Christian Living

Taking the Easy Road

This past week on our podcast we’ve been talking about simplicity. I think this is the time of year when we lose our New Year’s goals–they fall to the wayside, or we get discouraged by how little we’ve accomplished in the past month, or they’re still hanging out in front of us, something to aim for when we get time (if we get time). Although there are many reasons for this loss, I think overcomplicating can be one of them. Sometimes, when we set our goals, we make them more difficult than they need to be.

One of the things I’m trying to do regularly is to ask this question Tim Ferris recommends: “what if this were easy?”

This is a great question because it changes my perspective right away. What if it were easy to design our website? Or to get healthy? Or to eat dinner every day? Or to (you fill in the blank)?

My first thought is to get someone else to do it ūüėČ Today I was making hot chocolate for lunch (50% eggs so it totally counts!), and I asked myself what it would look like if it were easy. A cook came to mind. ¬†The same thing happened with our website–my first thought was to get someone else to do it. And that’s not a bad idea.

Rory Vaden talks about how if we’re going to multiply time (do the things today that get us more time tomorrow), we have to start by asking whether it’s something that needs done at all. If the answer is yes, we should ask if someone else could do it. If so, delegate! If you can’t delegate for whatever reason, getting expert help is a great next step. Maybe read a book or take a class. The difference between having a paid wordpress theme and a free one has been night and day–for the first time, I can call the makers and get help if I’m stuck or if the theme isn’t working properly.

Not having to do the work or having someone handhold me through the process are both easy ways to do something–especially in contrast to bumbling my way through something I’m not familiar with.

Asking what it would look like if something were easy can jump us to the end result. It’s kind of like jumping to the end of a maze and working your way back to the beginning–sometimes it’s easier that way. With our podcast website, we talked about what would be easy for us (not having to program or customize!), and then found a theme that was drag and drop. I could wax rhapsodic over how easy it is compared to what I was doing before!

Anyway, sometimes we get stuck because we don’t know what easy looks like or we don’t believe easy is possible. Imagining an easy end result shifts that mindset and gives us the clarity and focus to figure out how to get from here to there. It’s a beautiful thing!

What if what you’re working on today were easy? What would that look like?

blog_ Taking the easy road

Christian Living

Climbing Last Year’s Mountain

Sorry guys! I know it’s been a couple of weeks. We’ve been sick again. It’s hard to get back into a routine after such a long time of being out of it.

I love New Year’s! I love feeling like I can let go of the failures of the previous year and start over with a fresh slate. No mistakes in it. I find, however, that I can get discouraged when I make my goals because I want to be further along than I am. It’s a time to look at the mountain and re-realize I haven’t climbed it. That’s not always true, and often, I forget to congratulate myself for the mountains I have climbed. But sometimes, it feels overwhelming just looking at the next year’s goals and seeing how similar they are to the previous year’s goals.

I’m learning two strategies to manage this type of stress. The first is to ask myself why I didn’t climb my mountain. I have to admit this type of introspection isn’t always that much fun. Sometimes it’s because I’m afraid to fail or I’m paralyzed by indecision over the best way up. Sometimes it’s because circumstances outside of my control kept me from climbing it. For example, several years ago my doctor told me I had to start sleeping 12 hours/night or I’d end up with an auto-immune disease. I tried doing a sleep study and following their recommendations but because the sleep doctor didn’t address my nutrition or my PTSD around sleep, I didn’t make any progress. I didn’t know what I didn’t know (and probably neither did the doctor).

In 2017, I learned about sleep on a cellular level and what I needed to do nutritionally to set myself up for good sleep. I also worked on my PTSD around sleep. Lo and behold, I’ve been sleeping through the night consistently for the past few months. For the first time in my whole life, I fall asleep quickly and easily, sleep until morning, and then wake up. I used to have sleep days like that two or three times per year and now they’re the norm. I love that kind of progress! But it didn’t come until I started dealing with the root problems instead of trying to treat symptoms.

