Inspired Change

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Have you ever found yourself in a place where you know something has to change but you aren’t sure what next step to take? Have you stayed in a place out of a sense of obligation when you know something isn’t right? Have you wondered if it is time to move on yet you feel trapped or you fear the change?

I think we all have these struggles from time to time. Change is a choice. We can choose to stay in the uncomfortable zone and ‘suffer through’ it or we can choose to ask for help to discern which next step to take. For me, this decision starts with prayer and asking others to pray with me so that I can get out of my head and away from emotions that might influence my decision to stay or to bolt.

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Pushing Through

I am no a fan of the cold. I am much happier in my flip flops and a little sweater. But it looks like winter isn’t going to skip us this year after all and I have to face that reality. I have to push through my belief that we should be warm all year and face the fact that I am going drag out my coat.

Life is like that. We have choices to make about where we are today and where we want to be tomorrow. We need to look at what we need to change to improve our circumstances and decide if we are going to commit to that change. We may have to do things we would prefer not to do to get where we need to be.  Or are we going dig in and wait for the world to come around?

Be proactive! 

Look to the future with anticipation. If that means you have to make some changes today, then make some changes. If you have to put your boots on and drudge through some snow and mud to get to the other side, then be willing to do it and do it! If you have to set aside your flip flops for a while because it’s the right thing to do, then put them away until you are in a better place to enjoy the things you love.

A young man I know loves to play hockey. Unfortunately he has suffered another concussion and he has made the choice to step out as a player. It is a hard choice but he has realized that the long-term effects could negatively impact the rest of his life. He still loves the game and will find a new way to engage. He is hanging up his pads and facing the reality that something has to change for him to move forward. It won’t be easy, but it is what is best.

Maybe there is something from which you need to disengage to improve your circumstances. Maybe you need to add something to step towards your goal. Consider what that might be and share that idea with someone. Ask them to pray with you and to support you as you transition. 

Create a new positive and healthy reality. Push through that which holds you back and embrace the possibility of what can be. 

Bridging the Vision Gap

Have you ever had a vision and been overwhelmed by the thought of what it will take to reach your goal? This can happen when we aren’t sure how we will get from where we are to where we want to be. The gap may seem far too wide to overcome, especially if we focus too much on those final steps that will bring our dream to fruition. We may even feel as if we are sitting in the fog, full of ideas and yet uncertain how to implement a plan.

I am a planner. I like to lay out all the necessary steps I will execute to achieve my end-goal. This includes all the things I don’t know how to do or the things that are out of my control. If I look too far ahead I am likely to freeze in place because these things seem too insurmountable to me. For example, I am building a ministry for singles. I believe that God has given me a vision for this ministry; however, I have so many questions about the organizational structure, finances, and who will attend our gatherings that I find myself too overwhelmed to move ahead.

I am overwhelmed first by the vision and mission and secondly by the demands on me as the leader of something I have wanted to do for the last 30 years. Thankfully, I have wonderful spiritual advisors and partners who have counseled me to just start. I have stepped out in faith without worrying about what will happen on the journey and without answers to all of my questions. I am taking one step after another, prayerfully considering each step and in consultation with others who hold me accountable. We are getting closer to launching the ministry and with each day I am gaining more clarity about what to do next.

So what does this mean for you? If the answer to my first question is, “yes, I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do,” I would suggest you write your vision and mission statement. Then consider where you are and where you want to be and write down some of the major milestones you need to accomplish to close the gap. Once you lay out your milestones, start at the first milestone and list the most important things you need to accomplish to reach that milestone. If you are able, go to the next milestone and describe the actions you need to complete for each subsequent milestone. Write them down even if you have no idea how you will complete them. By the time you have written down the milestones you need to achieve you will see that it is much easier to bridge the gap from here to there. Post your plan somewhere as a visual reminder of your first objective and to all that you have accomplished as you move closer and closer to the final result.

Take the first step now. Pray about the others. Trust that God will guide you and as you experience success in those first steps, build confidence that God will get you through the rest.

Be bold. Be fearless. Step forward!

Grief Life

We planned for our future.

We had a vision for our lives.

Together we would do this.

Then one day;

You were gone.

The future we planned no more.

The vision detached,

Distrupting my life.

No more together adventures.

Me alone

The world turned upside down.

New plans to imagine.

New routines to make.

New life to find;

With others.

