Time for Change!

Change has been a catalyst for me in my life learnings.One thing I’ve learned about change over the years is that it’s usually uncomfortable, it’s often challenging, and sometimes difficult to adapt to. Over the last four months, I’ve embraced many changes in my life, which is why this blog has taken me so long to write. The biggest change is the one that took place over winter break with our recent move to Colorado Springs. My husband, Geoff, and youngest son, Keerin, and I have made Colorado Springs our new home. We love it here! People have asked me what brought us here. After long explanations, it finally occurred to me—God brought us to Colorado Springs.

The last eight years, Geoff and I have wanted to move back to Colorado but it was never the right timing. Last summer, the three of us visited Colorado Springs and we knew then that we wanted to move here. We prayed about it and left all the details in God’s hands. If it was His will, He’d gracefully bring everything together for us with the right house in the right neighborhood at an affordable price. We also needed an opening at the school we had chosen for Keerin, and a transfer with the company Geoff works at. That’s not too much to ask for, right? I guess not because four months later, here we are!

Moving sounded exciting in the beginning but there were a lot of challenges we all underwent. One of the biggest challenges for me was leaving my family behind. It was very difficult to do. It brought me heartache and pain to leave my family. I grieved the loss of my family for several months. Another challenge I had to overcome when we moved was to obtain a new house, site unseen, for us to live in. Then, there was packing up the old house, saying goodbye to friends and my church, driving fourteen hours in unfamiliar weather conditions, moving into a new city and not knowing anyone, and having to learn my way around a new area. If you’ve ever moved away from your family and friends to a place you’re not familiar with, you understand.

The night we pulled up to our new house in Colorado Springs was cold and dark. There were no streetlights lit up on our block nor a porch light on to welcome us home. As I walked in through the front door of our new house, feeling exhausted and hungry and anxious to see what it looked like, I entered with high expectations. Continue reading “Time for Change!”

REFLECTION

In last month’s blog, I introduced the First R in the Seven Biblical Principals to Rising Above Conflict to Make Peace; Rely on God.

The Second R is REFLECTION. Reflect on the desires that battle within you (James 4:1). James is referencing to self-reflection which is to examine one’s own thoughts and actions. We want something but don’t get it. We cannot have what we want so we quarrel and fight with one another. Have you ever had an argument with your spouse or a friend over something you each wanted? Maybe you yelled at each other or they didn’t talk to you for a week or you gave them the cold shoulder. Why do we quarrel and fight or covet and kill one another over something we want or desire and don’t get? Because it’s our natural human tendency. If you truly want to rise above the conflict you encounter in your life, it requires you to change how you’ve been conditioned to react to conflict. Rising above conflict takes the willingness to reflect on your own desires of your heart through introspection. It’s easy to get caught up in the “blame game” when you feel justified in what you want and don’t get it. For example, how do you react when you’re in conflict? What is your reaction when you don’t get what you want?  Do you get angry? Do you get defensive? Do you lash out? Do you try to justify what you want? Self-reflection can assist you in assessing what’s causing the conflict within you.

 The Why:  Getting to the Heart of the Conflict. Self-reflection requires that you be honest with yourself. You have to be truthful and willing to go beyond the surface and get to the issue or the heart of the conflict—to the “why” underneath the desire. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why was I angry or hurt or upset over not getting what I wanted?” “Why did I say or do what I did?” “Why did what the other person say to me or did to me make me feel hurt, upset or angry?” Your willingness to study your own fundamental nature, purpose and essence will allow you to learn from your mistakes and past situations. Through self-reflection, you are able to “know” yourself better. And, understanding “your” why is a structural way to think positively. Next time you feel angry or hurt, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” Reflect on the “why” and notice how you feel once you’ve discovered what’s underneath the want or desire.

