Tag Archives: choice

5 Statements that Changed my Life

Photo Cred: Anissa Quesada Location: Abiqua Falls, Oregon

Photo Cred: Anissa Quesada
Location: Abiqua Falls, Oregon

I recently attended a ladies retreat. This was not your typical “church-y” ladies retreat. There were some of the normal things found at a religious ladies retreat – chocolate, coffee, bunk beds, chocolate, laughter, and chocolate. Although I enjoyed some peanut m-n-m’s, laughter, and a movie one night, I needed something way deeper and I’m thankful to say that’s exactly what I got!

The first night of the four-day retreat I wrote a prayer request and put it in the special prayer box. My prayer was this: that I would experience forgiveness in such a way that joy and life would be evident on my face with no effort of my own. This seemed a tall task. I have been saying the words “I forgive,” but struggling greatly to experience that forgiveness to my core. 48 hours later I wrote down five statements that radically changed my perspective and brought complete freedom inside . . . and out!

I choose to forgive _____.

Forgiveness is a choice. I don’t always feel like forgiving, just like I don’t always feel like loving my kids, but I choose to because it’s right and I want the results of forgiving and loving others.

I choose to no longer hold _____’s offenses against them.

Were there offenses? Yes! Were those offenses against me? Yes! I must also let go of some that were not against me personally. Again, this comes down to a choice. The offenses occurred, but it is totally up to me how long I hold on to those offenses. By holding offenses against someone else I am actually keeping myself in bondage, not them. Essentially I lose if I keep holding the offenses against the offender.

I release _____ of the debt owed me (and my family).

There is a debt to be paid in a forgiveness situation. If I want the offender to pay that debt, I may be waiting around for a very long time. Sometimes the offender does not even acknowledge their wrong-doing in the matter, so seeking their payment would be like beating my head against a wall. Who’s the one losing sleep at night over the issue? Me or them? Most likely I do and that will continue until I choose to forgive.

_____ is not my enemy. Satan is the enemy and what he intended for evil, God will use for our (all of our, including _____) good and ultimately for God’s glory.

This statement is key. Sometimes the person is, or seems to be, acting like the enemy (or at least using the enemy’s play book) which makes it difficult to see the bigger picture. There is a spiritual battle going on and there is an enemy working against us. Is there anything Satan would like more than to get Christians fighting with each other, hating each other, and putting their efforts against one another? I don’t think so. It is an easy win for our real enemy when we don’t forgive.

The other part of this statement is that God will use if for our good, even for the good of our human “enemy”. Because of this reality I can pray the final statement.

I pray for _____. May God bless them, meet their every need, strengthen their marriage, draw them to Himself, and show them favor.

When I was asked to pray blessing over the people that have caused deep pain to me and my family my first response was, “no way!” But after walking through and speaking out loud the first four statements I am able to see those who have wronged me as real people. These are people that God loves and God cares about. People that God wants to do things in and through. When I see them with God’s eyes rather than the eyes of my hurt, I am able to pray good things – even favor and blessing – over their lives.

forgive2

Photo Cred: Anissa Quesada Location: Abiqua Falls, Oregon

After several months of rehashing a hurtful situation and watching myself head down a path of bitterness, I am on a new path. I am experiencing freedom. A huge burden was lifted when I wrote these five statements, but that was not the end of the journey. I am reading these statements daily, building my forgiveness muscles, and experiencing a joy I have not had in a number of weeks.

The extraordinary life is not always easy, but there is always opportunity to make the right choice – the choice that leads to freedom.

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Plant the Bulbs!

daff bulbsOn a beautiful Sunday afternoon last September, I planted 44 bulbs in my front flowerbed. This ranks right up there with the largest amount of gardening I have ever done. I was so proud of my efforts and my heart welled up with excitement for seeing these beauties bloom come spring. This was such a momentous event in my life that I even wrote a blog about it. (You can read that here.)

