Want to make meaningful changes in 2017?

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I wrote this to my email subscribers this morning before I left for work, and I thought I should share it here, too. (In fact, I thought it was so important that I just couldn’t go to work without pausing to write it. I was almost late, y’all!If you want to be sure you don’t miss any important announcements (or blog posts), please subscribe by filling out your name and email address in the “Subscribe to” box. (On a computer, it’s at the top right; on mobile, it’s probably below this post.)

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Just a quick heads-up this morning, my friends.

We’ve been talking about goals for the past few weeks, right?

OK, I’ve been talking about goals, and you’ve been listening.

You’ve been listening, right?

So here’s the deal.

Michael Hyatt’s course “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” is the best way I’ve found to set goals and actually achieve them.

The course, available now, is something you want to consider if you’ve ever wanted to make a MEANINGFUL change in how you go about living your life.

It’s an online course that takes just 5 days to complete (yes, only five 45-minute sessions). It includes videos and a downloadable workbook and action plan to guide you.

If you’re still not convinced that Michael Hyatt totally rocks the goal setting (and achieving) arena, sign up for one of his FREE webinars. It will be worth your time – I promise. Or listen to this special edition of his podcast where Michael and COO Megan Hyatt Miller (his daughter) discuss The Top 10 Mistakes Derailing Your Goals.

I have to be honest here: I did some serious soul searching about sending this email.

Why? If you buy Michael’s “Best Year Ever” course, I get a commission.

So I felt like it would be 100 percent selfish of me to tell you about it and persuade you to sign up. I literally lost sleep over it last night.

Then I had another chat with myself. If I kept this information to myself, then I truly would be 100 percent selfish. (And I should have sent this email 2 days ago, when the course first opened.)

Yes, the course will cost you some bucks (but there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee). And, yes, I’ll profit from that.

BUT … my goal with To Well With You, in starting the website last year, in getting a coaching certification (two, actually), is to help you craft the life that God intended for you to live.

To live your life with MEANING, PURPOSE and DIRECTION.

Jesus is my compass. Yours may be something else. But God created you with a plan and a purpose.

If your life is a mess, even just a little bit, it’s time to get some clarity and start sorting it out. Set some goals (notice I didn’t say New Year’s resolutions).

Take the course (EARLY-BIRD PRICING ENDS TONIGHT) … or at least start with the free webinar.

We’re all in this together, my friends.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Let’s lift each other up.

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3 tools to help you find your purpose

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hamlet quotes shakespeareWelcome to a new week! It’s been a challenging one in my family and circle of loved ones – including an epic ER visit (nine hours), multiple illnesses, physical therapy and two funerals – but we have survived and it’s a brand new day.

Before our ER visit with Mom, I had started writing a post with the famous Nietzsche quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” but I decided to move in a different direction with today’s post. (I’ll still get to that one – because I truly believe adversity makes us stronger and allows us to help others through what we’ve learned – but not today.)

Last week we talked about apps that help us find margin in our lives. This week I’d like to share some less-tangible (but arguably more important) applications to move us along on the journey to well-being. These are things that are going to require you to think about what you want out of life, so warm up your brain.

The first one is a book, and I’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating because it’s the best nonfiction book I read in 2015. Then a short video from a pastor with a different perspective on volunteering. And, third, a post from my favorite “virtual mentor,” Michael Hyatt, whom I’ve written about before.

Here are your three thought-provoking applications for this week:

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  • Boil everything down to essential vs. nonessential. I’ve mentioned a particular book several times on my two blogs: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (the best nonfiction book I read in 2015). I learned of Mr. McKeown on Michael Hyatt’s podcast, then I bought his book and devoured it. He gives a formula for how he decides what’s essential and what isn’t in his own life. I also wrote a post called “The art of saying no” (on my other blog), which wasn’t a direct result of the book but has the same goal: margin. Subscribers to To Well With You get the free PDF “8 tips for saying no graciously” as my thank you gift. (That PDF is a modified version of the one that accompanies my “saying no” post.)

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As you serve Him, you’re likely to find the greatest work God is doing is not through you, but it’s in you.” – Cory Lebovitz

  • Why is volunteering important, and what is its purpose in a Christian’s life? A pastor named Cory Lebovitz. followed me on Twitter last month, and I followed him back after viewing his recent Tweets and his website (I don’t follow back without checking out someone’s posts). Today I viewed his 3-minute video on volunteering, and it made me stop and think about why I volunteer and what it means. I hope this gives you something to ponder.

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Few things in life are more rewarding than marketable work fueled by passion and competence.” – Michael Hyatt

  • How to find satisfaction in your work. Pastor Cory’s video addresses volunteer work, and Michael Hyatt’s post is about finding meaning and fulfillment in the paid work you do. I’ve followed Michael for about a year and a half, and I’m so grateful to my friend Rusty for recommending that I check out his site. Michael has resources, wisdom and insight on so many topics, and I find myself seeking info from him on the regular. I subscribe to his blog and his podcast, I’ve read some of his books (still making my way through the list) and I’ve taken a few of his online courses. (More on that in a future post.) This week, you need to read his post on “The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction.” He has a podcast episode on this topic, too, and it goes into more depth than the blog post. It’s called “How to Discern Your Calling.” (It’s 36 minutes long.)

