Cars, children, finances, marriages, friendships; what do all these things have in common? There may be several correct answers, but the one in my mind is that they all take maintenance in order to avert a necessary crisis response.
If you give your car regularly oil changes, put gas in it regularly, give it a tune up every now and then, you can often avoid or at least catch larger problems before they hit crisis mode. If you spend a little time communicating with your children everyday, stay involved in things that they are involved in, and ask questions on a consistent basis, you have a better chance of avoiding huge problems or at least catching them early. Making time for your spouse (such as a regular date night), making them a daily priority, and communicating in an open and honest way daily, can often lead to less crises in a marriage. I hope you get the point I’m trying to make.
So, I want to take this to a different level. In The Journey Training, I learned the benefit of loving and supporting others in my life. This wasn’t totally a new concept for me but it gave me a different perspective on the subject. Previously, I thought it was my responsibility to guess how to love and support others in my life and basically hoped that they would guess right when it came to loving and supporting me.
In The Journey Training, they suggested the idea that it could be better to just ask the person how they would like to be loved and supported. You see, everyone receives love in different ways. What I think may help them or show them love, isn’t necessarily what they need or want. I liked this idea and decided to use it outside the training room to see how it would really work.
I started asking my kids, friends, and even coworkers how I could love or support them. I got so many different answers that I would never have thought of. However, as time went on, I found that I only asked people the question of “how can I love and support you?” during times that I knew they were in crisis. Sure, this showed the person that I would help them if they were on fire. But did it communicate to them that I really cared enough about them to show love and support on a more consistent basis (maintenance versus crisis)?
Matthew 22:39 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I started thinking. I wanted to be known, loved and supported by others on a consistent basis, not just when I was experiencing a crisis in my life. Then I realized, if I asked those I care about regularly how I can love and support them in day to day life, then maybe when they hit crisis mode, I would at least have a base line for what they need even if they didn’t know what to ask for in the moment.
Sometimes a little bit of effort, every day or every week, will pay off in the long run when we, ourselves , or those we love need it. So, don’t be afraid to
ask the question or to answer it if someone asks you; how can I love and support you?
Trust, a word that I keep coming across a lot in my life lately. I don’t know about you, but when a word seems to reoccur in my life over a period of time, I finally ask myself and God, “Ok, what about this word am I supposed to learn?”
I know that trust is a big deal for a lot of people. In The Journey Training, it’s a big focus of the Threshold weekend. I used to consider myself a pretty trusting individual until I was recently forced to take a deeper look at what this word really means and how it affects the way I live my life.
When I ponder the idea of trust, I used to think that who I did or did not trust was based on the other person and how they treated me. If someone consistently lied to me or was always late for meetings with me or seemed to break promises, I tended to not trust them, or at least trust them less (is that really a thing?). However, I’ve recently been challenged to reevaluate my view of trust, especially when it comes to God, His kids, and those I call my closest friends.
Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Message Bible says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure everything out on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.” Most of us who profess to be Christians have heard this passage several times. However, do you know what it really means? Do you find it easy to fully trust God from the bottom of your heart, with everything you have? I know, for me, fully trusting God is a hard concept to grasp; and it has nothing to do with God but everything to do with me.
Due to some health issues lately, my vulnerability and trust levels have increased greatly. I thought I was trusting before, but when things got downright hopeless, I realized I was closing myself off to God and those who genuinely cared about me because I didn’t want to be hurt worse, or seen as weak and unable to handle life. Everywhere I went I saw the word TRUST staring me in the face. It was in my daily devotions; it was in the sermons at church; it was glaring at me when volunteering at The Journey Training weekends. Everywhere I looked, trust surrounded me but I still wasn’t getting it.
So, I began to ask God and also talk to some of the people around me. Trust is a choice and in order to live out my purpose I wanted/needed to figure this out. Trust, to me, means that I am willing to be so authentic with you (or God or whoever), that I recognize the possibility of getting hurt and still choose to do so in order to receive the benefits of the relationship. Trusting God means I choose to believe that He has my best interest at heart and admitting that I can’t do it all by myself and His ways are better. Trusting God means, no matter what I’m feeling or what I’m seeing, I’m still open enough to share my feelings with Him and choose to believe that He is listening.
