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A Tribute for a Friend

j0433113I remember those early days and months after the death of my husband. One winter morning, I saw a white rose blooming on one of my rose bushes.  The leaves were gone and it was January and very cold.

It precipitated the writing of the following poem.  I share it today for my friend.

Loss is part of life; but those who remain struggle with their loss. Lois,  God be with you and comfort you.

 

I Cried – He Came

 

God came one morning when I was down and low

He showed me a patch of blue between the clouds,

A bird scrounging in the dried bushes

Looking for food

Singing a song

 

And He said, “I’m here – I’m here

I’m right here beside you!”

 

I’m with that bird – He’s singing in the cold

I’m in that sky – there’s a promise of spring

I’m in the earth around you – Close your eyes and feel my strength

Feel me giving you breath to continue on

 

“Bloom wherever you are,” He said. “Just bloom.”

 

I looked and saw my rose bush blooming

There were no leaves

It was still the middle of winter

But there were roses blooming.

 

Bloom wherever you are

Bloom in the winter – the summer – the fall

Bloom wherever I place you

I will feed you

I will water you

I will be by your side

There are many things I do not understand

– why I must be alone when it is people I need

–  why I must struggle when others are at play.

We all have our prisons:  they come in separation and isolation – in loss and discouragement. They come in the midst of poverty and in the midst of wealth. They sneak up behind us and catch us when we are not looking,

and in desperation we cry out to our God

I do not understand. I do not understand.

But I do know this. My God came and stood beside me today

He came and I felt His presence

in the sky – the bird – the roses

I closed my eyes and felt his presence by my side.

And I was no longer alone.

 

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

The Shack

The Shack“The Shack“, by Wm. Paul Young.

Several years ago, I led a six week book review at my church on “The Shack.” Last week I was asked to speak at a book club on the same book which has come into focus again with the recent release of the movie made from the book.

Preparing for my talk and discussion, I asked myself, how can I reduce such a rich book to an hour speech? I saw the movie, reviewed the book again, and reached deep into the text to pull out some of its jewels of thought provoking questions. Although it is a fiction story, it invokes questions such as who is God? Does He really care for us? How am I to respond to Him? If I have suffered a great loss, an unspeakable tragedy, does God care?  And what do I do with my anger, hate and resentment?

Here are snippets of that book feature I did on my blog site, in May of 2015.

 

“The Shack

The ShackHow do you see God?

Would you see Him as stern – unforgiving – waiting for you to screw up? How does your perception of God influence your relationship with Him? Does it bring you closer or keep you at a distance?

In “The Shack,” by Wm. Paul Young, the main character, Mack, receives a simple typewritten letter in the mail telling “Mackenzie” that he had been missed and if he wanted to get together, he “would be at the shack next weekend”. It was signed “Papa”.

On his quest to overcome the sadness Mack continued to experience after the death of his daughter, he decides to take a trip back to the scene of the crime where his daughter had been snatched by a predator during a family camping trip and was murdered. On the way he meets with an accident and Mack discovers himself at “the shack” where he comes face to face with God.

And the journey begins.

What would you do or say if you came face to face with God, especially if He was totally different than you had envisioned Him? What would you do if He greeted you with love, a hug, excited to see you and with an invitation to join Him for dinner? What if He laughed and saw His world with eyes of positive expectation? In fact, what if He was a She?

During Mack’s weekend with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, he is confronted with his anger towards God, his personal guilt for not what happened to his daughter, and his desire for retribution.

“The Shack,” is a powerful book that challenges our perceptions of God, redemption, grace and forgiveness and gives pause to our usual responses to life. Originally written for his children, others who read Paul’s story encouraged him to publish it.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to facilitate a book review group of this book as part of a Lenten series at my church. Although I had read the book before, this was an in-depth study rich in revelations and take away lessons that could deepen our faith and walk with God. A couple of months later, I was privileged to meet, talk with and listen to the author himself when he spoke at our church.

Many people begin the book but never complete it. I encourage you to not only read it from beginning to end, and take time to pursue its deeper messages of grace, redemption, forgiveness and love, but also to make it a part of your own library.

Marlene Anderson

Post Script – Go see the movie – it faithfully follows the book and is a good see.

