Posted in Faith, Personal Development, Servant Leadership

My Things Aren’t Really My Things

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My things. When I think about it, I am grateful for all that I have.

My husband, my family, my friends, my job…Most of my “things” aren’t objects at all, but rather people who are incredibly dear to me. Now think about all the “things” in your life, and fill in the blank.

My __________.

If you’re like me, you can come up with a pretty long list.

Perhaps, too, if you’re like me, you take great responsibility for your things.

In no way do I wish to minimize the importance of good stewardship. God’s Word speaks about investing in our relationships and doing everything as though we are working for the Lord and not people. Striving to reach goals with excellence is a noble pursuit. However, at the end of the day I must remember that my things aren’t really my things. All of my things belong to the Lord.

Remember that list you compiled in your mind? Try adding the words “belong(s) to the Lord.”

  • My spouse belongs to the Lord.
  • My family belongs to the Lord.
  • My friends belong to the Lord.
  • My job belongs to the Lord.

I’m going to add a few more.

  • My house belongs to the Lord.
  • My health belongs to the Lord.
  • My life belongs to the Lord.

This change in perspective is both powerful and freeing. I can hold onto things quite tightly. My desire to be responsible quickly morphs into taking ownership, when in reality only Jesus Christ is King. I must do my best to be faithful and to love others with His love, but when all is said and done, the results (or lack of perceived results) rest squarely on His shoulders.

When I realize that the Lord is Master and I am His servant, life becomes easier and I can thrive in adversity or when things don’t go my way.

Since stepping into leadership of a pregnancy center, I have strategically tried to reach women facing unplanned pregnancy and vulnerable to making a choice for abortion. Last year we were privileged to serve 220 abortion vulnerable women who chose to continue their pregnancies. This year, even though we have not changed anything in our approach, we have seen more women who are not considering abortion than I would like. They are uninsured, need free services, and want to go to a life-affirming clinic, but they don’t fall into the category of our preferred client. However, as a ministry of availability we don’t have a say in who comes through our doors. When I think of the pregnancy center as my “baby,” I get stressed out that we aren’t on target to reach as many abortion vulnerable women as last year. However, when I think of Life Choices as belonging to the Lord, I see each person as a divine appointment regardless of their circumstances. It’s an opportunity to talk about the miracle of life and share God’s love in word and action.

I have thought of other things in my life as my “baby” as well. This blog is one of them. Since facing a traumatic event six weeks ago, I have found it difficult to communicate. When I speak, my words gets jumbled. I think one thing and something entirely different, even opposite, comes out of my mouth. Writing, which is something I love, can feel excruciating. Words that used to flow quickly at the keyboard now eek out at a snail’s pace. The weight of producing a blog post every week added to my inability to write. When I thought of this as my blog, I was smothered by responsibility and irritated by writer’s block. When it dawned on me that this blog belongs to the Lord, I felt released from the pressure. I can write when inspired. I don’t have to be bound to a schedule and can enjoy the creative process again.

The same applies to my relationships, even the closest ones. I can love them like Jesus, and provide a grace-filled environment, but in the end their choices are their choices. As much as their decisions may hurt my heart, they will answer to the Lord, not to me.

What about you? What things are you holding onto as your things? Remember that everything in your life really belongs to the Lord. Enjoy the freedom of knowing that the outcome ultimately belongs to Him.

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:3-4).

For in him [Christ] all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You that I live and move and have my being in You. I am grateful for the many blessings in my life. I acknowledge that they come from Your hand and not my own. Help me to remember that I am called to be a faithful manager. I am not the Owner; I am not in charge of the outcome. Help me to grow in trust and thrive in the midst of every challenge I face. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Personal Development

The Healing Journey

I recently came across this blog post that I wrote three years ago. It was before I started working through my childhood trauma and now my family’s current traumatic event. Interestingly though, it applies just as much now as it did then…

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God has called us to participate in His journey of healing. We may be sick in body, or we may need to be transformed from unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. Regardless of the type and degree, God longs to show Himself as our healing God, the One who restores us to walk in His health. We all want healing to happen quickly, even miraculously. Right now would be perfect, thank you very much! While healing–spiritual, physical, and emotional–does occur miraculously at times, it is usually a process, a journey. This journey is full of the riches of discovery with plenty of opportunities to trust and become more like Jesus.