Today, I am pretty irritated about those bulbs. It is early March, there are two to three feet of snow covering the flowerbed and more snow is in the forecast for this coming week. Those bulbs will not likely be cracking the surface until late April. As I stated in the September blog post,

“I don’t even have a guarantee that they are going to emerge from the dirt or bloom into color.”

That’s very true! I don’t have that guarantee. I had the opportunity to plant the bulbs and now all that’s left to do is wait for the “fruit”.

Here is something I never considered when purchasing and planting 44 bulbs: What if I don’t get to see them bloom? What if they actually bloom, are beautiful and full of color, but I am not the one who gets to enjoy them? What if all of that work was for someone else’s enjoyment (someone I don’t even know)? Would I have still made the purchase and done the labor?

I guess I can stop there because there is no application to life with this one! HaHa 🙂

This applies to so many areas of life!!

Consider this series of questions:

– How are you currently investing your life?

– Is your investment solely for your own pleasure and satisfaction?

– Are you willing to work hard at the tasks right in front of you?

– Are you willing to work hard even if you have no guarantee of results or any guarantee that you will get to show off your results?

bulbs in handMy first spring at this house, I had no idea what would pop up in the flowerbeds. We moved here in March and the beds were buried in several feet of snow. It wasn’t until late April or early May that the first glimpses of spring peeked through the cold earth.

Imagine this scenario with me . . . Someone is going to move into my house in the next month or two. They won’t know what’s hiding under the dirt, under several feet of snow. The longer, warmer days will begin melting the snow. Slowly, one by one, little pieces of dirt will move out of the way for the growing flowers. Eventually 44 stems of varying heights and varying colors will cover the small flowerbed.

Can you imagine the joy and surprise of this new resident. I bet the woman of the house will check that flowerbed every morning. I can picture a smile on her face each time she approaches the house or enters the driveway. Maybe that color created by those flowers will make her and her family feel welcome and content more quickly in their new environment. Perhaps I will have the opportunity, without ever knowing, to be part of their story.

Plant the bulbs and Be Extraordinary!

 

Check out some Be Extraordinary! favorites:

Best. Valentine. Ever.
For Mom’s Eyes Only: Love
Kidney-versary: Had Two, Gave One

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

For Mom’s Eyes Only: Love

Love isI love my kids. I tell them I love them. I want them to grow up knowing their mom loves them – a lot!

Here is a frequent conversation with my 8-year-old, Celina:

Me: Guess what?

Celina: You love me. (with a little eye roll)

Me: Yep, I love you!

Celina: Why do you always say that? I already know.

Me: I never want you to forget that I love you.

There are a number of things to look at when it comes to love. Love is the umbrella of so many other thoughts to consider when looking at any relationship, and especially with our kids. The Bible spells it out in I Corinthians 13 where it says:

“Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.”

Once again, I love my kids. I tell them I love them. I want them to grow up knowing I love them. I also know that telling our kids that we love them is not enough – action is required. Yet, it is so easy to justify my actions, attitudes, and words that are not loving. Here are some typical excuses:

I’m tired. I clean the house and pick up their messes. I put dinner on the table. I work. I stay up late to wash dishes, clean up, or prep for the next day. I need “me time.” I just want some peace and quiet.

And then sometimes the excuses move into blame: They are selfish. They just make messes. They are loud. They are quirky and obnoxious. They are always going through some phase.

Can you relate to any of these?

Honestly, I don’t like to admit that I think, speak, and act selfish or rude to my children, but I do. I allow life’s pressures to interfere with my desire to truly love my kids. I want the benefits of a loving relationship, but am not always willing to do the difficult work of loving them. I end up defining and measuring my love for my kids by how they are behaving, their attitude towards me, or how well the last family vacation went.

The performance of our kids will never be perfect. They will disappoint and fail us. They are far from perfect, and so are we!

Far from perfectAll of this measuring is based on the performance of the kids rather than on my choice to unconditionally love them.