Your turn: Which of these three areas do you need to work on this week? Share with us in the comments, then schedule some dedicated time to think about it, even if it’s for just 15 minutes.

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A look behind the curtain

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HealTheWoundQuotePOGTransparentIt’s been two months since I posted on To Well With You, and I figured it was about time I let you know what I’ve been up to.

I’ve been posting – just not on this particular blog.

Every week in September, I guest posted at the Arkansas Women Bloggers site (I was Blogger of the Month, and here’s one of my posts, called “The Power of Community.”) I’ve posted a few times at my “big sister blog,” Suzy & Spice (the one I’ve been publishing since 2007). That included an ambassador post for Project STIR, something my friend Sarah launched last month to highlight family recipes around the globe. My family recipe was Nanny’s pickles, and my cousins and I had a grand time with our memories and some old photos. Sarah also is spotlighting each of her ambassadors on her own blog. (Check out my spotlight here.)

And I’ve been doing a lot more than blogging, but I won’t bore you with the mundaneness of that.

To be honest, the real reason I haven’t posted here in two months is that I’ve been all up in my head, trying to figure out a few things.

I’m a little clearer on some things now, and I want to share what’s been going on in there (in my head).

FOCAL POINTS

I had been focusing too much on figuring out the best ways to make money with my writing and editing, with wellness coaching, with whatever.

Someday I want to have the freedom to work for myself, but in the meantime I want to be able to pay off mortgages (ours and my mom’s house, which Bruce and I bought from her), medical bills and credit card balances (partly as a result of medical bills). I have a full-time job, and all the extra stuff in my life has to happen before or after 8-5.

I hate having debt. I teach people how to get free from debt and live financially free, and I feel like a huge hypocrite for having monthly payments.

Also, Bruce and I like to be generous as much as we can, and we’d like to be able to help more people and causes with our income.

So my focus has been on 1) figuring out how to make more money, 2) spending time with Mom and Bruce and 3) surviving.

I had a crisis of confidence. I was trying to learn how to “monetize my blog” while remaining true to my stated purpose: helping people recognize and fulfill their God-given purpose in the world.

Somewhere along the way I started listening to the voices (some inside my head, some from other “advisers”) that said I couldn’t tell it like it is. That I couldn’t let you see me sweat. I should be an expert, no chinks in the armor.

While being “authentic.”

For me, authentic means I have to let you see behind the curtain. Just like the great and powerful Oz, I’ve been back there pulling levers, pushing buttons, spinning wheels … trying to make it all work.

But, unlike the Wizard of Oz, I want to draw back the curtain and let you see.

TELL ME THE TRUTH

If you’ve known me for more than 30 seconds, you know I like to cut to the chase. Euphemisms and flowery talk give me a headache. I want you to tell me the truth – straight up, no chaser.

That’s how I’m most comfortable communicating, and it’s how I like for people to speak to me. Tell me the truth … in a loving and respectful way, of course … but just tell me the truth.

Until a few days ago, I had been tied up in knots about how to move forward.

But, as Providence would have it, I’ve been enjoying some really good input lately, in the form of great books and a phenomenal online summit. I listened to some good truth-tellers – people who are successful despite (because of?) their habit of being open, authentic and vulnerable. (I like that a lot better.)

My friends, the entire reason I started this blog, the reason I got a wellness-coaching certification, the reason I’m brave enough to write this, is that I think I have a few relevant things to say to you.

Because I’m a mess. A work in progress.

Because God’s not finished with me yet.

Because this diamond-in-the-rough has figured out a few things that I think might help others. Some of my rough edges are starting to become smoother, stroke by stroke of the Master’s hand.

I’M WEIRD FOR A REASON

I used to ask God why He made me this way. I now believe it’s 1) because I’m unique, and that’s by design, and 2) so that I can help others. So that I can say, See, I overcame this, and I don’t think you’re so weird, but if you need to work on some things I’m here to walk beside you – to talk you down off the ledge, if you’re on one.

God took an excruciatingly shy little girl – one with hang-ups, fears, doubts and small thinking – and spoke His words of truth into her heart, gave her the will to change, and told her that her ability to overcome her hang-ups and fears and be a confident, bold woman could help others by example.

Every day, He still whispers His truths to me (on the days he’s not having to smack me upside the head and SHOUT them).

So, whether I make a dime with my coaching or freelance writing/editing or whether this remains a part-time gig just for evenings and weekends, I’m here to let it all hang out and hope that my policy of speaking truth in love gives you a safe place to be yourself, to work through your stuff, no matter whether your “stuff” is big or small.

I leave you with one of my favorite Point of Grace songs, “Heal the Wound.” Listen to the words.

If any of these words – mine or the songwriters’ – strike a chord with you, please share this post and ask a friend to subscribe. Share online, email someone … just share. It’s free. 🙂

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How to stay true to your mission when you’re tired or weary

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GandhiQuoteWhen you purport to be a coach, a teacher or a mentor (of anything), it’s tempting to let everyone believe you’re a strong, infallible and powerful superhero, no chinks in the armor, ever.

I used to be that person. No, not strong, infallible and powerful, but someone who wished she could come across that way to the world (remember, recovering perfectionist here).

But if I were trying to advise you in how to do something (or stop doing something), wouldn’t it be better if I could relate to the challenges you face, and better still if I had gone through those challenges (or similar ones), myself? Whether I had succeeded the first time or failed 1,000 times and finally figured it out, you’d be more likely to come to me for advice … or at least for empathy, right?

Sometimes a “superhero” needs to just be real.

Sunday, we had a visiting missionary in our church services. He has written before on his blog about how missionaries are expected (by some) to be perfect saints, and, in fact, some missionaries try to perpetuate that myth. The tendency is to think you can’t show vulnerability or you’ll turn people off to Christianity. After all, isn’t following Jesus supposed to make our lives rosy and perfect?

Well, no.

In John 16:33 (NLT), Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He never said life would be perfect; He said he’d never leave us to face life alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Our missionary friend knows this truth. In fact, his wife and daughter couldn’t be with us Sunday because they were with his wife’s family, grieving the unexpected loss of his father-in-law a week earlier. And Sunday evening, he told us that he had just gotten a call from his mother; she and his dad were meeting with hospice the next day because his dad is dying of cancer and the end is that close.

IT IS WELL

There is plenty to be weary about, but this missionary friend told us, “It is well.” He knows where his source of strength comes from, and it is not from striving and trying and wearing himself out in an effort to attain perfection. As he told us Sunday morning, Jesus didn’t come to heal the well, but the sick.

The missionary’s wife has written beautifully, too, about the struggles they face on the mission field and, heck, just as human beings living in a broken world.

I use the word beautifully a lot when I share others’ words, and the common denominator – the thing that causes it to be beautiful to me – is that the speaker is letting herself or himself be vulnerable.

Authentic.

Imperfect.

Real.

I’m writing about being real today because I’m tired and I want to let you know about it. I know my mission, but lately the path to fulfilling it has seemed to take a lot out of me. I’m learning a lot, but some weeks I feel as though I take two steps forward and one step back. I’m working on learning how to discern the essential from the nonessential, but figuring that out is not easy or simple.

The one below – picking out a birthday card for my mom last week – was an essential. Waiting until the day of … not the wisest decision. But I allowed hubby to help, and he picked out a beautiful card for her. (I think I’ll keep him.)

TextMsgScreenShot073115HOW TO STAY ON MISSION

Here are 10 things you (and I) can do to stay on mission when you’re tired or weary – or when life is just plain hard:

  1. Be honest. Don’t try to hide the fact that you’re hurting. Talk to a trusted mentor. Ask for prayer from your circle of friends. You don’t have to go into all the gory details, but share what’s on your heart. We were made for community. Reach out.
  2. Take a break. If you can’t take a full-blown vacation, escape for just a day, or even an hour. This will help refresh your mind and your body. If you can do this on a small scale every day or week, even better.
  3. Spend some time examining the things that got you to this point. Don’t think about it for five minutes and quit; really reflect on what’s going on in your life.
  4. Remember your “why” (aka “look at the Big Picture”). Have you figured out your mission – your purpose? If not, get in touch with me or a trusted mentor to help you through the process. Remembering your why is probably the most important thing on this list. I have it as a reminder on my idea board, in notebooks, on my bathroom mirror and as a hashtag when I post a workout to my running app. Remembering my “why” carries me a long way when I’m tired or wondering why I’m doing this.
  5. Decide what’s important. Figure out what is essential for you to fulfill your purpose and what is not.
  6. After thinking through what’s important, focus on the No. 1 thing on the list. Get rid of what isn’t essential to your mission, with the realization that you cannot do everything. (I’ll be writing a review of the book Essentialism as soon as I finish reading it – so much great advice.) Last weekend, our missionary friend’s wife and daughter stayed behind in their home state to grieve with their family before they return to the mission field. This was their No. 1 priority at that time. (If family is not near the top of your list, it should be.)
  7. Pray. Some of you who read this blog might not pray to God, so substitute the word meditate. I pray to God for peace, comfort and guidance. If you don’t pray, at least take some time for peace and calm so that you can gain clarity.
  8. Ask for help. I’m not talking about divine help, notwithstanding Item 7. If you have a task that’s overwhelming, ask someone to help you accomplish it. As wise King Solomon said, you get a better return for your labor; a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
  9. Celebrate what you’ve already accomplished; recall the progress you’ve made – even the small stuff – and take time to appreciate it. If you have trouble remembering any of the good, ask a friend! (See Item 8.)
  10. Let go of “perfect.”

This isn’t a comprehensive list. What have I left off? (See, I’m asking for help! Leave a comment above with some of the things on your list.)

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