Archive | July 2013

I Wanna Live While I’m Alive!

Photo by John Fischer

I’m not crazy about BonJovi, but the song “It’s My Life” gets stuck in my head and it doesn’t leave. One phrase speaks to me loudest. “Better stand tall when they’re calling you out. Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down.” Isn’t this what life is about?

There were many years I spent being jealous of people who were dying. You heard me right. Pretty sick, huh? There’s something about knowing death is imminent that makes people start living. Aren’t we all dying every day? We are, but we choose to push it to the back of our minds as if we can avoid it if we don’t think about it.

Why do we wait until we come face to face with the reality of death to start living the way we knew we should’ve all along?

Why do we treat people who are dying, like it is ok to live the way they want now that their life is over, but treat people who simply decide to step out to change their life as if they have a screw loose?

We feel selfish trying to step out to do things we’ve always dreamed of. Write that book, start that business, learn to play an instrument etc.

We wait for years for someone to give us permission to live the life we’ve dreamed of and then we wake up one day and realize how much time we’ve wasted.

We get tied up in living life according to other people’s expectations.

We forget to live the life we’ve dreamed of; the life God has called us to.

We forget that we choose how we live.

There will be a day we will find out we were responsible all along. We are not called to live anyone else’s life; only the one we’ve been given. We are uniquely qualified to live above our circumstances. Our creator has designed our lives to teach us what we need to learn for the next life.

For over twenty-five years I dreamed of being a writer. I chose to listen to the dream stealers in my life. I took the easy way out and blamed it on my circumstances. After several years, I decided it was too late for me. Blah, blah, blah…

One day I was awakened. God told me to start living and stop waiting. He told me to stop dwelling on what was lost and take advantage of how He had blessed me.

In Joel 2:25 He says “I will repay the years the locusts have eaten…” We never get there until we decide to stop dwelling on the past.

We move forward. We step out in faith. We face our fears head on.

Are you going to start living today?

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Are you living in the moment?

Photo by Lori Bee

The moment I first became aware of not living in the moment was when I left my car running overnight.

My todo list had taken over my mind and instead of living in the moment; I was focused on the next five things on the list.

I had locked my keys in my car many times before, even one time while the car was running, but this time I didn’t even notice the car was running.

I went into the house and continued my pursuit of tackling the overwhelming todo list.

The next morning, someone came to my house and asked me if I owned a silver blue Saturn. It was astounding he knew the car was mine.

He said, “It’s running.” Surely he was joking!

We walked out together and sure enough my car was running and very hot. The worst part was I had no extra key and all the doors were locked.

My husband, who had the spare key, was working across town and couldn’t come home. One of my dear friends, Kate, drove to his jobsite to get the key and bring it to me. Luckily, the car was fine once it cooled down, but it was a lesson in paying attention in the moment.

I have become more aware of being present in the moment, but still struggle in this area when I’m feeling the pressure from my todo list.

This experience was the beginning of awareness into the state of mind robbing me of the abundant life. I was destroying my health, relationships, productivity and life by living this way.

My life didn’t change overnight; it took many more of these experiences to bring this message home. Even now, I find myself struggling in this area from time to time.

Can you relate?

If so, I encourage you to read Jeff Goins book The In-Between available this week.

Follow this link In-Between for more information on this resource and get some perspective to help you in the quest to slow down and learn from the journey.

Through personal stories and reflections he shows us how to shift our perspective of the time in-between the mountain top moments so we don’t miss out on life or the lessons there.

What in-between moment did you miss? Have you ever wished you could relive an in-between moment?

This entry was posted on July 29, 2013. 2 Comments

Feeling overwhelmed?


Photo by Sean & Lauren Spectacular

This week, the sea of things I want to do has overwhelmed me.

My todo list threatens to overtake me like a tidal wave.

How do we find peace in the midst of the wave?

I’ve asked advice.

Several people offer advice that works for them, but doesn’t quite fit for me.

I’ve tried taking a break and watching TV or reading.

This prolonged my agony. My todo list is waiting for me on the other side.

I’ve written down my priorities resolving to tackle them.

They stare at me from the page and laugh at my fear.

A still small voice calls to me from within. “Be still”.

I’m drawn to Psalms 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present
help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

This God is the one who helps me with my everyday life. This God cares about the mundane items on my todo list.

Now I can face the tidal wave without fear!

What’s first on your todo list today? Do you believe God cares about the details of your life?

This entry was posted on July 24, 2013. 2 Comments

The Day I Knew I Was A Writer

writer contest

“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.”

The day I knew I was a writer was in May of 2012. The day I received my copy of the book I had written. It was odd to see my name and picture of me as a child on the cover. That’s the day I realized I was a writer, but becoming a writer was a long journey.

