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Five Essentials Steps for Real Life Change (Guest Post)

If you follow me on Facebook, hopefully you were able to join in Winter: A Journey of Stillness.  Together, we took ten days to start the new year by quieting our hearts and listening for what God had to say to us about our new year.  You may have felt a prompt to make some life changes, and if so, my friend Elisa’s thoughts for us today will be right on point.

Five Essentials Steps for Real Life Change (Guest Post by Elisa Pulliam)

 Do you know what the secret is to experiencing real life change?

Oh, yes, there’s a secret. It’s not a magic pill. Nor is it something that you should hire someone to accomplish for you, although that would be ideal. It’s not even something that you can demand of God, although submitting to Him will make the process a whole lot easier.

The secret to real life change begins with the “ah-ha.”

What’s an “ah-ha”?

As I learned through my life coaching training, and have come to see time and time again in my own life along with working with clients, the secret to real life change happens when we we reach the magical “ah-ha” moment. It’s in that moment when we discover the heart of the issue and our part in it, with a desire to own the next steps. That’s because most of what we perceive as a dead-end, stuck-in-a-rut reality is not as hopeless at we think it is. We can change our approach. We can embrace a new mindset.

 

While we may not be able to “heal thyself”, we can certainly choose an attitude that lines up with a eternal perspective as we move through treatment.

We might not be able to change others’ behavior, which is causing havoc on our personal life, but we can choose a response that reflects the heart of Christ and the truth of Scripture.

We might not be able to erase the past, however we can move towards seeking God to heal our wounds and give us a new way of thinking that is in line with His Word.

 

See, the real life change we crave is often a matter of embracing a biblical mindset over focusing on our circumstances — that’s because most of our circumstances are out of our control.

 

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While there are limits in what we can do to change the circumstances of our lives, there’s nothing stopping us from inviting God to change our character and countenance as He accomplishes His purposes in us and through us.

 

It’s a process of real life change that starts with harnessing the “ah-ha” moment momentum and then moving forward practically and purposefully in what I call the 5 Essential Steps for Real Life Change:

 

  1. Identify What Was and What Is: Clearly articulate the circumstances, mindset, and habits that need to be changed, even pinpointing how it all came to be, along with the “ah-ha” moment that invites real life change. Write it down as a reminder in the future.
  2. Count the Cost: Prayerfully consider what the cost is to not move forward in real life change. Consider what will happen if you stay “as is” compared to take the sometimes uncomfortable and scary steps forward.

  3. Own the Obstacles: Consider the obstacles that made change impossible in the past and may make it challenging in moving forward. Own your sin and be honest about temptations, as you make choices about what to do differently.
  4. Prepare to Persevere: Brainstorm ways to seek help and accountability for moving forward. Set a goal date or a “check-in” date to have a finish line, or lap marker, to press on towards.

  5. Take Action with Accountability: Share your desires to change with someone who is willing and able to support you in prayer and through asking honest, grace-filled questions. A life coach can serve you this way, most definitely, but so should a friend or a spouse.

 

 

God’s sustaining, transforming power is available to you, my friend. He’s just waiting for you to say “yes” to His sanctifying, abundant life-giving invitation.

Would you like practical and biblical encouragement in the process of real life change? Consider Meet the New You and the companion online course, Infuse: A Soul-Strengthening, Life-Changing Encounter with God.

 

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Elisa Pulliam is a life coach, coach trainer, author of Meet the New You, speaker, and life-long mentor passionate about seeing women experience authentic life transformation for the sake of impacting the next generation. Her mission as owner of the Kaleo Agency, a life coaching and leadership development company, and as founder of moretobe.com, a ministry passionate about training and equipping women to mentor, is fueled by God’s redeeming work in her life and twenty-plus years in youth and women’s ministry. She counts it a privilege to connect with other women online and in real life, and strives toward savoring each moment with her husband of 20 years, Stephen, and with their four tween and teenage children.

