Surviving the Rough Times

Oh the angst!  No matter where you get your news the focus of the events of the day can easily lead to a sense of despair.  It seems that no choice is a good choice.  We look around at the events of our day and see senseless violence, greed, corruption and hopelessness in so many places.  You can focus on leaders, laws or other man-made solutions to the problems, or …

You can make a conscious choice to keep your focus on the one who has promised to be with you no matter how tumultuous the world grows.

I am choosing to keep my eyes set on the one who is above all governments.  The one who is above all creeds and agendas.  The one who is simply…above all.

Rather that get dragged down into the despair and hand wringing look up.  Focus on the one that has promised to hold tight to you no matter how much the winds of change and evil blow against you.  No matter how high or fast the waters grow.  The one requirement…just like Peter, as he walked on water, we must not take our focus off of him!

How Do You Know For Sure?

I’m still reading Jeremiah. God called Jeremiah while he was still a young man. He said, “Before you were, I knew you, I set you apart and appointed you”.  Jeremiah tried to argue with God, “I’m still to young!  I can’t speak for you.”  But God was not having it. He simply said, go, right now!

I notice right off that Jeremiah never said to God, I don’t understand what you want me to say or where you want me to go, he just made excuses. We aren’t told how God spoke to Jeremiah, only what he said. But clearly he heard what he was supposed to hear. God also addressed the root of Jeremiah’s reluctance, fear! He said, I will protect you, but when that didn’t do it, God had to get tough, he said, now get out there and do it or I will make you lo0k foolish in front of those you are afraid of.

Hmm….It made me think about my own excuses.

√ Fear of failure.
√ I’m not sure what you want me to say.
√ I’m not really qualified.

In so many ways, I’m like Jeremiah.  I’m not young, but I still struggle with many of his insecurities. If you think that the Old Testament is filled with dusty old stories we can’t relate to, I’m pretty sure you are wrong!

Lately, God’s had to get a bit tough with me just like he did with Jeremiah.  So,  I’ve decided to get out there and do it before God makes me look foolish.  If you find me absent for a day or two, just know that I’m hanging out with Jeremiah.

 

 

 

Finding Your Value

There is a video on Facebook about an overweight young woman who begins to do yoga and it changes her perception of herself. Despite her weight she masters yoga. She says” I’m free, I feel worthy.” While it’s a touching video it made me sad. Sad because I, along with many women, judge my worth on the wrong things.

Ladies, you don’t need to be thin, beautiful, successful, popular or wealthy to be worthy. You are worthy! You are worthy because God made you worthy. He created you to be the unique individual you are. He loves you, period, no qualifiers needed!

We experience a lot of pain and rejection because we let others define us. Let yourself be defined by God, your creator and savior. It’s an awful tool the ruler of this world, our enemy, uses against us. But, “Greater is he who is in you, than he who is in the world” 1John 4:4.

You are his masterpiece! Stop wearing yourself out chasing a false idea that when you become ____ (fill in your own blank) ___ you will become worthy. It won’t work. The accuser will just bring another lie against you. Look to the one who created you for your worth.

Getting a Do Over

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah, described by a friend as a great book but kind of depressing. I have to say from what I’ve read lately I’m not depressed, I’m relieved! Here’s what I’m learning. Even though God was totally exasperated with his people, he had Jeremiah prophesy for 41 years asking them to repent. That speaks to me of a God who really wants to give us a chance to get our act together and follow him like we should.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a lot of situations in my life were I desperately needed another chance to get it right. I’m a bit hard headed at times and I am totally driven when I’m aiming for a goal. I can miss those warning signs along the way.

In Lamentations 3:23 it says: “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  (NLT) So, I can start fresh any time I need to. That is pretty amazing! I’d be a fool not to take advantage of this gift.

Are there things right now you wish you could do over? Well, you can!  Just start over right now.

Beauty Multiplied

I went out this morning to plant something in my flowerbed and discovered little bulbs popping up out of the ground all over the place.  They had grown so much in just a few short years that the ground couldn’t contain them! So, I dug up that one little clump of bulbs and had handfuls of new bulbs just waiting to be planted throughout my flowerbeds. I spread those bulbs around. Next spring, I will have new little purple bulbs popping up all over my flowerbeds.  I love seeing this!

This is how God’s economy works. What ever we plant, we will grow in even greater numbers.  He has used this principle to spread his word down through the generations.  He tells us that what we plant, we will harvest (Galatians 6:7). So, I was thinking, what am I planting each day?

  • What do I plant in my heart and mind that will multiply and impact my life?
  • What to I plant in the lives of others knowing that it will multiply?  Will I be proud of what I see later?

I really want to see a field of beautiful words, deeds and actions pouring from my life and blessing others. If I want to look out one day and see that field of beauty, then I need to be planting that every single day.

Learning to Listen

We all need times of solitude and reflection. Time away from interruptions and distractions. My husband and I are fortunate enough to have a little cabin in the woods. It’s not much, no plumbing, no running water. But it sets on acres of beautiful trees. We have no cell phone connection thanks to a big hill that might as well be a mountain.

We will be spending this evening and part of tomorrow there. I will take my Bible and my notebook. My husband will bring his book. We will pack a cooler and just partake in solitude under the trees and the night sky. I will be listening intently for God to speak to my heart.

What do you do to make space for God in your life? Think about turning off distractions so you can give him your undivided attention.

Pressure of Perfectionism

Yesterday I had tea with a friend. We were talking about perfectionism, mine, not hers!  I began my career in health care, I worked in the lab and it was impressed on us that a mistake had high consequences for our patients, possibly even death.

