When in Doubt – Pause

Decisions, decisions. Every day we are faced with hundreds of decisions. Some are as simple as what to have for breakfast and others as complex as whether to stay or leave a relationship. Some people are good at making decisions quickly. Like the pro football coaches who have to make quick decisions about the next play. They have limited information and are under a lot of pressure, but yet they are responsible for making calls that could make or break the game. I have to admit, I would never make a good football coach. On the other hand, making decisions too quickly can be just as bad or worse than taking too much time. Sometimes I’m guilty of that, too. As a single mom of two boys, I’ve had a lot of decisions to make. The problem it seems is when to wait and when to act. I flounder in a sea of doubt. Perhaps you, too, struggle with this.

The decisions we make determine the path of our lives and so it can be somewhat stressful when one is unsure of how to proceed. Here’s a situation that happened to me this week I found post-worthy. I’m sharing it for those who, like me, have a bit of difficulty knowing when to pause.

It was Wednesday. A decision about whether to contact a certain party had been looming over me like a dark grey cloud on a summer day.

“Should I call them or should I wait to hear from them?”

The sun was beaming through my window, and I sat silently cross-legged, meditating on a verse from Psalm 46 which says “Cease striving”. Another version says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Which is it, Lord?

When I thought about it, the two translations were similar. When I cease striving, I let go. I give it to God. I am still. I paused and pondered the decision hanging over me in light of this verse. Then the phone rang.

I usually don’t interrupt my quiet time to answer the phone, but I felt the need to do so on this day. “Unknown” read the caller id.

“It’s probably another one of those telemarketers calling,” as I’d been receiving a slew of calls lately. But something, or someone, told me to answer the call so I did. It was the person I had been debating about calling. I lifted up a silent prayer when I realized who it was. Now you can call it coincidence if you want but I don’t believe anything happens by chance. God is in everything.

Waiting is tough for most of us humans, I’d say. We like things to happen on our time-table. We want it NOW. Many times we take things into our own hands and make it happen. The discipline of pausing seems to have been lost in the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced culture. Patience is a learned skill which we only acquire by waiting. The answers don’t always come immediately as in this case. Sometimes weeks, months, or even years go by. Yet, we must learn to pause.

When we learn to pause, we give ourselves time to reflect. We give God a chance to work,to intervene, to assist. As a single mom, I have always done things myself because I felt I had to. I am learning that I don’t have to take care of every thing myself. God is there. He can make things happen I can’t. But I have to give him a chance.

So what decision are you facing today? Is there doubt in your mind about it? If so, take some time to pause. Give it to God and wait for an answer. It may be a phone call, a knock on the door, or simply that still small voice inside that speaks to each of us when we quiet ourselves enough to listen.

Please let me know your thoughts on this post. If you liked it, pass it on to a friend, leave a comment below or on Facebook. We all struggle with decisions from time to time, so I hope this post has been helpful to you.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

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7 Steps on How to Let Go and Let God

We’ve all heard the expression “Let go and let God”, right? I assumed everyone understood what this means until I posted this photo on Facebook and a friend came back with the question “How do you do that?” She made me think. Maybe this concept isn’t clear to everyone. After all not everyone has gone through a 12-step program which is where the phrase originated. I talk about letting go in my book, “The Power of Faith”, so this might be a good time to delve into the concept for my online friends.  It wouldn’t hurt for me to revisit this phrase either so here’s my best shot at explaining what “Let go and let God” means and how to put it into action in your life.

1. First step is to realize that letting go is a process. We learn to let go. It doesn’t come naturally. We develop the ability to let go gradually as we experience loss, grief, and pain in our lives. We gain experience in this skill when a loved one dies or leaves home, a beloved pet dies, or when we endure a divorce or breakup to list a few examples.

2.  Another term related for letting go is “detachment” which means separating ourselves from someone or something. In recovery terms, detachment means emotionally disconnecting from the abusive, destructive or unhealthy behaviors of another person for our own well-being. It does not mean not loving the other person, it means no longer allowing their hurtful behaviors to steal my peace and my joy. Some extreme examples would be living with an alcoholic, drug addict, gambler, or someone with Alzheimer’s or some other debilitating disease. When we detach in love, we are loving ourselves by separating our emotional well-being from the emotional well-being of the other person. Whenever we are in relationship with another, detachment is key to maintaining our peace of mind and well-being. Otherwise, we risk smothering the other person and losing the relationship. Another way to put this is “Give the other person their space” if that helps.