 James tells us that we don’t have what we want because we don’t ask God. And, when we do ask, we usually ask with wrong motives (James 4:2-3). It’s a natural human instinct to want something. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something. It’s the motive or the intention behind the “want” or “desire”that you are to assess. It is important to identify the desires or idols in your life. The reason we have the same arguments with our spouse or friend is because we are dealing with our actions and thoughts on a surface level. We have to get to the heart of the conflict the cause of the issue in order to achieve real change. A way to get to the heart of the conflict is through self-reflection. Here are seven key questions for self-reflection.

Seven Key Questions for Self-reflection;

  1. What do I want or desire? “I want obedient children” or “I desire financial wealth”. Idols start with a desire. Even a good and healthy want or desire can turn into an idol   and conflict.
  1. What are my expectations? “I expect respectful children”. A desire can lead to an expectation which can sometimes be unrealistic and lead to disappointment. I expect you to be perfect.
  1. What do I demand? “I must have obedient children”. An expectation can turn into a demand. For example, “I need”. I see what I want as essential. I must have this.
  1. Am I disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted? Why? “You didn’t give me peace and quiet”. Demands and expectations can lead to disappointment. A lot of our disappointment in relationships isn’t because people have wronged us, but because they did not give us what we want or because we have an expectation they did not meet.
  1. What are my judgments about this person or circumstance? “You are disrespectful because you didn’t give me peace and quiet”. We become frustrated when we do not receive what we desire or expect. So, we judge, blame, attack, and or reject, those who haven’t given us what we want.
  1. Am I punishing the other person? Why? “I won’t take you to the park because you didn’t give me peace and quiet”. People become angry and hurt and will usually strike back through angry words, gossip, avoiding the other person, punishment, revenge, etc.
  1. What do I fear? Why am I afraid? What do I worry about? What do I think will bring me pain or chaos or unhappiness? Fear is usually one of the biggest roadblocks in our lives. Fear of not having enough to eat, no money to pay the bills or not having a place to live. Fear of rejection, inadequacy or of being incompetent. Fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, or talented enough. Fear of being too short, tall, fat or skinny. Fear of not being  accepted by your peers, not getting the job you want, not receiving the income you want, or not having a big enough house. Fear of a committed relationship or not finding the right partner or getting divorced. Fear of not being able to have children or not being able to raise your children, etc.

It’s important to identify your desires and fears and the motives underneath them that drive you in your life.

How Do I Change the Desires of My Heart? You change the desires of your heart first through forgiveness. Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (Colo 3:13). Be kind and compassionate to one another forgiving each other (Eph 4:32). Second, reflect the desires that battle within you (James 4:1). Stop dealing with your actions and thoughts on the surface and get to the heart of the conflict— to the “why”. Idols of the heart require self-reflection. And third, turn to God for everything you need and repent so that your sins may be wiped out and the time of refreshing may come (Acts 3:19). Relate to your want or conflict from love, not fear. Ask God what is in your highest good. Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of any kind because testing your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance makes you mature and complete (James 1:2-4).

If trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for personal growth. Ask yourself, “Am I relating to this in anger, blame, fear, resentment or as a victim; or am I relating to this as an opportunity for me to learn and grow?” Celebrate what God’s doing through your trouble. Celebrate what he’s doing for your good purpose. And, rejoice because you’re getting ready to grow. Remember, you grow in the valleys. God’s building you up for the next steps in your journey and preparing you for your good purpose.

What Do You Do When You Feel Overwhelmed or Conflicted?

In last month’s blog, I talked about 4 Steps to Rising ABOVE Conflict. This month I’m introducing the first R in the Seven Biblical Principals to Rising Above Conflict to Make Peace and Transform Relationships.

