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Lessons we learn from the Bible

Once again, as so often in history, the world seems to be rising up in violence and protest. The struggle between freedom and domination has always been evident in the lives of men, so while it is not new, it seems to have become more consuming and prominent.

Maybe it’s because technology puts world events on center stage with the flick of a button. So we witness violence and revolts as they happen from the comfort of our homes as though it were a movie.

Central to this world chaos seems to be religion. So wouldn’t we want to stay away from religions and instead rely on our own intellect and reason?

Beliefs and Character

Central to character development is examining our beliefs. But answers for developing character are not found in religious practices, but in the principles and truths that religions focus on.

If you believe that destruction and chaos will serve who you follow, your life will demonstrate that. If you follow reason and intellect, which philosopher, humanist or current enlightened culture will give you the answers that endure over time?


At some point, we are faced with our fallibility and shortcomings. Do we continue to rely on man’s intellect and power, or reach beyond ourselves to a higher source of knowledge and power? Until we recognize that we are sinners, we won’t recognize our need for God.


Within the pages of the Bible, we find people just like you and me who struggled to live. Their lives were not perfect. Consider the following:


  • Noah had a drinking problem
  • Cain was jealous and murdered his brother
  • Jacob was a liar and conniver
  • Joseph became a victim of jealousy and hatred
  • Gideon was afraid
  • Samson was a womanizer and his lifestyle had disastrous results
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • David had an affair and his adultery led to murder
  • Samuel, a faithful servant of God, was a terrible parent
  • Elijah had depression
  • Jonah ran from God and had a bad temper
  • Job lost everything and was taunted by his religious friends
  • Peter denied Christ
  • The Disciples fell asleep while Jesus asked them to pray


Within these stories we find ourselves. They were not perfect and neither are we. But we also find throughout the bible, redemption and forgiveness and the precepts to live principled lives. And even more important, we find a God who reaches down to us. We find a God who sent His Son to die for us. His love is that great.


Feb 28, 2011 – 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.



Freedom – The Ability to Make Choices

“What alone remains is the ‘last of human freedoms’ – the ability to ‘choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.’” Victor Frankl


It is easy to talk about hope and offer suggestions as to what we can do to offset difficult times. But when we can’t put food on the table or pay the rent, maintaining a positive attitude is difficult to do. Unfortunately, the alternative is usually anxiety, fear, resentment or anger that soon leads to depression and a sense of hopelessness.

This may be the most challenging moment in your life. You may be faced with downsizing or giving up everything you have worked so hard to gain. Yet, as difficult and nonsensical as it sounds, with any situation we find ourselves, we still have the ability to choose how we will respond. We can meet the new day with plodding resignation or with a mindset of possibility.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl wrote,

“To live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”

As a psychiatrist and Jew, Victor Frankl survived the tortuous years of confinement in Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War. In those unbelievable years of torture, death and humiliation, where all the members of his family died, Victor Frankl was witness to how people responded to this inhumanity:

“And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”

When I have faced what has seemed like insurmountable obstacles or events in my life, I am not only reminded that God is with me through these times, but also that others have had to face far worse situations. We are all required to meet life’s challenges. My resolve is strengthened as I read the stories of others who have met their challenges.

As this year draws to a close, we have the opportunity to once again determine how we will meet the challenges life puts before us. Perhaps it means starting over – again. Perhaps it is allowing others to help us or asking for the help and support we need. Perhaps it is making a personal sacrifice to reach out and help others who are also struggling. Perhaps it is making a commitment to replace a negative lifestyle with a more self-disciplined positive one.

Change occurs all the time. We struggle against it because we don’t like the anxiety of the unknown.   Follow this month’s blogs as together we explore ways we can meet the challenges of change. Fear and anxiety can be used to motivate us to find new possibilities and options. It is often in adversity where we discover the worst or best of ourselves.

©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC


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.


Protecting Your Identity

For those who follow me on a regular basis, I offer information and training on strategies to empower your life.

