Do You Want A New Coat?

coat-clipart-9ipxzg9ie

“…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…”

Colossians 3:9-10

When I read these words I always picture someone taking off an old coat and replacing it with a bright and clean new one. I’m sure that is what Paul wanted us to imagine. It sounds like a great trade, and an easy task. So why do I still walk around wearing my worn-out coat?

  • It’s comfortable. Notice I didn’t say warm, or pretty, or right for me. But that’s how it is with our old ways, isn’t it? I’ll speak for myself and say that my bad habits are deeply ingrained. My stinky attitudes have become familiar friends.

I know it’s time to get rid of that old coat. If I’m honest it doesn’t really fit quite right anymore, and I feel kind of drab in it. But what’s left of my worldly thinking wonders if I could just get the thing dry cleaned instead of trading it in for a whole new model.

  • I’m sentimental. My closet has clothes in it that I don’t intend to wear again. They are outdated, or tired-looking or not my style these days. Keeping them is silly, really, but the idea of throwing them out or passing them on leaves me feeling unsettled.

Change can be scary, but it’s usually for the better, at least in the end. But my old self wants to cling to the past, to hold onto what I already understand rather than step into the unknown that lies ahead.

Sorry to carry the metaphor so far, but it really speaks to me.

How about you – have you taken off your old coat yet and handed it over? Or are you choosing to keep the familiar garment even it’s not the best choice for you?

A New Years Wish

Sunset Picture
Happy New Year!

It’s December 31, and like the rest of you I’m caught in that funny in-between place. You know, looking back and doing a year-in-review kind of inventory, while making my list of goals and dreams for 2017.

Whether this past year was full of delights or difficulties, each of us “pressed on.” Hopefully you can can say that you have moved at least a few steps closer to God. No matter where you’re at right now, just take a moment to savor how delighted He is with you!

In the spirit of New Years Eve, I wanted to share a scripture from Isaiah 42 that reminds me that our Lord is always up to something in and around us:

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare…”

I wish all of you the best for the coming year. Let’s continue on our journey, encouraging one another as we go!

In Christ,

Heather

 

 

Final Thoughts For 2015

On this last day of the year, I want to take a moment to express my thanks to each of you who have stopped in to check out my new blog these past couple of months. Your time is precious, and I am honored that you’ve chosen to spend some of it with me!

It’s a busy season (when isn’t it??), and for me that includes a trip out of town to visit family. But I’ll be back Monday with fresh blogs to get 2016 going strong. Until then, give thanks for what God has done for you this past year – even if it’s a “hidden treasure” so to speak!

Consider this quote from Brennan Manning, one of my favorite Christian authors, from his book The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedralled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out –

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”

God is good – always. Happy New Year to you!

Prepping for 2016 Pt 2

new-years-resolutionsYesterday, I wrote about my usual approach to planning for the new year. In a nutshell, it’s usually been an intense process that leaves me saddled with a big To Do list. Until recently, I’ve enjoyed the work involved. And when I’ve looked over a finished list, a sense of excitement has taken hold.

So many possibilities for the coming 12 months!! But possibility wasn’t enough to keep me going, and most of my great ideas would soon fizzle out.

But this December I’m going about this differently. It’s more than shortening my list, though. Inspired by Michael Hyatt, a gifted teacher in the area of time-management, I’m looking at the “why” of my goals. In doing that, I’ve uncovered some values – like gaining worldly success and pleasing others – that have driven my planning.

My next list was of the results that living by those values: frustration, discouragement and anger, among other things. The obvious question that came to mind was, “Do I really want to live like that anymore?”

The answer was a resounding “No”, so I set out to create a new set of values.

First, I had to admit that those old values showed a lack of connection and obedience to God. But, as a believer, I’m called to follow my Heavenly Father, not my own desires. Look at what He says in the Book of Isaiah,  “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.”

That’s more than a commandment – it’s a promise that He will always be there, providing for me.

Comforted by that truth, I was able to see a need to change from focusing on myself to thinking more about others. Paul’s words in Romans 12 capture this mindset beautifully, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

A new sense of possibility and excitement stirred up in me as I wrote two new lists:

What do I want my values to be from here on?

  • Having a view of myself (including my identity, my worth, measuring my success, etc) based on what God says
  • Using my talents and gifts to build God’s kingdom and to build others up
  • Taking personal responsibility in areas like finances, health, household spending, etc
  • Showing care for other people each day
  • Using my time well each day
  • Spending time in God’s Word, reading, studying and memorizing it

The results of living by those values:

  • Deeper sense of purpose
  • More peace
  • More joy each day
  • Better relationships

Here’s to a truly New Year!

Prepping for 2016

january-first-calendar

Value – “a principle or quality (that is) intrinsically valuable or desirable” Merriam-Webster Dictionary   

In honor of it being the last week of December, I am joining the “year-end review” crowd. That is, I’m reviewing how last year went for me and thinking how next year can be better. I’ve done this in a big way other years, starting with detailed descriptions of my dreams and my ideal day. After that would come the systematic breaking down of elements of that day into bigger then smaller chunks that would be accomplished each month, week or day.

Depending on your personality, that process could sound very interesting or very exhausting. I used to really enjoy giving myself the freedom to daydream – I actually came up with some pretty cool ideal days! And being able to reduce a big idea into achievable tasks was satisfying. I liked having end a map for the year ahead, full of action points.

Sounds good, right? But after the initial burst of energy, which ran out sometime in February, I’d look at my giant flowchart with a mix of fatigue and discouragement. Turned out, imagining what I wanted was much easier than the day-to-day work involved…

I’ve been reading Michael Hyatt’s articles recently. He writes a lot about goal-setting and time management, and one of the great points he makes is this – Know Your Why. In other words, we need to have a strong reason for each goal we set, one we can refer back to when doubt, confusion or just plain boredom sets in. Hyatt’s idea led me to approach my year-end review in a different way this time around.

Knowing the ‘why’ for all my goals made a lot of sense. But I soon realized that I needed to first step back and explore the ‘why’ behind my bigger dreams. Because, what good is it for me to know what I want to accomplish if I don’t have a motivation that will truly inspire me over the long haul?

That’s when the thought of values came to mind (Michael Hyatt touches on this, too). As the definition states, values are qualities that we consider desirable. Each of us has a set of values that have great influence over how we think and act. The thing is, we aren’t always aware of what they are. Perhaps we’ve inherited the values our parents held, or, we’ve adopted the values of our peers.

I decided to take an honest look at what my strongest values have been over the years, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Here’s my short list:

  • Success = financial gain + notoriety + importance in the world
  • Being considered valuable and needed by others
  • Proving myself by what I do – impressing others to feel good about myself

Those were values that acurately defined how I thought about and lived out my life – ouch. They were self and others-centered, just like I was. And I listed the results of living by those values:

  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Lust
  • Anger
  • Resentment/envy
  • Self-centered thinking

In my next blog, I’ll share share how I’m trying to reshape those outdated values.

In the meantime, take a few minutes to write out your set of values. Be honest with yourself – do you like what you see?