What would it look like to love our kids regardless of their actions, attitudes, or words? What if we greeted them with love, kindness, and believing the best each time they walk through the front door or out of their bedroom? What if we remembered the beautiful, full feelings of love we had the first day we met those kids? Would that change our perspective? Would that change our ability to genuinely and unconditionally love them?

I had an experience of frustration when one of my kids was little. There was some personality conflict and I struggled to feel genuine love and compassion for this child, especially when said child was crying. The very moments that needed my tenderness and love I would feel tight, rigid, and so unloving. I didn’t want to feel this way. I did all I knew to do at the time. I acknowledged this feeling and then I forced myself to sit still and embrace my kid in one of these moments. Even if my child squirmed, I wouldn’t let go, until I felt nothing but love and compassion. Over time, the love in me grew.

That may sound terrible, but if we are not “feeling” love towards our kids, then we must take loving actions anyway. Imagine if I had just let that go and done nothing about those feelings. Now, ten years later, do you think I would be feeling more love or less? Things in life naturally deteriorate unless they are nurtured, including love.

** Using I Corinthians 13 as the guide, how would you rate your love toward your kid(s)?

** Again, using I Corinthians 13 as the guide, what are one or two changes you could make this week to improve your love for your kid(s)?

Love is the foundation of extraordinary life-change for you . . . and your kids!

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Thanksgiving Blog-Venture Day 1

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you naturally producing joy and thankfulness?

Philippians 4:8, in the Bible, states:

Ph48Whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
Think About These Things!

Often I hear people (myself included) talk about “trying harder to be joyful or thankful.” Forcing a good attitude or smile on our faces isn’t fooling anybody, especially ourselves. The answer – the secret solution – to lasting joy is found in the final line of the above verse. “Think about these things” . . . think. It does not say to “feel” these things or to “do” these things or to “say” these things. We are supposed to think about these things.

In so many areas it is easy to put the focus on the external, the feeling, doing, or saying. With focus on the behavior we will see immediate results but we don’t always see lasting results. It takes work to change the patterns of our thoughts. Our thoughts are always on – we produce tens of thousands of them a day. We have thoughts while we do anything and everything, including sleep. These thoughts are products of thought patterns formed throughout our lifetime. The subconscious thoughts that go through our minds today are results of hours, days, and years of thought practice.

This is a good thing, right?

It is a good thing if the thoughts we think are true, honorable, just, pure, etc. But many of us have thought practices that build negative thought patterns.

Thoughts of fear and scarcity.
Thoughts of loneliness and abandonment.
Thoughts of sickness and death.
Thoughts of disappointment and failure.

If these are our thought patterns, what do you suppose the resulting feelings, words, and actions will be?
Will these negative thought patterns allow you to be genuinely joyful and thankful?

What would it look like to take gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy and make them year-long characteristics of our lives rather than seasonal ones?

If this was natural then everyone would be full of gratitude and joy. So, if you really want this for yourself, your family, your co-workers, and anyone else you influence, then you will need a proactive action plan.

What will you do this year to produce more gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

50 things1. Give Thanks Jar.

Write things you are thankful for throughout the year on slips of paper and put them in the jar. On Thanksgiving, read through the papers. I love the detail and stories that could be recorded in this jar. I got this idea from Becca’s blog.

2. I’m Thankful for You.

This is something you would do for a specific person. Write out what you love about that person. In Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect, he talks about filling up a notebook for his wife for a whole year and then gave it to her as a gift for Thanksgiving. I used a pack of spiral bound 3×5 cards and did a similar concept over a shorter timeframe for my husband, Joe.

gratitude tree3. Gratitude Tree.

I see many families post photos of their gratitude trees during November. What about leaving the tree trunk up all year and putting up different colored leaves during different seasons? Christmas – red and green; Valentines – red, pink, and white; March – green; May – spring colors; July – red, white, and blue (for my American friends). I found a fall tree as an example on this blog link.

