Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When Life Seems Broken

Thank  you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. (Nehemiah 1:3, NIV)

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of a land far from his home. (Which means he held a trusted position that allowed him personal access to the king.) When some old friends came to town he found out that his people, the Jews, were in a terrible situation. Deeply burdened by the news, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. He took the devastation of his people to heart and responded on a soul level.

The Bible shows us that Nehemiah prayed. He was pressed but not crushed. He told the Lord that he was sorry for the way he and his people had rejected God and for the ways they had disobeyed His commands. He remembered the instructions of God to His people and reminded Him of His promises. And he asked God to hear his prayer, give him favor and lead his responses.

I read this and see a vibrant example of the way I should respond when difficult situations come my way. When my loved ones are hurting. When my homeland is unsafe and vulnerable to attack. Here are a few basic faith principles we can apply that Nehemiah modeled in his prayer and in the conversations that followed.

#1. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS. Nehemiah wept and mourned in response to the situation. You don’t need to pretend that you’re “fine” when life hurts. Instead, You can do what Nehemiah did: cry. Be sad. Mourn. Grieve.

Because life is hard … and just because we’re Christians does not mean we get easy passes.

Thankfully, God knows sorrow well and is the generous source of comfort we need.

#2. PRAY. Nehemiah’s powerful prayer included the following. I’ve bullet pointed them to be a useful guide:

– Begin with confession (on behalf of you and your people).

– Remember and remind God of His Word.

– Petition on behalf of others (Pray for your people. Stand in the gap. Intercede.)

– Ask for success (Yes. You read this right. It’s okay to ask God to give you favor. Nehemiah did!)

– Ask for mercy (That the punishment we and our people deserve would be withheld.)

While following this template of Nehemiah’s prayer doesn’t guarantee any of us that God will answer our prayers as we expect Him to, it does give us a step by step path to follow that will focus our hearts on God’s intervention.

Then, after Nehemiah prayed, the Lord allowed the king to see that something was wrong. And the Lord allowed Nehemiah to experience the favor he asked for. BUT he had to face his fears in order to step into the provision God had for him. And this shows us another great takeaway…

#3. DON’T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK. Nehemiah was heavy with sorrow and the king noticed. In chapter 2 the king asked Nehemiah what had made him sad. “So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2)

Insightful king, right?

The next words Nehemiah writes are, “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemiah 2:2-3)

Amazingly, the king cared! He asked what he could do to help, and then provided Nehemiah with everything he needed to go back to Jerusalem and help his people rebuild the ruins.

Nehemiah could’ve shrugged off the king’s question. He could’ve said,Nothing is wrong, my lord! I’m fine. All is well. But he didn’t. Even though he was afraid, he spoke truth. He didn’t let fear hold him back. And as a result, he was equipped with what he needed and was mobilized toward healing.

Are there complications that have your heart grieving and sifting through ashes?

Are you trying to keep a stiff upper lip and carry those broken burdens quietly?

God is all about rebuilding broken hearts and hopes, friend. He specializes in transforming smoky ash heaps into beautiful displays of His grace. He will move you toward that beauty and healing as you move toward Him in distress as Nehemiah did.

Have a blessed day!

Unclutter Your Life

Want to Reach Your Goal?

I know you are wondering WHY are we talking about reaching our goals when the year is almost over, right?  We set our New Year’s Resolutions and are closing in on the end of the year……….have you reached any of your goals or did you ditch them about three months into the year?  I actually do two sets of goals – yes, I am a glutton for punishment.  LOL.  The first ones are on New Years and they are usually more about me personally.  Then in June, I set my business goals because this is when the fiscal year for Thirty One starts.  It actually is a good time for me to reflect on my personal goals too and jumpstart them if it is needed – which it usually is.
Sometimes, reaching our goals isn’t just about knowing what steps to take. It is more about how we handle the discouragement, the fear and the stumbles on the way to our goal. I don’t know about you but when those bumps in the road come, I am usually ready to call it quits but there are times when I persevere.  What’s the difference in those times?  It is mostly about my willingness to face the obstacles and overcome them.  There must be something to it because research shows most successful people actually think differently on the path to success – and their mental toughness helps them to be resilient in the face of frustrations and obstacles.
Here are some ways to boost your chances of reaching your goals…

 

1. Know your “why” and be specific.

We talk about this ALL of the time.  The truth is purpose will fuel perseverance. When you have a strong “why” behind your goal;  you are more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.  The more specific you are, the more obvious your action steps become. Vague goals will produce vague results.

2. Plan it on your calendar.

Have a realistic plan to achieve your goals.  Pull out your calendar.   Block time (whether 15 minutes for a small goal or a whole day for a big goal) to brainstorm how you will achieve the goal and plan your timeline.  You schedule medical appointments, maybe even gym time and other activities – why not schedule time to plan and implement the steps to reach your goal.  Identify potential obstacles and figure out a plan to help you avoid them.  Identify and put in place the things you will need to reach your goal.  Is it a healthier grocery shopping list? An automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you can boost your savings by 25%? No matter what it is, plan for it so it will happen.

3. Clarify what needs to change AND be honest with yourself.

Do you know why most people fail to reach a goal?  They underestimate what it takes to reach it.  The bigger the goal, the bigger the commitment. “I want to work out three time a week” is a good start, but when? What will need to change to make time for this goal?  Most of all be honest with what has held you back from reaching this goal in the past.  Fill in the blank of this statement, “I hate to admit it, but ….”  Now, make a goal to address the BUT!   For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” the goal becomes, “I’m going to find healthy ways to cope with my stress/insecurity/anxiety other than eating.”

4. Make it fun.

Have you ever noticed when you have positive emotions, you feel better?  Research shows positive emotions have lots of health benefits. Positive emotion can help you set better goals, see more options to get to the goal and persevere in the face of adversity.  Why not ask a friend to join you, take a class or join a group focused on the goal, and brainstorm ideas for making it fun or creating a game out of it.  When you work together, you can encourage each other on those tough days.

5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is probably the hardest thing for me to do!  What about you?  Perfectionism is actually rooted in fear – fear we’re not good enough,  fear mistakes are the end of the world, and falling down means never getting back up.  Does this sound like you?  Buying into fear means you are less likely to ever get started.  Give yourself a break!  It is okay to make mistakes and stumble on the way to your goal.  Then when it happens, simply ask:  What is the lesson for me to learn? What will I do differently next time? Use your failures and mistakes as learning tools.

6. Pinpoint the milestones and how you’ll celebrate.

Anticipation is a happiness trigger. It produces positive emotion which keeps you moving forward. Rather than having just one big milestone – the finish line – create multiple milestones along your journey to the goal. Plan for them along the way.  Treat yourself when you hit one.  Most of all, be sure to share the milestones with people who will celebrate along with you.

7. Fear is inevitable, but it’s not a stop sign.

The biggest obstacle to creating meaningful goals and taking consistent steps forward is fear. Refuse to stop just because fear rears its ugly head. Instead, question your fear. Ask, “Well, what if that happens? What will I do then?” Push through your fear by being brave enough to face it, imagine it and make a plan to handle it.

Whether you are trying to finish off the year by reaching one of your New Year’s Resolutions or are already planning for the New Year, these steps will help you to reach your goal.  Share you goal with us, let us celebrate your milestones and encourage you when you hit the bump in the road.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!