“Where am I going?”

For the past several years, when summer rolls around, I have seemed to find myself in a position where I have big decisions to make. Decisions that will alter the course I am on by requiring me to step away from some opportunities to take a hold of others.

For the past few months, I have known that the decision train was fast approaching and I would have some big choices to make, but no matter how many lists I made, minutes hours I spent thinking about it, or the number of prayers I spoke, the decision was not becoming any easier.

Last night, I came to a startling and honestly painful realization – I have lost my vision for where I am headed in life. I began asking myself the questions:  “What am I doing with my life? What am I aiming for? Where am I going?…. Who am I?” Once upon a time, I could see clearly the path I was on. I knew exactly where I was headed, why I was headed there and I had a plan to execute it, but that vision has become blurred.

While trying to answer those questions, I began to see that because my focus has been on my current circumstances, desires and needs.  In the craziness of life, I lost sight of where I was headed.  I began to listen to well intentioned and loving voices, more than seeking out the voice of God. I took great opportunities without weighing whether or not they would help me reach my goals.

When I first started driving I would swerve and not drive in a straight line despite my best effort. I remember my dad telling me not to focus on the road right in front of me but to look down the road to where I was going. When I focused my attention on where I was headed I drove a straight line. I think the same is true in life; when we loose sight of where we are headed, it is easy to get off course without even realizing it and then end up in a place asking “Where am I?”

While I still have decisions to make, because I have the end in mind, I have confidence that the choices I need to make are going to become clear. Although I know some of the decisions I need to make won’t be easy, I know  it will be worth it, and I am willing to make sacrifices and do hard things, in order to fulfil the calling God has placed on my life.

If you are finding yourself with a difficult decision to make, check to see where your focus is. Is your focus on the problem or on God? Are you thinking more about what people expect from you or what God expects from you? Is your focus on your past mistakes believing that you cannot move forward because of them or is your focus on using those experiences motivate you to make better choices?

I have faith that as I shift my focus to God and the calling He has placed on my life, my vision will once again be clear and I will know and be willing to make the right decisions to get me to that place where God is calling me forward to.

 

Music to My Ears

Day: Thursday, September 8th
Time: 4:40 pm
Place: Enid Public Library
Mood: H-A-P-P-Y Happy!

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Busy? Tired? Stressed?

For years I have defined my life as busy. And for years when someone has asked me how I am, I usually say, “good but tired.”

I cannot count how many times a friend has wanted to spend time with me or family member wanted me to visit, but I let the fact that I am busy, tired, and stressed keep me from doing what I love more than anything – building deep and lasting friendships that lead to life change.

Far too often I am too busy doing “”stuff”” on my to-do list. Or I am tired from doing all that ““stuff””. Or I am stressed because there is so much more ““stuff”” to accomplish.

What is all this “stuff” that is taking up my time anyway and how important is it?

My lesson today in the Portrait of a Leader by Tim Elmore gave me some great food for thought. It helped me narrow down the priorities I need to say “”yes”” to so I am not always saying “”yes”” to ““stuff””. It was absolutely, and without question, music to my ears.

I don’t know of too many people who do not feel busy, rushed, tired, and/or stressed, so I thought I would share with you what I learned.
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Have you ever heard of the “Pareto Principle”?

“The “”Pareto Principle”” teaches us that if we focus our attention on our most important activities we gain the highest return for our effort. In fact, Mr. Pareto found that if we tend to the top 20% most important priorities, we will accomplish 80% of the results we are after.”

Taking care of just the top two or so priorities will give me 80% of what I am looking after!?!? That sounds like a deal to me. Sign me up baby, I’m in!
 
It is true that leaders must invest their time and resources wisely to get the maximum results. “If you embrace the right priorities, the crucial things that ONLY YOU CAN DO, you will get 80% of the results and fruit you desire.”

Think about it:
It is 20% of people who do most of the work
20% of people make 80% of the decisions
In a church it is 20% of people who bring in 80% of the new people
20% of the people give 80% of the money

It does almost sound too good to be true. But, if we look at our Savior Jesus, He gives us a great example… wait PERFECT example of how a leader should prioritize.

What would Jesus do?

