Things we might regret~

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This past week I had the privilege of traveling with my mother and her sister on a road trip to see one of their lifelong friends a few hours away.  This would be a 3 day trip full of laughter, meaningful conversations, shared memories from days gone by, and lots of reminiscing.   I enjoyed the time I had with them all; each of them are so precious to me.  One of the comments was that “time has just gone by so very quickly”, I even see this in my own life as I am celebrating 30 years of marriage this week.  Life does indeed move forward quickly.

Since I returned from the road trip I have been looking at my own life and asking the question, “am I doing all I can to live this life well, with purpose and meaning?”  As I think about that question my answer is “yes, some of the time.” I could do better.

I began to ponder the question, “What might we all regret when we get into our twilight years?”  and I came up with a list of things to consider.

1.  Not stopping to appreciate the “moment”.  Living life so busy-minded that we miss so many amazing moments all around us.

2.  Not traveling when we could have.  Seeing and experiencing other cultures makes a huge difference in our world view and can create memories to last forever.

3.  Holding grudges.  How sad to live life as a hostage to hurt feelings! Gotta let it go!

4.  Not having taken time to get to know God~ to invite Him into our lives. He gave us the very breath we breathe; how amazing to have a life knowing and trusting in Him.

5.  Not having taken time to volunteer.  Life is so much richer when we take time to come alongside those wanting to make a difference!

6.  Not spending intentional time with loved ones.  It’s a sad truth to realize that we don’t know how long we get to have those we love in our lives.  It’s best not to put relationships off “till tomorrow”.

7.  Caring too much what others think.   We will never please everyone all the time.  As much as we may try, there will always be those who see us through a filter that we cannot control.  Care more about being the best YOU that you can be!

8.  Working too much.   Decide when then work day needs to be done.  Disengage and fill your life with life-giving activities and people.

9.  Never having taken risks to pursue a dream.   Do you have a dream in your heart? Are you playing it so safe that your dream will never be realized?

10. Worrying too much.   Life is complicated and uncertain.  All of us could focus on areas of concern and find ourselves consumed with fear and worry.  However, worry robs us of joy.  We will regret having spent our days burdened and concerned.

It was fun to hear of all the ways my mom and her sister intentionally built memories from childhood till now.  When life was hard for them; they created space for joy and laughter.  When life has been joy-filled they have intentionally celebrated those moments with gratefulness.  No matter what stage of life you may be in; ask yourself if there’s anything on my list that YOU may regret someday.  If there is there’s no time like the present to turn it around! 🙂

Navigating Transitions~

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Life transitions have a crazy way of causing some emotional imbalance–for almost all of us! Transitions, even happy ones, can be stressful and bring up some surprising mixed emotions.  These reactions can often time come as a surprise to us, causing us to feel especially sensitive for seemingly “no reason at all.” Moving to a new city, becoming a parent, selling the family home, transitioning from one job to another, marriage, or a personal loss can all create the opportunity for us to feel imbalanced for a while.

I graduated from my University, married, moved away from my family and friends to a new city, and became a mother within a 16 month period of time. Even though there was so much that was good and new –my equilibrium was off and I had to find a way to create a new normal for myself.  It was an emotional time.  My life since that time has had numerous changes and transitions. Each time it gets a little easier to understand how these transitions affects me and I work harder at being proactive during this time.  I am going to pass a few of these tips on to you!

1.  Transitions can shake your sense of IDENTITY.    It’s natural for us to define ourselves by the job we have, church we attend, neighborhood we live in, family we belong to, or financial status we have known.  When these kinds of elements get shaken up we have to find a new normal.  During this particular time, be gracious with yourself and others, remain consistent to keep your spiritual/self-care routines in place, and  surround yourself with life-giving people. These efforts will remind you that you are not defined by external titles or experiences.

2. A transition can be a wonderful opportunity for GROWTH.  Sometimes transitions give us an opportunity to see areas of ourselves that need attention. Fear, lack of faith, uncertainty, even anger have roots in us somewhere. Being keenly aware of ourselves in this season we can take a good look at these responses and begin to take some steps to address and challenge ourselves to grow. Transitions are a great time to begin new habits.

3. Keep reminding yourself WHY you chose this transition.  In my coaching I encourage my clients to assess their current situation and cast a clear vision for where they want to go.  Though this kind of thinking can take take time and consideration; the greater challenge is in the in-between…actually applying the steps that will make the transition complete.  Matthew Kelly in his book “Leading Through Change” says, “It is often said that people hate change, but that is not true.  People love change; they just don’t like the time of transition.”  If, during our transition we keep the end goal in sight, celebrate incremental changes along the way, and remind ourselves of the fruitfulness of our transition, we will navigate this time so much better.  However, I have also walked through seasons where I didn’t choose the transition, wouldn’t have asked for it, and didn’t understand it’s value at the time. Yet, in hindsight I have learned to find the value even in those tough situations. I call those moments “looking for the pony in the poop”.  There is always something to learn, nuggets of growth, even in un-chosen transition.

4.  Remember your past transitions and apply some of the skills you learned during that time.  No matter what our lives look like, we have all walked through transitions since we were children.  There are ways that we have responded, lessons we have learned, and maturity gained that, if we reflect on those times, can even give us keen insight to our present transition.  I love to journal for this reason in that it captures past responses in my life reminding me of tools and understanding gained during a previous transitional time.

5.  Don’t leave God out of the equation.  No one cares or knows us more than our heavenly Father.  Draw close to him in these time.  Sit still with Him; breath and wait.  Trust that He will see you through.

Transitions can be invigorating, uncertain, challenging, even terrifying for some.  Yet, we all face transitions.  May you find great success in the days ahead as you apply some of these small principles for great success.

