New Years Note from Author Mary Byers

12 01 2010

Happy New Year! I love January because it offers a fresh start. With memories of the holiday behind us, we can look ahead to the promise of a new year.

And this year does, in fact, hold promise. What’s ahead for you? More of the same? Or is there a hope or dream or goal you’d like to pursue?

When I was 25, I was in a seminar when the facilitator asked, “What’s the one thing you would do if you knew you would not fail?” She asked to write our answers down without censoring them. I wrote, “Write a book.”

It took me over a decade to find the time and figure out how to make that dream come true. But I can tell you, it was worth the wait.

What’s on your heart? What are your hopes for this year? The very best thing about life in this country is that we truly do have the power to write our own story and influence the ending. So what’s holding you back? It’s worth taking the time to honestly answer that question and then to figure out what you can do about it.

What’s the one thing you would do if you knew you would not fail? Don’t censor your answer. Write it down. And make it happen.

All the best,

Mary Byers

www.marybyers.com

www.makingworkathomework.com





Shine, Brave One. But Not On Your Own.

22 12 2009

Sometimes we’re asked to do some very brave things, things that we would never choose to do on our own but because of circumstances we are called to step out of our comfort zone for a greater good.

Have you been in a situation, perhaps recently, where your capacity for coping has been stretched to the max?  We reach a point where we collapse and ask God how we can possibly have the strength to continue.  What is the point of this trial, this suffering?  Why can’t things be easier, why must this time or situation or problem be so extremely difficult?  Whether its troubled teenagers, a hospitalized spouse, financial uncertainty, a strained marriage, or depression -life can be overwhelming.

Ladies, I cannot help thinking of Mary.   She graciously accepted one of the most challenging things ever asked of a woman.  Then again, the peace of God must have rested in her heart as she moved forward with the responsibility of being the mother of God’s son.  Despite the ridicule and shame of being an unwed mother, I imagine that she had a quiet confidence as she carried Jesus in her womb.  With her belly swelling in the passing months, perhaps she had unshakable faith that ,as part of God’s will, everything would be fine in the end.  Personally I would have been rather freaked out knowing that I was responsible for God’s son.  But Mary, I think she was made of firmer stuff, even at such a young age.

The lesson I take away from how Mary responded to God’s request of her, being the mother of Jesus, is that I need to have faith that these brave things we are called to go through are ones we are not meant to face as Lone Rangers.  We are not left alone and abandoned -not by God- when Goliaths or floods or affliction or challenges come.  I know Mary did lots of leaning during her time as a mother, leaning on God’s promises and his character.  She realized that, especially as a parent, she had her responsibility and God had his -and unlike how I often act- she wasn’t going to try to take over God’s job or tell him how he ought to be doing things.  She just trusted.

Mary was brave, not just when she carried the Son of God as an unwed mother, but all through raising him and on through his brutal crucifixion.  Hers was a life of faith.  She was constantly called to be brave, to trust God’s plan, to hold on to his promises when she saw her baby ridiculed, hated and mocked -even tortured.  Her reward?  Seeing her son raised from the dead, resplendent in glory, and receiving the gift of eternal life.

I want to be like Mary.  A woman who shines through adversity, one who trusts and leans on God during heartbreaking and patience-exhausting times.  God knew that Mary could handle this awesome task -but not alone.  He stuck by her even more than she stuck by him.  Can’t you just imagine Mary leaning into God, asking, “How can I do this?”  Wrapping love around her, he tells her to rest.  He’ll give her the strength, he says.

He tells the same thing to each of us.  In this heartbreaking or exhausting time, my dear sisters, you are called to be brave, but -more importantly- you are called to rest and be refilled.  May God shine through you during this time as you release your worries, your need for control, and most importantly  your fear as you let God be God and you his daughter.

Merry Christmas, all of you  Uncommon Women.

With Much Love,

Kelly





He Is With You

12 12 2009

Shonda Taylor shared this beautiful and inspirational video with me and I just had to put it up for each of you to be touched by.  Mandisa, a stunning woman of God and gifted singer, shares from her heart the rock-solid truth that NO MATTER WHAT is going on in your life, no matter what you are facing, God is with you through all of it.  Her message is real, not sugar-coated, and will speak directly and honestly to your heart.  Thank you, Shonda, for sharing.

He Is With You





On Thanksgiving

25 11 2009

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear Friends, during the start of the holiday season I want to speak peace into your hearts.  Take a few deep breaths.  Spend a few short minutes focusing not on your “to do” lists but on what you have to be thankful for.

I have been hearing various messages that all boil down to this: thankfulness leads to contentment and peace.  Meditating on that simple truth, I have experienced a 180 turn around in my attitude when typically I would be more stressed out than a cat in a bath.  It’s sad and fascinating that life is so easily lived with a negative attitude.  In light of that and with the holiday season on top of us, let’s have some girlfriend time -a little heart to heart- focusing on perspective.

As a photographer I learned early on that focus is everything when you’re taking a picture.  If a subject is blurry, the picture is basically trashed.  Do you see the metaphor?  When the “Happiest Time of the Year” rolls around we usually (guilty as charged) get so wrapped up in the food, gifts, party coordinating, card-giving that we loose focus on RELATIONSHIPS, which is what this time of the year is truly all about.  Refocus on the people in your life and the rest -all those details which seem so important- will take their proper place as things that simply accentuate the festive, cheery time of bonding and reconnecting.