As a therapist, I have written on the themes of communication, relationships, marriage, turning stress into productive energy, taking charge of your life and ways to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Two other themes I have addressed is time management and financial responsibility.  On this last, I have invited Maya Sullivan to share ways to prevent identity theft.

This is her expertise and I think you will enjoy the information she has to share, information pertinent to the age and time we live in. At the bottom of the post you will find links to Maya’s website where you will be able to read her blog and find a list of her upcoming seminars.

10 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

By Maya Sullivan

Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year.

-Ben Bernanke

Identity theft is a popular occupation. New and ingenious ways are being created daily to compromise a person’s identity and good credit. Potential victims include children, teens and adults.

When a thief steals one’s identity, they can get new credit cards, a driver’s license, rent a condo, borrow money and a multitude of other things.

Many large organizations have had their computer systems hacked resulting in the theft of customer information.

It is wise to do what one can to prevent being a victim of identity theft.

1. Fraud Alerts

When you place a fraud alert on your credit report it helps protect you from someone getting credit in your name. You can still obtain credit by listing your phone number so potential creditors can phone you to verify you are the real person.

When you place an alert at any of the three major credit bureaus, they notify the other two. This also allows you to obtain a free credit report at the time.

The three credit bureaus are:

  1. www.Experian.com
  2. www.Equifax.com
  3. www.TransUnion.com

The fraud alerts and their duration are:

  • Fraud alert – 90 days (You can do this even if you have not experienced identity theft.)
  • Military active duty alert – 1 year
  • Extended fraud victim alert – 7 years

Some scammers have been known to place fraud alerts–using their own phone number–on targeted victims.  Then when a creditor calls to verify identify, they are actually calling the thief!

2. Security Freezes

These are similar to fraud alerts but block any creditor from viewing your credit report. You can temporarily lift it when you apply for credit but it may cause delays in processing credit applications.

You can add a security freeze to a minor’s credit report. Children are also targets of identity theft.

Security freezes need to be added to each credit bureau—Experian.com, Equifax.com and TransUnion.com. It is not automatic as with a fraud alert.

3. Review Credit Reports

It is wise to review your credit reports at each of the three credit bureaus annually. You can do this for free at www.annualcreditreport.com/

Be aware that there are many sites offering free credit reports. The only official one is AnnualCreditReports.com.

Experian offers a free monthly credit report and they send emails if there are any changes.

All three credit bureaus offer additional identity theft protection services for a fee.

4. Credit Alerts

These are helpful tools to place on bank accounts and credit cards. When a transaction is made on your accounts you will notified by text, email or both.

When someone made a $400 charge on my credit card, I received an alert within 60 seconds.

5. Don’t Give Personal Information Over the Phone or in Emails

Scammers may call or send emails representing a legitimate company and asking for information about your account. Call your bank or credit card provider to see if they are trying to contact you.

6. Review Bank & Credit Card Accounts and Statements

Signup for online statements and review them as soon as they become available for any unauthorized charges. It is prudent to go online weekly to view all your accounts with an organization.

Sham accounts. A major bank has received much unfavorable publicity about some of their practices. Bank employees allegedly opened an estimated 3.5 million unauthorized accounts in customer names.

It is wise to go online checking bank and credit card accounts weekly. Many banks list all a person’s accounts on one page. Then each account can be selected to reveal more details.

7. Passwords

Use different passwords for your accounts. Include special symbols and numbers to make them more difficult to decipher.

8. Shred all Documents

Personal information appears on receipts, junk mail and a variety of documents. Shred anything that includes your address, phone number, account numbers and other personal information.

I knew a stockbroker who dumpster dived in a bank’s trash container. He grabbed computer reports of customer certificates of deposit (CDs) that were coming up for renewal. Personal information and the amount of the CD were listed.

9. Pay Bills Online

Paying bills online limits the number of people who see your checks. An easy way to do this is set automatic payments on utilities and other regular payments by charging them to your credit card. You will receive an email when a payment posts to your account. Review your credit card statement monthly.

10. Scam Alerts

Many swindles have been around for some time and new ones are created daily. Scams are a way for person to obtain personal information and money.

A few examples include:

  • A call from a grandchild impersonator saying they are stranded somewhere or in jail and need the grandparent to wire money.
  • A police officer calling saying there is a warrant for your arrest. You can avoid being arrested by paying him money.
  • An IRS agent calls demanding money. (The IRS only contacts people through the mail).
  • Employment offers even though you never contacted the company. I recently received one of these. It was supposedly, Seattle’s HR Director yet the sender had an obscure email address in Romania.
  • Computer virus cons involve calls from someone claiming they are from a well-known company such as Microsoft and that they have detected a virus on your computer. They offer to remove the virus by taking over control of your computer and then stealing personal information. They forget to mention the thieving part of the deal!
  • W-2 information thieves pose as being from a person’s real employer requesting information.
  • Phantom debt collectors—some posing as attorneys—are another popular trick that is spreading.

This is a small sampling of the hoaxes that already exist.

Thieves sometimes steal a person’s identity and wait months, even years before acting on it.

3 Things to Do If Identity Theft Happens

  1. Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) www.ftc.gov.
  2. File a report with your local police department.
  3. Contact the fraud department of companies where you have accounts and notify them that your accounts have been compromised.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

-Benjamin Franklin

To follow Maya on her website and learn more about what she does and upcoming September and October seminars, go to the following website links:  http://www.mayasullivan.com/ and http://www.daretobeyourownboss.net/

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Free Consultation

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.

Freedom to be You

As a therapist, life coach and author/speaker, I help individuals confront their past, challenge irrational thinking patterns and replace negative beliefs with possibilities. In the process, they are able to let go of the pain, heal and take personal charge of their life.

Therapy is a tiny microcosm of freedom.   When we feel there are no options, we strike out, hang on to resentments and anger and blame others for our problems. Remaining in that mindset, however, takes away our personal power.

It is so easy to buy into the idea that we are entitled to a happy life and that somehow others are responsible for that. But when we buy into that belief system, we relinquish our freedom. We are no longer In charge of our lives – someone else is.

In December 2012 I wrote a review of a new book written by Michael Duncan entitled, Shadow Remnant, available on Amazon.com.  (See below for links).  It is a captivating and riveting novel that takes us a hundred years into the future. This is a copy of that review.


Imagine a future where we have survived a third world war. In the process, our country not only bears the scars of war, but our governing body is no longer the same.

The government we knew built on the principles of freedom and individual rights has now been replaced with a single head of state and government rule that dictates what we are allowed to believe, what we can and cannot do, what we are allowed to read and learn.

Churches have been destroyed and religions replaced by a secular government who now takes care of you. Any rebellion against this new ideology is squashed with re-training and indoctrination programs. All communication sources are governed by one source and we only receive the information our government wants us to have.

Shadow Remnant tells the tale of a boy who escaped from a re-training and indoctrination school, is hunted down by government police, is shot and presumed dead. But a member of the Shadow Remnant, living in the wild rescues him and nurses him back to health.

During those days he hears about God and love and grace for the first time. He hears accounts of what his country was like a hundred years before. When he goes back to retrieve a bible he had found while on the run, he is captured and sent to a prison island for insurgents who are forced to survive any way they can.

It is here he meets his father who he thought was dead. His dad had at one time been a member of the new government. But when he found and read some of the old documents of our founding fathers, he no longer could live the lies now imposed by this new government rule. He became part of a shadow remnant of people. He was hunted down and condemned for life on this island. His wife was killed and his son sent to state schools.

This is a fast paced book that holds your attention from beginning to end as we follow this young man, Peter, from capture to escape from the island to find other members of the shadow remnant. He makes it his mission to share with the rest of the nation what was lost – liberty and democracy and freedom.

The story weaves through many perilous journeys. But God is with him and in spite of enormous dangers; he is able to find his way to other members who guide him on his mission.

