Stepping into 2016

I don’t know about you, but for me 2015 was one of the most difficult years I’ve had. There are issues I’m still working through which I can’t comment on, but in December my future was looking too dark for my comfort. I’m thankful that a few things happened in December to turn things around.

*I was able to get some extra sleep

*Some understanding friends helped me have fun and relax

*I spent a few days reading my Bible, reading some books, praying, and thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2016 

*I worked through some exercises in the workbook which accompanies The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

*Shelley Hitz of Author Audience Academy offered members Plan it Day: The World is Waiting, a helpful series of videos and worksheets

As a result, I was able to step into 2016 with a renewed perspective. 

My key word for 2016 is HOPE!

2016 Hope

Some of my goals this year:

*Memorize & meditate on verses from Ephesians (I have a group of friends who have agreed to cheer me on and hold me accountable in this area.)

*Be more mindful of what I’m eating and why (I’ve been reading Women, Food, and Desire by Alexandra Jamieson. Although I don’t agree with her worldview, I’m finding a lot of helpful information to help me conquer my bad eating habits.)

*Exercise at least 2x/week (I have a treadmill to use.)

*De clutter our house (I’m trying out DeClutter 365: Daily 15 Minute Missions )

*Write, record, publish, and market a book with imbedded MP3s on Hope (This project has been on my mind for months. Stay tuned for more details.)

As you step into 2016, what are your goals or aspirations? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.


Tips for Supporting Aging Parents

Note: This is a companion post to Spending Time with My Dad, which is on the Beautiful Life blog today. 

The river of life presents all of us with a variety of challenges and celebrations. Maneuvering through the rapids of aging is demanding for most families. This is a time fraught with changes in health, living arrangements, and control over decision-making. Today I’d like to share some tips I’m learning and still trying to put into practice as I try to support my aging parents.

Listen

It’s all to easy for me to jump to conclusions, share unwanted opinions, and try to take over. Instead, I’m trying to learn to listen – not only to the words that are spoken, but to the reasons and feelings behind those words. If I want to support my parents, I need to know where they are coming from and what their wishes are. They have enough to deal with, without added stress from me.

Trust God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God is still the same, no matter what else may change. I can find my security in Him, no matter what I’m dealing with. God loves my parents more than I ever could. I can trust God to take care of them.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Making decisions can be difficult, but God will guide and give wisdom if we ask.

Start discussing transitions early

The first time we as children discussed moving our parents out of their home, both parents were both adamant they were staying in their home until they died. Nobody argued with them. Instead we just presented information, stated we wanted to support them, and listened. A few years later, our parents told us they were moving – a decision they made on their own.

Start family meetings

If you don’t have family meetings already, start having them. These meetings may look different for families. Some may feel more comfortable playing a game or doing some type of activity while they talk. Others will work better if everyone is seated around the living room ready to talk. We decided not to have extraneous activity, but rather to sit and talk, with one person taking minutes. Any member of the family is able to add items to the agenda. At our family meetings we have discussed everything from a major move to just getting a health update.

Have an open mind

It’s easy to act out of emotions like fear. It’s also easy to see things only from our own perspective. As caregivers, we need to learn to approach things from different perspectives, or at least be open to hearing other perspectives BEFORE we make decisions. We should always try to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, including our parent’s. As children, we may have unresolved conflicts with our parents which affect our decision making. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Do you have other tips to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


When Life Takes a Surprising Turn

This morning I read a devotional called, “Live where you Land,” from Moments of Peace in the Presence of God. The author recounts the story of a balloonist who carefully plotted his way, only to have wind blow him places he never expected to go. His response to each new destination?

“Had I known about this place I would have planned all along to land here.”

Most of us have plans for our lives – where we want to live, when we want to get married, how many children we want to have, what kind of work we want to do, goals we want to accomplish. However, life often takes surprising turns. Some surprises turn out to be very enjoyable. Others, not so much. However, many times we cannot control what happens.

In Philippians 4:11 Paul says, “I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.” (Amplified Version) I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning that lesson. I’m the type of person who likes to plan. I like to know what’s happening, and why. My husband and children have “encouraged” me to be more flexible than I used to be, but . . .

I often tell my children:

We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can always choose our attitude.

Paul also talks about attitude:

“Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20 (NLT)

You mean God expects us to not only be content with what happens, but to also give thanks? Yikes! This one I’m definitely still learning. A while ago I was challenged by Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 GiftsShe recounts the story of what happened when she took her friend’s dare to find 1,000 things to give thanks for.

Today’s a new day. Goals are good. Thanksgiving in all things is best. Today, even though I wanted to stay in my warm bed longer, I’m thankful for the warm drink in my hands. Even though my husband left without giving me a hug this morning, I’m thankful that he is committed to our marriage. And though I don’t know what the rest of the day holds (it’s just about time for me to go wake the kids), I’m thankful the God who created the universe walks beside me (and sometimes carries me!).

What will you choose to be thankful for today?


Who or what do you worship?

Whether we realize it or not, we all worship or at least give priority to certain things in our lives. Sometimes we are very intentional in how we use our time. At others, we get to the end of the day and wonder where all our time went.

I choose to worship the God of the Bible. Who or what do you worship?


Put your armour on!

In the physical realm, gravity is at work, whether we acknowledge it or not. In the spiritual realm, we are in a battle, whether we realize it or not. As a child I witnessed the power of witch doctors and their spells, the evil power that allows people to walk on coals with bare feet and not get burned, and the fear people have of angering a spirit or god. These are sample evidences of the reality of the great cosmic battle which is described in Scripture. Lucifer is described as the most beautiful of angels, and the most powerful. We are told he was not content with the role he was created for. He wanted to be God. So he rebelled, and God banished him and his followers from Heaven.

