Speak Truth

By Teresa M. Tierney © 2012

“I can’t breathe!” The sound of my half-yell echoed in the narrow chamber. Did I really just yell at the technician? For the first time I questioned whether I could do this.
Arming myself with the Scripture, “All things are possible with God,” I had arrived at the hospital determined not to worry. But now, in this tiny airless space, I thought I would come out of my skin if I couldn’t escape.
“I can turn on a fan if you’d like.” The technician’s calm voice grated like razor-sharp nails on a chalkboard.
“There’s no air!” The scream in my head came out as a desperate croak.
“Do you need to take a break?”
His calm manner only increased my stress. “Yesss,” I hissed at him. I did not need to be handled, I needed to get out!
Having a touch of claustrophobia, I expected the MRI to be a challenge. The information I found online said as many as 25 percent of MRI patients are unable to complete the procedure because of the overwhelming sense of being trapped.
Now I found myself amazed at my initial willingness to allow the technician to fasten my head down to a bench, put a web-like mask over my face, and slide me head first into a narrow tube. The tube completely surrounded me from the top of my head to somewhere below the knee. It felt like a coffin.
Five minutes later, I was agreeing to go back into that coffin. I had no choice if I wanted to get the medical care my doctor recommended.
I focused on the details the technician decided to provide this time. I would be in the tube for 45 minutes and halfway through he would come and inject dye into my veins. After my initial panic, he now provided a communication ball for me to squeeze if I needed to get out.
            The pressure of the anxiety roared in my ears. I could not do this alone. Jesus is right here, I reminded myself. Focus on Him. In that confined space, I sensed him in the very molecules of the air separating me from the face mask, and I felt the beginnings of peace. I found the peace that surpasses all understanding.
If I had been able to stay focused on Jesus, I think I would have been able to complete the MRI. However, the MRI technician’s failure to respond to my question a few minutes later distracted me. After a dozen attempts at making contact, what started out as a reasonable, “Hello, I have a question,” ended with the frantic demand, “Let me out of here!”
I left the hospital that day without asking the technician to explain why it took so long for him to respond. It didn’t matter to me as I had no intention of having any future contact. Later, I wondered how many ongoing relationships I may have limited in the same way.
When someone fails us, is it fair to not tell them? I suspect this particular technician had no idea how many ways he failed me. He did ask if I used the communication ball so now he knew it needed to be repaired. But I don’t think he realized how many times I called out to him. If the microphone didn’t work, I failed to give him the feedback that would get an important piece of equipment repaired.
If we don’t speak the truth with love, (see Ephesians 4:15) and tell our loved ones when they let us down, our relationships do not have the opportunity to be repaired. The coworker who spends too much time on personal calls will never change until we admit to our frustration with the heavier workload. The casual friend will never become the friend we need unless we confess it seems like she only calls when she needs something. And no husband can meet his wife’s need for companionship if she never tells him how important a weekly date night is to her.
Just as the MRI tech is unlikely to improve because of my unwillingness to confront, so too will our friends miss out on all that God has for them if we fail to be direct and tell them what we need. Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Don’t miss the opportunity to be the iron in your loved one’s life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tierney is a freelance writer, wife, mother of two, grandmother of three.  She blogs atwww.RoadblocksToForgiveness.comYou may contact her at T68114@gmail.com

What Is Love?

By Kristi Bothur © 2012

"This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." 1 John 3:16

How many times have you heard someone say, "How can a loving God…?" You fill in the blank. How can a loving God allow tragedies? How can a loving God not heal my husband? How can a loving God allow my child to die? How could a loving God look the other way while I was abused?

The natural conclusion to come to with such questions is that a loving God wouldn't allow such things to happen – and since tragedy and sickness and unfairness abound in our world, then there must not be a God, or at least not one who really loves us.

But can we unpack that way of thinking a bit? The very question assumes that the purest expression of love is protection – from all harm, all discomfort, all sorrow, and all pain. The true proof of love is the comfort and happiness of the one who is loved.

What would life look like, if God followed that "rule"? All of his followers would lead truly blessed lives – no serious illness, no tragic losses, no financial difficulties. You could tell by the outward measures of wealth, health, and happiness who belonged to God's family.

