I attend The Community Church in Ashburn, Virginia and felt inspired to share my notes from Pastor Charlie Whitlow's sermon this morning.
Are you blessed?
Matthew 5:4 says, "blessed are this who mourn, for they will be comforted."
1. ALL of us will experience loss in this life. No one will escape this life without being touched by pain, sorrow, and loss in this life.
Christianity is a sober-minded walk through this life that embraces and experiences the tangible presence of God in spite of difficulties of life.
2. The only healthy response to loss is mourning.
What is mourning? To allow the feelings of grief, loss, heartache, and sorrow to run the full course of life. The book of Psalms is the largest book of the bible. People are speaking to God. Laments are in the book of Psalms. What are laments? Songs and prayers of sorrow, heartbreak, and confusion. Where are you God? Why did you let this happen? This is not what I thought was suppose to happen. Prayers of anger to God. People pouring out their real troubles and complaints to the Lord. Anger, weeping, and crying to the Lord.
If you have never been disappointed or angry at God, then at best you have a superficial relationship with God.
3. Problem: Not all of us adequately grieve or mourn our losses.
We ignore the pain through hyperactivity in Northern Virginia.
A blessed life happens to those who know how to mourn.
Whatever we suppress doesn't go away. It finds an alternative way out. Usually undealt with grief comes out in unhealthy ways including addictions and physical illnesses.
Grief is a normal healthy human response when there's loss, which when handled effectively leads to a growth. When the grieving process is short-circuited, it can lead to health issues. Unprocessed grief can lead to anxiety and depression.
Experiencing losses without adequate grieving stunts our health physically and spiritually.
4. All of us need to learn how to grieve well.
How many of our health issues are caused by blocked mourning and unfinished grieving?
Symptoms of unfinished grief that we're not done mourning a loss by Peter Garlock:
THE BLESSED LIFE TEST
Question: Have you adequately grieved your losses?
Life will reach new heights if we grieve well.
Grieving well assignment:
1. Pay attention to your losses. Think through your life and losses. Write them down. Make 3 columns. One with age, the loss, and how you responded. Ages 3-12, 12-19, 20-26, and 27+.
2. Honestly express your feelings to God.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him. But in fact He has borne our griefs, and he has carried our sorrows and pains; Yet we assumed that He was stricken, struck down by God and degraded and humiliated. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was crushed for our wickedness. The punishment for our well-being feel on Him. And by his wounds we are healed.
Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the So info God, let us hold fast our confession of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted, knowing exactly how it feels to be human, in every respect as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with confidence and dwitout fear, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
3. Share your grief with others in the family of God. Community Church Motto: This is a safe place NOT to be 'OK.'
4. In time allow the grief to give birth to something new.
Death leads to resurrection. Something new will be birthed. You'll have a new way to connect with others.
In Matthew 26, Jesus grieves well. What does he do? He takes his friends, goes into the garden, and prays. He says I'm so sad to the point of death, would you pray for me?
The Community Church has a Grief Share support group on Tuesday nights at 7pm. For more information, go to: www.thecommunitychurch.org
Just this past week I had the privilege of seeing John Maxwell speak on the 5 levels of leadership. Below are my notes.
The law of process- leaders develop daily and not in a day! We like to microwave leaders but you have to crock pot leaders.
Ask how far can you grown instead of how long will it take? Teach growth and not goal setting.
Level 1 Leadership: Position
People follow you because they have to. People are prisoners. You get the least amount of effort and the least amount of energy from your people. The followers are asking themselves, how little do I have to do to keep from being fired? Low morale and low energy are common here.
Level 2 Leadership: Permission
The key word here is "relationships". People follow you because they want to.
They listen. Great leadership begins not by telling people what to do but rather by asking questions and listening to them. "Listen, learn, and lead."
Every follower asks 3 questions:
1. Do you like me?
2. Can you help me?
3. Can I trust you? (Will you lead me for my best interest?)
Great leaders know it's better to slow down and go together than to go fast and go alone.
It's not a what a person says but what a person does. Lead based on the behavior of your people. Listen well, observe well, and serve well. Value people.
Level 3 Leadership: Production
The key word is "RESULTS". People following because of what you have done for your organization.
3 key points here:
1. Lead by example. People do what people see.
2. Create momentum. When you produce, you create momentum. When you have momentum, people think you are better than you actually are. Managers solve problems while leaders create momentum.
