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Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

I recently came across the following quote sometimes attributed to motivational speaker Tony Robbins: “If you do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.”

The quote resonates with me, because I am preparing to launch a new book the same way I launched the previous two, yet expecting it to sell better than they did. How can I honestly expect anything different if my plan of action is the same as it was? Or if I don’t really have a plan? Obviously, I desperately need to redirect the process this time.

              photo credit to pixabay.com

If my expectations aren’t being met, if my goals go unachieved, then something has to change.

How will I go about making the necessary changes?

  1. Become aware of the problem. In other words, stop pretending it’s not there. Stop denying.
  2. Decide what I want to accomplish. What are my goals? My expectations?
  3. Decide when I want to accomplish my goals.
  4. Decide how to meet these goals. This may take a bit more effort to break down, but this might be a good time to put the SMART method into action. I was reminded of this at an InScribe WorDshop I attended in Saskatoon this spring, in a workshop led by Sally Meadows, who expanded the acronym to SMARTER:

S — Specific

M— Measurable

A— Actionable

R— Risky (discomfort can be a catalyst for growth)

T— Time-keyed

E— Exciting

R— Relevant

  1. And one more thing. I need to make myself accountable to someone, at regular intervals. I need to reassess my progress from time to time. And I need that objective viewpoint to encourage me forward.

               photo credit to pixabay.com

Even if the changes I make are small, the outcome will improve. And life is for learning.

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In my younger years, I had many role models, people I admired and looked up to. Usually, they were—in my estimation—older than I, smarter, morally admirable, and unfailingly kind.

As I grew older, I was often disappointed by these people. Either they acted in a manner unfitting for them, or they spoke unkindly to me or someone I cared about, or they turned out not to be as confident as I thought they were.

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I realize now that I held people up as examples when I shouldn’t have, but at the time, I needed someone to model myself after, people who shared certain expectations and beliefs I had for myself. I know now that while attempting to withhold judgment on others, I still must take care to evaluate the lives of those I set up to emulate.

Looking at it from the other side, how many times have I come up short in the eyes of others who may have held me up as an example? We don’t always keep this in mind when we act, or speak.

We can’t live to please everyone, but we can certainly aim to live within the values we claim to hold. My dad used to say, jokingly, “Don’t do what I do; do what I tell you.” But if we truly care about our example and our values, we will attempt to live accordingly. (Dad did a great job, by the way; one of my best role models.)

I still have people in my life who I value highly enough to emulate, but the only way I can think of to live it out myself is to follow the only unfailing example I know: Jesus. A perfect man who is also God Almighty. Others can and do inspire me. Others motivate me. But they can also disappoint. Jesus is the only one who doesn’t let me down. I don’t always understand his ways, but I know they are true and right and good. And I’m so thankful that he gives us the example to follow.

What reflection do we see in life’s mirror?

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Donna Gartshore’s Love Inspired novel, Instant Father, is sweet, strongly principled and spiritually spot-on, a romance with depth.

Charlotte Connelly, an elementary teacher in a small town near Regina, SK, has always wanted to make her own decisions about life, so she submits her resume for overseas mission work. Meanwhile, she meets the uncle/guardian of one of her students and begins to care about both of them more than she expects to.

Paul Belvedere has become the guardian of his sister’s son, left an orphan after a fatal accident. He meets Tyson’s teacher, but resolves not to be influenced in spite of her obvious care for his nephew.

Will Charlotte and Paul develop enough trust between them to share long-held secrets that have negatively impacted the quality of their lives? Will they be able to overcome the obstacles that continue to spring up between them?

Friend and fellow author, Donna Gartshore, has crafted a lovely romance that addresses various themes including hearing the call of God, dealing with grief as an adult and as a child, literacy, mission work, and friendships, to name a few. She creates well-rounded, believable characters and a plot filled with tension and twists. Well worth the read and 5 stars!

Donna Gartshore

To read an interview with Donna, please go to my website.

 

 

 

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Last night we listened to a short devotional podcast about a horse that ran in the Preakness Stakes and won against all odds, in spite of a stumble. The jockey clung to the horse’s neck, thinking every moment might be his last in a fatal fall. But he hung on and the horse kept running. If either the jockey or the horse had given up, they would never have won the race, and might well have been severely injured or killed.

The podcast reminded me of an incident in my life from at least fifteen years ago. We had invited friends over, and *Rose and I, both horse-lovers, decided to go for a ride. I hadn’t been riding much in the previous years, so my skills and flexibility had declined. Use it or lose it! But we had a lovely start to the trek across recently harvested fields bordered by shrubs in their autumnal glory.

However, when we turned out horses back to the yard, mine decided to run directly home, as fast as he could. He disregarded my tugs on the reins, so I grabbed one rein to turn him in a circle. My attempt was successful in slowing him down from his headlong dash, but in the meanwhile, I had unseated myself and begun to slip from the saddle. My arms and legs were quaking with the effort of holding on, and I considered just letting go and falling to the soft earth. But then I thought of the repercussions of such a decision: the ground might not be as soft as it looked, I might fall underneath instead of beside the hooves, I might land wrong and break an arm…

The short version of the story is that I decided I could not risk a fall. As difficult as it was to hang on, I did. *Rose managed to grab my horse’s bridle and hold him while I pulled myself upright, still shaking in every muscle.