 

Prayer Changes Everything

Prayer changes everything.  I’ve said this with my mouth for years, but it’s finally beginning to sink into my heart.  Recently, I’ve had an ongoing interaction with a fellow believer that’s grating on me.  We have a difference in opinion about something, and with all my being, I believe that I’m biblically “in the right” about the issue.  It’s chafed against me, causing “righteous indignation,” as the person’s way of dealing with the issue has, I believe, caused others to go astray.  Somewhat embarrassed, I can tell you that my go-to-tendency is to get irritated, to talk when I can of my irritation, and to go round-and-round constructing well-crafted reprimands to say to her, either for real, or in my head.

Thankfully, I have a small group of women I’m in contact with who speak the truth in love, and one of the things I’ve heard from them is to “let it go.”  They don’t mean to forego confronting an important issue, but rather, to commit it to prayer and be willing to wait for guidance on what to say, and when to say it.  But how do I do that?  Especially when I’m right?

 

How do I wait patiently before addressing an important issue, letting God determine the timing and process?

 

I begin by prayer.  By that I mean intentional, ongoing conversation with the Lord about this person.  When I’m tempted to tell her what I think, or to “sound off” to another person who knows the situation (and I tell myself it’s for advice, or for commiseration), I instead tell it all to God.  Mind you, He already knows.  But talking to Him about it is genuinely sharing in a safe place.  He’s not going to go blabbing to others.  He loves this person more than I do, and He loves me too.  He’s the only One, actually, who can do anything about the situation, and the bonus is that He’s going to work on me in the process.

Something incredible happens to me as I tell God about this woman and the situation.  First, I get it out.  I vent.  It lifts the load somehow because I’ve shared it.  I’m real with Him, too.  I dump it out, and I let my ugly show.  He already sees it anyway.

Then I begin to see from a new perspective.  As I tell my Papa all my frustrations, learned scripture begins to come back that sheds Truth onto the problems.  Past experience reminds me of good, and of not-so-good, ways this thing can be handled.  And sweetest of all, I begin to think of this person the way He does.  Clarity comes and I may see that yes, she’s wrong.  But also, I am.  I begin to ache for how the areas she handles incorrectly will bring her harm.  I see in a new light how it may harm others.  Almost invariably, this realization drives me to pray more, to ask God to intervene in ways only He can.  It drives me to have a heart of love toward the person I believe is wronging me.

 

When I drop everything to pray about a difficult person, I also begin to see myself in a different light. 

 

The still, small voice of my God reminds me how close I am, always, to making some grave error that will harm me or others, and of how many times He has stopped me, or saved me, or forgiven me for those errors.  He begins to challenge me, “little one, but for my grace, that would be you.  And it has, time and again.  Give grace.”

 

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Sometimes, and far less often than I might like, He calls me to speak the truth.  In-all-capital-letters: IN LOVE.  When I’ve genuinely walked this little journey of God-talk full circle, He may take some of those truths, and some of the wisdom He shares, and ask me to speak it to the person I began praying for.  But something has happened by this time: I now long to share it for the good of that person, and for the purpose of reconciliation.

I don’t mean that the person will always like me, or be happy with my words.  It might even cause emotional or relational division.  But if my heart’s longing is for their best, for their ultimate deeper reconciliation with the God who made them, and if my involvement is infused with gentleness, speaking the truth has a bigger purpose than my personal opinion, or my status of being liked.  Now when I speak, I’m not seeking retribution or personal gain, but am willing to be used, literally, for the good of another.  Now, when I speak, I’m not just not seeking my own elevated status, but I’m willing to be put down, to build another up, eternally speaking.

 

Prayer changes everything.  When I give God control with my words, it changes me, and allows me to be used for GOOD.

 

 

Praying for someone doesn’t always get magical results that match my requests.  It doesn’t always change situations.  But when I pray “in earnest,” and “without ceasing,” it always changes my heart.  Whether it drives me to speak up or be quiet, it teaches me and grows me closer to the likeness of my God.  It creates in me a new heart, a new mind, toward another.  Praying for another literally changes my heart, my mind, and my actions toward that person, with the potential to bring them good in the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

 

How has God used prayer to change you?  How has He used your brokenness for another, for good and Glory?

