Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sand to Pearls written by Heidi McLaughlin

Tour Date: March 21, 2011

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Sand to Pearls

Deep River (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Arielle Roper, Media Relations, Bring it On! Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Through her ministry Heart Connection, Christian speaker and author Heidi McLaughlin embraces women with love and inspires them to walk in the knowledge that they are one of God’s most glorious creations. Her powerful, life-changing messages, whether written or spoken, draw women into a place of intimate connection with each other and with God. Her messages are rich with humor, passion and truth, and liberally sprinkled with personal stories.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Illusions of success and instant pleasure can seduce us into making poor choices. We long for fulfillment but are haggard from life’s trials and overwhelmed by what the future holds. Broken, we feel unworthy to ask God to intervene in our lives. Blinded by it all, we often overlook that God has the potential to use everything in our lives--whether good or bad.

It's time to S.T.O.P. and let God help us make bold choices to enrich our lives with freedom, fulfillment and incredible beauty!


Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: Deep River (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935265431
ISBN-13: 978-1935265436

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction


As I drive to work in the mornings, I gaze at people’s face and observe their fatigued, lifeless expressions as they navigate through traffic to confront another demanding day. Often I sit across a cup of coffee with another woman and I hear her sighs of feeling lonely and overwhelmed with too many obligations and choices. Life is tough these days and many people feel trapped. We grind through our days doing the same thing again and again and hope for different results. That could be described as the roadway to insanity. We don’t know how to stop. We are on a relentless quest to know that we are loved, to know that we have value, and to feel pleasure. We will do almost anything to feel better.


We may have the illusion that:


• If I had a better career and worked harder, I would feel more fulfilled.


• When I have more money, life will be easier and I will feel more content.


• If I had a husband/boyfriend that treated me better, I would be a happier person.


• If I had had a better upbringing, I would have achieved greater success.


• My parents were overweight, poor and lazy; therefore, I will probably be like my parents.


• If I put my children into a lot of activities, I will feel like I am a good mother.


• If I had more time to myself, I would not be so tired.


And so we grab for the first thing that we think will make us happier; go and buy something we can’t afford, pursue a different relationship, take another drink, open the fridge, watch some pornography, take a trip or sit on the couch and watch endless, boring television. You and I are our own worst enemy, but we feel helpless to change. We need more than our human endeavors and wisdom to help us make choices to navigate this complicated maze of life. The Bible tells us that we have been given the mind of Christ, a supernatural authority, to unleash all the wisdom and discernment needed to make bold and good choices. Every single day God gives you and me the amazing privilege and power to choose a glorious course for our life. We can’t even begin to imagine all the blessings God wants us to have and enjoy. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9-10, NIV).


I am a perfect example of how God can take our worst decisions and biggest mistakes, and turn them into a magnificent new beginning. My spiritual journey did not start until I was thirty-two. I had been a rebellious, self-centered young woman determined to show my family and the world that I was capable of making my own wise choices. But my insecurities and selfishness propelled me to make choices that forged the pathway to a pit of depression, despair, tumultuous disappointments and “almost divorce.” God, in His kindness, gently taught me how to begin to live a new life evoked by choices through the power of His Holy Spirit living in me. Few things in life create more worry, stress and anxiety than the uncertainty of our future. While you are reading this book, it doesn’t matter what stage of life you are at. God has the potential to use everything in your life, the good and bad, and turn it into beauty. It’s time to choose and live your dream; but what tomorrow holds is up to you.


I would like you to imagine sitting across from me, sharing a delicious, hot steaming drink, being honest and making ourselves vulnerable. You need to know you are not alone in your daily toil. By being authentic we can soften our hearts and enable God to connect with us so that we can hear Him speak His truth and wisdom to us. Every chapter in this book begins with my own struggles, mistakes and challenges, and then gives insight as to why and how we make our destructive choices. Of course I don’t leave you hanging and bleeding; I give you a dozen or so practical steps to empower you to make wise, bold choices that will enrich and transform your life in more beautiful ways than you can imagine. Then I end with a time of reflection and prayer. This is the place where you can allow the Holy Spirit, through the mind of Christ in you, to change your life from irritating sand into gorgeous, timeless pure pearls:


Stop and As k God To Help You Change Sand to Pearls


Begin by asking: Ask God a question.


S: Scripture verse. A verse will be available here for reflection.


T: Thanksgiving. Thank God for what He has the power to accomplish.


O: Observation. What wisdom is God unleashing for you in this verse?


