On to The Lighter Walk

Friends,

I have moved my writing to a new blog. I have changed the direction in my writing to seeking and finding God in our environment. 

Please follow my new blog: The Lighter Walk and take the next part of my Walk with God with me!

Click here to read more. 

Thank you,

Maggie 

Advertisements

Finding the Sweet Spot

A dear friend keeps reminding me of that adage that says people will make time to do what they want to do and will spend money on what is most important to them. It has been eating at me for days because I thought that I was not in sync with what I believe I have been hearing from God.

I love to write. I love writing this blog.

I love encouraging people, espcially people in recovery or searching for healing.

I love my church and the women I have come to know in the wider Christian community.

I love ice hockey and I love writing for our hockey blog, Friends in Cold Places, and I love the Washington Capitals and the hockey community.

And I have struggled trying to balance it all in the course of a day or the week.

I am coming to realize that God opens doors that I don’t expect and I need to keep walking through them even if I don’t understand what is happening. God may send me in a different direction as I walk along the pathway of life

I have a wonderful opportunity to write and I need to find the right balance for my writing passions. God is introducing me to people and community opportunities I never imagined I would be a part of a year ago. God is helping me to find the sweet spot in my life in ways I never expected.

Sometimes we need to remember that God’s vision can be a whole lot bigger than we can imagine. As my life has become busy again, I cut out the one thing I should never have cut out of my schedule–my time with God. And once I realized that and became open to his will, I also found that extra hour because God has woke me up earlier than my alarm. Funny how once I found myself back in a routine of spending time with God everything fell into place.

I encourage you to seek out your passion(s) and to trust the Lord to lead you to open doors and the perfect way to use your time.

You will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. Ephesians 1:19

 

 

 

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!

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

Regrouping is Not Quitting

Every now and then on our journey forward, we need to set the pause button and evaluate where we are going and what we have accomplished. I found myself in that position recently and decided I needed some time to look back at what I have been doing the past six months and how the process aligns with my long-term goals. What I found is a gap between where I am and where I want to be with no real roadmap to get across the bridge. So I set the pause button and began to look at my vision, my mission, and my plan.

Taking time to evaluate your strategy is a good thing; as long as you don’t totally derail the process. I came close to that. I haven’t written in ages. I still seem to wake up every day with a new title for an article or I am inspired with topics from my morning reading and meditation. I simply didn’t do anything with what I believe God was whispering in my ear. Talking with my spiritual director and coach I was reminded that by not writing I am not doing what God has called me to do—I am being disobedient and willful. And I know where that gets me in the end.

Life may also throw us curve balls as we build our bridge toward our goal. It is natural. Life doesn’t just travel on a smooth road. We have bumps and derailments along the way. And these bumps may cause us to question if we have what it takes or if we are doing the right thing. Rather than stop, I would prefer to think that I can learn from those experiences and use them to strengthen my determination. If every bump causes us to stop what we are doing, we will never lay all the planks to traverse the bridge to accomplishment.

So here I am today. Fingers to the keyboard and recommitted to daily writing, on the blog and on my book. I am still working to fine-tune my process; however, I am going to keep moving forward at the same time. To completely stop looks like a lot like quitting. I would rather implement a course correction while moving forward or at least remaining committed to the process. I am learning—about writing and about myself. These are good things. They indicate progress and I’m all for progress!!

The Art of Saying “No”

I think many of us are taught as Christians that we need to follow-up our faith with action; however, sometimes we become so action-oriented we forget why we are doing what we are doing. It is easy to find that we have joined one too many ministries or agreed to one too many projects and are overburdened by our commitments. We say “yes” every time someone asks us to participate or we feel guilty when no one says “yes,” so we jump in to fill the gap. We become the “face of the church” because we are everywhere doing everything. It is great to volunteer or to lead ministries, but we need to learn to do it in a prayerful and reasoned way.

I wrote an article a while back about energy-drainers. They are the things we place in our way that stop us from reaching our goals. Saying yes to every ministry opportunity can create obstacles to following the plan God has placed in front of us. I think that God calls us into certain areas—these are the things that we are most passionate about. Laurie Beth Jones (1996) challenges us to identify those things that excite us, anger us, and call us into action. They are the things that, when we pray, we find the Holy Spirit is leading us to commit our time and our energy. All the other things are nice to do, but they may not be the things that relate to the mission God has placed on our heart.

