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12/31/09

New Year, New Goals

The beginning of a new year lends itself to renewal, a starting-over-point. That may mean going in a completely different direction or modifying a current situation. Either way, it requires a decision. Once when I faced a choice between two options, I sensed an inner voice (I believe it was God) saying… “Go and you will be blessed; stay and you will be blessed.”

Conversely, the opposite of that is also true. Go and you will have problems; stay and you will have problems. That is not to be negative, just a realistic look at how life works. Here are some thoughts regarding enhancing the success of those important decisions and new goals.

Make a decision. There are lots of choices and not all of them can be pursued at once. Clarify your top priority; select and simplify.

Clarify the decision. See the end from the beginning by painting a picture of the intended results. Since everything is created in the mind before it becomes reality, write brief statements giving specific terms and in present tense voice. Use “I am” statements as opposed to “I am going to.” Write it down as if it is already a reality. This step gives you finality and energy; it lets you see how it looks and feels.

Get honest. Detail things that will help and things that will hinder the accomplishment of this goal. Be pro-active in seeing problems and seeking solutions. This includes personality characteristics, mechanical issues as well as the input of others. Example: your creative ideas and energy are a plus, whereas your lack of focus and procrastination slows progress. Think about alternate sources for supplies. Who may be for you and who may be against you and how will you address each?

Day-to-day. This is the nuts and bolts where you take the big picture and reduce it to stepping stones. What needs to be done today? Such as items purchased, calls made, actions taken. What nee4ds to be done tomorrow? What will I have achieved by the end of the month? Use several specific time frames – one month, two months, six months, one year. This is short-term planning that brings long-range accomplishment.

Continually evaluate. Celebrate advancements and negotiate needed adjustments. This is the living out of the “Get Honest” step. What actions need to be implemented, changed or halted? Who needs to be brought on board, consulted with or let go? What back-up resources are available? NASA reports that space voyages are frequently off course. What keeps them on target? Constant evaluation and adjustment; aligning where-we-are-now with where-we-are-going.

Goal setting and planning is an excellent way to break out of the mundane. Follow NASA’s example to discover your own new worlds.

12/23/09

Epiphany

In the Christian faith, epiphany is a term used to mark the arrival of the Magi in their search for the Christ child. Epiphany has expanded to mean a sudden realization or deep understanding brought about through ordinary circumstances that made a profound change in an individual’s life. Here are three epiphanies in my life.

Beauty is more internal than external. I struggled with self-esteem issues for years. I had the mistaken idea that if only my weight was less and I was shorter than my 5’6” height and if my nose was a different shape then magically all my problems would be over. I erroneously reasoned that I would be little and cute and everybody would like me.

An individual came into my life that was overweight, tall and with less than perfect facial features. She was loving and kind and funny and people were drawn to her. It dawned on me that there may be reasons to dislike a person, but the package is not one of them. If people did not like me, it had to be something more than looks. And, if someone did not like me because of my weight or looks, who really owned the problem.

Peace came through recognition that I could not “add one cubit to my stature” (or take away) and calm reigned with thankfulness that my nose worked okay regardless of its size. Silence descended with the realization that weight management was in my power with the exercise of self-discipline. I began to work on things that were within my control, like letting go of the chip on my shoulder.

The result has been a humble acceptance of me with continued focus on character development. My healthy self-esteem has grown into a high regard for all humanity.

Vows are not to be taken lightly. I hate to admit this, but I went into marriage with an escape clause in the back of my mind. From divorce statistics, that seems to be the irrational reasoning of society today. Through contemplation of separation I became aware of the sacredness of vows I had made before God and man. The wedding covenant is necessary because we are not capable of loving a flawed individual, (at least not for a sustainable amount of time) therefore the need for public and spiritual accountability. Instead of looking for ways out, I began to pray for grace to stay. And God’s grace is sufficient. It has been forty-two years and these two flawed individuals are still together. I am glad that we each have made the work-through-it-commitment again and again. It is imperative to fall in love again and again with the same person.

It is relationship, not religion. From childhood I have been tender toward the things of God. Even though teenage rebellion drove me in other directions, the wooing of Holy Spirit never let up – sometimes to my defiant anger. I relented and tried again and again to be godly, always messing up. In a downtime, a knowing although non-audible still small voice spoke into my conscious: “Mona, stop trying so hard. Quit trying to make me Lord and Master. Just let me be your friend.”

I needed a friend. My response was a subdued nodding of my head and a faint whisper of “Okay.” Rockets did not zoom and bells did not go off, but there was a definite change in my life from that day forward. I allowed Jesus to be my friend. It is a friend relationship that continues to grow, allowing me to be accepting of myself and compassionately charitable with a universe filled with other flawed human beings.

None of these transformations were instant but each gave enough light to foster permanent growth. Another meaning of epiphany is “a manifestation of a divine being.” The Magi were searching for solutions in a promised ruler king and were humbled to encounter the author of authority revealed in a vulnerable baby.

The peace and life-changes I have encountered, and continue to chance upon, are brought about through my search for the Christ child – born, died and resurrected. The guiding star is still shining. Follow it and receive.