P: Prayer. Ask Him. I will end each chapter praying with you because I am passionate about God transforming everything in your life into what He created you to be. I may never have met you, but I have encountered women like you for the past twenty-five years and I have witnessed God’s transforming power, changing struggles to joy—sand to pearls. I know He can because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, Creator of all life—including yours. It’s time to make choices that will forge the pathway God has planned for you. It’s time to live your dream.



C h a p t e r 1


Obligation or Invigoration


Is That a “Should” on Your Shoulder?

Our obligation is to give meaning to life and

in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.

—Elie Wiesel, American Novelist


My fingers were slippery and sweaty, yet felt ice cold and numb. It was impossible to find the right chords on my guitar. My heart was pounding so loudly that I couldn’t hear my own voice as I tried to sing the first verse of Moses and Miriam’s victory song: that festive, praise-filled epic poem about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. I took a deep breath, took a sip of water and tried again: “I will sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted, the horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea” (Exod. 15:1, NIV).


It was no use trying to sing a victorious song when I was the one feeling like I was being hurled into a sea of resistance. My face was burning with humiliation as I desperately tried to salvage this disaster, but I couldn’t find my voice. As I glanced at the circle of women around the room, I could tell by their faces that I had failed miserably. My song was only half-finished, but I knew it was over. As I walked out of the room, a younger woman walked beside me and sweetly chirped, “Maybe God is trying to teach you something about your pride.” Now I felt like I had been hit in the stomach by a sharp-edged rock. It took my breath away. I couldn’t even answer her and walked out of the church vowing I would never go back in there again. Just weeks before, some of my new church friends had approached me and said, “Heidi, I hear that you play the guitar and sing; we would love it if you would come to our next ladies event and bless us with your music.” I had agreed to sing for these ladies, even though I knew I wasn’t qualified. In spite of my misgivings, I still felt obligated to follow through on my commitment. People had spurred me on to do it. “You really should do it, you really should at least try,” they had said. While uncertain of my singing and guitar playing, my sense of inferiority overpowered me and I was too intimidated to say no. Yet I wanted to feel like I belonged to this group of Christian women that seemed so confident and gifted in many ways. This was in the early 1980s when I first became a Christian and desperately wanted to fit in—to be like one of them. With this harsh reality of being humiliated in front of my peers, I discovered that singing and playing the guitar was not one of the gifts God had given me.


When we feel overpowered by people or our circumstances, it provokes our feelings of inferiority. It unleashes confusion, frustration, and we shortcircuit the gifts, purpose and joy God has prepared for us. We wear ourselves out pleasing people instead of God, and by doing so we deny Christ’s power in our life because we are afraid of what people will think of us. When Jesus ascended from this earth, He left us the Holy Spirit; He gave us the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16, NIV), and passed on to us His authority. Instead we struggle through life reacting to all the “shoulds” that life heaps on us, and we end up with our shoulders hunched over looking like we are carrying the weight of the world. Trying to please everyone is very exhausting; it drains us of energy and unknowingly we succumb to the authority of other people instead of Christ. The faster we go and the harder we work at trying to juggle all our responsibilities, the emptier we feel. Marcus Buckingham, the author of Find Your Strongest Life, says this about the shoulds. “Because you neglect the specific moments that strengthen you, your life gradually becomes filled up with a grab bag of activities and responsibilities. You may have a good reason for taking on each of these responsibilities—everything from ‘If I don’t do this, no one else will’ to ‘A good mother should do this’ but the outcome is that a barrage of moments with which you’ve filled your life now blankets your senses. This barrage drowns out the signals from those few moments that truly strengthen you. You start to feel empty.”1


When we operate out of our weaknesses and lack of self-worth, the slightest demands have the power to intimidate us. The word “intimidate” is an active verb that has a very negative connotation. The thesaurus describes it this way: “threaten, badger, bait, bluster, bully, coerce, constrain, cow, dispirit, subdue,” and so on.2 When we submit to these destructive words, we refute all that we have been created for, and deny the gifts and power God wants to unleash in us. God never bullies us. Instead, He wants to take an active part in our life and is interested in everything we do and who we are. Look at how He values us: “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries” (Luke 12:6-7, MSG). Don’t be intimidated by bully talk. It’s hard for women to get up each morning and try to compare their worth against a million canaries. When they look in the mirror they can’t imagine that anyone is interested in their hair. Dr. Dobson says that the biggest struggle for women is their low selfesteem, so it is much easier to try to listen and cave in to the bully talk and earn approval by simply giving in to other people’s expectations. We need to be able to separate the bully talk and guilt induced shoulds that we are caving into. Let’s look at some of the real obligations we do need to attend to every day. We should:


• Brush our teeth.


