Do You Have Four Minutes?

Right now seems to be a season of flux for me. It looks like some changes are coming. For one, I’m taking a break right now from working on any novels. I am still writing daily using a writing prompt, and I hope to work on this blog a little more. But I will need to make some decisions about what direction I want to go with my career soon.

As a Christian, I want to follow God’s path for my life. I want to  use the gifts He’s given me for His good, not mine. Most of the time, I feel like I just need to get out of the way and quit overthinking everything.  There are some very simple mantras that stick in my head, like “Do the Work.” Or “Take Action.” Both of those are great and exactly what I need to do. But when you’re lost on which direction to go, it’s easy to just stop. And that doesn’t feel right either.

hourglass-1703330_1280Sometimes, though, it’s okay to stop. Take a break. Just breathe for a moment. And that’s where the title of this blog comes in: Do you have four minutes?

Recently at church, one of our teaching pastors, Ryan Leak (@ryanleak), talked about our prayer life. In this fast-paced world, we’re not always stopping to pray, and most certainly aren’t taking time out for quiet time with the Lord. We all know the passage in Psalm 46 that says “Be Still and know that I am God.” Yet most of us aren’t still. So, Ryan suggested an experiment. For four minutes, you sit still. Set a timer (because yes, it feels strange at first). But quiet yourself. You can start out praying, but God knows our hearts. He hears from us enough, but do we take time to hear from Him? So be still, for four minutes. And absorb the silence.

Now, you may not hear the booming voice of God. You may not hear anything. The answers may not come, but for four minutes, you focus on God. You quiet your heart. Maybe you find peace.

As I’m struggling in this season where I’m purposely taking a break, I’m going to try to be still for four minutes a day. Will I find the answers I need? Will my path suddenly appear before me? I don’t know. But I do know that for four minutes a day, I will revel in the quiet. I will settle my racing thoughts. I will have a peaceful moment. Maybe the answers will come, maybe they won’t. But I do know they certainly won’t come unless I stop long enough to listen. I’m setting aside four minutes a day to listen.

What about you? Do you have four minutes?

The Daily Decision

You know those times when you’re reading a blog post or a meme and something just jumps out at you and smacks you in the face. It’s happened to me a couple of times. (Hmmm… I need to put all of those sayings together so I can remember what smacked me in the face).decisions-by

Anyway, I had words smack me again today. I was reading a blog about being a writer and the challenges that can be faced with choosing a writing career. (Check out the post on Seekerville by Debby Giusti).

Debby said that you have to make a decision to write. Talk about words leaping off the page: you have to choose. You have to make the decision. Such a simple thing, but somehow it smacked me. I have a really made the decision to pursue writing? If so, then it’s a choice DAILY to sit down and write.

I think that’s true with most things in life. You have to choose.

If I really want to pursue a career in writing, I have to make the decision every day to put words on a page.

If I want to blog regularly (ahem!), then I have to choose to think of topics and again, put the words on the page.

If I want to get healthy and lose weight, then I have to choose to exercise or go to the gym. I have to make the decision to eat healthier.

Don’t get me wrong, I know things can happen that can totally derail your daily choices. I’ve had cancer twice, so I get that. I’ve been derailed! But when events happen that change your path, then you still make a choice of how you’re going to handle interruptions to your regular schedule. What will be your next decision?

To accomplish most things in life, you have to make the decision to do it. And do it. It’s a daily decision and a daily choice.

Smacked!

A couple of weeks ago, I was smacked in the face. Not literally. Despite my recent stings and falls, this was figurative smack in the face.

Have you ever been droning along with life and something just wakes you up and causes you to rethink nearly everything? Or at least inspires you to move forward? That’s what happened with me.

I heard two words that are so simple yet have impacted me deeply. They are: Take Action.

Pretty basic words, but when you think about them, they can inspire your entire life. These two words are my new mantra. Take Action.

Regardless of your dreams, goals, calling, diet plans, whatever, the only way to achieve any of them is to Take Action. Otherwise, you’re dreaming and planning, but not DOING. If you don’t take action, you’re not doing anything to accomplish your goals.

I have several things I want to accomplish including writing and finishing my novel, writing devotional pieces, and managing my health better. You know the old stand-bys of eat better, exercise, lose weight. I also want to grow deeper in my faith and have a stronger prayer life.

None of these can be accomplished unless I take action. Otherwise, I’m only complaining that I need to lose weight or bemoaning that I don’t have time to write or pray or whatever.

The solution is simple: Take Action.

Those two words resonate in my life all the way to my core.

What about you? Do you have something you in which you need to take action? Do you have a mantra that smacked you in the face and encouraged you? Please share.

In other words: Take Action.

The Next Phase of Life

It’s back to school time. You’ve seen the pictures flooding the internet of kids on their first day of school for this year. For some parents, it’s seeing their kids start high school or middle school, for others, it’s the start of Kindergarten, and finally there are those who are sending their youngest to college and are now facing the empty nest. There’s a new normal happening in many households.