The healing process hits close to home right now, as I had my gall bladder removed one week ago. Even in the midst of a straight forward, easy recovery, I am aware of my restlessness with the healing process. I don’t like feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable. However, I am also aware of God’s still small voice encouraging me with gentle and loving instruction.

He has been reminding me…

God’s time table for me is unique. I can get easily discouraged when I look at the progress of others. At least a dozen people have shared their gall bladder removal stories with me. Their accounts–easy, in and out procedure, up and around in no time. One friend had surgery on Thursday and was back to work on Monday. I am definitely not on her time table! God has His own plan in motion.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139:13-14,16 NLT

I trust God’s good plans along with His timing. My process may not look like everyone else, but it doesn’t have to. This is a journey God intentionally designed for me.

Patience with the process is necessary. A part of me prefers the idea of quick fixes and immediate solutions. Another part of me realizes how superficial that is. To be honest, we all experience the consequences of decisions made over a long period of time. Why do we expect to step out of it immediately? I find it interesting that even though we are instantly forgiven and become new creations when we trust Jesus Christ as Savior, we are still called to engage in the transformation process.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Changing the way you think and learning to know God’s will are not one time occurrences. Rather, they are on-going, active practices that contribute to growth over time. My part is to abide with Jesus, access the power He provides, and let God do the transforming in me. When I realize that God is the One at work, that it’s not all on my shoulders, I am able to rest and approach the process with patience.

God gives me the strength I need for the journey.  I confess…
There are days I feel like I don’t have enough energy to get out of bed.
There are days I feel like I have no encouraging, faith-filled words for others.
There are days I feel like life is unraveling at the seams and I simply cannot fix it.
I am weak.

Thankfully the Holy Spirit never allows me to wallow in this mess of feelings for very long!
Yes, I am weak, but my Jesus is strong. In fact, I have His promise that His power works best in weakness. Jesus offers me His grace, and it is the strength I need for the journey (2 Corinthians 12).

And just in case, this passage in 2 Corinthians 12 isn’t inspiring enough…

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 NLT

God has given everything I need for the journey He has set before me!

Whatever healing journey we are currently on, our loving heavenly Father has made all the provisions for our success. Will we trust Him to transform us through the process?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I come before You and acknowledge my need of You. Thank You for giving me new life through Jesus Christ. Thank You for providing me with all I need for becoming more like Jesus. Help me to trust You during this healing journey. Help me to be patient with the process. Help me to rely on Your strength in times of weakness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Posted in Character, Faith

Not a Fair Weather Follower

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On February 19, 2017, my family and I experienced the trauma of an armed invasion of our home. The last three weeks I have been asked several times by well meaning inquirers if it has shaken my faith. To be quite honest…No, it has not. While it has shaken my faith in some people, it hasn’t shaken my faith in Jesus.

I understand where their questions are coming from. After all, how could a loving God allow such a violent crime to happen to His children?

I don’t have the answers, but I don’t need them. Nearly three decades of serving in ministry and caring for people in the throes of tragedy have taught me there are no easy answers. I have read many excellent theological works examining the problems of evil and suffering, but none of them truly soothes the anguished soul.

There is only one thing that brings comfort and peace to me in the storms of life: Running to Jesus.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).

It’s so simple that we miss it. Many of us run away from Jesus when we are hurt or disappointed. We become jaded that our faithful God-honoring prayers haven’t been answered or when we encounter difficulties that don’t make sense. We close ourselves off from our Helper and Healer, and bitterly rely on our own strength and the power of our own intellect. We shake our fists at the Lord rather than raise our hands in surrender.

Yet, in this broken world, groaning under the weight of sinful choices of past generations as well as our own, the only thing that makes sense to me is finding refuge in Jesus.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:7-8).