Whatever idea you use, please do something to promote gratitude in your own heart and for those around you. Please share your ideas below so we can encourage each other as we grow in gratitude.

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Ultimate Responsibility

Blame is kind of like a drink that tastes good initially, but leaves an awful aftertaste in your mouth.

Blame is easy and even causes me to feel better for a little while, but then it leaves me with the awful taste of bitterness and bondage.

I faced a challenge recently in which another person was at fault in many ways. It was easy, natural, and even justified to blame my hurt on this individual. However, this blame left me feeling more hurt and bitter rather than free from the situation.

This is where “ultimate responsibility” comes in. I must find all the ways and all the places where I am responsible – where I had, and made, a choice. There are some big ones. Once I speak the words, “I chose to . . . ” then I begin to experience freedom and I can begin to move past the place of hurt where I so easily get stuck.

dff4d7f632fbb924dae6656f5174c82aIt is amazing what pressure is released and what freedom is experienced, when we begin to own our actions and our decisions.

There is another layer of ownership. We say a phrase in our house all the time (my kids could quote it for you!): My response is my responsibility. Sometimes I don’t choose what happens – I didn’t make the actions, decisions, or cause the events – but I still must live with the consequences. This is where I do have a choice. This is where my response to life is totally up to me – my responsibility.

Taxes are a part of life for most people. We don’t get much of a choice as to whether we will be charged tax or need to file taxes each spring, but we can choose our response and our perspective on paying taxes. Check out this video that illustrates how we can choose our perspective on something as mundane as taxes:

Watch now.

What unpleasant circumstances, events, or situations are coming your way? What is your response? Are you busy blaming people, circumstances, or the government? Or are you choosing to see the joy, blessing, or growth opportunity in your situation?

We all have a choice. We can blame, resulting in bitterness and bondage or we can take responsibility, resulting in an extraordinary life of freedom and growth.

The choice is up to you!

Be Extraordinary!

Do You Need an Achilles’ Tendon Rupture?

achillesAchilles’ heel: a fault or weakness that causes or could cause someone or something to fail
i.e. I am trying to lose weight, but ice cream is my Achilles’ heel.

It took the rupture of my Achilles’ tendon to make me aware of an Achilles’ heel in my life.

In August of 2002, Joe and I had been married for nearly 6 years. AJ was 14 months old. I was 10 days shy of being 6 months pregnant with BJ. I was coaching middle school volleyball. I was the janitor for our church. Joe was a full-time youth pastor. Life was full and challenging, or so I thought.

On August 27, towards the end of volleyball practice, the other middle school coach and myself were playing a little 2-on-2 with our girls (yes, I was 5 1/2 months pregnant and felt great!) I bent to pass a ball and felt the fateful snap as though someone had hit me in the back of the leg. I waddled (yes, waddled) to the ball cart and wrapped up practice immediately. I then went and sat on the sideline and wondered if it was my Achilles. (I considered this because my brother-in-law, Dan, had ruptured his Achilles just 6 months earlier with a similar story.)

Our only car was a stick-shift and so I had one of the moms drive me home, and then Joe took me to Urgent Care. It was on that table in Urgent Care that I heard those awful words: You’re Achilles’ tendon is ruptured. Knowing what Dan had gone through (4 months of on-the-couch recovery) made the news so real. A thousand questions rattled in my mind, like “How in the world are Joe and I going to manage our busy little life now?” I was benched!

Ten days later (the doctors wanted to wait until I was a full 6 months pregnant), I had surgery. I spent a good part of two months with my leg elevated above my heart. Pain was intense and there was little I could do without help.

The rupture of my Achilles’ heel revealed my personal Achilles’ heel: I preferred to tackle life without help. I was a Lone Ranger. I thought I was stronger if I did things by myself.

The list of things I needed help with and the numbers of people who stepped in are countless, but I am going to recount a few because it was through this humbling process that I realized how much I need other people in my life.

