Dec
30

How to Deal With Unwanted Change

It’s the day before New Year’s Eve (meaning it’s December 30, in case you were wondering). Magazines and television shows are doing their year-in-review segments. It’s always fun to see the year’s major events. 2013 taught us all what the fox says. That’s pretty huge!

Looking back we also see changes we’ve made, both personally and socially. Change can be fun and exciting. However, change can be hard and stressful. I’m not speaking of the change involved in changing out of your pajamas into a pair of sweats so you can pick up your kids from school (I love the days I can work from home!)

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I’m talking about unwanted change.

Change that you didn’t choose but life forced it upon you.

A change you can do nothing about.

It can be big. It can be small.

It can be perceived as negative. It can be positive. Either way, it interrupts your life.

I share a story in my book about when our son, Noah, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, meaning he was allergic to anything containing gluten – wheat, barley and rye. His blood work showed he was malnourished. He was nine years old at the time but he looked more like he was seven.

Overnight I had to relearn how to shop and cook for our family. Noah had to learn what treats he could accept or had to refuse at school or while over at a friend’s house.  We had to avoid some of our favorite restaurants and look for new ways to celebrate birthdays and holidays.

Ask us about it today and I’d say it’s no big deal. However, at the time, it was enormous. It consumed my life.

Looking back at that time period, I see three actions I had to take in order to successfully embrace my new life.

Accept that life is different. Rejecting my new life would promote a negative environment that would put us in a stalemate. If I lived in denial, my son wouldn’t thrive. By moving forward with my unwanted change I had to believe that good change would come out of it.

Research your new life. Taking small steps can make a big change seem less overwhelming. By educating myself on gluten-free living, little by little I began to see it was doable as I learned from those who had gone before me.

Laugh at life’s challenges. There will be mistakes…lots of them – like the first time I made a gluten-free quiche for my son.  But by laughing at them I was better able to endure them. With unwanted change it’s best to strive for progress, not perfection (and it’ll give you some good stories along the way).

Pray like crazy. I had to get on my knees in order to stand tall for my son. Change can break us or change can mold us into something stronger and even more useful. Prayer connects us to God’s unending source of strength, peace, love and all the other good stuff we’ll need.

Change may not be easy but it’s a part of life that takes us out of our comfort zone. It is here we see what we are made of and who we are…and that is a good thing. Happy New Year!

I’d love to hear your stories from your own personal year-in-review and any actions you take that may help us face change!

 

Dec
17

Will Your Goals Inspire You or Will Your Fears Paralyze You?

Time is flying. I can’t believe it’s almost 2014. I was doing a personal year-in-review. It was a good year and I accomplished many of my goals. I wrote my first book, completed the Boise Ironman 70.3 (not fast but I was able to dance at the finish!) and did a better job of balancing our family life.

However, there were many aspirations that I missed. Some due to circumstances and other due to the fact that I just dropped the ball.

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There are huge tasks that await me this next year. In some ways they intimidate me – the fear of failure. In other ways they energize me – they give me a sense of purpose.

It’s the time of year that many of us are making resolutions. I wanted to share a verse that’s been very helpful to me in the past.

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord is finished.” I Chronicles 28:20.

In this verse David is giving advice to his son, Solomon, who is about to build the Temple. Talk about an intimidating job! In this verse I see four principles that can help us fulfill the personal call that God has given us for this next year.

Be strong and courageous: Strength comes from effort and enduring struggles, the same way our muscles become stronger when we push them. Courage is not the absence of fear but facing it head on. The brave still have fears but they push through their fears.

Do the work: God has promised to bless us but we’re still required to do the work. It won’t just happen. Moses still had to approach Pharaoh. Abraham still had to leave his homeland. The disciples abandoned their comfort of home in order to follow Jesus. All of them were hugely blessed but they did the required work.

Do not be afraid or discourage: Fear paralyzes people and discouragement makes us complacent. These two will keep us from “doing the work” if we allow them to fester in our hearts in minds. This is the hardest one for me personally to conquer. Discouragement can have a hay day with my self confidence but…

God is with you and will not fail you: God has promised to complete the good work in us. We have to trust and believe it. It’s our best tool. I constantly have to remind myself the many ways He’s proven Himself to me in the past. It’s a huge confidence builder.

Okay my friends – the end of the year is near and the next one awaits us. I pray this verse will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and fulfill the goals and dreams that God has blessed you with.

What helps you set goals and face your challenges courageously?

 

 

 

Dec
10

The Beauty of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a gift from God. I watched the highlights from the memorial service held in his honor. It drew segments of all of humanity: global leaders, laborers, celebrities, housewives, religious leaders, sports figures and on and on.

Nelson MandelaEveryone loved Nelson Mandela. He had a heart we don’t see often.

