Monday Feature

Choice Points: 6 Ways to Make Good Choices
by Darla Arni

I love choices! Choices can empower and allow us to intentionally choose our next steps in accordance to our values and goals. I hate choices! Sometimes we make bad choices which compel us to fix the situation as fast as we can with more choices. It is a dilemma of life.
Each of us makes choices everyday without giving them much thought. Because I have become so tuned in to choices and their consequences I find myself studying not only my choices but the choices of those around me and pretty much anybody else's that catches my attention. (Is anybody thinking Charlie Sheen?) Choices come in all sizes and apply to every part of life. We make choices about what we eat, drink, how we use our time, what we spend our money on, our appearance, the words we say, our actions, our public and private behaviors, our emotional responses, and our thoughts. And that list is just for starters. If interested try taking one day or even an hour and jot down the choices you make during that time; it will be eye opening! You can try to put off making choices but in reality not making a choice is, well, another choice.
The term "choice points" can be traced back to a Princeton physicist Hugh Everett III, who in 1957, suggested that for every moment of our lives there are many moments, possibilities and outcomes playing out simultaneously and present for every choice in our lives. He called these moments in time when the course of an event may be changed "choice points." Sometimes a choice point is a nanosecond moment of time and other times it may be days or weeks. Being aware of choice points and being prepared can make the difference between success and failure. Use the following tips and techniques to become choice point savvy. Life is a path of choices
6 Ways to Make Good Choices
1. Trust Yourself
Learning to listen to yourself rather than rely on opinions and suggestions of others is the first step to making choices that line up with your goals and values. Taking directions from or trying to please others will not create the life you want to live.
2. Avoid Naysayers
There will always be friends, relatives and even strangers that spout what I call 'Killer Phrases' such as "That'll never work.", "Are you serious?", "It'll never fly."
Don't argue with pessimists, just stay away from them and follow your dream.
3. Live in the Moment
Easy to say but hard to do. If you are worrying about tomorrow and regretting yesterday you will never be able to make good choices in the present. Good results require living in the now.
4. Learn from the Past
Review old thoughts and patterns to be sure you are not repeating knee jerk choices and reactions that are doomed to fail. Learning from past choices is fine; living in the past is not.
5. Be Patient
This one is hard for me! When I decide to do something I want to do it now, not next week, after my daughter is grown or when I retire. Patience is not procrastinating; patience is realizing when the time is right and being ready. If you are living by #1 you will know when the time is right to embrace change.
6. Never Give Up!
It is fine to evolve and fine tune your dreams but never, ever give up.
Often what you lack in talent and wisdom can be overcome with persistence. Sheer tenacity allows you to stay motivated while you take action, and action produces results which will motivate you even more!
"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice." ~Wayne Dyer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Darla Arni is a nationwide speaker, author, artist and attitude expert who helps others navigate through life by imparting awareness & hope with a healthy dose of life skills. She presents to a wide range of audiences and shares her expertise every month through her e-newsletter. For more information or to have Darla speak at your next event go to ~ email ~ call 660-529-2969
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Monday Feature

by Debra L. Butterfield © 2011

Jacob stood stunned as he stared at the blood-stained coat his sons placed in his hands. He pulled open the folds of cloth now crusty with blood, and his heart sank.
                “Do you recognize it, Father? Is it Joseph’s?”
                “Yes. There’s no mistaking it.” Jacob faltered back and fell to his knees. “Oh, Joseph, oh Joseph, my beloved son. What has killed you?” He buried his face in the coat he had given Joseph and sobbed. Jacob mourned for many days and though his family tried to comfort him, he refused to be comforted.
                I understand the agony that life so often brings. The above story of Jacob and Joseph comes from the Bible in Genesis 37. My heartache began one hot August night many years ago. 
                “Why did you bring your daughter to the ER?” the nurse asked me.
                “We were in the middle of an argument when she put a knife to her chest and threatened to kill herself.”
                “Has this happened before?”
                The nurse escorted us to an examination room. Once there a doctor queried my twelve-year-old daughter with one probing question after another. I remember only one, and my daughter’s unemotional response: “Has anyone ever sexually abused you?” “Yes, my step-dad.”
The emergency room doctor sent us to a local psychiatric hospital, admission papers in hand. It was nearly midnight by now, and Jenny faced the same grueling interrogation at the psychiatric hospital. She appeared numb. I was in shock. I tried to listen, yet found myself severed from the painful questioning as if in the midst of an out-of-body experience.
“How could this be happening?” resounded unendingly in my mind as I said goodnight to Jenny.
I cried the whole way home.

Monday Feature

Circling Forward
by Debbie OConnor
It all started with a wrong turn outside the Valley Plaza.

It was 1976, and my mother had not been driving long. This was our first venture beyond the local grocery, school and church. Valley Plaza, our city’s mall, was on the opposite side of Bakersfield from our home. We took California Highway 58 West and merged with California 99 South and within minutes we saw the Valley Plaza signs, exited the highway and pulled straight into the parking lot. Mom hustled us through the mall purchasing school clothes. After hours of looking, fitting, walking and buying she treated us to an Orange Julius and we piled back into the Buick to head home.