Scary? Preposterous? Perhaps. Yet many people have succumbed to the lure of giving up their responsibility by placing their freedom in the hands of someone else. When you read historical accounts of countries under dictatorship or socialistic rule, it is not only plausible but possible.

Have we become spoiled with our freedom believing that it could never happen here?

Life can be brutal and tough. But when we reach out and help one another, we can find the courage, strength and perseverance to not only survive tough times, but make our dreams come true. Shadow Remnant gives us a glimpse of what it might be like when we no longer have the freedom to work hard and be in charge of our own lives and destiny.

Marlene Anderson

To purchase a copy of Shadow Remnant go to


To learn more about Michael: you can find more about him on the following links.

Michael Duncan

Author, Pastor, Speaker – a sojourner going from here to eternity with a story to tell along the way.






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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.




Working with Adversity

When the unexpected happens, suddenly and tragically, without warning, it leaves us in a state of shock and disbelief. When the shock wears off we are left with a mixture of emotions: relief, anger, pain, sorrow, anxiety and more.

Where do we go from here? Where do we begin? How can we resolve the multitude of problems that are generated? How do we take that next step?

Adversity is part of life. It can come in the form of severe health issues, divorce, or severe financial setbacks.  We might lose our jobs or face serious concerns with our teens. We may be a victim of crime or severe storms that destroy our homes.

 Whatever the cause, adversity will require us to stop, evaluate, accept and search for solutions.


While each situation is unique and will require specific solutions, here are some basic things to consider.


  1. Stop. When anything adverse happens we will have an instant emotional reaction. Shock and denial help us survive in the moment. We may feel overwhelmed and helpless. We replay the event over and over again. Stop and take some slow deep breaths.  Then put on your thoughtful analytic hat.


  1. Acknowledge the reality of your situation. Resist going over and over the details that keep you stuck in the emotional. As you absorb and accept the totality of what happened, realize you have a very capable, logical and creative mind that can solve problems.


  1. Define specifically all the problems involved.  Most catastrophic events have many layers and problems associated with them.  Some will be obvious up front; others will materialize as you get involved.  Do a quick inventory and prioritize. Writing them down helps as a check off and it is easier to add things as needed.  What needs to be done immediately?  What can wait?  Are other people involved? If so, discuss it with them before you look for solutions. Failure to discuss the problem adequately or failure to act without the input of others involved can have huge unpleasant consequences.


4.  Choose the most important problem on your list to work on.  List everything involved with that problem.  Sometimes there are different elements that need to be worked on at the same time. Brainstorm ideas.  Defer judgment during this phase. All ideas are considered, no matter how wild or bizarre. Do not evaluate until you have exhausted all possibilities. Everything presented can then be evaluated as to viability, pros and cons.


5.  Which of the ideas you brainstormed seem to be the best one?  Make a decision and try it out. Create a goal plan of action. If it doesn’t work, go back and choose another option. Often times during the implementation stage we get a better idea and can work with that.


6.  Accept that you might not have all the answers you need and will have to go back to the drawing board many times to find the right solutions. Life is not simple. Don’t be discouraged. Keep in mind what the most important end goal is for each of the problems you face.  Then try out as many options as you can to reach that end goal.

Here is an example of an unexpected and catastrophic event in my life. When my husband unexpectedly died, the problems attached to his death were multi-faceted. We had just built our dream home.  His pension stopped.  Problems I faced were financial as well as practical.  As I explored options, I gathered facts about the pros and cons of each. But before I could do that I had to make some major decisions about where I would start over again.  I decided to stay in my same community, sold my home and built a smaller one solving many of my problems.

No matter what, stay calm, believe in your ability to resolve whatever problem is in front of you.  With prayer and faith and courage from God, we can overcome and rebuild.

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.










Affirming Your Work – Step 7

DSC00733“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:16

A home is always evolving. Gardens are never complete. They are an ongoing labor of love.

