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Up with Upgrades!

3 Jun

Upgrades. We all love them, don’t we? My husband flies internationally many times during the year, and with his long legs, he always is eager for an upgrade to sections of the plane with more leg room!

I saw this photo that made me think how desperate we get sometimes for an upgrade. This is one man’s attempt to upgrade while waiting to move up from his iPhone to an iPad! LOL.

I also saw an overworked computer mouse that needed a serious upgrade!

Upgrades are fun, and often a wonderful blessing. We might upgrade appliances when we remodel our homes, or upgrade our wardrobe when we lose a lot of weight.

Did you know you can upgrade something every single day?

As a midlife woman, I suddenly came to the conclusion that I had spent all of my life serving others, but needed to focus some time on much-needed changes in my own life. My appearance was a little ragged. My quiet times were a little desert-like. My times with loved ones were a little scarce.

It was time for some upgrades! I discovered that even little changes each day make a difference, and it doesn’t matter the season of life you’re in, either!

Let me give some examples:

Appearance: Making sure my hair is neat and wearing simple makeup helps. So does watching what I eat. (For me, cutting out wheat is a major change ~ but simple choices every day are still required.) Writing in appointments for the gym make a difference (when I make the choice to keep them)! I’m starting to feel like a new woman, one choice at a time!

Quiet Times: Just as in marriage, doing the same thing the same way brings a level of comfortableness, but if we’re not careful and creative, the relationship can get stale. Likewise, in my relationship with God, I don’t want my interaction with God to suffer from sameness. So I started memorizing bits of scripture, and praying them back to God. I imagined God saying many of the “red letter” parts of scripture to me personally. I put a Bible on a chair near my Quiet Time spot to remind me that the Living Word is always present with me. Simple things.

Relationships: My girlfriend Pam Farrel is such a people person; but I’m a blinders-on task-oriented person. If I’m not careful, I’ll go a whole week and not see anyone! That’s not healthy, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to building a marriage or leaving a legacy with children and grandchildren. I need to see, interact with, and serve people. I need to rub shoulders with people who don’t know Jesus, too. So I have scheduled “timer breaks” from my work to either pray for or call people, or to jot down a note about something I want to share with others. And I clear out spaces in my calendar each week to “see people” ~ lunch dates, social gatherings, church, special meetings, “dates” with a grandchild, etc.

The point is, I can do a little bit of something every single day to upgrade these weak areas (and others) that need change. Every little choice helps!

Four questions help me know how to upgrade, and I hope they’ll help you!

1. Ask: What’s Going on Now? ~ You have to see and admit where you are, what your circumstances are (your weaknesses as well as your strengths) before you can see clearly what needs to be changed. Before you can upgrade, you need to drop any pride (Proverbs 18:12) and stand humbly before God, asking Him to show you your heart attitudes and behavior as they really are.

2. Ask: What Do I want to Be Different? ~ Get specific about upgrades. You have to decide what you want to do or change before you can make any plans for progress. You might also want to clarify what you don’t want … but spend more time on what you do want to be different. Let that be your focus. (Where you place your attention is where you’re going to see the greatest benefits and blessings. )

3. Ask: Lord, Is This Something YOU Want Me to Upgrade? ~ Always check with God to be sure your goals are good, godly, wise, worthy, and in His will (biblical) ~ see Romans 8:28.  If they are, you can ask Him to help you upgrade (believing that it is possible, because He put it in your heart).

4. Ask: What Choices Am I Going to Make TODAY to Get There? ~ This is the tough part, but it’s necessary. Ignore the arguments in your mind. Eliminate the excuses. Just act … take a first step. And a next step. Take baby steps, if necessary, but get moving forward on your upgrade. The point is to make a situation or attitude better.

When you change one little thing, you may find that an entire pattern of life changes, necessitating other changes.  How fun!  (Your habit patterns got you where you are, and new habit patterns will take you somewhere else! This Replacement Principle is illustrated in Romans 12:2.) When it comes to the nitty-gritty of life, upgrades happen in day-tight, bite-sized pieces.