Sandwich Generation

For my husband and I, well, we’ve been empty nesters for several years. Both kids are grown and married. We’ve been in this blissful phase of life, with the kids grown, but before grandchildren, and our own parents still healthy and active.

But as we all know, life can change on a dime and sometimes it’s an avalanche of change.

That avalanche has come roaring at us this year. And not with just one new phase of life, but with several phases bombarding us all at once. We’re entering a new season, and the quiet before these new storms are now past.

I’m mourning that quiet time before this change, but there are good things coming in this new season.

This is what I’m calling my “sandwich” year. I’m sure you’ve heard the term before – the sandwich generation. I don’t quite fit into that definition, but I’m feeling sandwiched enough.

In other words, this is the year where everything changed forever. My parents’ lives turned upside down with the advent of a couple of serious health issues. I spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to be with them, and will do so a few more times this year. For the first time, I see my parents as “older.” If you knew my folks, you know they have never been elderly or even come close to acting their ages. But unfortunately, I see that age now as one faces difficult health challenges and the other has gone into a caregiving role.

As I come to terms with the changes for my parents, we have the other end of the spectrum… and that’s the arrival of our first grandchild! It was so nice to have such joyous news in the midst of the trauma with my parents. As my husband and I anticipate this precious gift of a new baby, we know that nothing in our lives will be the same again. We’re very excited and while we remain empty nesters, we are already looking around our home, thinking about when the baby will be here, when we’ll play and entertain our grandchild…thinking about the “toy room.” (Okay, so we’re planning far ahead!)

This is definitely the year of change. My child and spouse will have a new normal in their lives as they become parents.

My parents have a new normal as they deal with health challenges and the long-term after effects.

As for my husband and I, these events in the lives of our children and parents have impacted us in numerous ways, that we too are finding our new normal. In the future, I know I will always reflect upon this year as our year of major change – some tough changes and joyous changes.

But I look forward to next year with such hope – the hope that comes from our new grandchild, and the hope that my parents will be healthy and strong from this point forward.

While I know I’ll have my sandwich moments yet to come, if we can balance that with a future and a hope (read Jeremiah 29:11), then we’ll make it through and continue to our next phase of life.

Transitions in Life

What’s the old saying? The only thing that is constant is change.  Something like that.

I’ve been thinking recently about transitions in life.  Although we may say we wish our kids would stay little, or that we could stay in high school or college forever, or that we could stay 25 years old and not grow older, we know that life doesn’t work that way.

And it’s usually for the better. When we don’t go through the transitions in life and go on to the next stage, we’ll miss something wonderful that God has planned for us.

My niece just graduated high school, the last of her siblings to do so. My niece was such a cute baby and I wanted to coddle her forever.  Her big sister and I were very close and I have memories of her toddling to me and lifting her arms so I could pick her up.

Precious memories.  What would’ve happened if we stopped time right there?  Obviously, things like my one niece’s high school graduation and the excitement and hopes we have for her as she moves on to college would be gone. We wouldn’t see her blossoming into the young woman filled with sky-high, wonderful dreams.

With my other niece, if time had stopped when she still held her arms up for me to carry her, we would’ve missed her wedding, and her beautiful son.  Would I trade meeting my great-nephew to keep his mother as a toddler?  Look what we would’ve missed!  No way!

Most times, we’re nervous graduating college.  The bubble of academia and college life was something we quickly got used to. What would the real world be like?

Yet, if we don’t transition, then we miss out on marriage, family, and watching our own kids grow.

Transitions are scary, there’s no doubt.  But I wouldn’t want to miss the journey going from my own wedding day, to the day I went wedding dress shopping with my own daughter to watching her being escorted down the aisle by her father. If I could’ve stayed young, I  would’ve missed too many sweet moments.

I look forward to growing old(er) with my husband. We made the transition from a house full of teenagers to empty nest.  And yes, the empty nest time has been very sweet.  But when the next transition comes along, possibly of grandchildren, you can bet I’ll be standing in that doorway ready to leap.

Life is scary. Growing up and growing older can be frightening.  But I don’t want to stagnate — and I don’t want to miss the next exciting part of my life that God has planned.

What about you? Were some transitions in your life more difficult than others?

 

A Leap of Faith

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the “Pioneer Spirit.”  And the week before that, we talked about “Living an Adventurous Life.”

Do you sense a theme here?  I’m now struggling with making my own leap of faith, while seeing others around me taking their own and stepping out in faith.

Photo courtesy of: http://transparentwithmyself.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cliff_jump.jpg

In my life group from church, we have transitions taking place.  One couple has just joined us. They were happy and content in their home state, with their family nearby as they raised their own family.  Yet he was unhappy with his job — very unhappy.  A friend told him about a job in Texas. They had never been to Texas, never even visited.  Yet here was this opportunity for them, and through fervent prayer, and discussions with their family, they took that leap of faith and moved to a state they had never been to and settled here. Thankfully, they found our church and life group and we’re happy to welcome them and look forward to getting to know them.  God has a purpose.

