Standing at the Crossroad

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Up until today, I would describe my journey-to-better as exciting. I’ve eaten better – and written more – this past couple of weeks than I have in a long while. It’s felt good knowing I am finally doing something to help myself get back on track with both my eating and my call to writing – the two areas I struggle with most.

But today? Today, I’m tired. I’m tired of cooking. Tired of avoiding sugar-free coffee creamers laden with artificial sweeteners. Tired of passing on concession food and quick, convenient fast-food meals. Tired of planning ahead and packing lunchboxes filled with healthy, precooked options.

Yes, I know. These are all good things for me to do. But I’m still tired of doing them.

Why? Because doing these good things – making these wise choices – requires effort on my part. And lots of it. Though I know – if continued – they’ll spur me on to victory, I still find myself growing weary of them. And because I’m growing weary, I’m also growing fearful.

As fear creeps in, I hear it whispering discouragement in my ear. You can’t do this! It’s too hard. It requires too much. You simply don’t have time.  As those untruths settle into my fatigued heart, fear punches me with the biggest lie yet. You’re about to blow this thing – again!

A few days ago, I fell short of reaching my daily writing goal of 500 words. I accepted a challenge to write 500 words a day for 30 days straight; twelve days in, I failed the challenge. I felt defeated. I had not done what I set out to do. Once again, I had allowed the urgencies of life to sidetrack me from matters of greater importance. And once again, I sensed fear nudging its way in.

So I stand before you today, facing a crossroad. Where do I go from here?

Boldly looking within myself, I acknowledge the magnitude of weakness staring back at me. But as daunting as it seems, I absolutely must not succumb to failure. Though I’m tired and weary and afraid, I must pick myself up, dust off my jeans, dig my heels in deeper and try again.

Yes, the honeymoon phase is over. The excitement is fading. The reality that this is real, hard work is setting in. Not only that, but the reality that this real, hard work isn’t short-term. This is something I desire for myself from here on out.

I’m holding out hope that sometime soon today’s difficult choices will become second nature – both to me and to those walking this road with me.  When that day arrives, each of us will joyfully look back, knowing it was worth the effort.

But until then, as we tackle the uphill leg of this journey, we need something to strengthen our resolve. Something to hold onto. Something to keep us moving in the right direction.

More than that, we need someONE. Someone who’ll walk with us. Someone who’ll walk ahead of us. Someone who’ll lead us on to victory.

Friend, if we want to pull through the muck, land in places of success and remain there, we absolutely must stick close to the One who’s capable of guiding us into those places.

That’s how we do it. Walking together. Walking with Him.

Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.” Proverbs 3:6 (CEV)

Finding the Will to Try Again

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One week into the new year and I’m already lagging behind.

We started school back this past Monday, albeit reluctantly. Today, the kids begin their second semester of Homeschool Academy, setting out to tackle what’s left of this school year.

As we settle in to do just that, I am reminded there are other things in life also worth tackling.

So here I sit. Steaming cup of coffee within arm’s reach. Laptop open – the keys smooth beneath my touch. My heart feels hopeful as I type #my500words – a 31 day commitment to jumpstart my writing this year.

I wonder what commitments this new year ushered in for you? Perhaps you resolved to make changes in your personal life – your health, your marriage, your family. Or, perhaps it’s your career or work place that need tweaking. Or maybe, like me, it’s time to stop piddling and finally pursue that certain something God has called you to do.

Likely, more than one area comes to mind when you ponder change. This is true of me as well.

Developing the habit of daily writing is not the only area in my life needing improvement. There is another area – one just as important and just as difficult, possibly more so. Together, these two areas comprise my greatest struggles.

Eating as I should.

Writing as I should.

I wish I could tell you I’m stepping into these commitments wholeheartedly and with strong resolve. The truth is this: I’ve failed so many times, I’m gun-shy of even trying. I lack confidence in myself, in my abilities, in my self-discipline.

These issues remind me of the scenario Paul speaks of in Romans 7:15 – “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”

It’s such a frustrating pattern. Especially when I know it’s me failing myself. Every single time.