 

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Dear Momma | Parenting With Courage and Saying No

Somehow, in our world, we’ve gotten the idea that saying “no,” that disagreeing, is a bad thing.  We forget that when our babies are little, saying “no” to playing with the electrical outlet, to running into the street without us, to going in over over our heads when we can’t swim, is necessary for survival.  We begin to think, early on, that being “friends” means nodding blithely to everything our children ask.  We don’t want to upset them, we don’t want them to think we’re not their allies, and we definitely don’t want them to think we are “strict” compared to other parents.  Somehow, we start to believe that parenting with courage  is a bad thing.

 

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We get scared that telling kids no is bad parenting.

 

I’ve written before about fear in parenting.  I think it’s our own insecurity raising its ugly head, when we hesitate to do the hard thing because we’re afraid of our children being upset at us.  But what is it that makes us think, in our world, and even within the realm of those who claim to be Christians (meaning, proclaim to follow Christ, using the Bible as their authority for life), that “saying no,” or drawing a line in the sand, is a bad thing?

 

My dad and I have a wonderful relationship.  As adults, both my husband and I can call on him for wise advice, and we can also be sure that he will challenge us when he disagrees with us, or believes we are making a decision that will bring us, or someone else, harm.  My dad and I also thrive on the occasional good-natured debate.  (Not everyone in our family does, so sometimes it’s a source of irritation!)  Not long ago, we discussed for a second time our decision to go through a “Whole 30” challenge as a family, including talking with our then-7-year-old son about choosing not to have a traditional, refined-sugar-sweetened, artificially-colored birthday cake.  We made a modification and made him a naturally sweetened dessert with a very small list of ingredients.  It was an emotional decision for us as parents and for our little boy, but it led to some beautiful discussion with him, and as a family, about self-control, about choosing restraint for long-term good, and about how sometimes “saying no” is an act of love.

 

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It’s ok to say no to the child you love.  In fact, telling kids no can sometimes be the best way to love them.

 

My dad disagreed with our “Whole 30” decision, respectfully.  A year after that birthday, we were again discussing our choice to say no to our son, and my dad’s grandpa-heart firmly opposed what he thought might have been a wrong decision.  He and I talked at length about our reasoning, and we came to one mutual thought:

 

It is odd that making healthy decisions, or decisions for their protection, in our childrens’ lives is sometimes viewed as deprivation.

 

Think about it!  Why in the world would my fellow mom think it was bad for me to tell my child no to a treat that could damage his immune system, cause tummy distress, cause behavior issues, and interrupt healthy eating patterns?  Please, don’t get me wrong.  We choose “junk” plenty of times.  We hit up a local fast food joint last night on the way home from a weekend at the shore, and my kids were as happy as clams.  I chose to wait and make my own meal at home, but the occasional splurge is a choice we can make.  And in other situations, why would another parent think I was “weird” for saying no to an activity for our teen that we knew held risk for their heart and moral character?

 

I think the root of criticism for other parents is often that when another person makes a decision different from ours, it somehow makes us doubt our own choices.

Instead of then questioning our choices in a healthy way, we feel threatened and want to attack the one who parents differently.  Or, instead of standing firm in our choice to parent our child in a given situation, in what we know to be the wisest and most loving way, we doubt ourselves, for fear of what they, or another parent, may think.

Criticizing other parents is a huge problem on its own, but I’m talking about daring to do the hard things for the love of our children, and not letting ourselves be bound by our own fear.  While of course we all know that we have to FIRMLY teach our children to keep their fingers (and other objects) out of the electrical sockets, we have to hold fast to our confidence as parents (and as Christian parents, to the confidence we have in the God who has given us instruction through His word), even as our children grow.

 

 

Our own parenting is adapting by the day in our current season.  We have children ages 8-19, and in seasons from grade school to work-and-higher-education.  We are constantly having to shift and adjust to parenting them with varying levels of authority.  But no matter what ages our children are, we cannot parent them from fear.

 

No matter what season of parenting we are in, we have to be courageous to parent our children with love and truth.

 

Sometimes, parenting with love and truth means saying just plain “NO.”

 

Do you ever struggle with fear as a parent?  Do you worry what other parents might think, or do you tend to criticize another parent when they make a choice different from your own?  Be encouraged, friend.  You haven been called to parent your children, and in Christ, you have all you need for the wisdom to do that in grace, with courage, and in love.

 

I’d love to hear how you walk this season as a parent, or how you’re being challenged as you do!  Would you share in the comments?

 

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