No category for a castle

In his book, If, Mark Batterson recounts a blessing God gave him for which he didn’t have a category.

He ends the chapter that recounts this blessing with these words,” what if everything in your past is preparing you for the future God has for you?’

“God wants us to get where He wants us to go more than we want to get there and He’s awfully good at getting us there”. Even when we make a wrong turn, He has ways of getting us there, and He’s using everything in our past to prepare us for the blessings He has for our future.

He’s got blessings for us for which we don’t even have categories!

I am still praying Jericho prayers and trusting God for His blessings. I believe He has a castle waiting to be used for His glory.

Blessings,

SB

copyright 2018. Journey For Life. All rights reserved

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The biggest obstacle

Several months ago, I began working on a project that will bring to fruition a dream of mine borne about 8 years ago, in completely foreign territory for me .   Giddy with excitement at the prospect of the project being realized, but new to the process, I worked tirelessly to learn and follow all the steps the required.  In early November, I was provided with a proof of project to review for final edits. With the proof came instructions for documenting any required changes. There were multiple forms, one for each of the main sections of the project. X amount of edits were included in the price of the project, but above that cost extra. Completing the forms were tedious, which initially caused me stress but I worked through it. When I finished, I had X + 6 edits to make. Really? Six edits a live the limit and it’s going to cost me $ more. To boot, the one large change I wanted to make didn’t even fall into the sections for which there were forms, so I wasn’t sure how to communicate the change Most people would have simply asked. In my “comfortable” world, I would have, too.

What may have seemed like a normal move-forward step for most people found me stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of reaching out for help, I thought, “I must have an instruction here somewhere, I just need to go back and figure it out.”

For nearly six weeks, my project sat idle, not moving at all toward the finish line. One evening this week, I thought to myself, “I just need to do this”. I reviewed the forms I had completed so long ago and attached them in an email to my partner, explaining that I wasn’t sure how to document the one last change, and I wasn’t sure if the process of paying the extra $ for the changes above X. Early the next morning, he responded with the message that I would not be charged for 6 simple edits over the limit, and that he would take care of the other change as well, which I simply described in words in an email.

Really? As simple and quick as that, and I stressed about it for weeks??? Indeed, the biggest obstacle was me! I was paralyzed by the unknown.

As I reflected on my failure this week (one of many, by the way), I thought about Noah and his Ark project. I wondered if there were any points during his project where he became paralyzed by the unknown. It certainly didn’t seem like it from the account in the Bible, but, after all, Noah was human. Were there times where God had to remind him that He has called him to a task, and he would equip him to complete it?

Sometimes we all need a little push to get started or keep moving in the right direction. The Bible instructs is to encourage one another.

I am thankful to my family and friends who nudged me to keep my project going, and I’m hoping to be able to encourage someone else to keep going on their journey as well.

Journey well, my friends. Enjoy the ride

Blessings,

SB

Make good choices.. Love, Mom

After a brief text exchange with my college son last night regarding various recent events in his life, he replied, “I’m making good choices, mom”.

When our children are young, we make their choices for them, but as they begin to grow up, they need to begin making choices of their own so that we can help to teach them the difference between good choices and bad choices. We’ve all made bad choices, and so will they. It’s funny, though, how our perspective changes once we are the parent. The truth is, we don’t like to see our kids make choices hat we know will lead them through heartache because we know it will be painful. Worse yet, they could make a choice from which is hard (or impossible) to recover.

When the time comes for them to be completely independent (which, although sad in some ways, IS what we want for our children) I want them to be prepared to think through the consequences of all of their decisions. One method I have used is this admonition: MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

Life is all about choices. I have seen people make some very, very good choices in life, and I have seen people make some very, very bad choices. For every choice car we make, there are consequences. If we are forward thinking enough, we can think about what tho consequences might be given choice A or B, which may help guide us to the best choice. Ultimately I know my children will own their own choices, both big and small. Who to marry, field of employment, place to live, church to attend. I want to equip them with all of the tools to make the very best decisions. But how do we do that?

1. Teach them to think and seek advice from wise people.

The Bible is full of wise advice, as well as examples of good and bad choices. Life, too, is full of good and bad choices. It’s important to talk with our kids about choices we see others make, and point out alternate choices that could have been made to affect different outcomes. This process will help develop critical think skills essential in making good decisions.

Finding other people who can be trusted with choices is also important as we teach our children; people other than their parents who they can trust (face it, when our kids are working hard to prove their independence they may not seek our advice).

2. Let them fail. (This is hard)

This advice is hard to execute because we want our children to have everything better than we did. If we can teach them to own the consequences of their choices in the smaller, seemingly insignificant choices , they will be better equipped to own the big ones too. As we’re teaching them, it is important to refrain from the dreaded, “I told you so” responses that do nothing for building healthy relationships. Let them discover, on their own, consequences from negative choices. Again, this helps build their own decision making process.

3. Love them

Most importantly, continue to love them and keep open relationship, even if the choices they make are different than those you would have made. This step is particularly difficult if their choices are poor, but even more important in this case. Our kids have got to know they always have someone who will help them in time of need.

4. Model itWhether we like to admit or not, our kids follow our lead; the good as well as the bad. For this reason, it is equally important for us to model the lessons we are trying to teach. MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life. All rights reserved

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New Years resolution flunky?

As January comes to a close, I wonder how many New Years resolutions are still being actively pursued. Oh, it isn’t that we don’t intend to give our best. In fact, I think, quite honestly, sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes in our initial zeal, we start out too aggressively, and pour everything we have into focusing on that resolution. While focus is normally a good thing, when combined with obsession, can lead to burnout. I have experienced this first hand.