And the wonderful truth is, God is in the process of a major upgrade in each one of us who are in Christ! His eternity-focused upgrade goes beyond “a little bit better” to total transformation ~ He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:292 Corinthians 3:17-18).

When you woke up this morning, it was another day for God to work in and through you for His glory and purposes and for your eternal good. Praise Him … thank Him … cooperate with Him!

No matter your season of life … think of at least one thing you can do right now to change your life for the better (An action? An attitude?).

Consider it an adventure with God. Up with Upgrades!

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Choosing Hope, Even with Cancer

3 Oct

Question: What do you call a doctor who is always on the telephone?

Answer: An ON-CALLogist.

Some funny REAL doctor’s notes:

  • Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
  • On the second day, the knee was better, and then on the third day, it disappeared.
  • The patient refused autopsy.
  • The patient has no previous history of suicides.
  • Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40-pound weight gain in the last three days.
  • She is numb from her toes down.
  • Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches. (1)

Our friend, Yvonne Ortega, is a delightful and caring woman. A professional counselor, Yvonne suddenly found herself “on the other side of the tissue box” when she receive a diagnosis of cancer. So she understands the emotions that come with chronic diseases, and God has given her compassion and a desire to help hurting people.

Yvonne chronicled her choices for hope and joy in the midst of dealing with cancer, and her inspirational readings encourage and bless not only women with cancer, but also those struggling with other chronic diseases. Her wise words also encouraged me (Dawn) in some “everyday” struggles!

Breastj Cancer AwarenessOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a fitting time to highlight Yvonne’s book, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. The first thing one notices about her book is that it is solidly biblical. Each reading begins with a “Hope Builder” scripture; and she ends each reading with a prayer. But it is the readings themselves, full of practical counseling principles, that bring great insight, inspiration, and encouragement.

One of my favorite readings, because I am all about making wise choices, is “Decision Time.” Yvonne said she wished that angels and trumpet blasts would confirm her treatment decision ~ chemotherapy, radiation, tamoxifen, a combination of these, or an alternative approach. She said she prayed for wisdom daily (Proverbs  8:11; James 1:5), and searched the scriptures.

The Hope Builder for this reading is Psalm 16:7: “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” After doing all she could to be wise concerning her decision ~ asking others to pray for her, making lists of pros and cons, reading literature, looking on the Internet, talking with various people, and watching videos advocating both traditional and alternative methods ~ Yvonne kept looking to the Lord for her ultimate decision confirmation.

She wrote, “In my human frailty, I do not want chemotherapy, radiation, or tamoxifen. Reading a list of all the side effects of that traditional treatment frightens me … an alternative approach sounds better to me; however, I wonder if any of the methods will heal me.” (2)

Yet she knew that whatever she chose, she must walk in the will of God for her life. The doctors gave her two weeks to make a decision.

As the deadlined neared, a series of “coincidences” occurred:

  • Someone offered to take her to the hospital “for chemotherapy.”
  • One of her neighbors volunteered to spend the night with her.
  • A professional colleague told her she would bring over dinner the day “after chemotherapy.”
  • Two friends offered to flush her catheter daily (a catheter surgically inserted into a vein for putting chemotherapy into the body).

Though she continued to pray that God would allow the “cup” of what seemed like God’s will to pass from her, she told God He could have his way ~ “If He wanted me to do both chemotherapy and radiation, I would surrender my will to His.”

As peace swept over her, she fell asleep, sensing she was moving ahead in the direction God wanted her to go.

“As cancer patients, we face monumental decisions,” she wrote. “Whatever we decide, we will live or die with the consequences. I’ve learned to invite God into the process. I don’t always like His answer, but I prefer to be in His will rather than out of it.”

Key thought: “I’ve learned to invite God into the process.”

As I read Yvonne’s words, I prayed, “Lord, I say YOU are my Hope, but how many times do I invite You into the process of my choices ~ not just in the huge decisions of life like Yvonne addressed, but in the simple, everyday choices I make? Do I even care to know what You think? If I call you ‘Lord’ (Master), shouldn’t I ask you for wisdom and direction?”

