Tag Archives: personal development

Do you fear going splat on the rocks of life?

by freedigitalphotos.net

Visualize this.

A fourteen year old girl goes hiking with her friends.  They explore parts of northern Arizona and discover a creek with a box canyon.  You know the type, where water gathers in various spaces to make swimming holes for adventurous teens.

Once they discover the canyon, kids begin crawling and jumping into its small 9 x 9 foot pool of water. For safety, one person does a test dive to decide its depth, easily 10 feet or more.

They begin jumping off an 8 foot cliff into the pool and shouting their enthusiasm.  Soon, this minor adrenaline moment doesn’t satisfy.  What next?

Eyes venture higher.  A twenty-foot cliff.  One by one the teens burst off the higher rock into the chilly pool below.  They invite others to join.  “Come on!” they say, “You can do it!”

Eventually the teens all venture up to higher ground.  But what about that one 14-year-old girl?

The whole time, she timidly explored her personal unknown.  She has no hiking experience.  She internally grins at her moments of bravery, no one knowing her challenge.

She wears contacts.  For this journey, she knew it would be unwise to wear them. However, insecurity required her to leave the glasses at home.  She can barely see. 

Everything dances before her in shapes and shadows.  She checks out the pool for herself, holding her breath and forcing her body down as far as possible, to find its depth.  She doesn’t touch bottom.  It’s deep.

After an hour of hearing the laughter and splashes, she slowly creeps to the low cliff, which is already higher than she’s ever jumped.  Blindly trusting friends and water, she leaps.  Yes!

It’s all she ever hoped for!  The thrill of the leap, the cool of the water, the enjoyment of her friends.  She contentedly remains at the lower cliff exalting in her moments of courage.  But then she hears the call.

“Come on!” they say, “You can do it!”

Are they crazy?  This has already been the biggest adventure of her life, why mess with that?  Why risk more?

Her friends tell her she’d feel bad if she left and never accomplished this goal.  She doubts them.

She cannot even see the cliff from which they’ve jumped.  Though it stands only a few feet from her current location, her cloudy eyes mask its location.  She hears the shouts and looks up knowing it’s much more than she’s ever done.  But she has no image to grasp.

Because of peer pressure and the clear enjoyment of  others, she decides to hike to the other side of the cliff, to move upward.  She’ll think about leaping.  Maybe.

She crosses the creek and climbs up the trail to the higher cliff site.  The air feels different.  The breeze pushes more.  She steps out to look over this daunting precipice.  Her heart thunders in her chest. She feel exposed and vulnerable.

She cannot see the pool.  To her eyes, it’s a giant, fuzzy, open space.  Her brain knows the water would catch her as it caught her friends, but her eyes don’t believe.  She shakes.

The teens encourage their fearful friend, they remind her of their success.  She remains frozen glaring into emptiness, dreaming of success but nailed to the ground with fear.  What if she’s the one who misses the pool?  What if she simply goes splat on the rocks?

When people speak of a leap of faith, they forget the reason we don’t easily leap.  They fail to remember our fear of going splat. Trusting in the unseen God of the Bible can feel like jumping off a cliff into the unknown, but He has proved Himself over and over, and like the water below, His depth is capable of catching us when we imagine our rocky doom.

What happened to that young teen?

After an hour of staring, imagining and fearing, she moved forward. Into the air blindly, she left the safety of the cliff. Less like a leap and more like a step, she found herself midair, falling.  As she flew through the air, still the fears grabbed at her heart, but the water caught her as smoothly as a catcher at home plate. She did it!

And so can you.

Whatever your leap is, whatever splat you fear, the Living Water wants to catch, comfort and refresh you.  May you know His comfort and care in the midst of your struggle.

“Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;” Psalm 86:2

I wrote a guest post on this topic in seven short sentences, click here to read for yourself. 

My choice today:

Jump into the arms of Jesus when fear attempts to capture my heart.

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Don’t simplify, ever

Greyhound Racing
Image by Mamboman1 via Flickr

Have you ever sat down with a friend for conversation and that friend just kept talking and talking and talking? Whenever they pause, you attempt to speak but discover your mistake, because they quickly stomp over your idea to insert their idea again and again.

Phew!

You find yourself wishing for a polite way to say, “Haven’t you heard, less is more?”