• Eat healthy foods.


• Pay our bills on time.


• Wash our clothes.


• Show up at work on time.


• Treat each other with love and respect.


• Work on our marriages and relationships.


• Forgive.


• Love the Lord our God with our all heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves.


We should do all those things that promote our physical, emotional and spiritual health. How do we know when these have turned into obligations that stagnate our soul?


My friend, Beth Hanishewski, who is a life coach, describes it this way: “I have done many things out of obligations. The funny thing is, it does not matter if it was an invitation, a plan, a favor, gift, solicitation or a guilt trip attempt. All of these situations had one thing in common—a heavy energy. The energy of obligation feels constricting and it creates anxiety and fear. I try to override these emotions in order to please someone, or worse, to look good.”3


So how do we define what we should do?


What Is That “Should” on Your Shoulder?


While I am writing this book I am also facilitating a study called One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life, written by Kerry and Chris Shook. On our group’s first evening together, one of the questions was, “What is one thing you would stop in your life right now if you knew you only had thirty days to live?” After a lively discussion, one main theme began to come into focus; stopping the life-sucking “shoulds” out of our daily activities. They are the guilt-induced obligations that we do because we are afraid that people might not like us. The discussion got even livelier as we tried to determine the obligations that we needed to let go. How do we know the difference between what to hold and what to fold?


Here is what I ask myself: “If intimidation discourages me from using the gifts God has given me, makes me feel obligated to give in to people’s demands and robs me of energy; then what wakes me up and makes me feel alive, bold and passionate? How can I use my God-given gifts to make daily impacts in people’s lives?” Here is where I need to look at the source of my moment-by-moment power.


1. Self-Power Induces Obligation


The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a great example of how deceptive and sneaky we can become when we acquiesce and do things out of obligation and needing people’s approval. In the early church in the book of Acts, at a time when all believers were of one heart and mind, people were asked to sell their houses and land and give the money to the apostles to give to others in need. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be a part of this great plan, probably to have people look favorably on them for their generosity. So they sold some property but deceived the church by holding back part of the money. They were caught and Peter confronted them. He said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God” (Acts 5:3-4, NLT).


We are especially weak when it comes to covering our hide and protecting our image. Who doesn’t want people to admire them, praise them for generosity or some noble deed? Sometimes we are afraid that if we don’t go along with the crowd, people won’t like us, we won’t fit it; and we concede to self-power. If we constantly operate out of our self-power, we will feel defeated by the constant demands of choices that we must make in our daily activities. A high percentage of women are finding it difficult to cope with the demands and choices they have to make in this exhausting twenty-first-century life, and cope by being on anti-depressants or other mind-altering drugs to give them the tenacity to carry on.


Marcus Buckingham in his book, Find Your Strongest Life, tells us that succumbing to busyness and doing more does not make us happy. “Over the last forty years women have secured for themselves greater opportunity, greater achievement, greater influence and more money. But over the same time period, they have become less happy, more anxious and more stressed; and in ever-increasing numbers they are medicating themselves for it.”4

To save our soul, you and I have to be brutally intentional about learning how to make choices by operating through God’s power.


2. God’s Power-Passion Invigorates


I get passionate and excited when I see men and women who are bold, relentless and wide awake to pursue the passions, gifts and abilities God has given them. Kerry and Chris Shook tell us in their book, One Month to Live: “We’re created as spiritual beings, and to develop spiritual energy, we have to cultivate a healthy connection to our Creator. The Bible consistently reveals that humans are created in God’s image and that we have an eternal part of us, our spirits. The most important part of our lives is our spiritual dimension, our souls… we’re created to be connected to a larger power source.”5


How do we know we are living an invigorated, passionate life that is connected to a larger power? Look at the luscious fruit. I love living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, the heart of British Columbia. I never get tired of looking out of our kitchen window and watching the activity in the vineyards. For the past thirteen years I have been walking through these vineyards at least twice a week. In the last month I watched the vineyard workers carefully cut the lush, sweet grapes from the vines. Today my husband and I noticed that all the grapes are gone, and most of the vines have had their leaves stripped by the recent autumn winds. I also know that after the winter season is done, there will be more workers in the fields with their pruning shears trimming the vine branches back to almost nothing. Even after all these years I am amazed how the pruners remove all but the two best side shoots that grow from the stem. Over the next few months I watch how these harshly pruned branches begin to produce lush, sweet grapes. If you and I are going to bear gorgeous fruit in our lives, we have to be connected to the source of that growth. I love the way these verses explain this process: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5, NIV).