Thirty-six years ago this month, I committed my life to Jesus. As a young teenager, I sat on the front steps of my grandparents’ house, talking to the Lord. “I give my life to You. Even if nobody else in my whole world understands, I will follow You all the days of my life.” I meant it with every fiber of my being.

However, like a bride madly in love on her wedding day, I really had no clue what that meant. When a couple vows to stay together “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts us,” they are sincere. But they can’t possibly know what “worse,” “poorer” and “sickness” will look like. I was thoroughly captivated by the One who loves me and gave His life for me. I was determined to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As is always the case, life happened.

The early years of walking with Jesus and serving in ministry were filled with blessings and miraculous answers to prayer. Somehow I came to expect that the blessings were a reward for faithfully following Jesus and believing God’s Word. Eventually though that castle of cards came crashing down. I had to ask myself, “Why am I following Jesus?”
Is it because…
…I want my sins forgiven?
…He promises to bless me?
…He will protect me from bad things?
…All the people I care about follow Him?
…He will make my life easier?
…I feel called to the ministry?                                                                                                                   …I need my own genie in a bottle with unlimited wishes?

 

I realized that if I follow Jesus, because of the blessings I think I am entitled to here on this earth, then I am really a fair weather follower. Trials will come, disappointments will set in, and I will walk away from a faith that is no longer working for me.

When my youngest daughter was born with spina bifida, my faith was tested. I was devastated that she had a serious birth defect. I was angry that God hadn’t revealed Himself as the Great Physician, even though thousands of people around the globe were fervently praying. For a period of over two years, I did some serious soul searching. “Why am I following Jesus?”

Would I be like Job who despite the physical and emotional agony of losing everything continued to praise the Lord?

Or would I be like Job’s wife who advised him to “curse God and die.”

Would I be a fair weather follower like the crowd in John Chapter 6? They were offended because the teachings of Jesus were too hard. They turned away and no longer walked with Him.

Through the years on this journey with Jesus, I may not have always gotten what I thought would be good. But I have found to be true what the Apostle Peter declared long ago.

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

I am not a fair weather follower of Jesus.

Recently I texted my dear friend that struggles with Multiple Sclerosis. She is a follower of Jesus whose trust in Him inspires me. I wrote:

“This life doesn’t always make sense and the only way I know to navigate the difficulties is to desperately rely on Jesus.”

I sent these words 12 hours before three criminals entered our home and stories.

Though trouble may visit my family and my own life be threatened, I follow Jesus. He is my Refuge. He causes me to be resilient. Through the power of His Spirit I thrive.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

My friend, let me encourage you. Don’t be a fair weather follower. No matter what, follow Jesus.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, here I am with a heart of surrender. I choose to trust You when things don’t make sense. I choose to follow You wherever You lead. During times of trial, help me to run to You and not away from You. You are my Refuge and my Strength, always near in times of trouble. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Servant Leadership

Living by the Platinum Rule

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The Golden Rule—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I was not raised in a Christian home, but it was one of the first lessons I remember. It was reinforced almost everywhere I went, a maxim to not be selfish and to think about others. The Golden Rule was taught by Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:12). It is taught in various forms around the world and by different faiths. It is a universal truth that if you want to get along with people, you need to be mindful of how you treat them.

It is a beautiful spiritual principle. Nevertheless, I have found myself frustrated by the results especially in my close relationships. In marriage, treating my husband the way I would like to be treated is not often appreciated. Cleaning the kitchen even though I am exhausted or asking a philosophical question to spark conversation does not connect with him. Over the years I have learned that our images of the ideal partner pretty much live in different universes.

The same goes for my children. Doing something for them that I enjoy does not guarantee that it is meaningful for them. The Golden Rule does not produce the desired results in my other relationships and on the job either. Of course, it does promote kindness and courtesy which are important in every setting. However, just because I love something doesn’t mean they will love it too.

The Golden Rule is a great foundation. There is another rule that goes beyond and focuses on the uniqueness of each person with whom we are in relationship.

The Platinum Rule—Do unto others as they want you to do unto them.

