My first child’s high school graduation brought up a whole new set of fears and stress in me. Have I done enough to prepare her for adulthood? Will she make wise choices as she steps out from under our roof and into a world full of options? Will she be able to hold onto her faith in college—at a time when many young people discard theirs?
Her graduation felt like a defining moment in my parenting. I knew I’d done all I could to train her well, to prepare her for success. But now, facing what felt like a Parenting 101 Final Exam, the stakes were high. I didn’t want to fail. I certainly didn’t want my precious daughter to fail.
This tension bubbled up in the days leading to her graduation. Of course, she was dealing with her own emotions surrounding this milestone event and pulling away from me, busy preparing for adventures to come. I was grieving the upcoming loss of her daily presence, knowing before long she would move from our house and pursue her education.
The entire month before graduation was crammed with activity. Prom, sports banquets, end-of-the-year awards, ceremony rehearsals, all mixed into a swirling vortex of angst. So many events, so many decisions.
As graduation neared, our relationship, normally characterized by mutual love, respect, and lots of laughter, became contentious. This culminated in an angry verbal exchange as we walked through the campus parking lot on our way into her Baccalaureate ceremony. I can’t remember what precipitated the argument, but I remember how I felt. Off-balance. Overwhelmed. Defeated.
I had let stress and fear steal my joy.
Have you ever experienced relational stress leading up to a milestone event? Have you allowed that stress to ruin the event for you? For your child?
Heightened emotions come with any life-changing event, but we don’t have to let them rob us of the joy of the occasion, whether it’s a move, graduation, wedding, or some other major event. We can have fun and create precious memories without regret.
When approaching a big event in your child’s life, you don’t have to get caught up in the swirling emotional vortex. You can cultivate peace through journaling or talking with a trusted friend. Speak with a life coach, counselor, pastor or mentor. Talking through fears and concerns with a mom who’s walked the path before you might mean the difference between white-knuckling it through the milestone and really enjoying it.
One of the most important things we can do to maintain our equilibrium during these emotional times is to get alone with God and pour out our hearts to Him.
Jesus demonstrated the importance of getting alone with the Father before ministry. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). As we prepare to minister to our children during their “big day” we can follow Jesus’ example.
Last year my son graduated and this year my youngest daughter will graduate. I’ve learned a lot going through this letting-go process. I’ve learned to be intentional about processing my emotions. I’ve learned to carve out time in the busyness to be alone in the healing presence of my Father.
Are you facing a milestone event?
If so, how will you cultivate peace and plan for fun as you prepare for the event?
Elizabeth M. Thompson is a writer and speaker who loves helping women develop meaningful spiritual lives. She and her husband have three children and will soon be empty-nesters. They live, bike, kayak, and hike along the American River near Sacramento, CA. Prayer is her passion. For a free download of “Jumpstart Your Stalled Prayer Life” go to her website: www.ElizabethMThompson.com.
“I keep asking God, ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it’!” My friend Lynn* has devoted years to following God’s call on her life.
But now, she’s at a crossroads.
“I’ve been crying out to God for direction,” she tells me, “and I have assurance that He is with me. But I’m not hearing any clear next step from Him for this new season. I feel stuck.”
Lynn knows, in her head, that there’s no perfect step-by-step plan.
“I just wish I knew for sure what to do next,” she sighs.
As we continue our conversation, I realize she’s afraid. She’s afraid of taking risks, afraid of messing up at such a pivotal time.
She wishes she could get absolute clarity and direction before taking her next step.
But so often we don’t find clarity and direction before taking action — we gain clarity and direction by taking action.
The One Thing You Need to Clarify Your Current Calling
Do you sometimes wish that your current calling came with exact details of what to do? Maybe a step-by-step plan so you know for sure you are following God’s “perfect” plan for you life?
Maybe, like my friend Lynn, you’re trying to navigate a life transition, all by yourself.
The problem with this approach? We quickly become isolated without even recognizing it. We get stuck in our own heads — ideas, options, and worries swirling wildly around — until fear takes over and paralysis sets it.
For my friend Lynn, her next step was to connect with a group of her Like-Minded Peeps.
And if you want clarity about your current calling, you need to find your Like-Minded Peeps, too … people who achieve what you desire to accomplish.
The Power of Finding Your Peeps
The rewards of connecting with your Like-Minded Peeps are numerous.
- You’ll replace confusion with clarity.
- You’ll exchange that stuck feeling for renewed energy, inspiration, and creativity.
- You’ll move beyond over-analysis as you watch others take imperfect action that leads to success.
- You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of new ideas.
But the benefits of finding your Like-Minded Peeps goes beyond you.
Collaborating with your Like-Minded Peeps won’t just add a little to your life; the benefits of mutual contribution and encouragement will multiply in everyone’s lives.
Best of all, you’ll be reminded of what is so easy to forget during times of change.
One Small Win: Your calling matters. You make a significant difference. Yes, you really do.
It’s time to find your Like-Minded Peeps.
Click here now to download your Free Cheat Sheet “3 Ways to Find Your Like-Minded Peeps.”
(*Not her real name)
Mary Lou Caskey trains Christian coaches and communicators to influence hearts through the power of story. If you want to become a transformative storyteller,to connect with Mary Lou and get her free quiz, “Is It the Best Time to Share a Personal Story?”
A fading New Year’s resolution
New Year’s resolutions can be a tricky bag of guilt. We are well-intentioned as we make plans for fresh starts in the new year, only to find these resolutions slowly fading away. Some have embraced choosing a word to focus on and even to study from God’s word. Amy Carroll shares today about the struggle she had with a Word-of-the-Year and how God gently used it to teach her in the midst of the fading New Year’s resolution.
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC with a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org and on Facebook.
I want it all
Saying I want it all sounds so worldly. We usually associate it with the wanting of money, a nice home, a great job, a fantastic husband, and loyal friends … the list goes on.
But what if “ALL” actually is the cry of our hearts to have all that God has made available to us — strength, hope, joy, love and peace? In this inspiring interview with I Want it All author, Gwen Smith, Kathi uncovers the passion behind I want it all and the promises found in the Bible for exactly that, ALL! Gwen shares the moment she discovered just where God was taking her with the writing of this book, as well as the pain of watching her father’s battle with cancer. Discover what ALL can actually look like in your own life.
Finally, we’d love to hear your thoughts on wanting it all. What does I want it all mean in your life and what can you pursue with even more purpose after hearing this episode?
This podcast episode reminded us a lot of an episode we did about more than a year ago with called I Want God.
I didn’t have my daddy leave me when I was a little girl, as Lysa Terkeurst recounts of her story in her new book Uninvited, but I have felt the slap of rejection.
The time when my seventh grade school friends planned a birthday party for everyone else, but not for me.
The time I blew it with a close friend, and I asked, “Do you still love me?” And the answer was, “A little less right now.”
The time I was passed over for a job that I felt capable to do, in favor of a younger, more talented woman.
Slap. Slap. Slap. Long after the red mark of the blow faded, the impression on my heart lasted.
With each new rejection, I made a mental note on how to never let it happen again.
So in junior high, I went on those before-school walks with my friends around the block taking covert puffs of cigarettes. I wouldn’t inhale because that would give me lung cancer which was deadly. But I pretended and puffed, earning my inclusion in the group.
I learned not to upset anyone so as not to have their love withdrawn from me. I learned to be likable, amiable Emily, becoming adept at people-pleasing.
I stopped putting myself out there for jobs I thought I could do, because there was always someone else who could do it better than me anyway.
Lysa writes, “Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others and God.”
My lie was that I better blend into the crowd to be liked and accepted. That I better never tick anyone off, or I would never be truly loved. That I needed to try harder or else I would never be worthy enough to fulfill the dreams God gave me. The burn from the slaps in my past never fully healed because I kept rehearsing the scenes over and over, believing their stinging truth. I was now my own worst enemy.
I was the one rejecting myself, no one needed to do it for me.
I remember sitting at a conference with inspiring speakers. My usual M.O. means mourning that I’m not like these speakers. Oh, I’d like to be like them – inspiring, motivating, educating, but I realize I am not up to par with them. And probably never will be. The negative talk hisses, “I’m not educated like they are. I will never be able to do it as well as them. I am not equipped or connected. I just don’t have what it takes!”
During worship time, God whispered as if He sat right beside me. “Emily, what you are moaning about is sin for you. You are staying stuck in the belief that you are not enough. You think this is a belief about yourself, but it’s really what you believe about me. You believe I am not enough for you.”
“Oh, Lord, no!” was my first response. “You are sovereign, all-sufficient and every other praise adjective I was taught in Sunday School.” Yet He showed me I honored Him with my lips, but my actions showed otherwise. When I constantly let rejection define me by belittling myself, comparing myself and trying hard to be perfect, what I was really doing was telling God His approval was not enough. That what He made when He made me was obviously not good enough.
In fact, I was the clay, smashing my vessel and fisting it to God, “Not good enough! Remake me!” And The Potter takes that lump, with my uncertainties and insecurities and says, “You are my workmanship. I knit you together perfectly. I chose you as my own before the foundations of the world. When I made you, I declared it good, VERY good even. I bought you. With a heavy price. I made you enough already. When will you confidently believe it?”
I know you have your stories of rejection too. Just think back to junior high, the hotbed of so much rejection. Have you carried those wounds through adulthood? Have you let them define you? Tell lies about you? It’s funny how we try so hard to find approval in the ones who rejected and hurt us. Isn’t it enough to know the Creator of the Universe believes we are enough?
Lysa observes, “People can’t fix from the outside a perspective that needs to rewired on the inside.” Not admittance in the Cool Club or perfectly performed responses or acquiring the best suited job. None of that tells us we are enough. So it’s useless trying so hard to make it so. But there is a salve to heal the hurts of rejection. It’s turning to the Truth, running to the Life to show us the Way.
I confessed the lies I believed about myself. But I also had to confess my lack of faith in my Father. His Word is truth and He’s says we are cherished and approved! Do you know how healing it is to accept God’s approval and quit chasing after the world’s?
“Lies flee in the presence of truth.” Tune your heart to believe a new truth: You are accepted, for now and forevermore!
*All quotes taken from Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst.
Emily Nelson is part of the Kathi Lipp ministry team. More about her can be discovered and loved at her website, www.beyondtheredchair.com.
“If God can do this for me, He can do it for anyone.”
“What if you gave up on your dream today, and tomorrow was the day that it came true.”
“Never let your dreams die!”
You’ve been working so hard – maybe it’s a business, a ministry, a relationship – and you realize it’s not happening. You keep praying and hustling and for some reason, some unknown reason, the thing that you knew was supposed to happen, the thing you felt in your bones was God’s will for your life, is not happening.
I’ve felt this several times.
- The job as manager of a bridal boutique when I was in my early 20’s.
- My first marriage.
- A radio show. (For two different major ministries.)
Oh there are many more. But these three? I remember where I was standing, what I was wearing, who I was with when that particular dream died.
One of these dreams was killed for me. It was a long painful death that caused me a lot of hurt and heartbreak. And the other two? I had to be the one to let it go – to make the decision that these particular dreams were over and it was time to move on.
Those were some of the hardest decisions of my life.
I was past the point of being sensible. Others saw that my dream was not going to happen. But I had those voices inside my head (and later, on Facebook) that told me differently.
“You and God can do anything.”
“Don’t give up on your dream!”
“With God, all things are possible.”
So I kept willing my dreams to stay on life support instead of letting them die with the dignity that they (and I) deserved.
Because even though everything is possible with God, it doesn’t mean God gives you every possibility.
Oh, I say I want God more than anything else. I know all the right things to say. But I want God through my dream. I want God to do what I want God to do, and give me my dreams so I can point to Him and say “Only God.”
But God promised his presence – not my presents.
So how do you let a dream die? Something that you’ve prayer for, prepared for, and invested in? How do you say goodbye? Here are some hard steps I’ve needed to wrestle through:
1 Acknowledge that it was important to you. This is not a time to be the fox with the grapes who said, “They probably were sour anyway.” So many times we try to explain away disappointment instead of feeling out way through it. It is good and right to grieve a dream that will never happen. It is important to acknowledge this was important to you. And then, there is a process of letting go. For me, this process involves praying, reading God’s word, talking with trusted people (my close circle of friends, my husband, my pastor,) and honestly, crying.
Looking at the five stages of grief that we go through when someone close to us dies, I think it’s interesting and helpful to note that we must go through those five stages when a dream dies.
1. Denial – refusing to let the dream die
2. Anger – Feelings of injustice that the dream is being taken away
3. Bargaining – Trying to make deals with God to get the dream back
4. Depression – Mourning the loss of the dream
5. Acceptance – Moving on and making room for a new dream.
But I believe for those of us who know God, there is a 6th step to grief.
6. Hope – We get to hope for better things. Yes, a dream has died, it is worth grieving. But when our faith is made real? We get to experience real hope.
If a dream is worth dreaming, it’s worth properly grieving.
2. Spend some time wrestling with God. It might be worth examining whether there was a reason God is withholding this particular dream. Is there something in my life that God is trying to get me to pay attention to? Is there sin that needs to be resolved? Or my favorite – has the dream become an idol. (Ugh – the ugly mirror.) Psalm 139:23 says “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” That is a bold verse to pray, but in order to have true breakthrough and understanding of what God is up to in our lives, we must be willing to confess every part we try to hide from God.
3. Understand that there is more than one way for a dream to happen. Maybe the dream isn’t dead – maybe the method is. Maybe you have been working, trying and striving, and God is saying, “Wait.” Maybe, this is not the right time, the right method, or the right person. The dream is alive, but the way is different.
4. Pay close attention to the other things God is doing in your life. Ten years ago, I wrote down 50 dreams I wanted to pray over and commit to God. 34 of those dreams have come to fruition. There are seven that I am still praying over. The other nine? I’ve come to understand that they are not part of God’s plan for my life.
And that is just fine with me.
When you see the other areas where God is moving and growing you, it’s easier to give up the things that no longer matter, that are no longer important. It’s so much easier to let a dream die when you have a record of all the great things He has done.
5. Make Room for God to give you a new dream. Just because the dream is dead, doesn’t mean the dreamer is. And the author of our lives? He is alive and waiting for you to take part in His amazing plan for your life.
Pray that God would give you the desires of His heart, so that when you dream, you can live bigger than even you can imagine.
Dream boldly. Great things have been accomplished because God’s people dared to dream boldly. But listen carefully. Is God doing something new in your life that you need to make room for?
What dream have you had to let die?
Many women find it easy to pray for the concerns and well-being of others. But when it comes to praying for themselves, it’s another story. If you are letting go of a dream and want to pray through your grief (which I highly recommend) Praying God’s Word for Your Life is a great tool to walk you through the experience.
In this book, I give you simple strategies that will:
· create a habit of praying with renewed boldness
· generate the desire for consistency in her prayer life
· provide proper expectations to see her prayers fulfilled in God’s ultimate plan for her life.