After a while, wouldn't people be clamoring to learn how to be on God's side? Only it would be for the material blessings, not for the unseen ones; it would be for the gifts, not for the Giver. Jesus even encountered this in his ministry when a crowd came looking for him after the feeding of the 5,000. "You are looking for me," he told them, "not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled" (John 6:26).

No, material blessings and protection are not the ultimate proof of God's love, nor is the lack of them evidence that he does not exist or is not pleased with us. Then what is the purest expression of love? Jesus answered that question in John 13:13, saying, "No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends." The same sentiment was captured by the apostle John in 1 John 3:16, "This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us."

When we are overwhelmed by our circumstances and tempted to question God's love and goodness, there is one place to look for the answer – the cross, the fulfillment of all God's promises. There, Jesus settled the issue of both God's love and his justice for all eternity. He reassured us that this physical life is not all there is, and that God's love is seen most clearly not when he keeps us from physical harm, but when Jesus went through excruciating pain and loss to make a way – the only way – for us to be in a right relationship with God.  And that relationship can carry us through the times of heartbreak and loss, and will continue into eternity, where there are no more tears or sorrow or good-byes. Hallelujah!

Father, it's so easy to doubt your love when I am in pain. I just want to be sheltered from it. Help me to rest in you and trust in your love, even when life's circumstances tempt me to question your promises. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of four - one on earth and three in heaven.  She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life.  She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven (www.naomiscircle.weebly.com).  You are welcome to contact her at naomiscircle@gmail.com.  Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and daughter.

Finding Inspiration Where You Live

By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) --Do you ever find inspiration, encouragement, guidance and even a little humor in unexpected places? Those are the surprises of life. They may startle you or as some say, "It knocked me for a loop." It was a mental and emotional shock. It woke you up.

It did not take my breath away, but I laughed at one little sign in Pastor Ralph's study last week. It reminded me of three beautiful little girls who used to say, "Nana, you laugh a lot." Every time Grandma heard that, she laughed even more. The referenced plaque simply said, "Grandmas are antique little girls" -- still having fun and laughing with others.

Visit any place with observant eyes and total consciousness of our immediate environment and we will become aware of informative and inspirational messages. In any house or place of business, education or worship, I notice printed messages that add significantly to my experience and enjoyment.

Recently, in Scott Depot, WV, I walked down a flight of stairs, 14 total steps, to be greeted by a small carpet, designed in fall colors and earth tones, three colorful leaves on the sides, with this beautifully scripted three-line message; "Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much."

When I was a child in the Wevaco and Decota areas of Cabin Creek, WV, I lived with my parents, sister and brother, surrounded by grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Excitement erupted when a pack-peddler arrived.

The salesmen coming into those areas carried their products in large suitcases, sometimes hanging over their back with strong straps. They carried a variety of products. Some would have glittering little placards, about 8x10, or 10x12 inches in size with interesting and often religious messages such as, "God Bless Our Home" and "Jesus Loves Little Children."

Things you may notice and are inspired by remain for many years. When I was ready to ascend the stairs, all 14 steps to the top, the little carpet was where I ended my descent. Let's talk about that impressive message.

1. "Live Well" and be well while you live. This message has to do with personal health, relationships with your family, neighbors, friends and with God. Jesus, when talking about the union between God and His church said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
Take care of your body, eat the right foods, exercise daily, breathe deeply of clean fresh air. Take care of your body and improve it in every way you can. It is a masterpiece so treat it that way.

2. "Laugh Often." Endorphins are released by hardy laughter. My Webster's Dictionary defines endorphin this way, "Any of several peptides secreted in the brain that have a pain-relieving effect like that of morphine." I attribute that to God who gave us a powerful built-in pharmacy.
Laughing a lot may dramatically improve your health. The wisest of men, Solomon, said, "A merry heart does good like medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).

3. "Love Much" with a few, like your family and love many, at least a little. Love much would probably be a first step toward ending hatred, animosity and impeding the angst prevalent in our nation and world. The longer I live, my eagerness to forgive and accept others continues to be accentuated.