Sometimes I do ask; but often I don’t. Yvonne’s closing prayer included these words, “I do not trust my own wisdom… May I be attentive to your counsel….”

That’s my prayer today. Is it yours?

Closing Note: Ladies ~ DON’T MISS YOUR MAMMOGRAMS! October is my birthday month, and a perfect time for my check-up. Pam Farrel says she gets hers in her birthday month, too, so she won’t forget. Good idea! Another writer friend, Janet Thompson, wrote a book titled Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. She has a license plate frame that says, “Mammograms Save Lives.” Janet says, “They saved mine three times now.” Again … Don’t miss your mammograms!

Yvonne Ortega

Yvonne Ortega is a ten-year cancer survivor (Yeah!), a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner, and Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor. She is a positive, hope-building speaker, and author. Yvonne also hosts a program for breast cancer patients, and her wonderful website is www.yvonneortega.com.

(1) “Jokes, mostly about cancer, hospitals, or just life” ~ http://www.lawrencewray.co.uk/jokes/

(2) Yvonne Ortega, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer: 60 Inspirational Readings, (Revell, 2010), pp. 96-97.

[Note:  I do not endorse advertisements that are added to my blog posts without my permission.]

The Best Laid Plans

12 Jul

Four Greek LettersTrevor Lund of Expectancy Ministries ~ “Rev Trev” ~ loves to tell stories about his daughter when she was a little girl. He wrote about how NOT to teach a three-year-old Greek. (6/23/11 newsletter)

“Taiessa was three,” Lund wrote. “She was saying words like ‘indubitably’ in the correct context, Greek Alphabetbut on occasion had trouble saying words with ‘th’ and mixed ‘d’ and ‘g’ sometimes. We would correct her when it was necessary, and she was usually eager to say things correctly … that is unless she heard herself say it correctly.

“I had it in mind to teach her the Greek alphabet. She didn’t have a firm grasp of the English one,  mind you, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to teach her Greek, French, Hebrew, and possibly Latin (if I could learn it first) before she went to kindergarten. I’d let the teacher handle the basics.

“On one fine day, I got her excited about learning the Greek alphabet, so I began:  ‘Taiessa, repeat after me.’

“OK, Daddy!”

“Alpha, Beta, Gamma…”

“Daddy, it’s GRANDMA, not GAMMA!” she emphatically insisted.

“The best laid schemes of mice and men….”

Indeed, the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong.

A scripture verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” In other words, we may make plans in our hearts and even act on them, but it is God who controls the outcome. (See Proverbs 16:9).

Many people have used the folksy quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Kenneth Boa, president of Reflections Ministries, says, “We could add to it, ‘If you want to hear him laugh even louder, tell him how much you know.'” (1)

Pride of knowledge is a subtle root problem in much of our planning. We simply think we know everything! Sometimes this pride leads to boasting.

James gives us some insight on this: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes….” (James 4:13-14a; 15-16a).

Our proper attitude in making plans should be to make the wisest plans we can, but also to keep our hands and hearts open to any changes God wants to make. There’s no room for boasting God'sWay-MyOwnWay signabout our plans (Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12:18-20). There’s no room for presumption over what is going to happen; we need to trust God and give all of our expectations to God. 

When it comes to planning, we must be careful that we have no personal agenda except to obey, serve, glorify, and please God. Our attitude should be humility and dependency on Him. We must acknowledge His sovereignty over our lives. Jesus came to do all that the Father asked Him to do (John 4:34; 6:38) ~ He had no other plans. He said “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). “Not my own way, but your way, Father” ~ that should be our desire as we consider our plans.

The scriptures say, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3). The “best laid plans” are those plans that are fully surrendered to the Lord.

(1) http://www.kenboa.org/blog/2010/04/20/%E2%80%9Cif-you-want-to-make-god-laugh-tell-him-your-plans-%E2%80%9D/

(2)

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