“”Take a look at Jesus in Mark 1:32. The text says that the whole city had gathered to see him. Jesus was healing, casting out demons; doing awesome works. Then suddenly he left to a solitary place. Peter hunted him down and said, “”Everyone is looking for you”.” Jesus replied, ““Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in the order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.””

This statement does not make sense unless you understand the issue of priorities. Instead of receiving his mandate from Peter and the cries of the people – Jesus retreats to a solitary place to listen to His Father in Heaven. After regaining perspective, and refocusing on the big picture priorities, He shocks Peter by saying in essence: I recognize everyone is looking for me back at your house, but I have just spent time adjusting My priorities with My Father, and He says that is time to move on. Getting God’s perspective is a prerequisite to doing God’s priorities.””
Reading this was music to my ears!  I received some critical responses when I left for this journey. I was over-loaded, tired, stressed, bombarded with to-do lists, and people’s requests. I needed time to gain perspective. I suddenly knew I had to refocus. I had no clear explanation to give, but I felt deeply that I needed to do it. So I did. I found it comforting that even Jesus suddenly left to go to a solitary place to gain perspective and even though there were people calling out to him and expecting Him He followed the voice of God not the requests of man.

““Not only was Jesus a marvelous Savior, He is a model of a leader on a mission. He possessed definite priorities, based on a clear mission. He didn’t treat everyone fairly. He invested far more time into twelve men than in the masses. In fact, He didn’t even spend equal time with all of the 12. Three of them – Peter, James, and John – experienced exclusive ministry with Him. Why? Because He was preparing them for crucial roles in the Church later.””

I always feel the need to be everything, give everything, do everything, and commit to everything and everyone.  But, I am thankful to have this example of Jesus. If I know my mission, then I know how to keep my priorities straight. And if I am focusing on the most important things, I don’t have to be everything to everyone, and do everything, and commit to every great opportunity that comes along!

This is truly music to my ears
And
Peace for my soul

Time to stop being busy and start being productive!

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as we make use of. One person gets a week’s value out of a year while another person gets a year’s value out of a week.” Charles Richards

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time.

D.A.W.G.

Day: Wednesday, September 7th
Time: 9:00 am
Place: My Mom’s House
Mood: full of anticipation

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Sup Dawg? What’s crackin’?

Okay, that is not the type of “dawg” this blog is about. I just had to get that out of my system.

D.A.W.G = Day Alone With God

I had never heard about D.A.W.G before, but yesterday while working through the Portrait of a Leader workbook by Tim Elmore, he suggested carving out a D.A.W.G. for the following exercise which is a “Life Planing in 10 Steps” list. The list is designed to respond to during a single extended block of time. Solitude Time – you know time alone. Time to be left to your thoughts.

Philippians 4:8

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

THAT is what I am supposed to think about. But, after yesterday’s C-R-A… oh, I mean H-A-P-P-Y day, God knew I needed a reminder. If today is going to be a D.A.W.G kinda day I need to watch my thoughts. You know the kind…

Guilt. Fear. Worry. Self-Doubt. Self-Condemnation. Stress.  Pressures. Anxiety. Failure. C-R-A-P-P-Y Days. Mistakes.

um… I hate to state the obvious but those are not very comparable to true, noble, right, pure and lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy are they?

What types of things do you find yourself thinking about?

I bet that if I did not have the reminder that I had this morning, I would have thought self-condeming thoughts all day. The day that I carved out to spend time alone with God. The day that I believe God wants to show me something amazing.

Now just what ammo does Satan have to keep me from focusing on God’s Revelations? MY THOUGHTS.

uhh uuuhh, Satan. oooohhhhh nooooo!  I just don’t think so. NOT TODAY. NOT EVER. I am reclaiming my thoughts.

A couple of day ago I signed up to receive Proverbs 31 Daily Devotions. If I were the swearing kind, I’d swear they have been writing them just for me. But, I’m not, so I’ll chalk it up to one of those “God Things” 😉

Today’s devotion was called…

DRUMROLL PLEASE…

bradurnbreadrundru,drumdurmdumdumdumdum

(my best drum roll)

No Condemnation

That’s right. God’s got my back. We are tight like that.