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Tree of Hope

MtBakerHaving lunch the other day with a fellow author, I became interested in a poem she had written.  Grieving the loss of a family member she shared the difficulty of writing during this period.  The poem she shared with us seemed so appropriate for the Lenten season, and I  asked if she would mind if I posted her poem on my website blog.  She said yes.

When she sent me the poem, I was blown away by the depth of love and creative talent that went into writing this poem.

Darlene Dubay, is not just another would-be writer.  I had the privilege of doing a book review of her book, The Tales of Two Sisters, available on Amazon.com. a few years ago. Follow the 2 links to see her website, and to read the review.

As authors and Christians, I am privileged to post Darlene’s poem as this week’s blog during Holy Week. The picture above was taken by a very talented photographer friend of mine, Maria Kumlander, who lives in California.

 

Tree of Hope

I remember being a seed, full of hope, dreaming.

I would be the tallest tree, and proud.

Then, thrust into the ground, I shuddered.

Darkness overcame me and I broke.

No longer latent, I began to search for light.

Yet wanting to be anchored, I thrust my fingers deeper into ground.

They laughed at me as I broke free.

“A twig,” they said: Insignificant nothing.

Yet I dreamed of becoming—magnificent I’d stand, towering above—mighty.

When finally ready I would be mercifully cut to become

A pillar, strong and straight to hold the weight of majesty aloft.

Or maybe I would be fashioned as a cradle,

Holding precious life, or toy or tureen—useful—

bringing pleasure by being used.

I did not fear the saw; it was a long way off.

But when it finally came. I cried,

“No, let me grow a little more. I want to be the biggest and the best.

I want my glorious form to be admired.”

I lay there on the ground, helpless—

My fate in the hands of those who ripped me from my roots.

It did no good to protest. My voice could not be heard.

Lying prostrate, I imagined what I would become.

It was not good. Their evil tones were hinting shame and disgrace.

“No!” I cried. “I did not grow for this.”

My limbs were ripped and nailed into a form

So horrible—degrading—a mockery of what was meant to be.

Bitter nails drove into my flesh,

But worse was yet to come.

Dragged and carried in my ugly form, I tried my best to help the struggling one,

But felt my weight grow heavier with each step.

Then on the top of that ignominious hill,

They laid me prostrate to accept my fate.

I felt his flesh caress the roughness of my bark.

I groaned in shame that I would be the one

To lift His whipped and trampled body far aloft for all to see.

I felt the spikes drive precious flesh and blood into my wood.

Helpless, there I stood, as I was lifted with my treasure.

Oh, the shame! The agony! The jeering crowds saying,

“It’s the end. His suffering has no meaning. ”

All is lost. What victory lies in death?

What justice shines through bitter clouds of hate?

I felt his spirit leave and fear of being discarded racked my being.

The coldness of his absence permeated me

And I wished for burning fires of purification.

Better to be cleansed than to lie rotting in the dirt.

The emptiness of my ugly form was wretched. I watched them haul him off—just another lifeless piece of flesh.

And me? I only hoped that I could fade to nothing.

On the third day, though, he returned.

He held me close and promised—what?

I could not comprehend.

“I live,” he said. “I am alive forever.”

“How can it be?” I cried. “I felt your soul’s anguish

And despair. I know the emptiness of your departing.

I never want to be the one who displays

Your trampled, lifeless body up for all to see.”

He held me closer then and I knew it had to be this way.

My gift of self will be forever a symbol of great love.

My collaboration in his plan will always be

The means to life eternal.

I’m honored. I am cherished.

And every day and moment

Someone remembers by my sign—

True life awaits those who hold me closest to their heart.

4-5-2010

Happy Lent,

Darlene 

Thank you Darlene.  You have graced my blog with your exceptional insight and talent.

I wish each of you a blessed Easter, knowing that it was the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, that brings us this blessed holiday.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Yes you can! Just Say No

Woman Boring a Hole in a Wooden Board with a DrillYes you can!  Just say No!

Perhaps you just lost your job – or you have spent four grueling years getting your degree but there are no jobs available in your line of work. What do you do?

Do you get up, put on a brave face and keep trying?  Or do you give up.

Yes you can! Just say No.

