your stomach catching up with the momentum of your body. The ground is still getting closer. You fear that this could be the end. You close your eyes and brace for the impact. You feel the tug of the rope. Your momentum changes directions. Instead or falling, your now being shot back up, but this is short lived. Soon you start to twirl and twist back to the earth. You open your eyes, but after those few adrenaline fueled seconds you realize you had forgotten how to breathe. Gasping for air, dangling below the bridge, wondering when your feet will be firmly planted on the ground. You anticipate your return to the bridge. Shouts of joy resonating off the sides of the deep crevasse into which you had leaped. You hear “good job!” and “way to go!”  As you near the bottom of the structure, you reach out your hand but cannot say a word. A man with large muscles and a tie die shirt hoists you up and asks if you are ok. Your words slur in your response due to the immense amount of blood that had rushed into your head, but alas you are finished with this incredible feat. Joy overwhelms you as you realize what you have just accomplished. Friends and family smile and ask if you were scared. You reply with some arrogant and cocky comment like, “not at all! It was actually quite calming.” But they don’t buy into what you’re saying due to your knees buckling and your face being red with excitement. For days you can’t help but discuss your twelve second adventure with everyone you come in contact with. Who can blame you? Not many people jump off a bridge and live to tell the story.

Photo Credit: noboundariesorg via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: noboundariesorg via Compfight cc

That piece was written by my son, Austin, in his junior year of high school in 2010.  I have to say I was quite impressed by his work.  Not just because it was my kid but because I noticed I had been holding my breath as I read.  I was captivated by the story.

So let me ask, what kind of story are you going to live to tell?

I hope you aspire to have a few stories like this one.  Stories of excitement, adventure and challenge that leave your adrenaline pumping.  Stories that leave you knowing you’re alive!

But what about the day to day story of your life?

Will you tell the story of how you missed every one of your kid’s baseball games due to work or that you were in the stands cheering him on when he made his first base hit?

What about the story where you kept to yourself and lived a lonely, bitter life after you had experienced betrayal from a friend or would you rather tell the story of how you forgave and moved on to have even deeper friendships than the one with the betrayer?

Or how about the one where you just took every day as it came and tried to live through it?  It could make for a much better story by intentionally planning the life you want to live.

Think about it as you go through the rest of your day.  Make it a day that will leave you with a good story to tell!

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S YOUR FEAR FACTOR?

What scares you to death?  What are you too afraid to do?  What makes you completely sick to your stomach just thinking about it?

Photo Credit: Kevin Gebhardt via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Kevin Gebhardt via Compfight cc

It was unseasonably hot on July, 9, 1991.  I woke up with a sharp pain piercing through my abdomen.  I told my husband and he immediately wanted to get me to the hospital.  I didn’t want to go to that extent yet.  I tried to go about my normal daily routines.  I took a hot shower, got dressed and put on my make-up.  I was trying to ignore the pains but it was getting harder to do as I was now finding myself doubling over as they came.

Against my wishes we got in the car and headed to the hospital.  It was a familiar drive but for some reason I was taking in all the sights as if it was the last time I would see them.  Unable to contain my anxiety any longer I told my husband I wasn’t ready for this.  His simple reply came out almost as a laugh, “I don’t think you have a choice at this point.”

His reassuring smile and hand reaching across the console of the car to pat my leg were very little consolation.

I wasn’t ready.

I thought I was.  I chose this.  I planned it.  I wanted it.  But now that it was here I wasn’t ready and I knew it.

My daughter, Amber, arrived six short hours after that first stabbing pain woke me that day.  She was beautiful.  But there was one problem.  I wasn’t a mom.  I didn’t know what I was doing and she was certainly going to find that out the hard way.

Fast forward 22 years.  I was there as my grandson came into the world.  That child I had no idea how to take care of was now having her own child.

The irony of it all comes in comments my daughter has made since her son was born.  I see in her all the same self-doubt and lack of confidence that I had when I was her age; but what’s funny is that she depends on me for advice and help.  Me.  The one who felt like a fraud all those years while little people called me mom.

The product of my charade seems to think I knew what I was doing and the most unbelievable part of all is that she thinks I did a pretty good job.  Not perfect, but pretty good.  My own evaluation leaves me quite shy of her “pretty good”.

In what area of your life do you feel like you’re living a lie?  Or maybe not a lie, but definitely not carrying the confidence or expertise that you think you should have with whatever title you’ve find yourself holding.

We all have to start somewhere.  We all have to learn and grow and experience life.  We don’t get handed a new job description like mom, manager, Sunday School teacher, etc., and miraculously find we now have all the skills and knowledge it takes to handle that position.