To make this power work in our life we have to pay attention to four things:


i. We have to stay attached to the vine, because it is the life source for growing the fruit. We need to be saturated by the word of God because that is the source of all our wisdom and strength, and it speaks to the mind of Christ that is within us.


ii. Without being attached to the vine, “we can do nothing.” Sure, we can be involved in a lot of activities and succumb to all the “shoulds”; but what are we accomplishing that will have eternal value?


iii. We need to be pruned regularly of our criticism, self-righteousness and immoral life so that we can continue to grow to be kinder, more compassionate, extending forgiveness and becoming more like Christ.


iv. God cuts off any branch that does not bear fruit. Ouch! I don’t really want to know what that means.


When we choose to tap into the power of God’s truth about who we are and what He can accomplish through us, it will illuminate our strengths and evoke passion. Soon a great transition begins to take place in our lives.


We move from “I should” to “I get to.” When we are passionate about something, watch out: ridiculous things begin to happen.


Change the “Shoulds” to “Ridiculous Risks”


Operating out of our God-given strengths makes us confident, passionate and bold enough to say no to the world’s screaming demands and to say yes to take some ridiculous Kingdom risks. Here is how John Bevere in his book, Breaking Intimidation, describes boldness: “Boldness comes from the virtues of power, love and soundness of mind. Boldness is not a virtue in itself. We have all known people who were brazen and bold. True boldness comes from God and is fueled by godly virtue. Boldness that is fueled by God’s character awakens the gifts in our lives.”6 Two of my favorite stories that encourage me in ridiculous boldness are of a soon-to-be king and a queen.


1. When we think of David the shepherd boy, we think of king, but also of giant killer. King Saul tried to caution David about killing a giant. “‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ Saul replied. ‘There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win. You’re only a boy’” (1 Sam. 17:33, NLT). But the size of the giant was not enough to block the view of God for this young boy when he took out his five smooth stones. He had ridiculous courage because he knew, “And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Sam. 17:47, NLT). David’s source of ridiculous power was in knowing that God ultimately fights all our battles.


2. Esther, the beautiful young Jewish woman that stole a king’s heart, is the stunning main character in one of those “sitting on the edge of your seat” intrigue and romance stories that should be made into a Steven Spielberg movie. It’s what fairy tales are made of—until a sinister plot is discovered. Queen Esther’s cousin Mordecai discovered that there was an evil man named Haman who had drawn up a letter that decreed all the Jews to be killed in that land. The dispatches said, “to destroy, kill and annihilate all of the Jews—young and old, women and little children—on a single day” (Esther 3:13, NIV). Queen Esther was also a Jewess, but how could she help? Even though she was a queen she could not approach the king without being summoned; she could be put to death. Next come three powerful factors that fuel invigoration.


i. Her cousin Mordecai reminded Queen Esther of her destiny. These people that were going to be killed were her people, her family. He reminded her how God uses us to accomplish His Kingdom work on earth when he said, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV, italics mine). This powerful reminder shows us that we need to be crystal clear about our purpose and set our priorities, so that we can take action and move boldly ahead.


ii. Even though Esther was a queen and shared the king’s wealth and power, she still needed God’s power. It is foolish to think that human wealth or position can make us impervious to danger. Queen Esther then replied to Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day” (Esther 4:15-16, NIV). By calling for a fast, Queen Esther was demonstrating that she knew she needed God’s power to be ridiculously bold on this dangerous mission.


iii. The world’s motto is “save your skin and look out for number one,” but we need to decide what God wants us to accomplish on this earth and trust Him for the boldness to do it. Queen Esther knew she was laying her life on the line for this treacherous mission. Her words, “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16, NIV) send a shiver through my spine. Queen Esther felt passionate about her purpose and mission, completely trusting God for the outcome that saved the lives of all the Jews in that country.


When I am reminded of my destiny; that I am a child of the Creator and He sent His Son to die for me and that He has a purpose for my life on this earth, at this time and place of all eternity, I can be ridiculously bold at times. Not Queen Esther style, but Heidi style:


• Traveling to Poland to teach on spiritual transformation. Only God could give me the boldness to do this.