Yes, you can is a mindset that reflects our willingness to dig deep inside ourselves and look for the tools we need to hone and use them more effectively. This isn’t just about putting a positive spin on a serious, perhaps life threatening situation.

It’s looking at your situation squarely and saying, yes I can; with the help of God and doing whatever it takes within my principles and values to make it happen.

It won’t be easy. It will take hard work. It will take ingenuity and creativity. It will take doing many things you might have thought beneath your talents and abilities.

And it will require saying “No” to doing what feels good in the moment; “No” to taking life for granted; “No” to unrealistic expectations. It takes knowing where you are right now, and saying no to purchases you thought were absolutely necessary simply because everybody else is doing it.

Finances can become a serious problem if we do not have impulse control. Not having a budget and knowing how to manage our money can have long term consequences.

When my husband and I were first married, we had no financial cushion. He had just  returned to his home town after playing in big bands both on the road, in studios and in Vegas.

We got married with high hopes of him starting his own band. He tried selling real estate to pay the bills while trying to make the band business profitable. It didn’t.  We were back at square one.  Pregnant with our first child, I could no longer work at my job and we had to move in with his parents.

But, there was never the thought of giving up.  Instead we looked at other options.  Before letting real estate go, we used his commission to buy our first little track house. He realized that neither his dreams for his own big band nor real estate would take care of the needs of a family. He chose a new direction, worked at several jobs at once, went back to school to get his Masters in Music Education and took a job teaching school, something he swore he would never do.  He not only was an excellent teacher, (his students attest to that), but starting from scratch, we worked together as a team.  He became the head of a music department, respected by many, as we also met the challenges of raising a handicapped child and taking care of a Mom with a serious heart condition.  Later, I was able to go back to school as well and get my masters.

Yes you can!

But you might also have to say No.  No to getting all those things you believe you can’t live without in the moment; no to spending money whenever you feel like it. It isn’t easy.

Sometimes you have to scale back farther than you ever thought possible.  But when you develop an attitude of Yes I can, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Throughout life there will be tough times when you will be sidelined, knocked down or will face a major roadblock. You may have to spend money getting more education or training; or you may have to cut way back to make ends meet while you work on how to take that next step.

 

MP900438950It is so easy to buy on credit.  With the click of a button on phone apps we can make purchases.

We are often unaware of how much we are spending and people can find themselves thousands of dollars in debt.

As important as it is to manage your time and put in place productive habits for healthy eating and exercise, it is equally as important to have a financial program in place.

A lesson I learned

My husband and I shared a similar mind set of, if you want to, you can find a way to do it. Here is my own story about discovering how I spent my money as a young adult – a very valuable lesson learned and remembered.

As a young woman, I shared an apartment with my sister and brother.  I worked at an entry level job and struggled to pay my portion of rent and food costs.  I rarely went shopping and avoided retail stores where I would be tempted to buy things on sale. 

Our Dad had instilled the importance of putting at least 10% of our earnings into savings.  Where was my money going?  How could I possibly do that?

I decided to put down on paper all the things I purchased in a month, no matter how miner or small. I was shocked to discover my lack of money came from all those little ticket items: a new lipstick, a quick cheap meal out at lunchtime, an inexpensive scarf, etc. This was the spending that kept me broke. 

When I put in place new habits around spending, I was again surprised when I was able to save over a $1,000 in a year’s time while still paying my share of the bills and even getting some new clothes from time to time. Back then, that was a lot of money.

Yes We Can

There are many organizations that can help us with financial planning and budgeting if we are having trouble.  The Dave Ramsey program has been very successful in teaching people how to spend wisely and prudently and accumulate wealth in the process.

But you can do this on your own if you are willing to take the time.  Getting higher incomes and better paying jobs does not automatically guarantee you will get out of debt.  Studies show we simply increase our spending in relation to what we earn. In fact, you will be able to accumulate more money by establishing prudent spending/budget/saving habits.

Time management, financial management, self-regulation and self-discipline can be the greatest gifts you give yourself.  Yes you can.  Just say No to impulses. And Yes to meaningful long term goals.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

How was your day?

Woman filling in a formHow was your day?”

It is a question we need to ask ourselves at the end of the day regardless if we work from a home office, are a stay-at-home Mom, or commute to a job away from home.

Are you exhausted, worn out and ready to collapse at the end of the day?