Mom was nervous. She wasn’t sure how to get back on the highway, having never driven it herself. She read her directions and looked around frantically for a sign to get her on track. Being a typically helpful know-it-all eight-year-old, I searched too. Then I saw a familiar sight.

“Look, Mommy, it’s Skaggs!” I exclaimed, distracting her. We shopped at Skaggs Drugstore all the time, and there it was. “We’re almost home.”

"Debbie, that isn’t our Skaggs. Now please, just let me think.”

A few minutes later, Mom found what she was looking for -- California Highway 99. Unfortunately, she failed to note that she was heading south, toward Los Angeles, rather than north, toward Highway 58.

What should have been a fifteen-minute drive across town turned into a half hour excursion into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Finally, Mom was able to exit, turn around and retrace her drive to get us home.

I thought the whole thing was a grand adventure. I loved the mountains and never doubted we would eventually get home. My mother was truly frightened. She wasn’t so sure she’d get us home. My five-year-old brother was scarred for years.

The next summer my family loaded the Buick to visit Nanny and Paw Paw in Colorado. We rode hundreds of miles through flat farmland peppered with very similar windmills. My brother was convinced we were driving in circles and would NEVER get to Colorado. Of course, coming from a family of jokesters my brother was encouraged in this belief by me and my father. We provoked him to tears before we finally reached the Rockies and the game forcibly ended. This happened year after year until Jimmy was old enough to understand a map.

Sometimes, like Jimmy, I feel my life is going in circles. I struggle with the same sin or problem repeatedly until I am provoked to tears. I cry out to God, “Why am I still circling in the desert? Can’t we take a shortcut?”

Words of Strength

This article is accessible all month long from our "Words of Strength" tab.

Passed By?
By Kristi Bothur © 2011

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. Acts 3:6-7

Have you ever felt like God just wasn’t hearing your prayers? Sometimes when a need is particularly near to our hearts, and our prayers have gone unanswered for months, or years, it is easy to wonder if God is listening. If he were, wouldn’t he answer? Or at least give you some indication of how long the wait would be?

I have felt this way many times – when I was younger and prayed for God to give me a husband…later for the health of a friend…for the salvation of a loved one…to conceive a child. So often, I have thought, if I could only talk with Jesus face to face, as people did when he walked this earth. Surely he wouldn’t turn away.

Growing in Glory

This article is readily accessible all month long from our "Growing in Glory" tab.

Gentle Anger?
By Jenni Saake © 2011

I recently blew it, BIG TIME! I had been wronged so I got angry. I used my hurt as justification to completely loose my temper. The brutal bite of my unbridled words deeply injured someone I love. I could give a ton of excuses about what went wrong – hormones, stress, worry, pride – but the bottom line is, I forgot the importance of gentle grace.

Gentleness, sometimes translated “mildness” or “meekness,” seems to scream just the opposite of independence and strength that culture tells me I need to strive for. While some might agree with my “right to be right” that led me to the moment of explosion, I believe it was the ugly lashing of my tongue that actually displayed my greatest weakness. A gentler answer would not have been a sign of lack, but rather a mark of controlled strength, of wisdom, of freedom from being a slave to my own emotions.

Did I get anywhere with my harsh words and dominating attitude that day? Not really, unless you call a month of hurt feelings on both sides anything to be proud of. Although my loved one tried to defuse my outburst calmly, we eventually both were spewing emotional blows that sent us each reeling. If only I would have stopped in the midst of the drama (or at the start of it!) and asked God to take over the reins, so much pain could have been prevented. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

How can I be sure that gentleness isn't making me weak? 

Live Full Blast, Full Out

By PeggySue Wells

Ready to move your life forward? Want to make a positive change by noon? Here is a
step that guarantees positive results.

Stop blaming.

Certainly there are things on our life script we would not have put there. And blame is a
mechanism to discharge pain and discomfort. However, whether I blamed my husband,
parents, boss, or myself, blame kept me cemented in the same spot. Stuck.
Blame cripples only one person. Me. Freedom comes when I acknowledge people made
choices. I made choices. Some choices made a Grand Canyon–sized impact on my life.
A friend that allows me to vent, is a gift. But camping there, the pain becomes my

It happened.

So what?

Now what?

Checkpoint: Do you regularly offer excuses? If you show up late at a place and waste
further time by blaming your lateness on the kids, the dog, or the traffic, you are playing
the blame game. You are blaming someone or something for your situation.
The only person who believes your excuse is you. When you are late, it is apparent that
you did not plan your time to arrive at least 15 minutes early in case you were delayed by

In the military, fifteen minutes early is on time. On time is late. Soldiers quickly learn
that there are only four acceptable responses—yes, sir; no, sir; I don’t understand, sir; and
no excuse, sir.

When I dropped making excuses, my days and relationships streamlined. Free from
cumbersome excuses, my conversations improved. People are attracted to those who fully
live life without excuses. That’s living full blast, full out.

- PeggySue Wells is a speaker and the author of a dozen books including Rediscovering Your Happily
Ever After. Contact her at