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Posts Categorized: The Next Step

Step 1 – Start Where You Are

“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him; when I got my act together, He gave me a fresh start….”Psalm 18:20 – The Message

If I asked you to tell me about yourself and who you are, what would you say?

Typically, our first responses would be to talk about the roles we have in life such as teacher, Mom, CEO, factory worker, mechanic, librarian, physician, etc.

Who am I?

But that is only a small part of our life story. That is merely the outside surface layer. How do you describe yourself outside of those roles?

Where we Begin

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” Jeremiah 1

Last week, we explored building a house and then designing a landscaping plan for your yard.

Landscaping can be more or less a challenge depending on the ground, the soil, what was left after construction and what you do with it. What can be left? What needs to be removed? What can be incorporated into the design itself?

Where do we begin?

Tatters of our life can often resemble a gravel pit. How do we get from there to a beautiful garden? Where do you begin such a daunting project?

The same place Mrs. Butchart did.

She didn’t just cover up the hole; she used it as her spring board.

If she had just filled the large expansive gravel pit that remained after quarrying ended, it would not be the beautiful gardens it is today.

Landscaping Design for Your Life

I have a Golden chain tree in my yard that has beautiful hanging yellow flowers every spring. A neighbor told me how much they enjoyed the tree and hoped I would never get rid of it. I assured them I wouldn’t. It was one of my first choices for trees in my landscaping design after building my home.

To build a home we need a set of plans. After the house is finished, the next step is taking the pile of rubble and dirt remaining and create a landscaping plan for trees, shrubs, flower beds and pathways.

Years ago I put together a program entitled, “Turn your gravel Pit into a Beautiful Garden”, the inspiration coming from Butchart Gardens, in British Columbia, Canada, an internationally renowned garden.

Just as you and I can design and build our homes, we can do the same with our lives. I was inspired by this concept when I researched the beginning of this beautiful place.

A New Dialogue

What you say to yourself and others has long term consequences. Words said in anger cut deep. Words that devalue who you are, your worth and esteem put you in a self-imposed prison.

Communication begins with you to you. When we esteem ourselves we can esteem others.

As you learn to appreciate who you are, you can assist your next steps forward with positive statements made in the first person “I” that affirm your significance and usefulness. These confirm your positive intentions for life.

I affirm that I have choices and abilities

I affirm I have worth and value

I affirm that I can accomplish any goals I choose when

I put my heart, mind and hard work to the task

Wounded People

I lost a brother last week – sudden – unexpected.

In honor of his death and life, and for anyone who has lost a loved one, I post a poem I wrote in 2008 when I was working with people going through grief – wounded people.

You may have struggled going through a major loss in your life. Or you may be helping a friend who is grieving. This is for anyone who has been in that position.

Wounded People

Need a hand for support as they learn to walk again

Need friends who will be there

Need to know they can honor their journey

Need to have their feelings and experience validated

Why, What and How

We can usually identify what it is we don’t want, but often struggle to put into words exactly what we do want. Until we do, we will be unable to design a plan and stay focused to accomplish it.

Why, What, and How

What have you wanted to do but for whatever reason never got around to doing it. Maybe you thought about getting more education, or starting your own business or putting time and energy into creating crafts that others would want to buy.

Perhaps you wished you could work for a worthwhile cause that pulls your heart. But life seems so hectic.

These three little words, why, what and how, along with the questions they pose may help you rethink those wishes and wants. Use them to re-examine them and their importance to you.

Adjust Your Focus

Those of you who love to take pictures do more than point and shoot. You are constantly adjusting the lens to take in more of the landscape or to narrow the scope to pinpoint a particular point of interest.

You continue to adjust your focus until you can capture exactly what you want.

You care about the lighting, the angle, the depth perception, and the nuances that give some pictures a timeless quality.

We adjust the lens of our cameras –

but do we adjust the lens of our camera of life?

Free to be Me

When we feel there are no solutions to our problems, we strike out, hang on to resentment and blame others for our difficulties or distress. Or we condemn ourselves.

Remaining in that mindset, however, takes away our personal power and keeps us locked in a never ending cycle of bitterness and anger.

Our focus remains on what we can’t do and not on what we can do.

We are a combination of many things: DNA, personality, childhood experiences and the fundamental beliefs we put in place while growing up. We form perceptions of who we think we are based on how we interpret our experiences.

Everyone will be affected differently by life events. While one thing may be an irritant to one person, it can be a positive experience to another.

Completing the stories from our past give us the opportunity to take a more measured look at what happened in our growing up years and how that continues to influence our present day life. Some things made us feel little and insignificant while others motivated us to become the best we can.

A Tribute for a Friend

I 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

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.