* Joe coached girls volleyball (girls anything) for the first and last time. Those girls still call out, “Coach Joe!” when they see him around town.
* Joe did my janitorial job at the church.
* Debbie offered to watch AJ and her son, Josh, would come pick him up. This began a great relationship and all of our kids ended up spending time at Debbie’s Daycare over the years.
* Janice cleaned my bathroom. It was disgusting and she did it without complaint, without question, and with tons of joy.
* Meal after meal after meal came to our door by loving people from our church.
* Taking a bath and washing my hair. Yes, I needed help with these tasks too. Getting around on crutches at 6, 7, and 8 months pregnant was no easy feat, let alone getting into a bathtub while trying to keep my casted leg out of the water.

Life is best lived in the companionship and company of others. In fact, this is how we were created. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 sums it up well.
Two better than one“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!”

What is your Achilles’ heel in life? Are you willing to acknowledge it and take action to make changes? Hopefully it won’t take the rupture of an Achilles’ heel to get your Achilles’ heel in check.

Be Extraordinary!

#13.1 Life Lessons

we did it halfSunday, October 5, Joe and I completed the Sleeping Bear Dunes Half Marathon. Because of my foot injury I had only run one time in the previous three weeks without pain. That run was five days before the race and a distance of 3.5 miles. Also, the longest distance I had run before the race was 8.02 miles and 8.5 miles for Joe.

Race day was filled with many firsts, personal records, and (of course!) life lessons.

1. I can do hard things.
When I make a decision and commit to that decision – regardless of how difficult the task is – I am capable. Often I don’t commit to things because I question my capacity. I discovered in the training and the race that I am capable of much more than I believe.

2. The journey is easier (and made possible) with a buddy (Joe).
I honestly could not, or would not, have completed this journey without Joe by my side. Joe’s questions, encouragement, persistence, and sometimes being a pain in the butt were all for my good. I needed every bit of prodding Joe offered.

3. Having people who are further in the journey (Clay, Lisa, Evey) is crucial to my success.
I received good, sound, positive, encouraging advice and help from runners who had already run 13.1 miles. The words they gave were a big part of being prepared race day.

4. Without training there is no chance for victory.
If I had never trained I could not have finished. The training was not only physical, but there were many mental barriers conquered during the months of training before the race.

5. The best way to finish is to keep moving.
When we came to the “12 mile” sign everything below my waist was in agony. We slowed to a walk, but I knew if I stopped the motion, or sat for a minute, starting again would have been nearly impossible. It was so important to keep moving.

6. Quitting is not an option.
Joe and I had two goals for the half: start and finish. “Quit” was not a word in our vocabulary. As we ran mile after mile we talked of finishing – we never talked about stopping. I had seen the piles of cut oranges before we started and in the latter miles I had my eyes and tastebuds on that prize too!

7. The goal for the race is personal.
Every runner out on the course had a different objective. Some set out to win. Some set out for friendship and fun. Joe and I ran as a metaphor for the life we are living in 2014. We are “running the race” of life and all we faced in the training and running of a half marathon has lessons for our personal journey too.

8. Remember how far you have come.
When I began training I could barely run one mile. It was fun and rewarding as we ran 13.1 miles to recount along the way just how far we had come.
“Remember the first time we ran a 5k?”
“I remember finishing my first 4 mile run. I was exhausted, but it felt so good.”
And then at 9 miles we had run the most consecutive miles we had ever run. We had so many memories to relish as we kind of applauded ourselves for how far we had come.

9. Injuries and obstacles are bound to happen.
Early in my training I suffered a lower back injury that halted my training for nearly four weeks. And in the final three weeks of training I injured my foot. This prevented me from getting in the 10 mile run I had hoped for before race day and limited my training to one 3.5 mile run in those final three weeks. I discovered that my attitude was key during those times. It would have been easy to quit at that point, but I was able to wait patiently and still complete the half marathon goal.

