Not Alone

This week I’m feeling encouraged to share some hope with you.  We live in a really big world where it can be easy to feel forgotten or overlooked.  We feel hurt by family members, ignored by our bosses, abandoned by our partners and irrelevant to our friends.  We sometimes feel that even God has left us alone.  I hope that these words from scripture remind you of the truth:

Psalm 37:23
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.   He delights in every detail of their lives.”

1 Peter 1:7a
“These troubles test your faith and prove that it is pure. And such faith is worth more than gold.”

Romans 8:31
“So what should we say about this? If God is for us, no one can stand against us. And God is with us.”

These verses each touch on a very special message: God delights in every part of your life, finds you unbelievably valuable and is with you.  I’ve spent enough time working (and living) with people to know that we all have moments where we don’t feel like these statements could possibly be true. Honestly sometimes we don’t deserve God’s delight or presence, we’re humans who sin and have failures. But God knows that, and still loves us.  We’re still allowed to meet with God and be loved by God because of grace and forgiveness.

On those days that you struggle, remember that you’re enough. You may not be perfect, and you may need to grow some (we all have room for growth), but don’t ever let anyone tell you you aren’t important or special. God hasn’t forgotten you, and will never leave you alone.  He’s also put people in your life to encourage and support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help (I’m an email, call or message away!).

This week, instead of focusing on what goes wrong, take time to turn to that which inspires and encourages you.  Read the Bible, your favorite devotional, or listen to some Christian music or a sermon that’s online when you’re feeling particularly challenged or discouraged.  You’ll not only feel better, God may give you the wisdom for how to work through your situation in that time of worship or reading.

Don’t give up, God’s got a plan for your life and plans to go with you every step of the journey.

Reality Reflection: A Legacy For Today

As we work towards wrapping up another month of our lives in just a few days, I though it would be appropriate to talk about legacy. Denis Waitley said:

“That which you create in beauty and goodness and truth lives on for all time to come. Don’t spend your life accumulating material objects that will only turn to dust and ashes.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about “the end,” partially because we’ve been thinking about Martin Luther King Jr’s life which was officially celebrated this month, and also because I hear so many stories each week of close calls and great people who have finished their journey with us. More than that, I’ve also been thinking about what it means to live while you’re alive. We’ve all got regrets, we’ve all got moments that we’re really proud of, and we’ve all got people who will remember us after we’ve gone (or at least wonder where we’ve gone when we’re dead). After all, as you probably know, there’s not much you can do about anything after you’ve gone.

You can only do something about today.

When we choose to build relationships with people, and focus more on those around us and how we can help them or just bring a smile to their face we’re immediately making a difference in the world. Why? Because people are the only thing that can make a difference. We can send all the tools and resources we want around the world, but unless we create them, unless we send them, unless we use them, they won’t go anywhere or do any good.

Money makes the world go ’round a lot easier, but without people there would be no reason to have money. Little has survived from the Aztecs, Incas or other old cultures and societies. Would they be happy with what we see of them and believe about them, or if they had it to do again would they make changes? By doing random acts of kindness, supporting charities and caring for others around the world with a passion and cause for good, we’re doing our part to create a legacy we can each be proud of.

Think about the legacy you want to leave with the world after you’ve gone. What are you creating in the world?

I Believe It’s Possible

One of the reasons that I chose our topic of the month for this month, possibilities, is because of where we are in the year. January is really a month that brings people hope. I know that may sound a little strange, especially given that throughout North America many of us are under snow or in very cold temperatures. But for so many people January each year is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for, or at least they’ll take the motivation it offers and do something new or different. Yes, other months may be more symbolic of hope like November or December, but there’s something hopeful about starting fresh. Of course each January we’re not really starting fresh, we’ve all got a past that can’t ever be truly erased. But sometimes all we need is a symbolic fresh start, like we get with the turning of the calendar page.