In the world of blogs, Geoff Talbot cuts to the chase better than a greyhound hunting down a rabbit on an Arizona track. He created a short and sweet blog presence called, www.sevensentences.com .

Each post limits itself to seven sentences worth of content. The topics include creativity, filmmaking, social media, holy filth, writing and poetry.

Tomorrow, he adds a certain choice chicka to his blogging collection of friends.

That’s right. I decided to simplify.

When he asked for guest bloggers, I accepted the challenge to succinctly communicate within his seven sentence boundary. The result is a guest post entitled, “Think, blink then leap“.

He’ll put it on his site tomorrow.  Here’s the link: http://sevensentences.com/2011/08/20/think-blink-then-leap.

Be sure to visit and comment profusely.  Tell your friends, neighbors and family to check out this short and tasty nugget of inspiration.  I plan on hanging out over there and responding to anyone who wants to chat.

My choice today:

Share short thoughts with long meanings.

 

 

Boredom busters, who needs them?

Science Jamboree
Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr

Do you remember the amazing things you did with boredom?  You learned to shuffle cards.  You rode a bike with no hands.  You built models or wrote stories.  What a treasured life we lived!

Now, we have so many activities designed to occupy our time or our kids time.  We can go to the public pool, the park, play sports, take classes, play video games, watch television, or surf the internet.  We pack our moments so full, there’s little space for other experiences.

We do it because it’s expected.  We fear making poor choices, and we don’t want boredom.  What’s the thrill of boredom?

On its surface, boredom causes lethargy and decay, but if guided by caring parents who see a plus within a boredom experience much more occurs.

Let’s imagine…

  • a future musician minus boredom….no intrigue, no musical development, no passion.
  • a future artist minus boredom…no mistaken sketches aiding future development, no creative color blending, no mixing of mediums. 
  • a future computer tech minus boredom….no knowledge of deeper computer reasoning, no understanding of why people sit there in the first place, no ideas for improvement.
  • a future magician minus boredom….no finger dexterity, no ability to shuffle a card deck, no show.
  • a future mom minus boredom…no doll games, no babysitting, no practice, no skill.

Many great and small feats begin with a little undirected free time.  At first it flusters the mind and body, not knowing what to do.  But with a little elbow room and a touch of guidance from a mom or dad who cares, kids venture outdoors, pick up paintbrush or pen, read, write, examine, experiment or build.

Maybe that’s why God wants us to honor a sabbath.  From rest comes creativity.  His creative juices will never be topped, and He rested.

My choice today:

Allow a little boredom and keep eyes open to offer needed direction.

Who has the power?

Television remote control
Image via Wikipedia

In our house, whoever holds the television remote control, “has the power”, as we define it.

As we seek to make faithful choices, we need to realize who has the power.

Jesus spoke here: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  John 15:16

My choice today:

Put down the remote.

What do Andre the Giant, pit bulls, and bees have in common?

From the days of Tri-X 400: Classic wrestling ...
Image via Wikipedia

In fifth grade, I stood 4 foot, 5 inches. One of my closest friends, Lorenda, grew well over 5 foot 7 inches. I spent nights at her home,we giggled together, played and even carpooled. I really loved spending time with her.

It was easy to forget she was the biggest girl in our school, because she was my friend. If other kids didn’t her, they might be intimidated.

The same could be said for Andre the Giant, pit bulls and bees.

Andre the Giant

He found the limelight as a wrestling superstar standing 7 feet tall and weighing 520 lbs. The mere mention of his name sent chills through his WWWF competitors. From 1971 through 1984, he remained undefeated. Today, he’s listed in the WWF Hall of Fame.

And yet, he’s also called the gentle giant. Across the internet, we find stories of how he loved to pay for dinner when he went to restaurants. People found him enchanting. In the bonus features found on The Princess Bride DVD, his costars share their admiration of the big guy. Robin Wright Penn told how he used his huge hand to help keep her warm on cold shooting days by placing it on top of her head like a hat.

You can read more stories of his gentleness on the official Andre the Giant website.

Pit bulls

by freedigitalphotos.net

Want a dog with an intimidating reputation? The pit bull stands alone.

Read the news and you’ll find pit bull stories of attacks on people and dog fighting. We associate them with fierce toughness.

But there’s a soft and tender side to this maligned bully.

According to www.DogBreedInfo.com,”The American Pit Bull Terrier is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet, which is good with children and adults.”