It comes over time.  It comes through mistakes made and problems solved.  It comes through experience.

So cut yourself a break today.  Whatever role you’re in that leaves you feeling incompetent or ineffectual is just a role that needs more perseverance and practice.  Notice I didn’t say perfection – we can strive for it – but let’s face it, we’re human.

Remember that pink bundle I had been given back in 1991?  What if I had run scared or didn’t even try because I “knew” I wasn’t good enough for her?

 

Are some of us given spiritual gifts and some of us left as Christian bench warmers?

I remember when I was in elementary school there were a few kids that went to the “gifted” classes.  Maybe they were “gifted” in math so while the rest of us third graders stayed in our class working through our third grade math problems those few kids would go to another room and work at an accelerated level.  I personally had good grades all through school, but I wasn’t part of the “gifted” classes.  Apparently I missed the day they handed out those special gifts.

Then there were the athletic kids.  The ones that participated in all the sports the school had to offer.  I wasn’t the best in this area either.  I was usually left out or sat warming the bench.

Photo Credit: larkin.family via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: larkin.family via Compfight cc

Isn’t that how it feels sometimes when we look at our spiritual gifts.  It’s so apparent what gifts were given to some of those around us and we kind of feel like we’ve been left out.  We look around and see the people on stage preaching life altering messages from God’s word.  Others are teaching bible studies in small class rooms and uncovering insights into God’s word in such a clear fashion so everyone in the class can soak it in.  They were definitely given the gift of teaching.  Then there are the women that can host any function with a mix of grace and mastery putting Martha Stewart to shame.  Yes, we all know they command the gift of hospitality.

To be clear, I’m not talking about natural talent but spiritual gifts; although the two can work beautifully together!  We are all unique individuals and when we were created we all received a certain amount of talents, traits and characteristics to make us who we are.  Once we have accepted God’s gift of salvation the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to work according to our spiritual gifts as well.

So what about the rest of us who don’t have a glaring marquee shining over us announcing we’ve received particular gifts?  Did we miss out?  Did someone forget to wake us up the morning we needed to be in line to collect our spiritual gifts?  If we were all given gifts how are we supposed to know what we have and what are we supposed to do with them?

The bible says we’ve all received gifts from God.  But why?  Maybe the key to revealing our own gifts is to discover why we have them to begin with.

The apostle Paul said a part of the reason we are given gifts is to encourage one another and support each other’s faith.  So instead of trying to discover our hidden gifts maybe we should focus on encouraging each other in the faith.  Look at what you do to encourage others and you might just discover what gifts you’ve been given.  Did you invite someone over to your home that has been discouraged? Maybe you too have the gift of hospitality.

Try doing what seems natural for you when you want to encourage someone and you might just be on to something.  Our spiritual gifts weren’t given for us to keep to ourselves.  Their purpose is to be used so we can serve God and the body of Christ to the very best of our ability.  It is our contribution to the work of the Lord here on earth.  We are to use them to edify the body of Christ, uphold the faith of other believers, and help equip one another.

In Romans 12 we are told that we are all given our unique gifts so we can work together as one body.  Each of us has a purpose and each one is needed to complete the work of the Lord.  Not all of us are gifted to be the quarterback, but on God’s team none of us are to sit on the bench either!

the basic problem is becoming the kind

As you’re looking at a fresh New Year make it a goal to uncover and utilize the gifts you’ve been given.  If you already know a particular gift you or someone you know has leave a comment telling us what it is and how it’s used for the Lord.  Maybe that will help someone else as they try to uncover their own!

WHY YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT DYING BEFORE YOU THINK ABOUT SETTING GOALS FOR NEXT YEAR

December 31st always has an anxious feel to me.  Most of us take a second to think over the year as it closes and look ahead to the promises waiting for us in the New Year.  It can leave you feeling defeated in the areas where you didn’t accomplish your goals.   Then there’s the bit of pressure to make the coming year even better than the previous.  Some years you’re even faced with grief as you think of those you’ve lost.

cemetary

My daughter lost a friend in a car accident this year.  He was 21 years old.  She’s been talking about him and the things she remembers most.  I think a lot of us can relate to the first death we experience of one of our peers.  It’s different than the funerals of those in older generations – while we still miss them, it’s just a different feel the first time it’s someone your own age.  You’re immediately confronted with your own mortality.

We all want to be remembered.  None of us want our loved ones to stop thinking of us after the casket is closed.  So how do you want to be remembered?  Are you living up to the legacy you want to leave?

“It's not about how to achieve your

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a three year senior management course.  In one of the exercises we had to write our own eulogies.  Yes, you read that right.  We were to picture three people standing at our funeral and delivering their perception of our lives. Thinking about what people are going to say about you after you’re gone is an emotionally draining task.