We began this series by using Butchart Gardens as an example of how a big hole in the ground, a gravel pit, could be turned into one of the worlds renowned gardens.

The last two steps used the example of building a home – taking a vision and turning it into a design and plan of action.

To end this series, let’s return to the Landscaping model.  Whether you are building a house or designing a landscape you will need to know the stability of the ground, type of soil you are working with, what needs to be removed and what can be retained. Both house and garden require ongoing care to enjoy them to the fullest.

So it is when you have put a design in place for your life. There will be on-going work projects.  But we get a sense of satisfaction in maintaining what we have achieved and it becomes a continuing work in progress.


Create a Tool Box for your Life

Just as we need tools to maintain our home and gardens, so too do we need tools for our lives. The following are ten life tools needed in your tool box.


  • Your Master Plan – Keep your master design in front of you at all times and keep your focus on your goals. To remain motivated we need to remind ourselves where we are going and what we want to do. We often start with a burst of energy and then slow down just as our design is beginning to take shape. Those early preparation months, such as replacing wasteful and unproductive habits, are hard work and may not show visible results at first. But you are building a foundation to implement your vision and design.


  • Flexibility and resiliency.  You will be hit with unplanned obstacles and roadblocks. Be prepared to roll with the punches.  Identify the problems and look for solutions but do not let it sidetrack or deter you from your goals.


  • Develop your stride. Accept your vulnerabilities and utilize your strengths.  Each of us has a unique way of doing things that allows maximizing our efforts.  Re-adjust your time frame as needed to meet the needs of life in the moment while working on your plan of action.


  • Break down big goals into smaller ones.  With small goals or steps, you will be able to see accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem. In designing our home, there were many little steps that needed to be taken before actual construction could begin.


  • Evaluate progress on a regular basis.  We can easily get discouraged when there is no visible and immediate signs of accomplishment. Congratulate yourself for staying on task, for personal growth, persistence and becoming more disciplined.


  • Schedule rest periods to prevent burn out and overload. Don’t wait until you are exhausted and tempted to give up. Carve out a time every day that removes you from work and allows you to be relaxed and contented. This may seem frivolous at first, but it is incredibly important and will maximize your ability to achieve results. Go for a walk outdoors, focus on the beauty of nature or a fun project, spend time with your loved ones, share your talents by giving to others, etc. Remember, you are a unique part of God’s plan and of His garden and design. You are needed, wanted and loved.  Love and respect yourself and your gifts and talents.


  • Repeat affirmations every day.  Affirmations trains the brain to move toward a direction.  It keeps us motivated and encouraged. Create positive “I” word statements that represent where you want to be in the future. Then stand tall and act as if they were so. Here are some examples:
    • I am confident in my ability to complete my design
    • I bring all my special capabilities, skills and talents to everything I do
    • I am creative in finding solutions
    • I draw my strength, faith, hope and wisdom from God who loves me


  • Reframe difficult situations.  Reframing allows us to see possibilities even in the worst circumstances and turns negative situations into positive transformations. We can focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do.


  • Reduce stress. Stress can be environmental, external or internal. Allowing thoughts of defeat to remain dominant will increase stress. External or environmental stress comes when we don’t have a plan in place, haven’t identified and eliminated time wasters, or practice time management. Adjust your goals to match your abilities to meet those goals while remaining on task.


Life is an on-going process. Success is in the journey, not the end result. Our master life garden design is just the beginning. But the work continues as you improve, re-arrange, dig out, re-do or replace. Check your emotional pulse every day. Keep God at the head of your on-going project.

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.



Activating Your Plan – Step 6

MP900309617“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13



Your Plan of Action  

In my last blog, I shared how my husband and I took a vision, created a design and plan of action to build our dream home. Using that same concept, let’s take the following example and create a vision and design and plan of action.

Example: Let’s say you are in a marriage that is floundering. It’s not what you had envisioned when you got married.  You were deeply in love and happy and everything seemed so easy in those early years.  Now you can hardly communicate without attacking, blaming and defending.  Your words are laced with cynicism and contempt. There are few hugs or pleasant moments spent together.