3. Attract better people. Producers attract producers. Many leaders send people where they haven't been before. They are travel agent leaders. Be a tour guide leader instead and show people the way.
Level 4 Leadership: People Development
People follow because of what you have done for them.
Reproduction- you compound and multiply.
1. Recruit very well. There's a strength in recruiting They know how to bring people to the team. The first step of recruiting is having a clear picture of what you're recruiting for. What does this person look like?
2. Position their people really well.
3. Equip people well. 5 things:
1. Being good yourself. You cannot give what you do not have. Make sure you're really good at what you do.
2. You can't teach. They have to watch you do it. Spend the time with people. You don't do business alone. You always have someone with you.
3. You let them do it. You are tweaking them.
4. They do it.
5. They do it and now someone is learning from them.
Level 5- Personhood
People follow you because of who you are and what you represent. You are a model to follow. You are larger than life.
It's been almost a year now since my last post and a year since I first learned how to swim. I can't tell you enough how life changing swimming has been for me. It's been life changing because it was the biggest fear I had in my life and now I've overcome it. Swimming was something I just didn't do before. I took lessons before in freestyle and failed. It just took the right swim coach, some belief that it was possible, and handing it over to God.
Would you believe me if I told you that I LOVE swimming now? I was so overjoyed at the initial onset of swimming that I continued weekly lessons after that competition. I can now swim a mile. That's 64 laps! That's ridiculous when I think of it. If you had told me last year pre-swimming lessons that I 'd be able to swim a mile a year from now, that would be the funniest joke ever. For me, this is like climbing Mount Everest! It was THE impossible. But what's even cooler about overcoming my fear of swimming is that it has given me confidence that I can overcome anything. It's like that book, feel the fear and do it anyway. Now when I have challenges come into my life, I almost welcome them. I realize it's an opportunity for me to be a better person. Little by little, God willing, I can overcome.
What is the voice within you saying to you?
This is a picture of my community pool. This is where a miracle happened. This is where God winked. This is where fear was conquered.
This past Sunday my husband and I participated in a "Couples Challenge" with other couples from our church and neighborhood. The challenge consisted of a 16-lap swim, various body weight exercises, and a 3-mile run. When my husband first mentioned this "challenge" to me several weeks ago, I just laughed. I wasn't interested. Afterall, other than floating on my back and swimming doggie paddle style, I didn't know how to swim. I had no form.
Although I'm fairly athletic, I had this fear factor around swimming. I attempted swimming lessons as an adult to learn "freestyle" but it didn't really work out. I could sort of do it but not really. It was ugly. I felt like I was drowing every time I tried. I always felt like I was swimming for my life as if I had a shark chasing me while trying not to drown. It probably didn't help that my instuctor was a former Navy Seal and I felt like I had more of a drill seargent rather than an instructor. It was terribly uncomfortable. I was always tight and tense in the water and I never learned it.
Two weeks before the challenge date, I start getting all these emails from people participating in the challenge. The couples were talking about how they were training for the event. Some did it while on vacation while others practiced their swim in a lake or their run in our neighborhood . At first I was annoyed to get these emails because it assummed that I would participate. I copped an attitude. I was thinking, how did I get on this email list when I didn't even agree to do this. Apparently my husband signed us up. One week before race day, I realized we were participating whether or not I could swim. I decided then to sign myself up for 2, 30-minute swimming lessons. Breast stroke was one of the swim types listed so I asked my instructor, Alicia, to teach it to me. I had my 1st lesson on Monday and my 2nd lesson on Thursday. Race day, mind you, was Sunday. On Monday, we used a kick board and I learned the motion for the legs. On Thursday, I learned what to do with my arms, how to push off the wall, and how to combine the arms with the legs. Alicia was incredibly patient and encouraging to me. After putting it all together, I could swim a lap. And after some practice, I could swim 2 straight laps with plenty of energy left. That was a miracle! And the strange thing was that I enjoyed it! It was fun and relaxing exercise. I had never EVER EVER in my life been able to swim 2 straight laps. I hugged Alicia. I couldn't believe it. Learning how to swim has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I felt like I had just learned another language. I felt unstoppable. This opened new avenues of adventure for me. The thought had crossed my mind how cool it would be to do a sprint triathalon if only I had not feared the water. Well now, I have conquered the water. To God be the glory! Thank you Jesus! Philippians 4:19 says, "and my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." I felt so empowered in learning this little bit of swimming that I have decided to continue taking weekly lessons to learn the other styles of swimming.