I believe to some degree every person struggles with self-condemnation. This devotion is perfect to help fight away those thoughts. I especially love the reminder that we don’t have to defend ourselves. If God left us to defend the condemnation of ourselves or others we would lose the battle every time. But, and this is a BIG BUT, But God’s word promises the Lord himself will fight for us!!! hallelujah! And with that I am off for a D.A.W.G.

A Day Alone With God full of thoughts that are true, noble, lovely, praiseworthy…

Enjoy the devotion “No Condemnation” by Melissa Taylor! Click Here to View 

One of “those” Days

Day: Tuesday, September 6th
Time: 9:30 pm
Place: My Mom’s House
Mood: sad, hurt, confused… blah

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Have you ever had one of “those” days. You know the kind. Where  you nod your head, give that knowing look, and draw out the syllables. “One of thoooose (head nod + knowing look) days.” Are you picking up what I’m putting down? 

If not, I will just be blunt.

It was a plain ol’ crappy day. That’s right I said it. crappy. crappy. 
C-R-A-P-P-Y. CRAPPY!! (You might only appreciate that if you have seen a particular episode of I Love Lucy. Just Sayin’)

It didn’t start that way. In fact it was actually a pretty fantastic day. I would even say BETTER than fantastic. I really felt I was in the right place at the right time, doing what I was supposed to be doing at that particular moment in time until … o’ I’d say about 5:00pm

That’s when it hit the fan. And you know what I mean when I say “IT”. Like I said… It’s been one of thooooooose days!

Anyway, it got me to thinking. Just who hold’s the key to my happiness anyway? Who have I given that authority to? I’d say happiness is pretty important. So whoever holds that key MUST be important… right!?!?

Remember that Audience of One blog? Well, I admitted I struggled with living for an audience of one. I admitted I thrive off of words of affirmation. Well… I learned an important lesson today to confirm why it is so important to live for an audience of one. More specifically The One.

When we don’t live only for the approval of God we give people.
 – HUMANS –  power over us. It’s not that people are intentionally bad.  People don’t usually set out on a mission to hurt someone. But… we are human. That means we make mistakes. Say things we shouldn’t. Speak without thinking. Do things we should not do. Make assumptions and judgements that are only God’s to make…

Humans, simply put, let us down. I have let people down. People have let me down. If the person is smart, they admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness. But, that’s not really the point of this blog. The point of this blog is not to bash humans or to point the finger.  People are actually a very vital and important part of our lives. The point of this though is to pose the question, Who holds the key “the power” to your true happiness? I realized today, that I have given people, well-intentioned, loving, kind, and human people too much power in my life.

Remember the song we sang as kids… “The wise man builds his house upon the rock…. The foolish man builds his house upon the sand…” Well when the rains of life pour down it is the man who built his house on the rock, The One, who stands firm.

Well… I did not stand firm today. I went “SPLAT”. I looked for approval from the world. I looked for affirmation from humans. I did not find it and crumbled under the pain of feeling rejected and misunderstood.  I won’t hide it. I was foolish. My “house” broke.

But remember, the one thing I desire from God is to gain wisdom, and I had a lesson in wisdom today.

Something just crossed my mind.

Think of any question you can…

Am I could enough?
Can I do this?
Will this turn out okay?
Can I overcome this?
Am I worthy?

You want to know the answer!?!?!

IN CHRIST ALONE

Who should hold the key to my happiness?

CHRIST ALONE

(who needs a magic 8 ball?!?! just sayin”)

The next time you are having “one of thoooose (head nod + knowing look) days” ask yourself…

Am I concerned about
CHRIST ALONE

AM I living for
CHRIST ALONE

Am I putting my faith in
CHRIST ALONE

Am I seeking to please
CHRIST ALONE

Is CHRIST ALONE enough for me?

That is a hard question to answer. Because we are human. We make  tend to live selfishly. We depend a lot on the people around us.  We get significance from success, wealth, awards, recognition, material possessions, good works…

But, when push comes to shove, deep down I hope you believe it is true and that your answer is

YES!!!

Christ Alone is Enough for Me!

P.S. My C-R-A-P-P-Y day just turned into Happy. Happy. H-A-P-P-Y. HAPPY!