If your job leaves you drained of energy, coming home each day to a chaotic environment, dishes in the sink, clothes and toys scattered all over, chores left undone, is not what you want to have to face. It’s hard to relax when everything around you is a mess.

Time management is your tool.  It will be effective only as it fits your wants, needs and goals.

What can a time management plan do for you?

It can put in place routines, schedules and to do lists that give you overall control over each day’s tasks and duties.  A time management plan can reduce stress, indecision, and create habits that work for you and not against you. Included in that plan is establishing specific times for relaxation and enjoyment with your family or the people you love.

Replacing one habit with another 

Before you put any plan of action to work, you need to know what you are currently doing.  What habits already in place are not working? What keeps them in place? What needs to happen to replace those not working?  Consider the following examples of every day living that can make your life easier instead of harder.

  • Having clothes washed and ready to wear when you want them
  • Keeping the kitchen free from dirty dishes making it easier to prepare meals when you want
  • Making supply lists and regularly selecting a time to purchase groceries on a regular basis
  • Sitting down together as a family for meals
  • Designated times for work and free time with family, spouses or friends
  • Morning and bedtime routines that allow for minimum stress and frustration
  • Developing sleep habits that insure maximum sleep advantage
  • Planning and completing long term tasks such as thorough house cleaning, car maintenance, etc.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, to change course requires both a conscious and deliberate decision followed by some kind of action.  It takes both to change to a new direction.  Habits based on what you feel like in the moment will lead you on a downward spiral of exhaustion, frustration and depression.

How do you spend your day?

 

Young Woman Holding Two Brown Paper Grocery BagsMost of us assume we know exactly what we do every day – how we spend our time.  When we are asked to keep a log for a week, however, we are often surprised at how much time is wasted or used inefficiently.

Keeping a log is a gift to yourself. It is time well spent.

Keep a daily log for a week, from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night to discover how you really spend your time.

Take a piece of paper with lines for the times of day, from when you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. Then for a week, each day jot down what you do at these times. Don’t make any changes or any judgments.  Just record.  Be as honest as you can.  You are doing this for you – not anybody else. The following questions in each section can help as you record and evaluate at the end of the process.

Let’s Start

  1.  Morning Routines

When do you get up?  How long does it take to get ready for work?  If you have children, how long does it take them to get dressed, eat, and leave for school? Put down commute times to and from work. At the end of the week, you will see routines that have helped and those that haven’t.

2.    During the Day

If you work outside the home your time will be dictated pretty much by your job.  You have a choice as to how you spend your lunchtime.  Simple chores can be done during such times if you choose such as writing thank you cards, etc. If you work at a home office, do you start work at a designated time each day? Do you take breaks and time for lunch? If retired, it may be more difficult to remain motivated without a schedule in place. What are you missing at this time of life by not having a schedule? What could your retirement look life if you did? What opportunities are you missing?

Woman Holding Broom and Dustpan3.    Evening Routines

Who makes meals, is in charge of preparation and clean up?  Are chores shared by all members of the family or does the responsibility fall on one person? Do you eat together as a family and how does different meal times create extra stress and work?  Is there a consistent school homework schedule for children as well as play time?

Father and Son Having Fun TogetherIs there a time when family members can come together to enjoy one another? Is there a bedtime routine that is followed fairly consistent? Does your current schedule make it more difficult to get to sleep and get a full night’s rest sleep?

 

4.    Weekend Schedules

If working full time, is there time designated on weekends for cleaning, vacuuming, and other ongoing home tasks?  If you work out of your home, as I do, I can complete tasks throughout the day as I schedule ten or fifteen minutes away from my desk making it easier to complete larger tasks at a time I choose. Knowing what needs to be done to make the home run smoothly ahead of time, gives you the option of perhaps doing some laundry or house cleaning during the week allowing more free time on weekends.

 Patterns

At the end of your week, review your time and habits.  Do you see patterns of behavior that are ineffective? How could you change them so they work for you? How could some tweaking make it better. What benefits are you receiving in the short term that costs you more in the long term.  It might feel okay to leave dishes until the morning because you just don’t feel like doing them.  But the cost will involve doing double duty the next day.  Only you can determine both the short term and long term benefits for how you direct your day.