The First R: RELY ON A HIGHER POWER, guides you to turn to a source that is greater than you for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed or conflicted.  In Colossians 3:1-2 Paul says to, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” And, David wrote a beautiful song for the Lord when he was delivered from the hands of his enemies which are written in Psalm 18:2 “My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

What Does Rely on a Higher Power Mean? Relying on a higher power is putting faith in something greater and bigger than you. It means turning to the creator for help, guidance, healing, and restoration in your life. You were created by God. He knows you better than anyone. He knows what’s in the highest good for you and all concerned. When you surrender your will to His will and trust in Him, He will take care of you. When you set your heart and mind above, not on earthly things but of what is good and pure and take refuge in the Lord, you can rise above the conflict and overwhelm. God can give you the strength to get through the storms. His wisdom, guidance, and grace will bring you through the trials and tribulations of life. He will protect you and deliver you from your enemies. He will love you, pick you up when you fall; heal you, and change in you what you cannot change, and make you new.

How Do You Rely On a Higher Power? You rely on a higher power by opening up your heart and inviting the Spirit of God to come inside and work in you. Only the ONE that created you can work in you and through you for your highest good and the good of others. As the Holy Spirit works inside of you, He changes you from the inside out. He gives you a new heart and a new mind. He creates a paradigm shift in your reality. Stephen Covey talks about a paradigm shift in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Our paradigms represent how we view the world. What we see isn’t a completely accurate reflection of reality; it is shaped by our attitudes and perceptions. A paradigm shift occurs when our paradigms change, allowing us to see the world in new light. In other words, you can’t resolve conflict or heal an issue by staying in the same place that created it. You have to shift it. For instance, if you’re feeling angry, conflicted, and or overwhelmed, you can’t obtain peace and feel conflicted at the same time. You must change the feelings in your heart. That’s easier said than done, right? How well I know from my own experiences in life. A simple way to change the feelings in your heart is by creating a paradigm shift in your reality. Practice viewing the situation or the person you are frustrated with from a new light. One way to do this is by inviting the Holy Spirit into your heart, into your relationships, and or into your life so that He can work “in” you to change you. Here’s a simple tip for inviting the Holy Spirit into your heart.

Tip for Inviting the Holy Spirit into Your Heart

  1. Practice applying the 4 Steps to Rising Above Conflict which are,

          Step 1: Be Aware of How You Feel.

          Step 2: Step Out of the Overwhelm.

         Step 3: Make a Choice to Change Your Attitude.

         Step 4: Seek Higher Ground. 

2. Take a few deep breaths in and exhale. Let go of all tension and stress.

3. Simply invite the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Creator, or whatever it is for you, to be present               inside of you. Here’s a simple prayer. “Lord, please come into my heart, mind, and spirit                and change in me what I cannot change in myself, in my situation, and in the other person.                Guide me in what to do or say. Give me hope, help me to forgive, show me peace.  Bless me that I     may see the situation and or the other person through your eyes; through eyes of compassion,           forgiveness, grace, mercy, understanding, and love. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

As the Holy Spirit works in you, you will begin to see with new eyes and your paradigm will shift. This will enable you to rise above the circumstance, the conflict, the suffering and the pain so you can move towards healing, forgiveness, peace, resolution, reconciliation, and love. Relying on God’s love and strength to shift your paradigm empowers you. Allowing fear, worry, anger, and blame to continue to rule your heart, dis-empowers you. God has shifted my paradigm countless times and He has healed me, delivered me, forgiven me, and empowered me over and over again. Here’s my personal testimony of how I relied on God’s strength to get me through a difficult time in my life.

Read about My Personal Testimony in Practicing the First R: Rely on a Higher Power

Continue reading “What Do You Do When You Feel Overwhelmed or Conflicted?”

Four Steps to Rising ABOVE Conflict

As I prepared to write this month’s blog, I found I was tested, over the last several weeks, in my own ability to rise above conflict. It seems adversity had it’s poke at me to see if I practice what I preach. After spending a nice relaxing weekend with my hubby at a cabin in the mountain’s celebrating our 11th year anniversary, we came home to a sick little boy. The next day I got sick, and two days later, my husband got sick. Trying to keep the household together while everyone was sick was very stressful and definitely not fun. However, we all managed to get through it with lots of rest and prayers.

