September 24, 2016

Goals or Wishes? by Tandy Balson

I must admit this month’s topic made me a little uncomfortable.  Setting goals has never been one of my strengths.

Several years ago I set a goal to post twice a week on my blog. This has now become a commitment that I refuse to break so longer consider it a goal.  The same holds true for my monthly Inscribe blog post.

The only yearly goal I ever set and kept was to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year.  For that I followed a plan that someone else had drawn up.  By sticking to the plan, I had no trouble accomplishing my goal.

This was something I hadn’t thought about until I tried to figure out what I could contribute to the topic this month.  If I make and stick to a plan, my goals will have a better chance of being achieved. It makes perfect sense but I’ve never spent the time or effort required to do so.

Now I know why my dreams and wishes are not being realized. They need to be turned into realistic goals. Next I need to figure out the steps required to move forward. 

To inspire me I looked for quotes on goals.  I’m going to share some of my favourites.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.  A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.  A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” Greg S. Reid

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting and achieving goals.” Og Mandino

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins

“Big dreams are just big goals with step by step action.  Anything is possible given enough time, passion, persistence and dedication.” Brooke Griffin.

It is always a challenge to start something new.  Goal setting is new for me but if I want to reap the benefits I need to set goals and plan the steps to achieve them.  I think I’ll start small.  Each success will encourage me to set a bigger goal.  My first step will be to pray about the plan God has for me.

September 23, 2016

Why the WHY? By Lynn J Simpson

When teaching a goal workshop, the first questions I directed my attendees to ask themselves were:
1    1. How juicy is the goal for you? Is it juicy like a freshly picked Cuban mango, or is it dry like a grocery store green banana? If it’s not ‘juicy’ enough, or you do not understand your ‘why’ behind your goal, you may quit when you hit those obstacles, or the ‘murky middle’ when everything seems at a stand-still.

2.    2.  Do your goals line up with your core values? For example, if having dinner nightly with your family is a core value, however your goal impedes on this time, can you adjust the goal to work in those dinners? A goal that does not line-up with core values can result in physical and/or emotional burn out, and regret (from abandonment by your family for example).  

Let’s camp-out on the ‘why’ for a moment. Not the why of making goals, but the ‘why’ behind our goals. The ‘why’ of writing that blog week after week when you’re not even sure it is being read. The ‘why’ that is behind those 5am mornings when you drag yourself out of bed to write those first quiet hours of your day before kids, work, school, all those other activities of ‘real life.’ The ‘why’ when that rejection letter comes, that review that leaves you trembling, or that grammatical error you notice after you submitted to that magazine you’ve been trying to break into for awhile, and finally got the nerve to hit the ‘send’ button in your browser. Or even the ‘why’ when we take our breaks to rejuvenate, rest, and wait for God’s timing and direction to take that next step. Sometimes this waiting can be so much harder than the doing!

Oh, my goodness! Why do we do this to ourselves?

This is the time, my friends, why I believe it is so important to have our ‘why’ written down whether in a Life Plan we created, guided by books such as Living Forward by Michael Hyatt, Intentional Living by John C Maxwell, or my personal favourite, Storybrand-Creating Your Life Plan by Donald Millar.  

Your ‘why’ too can be just one statement answering the question, “Why do I write?” My answer to,“Why do I write?” 

I write stories to help me understand life, to show others that they are not alone in their struggles, and to inspire hope through a new perspective.

It’s a statement that I am constantly tweaking as I gain more life experience and my faith life grows deeper.  Our Life Plan may be written down, however there is always a new piece of paper, a pen and pencil, tools we can use to edit and change our goals. Often I’ve been challenged by statements such as ‘goals and intentions do not leave room for God in your day.’

I must admit I am still prayerfully asking God to guide me to answer this question!

However, I do believe this is also where question number two becomes prevalent. Our goals must line-up to our core values. And then intentionally we will live out those core values through our goals. I believe that our God is a trustworthy God. When in Him, He will set our paths straight.  There is no need to be afraid to set goals and take a step. He is our guide and will pivot us, or prune away the vine that is not producing fruit if the direction we take is not of Him. So why be afraid to set a goal, to be intentional about your day?

God is good and His ways will prevail. We just have to willing to move so He can work out His plan for us.

I hope you are chomping down on a big, juicy, sweet mango today!

 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
John 15: 5-8, The Message

September 22, 2016

To Review Or Not To Review by Alan Anderson

The prompt for this month’s blog is timely and needful for me.

Thank you to Tracy for the motivation to review more.  I’m writing this post from a lounge in the cruise ship my wife and I are travelling on.  We are enjoying the experience of Alaska!  I am a bit distracted trying to write this blog. My apologies if the post is not up to standard.  Anyway, I digress.

Life review is an important and useful part of my work in spiritual care.  It offers people an opportunity to consider the worth of their lives.  It may hopefully be an encouragement to them that their lives matter.  Doing a life review may cause people emotional pain.  They look back and see their mistakes.  They may also take stock of the fact they accomplished a lot of good things.

Reviewing goals of my writing is something I am working on.  I consider them like a life review for my writing.  Just like me, my goals are a work in progress.  A review will give me an honest consideration of where I want to go with my writing.  It can also help me see if I am on track.

I am currently reading You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins.  This book is helpful to me.  One of the most recent things I am paying attention to is to complete projects before beginning new ones.  After reading a particular chapter in Jeff’s book I realize I have a number of stories started.  I am now concentrating more on completing than beginning.  It feels good to complete something!

