Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re a failure no matter what you do? Or how about one where you walk away defeated every time a certain person speaks to you? Or maybe you’ve been in one where you feel like you’re just hanging on for dear life and are afraid to let go for fear that you will fall further than you can get back from. I can honestly say I’ve been there. In fact, I can think of at least one situation in my life right now where I feel like that.

The question I have at times like this is, do I give up or do I hang on? The reality is, I could do either one. And either could turn out for my good because there are good and bad to both decisions. Currently, I have a situation whereby I have to decide if I need to stay where I am at or look for a change. That’s difficult for me because I have invested a lot of time and effort into this situation. I have worked hard and have had a lot of successes. There was a point when I woke up wanting to be a part of this situation.

Those days have passed. So now, I have to ask myself, do I stay or do I go? Do I survive or do I live? Do I give up or do I let go? That last question might seem like I’m asking the same question twice. But I’m not. Giving up means I stop trying. I just give up and let things fall as they will. Letting go means, I make a choice to walk away. I’m not giving up; I’m choosing a different path. Giving up means I probably stay in the situation that is defeating me. Letting go means I look for an opportunity to learn and grow and change – and hopefully be built up.

Right now, I feel sometimes like all I do is survive. I do what I have always done because it’s what has worked for me in the past. I’ve probably mentioned I like to stay in my comfort zone. That’s because I know it works for me. The problem is, I think I’ve become stagnant. And that is probably part of the reason I feel frustrated and defeated all the time. I’m tired of doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. That never works for me (duh!). Instead of things getting better, I fall further and further into defeat until eventually, I either am forced to get out, or I fall so far I can’t get myself out.

I no longer want to survive. I want to live. I want to grow. I want to be built up and build others up. I do not want to stay stuck in a place where there never seems to be a win any longer. I no longer want to be in a place where I feel like I’m a failure every single day of my life. I no longer want to listen to all the things I’m doing wrong (and believe me there are lots of them). I want to hear what I’m doing right once in a while. I’m tired of dwelling on the negative. I want to hear and see the positive.

So, the question I pose to myself today is: “Are you going to give up or are you going to let go?”

Your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where you spent each day feeling defeated? What did you do (or are you doing) to better that situation? Do you think there’s a difference between giving up and letting go? I’d love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit:  By Martin Wessely  (Unsplash.com)

Photo Credit: By Martin Wessely (Unsplash.com)

I am not one to try a lot of new things. I prefer to stick with the things I know and like, rather than try something that I might not like. However, lately, it’s been getting to the point where I am tired of the same old thing. I feel like I am trapped in a room, looking out at the world and seeing everything I wish I had the guts to do pass me by. A lot of that has to do with the fear of trying something new and not liking it or maybe even failing at it. I think for me, failure is the biggest fear I have. I think somehow, deep inside, I think it means that somehow I am lacking – that somehow I’m not good enough.

Much of my fear has to do with the fact that I have done so many stupid things in my past. I have a litany of events in my life that would illustrate the extent of how stupid I can really be. And for the past few years, I think I’ve done all I can to distance myself from that failure and make myself out to be this person who seldom messes up. It’s all about the image because if anyone saw who I really had been, they would perhaps not like me quite so much. Forget the fact that my past has taught me so many things. To let others see me as I really am might mean rejection. And I have faced enough of that in my life – at least that’s what I tell myself.

The reality is, my past is my past. I can’t change it, but I can look back on it and see how far I have come. Or rather, I can look back and see how far God has brought me. He took a scared, stupid, insecure little girl and He has grown me into someone who, while still scared, and still able to do stupid things, and often insecure, is also learning to be courageous and strong and to depend on Him. As a result, recently I have started to do things I never really expected I’d be able to do. For example, I went back to New York, where my roots are a few weeks ago. To say that was a step out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I was terrified. But I did it. That’s just one example, but I have others that I can point to. Except, that’s not the point today.

When I refuse to step out and take a risk – whether it be failure, rejection or something else unpleasant – I do myself a disservice. I put myself in a cage. I lock myself up into a tiny little box and instead of growing, I shrink. I go deep into myself and I lock everyone else out. And that’s a lonely life.

Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it (perfection) yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NASB). Paul had a lot to be ashamed of in his past. After all, he persecuted, imprisoned and caused the death of many followers of Christ before he went through is own conversion experience. He could have chosen to hate himself, belittle himself, or lock himself away from other believers. Instead, he chose to do the opposite and as a result started many different churches, not to mention the prevalence of his letters being included in the New Testament.

