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Sweet New Year

Sweet New Year

Shanah Tovah Umetukah!

May you have a good & sweet new year!

Why am I wishing you a sweet new year in September?  Because it is Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year.  If ever there was a time for all of us to celebrate this Jewish tradition it would be 2020.  Why?  Because it is a time of prayer, self-reflection & new beginnings.  Most of us can’t wait for this year to be over & start a new one.  So don’t…wait that is.

I actually know very little about Jewish traditions.  But what I do know is that they are jammed packed with beautiful symbolism, reminders & hope.  I can’t come close to touching on the full depth that Rosh Hashanah holds here in a short blog so let me simply offer up these 3 suggestions we all can do to mark the Jewish New Year.

  1. Pray – don’t over complicate it – just talk to God.  Act like you are on the phone with a friend.  It’s not about impressing God with the ‘right’ words.  It is about spending time communicating with a beloved friend.  Sharing your gratitude, fears & heartbreak with the one who loves you more than anyone.  Listen for His advice through the movement of the Spirit in your heart & in your mind.  Allow His word to speak to you by cracking open your Bible (or opening your app).  Set some time aside to break away from the world & just let God love on you by being present with Him. 
  2. Reflect – we need to periodically stop to consider where we are & how we got here before we can move forward.  As you spend time with God ask Him to remind you of who He is & reflect on how He has guided and directed you in the past when you let Him.  Remember who you are in God’s eyes.  Consider the gifts that He has given specifically to you.  Are you fully utilizing those gifts?  Have you strayed from your first love?  Have you allowed the clatter of this world to distract you from the things God has called you to do?  Where has sin crept in and put a wall up in your relationship with God?
  3. Repent, Recommit, Restart – God has promised us new mercies every morning.  After prayer & reflection it is time to lay down the hurts, the sins & the distractions at the foot of the cross and start again with a renewed commitment to who God is calling you to be. 

If you are serious about wanting a fresh start, I offer you 2 suggestions to make it more ‘real’.

  • There is a Jewish tradition of going to a place with moving water & tossing in bread to symbolize the release & cleansing of our sins.  Sometimes physically going through the motions of letting go & watching those things float away can recharge our exhausted mind & bodies and give us a fresh energy to sustain our commitments.  Try it & take someone with you when you go.
  • Share your reflections & recommitment with someone who loves you.  Not only does it help cleanse the soul to speak it externally.  It will also give you an accountability partner that will help keep you on track in the days to come.  OR if you are struggling with the process, the self-reflection, seeing the past clearly or just feel too overwhelmed to find your way forward, reach out to someone you trust.  It can be a friend, a counselor, a coach, or a pastor.  God never intended for us to navigating this world on our own.  That is why he gave us a body of believers to be a part of.

Even if you have never celebrated Rosh Hashanah before, let 2020 be the year you start.

For More information on Rosh Hashanah check out John J Parsons post of “Should Christians Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?”

New Day

New Day

As I turned the calendar to June I reached for the eraser to clear off the pre-pandemic plans and start over.  I was supposed to be headed for Florida next week for my first 5 day Women’s Breakaway Retreat.  I had reserved a beautiful home in Daytona with lots of ensuite bedrooms & a private pool.  We would enjoy some relaxation, fun with good company & grown in understanding of ourselves.  I’d train & coach, my girlfriend would cook & help facilitate.  It would be a blast, and I was so incredibly excited!!  Then COVID.

The last 11 or 12 weeks have been a blur!  Lots of fear, overwhelm & grief mixed with isolation has created what I call COVID Brain or the COVID FOG.

We are being bombarded with messages of fear talking about sickness & death and hospitals being overrun while lacking in supplies & equipment.  We are being told to isolate so we don’t get infected or worse infect someone else, even if we are asymptomatic.  We don’t even want to cough around another person.  We wonder if it’s safe to go to the grocery & do we need to wipe down everything when we get it home?  We have seen toilet paper and cleaning wipes disappear from store shelves and just as they start to return now it’s meat.  We wonder what might be next. 

We are overwhelmed with the amount of information and conflicting information being published & distributed.  We hear everything from more people have died than in multiple wars to it’s all a hoax.  How do we process what is true?  We are overwhelmed by keeping up with daily changing orders and closures & openings & mandates & suggestions.  As one commercial puts it we have become “social distancers, suddenly homeschoolers, and living room exercisers”.  We are overwhelmed in juggling all the new roles & new technology….most of which we don’t like & would have never chosen for ourselves.