Stuck between what was,

What is, and yet to come.

Pulling myself forward,

Out of the dark;

Into the unknown.

Looking for his plan in this.

Holding onto faith.

Yearning for love.

Hiding from tears.

Praying for me.

Resting in his will.

Trusting in his love.

Shattered pieces healing.

New life emerging;

Breathing…living

Finding new purpose.

Walking a new path.

Willingly restored.

Stepping forward.

From grief to life.

A Season of Purpose

Living with purpose isn’t about how much we do. It is NOT about making ourselves feel better or relevant. Living with purpose is about having a heart for others that compels us to serve our brothers and sisters. Purpose is the result of a changed heart that propels us into action, with little thought about what we get out of it. It is a heart that overflows with excitement to be there for another human—to share our love and our gifts that someone’s life too may be changed. Continue reading

Chasing the Wind to Find Pleasure

Whether you are an early boomer or a late boomer, I think it is a fair assumption that we are a generation looking back and wondering how we ever got where we are today. Some of us hang onto our hippy roots and others have suited up and left Woodstock far in their past. No matter where you have been, it is the now that matters the most. Even as we contemplate our purpose and life-vision for the retiring years of our lives, it is what we do today that will make the difference in our tomorrow.

Solomon writes about his life journey—the riches and success he gained only to be left feeling empty. He tried pleasure-seeking, only to become more distraught by the lack of joy in his life and the rut he now found himself living. I mean this is the guy who worked hard at finding happiness and yet he still struggled to find happiness in his circumstances. He had it all, and still he felt as if he had nothing. Ever feel that way? I know I have. Continue reading

Joyful Anticipation

Author and coach, Gary Collins writes that our visions “must be about potential for the future but anchored in the realities of the present.”[1] Our vision is about where we want to go and are best achieved when we are enthusiastic about achieving our goal(s). Having a joyful anticipation about our future will keep us moving forward when we encounter obstacles or stumbling blocks on our journey. We need to be mindful that there will be times when it seems like there is little progress forward. If we are not careful, those are the times our vision might fade.

So you have a vision. You wrote it down. You shared it with another person. You prayed. You asked others to pray. And now you are thinking about implementing your vision. When your vision began to emerge you probably were excited and overjoyed because you could see a purpose for your life. You knew what God was calling you to do. You were overjoyed and anticipating living the dream.

And then you realized that the end goal is farther away than you would like. You can see where you are and where you want to be and it is a huge cavern.

There are times when the anticipation of achieving our goals or living the vision may overwhelm us and we avoid setting smaller, achievable target goals. I’m what StrengthFinders calls an “activator.” I want to get on down the road. I have a ‘let’s get it done” mentality. I don’t do slow. I am frustrated because I have been told by experts that it may take three years or more to successfully achieve my vision. At times I have lost the joy and questioned the vision, only to talk to others and realize that I am not working the plan. I am trying to cut corners and becoming frustrated because I haven’t laid a strong enough foundation to keep the process moving forward. The joy returns when I am willing to step back and do what needs to be done, trusting that with every day I am moving closer to the goal

This is the building the bridge to fill the gap time. This is the time for thinking about short-term goals that you can readily achieve and upon which you can build some success. This is the time to start asking the tough questions about where you are, where you want to be, and how you will get there. It is time to develop an action plan that you will commit to executing. Bridge planning is critical to closing the gap and maintaining your joy while keeping the vision in your sights.  You need to start from where you are. If you start building your bridge without laying those first few planks—boring as it may seem—your bridge will collapse and you may begin to think you were wrong about your vision.

Don’t let your lack of planning undermine your joy and take away the anticipation for your future. If you have been fortunate enough to discover your vision, articulate your vision by writing it down and sharing it with someone you trust. You are looking down a long tunnel and it is important that you clarify the image of your vision. No matter how clear our vision seems it will become blurry if you fail to also articulate the steps you will take to get from here to there. Don’ t let a lack of planning steal your joyful anticipation for the future.

“Passion is empowering. You may bludgeon it, suppress it, squash it, or lose sight of it, but it is a given, a constant. Your passion is ready and willing to provide all the stamina and inspiration you need.”

Richard Chang, The Passion Plan as read in Christian Coaching, Gary R. Collns.

[1] Collins, Gary R. (2009) Christian coaching: helping others turn potential into reality. NAVPRESS: Colorado Springs, CO