                                                                          🙂

 

If you really knew me you would not like me……………..

How many of us have made mistakes in our lives?  How many of us have baggage that plagues us? How many of us have heard the enemy whisper “if they really knew you they would not like you”?  I have.   This kind of shame can keep us locked up; unable and unwilling to step into opportunities simply because we ask ourselves the question “why me?, I am not worthy!”.

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Years ago I stood before the congregation of our large church where my husband was an Executive Pastor, I shared my story. Everyone has a story!  My story involved a history of a date rape and an abortion at 17 years old! Such a shock to so many that saw me, and my life as perfect; perhaps charmed.

After sharing my story I had over 75 women come to me privately and share that this was similar to their story and they felt shamed and broken! Oh, how the enemy loves to make us feel ruined, soiled, and without value!!  Here is the truth:

We have a God who is full of grace and mercy–God’s mercy is so much richer than the mercy we extend to one another. This is sad, but true!  All of us have regrets and areas of deep sadness. The truth is that our Savior is rich in love, mercy, and grace!

If this resonates with you. If you have challenges or have faced situations where your choices caused great harm; run to the giver of grace and forgiveness! He loves you more than you can ever know!

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Here’s what God’s word says:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah 43:25-26

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Today, sit with Him–let Him love you and breath fresh life into you–today is your day. He loves you.

Important Conversations!

” The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

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I have heard this quote numerous times, I find it incredibly profound every time.  It is never easy to have a difficult conversation.   No one ever wakes up in the morning eager to jump into a discussion that could have an uncertain outcome. No one naturally wants to feel uncomfortable or to create possible conflict. If they do, frankly, then may have other personal issues that need to be dealt with. No~ no one really enjoys a “Crucial Conversation”.

In the Book “Crucial Conversations” the term in the title of the book would be defined as a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.

In order to navigate relationships in your family, workplace, community, or place of worship there will be times when the need to have a direct conversation will be clearly evident, left unaddressed gaps in relationships, teamwork, or productivity will be the result.

Have you ever gotten a phone call or email that you simply ignored because in order to move forward there would need to be a conversation? Have you ever walked “around” a teammates office so that you could avoid a tough conversation? Have you ever abandoned a friendship because having a hard conversation seemed too challenging?

I have to say YES to all of these situations. In trying to asses “WHY” I would have avoided challenging conversations I would have to discern that it was because I assumed I wouldn’t fare well; that I would cause more trouble.  But often these types of conversations can bring fresh understanding, resolve conflict, and relational rebuilding.

 In considering a crucial conversation we have 3 possibilities:

1.  We can simply avoid them.

2.  We can face them and handle them poorly.

3. We can face them and handle them well.

I feel that most of us would choose either #1 or #3.  Assuming  you have picked #3, I would l like to offer a few suggestions that I have learned in my years of being a Leadership Coach. (I am not an authority by any means; I continue to be a learner!)

Prepare yourself for  the conversation.  What is the end result you desire?  What is the temperament of the individual you need to address? Are you angry? Have you already indited this person?  Can you see your part in the challenge? What words will you use to clearly communicate? Are you prepared to listen?

Set a quality time/place for the conversation. Timing is key when addressing a challenging topic.  I always tell young brides that it is NEVER wise to address challenging topic with their spouse after 8:30-9:00!! Two tired people addressing conflict will rarely provide a positive result!  Does this conversation need to be in private? Do you need a 3rd party present for accountability?

Follow up within 24 hours. It is important be sure that your crucial conversation truly created the clarity needed between every individual involved. Do an understanding check as well as a relational check. Your conversation may not result in complete agreement but see if it has cleared away the intensity of emotion or misunderstanding.

Difficult conversations are necessary as we grow in every area of our lives and the results of having them successfully will empower us to be brave enough, kind enough, and wise enough to address them well.

Are the conversations you’ve been avoiding? Situations that need to be addressed? Relationships that need reconciling? Gaps on your team at work?  Instead of focusing on how negative a crucial conversation could be, consider how much fruitfulness is to be gained. 🙂

Time to sail away from the shore~

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During the past week I came across a quote that caught my attention right away; I felt that it embodied how I feel about this season of life.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

As a young girl I don’t think I would have called myself brave or daring, rather I was most comfortable with things that were steady and safe.  Certainly I could get excited about the “idea” of taking big, bold action but in the end I would always stay safely on shore!

I believe that my fear of failure kept me on tasks and in situations that had fairly sure outcomes, no real risk or adventure involved. I never wanted to feel the weight of personal disappointment nor did I want to disappoint anyone. Thus, I did very little that was competitive in my early years.

In High School I branched out and joined the Swim Team; practicing hard to prepare for the swim meets on the weekends.  I remember one particular swim meet where I realized no one was in the lanes next to me and I felt a twinge of excitement that, perhaps, I was going to be the first one to the finish line. As I pulled to the edge of the pool with all the speed I could muster I popped my head out of the water to find that, actually, I was the last one in! That was my last swim meet.

Today, with years of hindsight under my belt, I fully recognize the value of taking risks, challenging myself, throwing off extreme cautions that choke my ability to dream, and giving myself permission to “fail forward.” Without being free to “sail away from the Harbor” I would never have had the life I have full of rich memories, opportunities, relationships, and fresh challenges!

Everyday I learn that life is short, mistakes only cause me to grow, challenges strengthen my resolve, and risk makes me depend more on God in every way. So, 20 years from now I don’t want a laundry list of things I should have done; wanted to do~yet feared exploring! Rather I would love to have a journal full of memories, experiences, and adventures to recall with satisfaction!

What about you? Playing it safe, hugging the shoreline? Perhaps today is your day to explore what it would look like to “catch the trade winds in your sails.”  Dream big! 🙂