3. Letting go has to do with responsibility. Sometimes we take on responsibility for issues that are not our own. For example, a parent taking financial responsibility for an adult child. A mother not allowing her children to suffer the consequences of their actions. A spouse covering for an addictive trait of the other such as overspending, drinking, gambling, etc.

4. Letting go is the opposite of controlling. People who are overly responsible i.e fearful, usually have some major control issues. My experience is most people have some control issues to varying degrees, but people who are fearful really have control issues. If you have a problem with control, you may want to ask yourself this question: “What am I afraid of here?”

People do not want to be controlled. I know I don’t. We each are responsible for managing our own lives, but not the lives of those around us. When we let go of control, we let God take the driver’s seat in our lives and we allow the other person to make their own choices.

5. Another application for this concept is in the realm of material possessions. Many people hold on to stuff for years and years for emotional reasons. They have a hard time “letting go” of stuff. You’ve seen the TV show “Hoarders”, haven’t you? If you have a hard time parting with material things, your house is cluttered, and your garage is overflowing, you may want to examine your reasons for holding on to all of it. Does it make you feel loved? Secure? Are you holding on to the past? You may be getting a lesson in letting go.

6.  When we learn to let go in our lives, we are basically saying “Thy will be done” to the universe and God. We no longer insist on our agendas, our plans, and our timeframes. We are more flexible and resilient when the unexpected happens. Control really is an illusion anyway, didn’t you know? God is the only one who is in control. We humans just think we are. Let me repeat that – control is an illusion.

7. The final example I will share is in regards to our priorities. There are only 24 hours in every day and we only have so many days to live. How will I choose to live them and with whom? I personally reexamine my priorities several times a year. I make a conscious choice on where, how, and with whom I want to spend my time. I have learned that in order to add something or someone new to my life, which I love doing, I must let go of something or someone else. When I let go of unhealthy relationships I am free to move on to healthier ones. When I let go of anxiety and worry, I make room for joy and love. When I let go of activity, I make room for relaxation and self-care. Make sense?

Learning to let go is one of the major life lessons if we want to achieve peace in our spirits. When we surrender to what is we have less stress. I have a post it note that has a quote from Oprah which says “All stress comes from resisting what is”. I think that is powerful, don’t you?

What have you let go of that made a difference in your life? What do you need to let go of today? Letting go is an ongoing process because we are constantly in a state of change. If you enjoyed this post, please post a comment or click the +1 Google icon. Until next week, keep looking up!

Making Room for What Really Matters

Most of us lead pretty full lives, yes? We are always on the go. Our to do lists are never ending and the activities never ceasing. But yet, in those still quiet moments, we get that gnawing feeling that somehow we are unfulfilled – something needs to change. Ever feel that way?

It happens to most of us from time to time. It’s kind of like when our closets are bulging with clothes or the attic or tool shed is so packed we can’t find anything. We stand there in confusion wondering how to find what it is we’re looking for.  Do we really know?

If the rooms of our lives are so full with stuff i.e activities, how can we possibly know and then make room for what truly matters to us? Begin by throwing out what is no longer useful.

Every 6 months or so, I ask myself this question “What am I holding on to that I no longer need? and then I begin an inventory of my life. I start with the easy and mundane like my kitchen drawers and cabinets. Then I move on to the house and closets. Then it’s time to analyze the deeper things like my priorities, my beliefs and thought patterns, and my relationships. Which of these are no longer useful or bearing fruit?

To be honest, I have been guilty of holding on to cars, jobs, and some relationships for far too long. I’ve held on to thinking patterns as well. The result of trying to hold on to something or someone that God was trying to get me to let go of was stress and anxiety and who needs more of that in our lives?

The key is to realize when I am holding on to something that is non-productive sooner rather than later, and then – let it go! When I let go of something negative or unproductive in my life, then I make room for something better to come along. It comes back to that ugly four-letter word – fear. Remember, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7). Let’s not shrink back in fear of letting go of something or someone that is not good for us. God always has something better He is waiting to give us, but we must have open hands to receive it.

Today, I encourage you to take a step of faith to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back from receiving what really matters to you. Write me and let me know what it is that you are ready to let go of. I’m in your corner, and so is God. “For if God is for us, who can stand against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Come a Little Closer

Most of us are really busy. We have our schedules and our plans. We like our routines and our lifestyles. We get so wrapped up with the stuff of life and the common complaint is
“I don’t have enough time to ……” You fill in the blank.