I’m the one who chooses the unhealthy option over the healthy one. I’m the one who goes back for a second helping when there is no need to do so. It’s me who creates any excuse possible to avoid sitting down, staying put and getting the writing done.

So at the end of the day, I beat myself up once more. I tally my wins and losses in my head and, as usual, the losses far outweigh the wins. All the while, the numbers on my scale increase and the words on my paper decrease.

So once again, I fail to try so I don’t try and fail. I realize this is backwards-thinking. Common sense tells me I should try and fail, and then try and try again until I acquire success.

Failing forward is what we like to call this process, and it sounds perfectly logical. But I sometimes have trouble convincing my heart that it’s truly okay to fail, and I suspect I’m not alone in this.

Sisters, what will it take for us to try again?

Will it take courage? Determination? Encouragement? Will it require us to look back at past mistakes? Will it require us to plan ahead?

Yes, it will take all of this and more.

Remember those wins and losses I mentioned earlier? Every tiny win counts! Though small, they may be the exact fuel we need to push us on to victory. One small win at a time until our wins outnumber our losses. That’s where we need to be. That’s where I long to be.

So where does this leave us?

It leaves me here with you, proclaiming – although somewhat timidly – that I’m willing to try again.

It leaves you here, contemplating your own need for change.

It leaves us both wondering, can we do this? Can we enter into yet another journey-to-better?

What do you say? You and me, friend. Let’s lock arms and stand together. Let’s be willing to try again.

When Our Hearts Run Dry, 2 (revised & reposted) #throwbackthursday

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“If allowed, life’s circumstances will empty us, rendering us incapable of living fully as God intended.  But if we’re paying attention, we will notice when trouble is brewing. We will recognize when our behavior indicates we are nearing empty. And then, in that moment, we realize the choice becomes ours. We decide whether or not our hearts run dry.” These are the thoughts I left you with last week.

We talked about flashing red warning signs – the ones screaming to remind us we are nearing empty. Friend, have you noticed any in your life lately? They usually show themselves in our response to what’s going on around us. Are we quick to anger? Do we become easily frustrated? Have we been tearing up over the tiniest of matters? If so, we may be seeing evidence of a heart in desperate need of refilling.

Do we ignore the warnings and continue at lightening speed, or do we slow down and receive some pick-me-up along the way?  Do we settle for life as it is, or do we resolve to make it better?

Our decision is crucial. Our choice becomes the game changer.

I believe most of us desire to live from a place of fullness. But how, sweet friends, are we to go about doing so when life is so hectic and demanding?

We become INTENTIONAL ~~

We pause, though the world spinning around us may not.

We pray, asking God to pour His love into our weary hearts, leading us into the life of abundance He desires for us. Friends, we must not skip our time with God. He is the ultimate source of fullness.

We pursue happy getaways. Yes, happiness is okay  – just make sure your happy lines up with God’s goodness.

Just for fun, here are 10 mini-getaway ideas to get you started:

  1. The absolute best getaway is one that draws us to Jesus. So, find yourself a quiet place. Prop up your feet. Open your bible. And be refreshed.
  2. Participate in a ladies’ bible study (comment below for a list of my favorites).
  3. Share a cup of coffee with a friend or two.
  4. Treat yourself to a new hair style or an outfit that makes you feel pretty.
  5. Enjoy a no-distractions date with your significant other.
  6. Snuggle with your littles and then take a nap yourself.
  7. Sit, unrushed, enjoying conversation with your aging relatives.
  8. Watch your all-time favorite chick-flick.
  9. Curl up with your most loved book series.
  10. Take a brisk walk while listening to encouraging music.

When done correctly, making time for ourselves is not a selfish act. It is nourishing.  It is you placing the oxygen mask on yourself before placing it on others. Not because you consider yourself more important, but because you know you cannot give them your best unless you are in a good place yourself.

In summary –

Pay attention! Realize you need to be refreshed.

Know yourself! Identify those little things that bring you blessing and joy.

Be intentional! Make a place for these things in the crevices of your everyday life, honoring God as you do so.

As you implement these strategies, may you find yourself empty less often; may you pour kindness, encouragement, and grace into the thirsting hearts of those around you.