The journey began at the age of eleven or twelve. My neighbor, Pat, gave me my first mystery novel. It was Agatha Christie’s “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”. In one act of kindness, a seed was planted for a dream to begin to grow! Every spare moment from then on was filled with reading every Agatha Christie novel available at our local library and expanding to other mystery writers when there were no more left. I couldn’t get enough. I began to dream about what it would be like to be a writer.

All this reading was an escape from the everyday nightmare of my life. While reading, I envisioned myself as the one solving the crimes and saving the day. This is what I longed for in my life. I felt alone and trapped by my life. The dream to be the hero, the voice for the ones who had no voice, began to take shape.

At the age of 15, I was placed in a foster home after being sexually abused by my father. I was finally saved, but didn’t feel like it. I felt punished, thrown away like trash and abandoned. Did dreams come true? Any thoughts I had of becoming a writer were shoved into the recesses of my mind. Surviving pain became my new goal.

The state placed me in a loving home, but it couldn’t be seen through my bitterness at what was lost. Throughout middle school and high school, I took American Literature and British Literature and lost myself in the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, J.R.R. Tolkien, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, and many more. I excelled in English and loved diagramming sentences. Playing with words became my new pass time. The dream resurfaced. Words could become whatever you wanted. Words fed my fantasy life, which was always better than my real life.

During my senior year, my caseworker, foster parents, and others peppered me with questions about the direction my life was going. When I graduated from high school, I was on my own. There were no programs to help foster children with the transition into the real world. There was no one to help me go to college and I didn’t have a clue what to study if given the opportunity. There was tremendous pressure to be practical. I told myself writing wasn’t practical. It was then, my dream died. Life was again about survival.

I graduated on a Friday, moved on Saturday into the home of a family friend, and started working my full-time job in food service on Monday. Many of my peers went off to spring break and on to college afterward, while I went to work. The little dreamer was locked deep within, and crushed under the weight of responsibility threatening to squeeze the life out of her.

Looking back, I could’ve started writing during this season and perfecting my craft. I was more interested in dwelling in my pain and self-medicating. Mourning the loss of everything I thought should be mine.

The little dreamer emerged from time to time, but there was always someone in my midst to remind me to be realistic and not waste my time on something as fanciful as writing. I listened to the dream stealers for twenty-five years.

In 2011, the little dreamer was awakened. She was encouraged by several other dreamers surrounding her. She was given a goal to write her story. She was reminded of her grandfather who talked about writing his story and never finished it. God told her she was selfish for keeping silent.

In February of 2012, while attending a leadership conference, I was challenged to write my book and publish it within ninety days. My stomach lurched and my heart soared, simultaneously. I took on the challenge and stepped out in faith. My book (I Do Believe; Help Me With My Unbelief!) was written and published in seventy-seven days.

There are days I still can’t believe my dream came true, but it did. This is just the beginning. My new goal is to encourage others to wake up, reach for the stars and never let go of their God-given dream until it comes true. When we step out and live our dream, we give others permission to do the same!

Have you dreamed of being a writer? Are you looking for support? Please share your story.

This entry was posted on July 21, 2013. 4 Comments

When words fail


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Recently, good friends lost their son. This news brought everything to a screeching halt. All those things, once so important weren’t anymore. This is familiar. The struggle of wanting to do something and knowing there is nothing.

The funeral was Friday. Thankfully, my husband and daughter came along to show their support for our dear friends. Walking in the door and facing them, this broken family, left me feeling inadequate. What do you say to someone whose life has shattered?

We hugged them, cried with them and the only words escaping my lips were “I’m so sorry” and “I am praying for you”. The door to the outside world called my name. Thoughts of leaving the pain behind tugged at my soul. This wasn’t about me or my comfort. This was about being there for someone even though there are no words and no way to take away their pain.

Is this what the Bible means when it says bear one another’s burdens? Galatians 6:2ESV “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Throughout the week, the little voice in my head told me to stay away. It said, “They didn’t want me there. I was useless. Why even try? I would hurt them by being there.”

I remember times when I listened to that little voice. Times I stayed away because it seemed the most helpful thing to do. God showed me I was wrong. It was selfish. I was protecting myself not helping others.

When we walked in and saw their faces, it became apparent they wanted us there. They needed us there. Our mere presence was a comfort. It isn’t about us; it’s about God’s command to love one another. Love is uncomfortable and messy. Love is being there regardless of our feelings.

This quote from Nicolas Sparks, The Notebook sums it up.