• Speaking in Yellowknife, Yukon, and experiencing no washrooms or daylight for twenty-two hours of the day.


• Submitting manuscripts for publication. This required risk and trusting God would help me get them published.


• Asking my boss if I could reduce my work hours.


• Forgiving someone that hurt me deeply.


In order to find our own style of ridiculous boldness, we have to be clear about our purpose and priorities.


What To Keep and What To Throw Away


The Christmas season is one of the worst “should” occasions for women. For years I entered into this time of year with a love/hate relationship. The ambience in our home is enchanting when it is decorated with fresh evergreen, the room is filled with flickering candles and hundreds of white mini lights are strung on the tree and around the hearth. My family is my greatest external joy on this earth, and I cherish our times lingering by the fireplace, sipping a fragrant cider and listening to soft Christmas music. But there are parts of the Christmas season that feel torturous and I approach them with disdain. For years I had a recurring nightmare wherein the stores were closing in one hour and I still hadn’t started my Christmas shopping. Each time I woke up in a sweaty panic and realized how much there was still to do to finalize our family’s Christmas preparations. Year after year it got more expensive and complicated, and by the time the Holy Christmas Eve arrived I was grumpy, exhausted and sometimes even sick.


Years ago I started to rebel against Christmas expectations and our family has truly been diligent about working with me to simplify the season’s demands. We are all progressing; albeit slowly. In 2007, I chose to escalate the progress—significantly. I was so worn out with all the nonsensical “shoulds” of the season—all the expenses, the exhaustive decorating, shopping and wrapping—that Jack and I decided to cancel Christmas in our home that year. It was the perfect year to experiment with it because we were going to spend Christmas at my daughter’s home in Alberta. I was shocked at how liberating it was not to decorate our home, send out cards or bake. I felt like a little kid that had just been let loose in a candy shop. Christmas demands, rituals and expectations were no longer going to make me feel obligated; and it absolutely invigorated me.


I shared my delightful discovery with many women and each time I told my story their eyes got big; then a smile broke out on their face and they laughed and cheered me on. Christmas 2009, we did it again. We celebrated Christmas at our daughter’s home in Sacramento, where we spent our time walking, playing games, laughing and scouting out a great Christmas Eve service. The anticipation of being free from the Christmas expectations of outlandish spending, overeating and absurd money spent on wrapping paper and bows that end up in the garbage leaves me giddy with joy.


It’s not an easy process to decide which “shoulds” we keep and which ones we throw away. I love my friend Beth’s attitude and her method for determining her obligations:


“The first thing I do when I am asked to do anything is to check in with my body. How do I feel? Does this demand give me energy or deplete it? If, however, I am unsure and agree to this something, then I ask myself, ‘Do I regret saying yes?’ If that is the case, then there are only two choices left:


1. Go back and say no. (I may say something like this: ‘I changed my mind. Forgive me for agreeing before I gave myself the time to think it through.’)


2. Find a way to make it fun:


a. Add music. (Even house cleaning can be improved with the right music.)


b. Add intention. (What is the reward in this commitment?)


c. Add a friend. (It is amazing how even the most arduous or tedious tasks can become fun with the right company.)


While the energy of obligation is heavy and un-fun, the hallmark of invigoration is energy.”7


Steps to Finding Invigoration


Determining how to make our best choices each day is not determined by better time management or greater expertise in juggling our schedule. If you’ve ever watched a juggler, you will notice that his goal is to keep all the balls up in the air. That’s what we do when we have a loaded, frantic lifestyle that drains the life out of us; we will constantly feel obligated and not invigorated. We don’t give our best to anything; we do the least we can and then we’re on to the next thing. I believe there are a few other key factors in deciding what to do with the barrage of “shoulds”:


Know the source of your power.


Know your purpose for this season of your life.


Prepare a mission statement (See Jack’s and mine in Chapter 6).This is a very practical tool to determine what fits into your values and goals.


Ask very good questions.


a. Does it fit into my life “ for such a time as this”?

b. What is my motive for doing this?

c. What was my initial feeling when I was confronted with this task?

d. Do I have the time?

e. Will it take me away from valuable family commitments?

f. Can I afford it?

g. Is it in keeping with my strengths?

h. Does it advance my learning and keep me interested?

i. Does it energize me or deplete me?