Not everything in life needs to be approached with such a mindset. And frankly, it’s exhausting! My friend also shares that it’s intimidating. That stung a bit, because intimidating is the last thing I’d want to be. Time to throw off unnecessary habits.

I’m thankful today for the freedom to fail and the friends who dare to tell me the truth.  I hope you have both in your life!

 

 

 

 

It’s a Matter of Perspective

Do you take the short view, or the long view? God always takes the long view. He doesn’t have to do the ‘quick fix’ because he already has the big picture view.

I was thinking yesterday about recent conversations with a young friend whom I mentor. When she asks for advise or prayer it is for right now.  She is a young woman with goals and the ability to meet goals but now that she is working, her focus is on surviving the challenges of the day. She is determined to live a life of faith filled influence and integrity.

At times, I see a bit further down the road. I have more experience and am at a point in life where I can ‘look back’ and see how the pieces often fall into place where we weren’t expecting them to fall. But, I too suffer from short sightedness more than I would like. As a planner, I so want to see the entire plan, all God has in store, so I can see how each situation fits into the big picture. God asks me for faith. God knows me well. If I could see the big picture, I’d be asking for supernatural photoshopping…just a tweak here or there.

A real life example

I had a call from my young friend several months ago asking to meet with me. She spoke of struggles with a co-worker who was not respectful of her expertise or opinions.  There was concern that the coworker may be undermining her professional image with clients. She asked that I pray with her for change.

Fast forward a few months. God offered a change. My friend works for a corporate entity with several locations in the area and was moved to a new office. We rejoiced in God’s goodness.

A couple of weeks ago I had a frantic text: “Help! I need to figure out how to find balance. My life is crazy right now.” This was not a surprise.  My friend has a professional career and two babies.  She is fighting Nashville traffic daily. It’s no wonder balance was elusive. We talked about ways to squeeze in time with God and still keep all the balls in the air. I knew it would not be an easy road. I continued to pray for my young friend.

Just a week ago she called to say they had closed her office. She felt certain that the corporate office had this planned when they transferred her, but this information was not shared. She felt betrayed. I learned that she would now have a 4 day workweek. Two days will be close to home. The other two days, the drive will be just a bit further.

Hmm….As we both look back I am starting to see that neither of us was tuned into God’s long term view. Not only was God answering prayer for near term relief, but he was also moving ahead and laying out a path for concerns not yet realized. He was using career to teach. He was using a corporation to work his best in the life of a young woman learning to balance family, faith and career. Rest assured, there are challenges ahead in the new assignment too.

Here’s what I know:

• God sees the big picture, even when we can’t.
• God loves us and cares not only about the short term hurts but the long term plan.  His plan is to grow us into mature and loving women who serve him by serving others.
• Even when it’s hard, we must trust God with our todays and tomorrows. He is trustworthy!  He see’s what we don’t.

When have you had that panic feeling rush over you at work as things seem to spiral out of control in one area or another?  Have you been sure, even for a moment, that the plan is not in your best interest?

Is there someone you can call to pray with you? To provide a supportive, more experienced viewpoint when these breathless life moments happen?

A Position of Influence

I had a fabulous retirement celebration!  I threw my own party.  I invited the women who saw me through the working years.  Those women who cheered me on in good times and hard.  Those women who dared to ask “what are you thinking?”.  Those women who helped me figure it out when I didn’t have a clue or assured me I was on the right track when I stood at a crossroads.  Then,  they decided to toast me, it was a bit awkward.  But one thing I did learn, I really did have influence, and mostly it was good.  And, because I feel it’s what God has called me to have, I reveled in that!

Are you in a position of influence?  God wants you to be influential, and I hope it’s something that you will strive for. Should you try to influence your co-workers to seek a life of faith? I think you should!  However, I think you must be thoughtful in the way to try to exercise your influence.

Who will influence me?

I am influenced by people who seem to respect me and treat me well. They are successfully performing the responsibilities of the workplace and often reach out to assist others with their work, they are generous with time and knowledge. They don’t grumble and complain all the time.  I enjoy working with them, and spending my personal time in their company. On a personal level they probably enjoy some of the same things I do and I perceive they enjoy life.  They are happy, generous, and deal well with adversity that comes along at work or in their personal lives.

Who will not influence me?

I’m not influenced by those who don’t carry their share of the load at work or who are difficult to work with. I’m not influenced by the grumpy, the mean or the complaining. I’m not influenced by someone who falls apart with every little crisis or who has a personal life in constant meltdown and I know that because it’s an excuse for why they aren’t doing well at work.

So, I believe that God has placed you in the workplace to be a positive influence.  But in order to influence others you must first win their respect and live a life that looks like a life they too could enjoy living. Does this mean that you never deal with difficult things? Absolutely not! But it does mean that when difficult things come along, you handle them well. Influence takes time, you must wait for relationships to form.

For those who have struggled

A final word for those who feel they fall short.  I did not influence people in my life because I lived a perfect life.  What is inspirational about a life that’s storybook perfect and unattainable?  Nothing, that’s what!  I was not impactful in spite of my challenges and failures, I was impactful because of them.  That is when people notice, when you are struggling, and then they see how you deal with the struggle or recover from the mistakes.  Just so you know, I’m not letting you off the hook because you failed to live up to some mythical standard of perfection.

What are the characteristics of those whom you allow to influence you?

How do you feel about being influential?

Site Under Construction

under constructionBut, in the meantime, you can help!  I want to know what you need to support you as a Christian woman in the workplace.  Here’s a link to a quick 5 minute survey.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

https://eSurv.org?u=EncourageMe