Trainwreck

My life was there. One huge train wreck. I sat in my chair every night, the tv on, a glass of rum or wine in my hand, and I numbed my pain. I forgot my sorrows and I drowned my dreams away. I attempted to find love by way of men I met online, or elsewhere. I lowered my standards and I lowered myself to the pits.

One day I thought about how one simple little switch can change the entire course of the train. One flick of a switch can lead it down an entirely different path. God hit that switch. He dug me out of the pit, as He has done with many others. God found Gideon in a hole. He found Joseph in a prison. He found Daniel in a lion’s den. He has a curious habit of showing up in the midst of trouble, not the absence. Where the world sees failure, God sees future. Next time you feel unqualified to be used by God, remember this: He tends to recruit from the pit – not the pedestal.

The most important lesson I learned while sitting at the bottom of the pit of depression is to never give up hope. I made it out of the pit … and so can you!

The path may seem endless and even cruel at times, but you must be patient. You did not slip into that pit overnight, and you will not climb out of that pit overnight. The journey out of the pit begins and ends with one small step of faith. Walk straight ahead through your fear. And with each step, moment-by-moment, the darkness will slowly fade and the heaviness will lift.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

Reflection

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I don’t know you. You are not the same person I used to admire for hours on end. I no longer know what to say to you. The more I see of you, the longer I look at you here, the less I like you. Where is the person who used to be here? Why have you run them off? Those eyes, so familiar…I can see you hiding in there. Come out and play with me! Wait, what? You want to, but you are too old? I know, those lines and furrows, that second chin…where did they come from? When did you become old? That sweet, gentle, yet playful spirit is still there in your eyes. I can see the flirty, sarcastic, and witty thoughts rolling around in your head. Your mind is sharp, that hasn’t changed one bit. I’ve been too judgmental haven’t I? Don’t be so hard on…

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Reflection

I don’t know you. You are not the same person I used to admire for hours on end. I no longer know what to say to you. The more I see of you, the longer I look at you here, the less I like you. Where is the person who used to be here? Why have you run them off? Those eyes, so familiar…I can see you hiding in there. Come out and play with me! Wait, what? You want to, but you are too old? I know, those lines and furrows, that second chin…where did they come from? When did you become old? That sweet, gentle, yet playful spirit is still there in your eyes. I can see the flirty, sarcastic, and witty thoughts rolling around in your head. Your mind is sharp, that hasn’t changed one bit. I’ve been too judgmental haven’t I? Don’t be so hard on yourself, your face may be getting older, but your soul is still young. Your shell may change, but your wonderful inner self doesn’t need to. Allow the world around you to change, as it does every moment, you cannot control that. But don’t give up on yourself, your dreams, your desires. Allow yourself to have them, allow your dreams to flourish. No one has conquered or overcome without first dreaming about it.

How Much Is Enough

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus(Philippians 4:19, NIV).

How much is enough? How much do we need? How long can we wait for it?

Starting a new business is an arduous task. No matter what industry, there are endless guidelines, detailed plans must be written, budgets drawn up, a million questions must be answered, and then the rejection begins when you ask for money. My husband and I are in the first stages of this process. We are currently answering the questions for ourselves, how much do we need, we need enough to cover the initial purchases and to operate the first year and we certainly don’t want to have to go back and ask for more, but we also don’t want to overestimate and ask for more debt than we will be able to pay back.

This is where writing is so much simpler. There are no start up costs to start writing. You just write. With today’s technology, many editors accept online submissions, which still costs nothing. If you do mail it in, you are out minimal costs for paper, ink, envelopes, and postage. No big deal. Of course, you’re still facing rejection, but it only costs you a little pride, not $1 million you need to set up shop.

Luckily, God never rejects us when we have needs in our lives. Whatever we need, He knows without us asking, and He knows just how much we need. When we think we cannot wait anymore, He fulfills our needs and often fills the desires of our hearts at the same time.

