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The Power of Letting Go

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. -Mark Twain

Life can sometimes be brutal.  I’ve felt the sting of too many kicks this week.  And at some point along the way, I got angry.  Why was everything happening at once?  Why was the work I was putting in seemingly never enough?  Why does there have to be tension?

God, in His wisdom, gives us each a “breaking point”…the inner battle that tells us we must “Let Go and Let God.”  Hot tears stung my cheeks as I hit my own breaking point and realized that the only way I was going to make it through this was to do both.  How merciful is our Lord that even in our weakness, He reminds us He is strong.  In those moments of relinquishing my need for control, God reminded me of these things:

The goal is not to make everyone happy-Far too often, I fall in the pit of trying to get everything done and keeping everyone happy.  Not only is it impossible, but our role in life is a far higher calling than burning daylight striving for the approval of people.  If  we are serving Him well, the rest more easily falls into place.

Letting go doesn’t mean giving in-In our desire to be right, we can lose sight of what’s most important.  This week, letting go of some things, even when I haven’t fully agreed, made more sense than trying to prove a point.  Sometimes “Okay” is the smartest word we can use.

Saying “I’m Sorry” covers a multitude of sins-There are times when it’s hard to apologize.  We feel wronged or slighted, and the last thing we want to do is say “I’m sorry.”  But there’s so much power in those two little words.  They erase tension, breathe fresh air into discussions, and open the door to reconnection.  I found myself apologizing today…it was needed to get things back on track and as soon as I uttered them, I felt better and so did the other person.

I fight the need for control of…well, everything in my life…fairly often.  But God continues to show me the power of letting go.

Question: When life is knocking you down, how do you fight back?

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Several friends have been blogging and sharing online their one word for 2011. The task, for me, was a bit daunting.  One word that would be a theme for my year?  Hard to reduce to one thing.  Over the last two days, I’ve prayed, dreamed, and jotted down ideas.  I thought I’d landed on it yesterday, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was a required action behind it.

My word for 2011 is: Commit.

As I’ve gotten older, as my career roles have changed, as I’ve started a family, I’ve realized that what was once the cornerstone of my “get things done” personal brand has evolved to being a great starter, but not always a strong finisher.  And, in some areas of my life, it’s not only beneficial, but necessary. But there are a few areas where I see it as a detriment to real growth, so in these areas, I am making a commitment to action over the next year:

1. I commit to knowing God more.  To trust daily in grace, forgiveness, and faith. To grow my prayer life into a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus. To begin and end each day with true worship.

2. I commit to being more intentional about my personal life.  Time that should have been spent on the treadmill was spent in front of the computer. Conversations that should have been had in-person were done by email. Life that should have been lived was put on hold because I didn’t want my child raised by an absent parent. I want to be healthier and more engaged this year. I want to make-and keep-better connections with friends, new and old.

3. I commit to having more adventures. In my childhood and young adult years, I actively pursued new adventures (which put many gray hairs on my parents). With age and responsibilities came a fear of jumping into the unknown. I want to live with passion and purpose…not live safe just to pay my mortgage.

4. I commit to spending more time on my art. This covers not only painting, but also photography, crafts, and blogging.  I’ve been inconsistent with them all, even though they bring me joy.  Time to put more priority on the color of life, rather than just that which is black and white.

I love having an anthem for this year.  I love being accountable to God and my life in a big way.  I am committed.

What about you?  What’s your One Word for 2011?

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A Birthday Wish List

Ever have those periods in life when you feel as though you’re just existing?  Things are getting done. Life is good. But your sense of adventure-that fire inside that spurs you to do big things-has been on sabbatical just a little too long? Me, too.  And one thing I’ve learned when those times hit is that I can’t begin to live there…I have to set my sights on what’s ahead.  And since today is my birthday, it’s the perfect time to look ahead and write out my “wish list”…actually more of a “bucket list” for the next 365 days. In this next year, I want to:

  • Begin each day with a smile.  Life is too short to let the little things, like a morning routine, set a bad tone for the day.
  • See the best in others, even when it’s hard.
  • Be a leader others remember later on in their careers for having inspired them.
  • Write at least one thank you note each day. There’s much to be grateful for, and handwritten notes do it beautifully.
  • Forgive easily and forget often.
  • Allow Jesus to be the pilot–a daily, conscious effort.
  • Dig deeper with friends, and cast off life-suckers.
  • Take a dream from “some day” to “this year”.
  • Remain sticky through the peaks and valleys.
  • Actively seek our more opportunities to invest in others-through time and resources.
  • Use Every day of my vacation time!  I love my work, but I love my life more.
  • Be a 3-c parent as my kiddo hits the preteen years: connected, compassionate, and consistent.

Whoa, nelly.  Looks like a big year ahead.  If you were making this list, what would you add?

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What Will Christmas Be This Year?

We all know the pressure is on to make people happy at Christmas.  And I always wanted to be a good gift-giver.  I would pay attention all through the year and surprise loved ones with that one thing they’d really wanted.  I loved the adventure of finding the gifts…but felt guilty about the priority I was putting on this process of gift-giving.

Two years ago, I felt God challenge me about the way I was spending this money.  The number of zeroes was growing each year.  Generosity has always come easy to me, but I knew I needed to redirect who was benefitting from these gifts.  Seriously…do we need one more Wii cartridge or giftcard??

Once I made the decision (and prepared my many family members for the change), it became such a fun experience.  We’ve given cows and pigs, we’ve adopted children in Kenya and India and we’ve helped fund water programs in Uganda.  There are so many programs that make the process easy, and have built a legacy on creating change where needed.  There was some learning along the way–especially in prepping family for this change.  Some people loved the idea and were excited about knowing their gift was going to help someone else.  Others were not so crazy about it at first, and I had to respect their desire to get an actual gift (though I didn’t give in and change what I was doing, but did respect their feelings in the process).  And, in addition to not giving any gifts, I asked that I not be given any either, so that the money they would’ve spent on me was used to help others, too.  All that to say, communication is needed when you decide to do this, but it’s well worth the discussion so people know ahead of time.

If you want to know you’re really impacting a life with a gift this year, try this: you’ll never regret it, and won’t have to wonder if  your present is just collecting dust in someones’ closet.

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