10. My mind and my self talk is powerful.
It is easy to speak lies to myself. It is easy to tell myself that it is too hard or I can’t do it. 13.1 miles showed me how crucial, valuable, and powerful positive self-talk is. When I speak positive truth it has great impact – my thoughts are powerful!

half medal11. Utilize the aid stations.
Water, gatorade, goo, and grapes were necessary parts of the journey. I suppose one could think they are stronger for not needing any of those things along the way, but I would say they are foolish. We can not complete any journey without nourishment. In fact, I unashamedly downed 12 orange quarters at the end of the race!

12. Know the limits and push them.
If I had never pushed the limits in training, I probably wouldn’t have run further than three miles. Mileage beyond that was hard and a 5k was the furthest I had run all at once up until that point. Pushing the limits helped reveal unknown strength.

13. There is always a wall.
“There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” – author unknown
In everything worth pursuing my experience has been that there are walls. The question is, “what will we do when we hit the wall?” Many turn around, stop, or hope it goes away. If knowing the limits and pushing them reveals our ability, then busting through a wall shows the depth of our character, will, and desire. Every big desire we have is on the other side of a wall.

.1 Just a little bit more.
This is not only about the distance, but going “just a little bit more” requires digging deep and finding the reservoirs of inner strength.
What area of your life needs “just a little bit more”?
You are spending time with your kids. What would it look like to spend just a little bit more?
You are working your business. What would it look like to work just a little bit more?
You are loving your spouse. What would it look like to love just a little bit more?

The extraordinary journey is often long, difficult, and tiring, but it is also so worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Read Joe’s Half Marathon thoughts by clicking here.

Read my half marathon training post by clicking here.

My Job: Deliver the Pizza

Results“Results. Often harsh, but always fair.” This is a great quote by Brian Klemmer. In so many aspects of life this is true.
* Look at your income, your net worth, or the growth of your company. Those numbers are a result of your choices.
* Get on the scale. The number that appears is a result of your choices.
* Is your house clean or does it look like a tornado came through? However it looks is a result of your choices. (If the mess was caused by your kids, remember that you chose to have those kids and therefore the mess is a result of your choices!)

This is one side of the coin and I have measured most everything in my life according to MY choices and MY responsibilities. However, there is another side of the coin where we have no control over the results, because the choices belong to someone else.

Here are a few examples:

Pizza. When delivering pizza, my job is to get the pizza from the pizza parlor to the house that ordered the pizza. That’s it!
I am not responsible for what happens to the pizza – if it is eaten, fed to the dog, or thrown out.

Kidney. When donating a kidney, my job is to be willing and go through testing, surgery, and recovery. That’s it!
I can not control how well the recipient’s body receives the kidney, or if the body rejects the kidney one, two, or ten years down the road.

Kids. When raising kids, my job is to teach, train, and love my kids to the best of my knowledge and ability. That’s it!
I can not control the outcomes or results. My kids may reject my input and want to walk in their own rebellious ways as teenagers or adults. I am not responsible for their choices – I am only responsible for mine.

DeliverPizzaThere are plenty of choices we make in each of these scenarios. For example, if I deliver pizza. I chose to take the job, or start the business. I chose to accept the order. I chose to drive the pizza to the customer’s house. I chose to take their money and give them the pizza. I chose to drive away. There is no place for me to own (through guilt or pride or disgust) what happens with the pizza next. This sounds kind of silly, but it is so easy to own things that are not ours . . . as easy as it is to not own things that are our responsibility.

We cannot mix up our responsibilities. We must – in full ownership – accept our choices and we must also fully release the choices that belong to someone else.

I have been wrestling with guilt over someone else’s choices lately. I did my part, but instead of releasing the rest I have been holding on to it and it has made me miserable. Then my coach talked to me about pizza delivery and my pastor talked to me about kidney donation and I am reminded of where my responsibilities end. Keeping this line – or these sides of the coin – straight brings freedom. Only in freedom can we live a truly extraordinary life.

