Hope

I believe the Holy Spirit brings people to mind for a reason. Sometimes I take it as a sign that God wants me to pray for them or to reach out and see how they’ve been. Other times, it’s God’s way of telling me that we’re about to cross paths for a very specific reason. Like a few days ago when I thought about a family friend and, before I had a chance to pick up the phone, she called me to say that she was at a convenience store and one of the employees was thinking about coming to Chicago.

“A woman I know has stage four colon cancer and her local doctor told her that she has maybe six months to live,” my friend said. “She’s too young to just give up and is thinking about coming to Chicago for a second opinion.”

“Does she know who she wants to see?” I asked.

“Someone told her about the Cancer Center of America but she doesn’t know when the doctors there can get her in.”

My friend was hoping I would help the employee with transportation once she found a doctor who could see her. Imagine her surprise when I mentioned that I had the number for an amazing colon surgeon programmed into my phone.

My daughter Katie was with me a short while later when the colon surgeon’s nurse called me back with instructions to pass along to the person in Nebraska.

“After she calls the main number to register, have her call the cancer center to schedule an appointment,” the nurse said.

When I got off the phone, Katie mentioned how nice it was that I was helping a person I didn’t know.

“I’m just doing what I would want someone to do if I were in her shoes,” I said. “Everybody deserves hope.”

“Literally,” Katie said with a smile as she reminded me that the name of the person at the cancer center who was waiting for the Nebraska woman to call…was Hope.

 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

When Times Change and People Grow

Whoever said that a mother’s job is never done wasn’t kidding: It’s never done. Long after my daughters are tucked into bed, I’m wiping off counters, folding laundry, and making sure that the doors are locked and the lights get turned off. And contrary to what my youngest told a fellow first grader years ago when she had her over for a playdate, I do not sit around and do nothing all day. There are errands to run, calls to make, rooms to pick up, spaces to organize,  trips to plan, and countless other projects.

Although the amount of work rarely changes, the type of tasks do. If you had asked me even one month ago, for example, what my focus would be this week, I never would have guessed that it would be shopping to give my eighth grader an edgier look or rearranging her schedule to find time to practice with a professional all-girl rock band.

Thinking of how much both of my children have matured over the past year reminds me of something a six-year-old  told me after I commented on how tall she had gotten since I had last seen her. “I know,” she said nonchalantly. “Times change and people grow.”

All of us were created to grow. We know this from Romans 12:2 where we are told: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” When I test for God’s will, I ask myself the following four questions:

  1. What does the wise counsel of my husband or a Godly friend have to say about what I want to do?
  2. Do circumstances allow it?
  3. Does it go against Scripture?
  4. Am I at peace with my decision?

Three months ago, I was not at peace with Hollie’s continued requests to dye her hair; but now circumstances have changed and even Bill is encouraging me to schedule the appointment. Hollie has morphed into a disciplined bass guitar player and I have mellowed enough to see that my job as a parent is to support her—even if it means looking for dark-colored clothes that won’t look too “happy” on stage and going to church with a child who is rocking a crazy hairstyle.

We can grow with our kids, or apart from them. Achieving the former and avoiding the latter is the difference between following where God is leading and steering children elsewhere.

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Finding Our Way

This year, I completed Beth Moore’s bible study, Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about the topic was that it got me thinking about my calling. I am all about movement; and as soon as I read on page four that Beth’s gift is guiding believers to love and live God’s Word, I started pondering my life purpose until it became clear that what I am passionate about is progress.

My calling is encouraging people to learn from what they live through and do something to improve their lives. It is with this Say-No-To-The-Status-Quo philosophy in mind that I began searching for a way to take my ministry to the next level in 2011. Because God’s will often builds upon what we’re already doing, I thought that my next challenge would involve finding a wider audience for my writing and speaking topics; and when a friend invited me to travel with her to a women’s conference in North Carolina, I happily agreed.

I’d been wanting to attend this annual event for several years because it included appointments with publishers and the opportunity to be mentored by a member of a national speaker team. Arriving over-prepared for both, I was surprised when none of my work seemed to  matter. A hoarse voice made it hard to effectively deliver my presentations, and the editors that I met with refused to look at anything I had prepared. It was like God had closed doors so fast that I had no chance to walk through them; and I left the conference feeling even more confused than before I signed up to attend.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend once said: “Sometimes on the road of life…getting lost is how we find out way.”ˆ1

I was on this road (and on my way to the airport) when clarity came in the form of another conference attendee who had been assigned to our limo at the last minute.

“What do you do for a living?” I asked her.

“I’m a life coach,” she replied.

Although my first reaction was skepticism after she told me about her minimal amount of training, my second one was curiosity as I wondered: Is God leading me to this profession?

My answer came a few days later when Bill agreed that becoming a life coach would give me the training I needed to realize my dream of creating a goal-setting and accountability group ministry for churches.

In September I started a 6-month training program to become a Board Certified Life Coach, proving that life doesn’t just happen when you’re making plans … Sometimes it happens because of them.

I had to step out in faith to pursue what I thought was a good path, before God would lead me to a better one. Never was this more clear than when I opened the textbook for my core coaching class and read that “coaching is about insight, learning, and choosing to act.”ˆ2

As soon as I saw this definition, I looked back at my notes from the Beth Moore bible study that I completed earlier in the year and confirmed that it was almost identical to my calling: I want people to learn from what they live through and do something to improve their lives and God made sure that the first person to get an education … was me.

What I learned is that God’s will does build upon what we are already doing. And when one door (or two) closes, it’s because He has an even better one for me—and all of us—to walk through.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11


ˆ1 Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do ( Brentwood: Integrity Publishers, 2003), Back Cover.

ˆ2 Patrick Williams and Diane S. Menendez, Becoming a Professional Life Coach, p. 105