Keep your eyes and ears open and you will read and hear things that will make each day a little better. Kitty has one sign over her desk that says, "If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10.00 charge for putting up with you."

Every time I see that sign, I think twice before I speak. I cannot afford to talk at that rate. What good messages are seen where you live and work?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher. 

Control Freaks

By Dionna Sanchez © 2010

Women love to control things. Deny it if you will, but we do. We feel more secure if we can have everything planned out and go according to that plan. We tend to be a little "high maintenance" in what we require of those in our homes and lives as well as with ourselves. Yes, we are managers by nature.

Our children are so lucky that we tend to gravitate towards being managers. Can you imagine where they would be if we never had enough food for their school lunches or we were constantly forgetting to manage laundry control? Not a pretty site. Yet, our managing has its place. You see, sometimes we are so set on being a manager and being in control of our environment, that we manage God right out of the picture. And God recently revealed something to my heart about this tendency and nature of a woman.

Men are often said to struggle with following God because they have a harder time than women in submission. We find it much easier to submit to the Lord than a man does. And yet I think our downfall is in control. We struggle with our faith at times, because faith requires us to allow God to do the unknown. Faith means trusting through your doubts. And that is very hard for a woman when she is not used to relinquishing control in her life!

I have learned that when I can give God the steering wheel to my life that it is only then that I truly feel peace. Things may not go the way I had planned in my head, but they are often much better for me. I feel free in knowing that I can simply be who God created me to be instead of trying so hard to control everything around me and maintain a certain image or impression. I am more relaxed when I take that burden off of my shoulders and place it at God's feet where it belongs.

God has given us this wonderful ability to manage our families. They would be so lost without us. But it is good to remember that our "managerial" and "controlling" qualities have their place and their time. And even during those times, they need to be governed by the Lord, for He is our higher boss. Don't clench so tightly to the vision you have for things that you fail to see God trying to pry open your hands and show you a different picture. For you just might miss out on the blessing He wants to give you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dionna Sanchez is Founder of EmphasisOnMoms.com and freelance writes. She also blogs at http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com
Contact her at madetomom@yahoo.com

Codependency: When Love Hurts

By Sydney Chhabra © 2012

What is this term “codependency” we often hear about? Webster's dictionary defines codependency as an “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one with an illness or addiction.” Over time, however, this definition has expanded to include relationships that may or may not involve addiction or illness. In essence, if you are so absorbed in others (a spouse, lover, boyfriend/girlfriend, anybody other than yourself) that you ignore your own needs and desires and live instead only in reaction to the other person's behavior, you are most likely codependent.

Let's look at some key characteristics of codependency. Do these sound like you?

Characteristics of Codependency:
1-Being Drawn to an Emotionally Unavailable Person: Codependents typically get involved in relationships with people who are unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy. Do you find yourself being attracted to partners who are married or in a relationship with a significant other? Do you find people who are kind, stable and reliable to be boring and unappealing? Do you try even harder to please a partner who is cold or rejecting towards you?

2- Care-taking: Codependents feel responsible for the actions, feelings, choices, and well-being of others. They try to anticipate everyone's needs and wonder why others don't do the same for them. While focused on helping others, they ignore their own needs and desires. Codependents help others in order to feel important and valuable in their relationships. They tend to believe that they are somehow more capable than the other who needs their direction or assistance and often blame themselves for anything that goes wrong.

3-Low Self Esteem: Codependents often feel empty and incomplete outside of relationships. Deep down inside they believe they do not deserve the love they seek and believe that they must work to earn the right to be happy. They are typically drawn to people with problems that need “fixing” to avoid focusing on themselves.

4-Seeking Love and Approval: Codependents long for love and approval from the other. They stay in relationships that don't work and tolerate mistreatment because they are terrified of abandonment. Nothing is too much trouble, takes too much time or is too expensive if it will help keep the person with whom they are involved. They often have difficulty saying “no” to any request made of them.

5-Addictive Behaviors: Codependents may be predisposed emotionally and biologically to becoming addicted to drugs, alcohol, and/or certain foods (especially sugary ones) in an attempt to cope with the pain and frustration of relationships. They often dream of how relationships could be rather than how they actually are. In a sense, codependents become addicted to emotional pain and to unhealthy relationships, while desperately hoping to gain love and security.

