A Question I Couldn’t Ignore~

 

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I spend a great deal of time in my career as a Leadership Coach asking powerful questions to help leaders gain greater perspective, vet out limited thinking, and to help them to see their leadership in a fresh way.

Recently, I was faced with a challenging question from an unexpected source! I have the  privilege of having my granddaughter come to my house every Thursday for an hour for her “lessons”. For the first 30 minutes we learn to draw and to paint, for the second 30 seconds I try to give her piano lessons on my keyboard. It’s a sweet time as you can imagine.

This past week, as she silently painted, Scout put her hand on my hand and asked me a profound question: “Mimi, you will be at my wedding when I grow up won’t you?”( she is 4 1/2)

I just turned 60 about a week ago so that was a poignant question. I could tell her I hope so, I could tell her I want to, or I could tell her I will do everything I can to make sure that I can be there!

I told her the latter. With that promise from her Mimi comes a real responsibility to do just that ~ to do EVERYTHING I can, in my power and decisions, to be here for her.

Certainly, there are things that catch us by surprise in our health and circumstances; some things are beyond our control. Yet, when this little darlin’ asked me that sweet question I realized I needed to shore up some areas in my life to fulfill my commitment to her. She is depending on me to be there.

I am committed to be sure to get the check ups I need , watch what I eat better, get needed exercise , work on getting a good nights sleep, using my time well, and taking richer time to pray and ponder. Those are things I can control.

What about you? Are you precious to someone who wants to you be in their life over all the seasons? If you were asked a poignant question just as I was would you be challenged to make some changes to do all you can do to “be there”?

Let’s do all WE can for those who are counting on us!

 

Conversation Shake-Up~

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Over a year ago, my son and his wife gave us a box of conversation questions from a company called Table Topics.  I thought it was a clever idea, fun.  What I have actually recognized about their value is the unique way fresh questions can unlock meaningful conversations in a whole new way!

It is so easy to get locked into routine conversations around work, ministry, money, and children.  We partner with our spouse and we parent our children; which is all good.  But, what if we make an effort to simply want to KNOW more about those we love rather than spending the bulk of our time directing schedules and managing behaviour?

What if we gave ourselves a time-out from routine conversations at the table or in the car, using that time to ask about dreams, favorite things, ideas, and best memories? Perhaps even using that time to ask about the “highs” and “lows” of the day!  I imagine you will experience some un-expected moments of fresh understanding.  For some reason an unexpected question often takes the direction of the connection to a new place.

Table Topics is a great tool, but if we are intentional enough to want to experience fresh insights with our friends and loved ones; we can easily prepare some of our own, having them ready to use when the time arises!

As a coach I am asking my clients questions all the time. I have been amazed to watch a quality question give way to a truly rich conversation.

Perhaps this is the year to shake out of the mundane and make your conversations really count!

Skills for Life!

 

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My husband and I enjoyed the opportunity to train passionate leaders in the skills needed to coach people well.  We loved getting to hear their stories, experiences, and anticipation for their opportunities in the season ahead.  Some of these leaders could retire; and yet they are looking for new ways to impact lives in this fresh season, while others desired to gain greater leadership skills to strengthen their present leadership. Whatever the motivations were we knew they would benefit from the training they received.

Throughout the training I kept realizing that the tools we were passing on are actually tools for everyday life, for everyone! So, I thought I’d take a moment to pass some of them on to you!

1.  Choosing to be a person of Character~our character is displayed in our life, leadership, communication, choices, and emotional responses.  If we commit to intentionally choosing to have character when faced with life’s opportunities and obstacles we will have greater success in all we do.

2. Utilize Good Questions~ It’s so easy in our day-to-day lives to talk a lot, share our thoughts, and give our opinions.  However, the most effective way to understand those around us is to ask good questions; lots of them.  Learning to hear the thoughts, experiences, and dreams of those around us will help us to have greater success in all our relationships.  James 1:19 says; ” Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak…….”

3.  Learn to use Active Listening~  Active listening is simply a tool we like to use to help us to be sure we’ve listened well to those we are leading, coaching, and building relationships with.  Basically it requires a person to listen well and to be able to repeat back by simply saying ” so what I’m hearing you say is………”     The value to entering conversations with Listening in mind is that it shows respect, helps clarify what’s being shared, and it defuses emotions when the topic is challenging.   So often we move through our daily conversations without really hearing, truly understanding, or gaining good clarity.  Using this tool as a coach in invaluable, yet using it in everyday life will give all of us greater success in all our relational connections.

4.  Build accountability into your life~Whenever people are isolated they will become unhealthy in many ways. All of us were made to be in relationship; to learn from one another, grow together, challenge one another, and cheer for one another.  However, it’s easy to keep our relationships only surface deep, not allowing one or two trusting individuals in to provide rich accountability for us.   Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Having accountability built into our lives will keep us on track; will help us to live and lead well.

