Giving Thanks For Today’s Victories

As we think about Thanksgiving less than 2 weeks away I was reflecting on a Thanksgiving devotional I’m receiving and it reminded me that sometimes we give thanks even when the battle isn’t over yet. Take a look at a passage from Genesis about Miriam and Moses and the Israelites from right after the Red Sea crossing.

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him— my father’s God, and I will exalt Him!”” Exodus 15: 1-2

For Moses, Miriam and the Israelites their journey was just beginning. They just left Egypt after the 10 plagues (and being slaves for many years), and got away from Pharaoh’s army who drowned thanks to God in the Red Sea, both of which are excellent reasons to celebrate. But what many weren’t thinking about in that moment was exactly what would come next: where do they go? What do they do? Now that they’re free, what next? This was just the beginning of their journey, and yes, they had reason to celebrate, but there’s so much more to go.

The thing about victories is that very rarely do they happen in one fell swoop and that’s it. In most cases victories are earned step by step, for example you lose weight by not buying the cookies at the store this month, cutting down on the ice cream next month, and buying more fruits and vegetables each month. There’s no rule book that says victories have to be earned all at once, in fact, it’s better to earn them a little at a time, and to celebrate them as you go along. Yes, you should celebrate when you lose a lot of weight, but you should also celebrate when you lose those first 10 pounds and keep them off.  If you’ve been struggling with your relationship, yes, you should celebrate when you really resolve years of issues with your partner, but you should also celebrate when you get through a week without yelling at each other.

Giving thanks isn’t just something we do on Thanksgiving or when we reach the Promised Land, it should be something we do each and every day. Giving thanks and celebrating the little victories help the challenges we each face become a little more manageable. They make it a little easier to get up each day, knowing that yesterday had at least one redeeming quality to it (whatever thing you found to be thankful about that day, even if it was just that the bread wasn’t moldy and you could make lunch for the kids).

So what step in your journey are you thankful for today?

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The Discipline of Success

There are so many different sides and aspects to success, and what you may see as success today may not be what I see as success. Maybe success for you is getting out of bed, maybe it’s getting to work on time, maybe it’s cooking a dinner that tastes good and wasn’t from a box or the freezer, maybe it’s crossing a lot off your to-do list, or maybe it’s making time to spend with your partner and/or kids without constantly looking at your phone.

One of the things that can help you get to success is discipline. I know, it sounds like the big scary word you remember as a kid that always meant you did something wrong and were about to be punished. But in this case it’s not about doing something wrong or even about punishment, but about being proactive and intentional about the decisions you make and how you spend your time.

It could be your discipline to spend 30 minutes a day watching a cooking show so you can become a better cook. It could be your discipline to only answer emails at the beginning and end of your work day. It could be your discipline to take 10 minutes at the beginning and end of your day for yourself. It could be your discipline to work out every day. It could be your discipline to schedule your time during the work day so that you make time for your work and what everyone else needs from you.

The question today isn’t can you be successful, but do you have the discipline to get from where you are to where you want to be?  If you don’t have those disciplines set up in your life today I would encourage you to be proactive about getting them in place so that you can make the most of these last 2 months of 2017.

Ask, Seek, Knock: Success Steps

In thinking about one of our topics for the month, success, today I want to talk about a passage you’re probably familiar with, Matthew 7:7-8: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” This passage about asking, seeking and knocking establishes a great guideline for us to consider throughout our days and what goes on in our lives.

Ask:
“‘No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’ But God has shown us these things through the Spirit.” I Corinthians 2:9-10
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5
“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:15

First, asking is important because it means we’re willing to admit that we don’t know everything and are willing to learn. However we’re not always great at asking questions. Too often we ask the wrong questions, questions that don’t give us the answers we need because they’re not the right questions. We can get too busy asking things like “why me” and “how could you” instead of asking questions that will help us get the necessary answers and find solutions and help for our questions. Second, James 1 makes a point of letting us know it’s good to ask questions. God doesn’t criticize us for asking questions, only for thinking we know more than He does.