Throughout Scripture we see further evidence of the battle:

  • Satan telling Eve that God didn’t really mean what He said. Adam and Eve choosing to disobey. Sin entering the world (Genesis 3)
  • The story of Job which gives us a glimpse into discussions between God and Satan. God gives Satan permission to prove Job’s character. (Job 1)
  • Daniel, who prayed and fasted for three weeks and didn’t see results. He is informed that his prayers were heard on the first day, but the answer was delayed because, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days.” (Daniel 10)
  • Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians to put on “the whole armour of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-15)

In North America, I find that most people do not take spiritual warfare seriously. We are in a battle. It’s time to put our armour on and stand against Satan and his angels. Our weapons are truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the Word of God, and prayer.

Are you armed and ready?


When our schedules are full and we are pushed from one thing to another, we can still choose peace. Philippains 4:6,7 explains how.

Peace in a troubled world – Philippians 4:6,7

Yesterday I talked about learning to be still and listen. But what happens when our schedules are full and we are pushed from one thing to another? (Sometimes this is an indication our schedules are over full and we need to plan some “white space” on our calendars. Other times life just happens, and we are not able to change our schedules.) We can still choose peace!

Here are some thoughts that encouraged me this morning:

  • Nothing is ever a surprise to God
  • When I’m weak, it gives God a chance to really shine. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
  • Others are going through much tougher times than I am. Especially my brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith. Instead of complaining or getting discouraged, I can choose to pray for them. This does two things: it gets my focus off myself and it gets me praying.

Philippians 4:6,7 is a passage I’m choosing to put into action today. I’m talking to God about the things that are heavy on my mind and thanking Him for taking care of them. That frees me up to use my energy for the day ahead.

Will you join me in praying with thanksgiving and allowing God’s peace to rule?


Psalm 46:10 – Be still

Every night we have a story time and prayer with our children before bed. For the past few years, we’ve been reading missionary biographies together, mostly from the Christian Heroes Then & Now series. Currently we are reading Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent by Janet & Geoff Benge. A description of a particular prayer meeting Brother Andrew attended caught my attention. Instead of sharing prayer requests and praying out loud together, this group was silent. Each person spent time “listening” instead. No one prayed out loud until they felt God impressing them to pray specifically about something or for someone.

Too often I find myself rushing through a list of requests. Instead, I want to learn to listen. This takes discipline in our noisy, fast-paced world. I need to be still. I think it’s going to take time for me to learn to be still and listen, but I’m excited about what God is going to show me.

What has God been teaching you lately?


Lessons in Trust and Technology

Lessons in trust and technology

 

Sometimes I just have to laugh. (I’d rather laugh than cry, wouldn’t you?!) After I posted last time, I ran into major technology issues. It all started quite innocently, with the addition of a new e-mail address. After the creation of the e-mail address, I wanted to add it to my e-mail program so that I don’t have to check e-mail on the web. Although I thought I had the address configured properly into my Apple Mail program, I soon discovered I made some errors, which not only resulted in me not being able to access my new e-mail address, but also resulted in me not being able to access my website, or the website of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, or the admin panel for either of these websites. Why? Because my IP address was singled out as the source of a possible virus . . .  and blocked. This happened on May 21st and today is the first day I’ve had access to all my services again!

At first I felt stressed, frantic. I’m in the middle of taking an excellent course from Shelley Hitz, called Author Audience Academy. I started the section of the course on building an e-mail list, only to find myself locked out of my website. I couldn’t change anything, I couldn’t apply what I was learning, I couldn’t even look at my website.

Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I decided to focus on what I could do. I’m also in the middle of writing my second how-to book for Twitter (Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps). My original goal was to have the rough draft finished at the end of last week. That didn’t happen. I still have three chapters to write and edit. I’ve already told people I’m going to publish it the end of June and next week I’m going to Write Canada, which means no time for writing. More cause for panic . . .  Or not. As I thought about it, I remembered that I could upload a draft copy and put the book up for pre-sale. As long as that happens in June, people will be happy because they know the book is on its way. That gives me some breathing space and allows me to finish the book well. It also gives me time to get the book to beta readers for feedback. (If you’d like to be one of my beta readers, e-mail me!)

Although I wasn’t able to post on my own blog, I was still able to write two posts which were shared on other blogs:

 


Shadow (German Shepherd/Collie/Mongrel) joined our family when our oldest daughter was eighteen months old. He died peacefully in his sleep when she was fifteen, under the trampoline where he spent many hours “supervising” as our children played and jumped above him. He lived a full, long life, but it was hard to say “Goodbye” or think of replacing him. Nine months ago a beautiful white bundle of energy (Husky/Malamut) joined our family. Our children named him Olaf, after the snowman from the movie, Frozen. Olaf has reminded me of several important truths regarding parenting (Click here to read the rest of this post on A Beautiful Life.)

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” -William Wordsworth

It started at the breakfast table. After we read about what qualities God looks for in a person and how we should look beyond people’s actions and appearances.

“You’re dumb. I don’t like you.”

“I don’t like you either.”

“Mom, Levi’s bugging me.”

I sighed. My husband was already at work. “Are you guys being kind to one another?”

They gave me crooked grins and shook their heads. It was quiet for a few milliseconds before they were at each other,  again.

(Click here to read the rest of this post on InScribe Writers Online)

I believe God’s timing is perfect. I know that He is trustworthy. But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of HIM.

What have you been learning about technology and/or trust lately?