Paul went on to say in verses 15-16, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (or mature), have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (NASB). In other words, live up to who you are. I am a child of God. As a result that means I am sanctified, redeemed, and can rest in God. I don’t have to keep looking back in shame at my past. I can use it as a learning experience, but my life isn’t in the past. I am to be embracing what God has for me in the future, and that is that I am going to get to be with Him someday. And if that’s the case, then what do I have to be afraid of here? What am I avoiding?

With that in mind, I have a few “bucket list” items I am planning on this year, such as kayaking, driving to New York with my kids this summer, taking a chance and entering a couple of writing contests this year, and so much more. And I can do those things because I am free. Yes, I might fail. Yes, things can go wrong. Yes, I can get hurt and it’s going to be a risk. But, in the end, I am going to grow and learn, and most of all, I am going to escape from that cage I have locked myself into.

What about you? Have you locked yourself in a cage too? Are you avoiding certain things out of fear of failure or rejection? What do you do to get past those feelings and live the life God has called you to?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: celebdu via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: celebdu via Compfight cc

Sometimes God hands me the unexpected. I don’t generally like the unexpected because it’s, well, unexpected. Those who know me, know I like to plan things and when I plan, I try to control pretty much any aspect I can control. So, when the unexpected happens, there goes my plan, and there goes my equilibrium. I’ve been known to fall apart at the unexpected. But I’m getting better at learning to embrace the unexpected.

Just before my trip to New York a couple of weeks ago, I was approached by my daughter. She asked me if I could help her get in touch with her biological father. To say this was unexpected would be lying. To say it was unexpected at that moment in time, is not lying. I knew she was going to come sooner or later, but I had kind of hoped it would be later. But, it wasn’t, and she asked. As difficult as it was for me to say, and as much as I hated that it came at an unexpected time, I told her that I would help her, but that she needed to give me until I came back to do so, in order for me to have time to think about it, pray about it and basically prepare myself for the task. Without going into any detail because 16 years is too long to hold a grudge, suffice it to say, the situation with the father of my children was not a good one. There was a lot of grief and hurt and pain for me in that relationship, and to set that aside for the sake of my daughter was not an easy task.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, when I finally got up the courage to reach out. It was not easy for me. It was extremely difficult. I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to reopen old wounds. I was terrified of what the response would be. I was worried that my daughter would be hurt in the process. So, imagine my surprise when the unexpected happened yet again. The first message was hard, but the kind response I received in return has made it that much easier. There was no judgment or unkind words. There was no accusation or denial. There was, however, acceptance and joy that after all these years, my daughter wanted to know her father. I don’t really know exactly what I expected, but I do know it wasn’t that.

I would love to say that it’s all “peaches and cream,” and that things are going to go well. It’s a little too early to know that at the moment. But, what I can say is that I am encouraged by the response I received. I am hopeful that things will continue to go well. But, one thing I’m starting to learn about the unexpected – bad or good – there is always a learning opportunity. There is always a chance to take the lessons and apply them. There is always room to grow – and without the unexpected, those opportunities might not exist.

Your turn. Have you been handed the unexpected? Do you embrace it or try to avoid it? What do you do when the unexpected comes your way?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Elisabetta Foco

Photo Credit: Elisabetta Foco

I don’t know why, but it always surprises me when people let me down. You’d think that after a while, it would be “old hat,” but the reality is, it always catches me off guard. It’s like I get into this illusion that certain people will never let me down, so when they do, it almost devastates me. I get frustrated with myself over this because the reality is, there is never going to be a person, not one single human person, who is going to never let me down. I’m sure I’ve let my share of people down. In fact, I know I have. You just have to ask my children, and I’m sure they will be happy to spell out the times I’ve let them down.

Yesterday, a friend of mine said something to me that hurt. The biggest reason it hurt was because the statement wasn’t entirely truthful. I don’t think my friend said it to be hurtful, nor do I believe my friend was trying to be malicious. It had been a frustrating day, and I hadn’t made it any easier with my insecurities and worries. So, I feel kind of bad that I am still hurting, and yes, even a little angry over the statement that was made. If there is one thing that hurts me most it’s feeling like I’m getting the blame for something I have no control over or for the actions of others. And that’s how I felt about what was said. But in all honesty, I can’t say that the entire statement wasn’t truthful – just part of it wasn’t.

See, I have these insecurities inside of me that I have been trying so hard to get past. Sometimes I feel like I’ve made great strides in doing so, and then other times, they come back full force and haunt me until I do or say something that I never intended to do or say. It’s like I sabotage all my closest relationships because to let anyone too close is to allow them to hurt me. But I can’t live life like that. I can no longer live in a vacuum of friends because I am too afraid of getting hurt.