Remember, whatever you do, you are doing it for you and your family.  However you set up your routines is up to you.  Each family and circumstances will be different.

This isn’t a “see how much I can accomplish” mission.  It is about finding out if you are satisfied with things as they are, or if you want to improve your options by replacing old habits.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Habits – A Curse or a Blessing

MP900438523Habits can keep us mired in a rut or they can take us to lofty heights of achievement.

Habits are great because we don’t have to think about what we are doing. It is like being on auto pilot.

We are creatures of habit.  Some habits keep us from using our time efficiently.  Others are time wasters.

Habits and behaviors are continued because we get a payoff or reward of some kind that motivates us.

We watch TV or play video games as a reward for working hard all day.  We may stop and have a drink with buddies.  But along with a reward, there is also a cost.

We do things in the moment because they are gratifying; but they may have negative long term consequences.

When we regulate our behaviors, we are able to harness our energy more productively, in a way we plan and choose.

Behaviors made through careful thought allows you to be in the driver’s seat.  With thoughtful predetermined goals and plans, you profit through achievement.  You will feel excited and jubilant when you use your talents and abilities to accomplish goals. The short term cost of not following instant gratification or indulgence will result in the long term benefit of satisfaction and gratification.

Self Regulation

CB063487Self-regulation requires self-discipline.  The word discipline often triggers a negative response based on our childhood interpretation of discipline.

Instead, see it as a positive reward for your actions. Then you will be able to put in place habits and behaviors that benefit you in the long term, not just the short term.

Self regulation doesn’t mean we lead a regimented life with no pleasure or down times.

In fact, when you regulate your time based on time management you will find you have more time than you did before.  You are able to schedule in fun and pleasant times as well as the accomplishment of tasks and chores.

Giving into that momentary pleasure can quickly put in place an addictive habit you may not want.  If you respond to the whims of the moment, you will eventually feel less and less in control of your lives. Depression is often a result of a downward spiral of such habits.

 

Taking Charge

To replace a habit, you must first be aware of what you are currently doing, why you are doing it, and why you want to change it.  What are the costs and benefits?

 

To Replace a Habit

First – Why do I have this habit?

Second – What is the short term benefit?

Third – What is the long term cost?

Research on how our brain works has given us new insights into why we do the things we do and continue to do them even when they are not beneficial.  To change a downward spiral of impairing habits and routines requires first recognition and then making a conscious decision along with action.  When you do both, recognize and make a conscious decision and then add a step in that new direction, you are changing the dynamics of the neurons and neurotransmitters in your brain.

According to Dr.Alex Korb, author of “The Upward Spiral – Using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time,” it takes both decision and action to change a downward spiral to an upward one.  That tiny step in a new direction is enough to begin the upward process versus downward.

Next week we’ll go through a time logging process to discover your wants and needs.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Who’s In Charge

MP900438650Survival requires management – the ability to manage our time, our attitudes, our relationships and our finances. Management means you are in charge. It means you have organized and supervise what you do. You are the CEO of your life.

Do you know how you spend your time? What routines and schedules are habits that keep you moving in the right direction? Which are time wasters?

There is an immediate payoff from unproductive behaviors. That instant gratification, however, has a long term cost; giving in to our moods in the moment can eventually create a downward spiral of dissatisfaction, discontent and eventually depression.

Do you know how much money you spend in a month?  Do you have an emergency fund in savings?  Have you set up a budget that you follow?

Finances are managed by setting up a budget and monitoring how we spend our money. It isn’t just about saving but prudent shopping.

Marketing ads are designed to convince us we need to purchase their product in order to be happy. That is their job.  Our job is to ask ourselves whether we really need that product.  Will it really make you happy? Do you really need it?

There is a difference between needs and wants. Happiness doesn’t come from having lots of money or having lots of toys.

If success is defined by how much money you make, while you may succeed, the cost could be the loss of loving relationships with spouse and family and a life of meaning and purpose.

Woman and young girl embracing outdoors smilingIts not just finances that need managing, but our attitudes.

Defeatist attitudes blame somebody or something else for what is wrong in your life.

It allows you to hang onto and nurse grievances when we perceive we have been wronged.  But it can also come in the form of an internal critic that whispers in your ear that no matter what you do, it won’t ever be good enough.

