When Life Feels Uncertain~

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Our lives are full of uncertainty. Pick up a newspaper, watch your evening news!  There’s change and challenge all over the world.  Weather, finances, government policies, and global conflicts swirl around our lives every day. For some, uncertainty at this level has left them paralyzed with anxiety and fear of the future.   Uncertainty is so uncomfortable; our minds want clarity and good closure.  Certainty is almost always preferrable to the unknown!

Yet, we all experience uncertainty in our lives in a more personal way; health diagnosis, job changes, relational challenges, and financial transitions just to name a few.  Times of uncertainty are really challenging to navigate because our head and emotions tend to respond negatively to the discomfort; thus anxiety can set in and hold us captive.

So, how can we find a way to thrive amidst uncertainty?  Is it even possible?  In her blog on uncertainty, Katherine McHugh says “disorienting storms of life are not just about survival, they are about learning to thrive.  It is not in spite of daunting circumstances that we grow, but because of them.”

Scripture puts is this way:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2

There are many moments of uncertainty in life. There always have been and there always will be. Sometimes things turn out the way you want them to, sometimes they don’t. Yet, accepting the uncertainty rather than trying to fight it, trusting God to guide and lead you, remembering that you cannot predict the outcomes, and watching for opportunities to grow and learn in the middle of uncertain times really helps.

My life has been full of seasons of uncertainty.  I’ve moved 11 times in my marriage, lived in 5 different cities, we pastored in 5 different churches, served 9 years in a non-profit organization, and have built our own Coaching Company from the ground up.  We have faced physical challenges, family changes, and relational transitions.  Many of these seasons of uncertainty left me anxious, fearful, and discouraged as I walked them out.  However, now that I’m older I am able to look back and see how all these situations have played a big part in who I am today.  Some situations turned out as I’d hoped, some disappointed me, and some were a complete surprise to me!

If I could speak into the life of my “younger self” amidst a season of uncertainty I would encourage her to catch her breath, spend time with God, look for the good that can be gleaned, spend time with life-giving people, and fight the urge to need to know NOW!  If I had consistently made those choices I can only imagine that my experience would have been a bit different!

Are you sitting in a season of uncertainty? If you are then it is my prayer that you will begin to walk in greater confidence that there will be a resolve and that there will be “nuggets of wisdom” to pocket in the days ahead.

Remember:

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

LIFE HAPPENS HERE!

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Growing up in the coastal farming town of Watsonville, California I had my days filled with school, bike/horseback riding, chores on our 54 acre apple ranch, church activities, sandy days at the beach, and time spent with my parents and 5 sisters.

From the time I was 6 to the ripe old age of 20 (when I headed off to college) we lived on the same property.  My life had a sense of consistency, regularity, and security.  I’m not sure if I ever really took the time to fully consider how my life would unfold in the years ahead.

I have had the privilege to live a truly wonderful, experience-filled life for which I am very, very grateful.  However, there have been changes and challenges that showed up unexpectedly leaving me completely overwhelmed.  From Marriage to parenting, numerous home/city moves, family challenges, occupational changes, and unexpected tragedies I have often felt caught off-guard and ill-prepared.

I have had amazing conversations with so many great women who have found themselves over-whelmed by the situations that have come into their lives as well. Like me, many have faced numerous unanticipated challenges and have often wondered if they have the strength to navigate the challenge well.

At 54, I have enough hindsight to understand that this is what life truly is.  Life is a mixed bag of joy and sadness, celebration and challenge. Every season is different and requires a few key elements to strengthen us along the way:

1.  Knowing and trusting that God will not leave us in the midst of an over-whelming season but rather He will give us strength, wisdom, and comfort.

2.  Being surrounded by people we love and trust: our spouses, healthy family members, and hand-picked friends whom we trust.  Facing challenges in isolation can be devastating. Fight the urge to withdraw; stay connected.

3.  Doing all we can to care for our health:  rest, good food, exercise, reading, time in nature~~ intentionally choosing cup-filling activities to keep our emotions above water.