The stuff of life can keep us so busy and wound up, we rarely have time to do what Steven Covey, author of numerous best selling books including “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, calls “Quadrant 2 Activities”.

Quadrant 2 activities are those activities which are important but not urgent or pressing. Some of them include planning, prevention and spirituality. These are all so important but none of them are critical and each takes thought, energy, and time. But it is time well spent.

How much time do you spend in Quadrant 2? Many of us spend far too little time working in this area. It is not until something drastic happens that stops us dead in our tracks that we say “Whoa, wait a minute. Maybe I need to slow down and rethink things.” 

When things get uncomfortable, we could be entering into a season of transition. God may be leading us away from certain  activities or people and we don’t know why. He is always trying to get our attention onto what really matters to Him. There may be illness, financial setback, or broken relationships or we may just feel stuck and not moving forward. The pressure may be mounting and the stress hard to manage or we could be plain old bored. Ever feel like this?

When things in life begin to shift, it can feel uncomfortable. We may resist and rationalize. But when  God is calling us to something new, it is important to stay with the discomfort, even when it interrupts our busy lives and messes up our agendas. God has the plan. All we need to do is let go and surrender to it.

The questions whirl thru my mind like the swirling winds of March, trying to figure out what is going on. I need not fret. God is faithful. All I need to do is to call out to God, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”, then listen and wait. The answer is always the same.

Come a little closer. Let that go.

Is Jesus calling you to come a little closer? Perhaps like me you sometimes get too caught up in the rush of the world to hear His still soft voice.

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).

What is it that God is working on and in you today? What is he calling you to let go of or to embrace? Are you willing to listen? To surrender? To obey?

Close your eyes and to this song by Dierks Bentley. Jesus is saying the same thing to us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVGw7FbohY4&feature=kp

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Watch What Shows Up

Do you believe in coincidence? Two things happening at the same time purely by chance?

There have been several coincidences recently in my life and although my mom disagrees, I believe coincidences are divine appointments to connect us with our destiny. As I explain in my book, “The Power of Faith”, whether we choose to accept it or not, we are all on a spiritual journey. Whatever our belief system, we all need learn to have faith in ourselves, in others and ultimately, faith in Almighty God. He is orchestrating situations for our benefit, but we must open our spiritual eyes to “see” His hand at work.

When we start living in sync with God’s guidelines, things start falling into place, don’t they? I eat right, I lose weight and have more energy. I tithe, my debts and bills get paid off. I slow down and spend more time with God in prayer and meditation, and I gain clarity about what is truly important in life. It’s all about our attitudes towards things of this world. What is my attitude about food? Money? Busyness? Material possessions? Relationships?

One thing I’ve been working on is eliminating the negative things in my life so I can have more peace. It’s kind of like cleaning house in a way: decluttering the junk and only keeping what is valuable, beautiful and adds to my quality of life. I refuse to hold on to anything that doesn’t serve me or help me to move forward in life. It could be a relationship, a habit, a thought pattern, a job, or some material possession.

What I’ve noticed is that when I let go of something that is not bearing fruit, life offers up something so much better. When I am courageous and open to possibilities, God shows up in amazing ways. I’ve learned that God cannot be put in a box. He is so creative and He definitely thinks outside the box.

So what is it that you are holding on to today? What is holding you back from moving forward in your life? Is it your job? A relationship? Negative people? Yes, this is a process for sure, but, the steps to faith are not difficult to do. As I share in my book, the trials in life can be used as stepping stones to a better tomorrow.

Whatever you’re facing today, know that God can use it for your good and His glory. Let go of what is not fruitful, and watch what shows up in your life! Until next time, keep looking up!

Letting Go of My Kids

Ah, so much has been written about letting go. For me, as a single parent, it’s a never ending process. As each child celebrates another birthday, I realize I need to let go even more.

Next week is my oldest son’s 27th birthday. I can’t even believe it myself. He just got a new job, has a girlfriend, and is going to grad school. I should be very happy, right? And I am, for him. Problem is mine. I want to have more interaction with him, more conversation, more visits. I’ve asked, believe me. I’ve even tried the guilt trip thing – the “I’m all by myself and I need help” routine. That didn’t work either. He just gets defensive and distances even more.