How does this translate into other relationships? Well, I’ve come to find that if people say they care and want to help you, then you should be real and vulnerable enough to give them a chance. I am a human, and no matter how much I would love to believe that I am all of the super heroes rolled into one (you know, the GREATEST person ever!), I have weaknesses and limitations. God created me (and you) to be connected with others in relationship for a reason. We can’t do life all alone, but all together, we can handle just about anything with His help.
So, in this season of life that I find myself, I am choosing to trust on a whole new level. This choice of mine has begun to make a huge difference in my life. By being real and vulnerable with those who are around me, I have shown that I’m willing to trust God and others with things that I cannot do on my own. Because of this decision, it is opening doors and resources that God had waiting all the time. He was inviting me to trust Him and others in a new way so that He could show me how trustworthy He is and they are.
How does trust or the lack of trust affect your life? Have you ever stopped to think about it? If you’ve been through The Journey Training, you learned a little about trust and that it is a choice. If you haven’t been through the training, I challenge you to look at trust in your own life and them maybe check out The Journey Training as a way to gain more information.
Have you ever noticed how a baby who has learned to sit up sits up so straight? I can remember noticing even as a kid how straight some women sat. To me, it made them even more beautiful.
I wish good posture came naturally for me, but because of a prenatal stroke it’s much harder for me. The most commonly used definition of posture is “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting”. Participating in band, through high school and college, taught me to be disciplined with it. When in a concert ensemble and playing an instrument, you are expected to sit up straight and on the edge of the chair. This helps your breathing and playing. When marching, I had to work not only at standing up straight, but also with proper horn angle, while moving AND playing! Talk about discipline! Over time, I found myself doing these things naturally.
Many years after marching band, I found another cardio exercise I love – the elliptical! It’s much more suited for my body than running! I can remember noticing one time how balanced I’d become on it! I was standing up straight, not holding on, dancing away! My posture was great and my whole attitude had changed!
This reminds me of a tool I gained in The Journey Training. It’s called Ground and Center. When I carry myself in a grounded and centered posture, I feel tall, centered, and ready.
That brings me to another definition of posture: “a particular way of dealing with something: an approach or attitude”. This posture helps us react to life. Trials and tribulations happen. The better the posture, the better we approach or react to them, and the better outcome we will have.
Are you critical of yourself in pictures? One of the worst pictures I perceive of myself is a picture from college, at my heaviest weight, pretty much leaning against the guy behind me. As I began losing weight, not only did I start to appreciate my posture physically in pictures, my attitude had also changed. My confidence skyrocketed and it showed!
I was remembering this recently as I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve dealt with plenty of shame regarding my weight and how I look. Carrying the shame burdened my posture. The Journey Training taught me to change my perspective. Rather than holding onto the shame, I let it go, I chose to look in the mirror, stand up straight, shoulders back, and see the real me. There, now you look better, Alison!
Posture equals attitude. Change your attitude and you’ll change your outcome!
Have you ever noticed how quickly we can put ourselves down and how brutal we can be with ourselves? We tend to focus on the negative things about ourselves instead of the positive things. Too often, we talk to ourselves and we set ourselves up for failure in our minds before we even try to accomplish something. How do you talk to you?
One of the things I like to do is work out with a group of great people at CrossFit Freeflow in Franklin TN. I like CrossFit because it challenges me to be a little better each day and I’m surrounded by a coaching team and fellow athletes that are always supportive.
Every day is a different workout. One workout recently called for as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 15 minutes. One round consisted of these exercises:
15 Dead Lifts at 95lbs
10 Toes to Bar (pull your toes up to the pull-up bar)
8 Front Rack Lunges at 95lbs
As soon as I saw the details of the workout, I began to doubt my ability to use that weight for the front rack lunges. I mean, I really don’t like lunges in the first place and I certainly had not done them with that much weight before. Have you ever said similar things to yourself? You can probably guess what happened next. I really struggled with the lunges and the weight during the first round. I had set myself up for the struggle before I ever even attempted them. I heard that little voice in my head saying, “I knew you couldn’t do it”, and I began to feel like a failure.