If we listen to either of those messages for any length of time, it will keep us from living a happy, satisfying life. Such attitudes take you out of the driver’s seat of control.

We have only so much energy. We can direct that energy to create a more meaningful and purposeful future or remain a victim to circumstances.

 

Life can be tough. Life can be a struggle. We can probably think of a million reasons why we can’t succeed.  But, there probably are a million + reasons why you can.

 

We can focus on what we can’t do or we can focus on all the things we can. It’s our choice.

 

Tune in next week, as we continue our discussion on habits, which are productive or wasteful and how we can replace ineffective habits.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Acceptance in Tough Times

img_2847What are you being asked to accept today?

What major change are you facing?

As I enter the senior years, losses seem to be a routine part of life. I hear the poignant and tragic stories of people who are struggling to make ends meet, or struggle with the loss of their health or the untimely death of a spouse.

My first response when I suffer a setback is to think, Oh no, not again, Lord, I have had enough.

But then I read of what others are going through and realize my problems are trivial in comparison.

As I complete a new chapter in my new book, The Next Step, which speaks to acceptance and letting go, I am reminded again of how important it is to develop this skill.

What acceptance is not 

To accept our situation does not mean we are powerless, unless we choose to remain powerless. It doesn’t mean we give up; instead it means we stop resisting and struggling.  It doesn’t mean we are a victim or somehow to blame or others are to blame for all the bad luck we are having.

Working through the hurt and uncertainty of adversity is never easy. We may want to withdraw and isolate ourselves, not wanting others to see our vulnerability or our doubts. Sometimes we build thick walls around our spirits to protect us from further hurt and disappointments.

But it is precisely in those difficult times where we grow our spiritual muscles, come to terms with our inabilities and begin a trusting relationship with God.

 

j0433127We find in acceptance and letting go, a relief and sense of peace because we have stopped struggling with the reality we find ourselves.

Letting go may not give us all the answers we desire, but our spirits are calmed and we are able to look for new solutions, pick up the pieces and rebuild.

Acceptance is not giving up. It is not resignation. It is opening your hand and allowing new information to meld with the old in order to examine new options and new opportunities.

 

Here are some ways we can understand acceptance

 

  • Acceptance means I do not have to stay in this uncomfortable spot – I can learn and move on
  • Acceptance says life isn’t fair – I didn’t ask for this, but I can work with it
  • Acceptance means a new beginning, starting right here, in this moment , right nowj0438577
  • Acceptance tells me I don’t have all the answers and don’t need to pretend I do
  • Acceptance means I can ask for help when I need it
  • Acceptance tells me I am okay no matter what has happened
  • Acceptance means I don’t have to blame someone or something for what has happened; Allowing ourselves to remain a victim is self-defeating and a dead end
  • Acceptance acknowledges my need for forgiveness, grace, humility and honesty. I allow God and others into my life and walk with their support
  • Acceptance allows me to discover myself with dignity and honesty. I am free to be me, with all my shortcomings as well as all my unique qualities, special gifts and talents

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Love or Hate

Frustrated Businesswoman on the PhoneLove or Hate – Which of these two emotions would you say resonates more in your life?

In his book, You Will Not Have my Hate, Antioine Leiris writes about the shooting rampage on November 13, 2015 when terrorists took the lives of people attending a rock concert at the Batacian Theater in Paris.  His wife was one of the victims.

Shortly afterwards, he posted on Facebook an open letter addressed to his wife’s killer that stated in part,

 “. . .you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate.”

Later he wrote a memoir book on the shock, grief and challenges he faced to move forward with his life (click on the book title link above for more information). He was instantly widowed with a seventeen month old son.  How would he teach his son not to hate?  How would he rebuild a life that had been so happy with his wife.

It seems we often put our focus on either love or hate or anger – with few exceptions. Can we forgive and refuse to hate?

In a 2015 post I did a book review on “Forgive for Good” by Dr. Fred Luskin, covering the points Dr. Luskin presented in letting go of hate, bitterness and resentment.  (Click on the link to read that blog).  In the “Yes I Can, Three Steps to Enrich your Life” life coaching program I am completing, there is an exercise on Forgiveness.  Here are some excerpts from that exercise:

fourteen year old teenage with aggressive bully expressionTragedies or senseless acts of violence can create deep-seated resentment and bitterness that keeps us in a powerful grip.  It is not easy to let go of wrongs.

