The Beginning and End… Your story

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Author and finisher, Alpha and Omega. He who began… will be faithful to complete. He started your story, but that’s not all. He wrote a glorious ending and He is eternally determined to bring it to pass. He decided you would be their mother, their wife, their child, their sister, their friend. Not the universe, which He made, not the choices which you made and not the circumstances that happened that you thought were beyond His reach.

Sure, you or others who affected you may have been living life floundering with little sense of direction- but don’t mistake the circumstances that life began in, with the One who began life. You were the person He chose to pray, to love, to dream and to partner with Him to bring plans to pass. The middle part is hard because of free will. You get to make choices, you get to write a lot of the story and you can make the path to His end crooked. He will make it straight in time. You may be picturing your mistakes; the marriage that ended, the promises you failed to keep, the things you  or others did to you that made life harder. He said “no weapon formed against you will prosper”. He has declared the end of the story and the story ends in victory. He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it… it was His beginning and He owns the ending.

Don’t think for a moment that He didn’t anticipate the season you are in or the choices you and others who affect you would make, for better or worse. He made provision for that. “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross…” The joy was seeing you cross the finish line HE drew. Yes he has made a way for you to run the race of faith with endurance, not always with ease, but always with access to power. However, don’t be afraid that if you or the people you love and pray for wander off, that HE won’t leave the 99 and go after the 1 to finish His story. It’s HIS. The end belongs to Him. With His last breath on earth, He declared, “IT IS FINISHED.”  He rose again and is seated now as the One victorious over death, hell and the grave. His book ends with Victory. The middle included pain, some brought by others but the greatest chosen by Him as He endured the cross. The end was written from day 1 and when He said it is finished, He said “My end is triumph”.

When you look to Him, you look at the Alpha, the Author, the Beginning of your story. Be reminded that while you or others who affect you may muddle through the middle; He who not only wrote the word, but is The Word, said this word, “It is finished” and the ending is victory. If you are discouraged, remember this: He is the bookends of your story. He chose when to start the story that is you and the end of your story is themed like His. He is on a throne, He wears a crown. Your last page says:

She won.

If you win- do you not think that the things and people that your Author and Finisher put in your heart to believe for, to stand for, to pray for and trust for… do you not believe that He has chosen those endings also? He has. You win and so does your faith. Do not stop believing.

Friends… who needs em?

imagesAre relationships really necessary?  And what defines a relationship anyway? I mean, I’m married, I have three kids and I go to work every day. I am surrounded by people I am in “relationship” with constantly. My husband is my best friend. My kids are great conversationalists. My team at work is entertaining and engaging and frankly when I’m alone, most of the time I enjoy hanging out with myself. What more do I need?

That is the million dollar question. If my time is so full of people I enjoy, why do I feel like I am missing something? Is that “something” the reason I catch myself fantasizing about having lunch with people I haven’t had a conversation with in years? Is it that “something” that triggers euphoric happiness when I daydream about a yet to happen get together at my home with long-lost, what do you call them again… oh yea, friends?

I guess it’s not as bad as it could be.  I met for a visit with a friend (two different ones mind you) twice last year. So I have those memories to go on. I figure I’m at least on a par with prison inmates, registered sex offenders and people on house arrest. I’ve got to be one up Amanda Bynes. She can’t have more than a couple of outings with friends a year what with her unfortunate expressions of multiple personalities and all. But wait! What about her multiple personalities?? If I count her daily interactions with her “inside friends”… she DEFINITELY has me on this! And I just have this nagging feeling that even registered sex offenders rub shoulders and hang out with people they meet in their mandatory meetings. Don’t prisoners get at least a weekly visit from a friend? What if you include their gang allies and visits in the yard every day? Ok, deduct time if they are in solitary and lose their yard privileges. So let me add this up: seven days a week in the yard with buddies, plus a possible weekly visit from an outside friend, minus a spotty week here and there for bad behavior with lost visitations privileges and I come out with… MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS THAN ME!! Shut ins?? What about shut ins?? This is pointless.  Instantly I can think of several opportunities they probably take advantage of that I don’t i.e. visits from church volunteers who bring them meals and offer pity conversations and probably concerned neighbors who really want to know if they are still feeding themselves and their several cats,  but masquerade as friendly house-guests and to the shut in, you guessed it… it’s all friend time.