Learning to say “no” when asked to serve in church leadership or to volunteer for the next event may be difficult for some of us. We have all heard the, “pray about it and let me know” line which we often interrupt to mean—“just say yes.” And so we do, because we don’t want to disappoint or appear uncharitable. We must, however, actually take time and pray. We need to ask God to show us if this fits with what we have heard he is asking us to do individually. We need to ask if this is something that will extend or broaden our ministry and not deter us from the path head. Sometimes we need to say, “No” and do it unapologetically.

I found myself in this dilemma and I realized that having said yes to leadership of a ministry, for all the wrong reasons, was draining my energy. I became frustrated that I did not have the insight or ability to lead. I began to spend hours trying to get better at that position while neglecting what I am supposed to be doing—studying and writing. I found myself with massive headaches and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was frustrated because “I” couldn’t make things happen. I had said “yes” even though I knew the right answer was “no.” So I finally said, “I can’t do this. It isn’t what God set on my path.” It was hard. I’m sure it was disappointing and frustrating for others to receive the message, but I know it is the right thing. How do I know? I woke up today for the first time wanting to write and excited to finish my class work. I feel inspired and ready to burst with energy. I know I am where I need to be and doing what I need to be doing.

What have you said yes to that should be a no? What do you need to back out of so that you can focus on your personal mission and vision statements? What obstacles are draining your energy? Are you ready to get back on the path you see for your life and let go of those things that don’t fit? Pray about it and when you see the answer—yes or no—go with it!

“The Lord will always lead you.” Isaiah 58:11

Jones, L.B. (2006) The path: creating your mission statement for work and for life, Hyperion Press, NY, New York

Reaching for the Light Ahead

It may be difficult to keep our goals in front of us, especially if the goals are long-term and will take many months to achieve. Even if you have a mission statement and know what the end-goal is for you, it might help to set achievable milestones along the way. Mini-goals—if you will—that are realistic to achieve and that will help you to measure your progress forward. Collins (2002) writes that our goals should be specific and should stimulate you to action. Small wins along the way can help you to move on to the next goal and once step closer to reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m a very visual person and I need to keep my goal in front of me to achieve it. I offer the following as some ideas for you to consider:

School: Have you set on a new career for yourself that requires you to improve your skill set? Have your just started out with school and the end seems so far away? Try creating a wall calendar and create a box for each class you need to complete for your program of study. You don’t need the exact names of your courses, just the number of courses needed to complete. If you have a few tough classes coming up—for me that would be math—specifically title a box for each of those classes. Just like counting the days down; count your classes down. You will be able to see your progress and plan for the future.

Big Purchases: As I follow Dave Ramsey’s guide to financial freedom I have learned that I need to plan for future big purchases. If you know you will need a car in a few years, or if there is that dream vehicle you have to have—plan for it. Don’t grab the dream only to end up with a debt that will weigh you down. Get a poster board. Find a few pictures of the car you want. Cut out tires, the steering wheel, bumpers, and other parts of the car. Draw a template of the car on the poster board. Take the overall price of the car and break it down into manageable parts—maybe a couple hundred dollars a month. As you set money aside for your car, add a piece of the car to the template. Little by little you will build your car until you are ready to purchase it. You will have tangible evidence that you are saving for the car and buying it piece by piece. You can do this with a house, living room furniture, new kitchen appliances, a new wardrobe, or whatever big expense you need to plan for.

Losing Weight: Do you know the weight you should be for living a healthier lifestyle? Do you know what size is the right size for you? Go to the department store of your liking and pick out a pair of jeans or a tight skirt that fit you today. Take a picture. Take a picture of the next size down and so on, until you are to the size you would like to be. Print out each page and staple them together at the top. Post it in the kitchen or wherever your weak spot is. Tear off the size you are today because you are putting that size behind you. As you start your healthy eating and exercise plan, keep an eye on the next size down. Just one size is all you need. When you are comfortably wearing that size, tear off that page and focus on the next size. Do that until you are at the size you want and then go celebrate by purchasing the new garment for yourself.

I’m a big proponent of keeping it simple. I think if we can take bite-size chunks at our goal, we will get through the tunnel and to the light of our goal. We may get stuck from time-to-time, but if you can keep the near-term vision in front of you, the long-term goal should be just around the corner!

What strategies do you use to reach your goals? Do you have visual aids you use or other moving forward tools? I would love to hear about them. Please share in the comments here or on Facebook.

© maggiemarcum.com

Reference: Collins, G. (2002) Christian coaching: helping others turn potential into reality, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO