A New Way of Success

 

Jan17“Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasures, then you will understand.” Proverbs 2:4-5

The above scripture started a workbook on a study that soaks in the scripture of James. When I read those words earlier this week, I was surprised but then again not.

I’d read the same scripture exactly one week prior as the reading for a group gathering. And in that gathering I’d written to be persistent in seeking His treasure, His wisdom.

And just weeks before, I’d chosen a word for the year-PERSEVERANCE.

Honestly at the time when I chose the word I’d defined it as persevering in the places I wanted to grow in-my writing, my photography, my coaching business, for example.

And in those places of growth were multiple tasks of how to get myself BIGGER, more into the market place through social media and networking.

And hopefully creating new, valuable product as that is my favourite part.

But I left that goal as a possibility only because I felt I hadn’t reached the success level  to create something new.

I didn’t think it wise to create more when I still had inventory of past collections.

And not wise as (getting real and honest here) having not collected the amount back of the investment I’d already made into all my current creations. So making money an arching goal seemed like a wise thing to do.

I joined an entrepreneur  group to learn the multiple ways of marketing, made a binder of goals broken down into steps, vision boards, and daily, monthly, year success sheets to consistently “plan, do, review.”

I started listening to daily motivation videos.

But with all these items, just days in, my motivation began to slip away like water into a drain.

But I persevered! Kept doing the tasks on my list. The daily ‘to do’s even though the past confusion of where to focus my time and efforts began returning.

Does this resonate with anyone else?

Doing and persevering to get the goals completed you’ve placed upon yourself? Or have created a list of unfinished projects or dreams to start, yet confusion of what to focus on-where to spend your time and efforts-creeps in?

You are not alone! It’s one my biggest struggles, my friend.

And even though I wasn’t seeking God’s treasure as I started persevering my way to do what I felt were the next steps to grow, to succeed this year, He sought out me.

For He knew my way was only heading me toward frustration and burn-out.

He graciously, in His perfect plan, made me reflect on these words during that group gathering.

“He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of the faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:7-8.

He holds success and guards and protects my course. 

And what is my part?

To turn my ears to wisdom, to apply my heart for understanding, and persevere in this like seeking for hidden treasure.

“turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding–indeed if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you search for it as for hidden treasure then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:2-5

That’s it!

So in this mid-January, as I began my study of James, I’ve revised my goals to three.

  1. To get wiser in God’s word
  2. To be encouraged
  3. To seek God’s treasure, His wisdom and will for Me

I do still have my lists, my daily tasks, my goals, and intentional day planning. These are not bad things, unless they become the way to achieve the successes we want derived from our own minds.

Instead, may we as daughters and sons of Christ show that success is not in what we do,  pushing ourselves to be better and greater, but in how we persevere in seeking God’s treasure, His wisdom that fully completes us.

And in this perseverance of His wisdom, He will guide our workings.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4

 

 

 

 

 

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A tough decision

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 

Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary came from his faithfulness to the law, but his wanting to do it quietly shows how he wanted to protect Mary too. By quietly divorcing Mary, not loudly exposing her to the judging public, he may have been intentionally protecting her from being stoned. I can imagine, between wanting to uphold the law and protect Mary, that he must have felt he was between a rock and a hard place. And there was only one option to make the best out of the situation.

But God had another plan, another option for Joseph, beyond the law, and beyond his own rational thinking.

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But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. 

Matthew 1: 20-21

Continue reading “A tough decision”

Moving Right

Chuck slithered, his belly against the ground, his fur barely clearing the space between coffee table and his back.  Under the table, his front and rear legs stuck out the ends, and just the tip of his nose. 

“You crazy dog!” My friend stood, hands on her hips surveying the scene–a tipped mug and a coffee puddle by her feet, the result of enthusiasm (for me) shown through the wagging tail of her blonde Labrador Retriever.

I leaned down from my sitting position on her couch to peer under the table. Chuck’s head lay between his paws and his sorrowful, shame-filled eyes looked into mine. “It’s okay, buddy,” I whispered. “I know you were just trying to show you were happy to see me.” I hear his tail pump on the floor. “I make mistakes too, even when I think I’m doing what I’m suppose to do.” I stroke his nose.

Just recently I found myself slithering away from people too, after a misunderstanding of directions. Although not meant to harm, comments by others over my misdemeanour left me feeling raw, stirred my ‘not good enough’ gremlins. Shame washed over me like a tidal wave and caught me in its under current.

Continue reading “Moving Right”

The Builder

When I found myself in a new office, perched on the edge of the tan leather couch, not quite comfortable yet, I knew I’d reached another pivot. Or maybe the better description would be a place where, looking at all I’d built, was like looking at a place in the sand where once a castle stood.

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Now the castle is no longer, admired then washed away from an incoming tide, or maybe by the passing of time. I couldn’t be sure. But what I knew, the place where the castle laid is empty. And that’s how I was feeling.

Empty.

“What’s the point?” I asked

“Good question,” my coach replied. And with a tilt of his head, leaning back in his night-black office chair he asked, “What is the point?”

I’d built lots, you see. I’d done lot’s you see. Even done a lot of events to help the homeless, help people draw closer to God, help others to connect with friends, old and new. Wasn’t all this serving suppose to fill me, make me energized and whole, instead of burned out? Instead of empty?