So there you have it. The most isolated of society enjoy more time with friends than I do. So back to my husband and my kids. Aren’t they my “friends”? I think if I’m honest, I have to say that those relationships, even though I enjoy them tremendously, are attached for life in my mind. Obligated by nature of either origin, or legal covenant. I won’t let them fade into memories of happy times past and just let them try to stop hanging out with me. S to the T to the AULKER. Yea, they aren’t going anywhere. My co-workers? Since my company is reluctant to pay me if I don’t go there and hang out with those people every day, I guess even though I like them,  those connections are  on lock down too.

That leaves me forced to admit that a kind of relationship; the kind with people who get to go home anytime they want and whose underwear I don’t have to wash, is missing.

I know what happened. My life got complicated and as a once leader in my circle of friends, I became ashamed that some things were falling apart for me.  I let time pass while I hashed out the hard parts alone.  Now that I finally feel like I have something to offer friends again, it’s hard to pick up where I left off.  I sit here stunned that I have spent the past ten years– TEN years working through rebuilding my life without my friends.  It wasn’t until my husband got a job out-of-town that I realized what I’ve let happen. Suddenly he wasn’t there to talk to at all times and sadly, no one else was either.  Except my three teenage boys and as smart as they are, I have a limit of how many farts I can hear in a discussion, before I tune out.

For my own good and to drive home my commitment to living out my word for the year (others) I’ve done some research about why we need  true friends and here is what I discovered:

  • The more friends a person has, the less likely they are to become debilitated as they grow older
  • More quality social ties increases longevity– some studies say 15% or more
  • Companionship releases oxytocin, a calming hormone that creates a sense of well-being. Several studies show highly connected people have healthier hearts– probably because oxytocin is cardio-protective. It also combats depression and lowers cortisol levels, the damaging stress hormone
  • In studies related to surviving disease, ongoing interaction with good friends made recovery four times more likely (family/spouses were not an influencing factor but greater numbers of friends were)
  • People with strong friendships are less likely to get colds and recover from viruses more quickly (likely due to less cortisol and more oxytocin)
  • Worldwide studies show that the larger a persons friend network, the higher they rate their overall happiness with life
  • People with more friendships are likelier to make and keep good habits and more likely to follow through with personal goals

It appears we were simply designed to thrive in community with others, above and beyond our biological family. It’s obvious that interacting with people who enjoy us and aren’t obligated to us, imparts wholeness to our entire being. It is literally a medicine to our soul. Is it because the necessary feedback loop of valuing and being valued by friends is hard-coded into our DNA? I think so.

I’m convinced it is a vital key in reaching our full potential.  We. Need. Friends. More inspiring is the fact that they need us. We each have a deep well of wonderfulness and it seems it was meant to quench the thirst of our friends. Perhaps we are much more designed for others than we realize. Great news for me! Now I don’t have to feel guilty when I look for lunch with a pal, instead of enduring yet another fartathon at home.  Sorry kids.

A Health Creed

I won’t be sick. I won’t  feel bad. I won’t ache. I won’t be lethargic. I won’t be moody. I won’t have cancer. I won’t have headaches.  I won’t have diabetes. I won’t have high blood pressure. I won’t have a stroke. I won’t have thyroid problems. I won’t have constant symptoms that drain me.  I will not be another disease statistic. I won’t be a prisoner in my own body.

I want energy.  I want to be alert. I want to be happy. I want great sleep. I want to feel attractive in my clothes and out of them. I want to have great skin. I want to feel connected to life. I want to be up for anything. I want to feel young. I want to bounce out of bed to face the day. I want to attract healthy people.  I want to feel so good that I can take on any project or adventure I choose.  I want to experience life to the fullest and I will. Because my body is healthy and fit for all the purposes God has for me.

I am not a victim to circumstances, or weak will. I have the power of choice. I have a strong mind, a powerful spirit and a loving heart and I act as such by making choices that reflect the highest purpose for my body, temporary though it may be; I respect the fact that God gave it to me as a tool to accomplish my greatest dreams and His highest calling.

I eat food full of the best nutrition I have access to, in order to fuel my body to its fullest potential and seeing as how I was made in the image of God, that’s a lot of potential. Moderation means something different to me than it does to others. I don’t moderately poison myself with processed or fatty foods and sugar on a daily basis; simply because it tastes good- I’m smarter than that. I take full responsibility for my health, because it’s my happiness and my future.

I am powerful and full of promise. I owe it to myself to see what I am truly capable of, when I give myself the kind of nurturing I deserve.  I don’t make excuses for making bad decisions. I head them off at the pass, by being prepared and having a plan for every situation, every day. I continually educate myself about health and wellness, so that my self care can evolve daily and I can defy age expectations and thwart illness and disease, forever.