So, I guess it’s time to let go some more. Make plans to celebrate the holiday with friends or throw a party at my house. Anybody got any ideas on how to let go of your kids? I’m open for suggestions 🙂

Jesus said to not cling too tightly to loved ones and to follow Him, and that’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it? Having the peace that surpasses all understanding. Today, what do you need to let go of, dear one? What is stealing your peace? Let go and let God, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Letting Go of My Kids

Ah, so much has been written about letting go. For me, as a single parent, it’s a never ending process. As each child celebrates another birthday, I realize I need to let go even more.

Next week is my oldest son’s 27th birthday. I can’t even believe it myself. He just got a new job, has a girlfriend, and is going to grad school. I should be very happy, right? And I am, for him. Problem is mine. I want to have more interaction with him, more conversation, more visits. I’ve asked, believe me. I’ve even tried the guilt trip thing – the “I’m all by myself and I need help” routine. That didn’t work either. He just gets defensive and distances even more.

So, I guess it’s time to let go some more. Make plans to celebrate the holiday with friends or throw a party at my house. Anybody got any ideas on how to let go of your kids? I’m open for suggestions 🙂

Jesus said to not cling too tightly to loved ones and to follow Him, and that’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it? Having the peace that surpasses all understanding. Today, what do you need to let go of, dear one? What is stealing your peace? Let go and let God, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Something Better

We all struggle with letting go at some or many points in our lives. Letting go of things, dreams, hopes, behaviors, attitudes is hard. It’s even harder when we need to let go of people, friends, or relationships. Letting go is tough to do, no doubt about it.

Letting go means taking on a new perspective, reevaluating my priorities, and most importantly, trusting that God has the best in mind for me. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) is a verse I often quote.

Let me share a recent situation that illustrates this point.

After recently losing a valuable piece of jewelry, I decided to visit a local jewelry store to see how much a replacement would cost. I found one necklace that I liked with a simple gold setting. The saleswoman quoted me the cost explaining that it was a very good price considering the price of gold these days. Now, I have to tell you that I didn’t feel very comfortable spending that much money on jewelry for myself. That’s just not something I do personally.

“If you like, you can put a deposit down and think about it,” she suggested.

“That’s a good idea. I’ll do that.”

As she looked my name up in her system, she says to me, “You have a credit on your account.”

“Really?” I asked totally surprised and not knowing how that could possibly be.

After researching, the saleswoman decided to go ahead and discount the necklace to less than half the original price.

“What a deal,” I exclaimed. “I’ll take it.” Needless to say, I was elated. I now had a replacement for the necklace I had lost. God had indeed given me something better.

And that is exactly what God will do for you, if you let go and trust Him. He only wants to the best for His children. But in order for God to give us his best, we have to let go.

Beloved, what are you holding on to today? Trust God, let it go, and wait for the Lord to give you the desires of your heart. Remember, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Math. 6:34

Something Better

We all struggle with letting go at some or many points in our lives. Letting go of things, dreams, hopes, behaviors, attitudes is hard. It’s even harder when we need to let go of people, friends, or relationships. Letting go is tough to do, no doubt about it.

Letting go means taking on a new perspective, reevaluating my priorities, and most importantly, trusting that God has the best in mind for me. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) is a verse I often quote.

Let me share a recent situation that illustrates this point.

After recently losing a valuable piece of jewelry, I decided to visit a local jewelry store to see how much a replacement would cost. I found one necklace that I liked with a simple gold setting. The saleswoman quoted me the cost explaining that it was a very good price considering the price of gold these days. Now, I have to tell you that I didn’t feel very comfortable spending that much money on jewelry for myself. That’s just not something I do personally.

“If you like, you can put a deposit down and think about it,” she suggested.

“That’s a good idea. I’ll do that.”

As she looked my name up in her system, she says to me, “You have a credit on your account.”

“Really?” I asked totally surprised and not knowing how that could possibly be.

After researching, the saleswoman decided to go ahead and discount the necklace to less than half the original price.

“What a deal,” I exclaimed. “I’ll take it.” Needless to say, I was elated. I now had a replacement for the necklace I had lost. God had indeed given me something better.

And that is exactly what God will do for you, if you let go and trust Him. He only wants to the best for His children. But in order for God to give us his best, we have to let go.

Beloved, what are you holding on to today? Trust God, let it go, and wait for the Lord to give you the desires of your heart. Remember, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Math. 6:34