If empty is the result of all this serving, what’s the point of doing?

Have you ever been there, my friend? Burned out and empty?

And wondered, what is the point? 

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Believe me I have, and it’s a struggle! But I’m learning that whenever we wrap ourselves in something, in the something other than the knowing that we already are complete because of who we really are, we will feel unsatisfied.

The Word says:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Whenever searching for something, doing something, and looking for fulfillment outside of Christ, we will not feel satisfied and maybe even empty regardless of our endeavours.

The good news?

We are already complete in Christ.

For in him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28

…and in Christ you have been brought to fullness….Colossians 2:10

And God is always offering us to be filled by Him, be filled of His living water.

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Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Where is your identity? In what you build, or the One who builds all? 

Are you taking the journey today, my friend? Are you journeying on His words that you are complete, and His Beloved right now, no matter what you do or what you have done?

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Sandcastles will always wash away, beloved, but build them anyway! It’s ok. For your identity is not in what you build, but the One who built you. 

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(Interested in personal coaching to point you toward your identity in Christ, who God made you to be? You can find out more by clicking on my Personal Coaching Tab or visiting my website at Inspiring Hope In You)

 

 

 

Spinning To Grace

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It started when I was about 10 years old. I’d come home from school, grab a snack, and then open the door to the basement. I’d stand at the top of the stairs, nimbling on a Dad’s oatmeal cookie, and listen. Was she down there?

Yes. And if just starting, I’d hear first a sound like a hand clap, and then a whirling, like a spinning ceiling fan.

Sometimes I would take the 12 steps down, deep into the basement, red shag carpet soft on my bare feet. I’d see her, in the room off to the left, wearing hush puppy slippers to protect her feet from a cold concrete floor and the clay that splattered.  A scarf held her sand curls away as she leaned over the wheel, her hands moving up and down the spinning, wet clay. The clay would rise with her gentle hands. Sometimes, after dipping a hand into a water pail beside the wheel,  she’d press on top of the tower of clay, to decrease it, bring it down. And then, her encircled hands applying perfect pressure, she’d restore the clay into recognizable forms of mugs, bowls and vases.

She’d spin up the clay, my mother, and then flatten it down on the potter’s wheel, spin and press down, until the clay mixture was the perfect consistency to hold the mold she knew it could.

I didn’t see it then, this parallel, when watching my mother’s skilled hands,  yet isn’t that what God is doing with us too? Even in our battles, our trials, our hurts and betrayals, when we are in the depths of the valley, God is molding us and restoring us. His hands hold us, and His words are living water, replenishing and nurturing. His grace spins us from destructive habits, from shame and condemnation toward strength and redemption.

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Turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven. Then that time will come when the Lord will give you fresh strength. Acts 3:19-20

You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

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And He rights our path and restores our soul.

He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name sake. Psalm 23:3

My prayer for you today, my friend, is that you know  He will lift you up from any depth, restore you, and satisfy you with His presence.

Can you feel Him today, encircling you with His grace and love? 

 

 

 

Changing times

falls

“Patience,” she says.  “After all, Niagara Falls wasn’t formed in a day.”

Niagara Falls?

“Mom,” I say, my ten year-old self feeling smug and smart. “The saying is Rome wasn’t built in a day, not Niagara Falls!”

She doesn’t stop pinning the hem of a dress I am to wear to my eldest brother’s wedding. We’d pick the material and pattern out on a shopping trip to the fabric store in town about a month before. And this was at least the fifth time I’d had to stand on the step stool in our kitchen as she tucked, pinned, and chalked the paisley printed cotton.

“Rome or Niagara Falls…great things take time,” she say. “Now straighten your knees or your hem is going to be as crooked as the tower of Pisa.”

I straighten in obedience. Anticipation of the new dress had me excited but irritable with the time it was taking. Yet, with each fitting there was a new piece added, stitched thoroughly. The dress changed to be suited perfectly for me, with my mother’s skill and with time.

Continue reading “Changing times”

A step into living hope

“And honestly, the loneliness of self-protecting barriers can feel like it will kill you–and the heart-breaking risk of intimacy and vulnerability can feel like it will kill you too.” Ann Voskamp from The Broken Way (2016)

hope

“I wouldn’t even know,” he says, his eyes becoming half moons with his warm grin. “Truly. You’re all  heart girl but I wouldn’t know how you feel.”

I pierce my lips, furrow my brow, wondering, his eyes now wide open with chestnut eyebrows lifted. He shifts in his cafe chair, waiting.

“Really?” I finally let out, let my breath release.

“Girl, just tell him. What do you have to loose?”

“What?!” I suck in air, hold it, a faint smell of vanilla and chocolate from our hot drinks dusting my senses. I let it out. “I can’t do that!”

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“Well,” I start, my hands twisting my winter scarf on my lap, “it could mess up the friendship we already have.” I bite my lower lip, my eyes darting to the right and then back again, at my companion whose bronze eyes are once again partly disappeared in half moons.

He shakes his head slightly from side to side, then stills my busy hands with his. “Maybe but maybe not,” he says. “No matter the outcome, you’re still you–beautiful, fun you but more open and vulnerable to allow someone to know how you feel. You’ll take a chance, let down the self-protection walls you’ve been creating. And no matter what happens, at least the walls are coming down and I promise you, it won’t kill you!”

Continue reading “A step into living hope”