5.  Keep energy renewal as a regular part of your life~ Every day we expend energy and so often we can keep our nose to the grind and just “press through” our busy schedules thinking we will take a break when we can…….but this is rarely successful.  We were made to take a “sabbath”.  God knew it and dropped it right in the 10 Commandments.  When we fail to renew ourselves we do exactly what the stewardess on your airline flight directs you to do ” put the oxygen mask on YOURSELF before you attempt to help others.”  We can’t meet the needs all around us if we are without air!!  Take time to rest, exercise, spend time with the Lord, engage in a hobby, laugh, and eat well.  These regular practices will impact your life more than you can imagine. And those around you will benefit as well. 🙂

These “Coaching” tips, if applied, will affect every area of your life! So dive in during these summer months and begin to count the fresh WINS in your life!

Unanswered Prayers.

 

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I had the good fortune this week to have the opportunity to talk with a friend and fellow coach about trusting God.  Her honesty was refreshing and both of us acknowledged how difficult it can be to trust God in the face of unanswered prayers. Now I am mature enough to know the God is not a “spiritual Santa Clause” so I’m not talking about prayers that involve frivolous requests.  ” I pray I get a parking place.”, I pray I win a trip”, or I pray I can get a new, fancy car”.  No, I am talking about prayers for a friend that has cancer; who passes away.  I’m thinking about those who pray to become parents; remaining childless. Or the prayers of protection those who have beloved children pray; only to lose their children long before their lives have been lived.  How do we navigate continuing to trust what God’s word clearly tells us:

Luke 11:9 says “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I believe these promises are true and have experienced God’s faithfulness over and over again!  But, I have also walked through the darkness of prayers that were prayed with absolute faith yet have remained unanswered.  How do we remain faith filled?  How to we keep ourselves from feeling as though God is distant and unfeeling?  How do we protect ourselves from becoming angry and disillusioned?   In the movie God’s Not Dead, the college professor makes a profound statement; ” The biggest atheists are those were had been believers and experienced unanswered prayers”.

Have you experienced unanswered prayer?  How have you kept yourself faith filled in the midst of the disappointment?

Three years ago, I had a precious family members life taken brutally at a young age.  I had prayed for him all his life.  I had seen God do mighty things in and with his life.  He was amazingly talented and deeply loving.  Upon the news of his death I spent almost 90 days angry at God, seeking understanding with the knowledge that God “could” have stepped in and protected him from losing his life.  I was devastated and confused by the scriptures that had once given me comfort.  Those verses now served to cause greater hurt.

God is good.  His shoulders were big enough for my questions; even my anger.  In His still small voice He just kept reminding me that He would help me through the pain. He would never leave me nor forsake me. He spoke the truth that His ways are higher than my ways.  And slowly, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I could feel myself beginning to whisper   “Even so, I will trust you.”

I couldn’t even begin to give you a formula for navigating this particular spiritual challenge, but there are a few action steps that will help keep your heart from becoming bitter.

1.  Stay in God’s Word, it speaks to your soul.

2.  Be brave to talk about your questions, don’t isolate.

3.  Make sure you continue to look at your many blessings, even in the midst of unanswered prayer.

4.  Be willing to learn something fresh from what you are having to walk through.

5.  Remember, loss and challenge falls on the just and the unjust.  It is part of our human condition and can help you gain keen empathy that will enable you to love and support others along the way.

Steven Arterburn in his article , When Prayers seem Unanswered says;

It certainly seems like a secure bet that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers because he’s aware that his, ours, and the whole world’s best interests will not be served if he does. It’s safe to say that when God decides what’s best, he’s got a broader perspective for making that decision than anything we can bring to the table.

All of which brings us to the very good reason that when mature Christians do pray for something, they tend not to say, “God, please do [such and such],” but rather, “God, if it is your will, please do [such and such].” This is the all-important caveat. Always leave to him the final determination of whether or not what you’re asking for is, in fact, the thing most ultimately beneficial.

We all want to live a life trusting the Lord. However, life can broadside us.  Rather than pulling away, becoming angry, and perhaps even bitter, choose to remember God’s heart for you and I. Find yourself whispering “Even so, I will trust you.”

 

 

Good Questions~

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Powerful questions can challenge us, help us move forward, and give us the opportunity to assess our lives, motivations, helping us to understand how & why we sabotage ourselves and how & why we are motivated!!! As a Coach, questions are so incredibly important!!

Here are some good questions:

  • 1.  What do I want?
  • 2.  What is the difference between a wish and a goal?
  • 3.  What keeps me going?
  • 4.  What do I need in order to reach my goals?
  • 5.  What am I choosing this week?
  • 6.  If I were at my best, what would I do right now?
  • 7.  What is it to be exceptional?
  • 8.  How can I recharge my batteries
  • 9.  What am I grateful for?
  • 10. What have I learned about myself?

Ask these questions of yourself, ponder them. What is being revealed about YOU? What helpful truths have you recognized that could help you grow; move forward?

For me, answering these questions is both humbling and clarifying!  Good questions can create fresh understanding.  Ask yourself GREAT questions and watch yourself grow in fresh ways!!

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