You do not want to stay in that space and neither does your spouse. Your vision is to put together a design and plan of action to bring love and caring back into your marriage.

Step 1

Using the above example, the first thing you need is to gather information that reflects all aspects of the problem. What specifically is happening? What are you satisfied with and dissatisfied with?  What is working and what isn’t?  When does communication break down?

Resist blaming and stick to observable behavior of both of you. Be specific.

You might include things like living separate lives with separate careers and friends, or no scheduled time for rest and relaxation, special nights out, etc. What common goals do you have that is being overlooked because of the differences? What specific behaviors of interaction do you observe both in yourself as well as your spouse.  When things get tense, how do you respond? Remember we are responsible for our responses.

Step 2

If you could wake up in the morning and your marriage was like you would like it to be, what would be happening?  What would you be doing?  What would your spouse be doing? If you have a vision of what a renewed marriage would look like, make a list of all the things you would like to see happen.

Making changes involve small steps.

What things can you do right now that move you in the positive direction you want to go.

For example, do one kind thing every day for your spouse.  Spontaneously notice and compliment your spouse for what he/she is doing every day.

We become so focused on what we don’t like we forget to comment on what we do like.

When conversation heats up, make it a rule to stop and count to ten before you respond.  Let your spouse know that you are taking responsibility for your actions and reactions and that when you begin to get angry or agitated you will ask for a time out to calm down.

What other small shifts in behavior could you begin doing?

Step 3

Removing obstacles.  Sit down with your spouse and tell him/her that you are actively working on improving your relationship. Ask for their input in helping you and whether both of you could work together on a plan. Responsibility begins with us.

You can’t change another person, but our actions and behaviors can have an impact on another.

If the problems are deep and serious, perhaps you can both agree to go to couples counseling where divisions are more clearly identified and worked on.

We bring to any intimate relationship unresolved issues from our past that are often transferred to our spouse.

Individual personal counseling can help address an anger issue, unrealistic expectations, the healing of old wounds, etc.

What obstacles can you identify that may be keeping you from developing your design of reconciliation and new direction?  What needs to be removed?  What needs to be put in place?

Taking those steps towards a meaningful design requires looking at all the things in our life that are keeping us from what we really want.

Using the same example, could the obstacles of attack/defend, not listening or hearing the concerns of the other, unwilling to negotiate and sacrifice, spending free time together with buddies instead of each other, unwillingness to take your share of daily home chores, etc. be undermining your efforts?

Sometimes, stopping negative behaviors and replacing them with more positive ones can make all the difference in the world.

Step 4

Follow through with your plan of action.  Too often we begin the process of envisioning what we want and start the implementation process, only to get discouraged and quit.

A design takes the things you have reviewed and discussed and puts them into an ongoing plan of action. Break this into tiny steps that you commit to follow. Be willing to address obstacles as they arise.

Those first tiny steps can be as simple as finding ways to be nice, refusing to call names or be insulting, taking time outs when angry until we can cool down and communicating without defending and attacking.


Step 5

Make a commitment to continue what you started.  Evaluate your progress and reward yourself and your spouse on a regular basis with things that are pleasing to both.  Build on the positives and avoid the negatives.

When we take responsibility for what we do and how we act and react to others, we are often surprised at the results.

There are lots of self-help books that can help us communicate better, understand and work on relationships, etc.  Take those early first tiny steps and develop a serious plan of action that both of you are willing to follow.

The results of a happy and loving relationship is huge and worth all the effort in bringing that about.

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.




Develop a Design – Step 5

Leaves Floating on Water

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

How do we go from vision to design?

My husband and I had dreams of building a house in a community with a marina. We found our dream lot sitting on a hill overlooking the water.

But before we could design and build a house, we needed to clear the lot of overgrown shrubs and scrubby trees. Then we could focus on the house design itself.