Life can be a headlong dash, and often we are tempted to take an easy way out, too tired or discouraged to hang on. But if we consider the implications of letting go, they are often worse than the current struggle. With the love and encouragement of friends—and the odd blogger—and faith in the God who has it all planned, we can persevere, hang on, finish the race.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,

I have kept the faith…”

2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

*name has been changed

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One spring day some years ago, while I was having a morning devotional and prayer time, a certain friend came to mind, and I felt I should drop in on her. To be honest, dropping in on people is not something I do often. But “they say” that if you hear the voice of God’s Spirit in your heart and ignore it, it will start to diminish. If you hear and obey, your recognition of the heart voice will gain strength. I decided to go.

When I entered the house of my friend and told her of the prompting I’d felt, she started to cry. She was going through a trial with one of her children that we had gone through with one of ours, and I was able to share my heart with her, pray with her, and assure her that in time, all would work out. Which it did.

Yesterday, I met a woman at church whom I had not met before. I introduced myself and we had a nice conversation, after which she invited me to come to her home for tea sometime. I called and arranged a time for later that week. Being an introvert who loves to stay home, I knew I had to do it immediately or I never would. I was already second-guessing my decision, trying to justify a way out. I mentioned it to my dear husband, and he said, “You should go.” A book I was reading included a similar instance that paralleled mine, and another book I was reviewing also suggested the same. Go.

I went. We had a nice chat over tea and found we were spiritual sisters. We may never be close friends, but I had obeyed the voice in my spirit.

The point is not so much the outcome, which isn’t in my hands anyway, but our willingness to obey the voice of God and follow through, to be involved in God’s ministry in this world, even in a small way.

I’m not always in tune with God’s promptings, nor do I always obey. But when I do, I feel joy that only comes from a growing relationship with my Savior. I pray the same for you.

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My last remaining aunt passed away yesterday (at the time of this writing). She was my mom’s youngest sister at 88, but her health wasn’t good. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it always is. This passing. This finality.

The past few years have reduced the family generation above me to nothing. My dad’s been gone for twenty-five years, and even though he came from a large family, all his siblings and their spouses are also deceased.

Marg – Mom (2), Erna (5), Mary (1) Beth (4), Kay (3)

My mom was the second-born of five. The eldest passed a number of years before Mom, the third in line was next, but Mom carried on quite happily until her 95thyear. She passed beginning of November 2017, then her next youngest sister went in December, and her youngest sib left us this January.

And that’s it. The older generation is no more.

My brother and I spoke of this recently. “Everybody’s dying,” he said. I agreed, and added that our generation is next in line. It’s a sobering thought.

Aging is a process best understood, unfortunately, when our time is nearly up! Most of us find a comfortable age and continue to “live there” as long as our bodies allow us to deceive ourselves. Suddenly we are old, and have no idea how it happened.

There are several ways to handle this issue of mortality:

— ignore it…but it won’t go away

— embrace it…but you will age more quickly (I aged a lot when Mom lived with us her last year)

— gain a balanced perspective…we were not made for this world only

To further explain the third option, this life is short, and for many people on this earth, very difficult. I’ve been blessed with love and “more-than-enough” my whole life, and yet I can find things to complain about. But the point is, this life is only a training ground, a weeding out, if you will, for eternity.

Three generations: daughter Wendy, me, Mom

We were made for Eden, but we goofed it up big-time. Then the One who created us had mercy and took our punishment for our sin by sending His only Son—that’s Jesus—so we could be free from the penalty for our failure. And now, IF we accept His unmerited gift of grace, we can look forward to eternity in heaven as a reward for accepting mercy. How cool is that?

Yes, the journey may be unfamiliar, even frightening, but the destination will be worth it all.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

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I started reading the book of Matthew on January 1, using the theme: with new eyes. I want to see God’s Word in a fresh way in 2019.

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Matthew 11:3 features John the Baptist’s question to Jesus: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” John had obeyed God, and was now sitting in a cold, dank jail cell, his earthly future bleak. Perhaps—and I’m speculating here—he’d expected something entirely different from the Messiah he had prophesied about. The Jewish traditions handed down through the centuries may have created another expectation in his mind.

Jesus’ reply to John’s messengers (verses 4-6) was curt. “Go back and report to John what you hear and see…Blessed is the man who does not fall away because of me.”

As I read the first few verses of chapter eleven, I was reminded of a podcast my husband and I listened to recently by Ron Hutchcraft. The idea was that if we live life with expectation, we sometimes miss the freshness of a brand-new message. But, if we live with expectancy, we can be open to God’s surprises.

How often do my limited expectations get in the way of experiencing the newness of living in God’s Kingdom? If I live in expectancy, I am watching for whatever God has in his creative mind.

So, one of my goals this year is to live in expectancy of all God has for me, in all areas of my life. That’s definitely more exciting than my own expectations.

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