Unfortunately for too many of us before too long life intrudes, we fall back on our habits, or we get discouraged from not seeing the results we hoped for. While I believe that with some effort in the right ways you can see some instant efforts, but for most of us it takes more than 30 days to see real results. One reason why could be because most of us didn’t get where we are overnight, it took days, weeks and years to get into the hole or habits we’ve fallen into. As I was thinking about discouragement I came across this quote from Audrey Hepburn:

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”

I love this reminder for several reasons. To me, one of the most important parts of it is that it’s a clear reminder that we have to believe in ourselves. We have to believe that we’re very capable humans beings with creative minds, passionate souls and giving hearts. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need help from time to time or that we’re omniscient, I learn something new everyday, most often from someone else.

One of the other things we take from this quote is to not give up. Sometimes it’s necessary to look at something from a different angle, take it apart a different way, bring in an outside perspective, or just work a little (or a lot) harder. It doesn’t mean that it’s not possible or we’re wrong for making it our goal, it just means that we’re not there yet.

So today, what are you going to be confident in? What are you going to believe is possible to accomplish today or soon?

The Hope of Possibilities

Can you believe we’re almost at the end of the month? Almost one month down in this new year. Before we reached the end of this month and the topic of this month, possibility, I wanted to take some time to talk about a very important topic: hope. One of the biggest reasons I love possibilties is because when you’re able to think about and come up with possibilites, there’s always hope.

Jesus was all about the possibilities and about having hope. He experienced some situations and people He had to walk away from during His years of ministry on earth, but most of the stories in the Bible about Jesus share the creative, surprising, and different ways He approached the situiations and people and their challenges that He met. If more people were open to Jesus and the possibilities and hope He could bring to their lives, I think we would have even more incredible stories recorded in the Bible.

What if the challenges you’re facing in your life are there not because you’re walking through a dark path or because God is letting you learn something? What if the challenge is because you’re not open to having hope in regards to it or open to seeing other ways that it could work out or be played out? What if God is waiting for you take a step in a new direction? What if God is just waiting for you to have a little faith in Him and what He can do?

Today I encourage you to open your heart and mind to hope. Look for another opportunity, another way to work, another connection, or take the time to stop and listen and look and see what you may have been missing lately.  Don’t give up yet, I have hope for you and God has a plan for your life.

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”” Matthew 19:26

Reality Reflection: Right and Wrong

Let’s be honest, no one really likes to be wrong. We sometimes find a little too much joy in others being wrong, but it’s not so much fun when we’re the issue or we did wrong. I’m secure enough in my relationship with my partner, as well as in my relationship with myself, to almost always be able to admit when I’m wrong. I’m not perfect in that if I don’t have to admit I’m wrong I may not, but when the situation calls for it I can admit I was wrong.

When it comes to being wrong, we’re not usually completely wrong, typically we’re at least partially right or moving in the right direction. Which brings me to the questions that I wanted to talk about today: “what if you were right?” and “what if you were wrong?”

The reason I want to spend time talking about these questions is because they can really open up your perspective and get you to think more creatively about what is possible. What if you were right about how perfect you and your partner are for each other? What if you were right that the weather won’t be too bad tomorrow? What if you were right that you’re worth more as an employee? What if you were right that dogs are the best animal on the planet? What if you were right that you’ve got a dream worth pursuing? What if you were right about your boss being a sexist jerk? What if you were right about the bad direction one of your kids was going in? What if you were right about your partner never changing into the person you thought they were? If you were right what would you do or what would be different in your life?

But what if you were wrong? Would your life fall apart? Would you be able to repair a relationship? Would you spiral into a depression? Would you be able to keep your head high? Would you be able to move away? Would you be able to start over? Would you be able to make new friends? Would you be able to try something new? Would you be able to pay the fine? Would you be able to admit you’re wrong and move on to making changes so you can be right?

What would change in your attitude, your perspective or your hope if you were right or wrong? I encourage you to take time considering these questions as we begin this new week, and seeing how they can open your mind to a different, hopefully better, future.

