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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

End of a Season? Time to Pull Life's Weeds?


I've been fortunate enough to come across a few inspiring and helpful articles and lists lately. They come through emails I've subscribed to, through Christian books I read, through my Facebook memory wall, or through my own journal notes. 

The concept I'm about to write about came by email from Dr. Henry Cloud. I'm going to cut out sections that struck me.

First, the subject line of the email said, "I may know why you're struggling..."

I haven't been struggling lately, thank goodness, but I know what it is to struggle. 

Then he said (bold by me), "Life is composed of life cycles and seasons. Nothing lasts forever. Life cycles and seasons are built into the nature of everything. When we accept that as a fundamental truth, we can align our actions with our feelings, our beliefs with our behaviors, to accept how things are, even when they end.
Everything has a life cycle. We’ve heard this before — there is a time to be born and a time to die. And in between birth and life, there are many activities, and those activities have seasons, too."

This was a good reminder because I've been in partly-empty-nest mode for a few years and that, combined with the moods of peri-menopause and menopause, I've battled occasional depression. I described to my counsellor it was as though I was in a long extended period of grief. Part of my grief related to letting go of my kids and saying goodbye to a season of parenting.   

Dr. Cloud assures us that problems arise when we ignore that life is full of such cycles and seasons. It's just the way things are! 

He suggests we can’t make room for new fruit in our garden if we get stuck allowing proverbial weeds to grow. 

Weeds of Life

Acknowledging season ends is healthy.  Embracing hope that there is new fruit in our future is also healthy. To make way for new fruit, we need to clear the weeds.  

I've written on this theme before, asking, "What weeds do you need to put an end to? "

The dictionary defines a weed as any troublesome, unwanted plant. 

Dennis Raney, in this article, helps us take a look at pulling up life weeds. He says, "The first weed Jesus warned of is the worries of the world, the anxieties of this age."

I confess, I had a lot of anxiety over the last year. It's time to pull it up. 

Other weeds Jesus talked about included the deceitfulness of riches and the continual desire for other things.

I think we can all get stuck on those two.

Sometimes the weeds we need to pull include old habits, relationships, and attitudes.

  • Have you made it your desire to put an end to any of the above in 2018?
  • Is there a season that is ending that it's time to accept as a normal part of life?
  • Will you refuse to become anxious?




Friday, January 12, 2018

Are You Willing?


I chose the word WILLING for 2018. To me it means being more open and willing to try new ways of doing life and trying new opportunities. The example I gave before was being willing to join a fitness bootcamp. Just the word bootcamp was intimidating for a time, but now that I've been involved for almost 5 months, I am so glad I was willing to step into it. 

I don't plan on hunting down my new opportunities per se. I will be sensitive to what God brings my way. 

I know each thing I add will affect something else on my schedule. I don't want to redirect my own ship. I'm still committed to dividing my time between top 5 passions and I'm still committed to being a good caretaker of what God has already blessed me with. 

Nevertheless, shocking the system with new things helps the brain develop new neurons. It is a great way to stay vital and healthy. Another NEW thing I'll be doing is taking this Udemy Course on Brain Plasticity.

A LOOK AT THE TERM 'WILLING' 

As I look at the word WILLING, an online dictionary uses these words:


eager, keen, enthusiastic, ready, prepared, agreeable, 
game, helpful, cooperative, happy and many more. 

One word that jumps out at me is "prepared." I want to be better prepared for what comes my way. That will include preparing time for new things. Should it include having visitors in, it includes more post-holiday cleaning that's been calling out to me. It means doing a little post-holiday closet resorting too so it's easy to find the right clothes to get dressed quickly. 


Luke 12:34-36 (NIV) puts the idea of being prepared this way:
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

How Are You Doing This Year So Far?

Did you choose a word for 2018? Did you create a list of defining words for 2018? Have common themes been popping up around you?

Did you do the exercise on this page? Conceptualize yourself aboard God's cruise ship?