About 20 years ago I felt confused about my marriage. I was pouring myself into our relationship, being the best wife I could possibly be, but it didn’t seem to do any good. After a time of seeking the Lord for wisdom, I felt prompted to read Genesis 2:18.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

I immediately defended myself. What do you mean, Lord? You know how hard I’m trying!

As soon as the words left my mouth, I could see it. Yes, I was trying hard. But I was being a helper suitable for myself. Ouch!

I began to ask questions about what my husband thought was meaningful. (What a novel idea!) Together we learned about different love languages, learning styles, and personality types. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to relationships.

Later I discovered this principle of honoring others actually had a name.

I love the Platinum Rule. It opened up a new way of relating with others at home and in the workplace. Rather than doing something nice because I think it’s nice, I take the time to learn how to really connect. It is the basis of servant leadership. If I want to invest well in the development of others, I need to understand how to best instruct, correct, and express appreciation for them. Instead of seeing others with my own limited lens, I get to explore and discover. As a result, relationships become more enriched and significant.

Do some of your relationships seem stagnant? Do you sense a lack of connection with others? Perhaps practicing the Platinum Rule will give you the boost you need.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people(I) so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me to love others the way You love. Rather than expect others to fit into my mold, help me to value their differences. Teach me to connect in ways that are meaningful to them. Empower me to first do to others as I would have them do to me, and then go beyond to do to others as they want me to do to them. In all these things may I honor You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Vision & Goal Setting

Take a Different Look at Your Goals

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Did you know that the success rate for New Year’s resolutions is a mere eight per cent? I don’t mean to burst your bubble this soon into the New Year. Really, I want to help.

I know we’re only a week and a half into 2017, but how are you doing on your goals? Perhaps you don’t officially make New Year’s resolutions, but do you have a goal you’re working toward?

I am a hard core goal setter. I regularly evaluate my life and identify an area for change. It’s exhilarating to envision a better future when motivation is at its highest. However, within a short period of time motivation wanes and the goal I was so stoked to accomplish is nothing but an uphill battle. Evidently this feeling is universal. Thankfully it doesn’t have to control us.

Here are some tips to use when you face inner obstacles that threaten your progress.

  1. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t wish for a quick fix. Remember that lasting positive change takes time. Commit to work toward your goal over the long haul. You are learning a new life style or skill. You are developing an important plan. You may need to adjust your pace for a marathon instead of a 100 yard dash.
  2. Take it one day at a time. One moment at a time if necessary. Even though you set your mind for a marathon, you also must live fully in the present and not get overwhelmed by the future. You can conquer temptation in the now, but the load will seem too heavy when you add potential temptations down the road. You can deal with the stress you face today, but you will get into trouble if you add the stress of tomorrow.
  3. Set smaller goals. Don’t give up on your big goals, but set smaller bite-size goals to focus on and celebrate. If you need to lose 50 pounds, stop and celebrate (sanely) when you lose 10 pounds. Then continue toward the next 10 pounds. If you take 2,000 steps, one step at a time, you will walk a mile.
  4. Change your mindset. Don’t allow a negative perspective trip you up. You are not being “deprived” when you “give something up.” You are not “sacrificing” when everyone else “gets to have fun.” Frame your decisions as positive instead. You are choosing a better path for your well being. You are investing in your future. Declare it out loud until you believe it.
  5. Ask for help. There is power in support and accountability. Find someone you trust and respect to walk with you. Above all, invite the Lord to walk with you. He is already with you, and has the strength you need for success. Knowing you are not alone will encourage you toward the next step.

Take a different look at your goals and experience success. I believe you can do it, and it will be worth it.

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed (Psalm 20:4).

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that Your mercies are new every morning, and that You give me opportunity for change. Help me to honor You with my goals. Empower me to be successful. I trust You to accomplish Your good purposes through me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Faith

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

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Life can be tough. We live in a fallen world, and there is a devil whose mission is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). But can I just be honest with you? Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I can be so skilled at sabotaging myself, the devil doesn’t have to be around for me to mess things up. I don’t want to dismiss the presence of evil. However, as a human being, I prefer blaming someone else when I should take responsibility for my own actions. The devil may be the tempter, but I’m the one who takes the bait.

I am so grateful for God’s promise of victorious love in Romans 8:38-39:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I’m steeped in self-sabotage mode, I believe that circumstances or people in my life block my ability to experience God’s love. If God loves me so much and His love is so powerful, why can’t I see it? I fail to realize that I, through incorrect thinking, have separated myself.

Thankfully I’m learning to detect some of my self-sabotaging attitudes more quickly these days. I am more aware of when the negative thoughts begin, and then I turn my attention to Jesus.

What are some of these self-sabotaging attitudes?

Self-pity. I adopt a victim mentality. Nothing about my situation is good and there is nothing I can do about it. Because nobody really understands the depth of my pain, I dismiss anything they say to help me as invalid.

Pride. I question God’s sovereignty and wonder if He is really in control. After all, I think that my plans, purposes, and priorities are better than His. I know what my life should look like. I am impatient with His timing and resent the detours along the way.

Unbelief. Ultimately I don’t trust the Lord with my life. I lose sight that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. As a result all I can see are limitations and lack. Fear or discouragement takes over as I assume the worst.

After recognizing self-sabotage, how do I turn my attention to Jesus?

Exchange self-pity for gratitude. God doesn’t “owe” me anything. He provided the way for me to be in relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. That is enough, and I am truly blessed. The Lord has given me everything I am and all I that have. No matter how tough my situation, I can experience joy and peace through the Holy Spirit. I determine to be content and grateful.

Exchange pride for humility. I confess that I really don’t know what is best. I surrender my life anew to God and acknowledge that apart from Him I can do nothing. I ask the Lord for a teachable spirit and look for opportunities to serve others.

Exchange unbelief for trust. I can identify with the father in Mark Chapter 9 who begged Jesus to deliver his son. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (v. 24). I rely on grace to trust Him more. I pray for the Lord to empower me from his glorious, unlimited resources with inner strength through His Spirit. I ask for Christ to make His home in my heart, for my roots to grow down into God’s love and keep me strong (Ephesians 3:17).

Do you recognize self-sabotage in your life? How will you turn your attention to Jesus?

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You never leave me where You found me. Thank You for giving me new life and teaching me new ways of living. Help me to see when I have attitudes or do things that sabotage myself. Help me to exchange negative thoughts and actions for thoughts and actions that honor You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Personal Development

Your Problem May Be Easier Than You Think

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We purchased our home on Crescent Drive the summer of 2002. It was the perfect size for our growing family with plenty of bedrooms, a large backyard, and an in-ground swimming pool. The day we moved in, one thing caught my attention. At the top of the stairs, there was duct tape wrapped around the wooden handrail. The first thing that entered my mind was, “I should see what’s underneath the duct tape.” Followed by, “It’s broken and the entire 12-foot piece will need to be replaced. I don’t have time for that now.” Apparently that’s what my husband was thinking too.

One-by-one our kids graduated from high school. Four of them left home. Three of them got married, and grandchildren have arrived. Amidst all the changes, the old duct tape was still there, looking dirty and worn. Through the years, other repairs took priority. But nobody wanted to tackle the broken handrail, so the duct tape remained as a permanent feature. Until recently.

Our once perfectly sized house feels large and empty for three people, so we decided to put it on the market. As we spruced up the place, the time to tackle the duct tape had clearly arrived. I held my breathe, as I gingerly peeled the tape back, ready to assess the damage. I looked closely and felt through the gummy residue. There was nothing wrong. No crack. No split. Nothing. The wooden handrail was completely intact.

Fourteen years of avoiding such a simple problem. We had assumed the handrail needed to be replaced, but all that was needed was to remove the duct tape and apply a little “Goof-Off” to the stickiness. I laughed with joyous relief. I also laughed at the absurdity of the situation. We had avoided dealing with this problem for so long, because of a faulty assumption.

How many times have we avoided other areas in our lives because of faulty assumptions?

I have found that my faulty assumptions generally fall into two categories: (1) The problem is too big and (2) The Lord is too small.