Bees

by freedigitalphoto.net

People fear bees or bee stings for multiple reasons: pain, allergy, unpredictability, etc.  For those
with a severe allergy, we’re talking life and death.

Stick one bee in a room, and you’ve found a great equalizer. Young and old, small or tall, skinny or muscled or fat, almost everyone jumps or
freaks out in some way if a bee lands on their arm.

But we need bees. If we want food, we want them and their pollen carrying legs working their hearts out daily.

Hundreds of plants need bee intervention to produce food. According to New Agriculturalist Online, “Bees pollinate about one-sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and some 400 of its agricultural plants.”

One of the owners of Bennett’s Honey Farm in Fillmore, Ca, Ann Bennett, shared with me how often they sting her. I felt shocked, but she confidently made me aware that it helped to build her immunity not just to stings but other things as well. It didn’t bother her a bit.

Like going to the doctor for our vaccinations, even the sting serves a value.

Because she enjoys her bees so much, located inside their little honey store sits a clear, glass panel exposing a real hive to any observational types. Visitors view the inner workings of the beehive with fascination. She knows that hive well and befriends it.

As a honey lover, I happily receive the gifts they give too.

What do these three have in common?

Reputation. The reasonable human being would feel fear if they found themselves face to face with any of those items listed above.

And yet, each of those items stands as a true friend to those who know them well. For the close friend,they bring joy, confidence, and beneficial return.

In the same way, I enjoyed being friends with Lorenda and forgot about the differences in our stature because of our friendship.

Why it matters

The same happens to lovers or fearers of God.

Some people who love God and have befriended Him have become so close to His beauty, they forget His power. Others catch glimpses of His power, but have no desire or understanding of how He longs to befriend them.

We see and know His power because of Bible verses like this:

“The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.” Nahum 1:5

or this:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 1:7

But we see and know His kindness and love because of verses like this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

My choice today:

Embrace God as my friend, while recognizing and appreciating His strength.

What about you?  Are you a lover or fearer of God? When you think about Him, what aspects of His character do you most embrace?

 

10 ways to face our choices

Funny Face Friday #2
Image by Tony… via Flickr

When I moved to the big city, I became very aware that within one hour I could do practically anything under the sun.  One hour or less to the beach, one hour or less to the mountains, theaters, major artistic venues, clubs, restaurants, museums, etc.  I became overwhelmed with all the choices at hand.

Whether we hide in a corner or go for a rodeo ride, the choice ultimately sits at our feet and stares up expectantly.  That’s why this blog began.  A simple spot to think through one choice at a time.

As a person of faith (that would be Christian faith), I think all our choices affect or reflect our faith.  But we can’t always see it.  We don’t want to see it sometimes.

Then life smacks us around, and we find ourselves spread out on the floor (literally or figuratively).  All those choices glare into our ankles willing us to make a move.  What do we do?

When faith hits the fan, our choices matter…let’s take time to see the choices.

Be part of this story.  We pause for a moment each week day to think through or share with a friend one simple choice.  That’s enough for one day, don’t you think?

Choices on facing our choices:

1. The random pick and go approach.

2.  Hide and assume they’ll go away, while they grow like weeds who’ve been fed fertilizer.

3.  Write out our thoughts each day and take note of choices we make, for better or worse.

4.  Learn from great choice thinkers like Max Lucado, Jon Acuff,  or Seth Godin.

5.  Choose to receive this blog’s newsletter and think through one choice at a time.  (Write your email in the upper right-hand corner)

6.  Share your point of view by commenting online to our daily choices.

7.  Follow Paula on Twitter by clicking here.

8.  Friend Paula on Facebook by clicking here.

9.  Put Paula in one of your circles on Google+ here.

10. Close this window and move on. 

If you’re seeking perfection in counsel, this isn’t the place for you.  Here, we walk forward, occasionally stumble and look toward the One, True God whose perfection surpasses our imaginations.  If you seek challenge and strength for your spiritual and cranial tissues, then you’ve arrived on good ground.

My choice today:

Open the doors and greet the neighbors. 

“Hi, welcome to my blog.”

What lense are you using?

I’ve started to learn how to improve my photography because of a website called Digital Photography School.  Each week I receive an email with a weekly photographic assignment.  This week’s task involves perspectives.