We were divided into groups and stationed together at tables.  One by one we took turns reading our own eulogies.  There was not a dry eye in the class by the time this exercise was over.  It’s a very raw feeling to see in writing how you want to be remembered and compare it to how far short of that description you are today.

As you say goodbye to 2013 it’s good to take some time to focus on your life overall.  Consider writing a personal mission statement.  It will help give you a focus as you set your goals for this year.  You can grab a copy of my free ebook, “Your Life – On A Mission!”, to use as a tool in the process.

I’d like to challenge you to compose a few eulogies yourself before you set any goals or make any New Year’s Resolutions for 2014.  Write the eulogy you hope your spouse will give and another as if it were from your children.  Continue with one from your friends and coworkers.  Then make sure your goals are keeping in line with the legacy you want to leave.  There’s nothing wrong with personal development goals or career goals – I make them myself.  The problem is when those are the only goals you make.

As you keep thinking of your life in dissected parts go ahead and try writing a goal for each.  You should set goals in the area of your relationship with Christ, yourself as an individual, your spouse, your children, your friends, and your finances; as well as career and personal development.

Remember the S.M.A.R.T. principle as you work through your goal setting.

Photo Credit: plnaugle via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: plnaugle via Compfight cc

Go ahead and put some tools in place to help you with each goal you’ve made and walk into 2014 prepared for a wonderful year that will challenge you and keep you motivated!

 

How to figure out what God wants you to do

We have way too many choices these days.  If money were no object we could fly to Europe for dinner, buy a sailboat and sail across the ocean, or gather a team and climb Mt. Everest.  Even without a lot of   money we have more choices than we could ever take advantage of in our lifetime.  We can read a book, watch tv, endlessly search the web, visit friends, work on numerous projects, travel to various places, etc.  For the most part, we don’t have any trouble filling our days.

So why is it when it comes to seeking God’s will for our lives we often freeze and wait for a supernatural epiphany before we make any moves?  Don’t get me wrong, I want a burning bush and a fleece in my backyard most days as well; but that’s not how God chooses to speak to us today.

Why do some think that since they aren’t “called” to full time ministry or missions that the Lord doesn’t have anything He needs them to do for Him?  Are they just put here to fill space?

This week most of us are taking time to set goals and make New Year’s Resolutions for 2014, but how are we supposed to know what God wants us to do?  How do we figure out what our specific “calling” is and if we even have one?

3arrows

God has a plan and a path for our lives, but does He expect us to have that all figured out before we do anything at all?  No!  He knows we can’t see the future so we need to trust the One who can.  Furthermore, we would probably doubt the practicality of the job or decide it doesn’t make any sense.  (His way usually doesn’t.)  We need to take it one step at a time.

As far as our daily walk is concerned; we can find in His word how He wants us to live.

Micah 6:8  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 22:37-40  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

There are so many more verses that we can apply to our daily lives.    If you doubt that, start reading in Proverbs!  So we do have a clue where to begin after all.

We also need to be careful what we give our attention to on a daily basis.  The things that are occupying your time are determining what direction you are taking, and that direction is going to determine where you end up.

andy stanley

So if you are searching for what God would have you to do it isn’t going to smack you in the face while you’re watching TV.  A heavenly choir isn’t going to march in while you’re stalking people on facebook and proclaim through song what God wants you to do.  An angel isn’t going to swoop in while you’re shopping and hand you a packet with your next mission; if you choose to accept it.

Christ will reveal the next step for our lives while we are currently living this step for Him.

What are you doing for Him in your daily life?  Let me know in the comments – and don’t worry, you aren’t bragging.  I’d love to hear, and I’m sure others who are trying to figure out how they can live for Him in their daily lives would love to hear your ideas as well.  You can even share your favorite verse about our daily walk.  Go ahead!  Start the conversation!

 

 

YOU HAVE TO CLEAR YOUR PAST SO YOU CAN BUILD YOUR FUTURE

It’s the end of the year and most of us take a minute or two to do a mental inventory of sorts.  So go ahead; think back over the past year.  Where are you at in life?  Where do you want to be?  What does God have for you to do?

Now what’s in your way? What mounds of rubble have piled up and stopped you? What’s holding you back from pursuing God’s plan in your life?  What’s stopping you from moving forward in your service for Him?

We moved into another home two years ago.  The floor plan was a bit awkward so my father-in-law and his friend took down a wall that separated the living room from the kitchen.  The goal was to give us a much nicer open living space.