Can you recognize the characteristics described above in yourself? Are you desiring change? Remember, before you can begin to transform your behavior, it is important to identify your patterns over time and across relationships. You can then set goals to focus on self-development by learning new ways to nurture both your emotional and physical well-being. With each step and practice, you will start to end destructive relationships and become comfortable with being around more loving and supportive others. This step-by-step process is difficult to complete in isolation. Seek out a 12-Step program or work with a mental health professional, coach, or mentor to assist you through this gradual process of change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sydney Chhabra, Ph.D. is a seasoned Psychologist and Personal Life Coach with 20+ years of experience! Sydney has a very warm and personable style of communication and takes a very practical approach in life coaching. She is genuinely supportive and maintains a focused and solution-oriented approach. To learn more, or read additional articles, visit:http://www.midlifecoachingforwomen.com and click on BLOG.

Article Source: 

An Audience of ONE

By Trudy Den Hoed © 2012
New Year resolutions? I’ve often made them only to drop them before I even get to the end of January. Perhaps I didn’t make them specific or realistic enough, or perhaps I didn’t really make a heart commitment to them.
Usually my resolutions related to outward changes such as writing goals or weight loss, but this year I want to make a heart commitment to a spiritual goal. My resolution for 2012 is to live as if I am in the audience of ONE – in a God who believes I am lovable and capable.
I need to internalize God’s cherishing love each day, because too often I seek the approval of a people audience. I hate confrontation, and I want everyone around me to be happy. As a result, I ignore my gut instincts and compromise my beliefs. I don’t speak out or take action when I should, because I’m afraid I may hurt someone’s feelings. Other times I say something just to make a person feel better or because I know that’s what he or she wants to hear.
When confronted by criticism, whether face to face or behind my back, I too easily overanalyze the situation and internalize it – there is something wrong with me. I overreact and crawl into the dark, smelly hole of insecurity – I never do anything right and I will never measure up. Then if I let myself stay in this hole, I tend to take even loving advice or constructive criticism as a personal attack.
In The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Jeff Gerke shares how his “lifelong addiction to the approval and validation of others was nothing but false thinking.” Jesus freed him to “begin writing – and living – simply for Him.” He was brought to believe we have more than enough approval through God.
Reading this led me to my new goal in 2012. I will live as in the audience of ONE. Whether in life’s events or in my writing, I will focus on God who says “He delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11). I will trust in him who says I am “precious and honored” in his sight (Isaiah 43:4).
Like a stuck record, my needle to seek approval from people, including the harsh critic of self, will tend to stick again and again in that same annoying scratch. I will need to actively pull it out of its rut and point it in the right direction - toward God who gives me all the approval I need. I will need to daily pursue his promises – to capture them to my heart, to plead upon the faithfulness of the promise keeper, and to cling to them as to a life-preserver.
I encourage you to live as in the audience of ONE. Jesus is the ultimate cheerleader, the only one we will ever need. In him and through him we can be freed from the slavery of approval addiction. Because he has already paid the price, he will never be hostile or judgmental. He may need to set us straight from time to time, but it will always be as a tender shepherd who loves his sheep and guides them away from danger. So let’s entrust our safety to him and seek gis guidance in 2012. Let’s seek his favor and not people’s approval. “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trudy Den Hoed is a freelance writer gifted by God with his priceless love and a precious family. Her passion is to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce to captives to BE FREE in JESUS, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to publish abroad his glory and the amazing deeds he has performed and will continue to perform. She can be reached at http://trudydenhoed.com/ or hoperose84@gmail.com.

The Lost Art of Confession

by Sharon Hodde © 2007

Last night I saw a friend do one of the bravest things I've ever witnessed. For a long time now, my friend has been wrestling with a certain sin in her life that has come back to haunt her again and again, but instead of hiding it and harboring it in her life (like I do!) she called her closest friends and asked us to come over and pray for her release from it. I have been a Christian for quite some time now, but I have never been asked to do that before. Most of us simply lack the courage to confess so openly.