Then, I remembered an exercise from The Journey Training. Every month during the training, I teach other people how to take a negative thought or belief about themselves (the lie) and replace it with something that is positive and true. It was time to practice what I preach!
Starting with the 2nd round of lunges, for each repetition, I lunged forward with the weight, touched one knee to the ground, and then stated out loud a truth about myself as I pushed back up to a standing position. I said things like:
I AM STRONG!
I AM CONFIDENT!
I AM HONORABLE!
I AM LOYAL!
I AM A MAN OF INTEGRITY!
I AM PEACEFUL!
I AM VALUABLE!
I AM WORTHY!
I did this for all of the remaining rounds and each time I actually got stronger and stronger. By the time I had finished 5 complete rounds, I had stated 40 different “truths” about myself and my entire attitude had changed! I went from feeling weak and failing to feeling strong and accomplished! I did something that I had never done before! And the feeling of accomplishment continued throughout the day helping me complete several other tasks that I had been procrastinating.
God did not create us to constantly torment, punish, or torture ourselves. He created each of us with very unique gifts and talents for a specific purpose. He created us to hear His voice (the truth) and He gave us the ability to make choices. We deserve to be more self-aware of how we are thinking and to be more intentional about what we focus our minds on and to choose how we talk to ourselves and others.
Philippians 4:8; “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
We have been given the power and ability to control our minds!
From Proverbs 18:21; “The tongue has the power of life and death”.
We have been given the power and ability to choose what we speak!
Let’s choose to listen to the truth, to think about such things, and speak the power of life to ourselves and others!
Fear can be paralyzing and make us feel like there’s no way out. Annie Downs, a speaker and author of the book “Let’s All Be Brave”, recently delivered a message on fear. She posed this question in response to “What if?” questions of fear in our lives: “… And then what?” This really hit me because I HATE feeling STUCK and it helped remind me of so many things that I learned in The Journey Training.
I’m a planner, always have been – always will be. I remember making college plans from a young age. I thought I was destined for Harvard, Florida State, or Notre Dame. I always thought I knew what career I was going to choose – everything from Chairman of the Board or lawyer to an actress on Days of our Lives.
I pursued both medicine and nursing in college. In my mind, it didn’t matter that I’m legally blind with a left side weakened by a prenatal stroke. There were still plenty of things I could do in those fields! Well, those plans didn’t pan out. And I vividly remember when it occurred to me that I MIGHT not get an acting contract and marry one of the actors. I was devastated!
The day I got rejected from nursing school, my Dad drove up to my college to have dinner with me. He was expecting to have to pick me up off the floor. And then what? I made the choice to believe that I was going to be okay, that GOD HAD BETTER PLANS FOR ME.
I actually went to the University of Georgia for my Bachelor’s degree, the University of San Diego for my Master’s degree, and now I’m a Special Education teacher. There were a lot of steps in getting there, a lot of tears cried, and a lot of plans that changed.
Fears can stop us if we give up and let them – or we can choose to do something else instead.
Your boyfriend breaks up with you. And then what? You enjoy more time with your friends and you go meet new people.
You don’t get a job you wanted or you lose your job. And then what? You keep networking and applying for other jobs.
Your weight loss methods aren’t working as you hoped. And then what? You try something different.
We can’t completely stop fear from entering our lives, but life doesn’t have to stop when a fear is realized. We can choose to find an answer to the question, “And then what? It usually just takes one small step to begin working through the fear. I’m not saying it will be easy and we don’t have to do it alone.
No matter our circumstances, God doesn’t give up on us: “I’ve never quit loving you, and I never will. ” Jeremiah 31:3
Are you feeling stuck somewhere in your life? Do you feel like nothing is changing? Are you afraid to make a move because you don’t know what to do next? Consider enrolling in The Journey Training’s next class. There’s your first small step and to answer the question, “And then what?”