His Eyes Were Bright

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Yesterday, I had the fortune to run into a 96 year old gentleman at Walmart. His eyes were bright, and his mind sharp.  It is always very inspiring to converse with the elderly, as they have so many stories to tell.  He was shopping all by himself and had even driven himself there. I found this extraordinary. Here was a man 4 years shy of a century and he’s still functioning as well (perhaps better) as most 50 or 60 year olds I know.

 

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He said he hopes to live to be 108. This struck me as odd, for it’s such a specific number. I wonder what significance 108 might have for this man. It could be a coincidence, of course, being just a number he picked out of a hat, but perhaps not. If this man was 96, then he was born in 1917 or 1918. My gracious the…

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Mama’s Roses

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Mama’s Roses
Mama had a keen touch when it came to nourishing flowers and plants. They all flourished beautifully at her hands. I never could copy her knack, and it certainly wasn’t an inherited trait.

So, when I inherited her prize winning pink lady rose bush, I had to pray for God to grow me a green thumb.

One morning, I pulled my gardening tools out of the shed and knelt in the dirt. I was going to have to create a special place for these roses. I had labored for days over the decision. Now, it was play time. I dug in the dirt as a five year old set on making mud pie. My hand shovel sunk into the dirt with a swoosh, and brought the earth to the surface, leaving a growing hole in which to deposit the rose bush. I felt the black dirt squish between…

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Long Term

 

Last week I started talking about goals, this is a continuation.

What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve in the next year, five, ten, or even twenty years? Do you have plans to reach them? Are you focused on these goals? What are you doing each day to get there? It is too easy to get sidetracked. Yes, even us creative folks need to be practical sometimes and take care of business, too.

Sometimes I feel like I am conspired against, bombarded with distractions. And distractions aren’t bad things. Sometimes they are good and important things too, and necessary, like family. But, there are simple steps you can take on a daily and weekly basis to steadily make your way to achieving your goals.

Pareto’s 80/20 rule has changed my life. I know it sounds boring, but basically it works like this:

By the numbers it means that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. As Pareto demonstrated with his research, this “rule” holds true, in a very rough sense, to an 80/20 ratio, however in many cases the ratio can be a lot higher – 99/1 may be closer to reality.
It really doesn’t matter what numbers you apply, the important thing to understand is that in your life there are certain activities you do (your 20 percent) that account for the majority (your 80 percent) of your happiness and outputs.

When you start to analyze and breakdown your life into elements it’s very easy to see 80/20 ratios all over the place. The trick, once your key happiness determinants have been identified, is to make everything work in harmony and avoid wasting time on those 80 percent activities that produce little satisfaction for you.
The message is simple enough – focus on activities that produce the best outcomes for you. This applies to both your business/working life and your “other” life (I think they are all part of your “life” but people often prefer to distinguish them). The problem for most people is how to make a living from what you really enjoy, so lets focus on that…

The first thing you must decide, and this is often the hardest step, is to determine what it is exactly you have passion for. Some people can answer this question easily – “I want to be a famous pianists/singer/poet/author”, “I’d like to run my own real estate agency/coffee shop/advertising company” etc. Others may have a general idea “I don’t want a day job” or “I want to run a business” but the specifics are not sorted yet. If you are not sure what your passions are all I can suggest is test yourself. It’s usually easy to determine what you DON’T like so keep doing that until you find what it is you DO like.

For example, I love to write and act, but it isn’t what puts food on my table, so it takes a much smaller piece of my 20% focus than my accounting job and school do. Working out is important to me, but not as much as my family, so some days it isn’t in my 20% at all, but because it does yield results that are totally in the 80% of my happiness realm, on other days it gets pushed into my top priority spot. Does that make sense? I want a promotion at work when I graduate, so a large portion of my time at work is spent on earning that promotion and getting the attention of the right people.

Once you determine what it is you want to do, then it’s a matter of prioritizing and adjusting other things in your life to accommodate your main goals. If it isn’t important, if it doesn’t contribute to your goal, then let it go.