The second is to give myself some grace. We can get so focused on accomplishing our goals–especially us people who are into personal development–that we forget to give ourselves grace. Success isn’t about perfection–it’s about getting back up when we fail, working on our projects when we can even if it’s not as much as we would prefer. It’s about doing our best with the circumstances we’ve got. Maybe I don’t have brain power to write one day–I don’t need to cudgel my brain into submission. Really, I probably just need a break and that’s okay. If I do force myself to write, it’s not going to be good quality and it’ll just reinforce a belief that writing is hard and not fun–work. That’s not the kind of writing I want to do! I love authors who obviously have fun with their stories–it makes the story fun to read. No one needs to read work that makes them feel bleh.

So, as we all start to execute our New Year’s goals, I challenge you (and myself) to implement these two strategies. Let’s ask ourselves why the goal hasn’t already happened and then address the issues that come up. And let’s give ourselves grace.

Blog_ Climbing Last Year's Mountain.jpg

Christian Living

Leaving the Baggage Behind

So, how’s everyone’s new year going? Recovered from the holidays yet? I hope you had a lovely New Year’s! I did. We sat down as a family and wrote down the things we loved about 2016 and six goals for each of us in 2017. I am really liking this read-your-goals-out-loud-every-day thing.¬†

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan of writing down what you want to add to your life in the upcoming year. If we don’t plant it, we can’t reap it. I have lots of things I want to carry into 2017 or to add to my life in 2017.¬†Lately though, I’ve been thinking about what I need to let go of this year. Kinda like the difference between sins of omission vs. commission‚ÄĒit’s easy to forget the omission ones. I make goals but rarely do I make let-go’s.

A friend and I were talking about shame recently and how we both struggle with hanging onto shame. That’s something I’m working on letting go of. I’m passionate about mistakes not defining who I am. It’s amazing how many things I’ve moved from the category of “power” to “thing” this year‚ÄĒfor example, money. Mistakes are like that. They’re just a thing. They don’t have the power to define who you are‚ÄĒespecially if you accept that you’re human and make mistakes and go through the process of asking for and accepting God’s forgiveness and then learn from them.

God’s forgiveness is amazing when you really think about it. If it’s been a while since you first became a believer, take a minute and just remember what it was like to carry your sins all by yourself. Then meditate on God’s forgiveness: God says He takes our sins away as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). He gives full redemption (Ps. 130:7)–I LOVE this concept. It means that any mistake or sin I’ve ever committed can be filled up with God’s redemption and turned into something that’s actually beneficial for me AND for the person I sinned against.

A lot of us had a less than perfect 2016. It’d be easy to carry our mistakes with us into 2017. But we don’t have to‚ÄĒand, in fact, carrying them will weigh us down and make us less able to do well in 2017. We can choose to fix them‚ÄĒto admit our mistakes, ask God for forgiveness and redemption and then do our best to address the issue/broken relationship and to learn what we need to learn‚ÄĒforgive (others or, more often in my case, myself), and then focus on 2017.

What are you hanging onto from 2016 that you can let go of?

Christian Living, Uncategorized

Peace in 2017

Wow! Last week of the year. I can’t believe that it’s the end of 2016. I love getting to the end of a year and getting to start fresh–I know we get a fresh start every day but there’s something special about starting a brand new year. If you haven’t done the work of organizing your year, it really, really helps! One new thing I’m doing is to write down my top five goals for the year and read them out loud every day. It’s definitely helped me to stay¬†focused on what I want to accomplish instead of getting sidetracked by the day-to-day junk.

Anyway! This week I was struck by what an amazing thing peace is. We hear a lot about peace at Christmas–how Jesus came to bring us peace with God–but I wonder if we’re so used to hearing it that we don’t really listen anymore. I know I get that way. I happened to be doing Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself study on the fruit of the Spirit, specifically on peace, this past week.

She defines peace in several ways but one that I really liked was “the absence of fear and turmoil” (p.107). Thinking about 2016, we had some pretty stressful bits. I love this idea that even during the crazy–because of Jesus’ birth, life, and death–we can have true peace. I love that we can move through anything life throws at us without fear and turmoil.

I think it’s easy to forget how really awesome that is–especially if you’ve grown up in the Church or spent a lot of time around other Christians. I’ve been reading a lot of secular books lately and found myself grieving for the authors… there’s just such a tangible lack of peace. One of the vloggers my husband follows has talked about how he’s perpetually busy on purpose because he falls into depression anytime he has time to think.

It’s a sad state of affairs if you have to cram your life full to hide the fact that you don’t have peace. Why do so many people not have peace? I really liked this section where Beth Moore talked about the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-15) and how there are prerequisites to having peace(p. 103).

Just like the boy brought all he had¬†(five loaves and two fish), we have to surrender all we have, even when it seems inadequate for the situation at hand. Also, like Jesus had¬†the people to sit down, we have to put ourselves in a position of trust and rest. This one is really hard for me. I tend to ask for God to intervene and then keep checking on/trying to intervene myself when I feel like He’s taking too long or not doing it the way I want it done.

As we move into 2017, we all have a choice: are we going to do the work of surrender and trust or not? It may not even make any difference in our circumstances on the outside but it’ll definitely change how we handle those circumstances.



Christian Living, Uncategorized

Unwavering Faith

I can’t believe it’s DECEMBER–as in the last month of 2016! Crazy how fast this year went. I’m trying to wrap up some various projects by the end of the year so I’ve been making lists of what needs done and what needs put on my list for next year. It’s good but also a little overwhelming. There were a lot of goals I had for this year that didn’t happen for various reasons.

In the middle of this, I found myself in Romans 4. If you’ve never read that chapter, it’s pretty amazing. I’d like to focus in on verses 18-22:¬†Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‚ÄúSo shall your offspring be.‚Ä̬†Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead‚ÄĒsince he was about a hundred years old‚ÄĒand that Sarah‚Äôs womb was also dead.¬†Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,¬†being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.¬†This is why ‚Äúit was credited to him as righteousness.‚ÄĚ (NIV)

After spending the past few months in James, my brain immediately threw neon lights around that phrase “waver through unbelief.” In case you’re not familiar with that section of James, James says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.¬†But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.¬†Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”¬†(1:5-8, NIV). There’s this idea that wavering in your faith gets you even less than you started with.

I am blown away by Abraham’s faith. I can’t even imagine the way he could walk that line–to acknowledge the truth vs. falling into denial but to still hang onto his faith. It’s incredible to me that he could take an honest assessment of things. So often I feel like faith is portrayed as this ability to lie to yourself–to ignore the reality of whatever the situation is. But that’s not faith at all. Faith is living in the truth of whatever is going on–regardless of how overwhelming or impossible it seems–and then trusting God to work it out for your good, for my good (Rom. 8:28).

As we are smack dab in the midst of the crazy stress that often constitutes the holidays, trying to finish out the year well, trying to figure out how to start next year well, I need the reminder that God can work all that out. I hope you can hang onto that too. It doesn’t matter how huge the situation is–after all, Abraham and Sarah were¬†both¬†impotent but God still worked things out for them to conceive–God can do something amazing in and through it!


Looking Forward

Lately we’ve been talking to our children about death. Yesterday one of our family members passed away. Earlier this year one of my husband’s family died. It’s been a good opportunity to process through these ideas of grief and death with our children. Death is not the end. Death is the beginning of something else–a belief my grandmother held firmly to until the last. Her love of adventure carried her through her this life and on into the next. I hope I pass on that sort of legacy to my children!

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.¬†The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Death is not the end. Just as the death of this year is but the beginning of the next. A doorway through which we come to the next adventure . . . the next place God is calling us. How do I embrace what’s coming in this next year? What things am I loving when I ought to let them go? How do I embrace death in those areas? God has given us a glimpse of what’s coming in the Bible. We have hints of the new world throughout Scripture. What hints has He given me for this year? What do I know I need to press on toward? How about you? What are you looking forward to?