Now back to the race. It was a team effort so I only had to swim 4 laps while my husband swam 12 laps. We placed 4th out of 6 couples but I was pretty darn happy considering we only trained together for 2 days and I learned a new skill out of it. Not to mention we had fitness instructors, a former coast guard member, and college swimmers in the group. We're talking about a very athletic bunch we have here. I was just thrilled to have conquered a fear and learn how to swim.
What's the moral of the story?
Luke 17:27 says, "what is impossible with man is possible with God." Sometimes the "thing" that you fear the most just needs to be handed over to God. Don't attempt to do it alone in your own strength. Ask for God's help. Because I had a horrible past experience with swimming, I had a mental block around it. It felt like it was the impossible. When faced with "the impossible" believe God will see you through it. Trust that He will make it possible and He will show you a way.
What's that thing you fear that if overcome could have a huge positive impact on your life?
What's the upside of overcoming your current fears and handing it over to God?
Fear is a miserable thing! It keeps us from realizing our full potential in life. See fear for what it is...a lie. When fears creep in your mind, expose it. Pray about it, talk about it with friends or write down your thoughts in a journal. The more airtime you give fear, the more ways you'll come up with to overcome it. Overcome fear through exposing its lies and overcoming it with the word of God. What is FEAR? False Evidence Appearing Real. It's like seeing a shaddow of a spider taking up an entire wall and assuming that's the actual size when in reality it's only 1 centermeter in size. Act on your fears, trust God, and find a treasure.
"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do." - Henry Ford
Life is like a garden. It needs consistent attention and care for it to be beautiful and serve its purpose. What can you do to create a flourishing personal life that has the look and feel of a flourishing garden?
In life and gardening, there is a constant weeding out of weeds. On a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, we need to take a look at what weeds are popping up in our life that need to be pulled out.
What do weeds represent?
Things that drain your energy. Get rid of everything that you're putting up with, tolerating, or enduring.
Let's look at 3 areas of your life where weeds grow:
1. Your Home. Make a list of 5 things you are tolerating in your home, whether or not you see a solution to each item. Identify them whether big or small. This can be: location of home, messes in closets, clothes that need to be altered or repaired, walls that need painting, light bulbs replaced, etc.
2. Your Family/Community. Make a list of 5 things your'e tolerating about your family or community, whether or not you see a solution to each of them. Examples include: improve communication with spouse, let go to one-way friendships, let go of obligations, too many commitments, etc.
3. Your Work Life. Make a list of 5 things you are tolerating about your work or professional life, whether or not you see a solution to each of them. Examples are: low pay, not enough recognition or appreciation, working for a tough boss, stressed out, not enough challenge, etc.
Why do we allow weeds to grow?
1. Too many weeds get us overwhelmed that we tend to put them off.
2. We can't identify it. We don't know it's a weed. I once had a beautiful green stock come up from the ground in my garden, only to find out later it was weed.
3. It's too big to handle on your own or you don't have the right tools to take care of it. I once struggled to pull out a big weed. After fighting with it for 20 minutes I asked for my husband's help. We wanted to get it at the root so my husband grabbed a shovel and helped me to dig it out.
How to clear the weeds?
1. Identify them. Take an inventory. Make a list of life's weeds. Categorize them into smaller groups. Find time to take care of them one at a time.
2. Figure out if it's yours. Can you do something about it or are you looking at your neighbor's weeds? Work on the things you can do something about and let go of the one's that aren't yours.
3. Get support. Ask for a friend's help. Hire a coach or counselor. Take a class and learn a new skill that will help you remove the weeds.
4. Change your perspective. Instead of holding on to past hurts or disappointments (also weeds), ask: What have I gained from having this weed? How has it served me? Be grateful for it and let it go.
5. Check your readiness factor. Some weeds are not as important as others. Let those go for now and only work on what you want to work on.
I coach many people around discovering their "dream job" and strategies on how to get there but sometimes I meet people who unexpectedly lost a job and are grieving it. These people need to identify and express their emotions before they can really move on. Here's a great article written by Lori Deschene that will help you if you're going through that.