History has shown us what hatred does to a person. Many cultures are plagued with the repercussions of past mistakes made by evil leaders with mindless followers. We then pass it down to the next generation and it grows stronger and stronger.

Mandela didn’t do this – he was different.

Due to my age, I was robbed the honor of hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. speak but my generation has had the privilege of seeing Mandela’s release. We’ve learned much from what he did with his precious life.

He didn’t waste his time in prison. He used his time to think. He used it cultivate peace in his heart, not brew hate in his soul.

He studied his enemy – NOT to destroy them – but to find ways to unite with them.

His words were peace. He didn’t preach violence. He longed for freedom and unity.

He left prison a better man, not a bitter man. Only a person with solid character, empowered by God, can endure such conditions and leave a nobler person.

Mandela didn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder; instead he carried the cross that was given him, with his beautiful smile and healing heart. Because of this South Africans found freedom and experienced unity without bloodshed. Those of us watching from afar were amazed.

It can be done. We all can heal. We all can unite.

We must pray for peace and learn from the examples of wonderful people like Nelson Mandela that God puts in our lives.

Thank you God for Mandela.

Thank you Mandela for your faithfulness.

May you rest in peace. I’m sure many were awaiting your arrival as you entered Heaven’s Gates. Enjoy the love. You deserve it.

 

 

Dec
09

Don’t Let the Past Come Back to Bite You!

“Today’s difficulties are often a result of yesterday’s disobedience.” – Priscilla Shirer

I’m working through Priscilla Shirer’s study on Gideon. (BTW – It’s excellent and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a study.) One of the points she makes is how many of Israel’s struggles were due to past time of them not completely obeying God.

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Looking back, I too can see how many of the struggles in my past could have been avoided if I had completely obeyed God.

– If I had of ended that relationship earlier…

– If I had of held off on making that large purchase…

– If I had not gotten that Elvis tattoo…(just kidding)

The list is long. However, there is value in looking back at such things to remind myself to fully obey God.

But…

– God’s not in the business of making us perfect – rather He’s making us better.

– He’s not one to dwell in the past – rather He guides our future.

– He doesn’t rule us like puppets – rather He works to have a relationship with us.

Some times it’s easier (and fun) to partially obey what God is asking us to do. However, any time we partially do anything – it comes back to bite us.

Who wants to marry someone who’s partially committed or be operated on by a doctor who’s partially qualified?

Uh…I’ll pass on both.

A heart that is fully committed may face obstacles but it will also be fully blessed. God is worthy of our all!

What keeps you from fully obeying God?

Dec
04

Was Jesus’ Birth an Accident?

Not long ago I was visiting a friend. We were talking about our children and she began joking how all of her children were “accidents.” (She has six children, but I won’t go there.)

“What?! I wasn’t planned? You guys didn’t want me?” Her oldest son had been in the hallway and overheard our conversation.

Oops…take it back.

“Of course we wanted you. It’s just that God’s timing was different from ours.” (Good try my friend.)

This seemed to appease him…somewhat, but he left us with a hurt look on his face as if he didn’t feel as special because he wasn’t “planned.”

blog photo - Jesus birth a mistake?We read in the Bible of barren women like Sarah and Hannah, begging God for a baby. Their sons were special and did a lot for mankind. However, the world’s biggest blessing may have initially been seen by His mother as an “accident”, or more like a mistake.

Surely Mary didn’t plan on being pregnant…by God…before she was married!

But…this was GOD’S plan. And it was good. Very good.

She endured hardships. She was ridiculed. She was out casted. She may have been known as the mother of the odd kid. We all know how painful it can be to hear others talk badly of our family.

But…she spent more intimate time with Jesus than any other who walked this earth. Talk about awesome.

She taught Him how to walk and He would travel the earth and give the lost hope and the outcasts love. She was a part of it.

She picked Him up when He fell down and kissed His boo-boos. One day His blood covered body would stumble as He carried the Cross. But she was there. Yes, she saw His death but she also saw His resurrection.

Was Jesus’ birth an accident?

No. It was a blessing, planned by God.

There have been times in my life when God’s timing didn’t match mine. I didn’t get married until I was older. I had to wait to have children. I had to wait to write my book. I had to wait to finish school. My grandfather died too soon.

None of it is how I would have authored my life. They were hardships that I didn’t want at the time.

But the blessings birthed through these struggles were illustrated by the hand of God. I know it because they are too perfect to have come from me.

So my friend, you may have experienced a loss. You may be waiting on God in a particular situation in your life. You may be in the middle of a huge blessing. Either way, God’s hand is actively writing your story. You may not see it now but a blessing will come out of it in time. Choose to see it.

Mary may not have planned to be the mother of Jesus, but God did. She chose to believe it and because of it, she was blessed.

What unplanned events in your life have been a blessing to you?