Let’s be honest, conflict is a part of life. We’ve all experienced a misunderstanding, miscommunication, a disagreement or an argument in our relationship with a spouse,  family member, friend, co-worker or a neighbor, and we’ve all experienced strife in our lives. A lot of us have dealt with our fair share of conflict in our life. I know I have.

What is conflict? Conflict can mean a lot of different things. According to Merriam-Webster, here is the Full Definition of  conflict. 1 : fight, battle, war. 2 a : competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b : mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands.

How do you identify conflict in your life?  There are many different types of conflict. Conflict can show up as a disagreement at work, a major life event such as a divorce, or as an act of war between countries. Conflict can present itself in an argument with a spouse, misbehavior in a child, a betrayal from a friend, a personal issue with a family member, or an illness or life-threatening disease. Conflict is commonly the result of a desire, demand, disappointment, judgment, punishment or an expectation that we have of us, the other party or of the situation. We want something and don’t get it. We argue and fight because we don’t see eye to eye. We get upset because things aren’t going the way you want them to. I’m guilty of these. How about you? Have you ever experienced any of these situations before?

How do you respond to Conflict? Our natural human response to conflict is to escape, avoid, deny, blame, attack or assault. These responses are what we were taught growing up. We observed different people’s responses to conflict and implemented what we learned. What response to conflict did your parents or caretakers use as you were growing up? What response do you use now? I sometimes find myself avoid or deny conflict because I’m afraid to face confrontation at times. As I became aware of this, I decided I didn’t want to be afraid of confrontation anymore. So, I learned a different response to conflict. I learned how to rise above it.

Rising ABOVE Conflict

Have you ever been angry at someone and felt at peace at the same time? Anger and peace cannot co-exist together. You have to shift the negative feelings inside of you in order to obtain a higher frequency. Negative feelings such as anger, blame, guilt, and shame vibrate at a lower frequency. Positive feelings such as kindness, gratitude, compassion, and love vibrate at a higher frequency. Most people aren’t aware of their feelings when they are in the middle of a heated argument.They get caught up in the blame game of who’s right and who’s wrong and end up getting ‘stuck’ in the emotions of the conflict and are unable to move out of it. Why? Because it’s what they learned. It’s all they know.

You have to learn a different response to conflict if you want to rise above it to make peace, find lasting solutions, and reconcile a relationship. I call this Rising Above Conflict.

 

Continue reading “Four Steps to Rising ABOVE Conflict”

Why I Wrote My Book and Started a Blog

I was led by Spirit to write my book, RECONCILED: A Story of Making Peace with God, Self and Divorce, while vacationing with my blended family on an all expense paid Alaskan Cruise, gifted by my former husband (wasband). During our time on the cruise, while conversing with the passengers on the ship, people asked me the reason for vacationing on the cruise. I shared my story of reconciliation with the wasband and our blended family vacation. People made comments like, “I can’t be in the same room with my ex, let alone a family vacation” and “Wow, you’re brave.” It was then that I had my, ‘Ah Ha’ moment. I realized this is the story God wants me to write about: to share with others how my wasband and my children and I reconciled our relationships after divorce. I’m thankful to announce my book was published June of 2016.

In 2010, while living in beautiful Rapid City South Dakota, I was inspired to write my first blog after watching the movie, Julie and Julia. If you’ve seen the movie and enjoy writing, you’ll understand the reason for my blog. My blog was called, Resolving Family Conflict. I blogged four years on how to resolve conflict, after separation and divorce and in relationships. A lot happened during this time in my life. Not only had I began writing my book, I was the leader of a Divorce Ministry in our church, my husband and I facilitated a Resolving Everyday Conflict group in our home, and I was in the process of mending and reconciling my own relationships with my two adult children and their father all while raising our three-year-old son. Crazy right? It was clear God had a purpose for me in all of this. I eventually stopped blogging to finish writing my book. Continue reading “Why I Wrote My Book and Started a Blog”