We spent hours poring over drawings and design lay outs. What would the foot print of the structure look like? What accommodations would be needed for lot constraints   Design consideration took into account not only placement but ease of entrance to the home, driveway, height restrictions, how many levels, etc. It was an exciting time.

With the basics in place, we made a list of all the things we wanted to have within our home: as many rooms as possible taking advantage of the view, placement of kitchen, living room, office, ease of movement, traffic patterns, windows, skylights, etc.  With the interior design in mind our focus went on to organizational issues, placement of cabinets, storage areas, etc.

Each of the wants and needs were considered based on the lot, finances, time and energy.  Because we could do a lot of the work ourselves while hiring experts for the rest, we could cut costs and make appropriate adjustments to our design without sacrificing the most important things.

Your design – Your Dreams

You may think, that’s way too much work for me!  But in reality, it wasn’t “work” at all. Yes there was the manual labor involved in clearing the lot, painting, wiring the house, overseeing the construction, but it was energized by the bigger picture.

Thinking about what we wanted, how we could make it happen and putting the pieces together was exhilarating and exciting.

Because we kept our overall vision in mind, we could go through the steps required, do the work and bring about the outcome we wanted.  And we ended up with a house we absolutely loved.

IMG_0751Your Life – Your Design

You can apply the same process of design creation to your life.

First you have to have a vision, then gather information, remove obstacles and then develop a plan of action. Perhaps even more important is a belief in yourself and your abilities to bring it about.


Your life design includes both short term and long term costs and benefits.


In building our home, short term costs was the hard work of clearing the land, actual construction, etc. The short term benefits were seeing our home come together bit by bit.

The long term costs was time spent in design and completion.  The long term benefits were overwhelming.  It gave us a home we loved and could not have had without the vision, design and plan of action.


To be part of creating something you had envisioned, developed and constructed is exciting and invigorating.

Where do you start?

You want some changes.  You have some dreams.  You can envision a different result to the outcome of your hard work.  But where do you begin.

  1. First, gather information.  What is working?  What isn’t?  What are you satisfied with? What are you dissatisfied with?
  2. Second, create a vision. if you woke up tomorrow morning and you were living a life you wanted, what would you be doing?  What would it look like? How would you feel?
  3. Third, what obstacles are keeping you from developing your vision?  What needs to be removed?  What needs to be put in place? Taking those steps towards a meaningful design requires looking at all the things in your life keeping you from that design that have to go.
  4. Fourth, how would you design a plan of action to begin putting the pieces together?  What would be the first step, the second, etc. How would you motivate and encourage yourself moving forward?
  5. Fifth, are you prepared to go to work constructing a life that has meaning and purpose and contentment built into it?  Before taking that next step, you need a commitment.

Anything of value requires work.  But it is joyful work energized by your vision. When we help to bring about what we want versus what we wish we could have, labor is not considered hard work. Instead, It is an exciting purpose.


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.

Develop a Vision – Step 4



1 Timothy 4:4-5 – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.


Before we can put together any plan of action or design we need to have a vision of what that would look like.


What do you want from your life on a day to day basis that you don’t have right now?


A Vision for your Life

Remember as a kid laying on your back in the grass and dreaming of what you wanted to be when you grew up?  Everybody has dreams of what they think they might like to become or would like to do when they grow up, but few of us take the time to follow through. Far too often, they simply remain day dreams or wishes because we don’t believe we can actually turn them into actual reality.

Let’s revisit some of those early desires and see which ones are still important. Some are just kid’s dreams.  Others hold the potential for creating a more meaningful life. Anything is possible if we are willing to look for ways to bring it about.

It is never too late to start working on those things that are important to you.

What do you want?

Before creating your design, it is necessary to define more specifically what your vision for life would be. Explore the following questions as they might apply to you. Be honest. Then put down on a piece of paper what is really important to you. Be expansive. Allow yourself to dream big.  Later, you can go over the list and eliminate what isn’t so important.

Beginning the Process

What would I like to have happen?