Seek
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35
“Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.” Psalm 119:24
“The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:11

Asking questions is important because they give us directions to learn and move in. If we don’t ask questions we’ll never be able to figure out what we don’t know and what God wants us to do with our lives. Once we’ve asked the questions we hopefully receive some wisdom and knowledge to use. We start our search with the knowledge that God will not be separated from us by the challenges we face and will give us the strength and peace to learn what we must.

Knock
“May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4
My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live” Proverbs 4:4
“It is very sad that people leave the world just as they came. So what does a person gain from ‘trying to catch the wind’? They only get days that are filled with sadness and sorrow. In the end, they are troubled, sick, and angry.” Ecclesiastes 5:16-17

In the very action of knocking we’re going from learning to doing. You can’t knock without taking action. There’s not much good to asking the right questions and getting advice unless you do something with it. Throughout the Bible God encourages us to be wise and live lives that reflect the wisdom we’re given or find. Don’t waste your life, your lessons and your abilities, choose to make something of it all if not for you but because your lessons and your willingness to knock may be the difference between life and death for someone.

What questions will you ask, learning will you do and actions will you take this week?

Have a Little Respect

Over the past week we’ve been hearing stories of #metoo, of primarily women who had unwanted attention showered on them by bosses, people of authority and other guys in general. It’s actually a campaign that’s more than 10 years old, but you and I most likely heard about it really over the past week and weekend with the news breaking from Hollywood. Many of my blog posts are about relationships. We’re all in relationships, whether of the sexual kind or the friend/coworker kind. That’s how our world runs. But not everyone is sensitive to or aware of, or caring how damaging seemingly simple things can be to a person and a relationship, not to mention the big issues like rape and domestic abuse.

As far as romantic relationships I fully support working with a counselor or therapist and trying to work things out when you and your partner hit a rough patch.  We all change as we grow up and grow older, and adding kids to the mix changes the dynamic between the two of you as well. Not to mention all the exterior challenges like work and health and other people that can be like a baseball or tennis ball automatic thrower that just keeps beating at your relationship. But sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. It’s not always the easy thing and it’s not always the popular thing. And depending on the situation, even if it is the right thing to do you or your partner may have a season of hurting and healing ahead as you deal with the cause of the fallout and the subsequent separation.

I don’t believe that anyone should be in a relationship of any kind with someone who’s violent or demeaning. But as we’ve talked about here and overall as a nation and world, there’s a lot of growing and changing that has to happen with regards to race, violence and women, beyond all that we’ve already done to work on those issues. This most recent discussion won’t solve all the problems, but if anything, I hope it gives a few more women the strength and courage they need to stand up and get out of the not healthy situation they’re in. The violence may be all they (or you) know, all they grew up with or the only way they know men to behave.  I may not have the horrific stories that other women do, but I’ve experienced more than one uncomfortable situation with a guy.  I know that there is something on the other side of that wall. I know that each and every woman is capable of saying no, of having a say in how they’re treated and has something amazing to contribute to society other than, or in addition to, their physical capabilities as a woman and mother.

It starts with all of us women standing up and saying that it’s not right for anyone to be treated disrespectfully and doing something about it.  But nothing can happen if the men of the world won’t stand up as well and say that they’re going to treat women better and follow through on that promise.  Danny Brown shared a powerful blog post recently on the subject from a guy’s point of view and I would encourage you to check it out as well.  Let’s work together to make sure there are fewer ‘me too’ stories in the future.

5 Tips for Having a Great Day

Today I thought I’d share 5 things you can do to have a great day, or at least give your day a better chance than usual at being great.

1-wear something you feel good in. Obviously, for some this has to be work appropriate, but work attire has changed dramatically over the past decade and even in the more conservative industries there are still lots of ways you can wear something you feel good, confident, comfortable and maybe even sexy in but still fit the company dress code.

2-pack snacks. I looked in my bag the other day and discovered I was out of snacks and was extremely disappointed. I make it a point to always have a granola bar of some kind or trail mix in my bag, in addition to whatever snacks I pack in a separate to take with me on my adventures that day. If you bring the snacks, you control what you eat and that’s not just about eating healthy, it’s about eating happy too.