However, if we remain resentful, blaming and angry, hanging onto our grudges and grievances, it will have a huge psychological and emotional effect on our well-being.

Learning to forgive allows us to free ourselves of that anger and replace it with renewed optimism, trust and enthusiasm for the future.

We remain prisoners to resentments that we choose to hold on to, becoming a victim to our own story.

While it gives us short term satisfaction to continue to repeat how we were maligned or wronged, it is a toxic and corrosive mindset that will eventually devour us.

MP900285119Forgiveness is not condoning unkindness, inconsiderate or selfish behavior of anyone who might have hurt us.  It is not the same as forgetting that something painful happened.  We do not want to forget so we don’t allow it to happen again.

Instead, we put in place appropriate boundaries that guides both our behaviors and what we allow from others.  It is not imposing our rules on someone else.  It is simply saying, I choose what is right for me and hold myself responsible for my responses and actions.

Man and woman shaking hands isolated on a white background.Forgiveness opens the door for possible reconciliation with others.  But forgiveness and reconciliation is not the same thing.  Forgiveness means you make peace with a bitter part of your past, refusing to push the “Blame” button, and choosing instead how you want to live.

As Dr. Luskin says in his book, Forgive for Good, “we create grievance stories because of unrealistic and unenforceable rules we put in place.”  We have expectations that life will follow some sort of predictable path.

It is not a normal expectation to have terrorists kill people we love while they are attending a concert or going to church or an outdoor market.

How easy it is to hate.  It is our first reaction to senseless actions.  But we choose what we want to do with that hate, anger, injustice, etc.  We can choose not to hate, but instead to forgive.  As Jesus told us so long ago, “. . .pray for those who persecute you.” In so doing, we can let go and focus on loving those in our circle of family and friends.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Losses

Aria as baby - 9-03-07As I write the chapters for my book, “The Next Step,” I am reminded of the many losses people face within their lifetime. Some are a normal part of life. But many are unexpected, traumatic and devastating.

The last thing you wanted was to lose your baby, or your marriage or your health that impairs your ability to earn a living. When hit with such major losses or tragedies, we can’t imagine that life can ever be considered normal again.

Think of soldiers who come home with the loss of arms or legs or PTSD nightmares. Or a parent who is told their child has a terminal illness after waiting for years to have that child. Or a teacher who discovers she has a slow degenerative disease that will take every ounce of effort to continue working to support herself.

As great as the death of a loved one, chronic illness can seem like a slow death sentence.  Living with severe health restrictions is a struggle few of us experience. Losing a beloved child, born or yet to be born, can be devastating. Losing your ability to make a living, tragic.  Losing the ability to see there are options even more tragic.

 

SCOC0070There are many losses that crash into our lives like the waves of a powerful storm.

The loss of your home, your job, your financial security – all can seem like the end of the world. Where do we go from here?

Part of grieving is coming to terms with what has happened. If an accident or senseless act of violence has taken a loved one, you will struggle with the enormity of those events.

And yet, it is precisely here and in the worst circumstances where we are asked to accept and let go – let go of what was important and valuable to us.

How can you accept such awful and life shattering circumstances?

Acceptance

 

RainbowIn order to accept and let go, we need to understand what acceptance means. Coming to terms with our tragedy is not resignation. Letting go does not mean it wasn’t important. We may not get the justice we feel we deserve, but in letting go, we can take the next step needed to create a new positive reality.

Acceptance and letting go does not mean you let go of what your loss meant to you; it means you will work with it and go beyond it. You do not need to remain stuck in that place of mourning forever.  The loss and its meaning can be integrated safely into our memories if we allow it.

Unwanted change, tragedies or losses of any kind can seem overwhelming. Working through the endless tangles of emotions and thoughts, we often feel as though we will never see the sun of joy again, never experience happiness, laughter, contentment or satisfaction. But we do.

Over the following weeks, the focus of my blogs will be on how we can accept, let go and reframe our situations so we can take that next step in life, finding the options that will help us create a new reality that brings with it the possibility for peace, hope, contentment and joy.

Marlene Anderson

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.