Do the Right Thing

This month one of the things we’re talking about is the topic of possibilities, and as I was thinking about this topic I got an email about one person’s thoughts on decisions that some businesses have made that impact us, the users. I completely understand that a business is providing a service or product for a reason, usually to make money, and that they make decisions and changes based on what they think or believe will be helpful to their customers/users and don’t need any permission from customers to do that. However, when you get many complaints about something, there has to be a line of questioning taken regarding whether the right possibility was chosen or if the wrong one was.

One of the ways to analyze a potential decision is to consider whether it’s a win-win-win decision, meaning that everyone involved benefits in one way or another. No, everyone most likely won’t get everything they want, but if it’s a true win-win-win decision, everyone should win in a way that makes them happy.

More people are choosing to make win-win-win decisions, and are more open to negotiations than they have been in the past, which is great.

Another way to check the possible options and paths to travel is to consider if making that move would be the “right” thing to do. The “right” thing will likely be a little different for everyone, but most people can agree on the things that are wrong decisions.

Which brings us to the conclusion that with every crossroads in life or decision to be made, there’s a “right” thing to do and a wrong thing to do, or maybe even several possibilities along the right and wrong spectrum. If you can tell which is the wrong decision to make or wrong road to travel, then the only way you could fail or make a mistake is if you ignore what the “right” thing is to do and choose the wrong path.

I believe that there’s always more than one option available to pursue or choose, the question is what choice you make when presented with a bunch of options. Most of us don’t intentionally choose the “wrong” thing, most of us don’t have all the facts or details or make an innocent/honest mistake. The issue is when you know that you could be doing something better or in a way that would give people more of what they want, and choose not to. What will you choose?

Devoted to Positive Steps

As we continue our journey through the first month of a new year I thought we’d continue to look at some ways we can do better, be better and make this year better.

Prayer: one of the interesting things about prayer is that there are so many ways that it can be done, that it shouldn’t feel stressful or like a responsibility. Yes, it’s good to sit and do traditional prayers like are done in church, but you can also take a minute to pray before/during/after different parts of your day, and you can also keep up a running conversation with God (it doesn’t have to be this formal thing). The important thing to remember is to do it, to do it by yourslef, to do it in a group, and to do it regularly. It’s not just an expression of faith, it’s your time to talk with God, which is an incredible gift.

Pay Attention: there are lots of things that demand our attention these days, and some of us have taken to seeing the world as though we’re wearing blinders. All of us have opinions, beliefs and experiences that color how we see and interact with the world, and we’re also usually preoccupied by what’s going on in our lives. In many respects the reason the world looks the way it does to you is because of what you choose to see. The challenge for each of us is to take off those blinders and let ourselves be exposed to and open to experiencing other parts of the world. Are you open to seeing what God would show you, or stuck seeing just what you can’t ignore?

Give Thanks: one of the most powerful tools we’ve got in our lives is our ability to be thankful. Regularly expressing our thanks, showing appreciation and finding things to be thankful for can all improve your attitude, make you feel better and make you more likable and personable too. If you’re struggling with being thankful, try just walking outside your door and finding something to be thankful for. Maybe it’s the fact that snow’s not brown usually or that the sun is out or we’re one more day closer to spring or for the evergreen tree that reminds you of happy Christmas memories or the cute bunny prints in the snow. Sure, you could talk about all the not-so-great stuff and you could just see the cool/cold winter world outside your door, but why would you spend a lot of time thinking about that when you could thing on the positive?

So today I encourage you to pick one, or all of these, and commit to working on them in your life this week. Spending more time in prayer, being more open and aware and giving thanks more often can all have a really positive impact on your life, and your faith.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

Reality Reflection: Dreams and Beliefs

Monday in the US is the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so today I thought we’d take a minute to talk about dreams, believing and reality. In 1963 Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, telling the world that he had a dream for men, women, boys and girls of all races and backgrounds would one day be able to live in peace together. His speech touched countless lives when he shared it, and has touched many more lives since his speech in 1963. It resonated so clearly because everyone has dreams, things they want to see become a reality, and involved in many of those dreams are thoughts of peace. Dr. King’s dream hasn’t been fully realized, but the Civil Rights Movement did make serious headway into equality for all races and backgrounds.