We are grieving the loss of proms & graduations, seasons, competitions, performances & recitals, concerts & bbq’s, birthday parties & dinners.  We can’t be with loved ones in hospitals & nursing homes & are overly cautious of our newest additions because we don’t know, for sure, how to best protect them.  We are grieving the loss of small businesses & big dreams that just couldn’t hold on.  We grieve a ‘normal’ that we know won’t every really be the same again.

And as if all of this is not enough, we now are being reminded just how far as a culture we still need to go to love each other well. 

If you are still with me & reading this post, aren’t you tired?  I am.  I am tired of the FOG.  I’m tired of life being on hold.

It is a new day.  It is a new month.  I’m choosing today as a new beginning.  Will you join me?

I’m not fooling myself to think with a simple change of attitude I’m suddenly going to have my **** together & be able to act like the pandemic is over or racism doesn’t exist.  But today, I will do one thing that makes me feel hopeful.  And tomorrow, I will choose to do another.  What will your one thing be today?

If the FOG is keeping you from seeing anything you can do, then pray.  Simply ask God.  ‘God, what is one thing you want me to do today?”  He will never steer you wrong!

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Let’s encourage each other to start seeing through the FOG by posting your one thing below.  This isn’t a comparison game.  It can be small.  After all, how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

Meltdown

Meltdown

Grant yourself a good meltdown.

Jesus offered up prayers with “loud cries and tears.” (Heb. 5:7)

Have you given yourself permission to do this yet? I’ve learned over the years that stuffing the hard emotions & fears actually allows them to grow and fester. They eventually ooze out in not so nice ways. But, if our God is who He says He is, He can handle your hard feelings. And amazingly, He wants us to bring them to Him. When you finally let go and allow yourself to feel the hard stuff and verbalize those thoughts & feelings to God, He can start to heal you by loving on you & encourage you & reminding you He’s got this!


Listen to Max Lucado speak on granting yourself a good meltdown:

Coronavirus Check-in: Grant Yourself a Good Meltdown

Grant yourself a good meltdown. Jesus offered up prayers with "loud cries and tears." (Heb. 5:7)

Posted by Max Lucado on Monday, March 23, 2020

Dance Party

Dance Party

It is the start of a new week.  And the last week has felt like a month, can I get an Amen?

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens.  I propose it is time to switch from mourning to dancing!

Let’s start a dance party up in here.  Post a song below in the comments that get’s you on your feet & moving!

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Keep it going…


Grace

Grace

Hey everyone, I know I missed a day already in my goal to produce 21 Connection Blogs in 21 days.  I am a big believer that we need more GRACE in our world.  GRACE for each other & GRACE for ourselves. So I will chose to model the principle that GRACE isn’t just for others.  I think I’ll switch my goal to 21 blogs over the next month 😉.

We are all in uncharted waters, and things are changing daily.  Please my dear sisters & brothers have GRACE 1st for yourself & then for those around you as we figure out how to keep moving forward.

Let’s encourage each other by getting honest.  What is one thing that you need to give yourself grace for today? 

SNAP Out Of The Spiral

SNAP Out Of The Spiral

As our world continues to rapidly change around us it is easy to start to feel overwhelmed. It is important for us to be self aware enough to have systems in place that help us to snap out of the spiral of anxiety and growing fears.

In the study guide for “The Road Back To You” authors Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile introduce the concept of SNAP. It is a quick and simple way to redirect our thinking and become more aware of God’s presence in the here & now.

Stop – for a few minutes to consciously come home to yourself and to God. Take four or five deep, prayerful breaths to ground yourself in your body and return to the present moment.

Notice – what is going on around you & in you. Are things around you calm or chaotic? How are you relating to what is going on? How are other people responding to you? Are you in a good space or using reactive behaviors? Observe what you are feeling. At this point don’t label, or analyze, simply notice.

Ask – now that you are awake to the present moment & what is happening, ask yourself a few questions that will help get you back on track if you need it.

  • What am I believing right now?
  • How does it make me feel?
  • Is it true?
  • Who would I be if I let go of that belief?

Pivot – now that you’ve become more self-aware you are freed up to make different, healthier, more spiritual choices that line up with your true self rather than defaulting to your autopilot responses.

What SNAP does is help us to interrupt our self-limiting thoughts, feelings and actions associated with our personality. It helps us to wake up to God’s presence and sovereignty in the moment. It can be done anywhere and anytime. You can devote a few quick minutes several times a day or a week long retreat to this process. It takes some practice, but it can tremendously increase your self-awareness while decreasing fear and anxiety.

Do you have a go to verse or quote for when you are feeling overwhelmed? What other actions help you overcome your fears? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll continue to add your input to the following Pinterest Board. Watch the list grow & come back often for encouragement.

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