4.  Taking time to Journal. We don’t always feel strong, We don’t always feel full of hope. Over the years my journals have been filled with prayers and thankfulness but they have also been full of honest questions, doubts, fears, and tears.  Simple honesty has helped to diffuse my emotions.

5. Keeping balanced in our perspectives.  Often times when challenges come we lose sight of all that is still good and right. We can find ourselves getting caught in fear and negativity. In hard times it helps if we can try to focus on the good growth we are experiencing.  I have never walked through a tough season without gaining greater empathy for others, being stretched in my faith, and having a chance to mature in my own character.

Consider your pattern when challenges come.  How do you respond?  How well have you navigated tough situations in the past?   I hope that this simple “conversation” gives you some fresh tools to stand strong when unexpected changes come!

I love this verse!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”   Deuteronomy 31:6

“Health” Club~~

One of my favorite jobs these days is working with a great team at our local health club. It is in this role that we get to serve and support our members in various and often times, creative ways.  What I love the most is seeing the effort the members make to become or stay healthy; it’s inspiring…especially those amazing folks who are standing at the door at 5:15 am! Wow!

So what really is HEALTHY?

The Dictionary says “a sound and vigorous mind, healthy recreations, prosperous or sound, robust, good well-being, and restorative in nature.”

These terms churn up many thoughts as I take inventory of my own life.  Am I healthy?

1. Do I have a vigorous  mind?  do I allow concerns and fears to cause anxiety and restlessness within me? do I take the time to read, learn, dream, or try new things?

2. Do I have healthy recreations?  do I give myself permission to take time away from my diligent work to regroup, refresh?

3.  Is my life prosperous or sound?  do I make intentional decisions to use my time in a way that prospers my family, faith ,  and finances?

4.  Do I have a strong sense of well-being?  Do I surround myself with healthy people? do I speak encouragements to myself or do I feel critical of who I am?  Do I feel my life has value?

5.  Is my lifestyle restorative?  do I live a life that depletes me and those around me? do I run in a manic pace? or do I live life with a rhythm that allows me to work hard and yet still remain balanced?

Being healthy is so much more than what you weigh, how big your muscles are, or what your BMI is…though these elements do matter there is such a broader sense of what it truly means to be a healthy person.

Are YOU healthy?  Ponder the questions I have asked myself and if you see a need to make some changes then bravely do so!

This is your new healthy season! 🙂

The “Climb”

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As I stood at the base of Smith Rock in Bend, Oregon preparing to embark on a hiking journey up Misery Ridge for the first time this season, I felt a little overwhelmed.  I looked at the rocky path that led to switchbacks that would propel me to the top of the cliff above; I knew that for the next 40 minutes I would be required to continue to put one foot in front of the other even though my lungs would be screaming “STOP”!

As I began to climb I tried to keep my eyes on the path and on the beautiful view around me because I found that whenever I focused on how far I still had to go, I doubted my ability to press on. Step by step, switch back by switch back, I pressed on. As I took my last four steps to the top of the trail I could peek across the horizon and the expansive view ahead of me; it was Beautiful! All the effort it took to get to the top was well worth it!

In thinking about the climb the Lord directed me to remember, again, that whenever I am facing challenges and changes that could overwhelm me I need to remember to keep moving, one wise step after another, I need to take time to enjoy the “view” along the way, and I need to discipline myself to focus on the journey without getting overwhelmed with the destination.  My first time climbing Misery Ridge I had no idea that there was such an incredible view at the end of the challenging hike.  If I had aborted the climb because of weariness I would have missed enjoying an incredible view!

The Word says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5   , “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?

Life is full of “climbs” though I much prefer the “green pastures” along the way! However, if there wasn’t a Misery Ridge or two in our lives we would miss the opportunity to see something incredible unfold in front of us that would have been impossible without the climb.  So get your hiking boots on and “let’s go!”  🙂