Part of the reason that Dr. King’s speech connected with so many people was that his dreams and what he believed was and are, things that people could see as possible. He didn’t make a speech about total world peace or total world domination, or talk about his dreams coming to fruition tomorrow, he shared about what he believed was possible over time if we all worked together. Theodore Roosevelt said “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Dr King’s commitment, passion and belief are some of the biggest reasons he was as charismatic and beloved as a leader as he was.

The reality is that just about everyone has dreams. However, not everyone really believes in those dreams, or can bring together all of the necessary components to make that dream a possibility or reality. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t dream, dreaming is one of the healthiest things we can do. Reality may just mean that you’ve got to make a new plan for accomplishing your dream, or line your dream up with someone else’s.

Do you believe in your dream? If so take a step today towards making your dream a reality.

More Victories for 2018

The new year is here and it’s time to talk about resolutions and making changes. I’m not a big fan of setting resolutions, they add extra stress to life that most of us don’t need. But, I do like the concepts behind resolutions: taking action and making changes. If you didn’t have as many victories last year as you wanted, there’s no time like the present to make changes so that you do have the victories you want this year.

Each day is a new opportunity to be better, live better, love better, work better and build better relationships than you did yesterday. You don’t have to wait for a new year, but there are reasons people choose to start fresh or make changes at the beginning of the year. And there’s nothing wrong with making resolutions and changes now, it’s as good an opportunity as any.

So what are you going to do with this new year and this day? Here are a few keys for making the most of it:

-set up a plan and take at least a little action each and every day that will bring you towards your goals. You can do something as simple as cleaning off your desk at the end of the day or journaling every day, or as big as cooking/preparing meals for the week or creating content for your business for the month.

-make sure there are plenty of rewards along the way. Maybe that means you get cookies or ice cream at the end of the day after eating really well all day long. Maybe that means having 30 minutes to yourself at the end of the day with no interruptions or other people involved unless you want them there.

-expect and plan for setbacks. There will be issues that appear along the way so it’s better to be prepared now for them to happen. That means having extra money in the bank, extra time in your schedule and extra plans (plan b, c, d, e etc.) thought of that you can put into action if necessary.

What are you going to work on accomplishing this year and how will you make it happen?

A Fruitful Year

With the beginning of a new year there’s a lot of talk about what we all want to do differently or how we want to have a better year than previous years. Those are great things to think about, but more than just the things you’re going to do, what about who you’re going to be this year? What changes are you going to make in your heart, mind and soul this year? What changes and experiences will God bring you through to help you grow and bring you closer to becoming the person He’s created you to be? I think a great starting point for who we’re going to be this year is Galatians 5:22-23a:

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

One of the best changes you can make in your life and goals to have is to become a more loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and/or self-controlled person because this will overflow into other areas of your life improving them as well. You’ll have better relationships, improved self-esteem, a better attitude and deeper connection with God when you make the Fruit of the Spirit an active part of your life. Yes, it’s great to work on improving your finances, getting a better job/career, having a healthier relationship, losing weight or spending more time doing the things you love, which is what many people choose as their resolutions, but they’re all directly impacted by other people and the world around us. While the Fruit of the Spirit are things that you work on in your life, without needing any agreement, support, allowance or input from anyone else.

You can choose to work on them all at the same time, pick one to focus on all year, work on one each month, or pick one out of a hat or box each day to work on that day. Plus, there are lots of great devotionals that you can read throughout the year as well to support you in learning about and growing in these Fruit. Will you join me in incorporating the Fruit of the Spirit into your life this year?