Posts Tagged ‘Growth’

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

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB).

I’ve been reading a lot lately about growing in God and getting to know His Word more. In the course of that reading and studying, I’ve found numerous references to being firmly rooted in the Word of God. It’s easy to say to be firmly rooted, but what exactly does that look like? I have heard so many different ideas about how to be firmly rooted, but I’m not just wondering about HOW to be firmly rooted. I want to know what that looks like to be firmly rooted.

This morning, I was reading Colossians 2:6&7, and I think I now have a better understanding of what being firmly rooted looks like. I may not have a full picture, but I do have a bigger glimpse of what that looks like. I believe there are three characteristics that someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will have based on these two verses.

1) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s word will be walking in Christ. What does that mean? Well, that means this person is so in tune with the Lord and His Word that He lives out and copies the way Christ lived. That means, he doesn’t judge someone by past or present sins. This person accepts others as they are and cares about them regardless of their lifestyle, habits or character. Our Pastor actually spoke about this last night in our Wednesday evening service. One thing he said, really struck home to me. I’ve heard it before, but last night it sank in a little more. He said, “Acceptance is not approval.” I can accept someone without approving of his/her lifestyle. I don’t have to like everything about someone or agree with everything someone says to accept that person for who he/she is.

Being rooted in God’s Word also means that this person is more likely to be aware of and to actively seek to avoid compromising situations. It doesn’t mean this person hides in a hole and does nothing. No, instead, it means that this person is cognizant of the things that tempt him/her and then does what is necessary to avoid those situations whenever possible. What walking in Christ doesn’t mean is that this person is perfect. Unfortunately, nobody will be perfect in this imperfect earth.

2) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be built up in Christ and established in his/her faith. This means that this person knows what he/she believes and continues to live in accordance with that. I can’t know what I believe if I don’t spend time in God’s Word and really take the time to study and understand what God is saying. If I do that, then I will grow in my faith, and I will know what I stand for.

3) Finally, someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be overflowing with gratitude. That means, no matter what happens in life, this person is grateful for the good things he/she has, even when things aren’t going exactly as well as he/she would like. It means this person chooses to be grateful in spite of the bad things that happen. This is the part I have the most difficulty with because it’s really hard to be thankful when I feel like nothing is going right. But no matter my situation, I have a choice. I can choose to be grateful. Or I can choose to complain. Either way, I am the one who has to live with myself. Do I want to be joyful or miserable? It’s my choice. I want to choose gratefulness.

I’m so glad that I was able to read these two verses this morning because they encouraged me to dwell on what God has to say to me in His Word, and as a result, I am encouraged to stop looking at the past and worrying about the future. Instead, I want to focus on what God has for me today. I want to grow and learn. Most of all, I want to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Your turn! What characteristics you think someone rooted in God’s Word would have besides these? What other things can we keep in mind about growing in God? I hope to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: limowreck666 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: limowreck666 via Compfight cc

Have you ever been mad at God – I mean really mad at Him? Have you ever had something happen that made you question why God would allow it? I know I have. I mentioned a few days ago that I was mad at God. See, things haven’t really been going the way I’d have liked them too lately. I have several situations come up where things just went a whole different direction than I expected. I might have mentioned a few times before that when things go opposite of what I expect, I tend to get upset. Well, in this case, several different things didn’t go my way, and I’ve been struggling with being mad at God. After all, He is all powerful, so He could stop those things from happening.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I have been spending time in God’s Word in the hopes that I would somehow figure it all out. The reality is, I may never know why things don’t go as I expect them to. Does that mean I should give up and throw in the towel and walk away? I don’t think so. In fact, I have been blessed because I have made the choice to stick with God.

This morning I was reading Numbers 11, and a verse popped out at me and hit me right between the eyes. I couldn’t avoid it because it was like God was talking directly to me. In this chapter, the people are complaining about the manna being the only food they were eating. They wanted some meat. Now, God was feeding them this great food that came directly from Him, and they were going to complain? (Sound familiar?) So, anyway, Moses goes and complains to God about how much the people are complaining and said he couldn’t handle all those people by himself. So, God told Moses to gather 70 elders and He was going to put His spirit on them so they could help Moses. Then He told Moses He was going to provide meat for the children of Israel, and that they would get meat for not just one day but for a whole month until they were sick of it. Be careful what you wish for right?

So, Moses, being a lot like me I think, asked God, “I have 600,000 people with me, and you say you’re going to give them meat for entire month. Should we go kill our flocks and herds so that we’ll have enough? Or should we get all the fish from the sea?” Obviously Moses was a bit skeptical about the whole thing. I’ve been there. And then comes the verse that smacked me right between the eyes. In verse 23 God says, “Is the LORD’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not” (NASB). God says, let’s just see if I can do what I say I can do.