Since I came up with the cruise ship theme, it's been popping up around me. For instance, friends are taking cruises. My mother-in-law's long term care facility calendar lists an event as "Port of Call." I don't know what it is, but I knew I was meant to see it. 


I've been doing it and it has changed my perspective just as I've needed! 

LET GO OF TOO MUCH WONDERING


Often, we get used to 'wondering.' We wonder what to do, where to go, who to call, what new thing to get involved in...and wondering can be very unsettling. 

Wondering sometimes leaves us feeling empty or pushed to make plans of our own imagination. 

Instead of wondering, I'm simply being and doing. I'm working on what I know I have to do, getting to my appointments, and keeping commitments. I'm trusting I'm on God's LOVE BOAT. I'm following His lead. 

DEVELOP CONFIDENCE

I was in a women's group where the topic arose: How do you develop confidence? I feel this exercise has helped my confidence soar. As I picture God as the captain, I have better trust. 

I listen for God's instructions and am confident I'm in His will when I've taken the time to ask. 

When nothing new is on the horizon, I write prayers, read, and work on my character. 

HOW IT WORKS

I commit my day to God and wherever I go in a day is my "Port of Call." It has included my exercise gym, my doctor's office, my mother-in-law's long term care facility, my pet store, the grocery store, and church (to name a few). I record these each evening in my cruise journal.

Even as I stepped off the curb heading to McDonalds for lunch with my husband after church, I began to sing the theme from The Love Boat. The port of call at that moment was McDonalds. 

At each port of call, I've been willing to do what I'm supposed to do there. 

BEING WILLING

My word for 2018 is WILLING. I want to be willing to step into new territory or to try new things. 

Not much new has been presented in big ways, but I'm being mindful of small challenges. For instance, in many of these situations, I've been amongst people that are new to me. I have been willing to converse with people. 

I urge you to try this exercise or one like it. Record your ports of call in your journal. Decorate the pages with stickers or colorful drawings. Have fun with it. Trust in God and do His will--that's what it's about. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

An Exercise for the New Year




HERE IS A New Year's Exercise You Might want to Try


Image result for cruise ship clip art


Many women go about their New Year planning by making a list of what they think will make them happy and then set goals to pursue happiness.

I have found it can be difficult for some to know what goals to set. From experience, I know that putting pressure on myself to set a direction for the New Year can bring on a feeling of despair. As a believer, I always want to follow the path God has laid out for me, not a path of my own design. I have found it more peaceful to take the approach of letting God lead. James 4:15 says this:

Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.

Relying on God to grant vision and direction can be exciting. The path he lays out is a surer path.

In the last few days, God granted me a vision. I'd like to offer it to you here as a personal challenge for yourself:

THE LOVE BOAT

Imagine the days of 2018 being one long cruise aboard God's love boat. Will you be willing to step aboard?

Will you be willing to keep an ear to the ground to hear what he says?

Will you be open to letting God decide the ports of call the cruise ship will stop at?

Will you be willing to step off and tour the port--or complete the assignment God gives you at the port?

Can you resist the need to know where you're headed?

What name will you give your ship?  My husband says I should call mine the LOVE BOAT. I'll bear that in mind, but I've already called mine CRUISE SHIP WILLINGNESS.

If you are truly willing to be used by God, let him know you're ready to step aboard. He may ask you to do things you wouldn't choose for yourself. You might be called to help someone else in an unusual way. You might be called to have a medical procedure you'd rather avoid. You may be asked to lead a group. You might be asked to take a long drive to get somewhere he wants you to go. Will you say yes to what you sense he wants you to do?

I watched a Joyce Meyer video clip recently where she tried on various clothing that didn't fit. She suggested to find our path, we might need to be willing to try on things that, in the end, don't fit us. The key words here are OBEDIENCE and WILLINGNESS. Are you willing to try new things?

I'd like to suggest that you'll fulfill a deep need within you when your gifts and abilities are used by God to meet a need in the world. 

Don't measure your willingness based on earthly payment you might receive. God will give you treasure in heaven and life experience goes a long way.