We had completed smaller remodel jobs in the past, but nothing as far as demolition of an entire wall.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the piles of drywall scraps and lumber that were left on the living room floor.

I had big plans for these rooms.  This was going to be the area that my family would be enjoying together; cooking dinner and watching movies.  But at that moment it looked like a bomb had exploded.

In order to go from trash heap to family area, we were going to have to do a lot of cleaning!

You can’t build any strong foundation or worthwhile structure on the ruins of the fallen past.

Photo Credit: The Life of Bryan via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: The Life of Bryan via Compfight cc

In the book of Nehemiah we read where he was called by God to rebuild the walls around the City of Jerusalem.  He couldn’t just rush in and order the construction workers to start laying brick.  The first thing he had to do was clear all the rubble that was left from the fallen wall.

Before you begin intentionally building your life the way God wants it to be you’re going to have to clear away the rubble that is left over from your past.

So what does your rubble look like?  Grab a seat on a nearby rock and think about the debris and fallen bricks.  What do you see?

I tripped over a boulder named bitterness; a pile of anger is usually close by.  Unforgiveness, bad relationships, remnants of mismanaged finances, betrayal, and battled addictions make walking impossible.

Whatever names have been etched into your rubble; it’s rubble just the same.

Start up the excavator and start digging yourself out.  Clear out the debris and broken pieces of the past so you’re able to lay a steady foundation.  If you don’t deal with it and get rid of it you’ll be tripping on those same stones ten years from now.

You want to see the new walls up fresh and protecting you, don’t you?  In your mind you can see the life that God has for you; but as you stare at the demolition site all you see is your past.

As the Israelites started to clear the debris of their fallen walls their enemies were gathering around for the attack.  Isn’t that what happens to us?  All.  The.  Time.  Just as you think you’ve finally been able to forgive that person who hurt you deeply, here comes someone else from your past and you relive the pain and betrayal just like opening an old wound.  Those addictions you thought you had conquered just showed up; in another form, but an addiction none the less.

Positioning some of the construction workers as lookouts the Israelites got back to clearing the rubble and building the new walls to their city; and so must we.  We have to stay alert to the ways our past wants to creep back in and declare us defeated before we can accomplish much for the Lord.

Clear the rubble of your past!  You can’t move forward in building a lasting, intentional life until it’s been moved aside; leaving level ground for a firm foundation.

So what’s the name of the rubble that trips you the most?  Look it over.  Remember the lesson learned as that part of the wall crumbled.  Then, move it to the dump where it belongs and call in the masonry workers!  It’s time to lay some new brick!

What’s the largest boulder in your way?  Let’s talk about it….

 

Time Flys When You’re Pouting

I’ve wasted time. Ten years of time thinking I had to just endure life as it was thrown at me and try to make the best of it. You see, I had my future planned and wrapped in a nice neat package and that’s not how things ended up.  So apparently I had no choice in what life would bring me, right?   Have you ever felt like that too; like you were just along for the ride?

All along, deep down, I knew I was wrong. I didn’t believe God would have given me the gift of life and then leave me to flounder in a meaningless existence.  I just didn’t know how to change it or if I even could. I felt like I was the only one not getting this!  Have you ever been there?

Photo Credit: vuemme via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: vuemme via Compfight cc

As each year closes we put away the old calendar and bring out the fresh new one with the clean slate.  We think, “Maybe this is the year for change.  Maybe something great is going to happen.”  We brace ourselves; surely this year life is going to throw the curve ball we need to get out of this slump of just existing.  This year we’ll knock it out of the park!

Well, after years of waiting for the life I wanted to just fall into place on its own, I finally realized something.  I can live intentionally, with purpose. I do have a say in what direction my life is going. I can’t control every circumstance I find myself in, but I can control some.  You can too!

The problem with this new found knowledge is that it takes work. It takes thought. You have to decide to live for God now, despite the fact that life didn’t work out the way you thought it would.  You need to decide what you truly want out of this life and what you can do to contribute to the lives of others and actually start working on it.  Watching for opportunities to arise that might just lead you to a purpose God created you to fulfill.

For us to be living the life God has for us; the life we want to live, and we’re happy living; takes intentional thought and self-discipline. But isn’t anything worth having, worth the effort?

Are you in that slump of merely existing?  Do you know deep down there is more you’re capable of and more God has in store for you?  Join me today; today is the day you’ve been waiting for.  The day that you were hoping would come along and push you into a life of meaning.  No more waiting!

On December 26th I’ll be releasing a free ebook, YOUR LIFE – ON A MISSION!, that can help you take the first critical step on the journey to a life of purpose and fulfillment.    Sign up for my free newsletter to receive your copy!