Instead of taking pictures while standing upright, the task of the week includes searching for unusual angles on everyday things.  On the website, many people submitted their beautiful photos and I felt inspired.   My hunt began.

My oldest daughter takes these challenges with me.  We motivate one another to think broadly and search for unusual photographic angles.

This approach to photos also applies to life. 

Instead of staring into our problems head-on, what if we pause and attempt to think differently. 

As parents, we tend to repeat the same patterns of discipline and reward on our children, even though the response we receive doesn’t match what we want.  On the job hunt, many people have experienced rejection where once acceptance met them.  In dating or marital relationships,  taking an alternate approach could also prove helpful. 

Adjusting our photographic lense involves sitting or standing or even lying down while looking at the same subject.  In life, we do this by trying to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.  What would they tell us?  We can even invite others into our story.  What if we ask what they would do or what they see from their perspective?  They could be helpful or not, but we’ll never know if we don’t ask. 

Check out how my daughter and I approached photos of the same light from differing directions.  The difference lies in our individual perspectives.  Each holds its own beauty, but I wouldn’t be open her angle, if she weren’t invited to share.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

My choice today:

Re-aim the lense of my life, seek a new perspective.

Dust off the dreams and take flight

Mainland Air Cessna 152 ZK-FCQ practising touc...
Image via Wikipedia

Some dreams happily reside in the sleepy space which occupies our mind in the early morning hours.  They like it there and should stay.  Dreams like becoming a 4 foot 5 inch line backer for the Dallas cowboys.  For safety sake, it belongs in the bed.

But there are reachable dreams.  Dreams which only fear or limited thought hold back.

As the tough guys in the movie”Tangled state, “I had a dream, once.”

Years ago, I dreamt of flying a plane myself.  It seemed silly to seek out.  Was was the point?  I didn’t want to become a professional pilot, but the thought of soaring on the clouds sounded fun.  I told myself to forget about it, until…

A friend of mine heard my dream.  She loved making dreams happen.  She bought me a solo flight with an instructor as a birthday present.  And, out of courtesy, I went.

It’s a precarious thing to chase dreams.

The day I flew, I had a cold.  It affected my inner ear.  I sat in a Cessna 152 within inches of the instructor/pilot.  We circled the Phoenix area, and then it happened.  I puked.

Yup, vomited all over myself and a total stranger within the space of a three-foot circle.  Little known fact, small planes don’t carry vomit bags.  I wanted to hurl out the window, but it doesn’t roll down like the ones in a car and in retrospect that’s probably good.  Who wants to have human discharge pummeling toward their head from 2000 feet in the air?

One would think my dream ended there.  Nope.

Apart from the nausea thing, I found it fun.  I realized I could do it.  As a single chick, it didn’t cost too much.  I had free time, and come on, it was flying.

Following my explosive regurgitation, I sought a different flying school (where they didn’t know I was a puker) and started lessons.  Once a week, I’d learn the physics of flying, climbed in the plane and literally soared.  The vomit ceased and fun clicked in.

I became a certified pilot in 1993.  Since that time, I haven’t flown a bunch, but the experience lingers.  The dream became possible, chaseable and realizable.  If a vomiting nut like me can learn to fly a plane, with God’s help, anything is possible?

It was God’s grace and wisdom which helped me succeed, because I know He made me smarter and more capable than I previously demonstrated.  He allowed me to carry out a dream.

You can too.

Ways to make your dreams happen:

1.  Voice them to others.  Until you do, they don’t start to take on a real shape.

2.  Be willing to hurl.  It happened to the girl in Princess Diaries, and it could happen to you.

3.  Take steps toward your dream.  Sign up for a class, call an employer, register for a conference.  Whatever the next step is, take it.

4.  Trust God for guidance and strength on the journey.  Did I mention I got lost in the air on my first solo flight?  God’s patience and guidance were huge.  I’ll leave that story for another blog entry.

5.  Be willing to let go if it doesn’t work.  Other dreams I’ve had and how they’ve been dashed:  become a veterinarian (but I’m allergic to animals), dance in a ballet (I’m totally uncoordinated), sing professionally (I don’t actually like music enough).

6.  Soar when it’s time to soar.  One of the best experiences I’ve had in a plane was flying above fireworks on the fourth of July.  The uniqueness of that experience won’t ever be repeated.  It was a blast.

By the way, I still didn’t become a professional pilot, nor do I want to become one.  Knowing I did it was enough. 