Sadly, another member is leaving us and moving back to her home state, to care for her ailing and aging mother.  She’s leaving her job and friends here to go back to her hometown. While her hometown is familiar to her (unlike the couple who had never been to Dallas before), she is still taking her own leap of faith to balance her life with that of honoring her parents, leaving her job and not knowing if this is a temporary move or permanent. Only God knows the plans he has for her.

Finally, another young couple I’m very close to is also leaving Dallas.  They are young, still in their 20s and newlyweds. She has a great job opportunity in another major city in Texas, and he is supporting her and so they are moving. It is a leap of faith for them to venture to this city that they’ve never lived in and know few people. In my heart, I know this is a great move for them and a wonderful opportunity, so off they go on their new adventure.

But not all leaps of faith require uprooting your entire life and moving to a new city.  Sometimes a leap of faith can be a new direction in your life, whether it be career oriented or a new church or just letting your kids grow-up and releasing them to the adult world.  It can be a change in your attitude, in how you conduct yourself day-to-day.

For me, I’m struggling with a change of direction in my own writing career. It’s a strange emotion as I let go of one dream and start to embrace another — still fearing, still wondering if this is the right decision.

So, it makes me ask: what makes you take a leap of faith?  I’d love to hear your stories and ideas. How do you get past fear and even your own emotions?  How do you get out of your own way to take that leap? 

Name this blog… Win a Prize!

With the re-launch of my blog, I’ve changed directions. The new direction for my blog is discussing relationships, which are all around us. But now I think it needs a new title.

No longer is this just my journey (as in “Rebecca’s Journey”). I want everyone to be involved, as we all have relationships and hopefully at one point or another, there will be a topic that truly resonates.

So, let’s start with step one of being involved: Name this blog. And the person who comes up with the title I choose will win a $10 Starbucks card or a $10 Barnes & Noble card (your choice). Okay, that’s not much, but hopefully it’s fun.

Let’s have a little fun with this! Name my blog….win a prize!

Leave your suggestions in the comments. I’ll announce a winner on Monday, March 25th, 11:00am central time.

And thank you for participating!

A New Direction

If you’ve looked at my blog recently you can see clearly see that I haven’t posted regularly. It’s time to change that.

What’s been on my mind recently is the topic of relationships. Everyone has relationships in one form or another. We have relationships with our spouses, our children, siblings, parents, extended families, co-workers, church friends, school friends, even people we see casually, like the grocery store clerk, the person bagging our groceries, and people at the gym.

We even have a relationship with ourselves and sometimes that’s the trickiest one of all. Lately I’ve been examining my relationships including the one I have with myself. The previous theme of this blog was about cancer and life after cancer. But I don’t want to focus on cancer any longer. There’s much more to my life than cancer. But I have to acknowledge how cancer changed me. I don’t think you can go through an experience like that, especially twice, and not somehow be changed.

What having cancer has done spurred me to take better care of myself and of course live life to the fullest. But that meant changing everything about my life. Since 2012 I’ve lost over 70 pounds, I go to the gym regularly, and have completely changed the way I eat. This was difficult but it’s more than worth it.

I have a whole new attitude that has definitely changed how I feel about myself. Obviously it’s fun to buy clothes, and I find myself choosing more interesting and colorful clothes to wear. Recently I bought tennis shoes and while my inclination would have been to by black or boring, I actually bought silver shoes highlighted with neon pink and green, which is so different for me. (See photo with old tennis shoes in the background).

But I guess I have a new spirit of fun and celebration for this life. Last summer, my daughter gave me a pair of red and cream wingtip shoes. Never would I have bought these on my own, but they are now my favorite shoes! And they go great with the RED jeans I bought. Me… in red jeans… what a difference 74 pounds makes! (When I get really brave, I’ll add a photo of me in red jeans!)

As excited as I am I don’t want to turn into one of these people that has to tell everyone else how I’ve done this. Too many of my friends struggle with weight loss and other issues. While I want to be an encourager, I don’t want to be annoying about it! Everyone has to find their own path.

We all want to have those relationships where we can share and celebrate the good things in our life, and still be compassionate and encouraging to those going through the tough times. The ups and downs of life are something we all have in common.

So as I go forward with confidence and some introspection, I think examining the relationships in my world and in yours will be a good exercise in trying to live life to its fullest and to appreciate life and the people we have in our lives.

I hope you’ll join me and share your own stories about the relationships in your life.

Let’s start with how we treat ourselves. What’s your relationship like with yourself? Do you beat up on yourself? Have you gone through a recent change? Or are you still grappling with “can I do this?”

Maybe if we share with each other, then we can lift each other up and today can be a better day.