The problem is too big. There’s not enough money. There’s not enough time. Relationships are strained or broken. We don’t see the answers. We keep beating our heads against the same brick wall. It’s outside of our control.

We may get overwhelmed by our circumstances. Our judgment gets clouded. We may assume the worst and our creative thinking shuts down.

The Lord is too small. We, in our humanity, are limited. We exist in time and space. What we see is what there is. We forget that our God is not like us. He is greater than we can fathom. He knows no bounds.

The amazing thing is He cares deeply about us, and shares His Spirit with us. What is impossible for us is absolutely possible for God.

Whether personal or involving the place where you lead, you need not be afraid of problems. You can look more closely and assess the problem. You can face problems, small or big, with confidence and curiosity. Although you may not feel strong enough or wise enough, God, who is on your side, is more than enough. You may be pleasantly surprised. Your problem may be easier than you think.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10 NLT).

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that nothing is too hard for You and that You hold me safely in Your hand. Remind me not to dread or be afraid. I do not have to avoid difficult situations, because You are with me. Let me not assume the worst. Help me to look to You in all things; You have the answers I need. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Posted in Faith, Personal Development

Get Rid of the Victim Mentality

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I was at the end of my rope. My baby girl had been in the hospital for two weeks. Born with spina bifida, she would require extra care than my other babies had. Before we could go home, I had to learn from the nurses how to care for her. The impossibility of the task ahead overwhelmed me.

As I sat in the chapel, doubts flooded my mind. Having a child with special needs was never what I had imagined. I was already struggling to be a good mother to my other four children. This had failure written all over it. I could see this would be the end of my life as I knew it.

I threw my hands up in the air and shouted at the ceiling in despair, “I can’t do this! I don’t have what it takes!” As my sobs subsided, I felt prompted to read Psalm 63. Instantly I heard the words of verses 2 – 4 set to a beautiful melody. I sang it over and over, and a sense of peace surrounded me. Suddenly I believed everything would be okay, even though I had no idea what lay ahead.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

I went from feeling like a victim of circumstances to believing somehow, with God’s strength, I was a victor.

I traded in a victim mentality for a victor mentality.

Isn’t it interested that these two words—victim and victor—are spelled so similarly, and yet can affect our lives so differently?

The victim mentality assumes the worst and prepares to be harmed or injured as a result.

The victor mentality knows that, no matter what happens, it will be well. Suffering is only temporary, and triumph will result.

What about you? What usually happens when you encounter a problem or difficulty? Do you default to the victim mentality? Do you default to the victor mentality?

The victim mentality is based separate from the Lord. There is fear, doubt, and negativity. It is the ultimate form of unbelief.

The victor mentality is based on the truth of God’s Word.

We live in the strength God gives us.
…the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (1 John 4:4b).

God transforms all things for our good and His glory.
God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28). Incidentally, the Lord used the events surrounding my daughter’s birth to allow me to make a CD, a dream in my heart since I was a teenager. Psalm 63 is one of the songs on the album.

We are always more than conquerors.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

Don’t allow the victim mentality to dominate your life. We serve a victorious God who always causes us to win through Jesus Christ. We are victors not victims!

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for defeating the enemy. No matter what I encounter, You are always with me. You have made me more than a conqueror. Teach me to believe and follow Your Word. Help me trade in the victim mentality for the victor mentality. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Personal Development

Stop, Drop, and Roll: A Simple Strategy for Facing Life’s Challenges

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Two flat tires.

It all started as a fun family excursion on Memorial Day. We had piled into two vehicles to travel to the top of a remote hill in order to shoot some targets. For several minutes it was man against wilderness, as we battled steep, jagged inclines to get to our destination. Now, here we sat—six adults and a baby—in the middle of nowhere—and our Subaru had not one, but two flat tires.

In that moment, each one of us (besides my sweet grandson) was faced with a decision. How would we respond to this unfortunate turn of events? What was supposed to be an enjoyable bonding activity had quickly turned into a disaster.

I confess that my past is riddled with reactions of anger or mild (and sometimes not so mild) hysteria. Just ask my kids. They all have memories of their mother’s outbursts of tears and prolong ranting. I really like predictability, stability, and security. When that is disrupted…Watch out!