I was thinking about that this morning, and I realized something. Not all hurt is a bad thing. “What?” you might ask. That’s right, not all hurt is a bad thing. Here’s why I say that. Yes, what my friend said to me hurt my feelings. I could sit here and dwell on the part that wasn’t true and stew, mutter, and grumble about it. But what does that do for me? Absolutely nothing except to feed my insecurities. My other option is to consider the part of the statement that was truthful – the part I can actually do something about. That does serve a purpose. It can be a catalyst for change.

If I look at all hurt as bad, then I never learn to grow. I stay stuck in my harmful and discouraging behavior – I stay alone. But, if I look at hurt as a change-inducer, then I give myself an opportunity to grow, learn and mature. That seems way more productive to me. I don’t want to stay stuck in the past and dwell on the things that tear me down. I want to dwell on those things that will build me up. In turn, I want to use those things to allow me to help build others up. I want to learn from my past, so I can have a better future. And then, I want to use those things to help bring change to others.

So, even though I am still hurting over what was said, I do see a purpose for it. I do see how it helps me to grow. I do see where it can help me make a change in my own life. And maybe just maybe that will help me let go of the past and move toward my future.

Your turn! Are there things you’re holding onto – insecurities, hurts, anger, etc? Are they building you up or tearing you down? What things do you need to let go of in order to move forward?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: vandan desai via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: vandan desai via Compfight cc

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

So, today you’re getting a “special edition” blog posting because my schedule was off yesterday due to traveling. Today, I am writing from the comfort of my hotel room in Rochester, NY. It’s a balmy 25 degrees here on this beautiful, sunny day. I am a little surprised at how calm I am, to be quite honest. I tend to be a nervous traveler, but today, I am just feeling calm and relaxed. I guess that’s a good thing. Anyway, while I’ve been traveling, I’ve been considering how different I am seeing things these days – especially as it relates to doing things out of the ordinary.

A year ago, I would not have traveled any distance alone just because I felt like it. I would have wanted to go, but I wouldn’t have had the courage to take any action (and in fact, didn’t). For so many years, I have made excuses about why I couldn’t come back to NY. It was always something like, “I don’t have the money right now” or “I just don’t have time to go.” And while those things were somewhat true, I do believe that I could have figured out a way, had I possessed even a small amount of courage.

That’s why this trip is such a big deal to me. I think in a way, it’s proof to myself that I have changed. I have grown, matured, and become more adventurous than I have been for so many years. It’s like there was a part of me buried inside that I had hidden away because I thought I could never be that person again. And over the past few years, and especially in the past year, I have slowly begun to dig that part of me back out.

See, when I was younger, I wasn’t this scared person who was unwilling to try anything new. I was actually quite outgoing and loved to go new places, meet new people and do new things. Somewhere along the way, what with the hurts and the disappointments, that person disappeared, and only a shell of her was left. The longing inside of myself was buried so deeply, I couldn’t see it. But lately, staying in the same patterns, doing the same things day in and day out, has become monotonous and is no longer palatable to me. I have started to feel the pull of getting outside of my normal and being more spontaneous.

So, on this trip, I haven’t really done a lot of planning of what or who I will see and when. I have only made a few plans, and the rest of the time, I intend to take things as they come. I want to fully experience this trip in a way that I haven’t before. I want to go home feeling like I have been renewed and have a new outlook. This is the biggest thing I have done in so many years, and I am excited to see where my “adventure” takes me. So, with that, I’m off to enjoy myself on this journey I have undertaken.

Your turn! Do you have things that you’ve wanted to do, but you’ve made excuses about why you can’t? What can you do now to take even a “small” step toward that dream, goal, or desire?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

By Chris Sardegna

By Chris Sardegna

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I like things my way. I make plans all the time, and when things don’t go the way I planned, I get a “little” upset. I’ve gotten somewhat better over the years, as I have come to realize that not everything is going to go my way, but those little frustrations still arise when things don’t go quite right. That’s when I find I have to be careful. My tendency at those times is to whine, complain, explode or any combination of those. And when that happens, I want to just stop what I’m doing and quit. I wish my first response were to take it in stride, but most times, it’s not.

For instance, this morning, as I was running, my app decided to kick me out mid-run. Now, I was having a good run this morning, and it really irked me that my app stopped working. I couldn’t get it to let me back in, and boy was I mad. I had a few choice words to say about my phone and the app at that point, and they weren’t ones I am willing to repeat. I’m not proud of myself for those moments, but those moments do happen. At that point, I almost said, “Forget it! I’m done running today!” Thankfully, I’ve come a long way from where I was a few months ago, so this little setback didn’t stop me from going forward. So, instead of quitting, I just finished my run. I knew when I had started, so I knew when I was supposed to run until, so there was no reason I couldn’t finish. But that one little frustration almost made me throw in the towel.

