Make Your Mountains into Learning Experiences

hiking

When I was in high school, my mother took me to a lecture presented by Sir Edmund Hillary. I must admit, at the time I was not overly excited about hearing some old guy talk about how he climbed a mountain. It wasn’t until he started speaking that I realized this man had accomplished a feat that was considered unconquerable. This was a man who faced the seemingly impossible, pushed past the limitations and climbed to the top of Mount Everest. Before his successful expedition in 1953, numerous groups had tried and failed to reach the summit. Even within his own expedition group, all but two of the climbers turned back because of exhaustion at the high altitude.

Despite the obstacles, discouragement and even abandonment of his group, Sir Edmund Hillary persevered. His accomplishment was celebrated worldwide and his influence inspired many others to reach toward their own personal goals. Oddly, Sir Edmund originally earned his living as a beekeeper in New Zealand. He started climbing mountains in his own country as a bit of a hobby. Little by little he progressed to climbing the Alps and eventually the Himalayas. The small mountains led to bigger mountains, preparing him to conquer the highest mountain – Mount Everest.

What are the mountains in your life? Mountains come in all shapes and sizes. They may be in the form of a difficult work relationship or a rebellious child or an overwhelming project that keeps you up at night. Some mountains may develop in our lives in the form of financial issues or a troubled marriage or even trying to lose weight. Actually, there are also mountains in our lives that aren’t expressly negative, some of our greatest mountains may include starting a new business or learning a new skill set or language.

Each mountain that we scale in life, strengthens us and prepares us to face grander mountains ahead. Whether we choose the mountain or the mountain chooses us, we still have a choice as to how we will deal with it. We can either look at the mountains in our lives and grumble and complain about them, or we can choose to begin to climb them and conquer them. The secret to rising to the top of any mountain rests in our attitude and ability to persevere. Sir Edmund Hillary said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” From beekeeper to record breaker, Hillary conquered fears, discouragements and failures. It didn’t all happen at once, but he grew from each experience. We too can look at each mountain in our lives as an opportunity to grow and become stronger women.

Father, help us to see the challenges as opportunities to grow and trust You. Thank you that You will never leave us, and that You provide strength and guidance for those who seek You. In Jesus name, Amen

This is an excerpt from my book Positive Leadership Principles for Women. The e-book version of this book is on sale during the month of August for $2.99.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get this power-packed book through your favorite e-book reader.  Click here for the Kindle Link

Take Your Eyes off the Past

Hello my precious and positive friends. I look forward to seeing you next week at the Positive Woman Connection Bible study.  Please be sure to RSVP if you have not already done so.  We will meet on Oct 26 at Prestonwood Country Club 12 – 1. and On Wednesday, Oct 27 at Cottonwood Creek, 12 – 1.  Our topic this month is “Discovering who you are in Christ.”   See you soon. 

Here’s a devotional thought about the importance of moving forward from the past:

Looking forward to what God has in store can be difficult at times, especially when we have experienced pain or feel as though we are in a rut. Yet, it is important for us take small steps forward with our eyes looking to the Lord to guides us.  We must deliberately take our focus off past hurts and mistakes. Thoughts and reminders of your pain or disappointment or how things could have been may pop into your head now and then, but it’s time to leave the regrets behind and turn your eyes toward what God is planning for the rest of your life.

The apostle Paul offers us a good example. He could have chosen to live in his past, wallowing in regret about his former years before he knew Christ, but he chose to look forward. Here’s what he said to the Philippians: “I focus on this one thing; Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”9

Whether you are dealing with a divorce or an injury or a loss, you have a choice whether you will dwell on what could have been and your past dreams, or move forward to what is next. One talent we have as women is to replay the “I’m Hurt” tape over and over in our minds. They hurt my feelings. He ruined my life. She was rude to me. God didn’t listen to me. Once you have grieved a hurt or loss, it is time to stop reliving it and playing back the video over and over in your mind. Again this requires forgiveness and strength to move on. We have a loving God who is able to give us the strength to forgive. Seek his help when you just can’t get to the place of forgiveness, and remember forgiveness is not inviting a person to walk all over you.  Sometimes we must set wise boundaries. Forgiveness is releasing the right to hold something over another person.  Let it go.

The only time Scripture tells us to look back is when we are remembering what God has done. The Israelites were told to set up markers and memorials to remember what God had brought them through. We, too, must reflect on God’s goodness and recognize all he has done, instead of reflecting on our past life and wishing it were still there. To passionately live the life we didn’t plan, we must turn our eyes upward instead of backward in order to go forward.

This blog is an excerpt from my book Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive (Simon and Schuster).

Feeling Frazzled?

Is your day turning out a little different than you planned?  Maybe your life is going a different direction than you thought it would. God can use the twists and turns in our life to lead us on a new journey. He may have a greater, eternal purpose that we cannot understand right now, and we may not comprehend it until we see Jesus face to face. The question is, are we willing to recognize God has a design for our lives that may be more beautiful than we can imagine, or will we settle for discouragement, bitterness, and frustration?

Hope in God can turn disappointments into appointments to trust God. As the psalmist said in the midst of his sadness, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” We can find great encouragement from reading the words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, who is known as the “weeping prophet.” Can you believe that? Encouragement from the weeping prophet! But I think you will be encouraged too. As Jeremiah grieved over the destruction of Jerusalem, he turned his eyes toward the day-to-day faithfulness of the Lord. Notice how Jeremiah’s discouragement turns into words of hope:

 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
 is bitter beyond words.