5. Take the 10,000-foot view for some of the more complicated and challenging choices. We see things much clearer when we see life from a God angle.


a. Will this matter six months or a year from now?

b. Does it enhance my spiritual growth?

c. Is it in keeping with my values?

d. Is this part of God’s plan for my life for doing his Kingdom

work here on earth?

e. Is this wasted time or is it a gift that God is trying to give me?


The invitation to sing and play my guitar left me with a negative sense of obligation to perform. The disaster that ultimately occurred left me humiliated and depleted, but it made me realize that this was not what God had gifted me for. For the next number of years it was frustrating for me to try and discover what I had been created to do. Most days it seemed that I didn’t have a clue. Through this tumultuous journey of trying to stay true to who God created me to be, I stayed connected to God and kept asking Him, “God, what are the gifts you have given to me so that I can make a significant difference in people’s lives?” As God was preparing my bigger picture of being an author, speaker, teacher and mentor for women, I was content to do each day what God had prepared for me to do that day—love my family and love others. I learned that I needed the power of the Holy Spirit daily to give me the wisdom to separate my “shoulds” so that I could function not by feeling obligated, but by being invigorated.


Choices That Enrich Your Life


1. Realize that juggling your calendar or Blackberry is not the answer to an invigorated life. Choose to work out of values and priorities that strengthen and invigorate you.


2. Every day we have to make almost a hundred choices. Realize you can only do that day what God has prepared for that particular day. Choose to pray and give the day to God and let Him help you work it out.


3. Learn to discern between your people pleasing and God pleasing. Choose to dismiss the people pleasing and focus on what will bring value into your life and the people closest to you.


4. Sometimes we look at other people and think we will be happy and fulfilled when we do what they are doing. Choose to believe that God has made you unique and He has something different for you to do; your style, your way.


5. When you hear that you are worth more than a million canaries, do you believe how worthy you are to God? Choose to trust God that God is interested in every area of your life and that He will never take you any place where He will abandon you.


6. Have you been asked to do something ridiculous? Choose to see it through the 10,000-foot view instead of your immediate emotions.


7. You are at a time in your life where you think you should have figured out by now what God’s purpose is for you. Choose to believe

a) You may already be doing it and not even know it, or b) That

God is preparing you for it.


8. Discover those things in your life that give you energy. You may not see them as gifts God has given you because they seem so effortless. Choose to believe that God can use those gifts to have a profound impact on this world.


9. You think you are handling life successfully because you are multitasking and keeping all your events in order. Choose to believe the fact that when you multitask your IQ drops by ten points and you are giving everything a divided attention.


10. You think that having more education, a better job, and better pay will make you feel more fulfilled. Choose to believe that those are all very good things to strive for, but they will never fully complete you and make you ultimately happier.


11. You believe this is your “lot in life” and there is nothing you can do about it. Choose to believe that you can break out of any pattern by learning to do things differently. Ask God to help you be creative.


12. Interruptions are part of life. Choose to believe that what frustrates you about them is that there is no margin in your life for these interruptions that may be disguised divine opportunities.


13. Choose to live each day by seeing life as a gift, and choose to see the good in everything and everyone. Choose joy.


Stop and As k God To Help You Change Sand to Pearls


Begin by asking: God, what people-pleasing obligations deplete me?


S Scripture: “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that” (Prov. 29:25, MSG).


T Thanksgiving: God I am so thankful that you will protect me and help me overcome the constant demands that this

world places on me. Thank you that you have given me the wisdom and discernment through having the mind of Christ to know when I am caving in to obligations to please people instead of You.


O Observation: It is so important for me to feel loved and accepted. It is so true that I am afraid if I don’t give in to the demands people place on me, I won’t be accepted and liked.


P Prayer: God, I realize that You have given me twenty-four precious hours each day, and that each one of those is a gift to me. Help me to treat that gift with wisdom, love and a sound mind. I need to be reminded over and over again how much I am loved, how I have more worth than a million canaries, so that I can be empowered to make decisions out of a godly boldness. Help me each day to separate my “shoulds”—the ones that need to be done, and the ones that I need to throw away. Give me the wisdom to know the difference. Thank You for all the opportunities You give me to make a difference on this earth. Help me never to miss any of those moments that may seem like an annoyance or interruption, but are in fact a gift that You are trying to give me. Thank You that You are interested in all of me, and that You have a beautiful and powerful kingdom purpose for my life. God, please help me to see the world through eyes that are invigorated, not obligated.


Amen.

3 comments:

amber said...

Just scheduled my post.

CarlybirdK said...

Scheduled to post with review. Fantastic book!!

Stacey said...

posted.