What is important to me?  Why is it important?  Explore this a bit.

What is my passion?  What could I spend hours doing and still be energized?

What gives me pleasure, energy, joy, contentment and satisfaction?



Using the landscaping design model, which of the following are important?

    • I want a home where I can sit and relax and find contentment with my family
    • I want a place where I can see beauty in design, color and texture
    • I want to spend time in this place
    • I want a garden or landscaping that reflects serenity and peace
    • I want a place with minimal maintenance or things I enjoy doing
    • I want friendships that are pleasant and encouraging
    • I want reflecting pools and easy pathways – friends that are loyal and reflective and honest in their relationship with me
    • I want a place where others will enjoy visiting
Blond woman lying in field


Expand your vision for a more significant life

    • I want to be free from pain, resentment and bitterness
    • I want to experience happiness, joy and hope
    • I want to enjoy my work
    • I want to feel good about myself
    • I want to know I am doing something useful for others
    • I want to feel proud of my accomplishments


Are you ready to go for it?

It is one thing to put ideas down on paper.  It is another to take that step and create a plan to accomplish it. If you are willing to use your time more effectively, budget both time and money, create both short term and long term goals, you can achieve more than you ever thought you could.

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.



Become an Architect – Step 3

j0432878“. . .if you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face.  But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”  Luke 14

An architect looks at the condition of the soil, what things need to be removed, and what underground restrictions need to be considered in creating a design.

In our personal life, we might need to work through an ongoing anger problem that keeps us from achieving what we want.  Just as an architect analyzes the conditions he is working with, so we too need to analyze what we are working with. What things need to be dealt with, acknowledged or addressed?



Garden analysis to life project

Just as an architect wants to know everything that could potentially impact the design he is creating, so we too want to gather as much information as possible.

What things are your ignoring or are unconscious liabilities that could compromise a new plan of action? For example, if you don’t believe you can, you won’t be able to.

Continue to gather as much information as possible.

In a real gravel pit, before a design is worked out, you will want to know the kind of soil you are working with.  Is it clay, porous, sandy or loam. How stable are the edges. Is there an underground spring that could erode your work or alter your vision? Can it be used as a source for a small pond? Where would you like walkways or paths to be placed?

In using this same analysis for a life project, you might want to ask questions such as:

  • What is the condition of my life right now?
  • How stable am I emotionally and in my relationships?
  • What preliminary work on knowing myself is needed before I can go further?
  • What resources do I have to work with? This includes support as well as finances.
  • What difficulty can be turned into an asset? Example: You may have difficulties in your relationship: what can you learn about yourself that could turn things around? Maybe it is working with that child or teen who is struggling and together finding solutions. Maybe it is simply acceptance of where you are at this moment and moving up from there.

Gathering information

Continuing from Step Two, you now want to identify those things that are complicating your life currently, such as ongoing relationship or marriage problems, ongoing self esteem issues, being in constant defend/attack mode unable to articulate your wants and needs. Perhaps it is discontentment with your job, difficulty communicating, always thinking the worst without balancing it with the possible.

What we bring to our lives today from our past can be like underground springs or hidden deep rocks in the soil. We need to find a way to resolve them before creating that new design.

Laying in the leavesHere are some things that can sabotage your efforts to accomplishment.

  • What labels do you continue to use that were put in place growing up and are not true?


  • What do you say to yourself whenever anything isn’t working? Are these negative thoughts from your past? Can you challenge them?


  • What do you say to yourself when things are working? Do you sabotage your efforts by downplaying your abilities and accomplishments? An honest appraisal is not bragging. When we brag, it is because we are uncertain of ourselves and have the need to be better than someone else.


  • What does your internal critic say to you about you? Operating from the past, we look at problems today from what happened in the past. If our analysis of problems today is based on the facts in the present, we will be able to find solutions.


  • What resentments and grievances do we continue to revisit keeping us from thinking in more positive constructive ways?


Not addressing these things can result in a landscape design for your life that will be less than what you want.

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.