It’s not always easy to identify and understand what’s hurting you. Some people even stay in abusive relationships because it’s safer than acknowledging their many layers of pain: the low self-esteem that convinces them they deserve abuse, the shame over being treated with such cruelty, and the feeling of desperation that convinces them there’s no real way out.
The first step toward finding happiness after having been hurt is to understand why you were hurt, to get to the root of everything that makes the memories hard.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to communicate how you feel to the person who hurt you; and if you can, there’s no guarantee they’ll respond how you want them to. Say what you need to say anyway.Write in your journal. Write a letter and burn it. Get it all out.
This will help you understand why you’re hurting and what you’ll do in the future to avoid similar pain so you can feel empowered instead of victimized. Research has actually proven that people who focus on lessons learned while journaling find the experience more helpful than people who don’t (focus on lessons).
(My thoughts: Identify your feelings. Are you feeling hurt, angry, guilty, betrayed, insecure, afraid? Giving thought ot how you're feeling can be very helpful in processing all your emotions in the wake of this life changing event.)
Reliving the past can be addictive. It gives you the opportunity to do it again and respond differently—to fight back instead of submitting, to speak your mind instead of silencing yourself. It also allows you to possibly understand better. What happened? Where did you go wrong? What should you have done?
In other words, it allows you to torture yourself. Regardless of what you should have done, you can’t do it now. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, you may need professional help to avoid revisiting the incident. If you don’t, you need sustained effort. Fight the urge to relive the pain. You can’t go back and find happiness there. You can only experience that now.
It may seem like another way to understand what happened, or maybe it feels helpful to hear someone say you didn’t do anything wrong and you don’t deserve to hurt. In all reality this just keeps you stuck right where you are: living your life around a memory and giving it power to control you.
No amount of reassurance will change what happened. You can’t find happiness by holding onto a painful story, trying to place in new, brighter light. You can only find happiness when you let it go and make room for something better. You don’t need another person’s permission to let go and feel okay.
Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong but you blame yourself. Or maybe you played a role in creating your current situation. Regardless of what happened, you need to realize that what you did is not who you are. And even if you feel immense regret, you deserve to start today without carrying that weight. You deserve a break.
You can either punish yourself and submit to misery, or forgive yourself and create the possibility of happiness. It comes down to whether you decide to dwell or move on. Which do you choose: anger with yourself and prolonged pain, or forgiveness and the potential for peace?
Maybe you were a victim. Maybe someone did horrible things to you, or you fell into an unfortunate set of circumstances through no fault of your own. It still doesn’t serve you to sit around feeling bad for yourself, blaming other people. In fact, it only holds you back. You can’t feel good if you use this moment to feel bad about another person’s actions.
The only way to experience happiness is to take responsibility for creating it, whether other people made it easy for you or not. You’re not responsible for what happened to you in the past but you’re responsible for your attitude now. Why let someone who hurt you in the past have power over your present?
(My thoughts: Ask how did my actions and the things I've said or failed to say help to create this situation or crisis?)
If everything you do and all your relationships center around something that hurt you, it will be harder to move on. You may even come to appreciate what that identity gives you: attention, the illusion of understanding, or the warmth of compassion, for example.
You have to consider the possibility there’s a greater sense of happiness in completely releasing your story. That you’d feel better than you can even imagine if you’d stop letting your pain define you. You can have a sad story in your past without building your present around it.
It’s not easy to release a pain identity, particularly if you’ve carried it around for a long time. It may help to remember who you were before that experience—or to consider who you might have become if it hadn’t happened. You can still be that person, someone who doesn’t feel bitter or angry so frequently.
If you want to feel and be peaceful and happy, start by identifying what that looks like—what you think about, what you feel, what you do, how you interact with people. Odds are this process will remind you both how you want to be and how you don’t want to be.
You don’t have to focus on completely letting go of your pain forever; you just have to make room for joyright now. Start simple. What’s something you can enjoy in this moment, regardless of what pain you’ve experienced? Would sitting in the sun bring you joy? Would calling your sister bring you joy?
Don’t think about the totality of the rest of your days. That’s a massive burden to carry—haven’t you hurt enough? Just focus on now, and allow yourself a little peace. You’ll be surprised how easily “nows” can add up when you focus on them as they come.