I will never forget this awful time,
 as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope
 when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
 His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;
 his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
 therefore, I will hope in him!”

The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
 to those who search for him.

So it is good to wait quietly
 for salvation from the Lord.”  Lamentations 3:19 – 24

Will you dare to hope as Jeremiah did? As he grieved his loss, he also declared, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” Yes, His mercy is new and fresh each morning. My friend, as you walk this new and different road, seek God’s goodness and mercy along the way. Cry out to him for help, and trust his faithfulness to get you through one day at a time. Not one of us has been guaranteed a perfectly happy life. The Bible reminds us, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalm 34

See you Sept 22 in Allen at Cottonwood Creek Baptist at 12:00. or Sept 28 at Prestonwood Country Club 12:00.

See God’s Provision

 Hello Friends.  I’m so excited that we will be starting the study of Colossians in September.  The title for this year’s study is “Positively Radiant,” and we will be learning specifically about the secret to living a confident life.  If you live near Allen, Texas we will be meeting on Wednesday, Sept 22 at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church (12:00 – 1:00).  In north Dallas we will be meeting at Prestonwood Country Club on Tuesday Sept 28 from 12 – 1.  I hope you will join us at one of these locations for fun, food, fellowship and most importantly learning from God’s word.

Here’s a little devotional thought from my Thrive book.

His Mercies are New Every Morning

What has God provided for you? It’s easy to focus on our problems and forget to look for the provisions God has given us all along the way. It may be a helping hand or listening ear of a friend. It may be another day of health or the opportunity to visit with a family member. It may be a physical provision of some sort.  We can give thanks everyday for God’s presence and peace. We can also thank God everyday  for the mercy He shows us, and the forgiveness of sins through Jesus.

The Bible reminds us that God is our Keeper and our Provider. The apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome said, “God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Let’s open our eyes to the care God is giving us. We can begin by turning our eyes toward what we can be grateful for and turning our focus away from on all that is awful. Consider keeping a “Thank you, God” journal as you walk your road of disappointment. Each day write down at least one provision God has given you, and thank him for it. It may be as simple as God’s provision of food for that day or a roof over your head or a friend who called to ask you how you are doing.

Giving thanks ought to be a continual practice in our lives when things are going well, and when things stink. Even in our most difficult days, there is at least something (even if it is small) for which we can be thankful. Putting an entry into a “Thank you, God” journal every day helps us slowly turn from our sadness and begin to see possibilities. It forces us to observe what God has done and find reassurance of what he can do.

A PWC member, Denise Waters, felt compelled to write down at least five things she was thankful for every day. This attitude of gratitude so transformed her life and her way of thinking that she even created a guided journal called Give Thanks 5 A Day, which has a place each day to write down five things for which you are grateful. Try the principles of giving thanks each day, and you will find it will begin to transform your thinking as well. Most importantly, it will help you open your eyes to God’s care and the way he is working in your life day by day.  I know you will experience a lift in your attitude and spirit.

Are You In a Rut?

Join us at Positive Woman Connection. Donna Skell will be our speaker.

Tuesday, August 24 from 12 – 1 at Prestonwood Country Club.

Here are some thoughts about facing disappointments.

In a Rut

Are you stuck? I mean emotionally stuck, grieving or frustrated by the way things turned out. Getting stuck can happen to any of us, often without our even recognizing it. We may be traveling delightfully along life’s pathway, when—boom!—things change, and we must adjust. Often our emotions are still lingering in pain. When our heart sinks at the loss of a dream, we can be deeply saddened because things didn’t turn out as we thought they should or would. We can grope through a wide range of feelings such as frustration, disappointment, anger, and grief.

We must adequately face our grief, but we must also accept our new set of circumstances and move on. The challenging question is how do we move through grief and toward acceptance? Most of us have never taken a course in “How to Handle Disappointment.” We simply stumble through the emotions and pain, hoping to find joy once again. How do you know if you are stuck in a rut? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your thoughts constantly consumed with your disappointment?
  • Do you continue to rehash the situation over and over again in conversations?
  • Are you holding a grudge against the person who hurt you?
  • Do you keep playing the if-only-this-hadn’t-happened scenario in your mind?
  • Are you savoring a poor-me mentality?
  • Do you repeatedly tell people who are trying to help you, “You just don’t know how hard my life is”? (Exception: if you are in an abusive situation, be honest. Get help and tell a counselor or friend how bad it is immediately.)

 

If you identified yourself in any of these statements, you may be stuck, but you can move forward. I know it has been hard and you must grieve over your loss, but there comes a time when you need to climb out of your sadness and grief and move on. Honestly, it is easy to wallow in a rut without recognizing it. Some people stay there because they like playing the victim role. Others enjoy the attention they get from their sad story. Many people stay in a rut simply because they don’t recognize they have fallen into it, and they haven’t thought about how to get out. They just don’t know how to take a first step toward happiness again. Yes, we must grieve our loss, and at a certain point we must move on.  Next week’s blog will talk about some steps to take in moving forward.

This blog entry comes from an excerpt of my book Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive – Passionately Live the Life you Didn’t Plan (Howard Books, Simon & Schuster)