3-have your favorite drink. Is there a type of tea or coffee or juice that you keep for special occasions? Starting your day with that is a great way to remind yourself how special you are and that your day ahead is worth enjoying.

4-watch a cute animal video. Yes, I totally went there. One of the first things I do is not check my email or the news when I get to my computer, but rather to stop in and see what’s new on my favorite Explore cameras or the latest pet videos on Care2 or the latest cute selections on YouTube. The emails and (bad) news will still be there after I’ve had a smile or two.

5-tell your partner you love them. Maybe it’s a text because they leave before you get up or a quick call while you’re both driving in to work (hands free of course) or maybe even a note on your pillow or by the coffee pot for them. Starting off the day expressing love is always better than starting with a fight.

What are your secrets for setting your day up for success?

Take A Stand

As we look ahead to July 4th and the celebration of Independence Day here in the USA, I want to talk a little about this special day and one of our topics for this month, taking a stand. In case you’re confused or forget your holidays, July 4th celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the US as separate from Great Britain. This wasn’t a decision like saying they’re not going to celebrate the same holidays or worship at the same type of religious center, they choose to make a really big difference in the direction that the lives of all who call the US home took and still take. The signers of the Declaration of Independence chose to take a stand in a really big way, a way that changed the future for the US and the world forever.

Are you taking the stand you really need to in your life? I’m not necessarily talking about attending big ‘save the world’ rallies or even making the big commitments that the signers took some 200+ years ago. I’m talking about standing up to the people who say not so nice things about you, or standing up to bullying and peer pressure, or learning how to say ‘no’ or find better solutions to all that you’re asked of at work that’s really outside of your job description, or getting out of the relationships that aren’t helping you grow or don’t support you.

I’m talking about choosing to make commitments that are in your best interests, being in relationships that will support you and those you care about, getting involved in the causes and organizations that speak to you personally, and taking a stand for the things that you believe are right and add value to the world. I’m talking about seriously looking out for yourself and your future as well as the life, health and happiness of those you care about most, like your partner, children or grandchildren. The signers all those years ago believed that not only did something have to change in their lives, but there had to be a clear statement made about exactly what that change meant and establish a clear separation between themselves and their past.

This week as we head into Independence Day and the next 2 months of summer, I encourage you to really think about the choices you’re making in your life and if you’re taking the stand for your life and future that you need to. I know I’m looking forward to being more proactive about that stand, will you join me?

Reality Reflection: Everything to Everyone

I’m a fan of saying no to people, you know why? Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Not only is is about being honest to who you are and not putting yourself in positions that you’re completely unqualified for or incapable of doing, but because every time you take on something that you’re only slightly capable of (or not at all), you take away an opportunity from someone else who is qualified. If we really want this world to be all it can be, I think we have to be willing to share a little of the control with others, have to be willing to let them do their thing, and not get in the way when they take charge.

Yes, there are time when you’ll go a little outside your preferred box to help a friend or to try something new, and that’s a good thing. We should be trying new things to keep our minds engaged and learning. But we have our safe zones for a reason. The good news is that my safe zone isn’t the same zone as yours. You’ve got talents I don’t have and don’t have any inclination for developing. I believe there are plenty of opportunities for us within the things that interest and drive us that we should never have to take work, resources or life away from someone else.

But that does mean that we all have to step up in that which we are gifted in, and a whole lot less slacking, hiding or letting someone else’s sub-par job suffice. You need to take responsibility for what you can do in this world with your unique talents. Be proud of who you are and what you can do. That doesn’t mean you have to start a business or blog, it may just mean finding a company to work with and bring your unique talents to (one that fits better than your current one), or donating your time on weekends or vacations.

This week I encourage you to give others the chance to do what they do best, and choose to do what you do best. Who knows, you may not cure cancer today, but you certainly may bring a smile to someone’s face or relief to their life in some other way.