THE IN-BETWEEN


In between the 'ports of call' where you step off to complete God-given assignments, you will have quiet periods of hopefully smooth sailing. Continue to develop your passions and take care of what God has already assigned you to. Then choose eight or so character traits to develop. 

When nothing new is happening, work on one of the character traits by researching it in the Bible, online and putting it into practice. Here are some sample traits: 

Related image
credit https://www.fabtechexpo.com/blog/
2016/10/06/the-roles-responsibility-of-leadership-in-guiding-your-company

I suggest you buy a new journal and record where God sends you. Also record your study notes. It could be fun!

Please leave feedback in the comments section. Let me know the name of your cruise ship. Or join me on my Facebook page  Self-Coaching Tools for Women.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Set a List of Defining Words for Your New Year




Image may contain: outdoor, text and nature



This lovely meme is courtesy of a Facebook page called God's Love at Work.

Many of my like-minded friends have taken to choosing a word for the year. It's like setting an intention for a way of living. It's a type of resolution for the new year.

I've pondered many words but haven't chosen one. 

I posted the verse above because as I read it, some very good words stood out. 

TRUST, for instance, is a good word I might choose. It's calming to remind myself to trust the Lord.

SUBMIT would be another good word--a reminder to look to God's authority and to keep an ear to the ground to follow His lead. 

A few other words I've pondered include these:

JOY - to find joy, but also to make it my mission to bring joy to those I cross paths with. If I choose this word, I will look at scriptures and read about joy so I will know how to have it and share it. 

WELL-BEING or WELLNESS- Operating out of a sense of well-being would allow me to be a joy- and peace-bearer. It implies a focus on self-care and better health. It's focus would mean keeping my life in balance and taking steps to improved health. 

WILLING - This came to me today after watching a Joyce Meyer video clip. She suggested that to find the will of God we must be willing to try things. I willingly joined a new fitness group in 2017 and I want to be more willing to try new things in 2018. I willingly helped my mother-in-law get sorted to move into a long-term care home. It was a fulfilling (although stressful) way to use my gifts and time. I had to be willing to do it.

PEACE - The Bible says in Psalm 34:14 to seek peace and pursue it. I think focusing on peace would keep the temperature in my home and relationships calmer.

DO GOOD/GOOD DEEDS - The first part of Psalm 34:14 says to "do good." Other verses point out the call of God for us to do good deeds, for instance:


1 Tim 6:16 "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

This verse is regarding widows, but is important for all women to heed:


"She must be well known for her good actions as a woman who has raised children, welcomed strangers, washed the saints' feet, helped the suffering, and devoted herself to doing good in every way." (1 Tim 5:10)

LET GO - As a mom of grown children, I've been in an ongoing season of letting go. I have to let my children make their own decisions and even mistakes. My letting go also coincides with trusting God with every situation instead of trying to fix things myself.

ACCEPT -  I've learned others have chosen this word. It can encompass many things. I think many women get caught up in striving. They compare their life with others or what they think they should be doing and struggle accepting where God has them. If God directs our path, then where we are is where he wants us. Accepting where we are each day and appreciating God's good gifts will lead to greater peace and satisfaction.

GENEROUS - I've been reading the notes in a Poverty and Justice Bible  (received from our church yrs ago).



It has challenges within it urging readers to be generous and compassionate. It urges us to be kind to the poor and points out the poor are also poor in spirit which may include anything from a depressed or lonely friend or senior, or someone who needs a boost of hope. 

Ungodly individuals may have wealth, but they are stingy in sharing it. They don't live in kingdom principles. God doesn't tell us to store up treasure on earth. He tells us to store up treasure in heaven. As believer's we know that God will bless us with favour. What we reap we will sow. We can be wise and generous at the same time. 

As I've stepped out to be more generous, I've felt the joy of giving.  

Well, this post is getting lengthy. Perhaps I'll adopt all these words. How about you? What do you think of this idea of adopting a word or set of words to live your year by?