Here is some counsel from Jeff Goins that has helped me.  “Cancel all backup plans, pick a project, and move forward.  It doesn’t matter what you pick.  Maybe it’s a book, and article or whatever.  Write it.  And finish it.  Because once you learn how to finish, you’ll be able to start again.  You’ll start another great project and finish it.  And another.  And another.”

I probably have five or six stories started.  I am slowly concentrating on finishing them one by one.  I am currently working on a book with some great writers.  I will finish my stories for the book before going on to other projects.

My mind is constantly caught up in developing new stories.  Does anyone else experience such strokes of genius in your mind?  I might be sitting in a coffee shop and a story comes across my brain.  I may be sitting with friends yet my mind is concentrating on how to revise something I am writing.  Some people may think I am super quiet at a gathering or even aloof.  The reality is I am often thinking over a story.  Does this happen to you?

Life is indeed full of all kinds of responsibilities.  I’m a husband, a dad, a grandfather; I have a job and I am also the chair of the elder’s team of my church.    In addition is my love of writing and goals that come with this passion.  A regular or at least yearly review of my goals seems like a good habit to adopt.  My writing deserves it.


September 21, 2016

Higher Standards ... by Jocelyn Faire

to Be someone's first love is great great, but to be their last is beyond perfect

The Lord has done great things ...

This is my day for posting, and I wanted to write in to apologize for not posting ... instead I decided to share the good news that has happened in my life over this summer. After being on my own for a decade the Lord has brought someone special into my life to adventure the journey with.

Last evening my family gathered around us to celebrate our engagement. My mother who is in mid stages of dementia sat at the end of the table. I shared how she would often ask me, in our weekly phone calls (I lives two provinces away) if I was dating anyone. I might tell her if I'd gone out for coffee with a male, but that it was nothing serious. Then she might ask “well what's wrong?” I told her there was nothing wrong, it was just that I had not met anyone who met my standards. She did not hesitate in her response ...
Well, maybe you should lower your standards.”
A large pause, and then we both laughed across the miles. She realized what she had said, and added
that's not good advice.”
Last evening I could tell her that I had not had to lower my standards, Harold has met and exceeded the bar. Both he and I have experienced significant loss in our lives, and we have been given a second chance at love. More than a chance, we have been given a gift of joy, a gift of new beginnings. It sounds cliche to say God's timing is perfect, because I felt five years ago that would have been perfect as well ...
His daughters asked if he bought me a ring ... I said, “No, but he bought me a kayak paddle.” He understands me well.
To quote my daughter in my grief book-"Mom, the story of your life is not finished." And now I am beginning a new chapter of life, to be co-authored by the most wonderful man.
Happy fall to everyone, the colours are beautiful. Everything seems more beautiful with love. Today I celebrate the beauty of love, today I encourage you to see the beauty in your own story, and if it is in a dark place ... keep trusting ... we never walk alone. That is the greatest gift.
Verses that have been given to me by the spirit this summer ... from Isaiah 49 in The Message:

When the time’s ripe, I answer you.
    When victory’s due, I help you ...
God has comforted his people.
    He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people .
14 But Zion said, “I don’t get it. God has left me.
    My Master has forgotten I even exist.”

15-18 “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
    walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget,
    I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.
The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight.
Your builders are faster than your wreckers.

    The demolition crews are gone for good.

Look up, look around, look well!
    See them all gathering, coming to you?
As sure as I am the living God”—
God’s Decree—
    “you’re going to put them on like so much jewelry,
    you’re going to use them to dress up like a bride.

Jocelyn is author of Who is Talking out of My Head?  Grief as an out of body experience

September 20, 2016

Still Swinging - Joylene M. Bailey

To be perfectly honest, the prompt for this month stymied me. In fact, I must have blocked it entirely from my thoughts because here I am at 10 pm the night before my deadline, trying to come up with something about my process in reviewing my goals.

But I can't. 

If you'll remember, I'm the one out in the middle of that swinging rope bridge, hanging over a gorge. 

No goals to review. No process. 
Just quiet. Just listening for His voice. Just cutting out the busyness.

Oh yes, God was serious when He asked me to do this. Because every time something would come across my line of sight - a great webinar on marketing, a request to help at a conference, a creative writing course - I'd sense that halt in my spirit and be reminded: no busyness, quiet, listen.

I'm not even attending Inscribe's Fall Conference this year, which is still a shock to me. However, that directive was made clear to me in more than one "God-wink", as Bobbi Junior likes to call them.

So, if quietness, listening, and non-busyness are the goals, then here I am reviewing them:

In my quietness, am I showing up regularly at my writing desk to write what God wants me to write? That depends on what "regularly" means. It's not as regular as I'd envisioned, but a lot more regular than it used to be. 

Am I showing up in the opportunities He places in my path to Love God and Love People?
It's amazing, actually, how much easier it is to notice people when one is not busy. So, I get it, Lord.  I get that You needed me to stop and see. Not just see others, but see how I so easily fall into the trap of stress and busyness, because DOING is so much a part of our culture.

Perhaps my productivity is not something that can be measured in this season on the swinging bridge - not by human standards, anyway.

So here I stand, in the middle of this swinging rope bridge, hanging on to the One who asked me to cross it with Him. It hasn't been scenic and lovely all the time. There have been some jerky, scary spots along the way. But I must say, I'm so glad I trusted Him. 

Who knows what awaits me on the other side.

Joylene writes from Edmonton where she lives with her husband, daughter #3, and a cat named Calvin. You can find her at Scraps of Joy.