Confession is one of those disciplines that the Catholic Church definitely got right. I can't imagine how intimidating it must be to tell a priest your deepest darkest sins, but I'm sure it's pretty convicting to do so. That's also one of the things that scares me most about marriage—having someone in my life who knows all my flaws, all of my dark sides. I would much rather have people think I am a perfect little Christian girl. I really enjoy conveying that image. The problem is that when we're able to hide those sins from others, it's easier to continue on in them because we have no accountability to make us stop.

I pondered all of these things last night as I sat in prayer for my friend, wishing I too had the courage to come clean about the darkest sins of my life. But at the end of the day, I'm too afraid, and too ashamed. I fear that if I tell my friends the worst parts of my life, then they'll never look at me quite the same. That's actually one of the things that appeals to me about confessing to priests—these guys have heard it ALL. It is highly unlikely I will tell a priest something that he hasn't heard before. And because he's heard it all, he will tell me I need to repent, but not with a look of horror on his face, as if I am especially demented and have experienced some kind of temptation that is not common to most people.

I suppose that attitude is part of what's lacking in our community, and one of the main reasons confession is a dying discipline. First Corinthians 10:13 tells us "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man," but we don't always treat sinners that way. I've seen the faces of Christians who have heard about a fallen brother or sister, faces that convey revulsion and disgust, as if the sinner must be particularly messed up to struggle with such a thing. And while we should have that kind of reaction to sin itself, those attitudes toward the sinners themselves don't exactly foster the kind of trust and acceptance needed to engage in confession.

Ultimately, however, I think the shock Christians display in response to a revealed sin stems from a lack of understanding of the power of sin. I have found that the longer I live and the more mistakes I make, the more truth I find in 1 Corinthians 10:13—sin is common to Man, and it is normal to wrestle with it, as well as fall prey to it at times. In addition to that, the more times I slip and fall, the more I am humbled, and it is this humility that now prevents me from reacting in horror when I hear about sin. Instead of thinking, "How could they!?" I remember that I am vulnerable to the exact same sin, and it is by grace alone that I have not fallen into it myself. I think most of us know this is true, but few of us actually believe it. Most of us live under the illusion that we are generally good people, and that illusion is what causes us to be so surprised at sin. We think we're invincible to certain sins.

An environment in which that illusion is shattered, in which we swallow the reality that sin is very real and very present in our lives—that is the kind of environment that fosters confession. Yes, it also takes courage on the part of the sinner to confess, and the more people who confess, the more this environment will change (a Catch-22 of sorts), but we need to do all we can to encourage confession. Lack of confession is what holds us in bondage to our sin. Satan lords it over us so it then has power over us. We will never break free because we live in fear and shame of others finding out. But confession is one of the most fundamental steps to breaking from that cycle of bondage, so I pray I will have the courage to do it, as well as the humility to allow others to.

Manage Life Changes Without Making Yourself Miserable!

By Sydney Chhabra © 2011

Sometimes we choose to create change in our lives and other times change occurs outside our realm of control. Either way, we find ourselves adjusting to a new situation or a whole new way of life. How you manage change determines how peaceful or miserable you are determined to be! Here are 5 effective ways to manage life's changes without making yourself miserable:

1- Be Flexible - When change happens, our natural response is to hold on to what is familiar. Familiarity gives us a sense of security and enables us to coast on auto-pilot. On most days, we zip in and out of our neighborhoods without much thought. Change requires that we slow down, reassess our new surroundings, readjust our thinking, and implement a new plan to reach our desired goal. Imagine if the GPS in your car insisted on following only one route to your intended destination. You wouldn't get too far without getting stuck and feeling frustrated. Similarly, when we are flexible in our thinking, we learn to maneuver life's detours more effectively.

2- Perception- Change can often be perceived as a challenging and frightening time in our lives. Sensing a loss of control brings fear. Rest assured, many people feel this way initially. The key is perception! We can choose to view change as something to fear or as an opportunity for something new to manifest in our lives. Change is essential to movement and often helps us uncover our hidden skills and resilience in life.