“In times of grief and sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods to tears and despair and make it through the potholed street of life”

We love one another by being there when it’s uncomfortable, when we don’t have words and when we know we can’t do anything.

God shows up in our weakness. When we humbly obey because we know it’s what we should do. God uses us best when we realize we have and are nothing.

What’s next?

Continue to pray and don’t forget about them. They may drop out, but we stay connected while respecting their boundaries. Remind them to ask for help and then ask God and those closest to them how we can help. Earnestly look for ways to be there for them without being overbearing.

We do this, not to make ourselves feel good, but because we love them.

We do this to let them know they are not forgotten.

We stand in the gap for them in prayer until they are able to do this for themselves.

This is what we do when words fail.

Please share ways you have been there to help loved ones cope with great loss. Please share ways others were there for you in times of great loss.

This entry was posted on July 15, 2013. 4 Comments

Kaleidoscope

 

Life is like a kaleidoscope. As a child I would stare into the kaleidoscope for hours, fascinated by the ever changing shapes. No matter how long I turned it the shapes created were unique each time. That’s what life is like. We have a moment in time we are comfortable with. Everything falls into place. We have a beautiful picture, but then some of the pieces begin to fall away and our image is destroyed.

If we continue to move forward, embracing those changes we see a beautiful, new image appear.  Each new season of our life brings a new picture. It appears things are falling apart, but they really are just shifting and becoming something new and beautiful again. We fight to maintain the old beautiful picture we had, and we miss the new and beautiful one coming down the road.

 

We cause ourselves undue heartache and stress by holding onto the old picture, and we miss the opportunity to enjoy the new one that’s forming. Our relationships can be like that; they are constantly changing and sometimes we fight to keep things the way they were and in doing so miss the opportunity to enjoy the new beautiful relationship.

The new relationship can be deeper and more rewarding than the old if we learn to embrace the changes with excitement rather than dread. We can focus on what is lost and lose sight of what is coming, or we can set our minds to enjoy the new and not miss a minute of the ride.  At first glance the new picture might not seem as nice as the previous one, but if we learn this is not the end of the journey we discover that a few more pictures down the road may just take our breath away.

The Bible tells us in many places not to hold onto the old, but to look forward to the new thing God is ready to do. Just one example is Isaiah 43:18-19 “18 Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. 19 Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert,”

When we view our lives this way we truly begin to live fully and enjoy each and every moment, regardless of what is going on around us. When we let go of control and our ideas of what things need to look like we give God free rein to shift the pieces to wherever they need to go. It sometimes looks as though everything is falling apart, when in reality, God is creating a beautiful new masterpiece.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t take time to grieve our losses, but when we stay focused too long on what we’ve lost we may miss opportunities for new things to be created.

We can’t truly live until we abandon our thoughts of what we think things should look like, embrace the unknown and be willing to trust God knows more than we do. He knows how all the pieces should come together. When we surrender we win! We are called to live by faith, not by sight. When we choose to live this way, we are free!

What are you focused on today? Are you ready for true freedom and abundance in your life?

Can Being Vulnerable Make You Successful?


Last week I started an online writing course. It’s been an excruciating experience. Emotions have erupted within me, surprising me with their intensity. Pain, anger, fear, doubt, the list goes on. Why do you ask? Our leader promised us he would challenge us. The saying, “no pain, no gain” keeps echoing in my mind.

I’m a writer I say with doubt. I want others to hear my voice, yet feel naked sharing my words with a group of writers who appear to be light years ahead of me.

Another challenge is reading others words and critiquing them. Who do I think I am? A fraud, that’s what comes to mind. I’m no expert and soon they will all know it. If I want feedback from others, I must be willing to give it as well.

The need to be right must go during this process. I hold onto it like my precious, despising it all the while. The battle raging within causes me to entertain thoughts of giving up. A small voice within me cries, “You are not a quitter. You have a job to do.”

Where else does this show up in my life? Does fear of being wrong hold me back from being successful elsewhere? Pride invades every area of my life. It’s present in relationships with my husband, daughter, extended family, friends, ministry, etc.

We are all on this journey together. We were created to complement each other. To be successful in our life mission, we must be willing to be vulnerable.

It’s wise to build a team of people who have your back. Having our back may mean they sometimes disagree with our thoughts or actions. An effective team will reveal our weaknesses and blind spots before we enter into the heat of battle. They will only be as effective as we allow. We need to give them permission to disagree with us and offer a different perspective. We will emerge from this experience stronger if we give them freedom to challenge us. We choose to be right or be better.

So I continue to take this journey in hopes the end will find me stronger and justify the turmoil that broils within.

Who’s on your team? Do you allow your team to be effective?

This entry was posted on July 3, 2013. 6 Comments