=)

Just Say No

Day: Friday, September 2nd
Time: 1:00 am
Place: My Mom’s House
Mood: thoughtful and excited (It’s my big sisters birthday!)

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Do you remember D.A.R.E? Well they did a great job of teaching me to say NO to drugs. I learned very well the importance of saying no to bad things… but where was the person to teach me that sometimes it is okay to say No to good things?

We have been conditioned to say NO to Bad things and Yes to Good things. So, how do you know when to say “Yes” or when to say “No”? Even when you know in your heart you should say no… habits are heard to break.  Why?

I did a quick google search on breaking habits. This was info that came from the first page I pulled up…

Scientists have come up with a host of reasons why humans stick to bad habits. Among the reasons:

— Innate human defiance.
— Need for social acceptance.
— Inability to truly understand the nature of risk.
— Individualistic view of the world and the ability to rationalize unhealthy habits.
— Genetic predisposition to addiction.

 “We tend to sort of live for now and into the limited future — not the long-term.”

This is definitely NOT what I was expecting to read. It hit me…

– Innate human defiance – We are all sinners. We are all born bent toward sin. We have an inherent pull toward things of the world.

– Need for social acceptance – From a young age we want to fit in. I remember distinctly when I got tired of being weird – of being the “goodie good”. I started to do things to “fit in”. I wish I knew then what I know now… It is okay to be weird. In fact, if you aren’t “weird” from the world’s perspective there is probably something you need to change about the way you are living. Where was the D.A.R.E class to teach us to “Just say no to normal?”
 
– Inability to truly understand the nature of risk – The definition of risk is : A situation involving exposure to danger. I know there are habits far worse than saying “yes” to everything. I know it is a little far-fetched, but there are certain risks involved when you become a “yes” person.

If your goal is to fulfill the purpose that God created you for, and mine is, then saying “yes” to all the good things can take up all the room in my life. Which leads to no rest, which is very dangerous, but also it can keep you from being available when the best things come along. 

– Genetic predisposition to addiction – I was blessed with giving parents and in many ways they both “yes” people. They taught me to care about others and to step up and help if I am able.  Which is a good thing!  I am glad they did not teach me to be selfish!!! But, I can just see a possible determinate as to why I am a “yes” person.

“We tend to sort of live for now and into the limited future – not the long-term” – This is true. We make decisions ourselves on if we should say yes or no based on what we know right now and the things we have planned. THIS IS WHY IT IS SOOOO IMPORTANT TO PRAY BEFORE WE MAKE A DECISION. We only know so much. But God sees the whole picture.

Okay, so obviously saying “yes” is not entirely a bad habit. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, so saying yes to helping and doing for others is a good thing!

Which brings me to the million dollar question.
When is it the right thing to say “no”
to a good opportunity?

I believe the subject is way to complex to tackle in a short blog. I am getting a headache just trying to process it. I don’t even know if I have be best answer. However, I think the first thing you have to do is have a firm grasp on your priorities and understand what God has called you to do a.k.a “your purpose”. The other thing is that you have to realize you are just one person who has 24 hours in the day and no matter how great, creative, well-intentioned, clever, or resourceful you are there is only so much you can do.

Yes, it is true that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, but he did not create us to be and do everything on our own.  Every person was created for A purpose. Not Every Purpose.

When we try to be everything for everyone and always say “yes” we spread ourselves thin. We get tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. These well-intentioned “Yes’s” often are an obstacle that veers us from God’s intended purpose and path for our life.  

And that is why it is sometimes a good thing to say “no”. Because the wrong “yes’s” keep us from reaching God’s ultimate plan for our lives.

I found this article helpful and maybe so will you! 🙂

How to SAY “No” to others so you can say “Yes” to God
(a Proverbs 31 article)
Ask for time to decide

When someone asks for your help, ask for time to pray about it. If you don’t feel comfortable saying “pray,” then ask for time to “think.” Then take it to God. By establishing this pattern, you’ve built-in a response time, and eliminated a response based on emotion such as guilt or sympathy.

God may surprise you with His answer. It may be yes. It may be no. Either way, you are learning to seek God’s approval rather than man’s and that is the first step to a healthy schedule. Here’s how to say it:

I’d like to pray/think about that. When do you need an answer?