Scripturally speaking, God granted people like Joseph a dream of what would come.  Sometimes, the dream is exciting, like the idea of people bowing down to him, including his parents.  Sometimes, it’s sad, like when he had to tell Pharoah a famine was coming.  But God does use dreams to help us live within His grace.

With all that said, I have a new dream I’d like to voice to you.  Create a new blog.  Because of this dream, I’ll be writing less here in preparation for what is being built there.  As the new blog launch approaches, I’ll share more.

If you are a prayer person, please pray for this new venture.

My choice today:

Step into the dream plane and take off. 

Superfood for the spirit

lamb stew with leeks, lentils, yellow (heirloo...
Image via Wikipedia

Magazines and newspapers declare new superfoods annually. We read the benefits of everything from berries to dark chocolate.  Each amazing foodstuff holds great value for the body, but what about the spirit?

The mouth opens and intakes items to better build the body, but what feeds the spirit?

Instead of plucking the perfect item from a tree or vine, let’s consider this spiritual superfood a recipe.

Like a juicy stew, the flavors join together to create an intense mental meal. This combination will strengthen and build your spirit.  But beware, substitutions or alterations weaken the fortitude of this super supper.

What we think flows into our being and thoroughly shapes our spirit. It feeds us.  Here’s the recipe as found in Philippians 4:8:

Super-thought Stew 

2 cups of truth (Not my truth or your truth but the truth.  As Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”) 

1 cube of nobility (It implies having higher principles and consistently adhering to them.)

a sprinkle of right thinking (Ecclesiastes tells us, ‘Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” With that in mind, right thinking depends on God’s thinking.)

1 1/2 tbsp. purity (aka. Clean, modest, blameless, sinless thought…in other words, what Jesus would do). 

3 oz. of loveliness (That which inspires love.  Read the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13–patience, kind, not envious, etc.)

a drop of admirable actions (Actions inspiring approval, reverence, or affection. )

Blend until smooth and creamy to create excellent and praise worthy thoughts. 

Warning:  This precise combination produces spiritual strength and takes time to perfect.  The more you make it the better it gets. When in doubt speak with the Master Chef who created the stew.  He directs the eager student to the best ingredients every time. 


 

Go ahead, bite the shark!

A great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico....
Image via Wikipedia

Have you heard the old expression, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”?

Clearly, a dog in Australia knows it well.

If you’ve seen a shark and a dog beside one another, no matter what the dog’s size, it’s obvious the shark’s mouth holds more teeth, expands bigger, and it’s not worth encountering.  Don’t tell that to the dog in a recent viral video entitled, “Dog has ride on a shark”. 

No one told him he couldn’t do it, so he did it.  That simple.

Maybe you feel like a dog in a world of sharks.  Do you find yourself nervously swimming expecting to get bit at any time?  What if you looked at your situation from a different light.

You’ve got money troubles and need wisdom and cash.  Or, relationships stress you out, and you feel like your stuck in a slimy pit with slippery walls and no rope.  Or, your kids hit your batty button daily, you scream your head off, feel guilty, wish it could stop, but it doesn’t, and the roller coaster continues.  Feel stuck?

You sense you’ve been given a tiny mouth, and your swimming in the vast ocean with sharks who could and probably will swallow you whole at any time. 

King Hezekiah knew that feeling.  A powerful army from the country of Assyria invaded the land of Judah.  He and his people were under siege and it seemed hopeless.  The king of that country shouted taunts, made fun of God, professed his ability and power (which he clearly and successfully held in his hand).  Here’s Hezekiah’s response to the sharks in his ocean: 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7 and 8a  Read the story by clicking here.

The situation felt perilous and stressful.  It didn’t make sense to have hope, but they did.  They trusted God in spite of evidence to the contrary, and they won.

The news preaches doom and gloom, our pocket books dwindle, our homes or cars break, why shouldn’t we give up?

Because all this stuff is merely an “arm of flesh”, it has no strength by itself.  God grants strength where He wants it, and He is much more capable than we can imagine.  He takes our tiny canine bicuspids and grants us courage and skill we never knew we had.

You think you’re just a dog and the world is full of sharks?  Take inspiration from a dog who knows he’s got more fight in him than the sharks swimming by his feet.  Go ahead, bite the shark.

My choice today:

View my abilities through God’s eyes, not mine.