What about you? Are you holding the guilt or grief of another’s choices and making it your own? It’s time to own your choices completely and release the rest. Deliver the pizza and clock out.
Would love to hear your thoughts.

Be Extraordinary!

The Chicken or The Egg?

chickenOReggIn 2010 my husband, Joe, began the official journey of writing his first book. He was writing for a daily devotional site and one particular week he wrote a series on the life of Joseph. The readers gave tremendous feedback and wanted to read and learn more. This was the inspiration Joe needed to get his dream of writing a book off the ground.

So, what came first – the inspiration or the writing?

Think about the question this way: What if Joe had simply been waiting for inspiration (the right thoughts, ideas, audience, a publishing company to offer him a book deal)? Would the book be written?

I venture to say that he would not have been writing for the devotional site in the first place if he was waiting for inspiration, waiting for the invite, waiting for the phone call, or waiting for the eager audience to emerge.

The writing came first.

ProjectJosephWriting daily was just the beginning. This daily habit and desire to share with others caused Joe to pursue writing for the daily devotional site. He was not invited. Well, it was a very loose invitation and it required initial action on Joe’s part. After several months of writing, the devotional series on Joseph emerged and was ultimately the catalyst for putting those initial thoughts into the pages of a book. Project Joseph is an amazing tool for dealing with past pain and gaining a new, life-changing perspective.

Are you waiting for inspiration before you take action on your dreams? What action do you need to take or what habit must become part of your daily life so that you are in a place where inspiration can appear.

When inspiration comes, will you be ready to receive and act on it? I hope so!

Be Extraordinary!

Bulbs Bulbs Bulbs

daff bulbsOne thing I learned after making it through the long Northern Michigan winter of 2012-2013 was how much I crave color come spring. “Spring” is a loose term here. We experienced snow on the ground from November until May, and my craving for color showed up sometime in early April. Perhaps it was all of the Facebook photos of blossoms and green grass from my friends in the lush Oregon valley. Or perhaps it was because white was the only “color” I had seen outside in more than five months (not even gray pavement).

When “spring” arrived in early May the snow was melting and my tulip bulbs were peeking through the snow-covered flower beds. I have about fifteen tulip bulbs that come through and ten that bloom. These tulips are here from the previous occupant of our home. I had intended to fill up the flower bed last fall but never really got around to it. In this part of the country, if you don’t get the bulbs planted by early October then it probably isn’t going to happen. That was the case for me last year, but not this year!

sm bulbI enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon of bulb planting in early September. As I held the bulbs, dug the holes, and breathed in the wonderful scents of the outdoors, I thought about and envisioned what “fruit” all my labor would produce. I was dreaming about spring (while taking in as many warm days of fall as I could).

The seeds and bulbs don’t look like much – they are not beautiful – and they aren’t even colorful. The work was tedious and a little tiresome (I planted 44 bulbs!) I don’t even have anything to show for my labor except some fluffed up dirt in the flower bed. In fact, come December, February, and even April I will likely have no signs of color. I don’t even have a guarantee that they are going to emerge from the dirt or bloom into color.

BUT I have hope. I did the work. I made the investment. And, with hope, I trust that the results will come.

bulbs in handSo often (almost everyday) I want to see the results of my efforts NOW! Instant gratification does not usually bring about the real and lasting results I really desire. Because the results I desire don’t come fast enough, sometimes I slack on the effort and investment I make today. It doesn’t seem like it will make that big of difference, but six months from now when there are no flowers in the flowerbed, vacations taken, work promotions, or meaningful relationships, I will know why.

What about you? Is there an area of your life where some bulbs need to be planted so that in the season(s) to come you will have fruit? Please share your thoughts in the the comment box; let’s see if we can encourage each other to make the investments and plant the bulbs now that will lead to an extraordinary life.

Be Extraordinary!

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