My other observation, particularly with fitness goals, is this: the gym-rats art not always welcoming to the “newbies”. Even when I was a regular gym-goer as a new year began, I heard others make negative comments about new people invading their space, using “their” equipment, etc., as if it was a bad thing. I always thought we should be patting them on the back for making a healthy choice, and encouraging them to take it slow enough not to get burned out. After all, the Bible’s tells us to encourage one another, right?

In the past, when I’d become burned out on my venture, I’d simply give up, with an overwhelming feeling of failure that did little for my soul. Perhaps, instead of simply giving up, we should consider that new beginnings happen every day.

If you’re one of the zealous, New Years resolution flunkies, take heart! A new day is beginning, and a new month is about to start! So get ready! Pick yourself back up and let’s get going! I’ll be right there beside you to encourage you every step of the way!

 

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life    All Rights Reserved

All Things New!

IMG_5047Many Happy New Year Wishes, my friends!   It’s a brisk, yet refreshing time-of-year when we have an opportunity to begin anew!   This week, the gyms will be over-crowded with people determined to begin reaching their fitness goals; the storage shops are full of people determined to get organized; the travel websites are visited by people intending to travel more this year; the financial sites are full of people looking to spend less and save more this year – all worthy goals.

Several years ago, as the calendar year before came to a close, I made a resolution to fix absolutely everything that was wrong in my life.   My resolution that year was to:  1) get in shape spiritually 2) get in shape physically 3) get in shape financially 4) fix every broken relationship in my life.   I was earnest in my desires – I really was!   And I started like gangbusters, spending at least an hour in the gym every day, an hour doing devotionals, time balancing my checkbook, and trying to reach out to improve every single relationship in my life.  Looking back at it now, it seems ridiculously pie-in-the-sky to make such unrealistic and unachievable goals, but at the time, I genuinely wanted to improve every area of my life!  It’s not an unworthy goal; just an unrealistic one.

Within about 6 weeks, I completely burned out on all of them.  I had to force myself to regroup and focus on ONE area while making smaller, incremental improvements in the other areas.  I didn’t STOP working other areas, but I found it was not very practical to make leaps-and-bounds improvements in EVERY area of life.

I focused first on my spiritual life and began to live my life more intentionally seeking God’s will and plan for my life.  As I did that, I found the other areas fell more into line with His teaching.  As I focused on Him, my compassion for others grew.   I continued to tithe; in fact, I increased my tithe, and He poured out blessings.  I began to budget in a way to make Dave Ramsey proud.  I eventually got my physical self into shape, but then became complacent and let myself go.  It’s time, once again, to get on the bandwagon; this time, a few years later, a few years wiser (hopefully); a few miles closer to Him.

What I learned since my last go-round – to bring God into EVERYTHING we do, putting Him first and allowing everything else to fall into place is certainly a much better recipe for success. He makes ALL THINGS NEW!

Overwhelmed!

On a brisk, no bitter cold, Friday morning in November, I pulled into the lot at the office.  Immediately I noticed there were fewer cars in the parking lot, and thought to myself. “This is great. I can get caught up on all the things I couldn’t get to this week.”

I plugged my laptop in and got started.  Then my phone rang. While I was on the phone, in instant message popped up, and then another.  One thing after another, and before I knew it I was feeling overwhelmed.  

Reminiscent of days I’d take a vacation day from work to deep clean the kids’ room, I didn’t know where to start.   I thought back to those days. At the time, I didn’t fully understand anxiety.   I’d start early in the morning, just after they got in the 🚌 bus for school.  The first couple of hours were the worst.  I’d literally hyperventilate, having to remind myself that it was going to be ok 👌.  However, looking at the ridiculous mess in front of my eyes foreshadowed the enormity of the task I felt I’d never complete. 

Slowly, I would begin to make progress, starting in one area.  I found that as I began to organize a bit, throwing away things no longer needed, and grouping together like items, a new pattern of organization began. 

After a few hours, I could begin to see a clearing through the mound of toys and stuffed animals and my anxiety would subside a bit.   I had to see the progress so that I could feel better.  Baby steps.  

As I thought about those days, I tried to apply the advice that I now give to my piano students when they feel overwhelmed with a new song to learn. There are some principles that, if I can remember to apply to all of life’s situations, I would be much better able to eliminate anxiety.

1.  Break big problems into smaller ones and tackle one at a time. 

When we look at an enormous problem, sometimes the anxiety we feel over that problem can immobilize us, which sometimes adds to the anxiety. Before long we feel as though we can’t do any of it, so we don’t.  

2. Get moving 

The longer we procrastinate the worse the problem feels, which adds to our anxiety and makes everything seem worse.  When we move past inactivity, even in something small, we see progress, which helps us to move to the next thing, and then the next. 

3. Look back to see how far you’ve come 

Take time periodically to look around and acknowledge progress. Whether looking around at the toys that are now organized, being able to play the measure that we previously couldn’t, or seeing that the pile of mail is smaller than before, acknowledging the progress we’ve begun to make has a subconscious affect on our psyche.  The message confirms that we are headed in the right direction and motivates us to keep going. 

4. Celebrate the success and take a breath

It may seem sometimes that the hamster wheel never stops, but it’s important to find times when we can pause to celebrate what we’ve accomplished.  Even if we take only 60 seconds before moving to the next task, take the time to figuratively cross the task off the TODO list.  If you are a list maker, cross the task off the literal list.  In doing so, we celebrate the accomplishment which motivates us to keep going.

My Friday didn’t get any easier, but by following the advice above, I was able to cross a few things off my list and motivate me to keep going.  
Blessings

SB