We Can Make Our Plans, But…

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Breaking his foot on the first day of our Italian vacation was not exactly what my husband had planned for our trip. We spent our first day in Florence in the hospital ER.  Fun! Normally on a trip like this, we would be walking around the city, taking pictures of Renaissance chapels and sculptures, but instead we were waiting for hours for a picture of my husband’s foot.

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After three hours of thumbing through old Italian magazines in the waiting room while Curt was waiting in another room for his X-rays, I finally decided to explore the hospital. I found a spot to sit outside and enjoy the Italian sunshine. As I soaked up some rays, I happened to notice a couple of tourists who looked like they were on a hunt for a hidden treasure.

I watched them walk through a small, inconspicuous wooden door behind me. Hmmm….where were they going? I just had to find out and see what they were up to.  So, like Alice chasing the white rabbit, I followed the tourist through the little door  – and to my surprise I walked into a magnificent 15th century chapel. Inside the hospital! Who knew? I was truly taken by the beauty and reverence of this sacred place. For me, it was a bright spot on our less-than-spectacular day.

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Although our trip didn’t start off on the right foot (no pun intended), we weathered the twists and turns and persevered. And we learned to discover the beauty along the way. Italian lesson number one: we can make our plans, but then we must be willing to adjust and find the simple joys in Plan B. And if you ever find yourself in the ER in the middle of Florence, check out the chapel behind the wooden door!

 

Five Ways to Boost Your Confidence

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How many times have you said no to something simply because you lacked the confidence to do it? Granted, we don’t need to say yes to every crazy opportunity that presents itself, but there are times when we ought to step forward and have a little faith in our own abilities. In fact, that’s what the word confidence means – with faith. So how do we increase our belief in our own abilities? Let’s consider five ways:

Try New Things – You never know until you try. Your belief in yourself grows when you try something new and grow from the experience. Don’t be afraid of mistakes – they happen. What is important is that you step forward in courage and face the fear of the unknown.

Grow from Every Blunder – Instead of beating yourself up and thinking of yourself as a failure, use every mistake as a growth opportunity. Allow errors to make you smarter and stronger. Most success stories are built on the foundation of lessons learned from mistakes.

Build on Your Strengths – What are you good at? Take stock of the things you do well and continue to strengthen those areas of your life. As we learn, grow and build in our areas of giftedness, we continue to get better and better at what we do and of course our self-confidence grows as a result.

Manage Around Your Weaknesses – Just as each of us have areas of strength, we also have a few weak spots. Don’t let them get you down, rather learn to work around them. Figure out ways to delegate or get the help you need so that your limitations don’t stifle you or impair you from doing what you do best.

Stop Comparing with Others – It never helps to think of yourself in relation to other people. Comparisons only breed pride or poor self-esteem. Be thankful for the unique way that God has created you, and use your gifts to serve and help others.

Ultimately our confidence is built on a belief system. If we believe that a loving God designed us, formed us and created us for a purpose, then we can walk in confidence knowing that He has a plan for our lives. We can also have the assurance that we do not walk alone. His Spirit leads us and guides us each step of the way as we look to Him for wisdom, strength and hope.

Where do you lack confidence? Ask God to help you face your fears. And remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

For more on Confidence check out my book, A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.

Living with Courage

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God is in the courage-giving business. Throughout the Bible we hear the call again and again, “Fear not for I am with you.” God’s message is one of faith and courage, not fear and trembling. From Abraham, to Joshua, to Mary to the shepherds in the field, God has been proclaiming to the generations, “Do not be afraid.” In the Psalms we are reminded, “Even when I walk through the darkest valleys, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” There is comfort in knowing we are not alone, that God is close beside us through our difficulties. What a reassurance comes when we remember God’s voice saying, “I am with you.”

I’m reminded of the encouragement God gave Joshua as he took over the leadership of the Israelites,

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

God wanted Joshua to continually meditate on His commands and to walk in courage. The Israelite leader had to face many difficult battles, but God gave him what he needed for each battle. God doesn’t want us to live in the discouragement of fear, but rather the courage of knowing He is with us.

Powerful Truth

We can replace our fears with faith in God and with seeking His wisdom and direction.

Plan of Action

  • Recognize the fears that lurk in your life.
  • Seek God’s direction and help.
  • Praise and thank God in the midst of your worries and fears.
  • Remember the battle is the Lord’s.
  • Do not be discouraged and do not give into despair.
  • Ask for His peace that passes all understanding.
  • Walk forward with wisdom, patience and faith.

 

This blog is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

Finding Your Flow

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Do you ever get so wrapped up in a hobby or activity  or even work that you lose all sense of time? For me, I often become immersed in what I am writing, and hours can slip away without me even noticing. For others, it may be training for a race or designing a floral arrangement or accomplishing a new song on the piano or working on a creative project at work. Being completely immersed or absorbed in an activity that is challenging, yet geared toward your skills is described as the joyful state of flow.

Contemporary psychologist say that flow is highly correlated with happiness. Furthermore, studies have found that people who often experience flow are likely to develop additional positive traits such as self-esteem, focus and greater performance. Flow is not something forced, rather it is intrinsically motivated. It’s what Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, spoke about when he said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

How beautiful it is to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit to work through our unique gifts to bring glory to God and blessings to others. God has equipped each of us with different interests, passions and abilities, and we can experience great pleasure as we express them in this world. As believers in Christ, we have the joy of knowing that God’s Spirit works in mighty ways through us, as He not only gives us gifts, but enables us to use them.

Jesus said, “Whoever believe in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Invite the flow of His Spirit to pour through you this week.

 

Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

Positive Focus for 2019

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As the New Year approaches it offers us a great opportunity to readjust, refocus and reconsider our priorities and goals. I encourage you to take some alone time to mediate and pray about how you want to approach 2019. Here are some points to ponder as you prepare for the coming year.

Word for the Year – Choose one word to focus on throughout the year. It will help you stay grounded and observant as you consider all that God wants to teach you in relation to that word.

This year my word is Truth. I want to seek the truth, speak the truth, live the truth. I also ask the Lord to lead me to a verse that goes with my word for the year. My verse comes from Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 This year I plan to dwell on both the word and the verse and consider all it means in my life and my community.

Three Priorities – Consider three priorities for the coming year. Write them down and every month revisit these three priorities and consider how they are playing out in your life.

My three priorities for 2019 are:

FamilyEngage Positive Parenting Initiative and Writing

What are your three? Share them with several other people, so that they can ask you about them and keep you accountable.

Seven Questions to ask yourself – As you transition from one year to the next, it is healthy to take an honest look at yourself and consider what needs to change in order to move forward. Here are seven questions to contemplate:

  1. What are the important lessons I learned from last year?
  2. What areas or habits do I need to change from last year?
  3. What new habits do I want to start this year?
  4. What are some of my dreams for 2019? What is it that I want to accomplish?
  5. What positive changes will I need to make in order to reach my goals?
  6. Who are some people I want to invest in or mentor this year?
  7. Who are some people I want to get to know better this year?

 

My dad often shared this simple phrase, “Everyday in every way you’re getting better and better.” Yes, we should all be bent on improvement! Let’s move forward, not backward, as we start the new year. I hope it is a great 2019 for you as you focus on the potential of what God can do through you to be a positive influence in this world.

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash