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.

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Christian Living

Free to Fly

How was everybody’s Thanksgiving? I really love the idea that we can set ourselves up for success! Like I talked about last week with using Thanksgiving to set up our holidays. I guess it’s because my schedule tends toward the packed side and my health tends towards exhaustion and my stress level tends towards more than I want it to be. There’s so much I can’t control. The idea that I can hook myself into a railroad track that will carry me the direction I want to head is music to my soul.

On our podcast, Epic Every Day, we introduce it by saying it’s designed for busy, overwhelmed Christians who want to move towards freedom, abundance, and peace. Those concepts have been my goals for the past several years.

In Gal. 5:1 Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” It’s easy to forget how amazing that is in the daily grind of life. Unless I’m reminded, I don’t think about freedom when I’m in the middle of school or housekeeping or even writing and podcasting. But we can’t take it for granted. Paul continues by saying, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (NIV). We’re designed to fly, but so often we hang around on the ground.

I’m reminded of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. They were so used to working 7 days a week that they went out to gather manna, even though God (via Moses) told them not to. He reinstated the Sabbath but their train tracks were to work 7 days.

Our natural tendency is to live in bondage. It might be the bondage of fear/worry. Or maybe it’s bondage to an addiction. Or bondage to stress. Or bondage to jealousy or envy. Or maybe it’s bondage to the past–carrying regret or being unable to forgive yourself. Maybe it’s bondage to people-pleasing or trying to control things in your life. Or, like Paul talks about, maybe it’s bondage to rules–trying to earn salvation. We all lived in bondage before Jesus saved us. For me, I had so much fear wrapped up in my PTSD. Years of therapy and personal work, by God’s grace, have brought freedom that I never thought possible. Sometimes I notice it in little things, like being able to watch my kids chew gum without having a panic attack. Or sometimes it’s in big things like sleeping through the night consistently for the first time in my life.

We all have some kind of bondage. The question is what we’re going to do about it. We can stay trapped. One of the most insidious traps is to be stuck in “someday”–“Someday I’ll address that bondage.” “Someday my life circumstances will be different and my heart issues will go away by themselves.” “Someday I’ll have time to inventory where I’m in bondage.”

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts…” (Heb. 3:7-8)

There’s no time to wait for someday. And, as I’ve talked about before, we can’t apply a circumstance solution to a heart problem. The heart problem will be there until we fix the heart problem. Freedom is internal before it shows up externally. We’re so blessed because we don’t have to earn our salvation! We have a loving heavenly Father who gives us good gifts that are perfectly individualized for each of us (James 1:17). We have the Holy Spirit to work the fruit of the Spirit in us when we surrender–so many of which are the antidote to bondage. We don’t have to live in bondage–we choose to live in it.

So where don’t you have freedom? And what’s stopping you from getting it?

Copy of Blog_ Using Thanksgiving as a springboard

Christian Living

Why you’re a miracle

It was my birthday this week. I like my birthday about as much as I like Christmas, which, for those of you who have started reading since January, is down into the negative numbers. For the vast majority of my life, it has been a reminder of all the ways I’m not good enough. And since it tends to ramp up my PTSD, I end up being sleep-deprived and panic-attacked while I’m trying to remind myself what’s true and what’s a lie.

But you know what? The odds of any one of us existing are astronomical. There’s a pretty awesome info graphic based on Dr. Ali Binazir’s calculations I would like to show you. Note: Obviously, you can quibble over his calculations but the principle is the same.

https://i2.wp.com/i.imgur.com/Dub8k.png

If that’s not enough to blow your mind, you can also consider the fact that each cell was lovingly orchestrated by God. Psalm 139:13-15 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

Chuck Missler talks about how God is the force signaling to our wee bodies when it’s time to start working on hands and feet, when it’s time to make the liver and the heart. The way babies develop in utero is fearful and wonderful! It doesn’t make sense but they go from one cell to a whole baby. It’s a miracle.

I keep a quote by Mel Robbins in my planner: “There will always be someone who can’t see your worth–don’t let it be you.” It’s hard when the people who matter to us can’t see our worth. And I think birthdays can be a big reminder of that to a lot of people, especially if anyone in your family holds that view. It’s like a once a year day to come along and poke a sore spot.

If your birthday is such a day for you, I’d like to tell you right now: you are a miracle. You are amazing. The odds against you existing as yourself right now are so slim that it is God’s hand that’s lovingly formed you, God’s hand that’s kept your parents together long enough to conceive you. And even if one (or both) of them can’t see your worth, it doesn’t matter. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s hard and painful. But it doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t change that you are God’s miracle, created exactly the way He wanted you to be in this post-Fall world.

You are a miracle. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.