I do not eat for comfort, because I am comforted by a loving God and the knowledge that I am in control of this body. I do not eat from boredom, because I am excited by the prospects of the future I have planned. I do not eat poorly for fun, because I am entertained by feeling good and enjoying the people around me. When I have time to myself, I plan for a successful tomorrow or I enjoy pampering myself with things that are good for me and will make me better.

I am not tempted by others poor choices. They are not my example; I am theirs, because I am a leader and a strong one. This life was made for me and I was made to conquer this life, in this healthy body, with this strong mind, this heart and this spirit. No one will keep from me what is rightfully mine.

Victory is mine.

Three steps to change the world

I regularly have moments of discontent when I reflect on what I want my life’s legacy to be once I relocate to heaven and my life on earth is complete. It’s a burden that grows the older I get, because I feel a sense of personal earthly purpose that has an expiration date. I have had a purpose filled life but I never want yesterdays meal to be what fills me today. It’s been my experience that most other people also have a sense of yearning for more. “More” can be more influence, more creativity, more discoveries, more meaningful relationships, more impact or simply a vague craving for more fulfillment. I believe that yearning is intentionally placed and meant to keep us awake to our destiny and alert to our Creator, who paved a personal path for us. Our yearnings are as diverse as our fingerprints and telling of the individual impact we were designed to make in this world.

The most unsatisfying station in life and I speak from experience, is to lack direction and flounder without true knowledge of how to create the impact on your world that you believe you were born to have. While there are seasons we all brave that can muddy our vision of ourselves; divorce, troubled teens, job loss, death of a loved one, illness, failure etc., there comes a time that we must all wake up to the deep callings that life circumstances shouldn’t smother, so that our life isn’t living us. Here are a few guideposts  that can help anyone recalibrate their inner compass and aid in decisions that can lead  to the world changing lives we all long for.

1. Drill down to what drives you. Forget what your life has been defined by thus far, whether that is soaring success, miserable failure or the dreaded in-between. Lose any labels you’ve been given,  forget former accomplishments and failures and what you’ve been “doing” for a paycheck.  Think only of the things you’ve done, read, seen or heard of that have made your heart throb and left you hungry for more of it’s kind. When I see a powerful movie, listen to a moving speaker or read a book that changes me, I tear up and say to myself and to God, I want to inspire others. That’s what moves me. Reduce down the memories you have of your life, including your childhood to what deeply satisfied your soul and made you feel powerful. Write those memories down and expose the “theme” of what moves you. This could be defined as the essence of your drive.

2. Find a Hero in the realm of your passion. We could consider it the blueprint God gave us to reach our potential. Teacher and student, Master and disciple are ancient but relevant concepts. Only pride drives us to do it alone, or have to invent “the way”. Past or present, living or dead, find one or several heroes who’s lives you envy for all the right reasons and become their student. As lofty as it sounds, if their life inspires you so deeply, embrace the possibility that it is because you were designed with a similar purpose as them.  Study all there methods, read their books, watch their videos, speeches, biographies or build a relationship with them if you can. Imagine the entire human experience as a relay race of legacies and you need to find the person/people who’s baton’s are passing to you.

3. Make a brave, decisive move. We are all dreamers. Many are called, few are chosen. The few, I believe are the ones who choose to run when the “call” gun goes off. If the gun for your passion has fired and you’re still looking around for permission to take off, someone else could claim your impact. I heard a quote today “Everyone shows up to the battlefield with fear, but can you overcome that fear to go on to victory, that’s the question”. Fear often accompanies our most important battles. Ask yourself, what would my hero do next? What does my heart tell me, but I fear is too hard? That still small voice is quite possibly the voice of your Creator, quietly nudging you on to the next step of your intention filled life. BANG. Take the next step, pray for guidance, thank God for the outcome and realize you were born with every ounce of equipping to complete your biggest dream or you wouldn’t have been given that dream. Do you need to submit something to a publisher, apply for a different job, start or join a non-profit, submit an invention, jump off a new business, donate to a charity, apply to adopt a child, start a publication or any other world changing step to get going? The world needs you to be brave and decisive. Today.

I would love to hear people share the bold, world impacting  decisions they are making. Please feel free to post responses to my Facebook or twitter that may inspire someone else to take a deeper look and do something brave, purpose filled and fulfilling.

Happy world changing!