3- Time- Give yourself time to emotionally adjust to your new situation. While it is essential to be flexible in thinking and perception, remember, it doesn't all have to happen overnight. Continuing to resist inevitable change can make you as miserable as pretending to have suddenly adjusted at breakneck speed. Genuine, long-lasting adjustment and acceptance take place gradually. Even when good changes like marriage, childbirth, new job or house occur, they all require letting go of the way it used to be, to the way it will be now.

4- Review and Reflect- Set aside time each day to review and reflect on the change or changes in your life. Busy schedules and hectic lifestyles prevent us from taking a quiet moment to reflect, accept, and plan for adapting to the changes that have occurred or are about to occur in our lives. Remember, even your car's GPS has to continually reassess and devise optional routes to reach your intended destination. Not taking time to reflect and plan ahead can create more fear and misery. Avoidance is not the answer!

5- Support- While it's wonderful to feel like we are totally independent beings and do not need to rely on others, do remember to reach out for support from friends, family, or professionals. Call your Personal Life Coach! Find someone who understands and can be there with you as you adjust to the changes in your life.

Whether we like it or not, sometimes life just throws us unexpected curve balls. Some good, some not so great. The more we insist on maintaining the status quo, the more painful it becomes. While we cannot predict every twist and turn that lies ahead, we can let go of limiting thinking and be open to the possibility that there are actually many routes to our desired destination. And being miserable, is certainly not one of them!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sydney Chhabra, Ph.D. is a seasoned Psychologist and Personal Life Coach with 20+ years of experience! Sydney has a very warm and personable style of communication and takes a very practical approach in life coaching. She is genuinely supportive and maintains a focused and solution-oriented approach. To learn more, visit:http://www.midlifecoachingforwomen.com. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6716915

New Year's Resolutions: Secrets to Succeeding Beyond January

Photo by Matt Van Hook
of GregRon Photography. Used with permission.
As we approach the closing of one year, most of us set our sights on the New Year with great enthusiasm and excitement by setting goals and anticipating the changes they will bring. So why does that great gusto with which we start the New Year wither towards the end of January? Why do some people stick to their goals while others give up? What's the secret? How can you dramatically increase your chances of sticking with your goals and accomplish what you set out to do in the first place?

Effective goal setting increases the probability of obtaining desired outcomes. Here is a simple and easy checklist of questions to ask when setting new goals:

1- Are these goals realistic?
2- Are these goals general or specific?
3- Is there an outline of steps I will need to take to attain the goals?
4- Who will keep me accountable?
5- How will I measure my progress?

Some of the most popular goals for the New Year include losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, and reducing stress. Let's break this down and take an example of a commonly set New Year's resolution and apply our checklist.


Looks reasonable as long as you are medically cleared and able to be physically active.

Looks pretty general so far.

Make it specific! QUANTIFY what “exercising more” means to you. For example, “I will run 1 mile, 3x/week” or “I will attend a one-hour yoga class, 2x/week at the gym.”

By quantifying, you are defining a behavior specifically and making it measurable. Vague goals lead to vague actions and slim chance of success.

By being specific and planning ahead, you are much more likely to take action for that day. For example, “I will change into my exercise clothes immediately after work and drive to the gym to attend the 5p.m. yoga class.”

Be sure to also keep an alternate/back-up plan in case you are not able to follow your schedule due to unexpected delays and disruptions.

Avoid being rigid and giving up if you are not able to stick exactly to your original plan. Allow some flexibility for detours and stay on track.

Be sure to engage a good friend/family member, mentor, coach etc. to whom you will be accountable for completing your daily/weekly goals. Do not select someone who will let you flake!

Although it seems easier and more convenient to be accountable only to ourselves, something very powerful occurs when we interact with another. Select someone who can not only be encouraging, but also hold you accountable when your enthusiasm wanes.

Be sure to track your progress by simple and easily visible methods. For example, a very simple yet powerful way to track your efforts is by charting it on your calendar. Each time you complete your exercise routine, write it clearly on your calendar and highlight. This method allows you to track your efforts and progress at a single glance.

The more complicated your tracking method, the less likely you are to do it. Sometimes simpler is just better!