The truth of the matter is, there are always going to be things I can’t control. My plans are always going to have unexpected things thrown at them, and that’s OK. In fact, Proverbs 16 has a lot to say about man’s plans. I think the one that sticks out to me the most is Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (NASB). I can make all the plans I want, but if that’s not where God wants me to be, I’m probably not going to end up there. In some ways that’s a frustration. I mean, I want things to go my way. I make all these plans, and they’re good plans. So, why would God want me to go a different way than what I planned? But on the other hand, it’s also a comfort. I don’t have to worry if things don’t work out the way I planned because God is directing my steps. I need to trust that He knows better than I what is in store for me. He has His own plans and purposes for my life, and as a follower of Him, my job is to follow where He leads. That’s comforting because it means I don’t have to figure it all out on my own. I am never alone on this journey. I always have a Helper who is ready, willing and able to direct my steps.

So, as I go forward on this journey through life, my goal is to become the type of person that takes the unexpected and looks for the opportunity in it. I don’t just want that to be a one time thing. Rather, I want it to become a characteristic of mine, so as I make my plans, I am striving to become flexible, resilient and willing to change direction if necessary.

How about you? How do you handle the little frustrations in life? Are you like me, and like to have things your way? Or are you more open to things going a different way?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you should give something up, but you find so much enjoyment in it, that you hold on for dear life? It’s as if that item or situation or whatever it is just grabs hold and won’t let go, right? As you can probably tell, I’ve been there.

This past Friday a few of my friends and I started the Daniel Plan Bible Study. During our session, we watched a video at the end about the foods that we have in our pantries. The hosts were sharing the items to keep and those to get rid of. At one point, they held up a jar of peanut butter. Now, they didn’t say to get rid of peanut butter altogether, just that certain peanut butters are just not good for you because of all the “extras” that are included – many of which are really just poison. I have to admit, my favorite peanut butter is Peter Pan Natural Roasted Honey Creamy peanut butter. In my opinion, it is THE best peanut butter in the entire world. I’ve tried to find something to replace it, but it holds a place in my heart that no other peanut butter has ever been able to touch. So, the moment I heard the words come out of the host’s mouth, I said, “I am NOT giving up my peanut butter!” Basically, I was saying, I’d rather keep eating that item that has “poisons” because I was not willing to part with something that probably isn’t all that great for me in the first place.

That got me to thinking. How often am I like that with my sin? How many times do I say, “I know I should give this up, but I’m enjoying it so much, I just can’t?” How many times have I continued to live in misery, knowing what I was doing was wrong, but feeling powerless to stop it? How many times have I given up what was best for me, to hold onto that sin? How many times have I said to God, “I’m so sorry, God. Help me to let this go and do better?” How many times have I turned right back to that sin?

Matthew 26:41 says, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (NASB). Granted, I know that this verse is Jesus talking to the His disciples, who had fallen asleep while He had gone to pray in the garden before his crucifixion. But it still applies. How many times has my spirit been willing to let something go, but the weakness of my flesh has taken over? I know I’m not the only one here. Even the Apostle Paul had something to say about that in Romans 7:14-20, when he says, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 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. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flash; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me”(NASB). So, I want to do what is right, just like Paul did, but somehow, the sin that still resides in me tries to take over. It’s frustrating and painful to admit that no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to stop doing the things I know I should not.

The good news is that it’s not my power that has the ability to change things. God’s power has the ability to transform my life. There is nothing I can do past, present or future to change my nature. God already provided for that when He sent His Son. He works all things for good to those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Paul goes on to say in Romans 8, that if God is for us, who can be against us (vs. 31). He continues,He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:32-35, NASB). Did you catch that? “He didn’t spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.” And that same Son that was delivered for us, NOW sits at God’s right hand, interceding for us! How amazing is that? That alone would be enough, but Paul didn’t stop there. He went on to say in verses 37-39,But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NASB).

In Romans 7, Paul talked about how he did the things he didn’t want to do, and didn’t do the things he did want to do. When he gets to chapter 8, he’s now reminding us, that we are “more than conquerors,” not because of anything that your or I could do, but because God gave His Son to die for our sins. Because of this, I now have Christ’s power in me, which means, I have the power necessary to let go of the sins that I have been holding onto. I don’t have to try to find it within myself. I need to look to my Savior. I need to remember who gave everything for me and is still there just waiting for me to lean on His power.

So, going back to the peanut butter, I realized that holding onto something bad for me when I was trying to do something healthier was probably not the best decision. So, the peanut butter is gonna go. I don’t want to hold onto the things that are bad for me. I need to let them go and move to something healthier.

What about you? What “peanut butter” are you holding onto in your life? Is there something you need to let go of in order to fully appreciate the power of God in your life? Perhaps, it seems like it’s too hard. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own strength. Because of Jesus, you are already a conqueror.