I often find myself wondering how things are going to work out. I question God’s judgment and wonder how a certain situation can ever be made better. The reality is, it’s not my job to worry about that. God is in charge. When God is in charge, I have nothing to worry about. Things may not go the way I anticipate, but I have to ask myself, “Is God big enough to handle that? Do I really believe He can?” And the reality is, there is nothing in my life that God cannot (and has not) handle when I stepped out of His way and stopped fighting. I am learning that I don’t have to understand the reasons why things happen. I need to spend more time watching God work. And He always works.

Your turn, have you had situations where you felt like God was giving you more than you could handle? What do you do in those situations? Do you, like me, whine and complain? Or do you trust that God knows what He’s doing and let Him work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

In this life there are always going to be problems. After all, as I have been reminded of time and time again, we live in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people hurt each other – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. The bottom line is, everyone gets hurt at some point. And I’d venture to guess if someone insists they have never been hurt, they were probably either the ones inflicting the pain, or they are lying to themselves. I suppose there could be the rare case that it’s actually true, but if it is, then it truly is a rare case indeed. It would be nice to be able to say that the cause of all my problems rests squarely on the shoulders of others, but unfortunately for me, often I am the cause of my own problems.

So, if I am the problem, what can I do to fix it? And shouldn’t that make things easier to fix? I mean, the only person I can really do anything about is myself, right? Alas, it’s not that simple. It’s actually easier to see the problems in someone else’s life because I’m not part of that life, and it has no bearing on me. I’m a neutral party. But the reality is, it’s not my job to see everyone else’s problems. It’s my job to work on me. So, how what does that mean for me?

First things first. Before I can begin to fix a problem in me, I have to actually know that there is a problem. My experience has been that I don’t really see my own problems. I’m too close to the issue. That’s where friends come in and help. I am blessed to have at least 2-3 good friends who are willing to point out to me when I have a flaw in my thinking or if I am overstepping my bounds. I trust these friends with pretty much every aspect of my life – which is saying something because I don’t really trust people easily. But because I trust these friends, I know that if they are taking the time to tell me I have an issue, I listen. I don’t like it. But I listen. I might get angry at first. But I listen. I listen because I don’t want to be one of those people who refuses to see the issues in my life and stay in the same unhealthy patterns. But what do I do once I have seen or someone has pointed out to me that there is a problem?

I think there are three things I need to do in this situation. After all, God gave me a brain, and He gives me the tools necessary to learn and grow.

1) I need to review what has been pointed out to me or what I suspect, to determine the truth in the situation. Sometimes a perceived problem, isn’t truly a problem. But often it is. So, first, I need to examine the facts. Who is telling me I have an issue? Is it someone I trust or someone I just happen to know? Is it someone who tends to find problems in everyone or someone who usually thinks well of people? Am I just feeling insecure, or do I have facts that back up my suspicions? This could mean that I need to ask for honest feedback. It definitely means I need to get into God’s Word to see what He says. The main point here is that I need to be willing to take an honest look at what has either been pointed out to me, or I have a suspicion about.

2) Once I have determined that there is actually an issue, I need to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Admitting the problem means that I recognize the issue, and now I want to do something about it. I don’t want to be one of those people who says “Oh yes, I have a problem, but that’s just who I am.” That’s not a healthy outlook. If I have a true issue, then it is something that can be remedied and worked on. Yes, I have a personality, and that personality makes me who I am, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if I allow myself to be ruled by my personality, then I am not looking out for the best interests of others. And as a child of God, I am called to care about other people. Philippians 2:1-4 says:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

I don’t have the luxury of thinking only of myself. I have a responsibility to look out for the interests of others. So, if I have an issue, I need to admit to the issue. It doesn’t mean an overnight change necessarily, but it does mean I need to admit there is a problem.

3) Finally, I need to address the issue. I need to take steps to improve in that area. Sometimes that’s difficult to do because perhaps the action or thought has been so deeply ingrained that it takes a long time to make the change. Making the change quickly isn’t required. Committing to making the change and then acting on that commitment is. Some things I can do to help me with that is to ask someone to help hold me accountable. Knowing someone is going to be asking me about my progress means I am more likely to take action. Another thing I can do is get into God’s Word and see what He says about that issue, and also memorize Scriptures that can help me stick to my commitment. I can also keep a journal to track my progress.

I do need to remember, though, that making progress isn’t necessarily overnight. I am going to have times when I fail. At those times, I need to remember that this is a process, and instead of giving up, I need to get up and keep moving forward. My experience has been, when I have actually done this, I have walked away feeling better about myself and have been better able to help others in the process. And really, isn’t that what I’m here for – to help others?

What about you? Do you have other ideas for how to make changes in your life? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

~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