At the end of each week/month, reassess your goals and progress. Make modifications as needed.

By setting realistic goals and following a simple and methodical checklist above, you will see a dramatic improvement in being able to stick with your goals well past the traditional first month of the year. Each time you set a new goal, be sure to go through the checklist and modify, clarify, and quantify as needed. The New Year is a natural time to start with a clean slate and make changes to improve yourself and your life. Remember, slow and steady makes for lasting change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sydney Chhabra, Ph.D. is a seasoned Psychologist and Personal Life Coach with 20+ years of experience! Sydney has a very warm and personable style of communication and takes a very practical approach in life coaching. She is genuinely supportive and maintains a focused and solution-oriented approach. To learn more, or read additional articles, visit:http://www.midlifecoachingforwomen.com and click on BLOG.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6782866

Words of Strength

Here is January's Words of Strength. Remember it is easily accessible all month long from the tab above, and year round from the archive at the right.  

New Year
By Kristi Bothur © 2011

“Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5, NIV)

How many of you are ready to say good-bye to 2011? Perhaps it's been a particularly hard year in terms of sickness or family problems or issues at work or finances. For me, New Year's Day usually carries a feeling of hope. The old year (and anything about it that wasn't good) is done; the new year is beginning. Not that there is anything magical about 12:01 a.m. on January 1, but it reminds me that I can begin again, and that maybe the future will be brighter than the past was.

I wonder if that is something the prophet Habakkuk was looking for when he began his prayer to God that is recorded in the book he wrote. He begins his book of prophecy by crying out to God about the violence and wrongdoing going on in Israel, and God responds with verse 5: "I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

If I were Habakkuk, I would have been waiting with bated breath to hear God's incredible plan for redeeming Israel and restoring their fortunes. But that isn't what God had in mind. Instead, the rest of the book reveals that God's incredible, unbelievable plan was to use the ruthless Babylonians to bring His people back to Himself. Not exactly what Habakkuk had in mind, and he could not fathom how a pure and loving God could use wicked people to accomplish His purposes.

That is a question I have asked, too. How can God use the wicked, or pain, or suffering, or loss to accomplish His purposes? Wouldn't His purposes be much better served by wiping those things out altogether? Or at least giving His people a taste of such freedom that awaits us in the New Heaven and New Earth?

The answer given again and again in Scripture is that God's ways are not ours. I don't mean that as a panacea to a hurting heart, but it is true. God sees the big picture. He has a plan that is far bigger than my life alone, but one that, amazingly, does incorporate my life as well.

Habakkuk seemed to realize that too. By the end of his short book, his prayer was:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:18-19).

How do we do that? How do we rejoice in God even in the midst of heartache and troubles? Whenever I wonder that, I think back to the seminary course I took on the Old Testament prophets. My professor came in one morning to teach about the book of Habakkuk. He went through the history of the book, what was going on in Israel at the time, and what we could learn from it. Then, just before class ended, he told us that in a couple of hours, his wife was going to be undergoing heart surgery. He had come to school that morning to teach our class and would be going to the hospital next. He had no idea how the surgery would turn out, but his prayer was the same: "I will rejoice in God my Savior."

Fifteen years later, that class stands out in my mind as a living example of faith in times of trouble. What was my professor's secret? It's found in chapter 3, verse 19:
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights."

So as we wait for 2012 and what it holds, I pray we will walk forward with anticipation and trust -- trust that the Lord is sovereign, that He is our strength, and that He is at work, even in the difficult seasons of life. Trust that He loves us and will walk with us and hold us through any hardship and suffering this side of heaven, and that in the end, He will enable us to walk on the high places.

May your new year hold not only the hope of new beginnings, but also the hope that can only be found in a renewed trust relationship with our God and Father.

Father, no matter what 2011 looked like, and no matter what 2012 holds, "yet I will rejoice" in You. Help me to find joy in You, regardless of my circumstances, and help me rely on You as my strength. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of four - one on earth and three in heaven.  She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life.  She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven (www.naomiscircle.weebly.com).  You are welcome to contact her at naomiscircle@gmail.com.  Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and daughter.