I need to check my schedule. I’ll get back to you in a few days.
Ask for more information

Get a complete picture of the task. Ask how much time it will take and what’s involved. You might also ask to speak with someone who has done it before. It’s called due diligence, and in doing it, you may discover a conflict that makes it easy to say no.

I’d like to know more. Can you write up a description of what’s involved?

That sounds interesting, but I’d like to get an accurate picture of what would be required of me before I say decide.
Scripts for saying “no”

If you don’t believe this request fits into your life at this time, then decline with a simple answer that doesn’t invite questions. Normally I express my appreciation and honor for being asked, and then offer a response like:

God is calling me to simplify my schedule. As much as I would love to help, I need to say no.

I’m trying to be a better steward of my time. As important as this request is, I hope you understand, but I need to decline.

I’m trying to focus on my main priorities, and need to say no at this time.

———
These are confident responses that show you’ve thought this out. Most people respect these types of answers, and respect you for giving them. Make sure you don’t open the door for a “yes” later on. It only postpones the inevitable, and increases your stress. But most importantly, learning to say “no” to others, creates opportunities for you to say “yes” to God.

Audience of One

Day: Tuesday, August 31st
Time: 6:30pm
Place: My Mom’s House
Mood: Mellow

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Words of Affirmation… according to the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman this is one of my dominate love languages.

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The description of the Words of Affirmation love language is:

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—. Hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

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This is truer of me concerning my friends, family, and mentors… basically, it matters to me what the people I care about think about me.

It hit me today and I realized that I rely on people too much for affirmation… He is the only ONE whose opinion matters. He is who I am living for. It is His purpose I am living out. It is Him I want to be like. 

I do what I do for God. It truly is His purpose I seek to live out every day – of that I am sure. But it is the approval of people that keeps me going.  It is the approval of people that affirms to me if I have made the right decision; if I am headed in the right direction, or if I am making progress.

There is nothing wrong to have your love tank filled by words of affirmation from those you love. It is okay to seek guidance and ask for opinions. HOWEVER, I cannot thrive off of THEIR affirmation ONLY.  The only approval I need should come from God. I have to be obedient to Him. The final word is His.

Am I doing what He askes of me – no matter what anyone else thinks?
Am I okay with people thinking I am crazy or weird when I do something they don’t understand or agree with?
Am I okay on my own? Relying solely on Jesus for love, comfort, advice, affirmation, direction…

The truth is that when you are in ministry or a position of leadership God is going to call you to do something: make a decision or change a direction and people around you (even those you care about) may not support or understand the decision you made. I have to be okay with that. 

God put a purpose in my heart. He laid out the path – He is calling me to fulfill it. I have to be obedient to get the job done. It is my responsibility to seek God for the vision and complete it – no matter what.

I will live for an audience of one. Will You?
He is truly all we need…

God is Sufficient!!!

 You say : “It’s impossible.”
God says : “All things are possible.” (Luke 18:27) 
 
You say : “I’m too tired.”
God says : “I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-30) 

  You say :  “Nobody really loves me.”
God says : “I love you.” (John 3:16 & John 3:34) 

  You say : “I can’t go on .”
God says : “My grace is sufficient.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15) 
 
You say : I can’t figure things out.”
God says : “I will direct your steps.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

  You say : “I can’t do it.”
God says : “You can do all things.” (Philippians 4:13) 

  You say : “I’m not able.”
God says : “I am able.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

 You say:  “It’s not worth it.”
God says : “It will be worth it” (Roman 8:28) 

You say : “I can’t forgive myself.”
God says : “I forgive you.” (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1) 

  You say : “I can’t manage.”
God says : “I will supply all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)

  You say : “I’m afraid.”
God says : “I have not given you a spirit of fear.” (2 Timothy 1:7) 

  You say : “I’m always worried and frustrated.”
God says : “Cast all your cares on me.” (1 Peter 5:7) 
 
You say:  “I’m not smart enough.”
God says : “I give you wisdom.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) 

  You say : “I feel all alone.”
God says : “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

 
Father, thank You for reminding us that You are all we need. Amen.