We often isolate ourselves when we’re hurting because it feels safer than showing people our vulnerability. What we fail to realize is that we don’t have to feel vulnerable all the time. We can choose certain people for support, and then allow ourselves time with others without involving our painful stories.
You can share a meal, a movie, a moment and give yourself a break from your anger or sadness. You don’t have to carry it through every moment of your day. Don’t worry—if you feel you need to remember it, you’ll still be able to recall it later. But as you allow yourself pockets of peace, shared with people you love, you may find you need that story a lot less.
I am on fire today! I just had an enlightening conversation with a buddy coach, Bruno, and I want to remember and share some life lessons from the call.
1. Tip on making change possible
When you want to make a change in your life start by writing down all your obstacles to the change. Write down anything that could get in the way including limiting beliefs you may have. For each obstacle, write a solution. When I do this exercise, it's not surprising to have 30+ reasons not to change. The purpose of this exercise is to identify the excuses, explose them, and do something about it so they're not holding you back.
2. Take 100% responsibility for your life
Bruno hired a new coach for himself and I asked how the coach was. He said he decided it didn't matter who his coach was, he was going to be the best coachee he could be. He was going to put forth his best effort no matter what. That was a powerful statement! What if we took this idea to all areas of our life. What if we took out the excuse that we can't be our best because someone else wasn't inspiring us. Do your best anyway in all your relationships. Don't blame others.
There's a coaching program I took called The Time Peace Program. One of my favorite mantras in it is "time is a tool that is exclusively mine to play with." I love this concept because instead of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed when my schedule gets overloaded, I can bring play into the mix and experience a sense of lightness and freedom in how I chose to use my time . I remember that I am in charge of my time and commitments and if something is not working, I change it....I play with it. I move things around and have fun. Bruno asked, what if I take this concept of play to other parts of my life. For example, for all my meetings and activites today, how can I infuse an element of play into it. If I did that, life would be more fun, carefree, and enjoyable. How would your life change if you brought an element of play and fun into everything you do?
I'm in a really good place in my life right now due in part to the positive daily habits I've established to support me. I heard about this concept to establish 10 daily habits several years ago and it's just now that my habits are taking hold.
First of all, what is a habit? The dictionary defines it as:
a : a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.
b : an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.
Why is it important to establish some positive daily habits in your life?
Well, habits support the positive changes in your behavior that have a fundamental impact on your life. For example, one of my goals is to have good teeth through my old age. One habit to support that goal is to floss my teeth daily.
Once a habit is formed, it becomes effortless and it becomes part of who you are. It hardly takes any effort to do it because it becomes so engrained in you that it becomes an automatic way of living. It's just like driving a car. When you first learned to drive it took a lot of attention and effort. But after a while, it became as effortless as breathing. Healthy habits are fundamental to living your best life.
Establishing healthy routines gives you more focus, energy, and balance. It frees you up to do really great work.
5 tips to establishing great habits:
1. Work on establishing 1 new habit at a time. Building a new habit takes focus and energy. Give yourself the space to make it a success.
2. Give yourself 21-30 days to build a new habit.
3. Make sure it's a habit that you want to do and not just something you feel you "should" do.
4. Do it with a friend, an accountability partner. Something about having someone else walk alongside you as your struggle to make something a habit makes it all better.
5. Spend at least 5 mintues a day visualizing the new habit. This is a great way to use "dead" time like when you're waiting in line or have a few minutes.
The following are some daily habits I've established that have been a great support in my life:
1. Reading my bible every morning.
2. Writing down at least 3 things I'm grateful for.
3. Looking at or visualizing my goals that I have turned into positive affirmations on my pinterest board. Sorry this is a hidden board.
4. Making my bed.
5. Flossing my teeth.
6. Taking my vitamins.
7. Acknowleding/thanking my husband for at least 1 thing every day.
8. Being in bed by 10pm.
I have a list of other habits that I look forward to establishing soon but for now this is a good start and it has made a HUGE impact on my life already.
Thank one person a day.
Drink decaf instead of caffeine.
Walk 3 miles each morning.
Meditate for 20 minutes.
Write in your journal.
Handle 1 unresolved matter.
Offer to help someone.
Read something you really want to read.
Follow your intuition at least once a day.
Go the extra mile for someone.
Spend an hour with your children.
Stretch every day.
Expect nothing and appreciate everything.