Thankfully over time the Lord in His abundant grace has taught me to practice a simple strategy when facing life’s unexpected twists and turns. It’s called “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” No, this isn’t a lesson on what to do if your clothing catches on fire. But, in the same way, our immediate response is critical to the outcome.

Stop.
Don’t do anything. Take a deep breath. The ability to think before you act is a marker of maturity. It requires creating a momentary pause to ensure that you don’t cause more damage by a rash response. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Drop.
It’s time to be humble and acknowledge your need for God. Fall to your knees (literally or figuratively) and pray. In my line of work, even with all my training and experience, I often encounter situations that are beyond my ability to address. I send up a silent prayer and ask for God’s wisdom, and He gives me what I need. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:10).

Roll.
Let go of your need to be in control. Be flexible and roll with the punches. Remind yourself (as often as needed) that God is in charge. Creative and hopeful solutions come when you are open to functioning outside of your preconceived ideas. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Don’t allow circumstances to overwhelm you. Practicing the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” strategy will empower you to face unexpected situations as a victor rather than a victim. And that, my friend, is a topic for another time…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness. I confess that I get upset when situations don’t go my way. Help me to walk with You by faith, believing that You are working all things together for my good and Your glory. Teach me to “Stop, Drop, and Roll” when I encounter the fiery trials of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Personal Development, Servant Leadership, Vision & Goal Setting

How to Expand Your Horizons

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Winters in Eastern Washington can be cold, and some times the snow accumulates in a short amount of time. It was during one of these cold snowy days that my car got stuck. I tried backing up, but all I could do was spin my wheels. In fact, I tried everything I could think of without success. I called my husband to see what I should do; it went to voice mail. So I sat where I was, cold and frustrated. Thankfully, with the assistance of kind strangers, I got moving again and drove home to safety.

It’s no fun being stuck. Even if you’re not really stuck, it’s no fun feeling stuck.

In my case, I definitely felt stuck. The men who came to my rescue showed me I wasn’t really stuck.

Sometimes the problem with being where I am is it is all I can see. I need to expand my horizons and get a better view.

When I drive I need to be aware of what is going on around me. However, I also need to see what is ahead to navigate skillfully. Similarly as a leader, I need to manage things in the present. I also need to have an eye on the horizon in order to successfully adjust the course.

When we expand our horizons, we are open to new ideas that keep us relevant and current.
They don’t have to be new ideas to the whole world—just to our places of service. Small adjustments can yield significant results.

We need to expand our horizons to build healthy relationships with our spouse, family, and friends, and safeguard against boredom and dysfunction.

We need to expand our horizons in our ministries and businesses to continually serve with excellence and avoid the downward spiral of apathy.

There are some practical ways to regularly expand your horizons.

Do not be satisfied with the status quo. Even if you are currently in a good place relationally or in business, don’t settle for where you are. Be thankful, but don’t settle. Look for ways to improve. Always strive for excellence.

Be curious and ask questions. When examining your way of doing things, ask “Why are we doing this?” It’s important to identify the purpose behind the process. Otherwise, you can get so accustomed to “the what” that you lose sight of “the why.” Keep your mind sharp and continue learning.

Observe other places in action. Get outside of your box and see how it’s done elsewhere. Take a field trip in a similar industry and see how they operate. Glean ideas. A word of caution: Don’t adopt an idea just because it works well somewhere else. Make sure it will work for you. Again, that’s where curiosity and questions come into play.

Look to the Lord. He is the source of the wisdom. He understands your organizational culture better than you. He understands your relationships better than you. He desires to direct your steps. Ask Him for the wisdom and creativity you need to lead.
Don’t get stuck in the past or the present. Expand your horizons and imagine the possibilities. Trust the Lord to guide you into the future.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to lead. Thanks that You have brought me where I am today. Help me to learn and grow. Show me how to lead where I am, and give me awareness for navigating the future. I trust You to equip me with everything I need to do Your will, as I hear Your voice and follow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.