The above verse is one I want you to memorize and repeat to yourself at least daily during this season.  Are you joyful?  Not in a false way, “Here’s my plastic ‘Merry Christmas, everything is wonderful’ smile!”  True joy comes from assessing what you have been blessed with and realizing how awesome those blessings are!  I have a loving family, a redeemed life, a relationship with my Savior -therefore, I am joyful!  Are you praying continually?  I/We forget that life doesn’t entirely rest on our shoulders, but we have a God who is waiting to give good gifts to his children.  “Ask, seek, knock,” as Jesus said in Matthew.  Are you giving thanks in all circumstances?  That doesn’t mean you have to be glad crappy things happen -it means you are thankful that God is there to help you through everything that life brings.  We are not alone, even if we have been abandoned by friends and/or family.  God proves over and over that he is the faithful, steady rock we can stand on or cling to in everything, and for THAT we can be ever and always thankful.

Recently I’ve been at my wits end in parenting my tempestuous 2 year old.  He’s 500% boy and 50% of the time he’s a combination of Verruca Salt and Napoleon.  I have definitely struggled with thankfulness for being a stay-at-home mom, but God has been refocusing my perspective and it’s helping!  I have been contemplating re-entering the corporate world and as we’ve been thinking about that potential change I have been treasuring my position as a full-time mama, despite Wilder’s tantrums.  Realizing that I would be gone for such large chunks of the week and miss out on nurturing him, my attitude has changed to one of gratefulness that I am blessed to be with him now 100% of the time.  Though I can still get overwhelmed with what to do with such a strong-willed child, I am glad that we get to work through this period of his precious little life together, instead of on a part-time basis.

The nitty-gritty:

  • Focus on relationships this year
  • Identify and bask in your joy!
  • Pray, girl, pray!
  • Focus on thankfulness -in everything

Peace be yours and many, many blessings to you and your family.  Thanks for sharing this time with me!  Now, go talk to Aunt Margaret and don’t worry so much about the turkey!





Grateful

8 11 2009

A truly Uncommon Women, Crystal King,  mother of 6 and pastor’s wife in Southern California shares about family, homeschooling and her epiphany of gratefulness.  It’s inspiring, hilarious and encouraging.  Plus there are some really cute kids in the pictures.  Read on!

“Homeschooling has challenged me as a mother and simply as an individual.  Not much of a planner and usually rebellious against structure I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to follow the curriculum.  But like I learned on the Prism weight loss program, structure and committment are keys to accomplishing our goals….”  Click here for more!

 





Better in Business

4 11 2009

I ran across this short, light and highly informative article on Single Minded Women’s website.  It was exactly what I needed to hear today and I wanted to share it with you!  Don’t sabotage yourself -avoid this 4 traps we women fall into in business!

Here’s the article.





Balancing Priorities

25 10 2009

According to Webster, a priority is “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.”  When it comes to balancing priorities, we must first identify what our values are so we may order our priorities correctly.

This requires a bit of work, but -please- take a few extra minutes and do this with me. Grab your journal or even a scratch piece of paper and write these things out.  This is for you (and for me, too -I’m doing it along with you) and a mental list simply won’t cut it.  If you want to balance priorities in your life, you’ve got to put some effort into to.  Starting now.

Important: marked by or indicative of significant worth or consequence : valuable in content or relationship

Here’s our first assignment:  List the top 10 things that are important in your life.  (ie: goals, people, jobs, values, etc.) What is of greatest value to you?

What did you come up with? Were you surprised by your answers?  I always am.  Here’s my list; the first three are tops, but the rest are in no particular order.

-Family (husband, children)

-Relationship with God

-Fulfilling my purpose in Christ

-Being responsible with what I’ve been given

-Fun

-Creating

-Good physical health/exercise

-Rest -time for myself

-Relationships -extended family and friends

-Creating a peaceful environment and homelife, nurturing

Looking at your list, does your daily life reflect these things? If you’re like me (and I’m betting most of you are) you’ll already see there’s a contradiction between our values and how we ration our time.  Yep, I can already see several things that I need to rearrange in my life.  On to the next step.

Step 2: Pick the top 5 most important items in your list and write down how you can begin to integrate them into your daily life in order to bring greater balance and satisfaction to you. You might pick one or two that stand out on your list as things you’ve been meaning to work on, such as physical wellness or rebuilding relationships.

Relationship with God Daily quiet time, get in a community-based bible study for fellowship and accountability.

Family Stop working when Brian gets home until Wilder goes down to bed.  Focus on my family during that time.  Make nice dinners we can enjoy as a family and/or couple.

Fulfilling my purpose in Christ Prayerfully consider directions with Uncommon Women, seek guidance from godly women, focus on being the best mom and wife I can be.

-Relationships (cringe) Write more letters and start remembering people’s birthdays and special occasions.

Rest Create a sabbath, a time of rest.  Spend time each day surrendering to Christ and working on it as an attitude.  Focus each day on my little girl growing inside me, praying for her and connecting.  I need to rest so I can have the energy and focus for the other wonderful people and things in my life.

Oh, I feel better already!  Do you?  Hm… for those of you who said, “No” consider this:  What is blocking you from making these things top priorities? What is keeping you from truly LIVING what is important to you?

Think about that.  WRITE IT DOWN.  Really communicate with yourself and write out what’s going on.  Too many activities, not enough time? It’s time to start simplifying in order  to increase your quality of life, and the quality of life for your family.  Hey, I’m in that same boat, ladies, and I understand the struggle.  Having a 2 year old, anticipating a new little one, starting up new businesses and organizations, running a household, literally working from dawn to practically dawn -it’s tough!  And it’s so easy to lose focus on what is truly important to you.

Sometimes we aren’t living our top priorities because we’re trapped in fear, not believing that we can do or be more or afraid of what others will think.  DO NOT let fear stop you from living you passions or your dreams. Yes, we need to be wise and cautious, not jumping into things without thinking, but we need to live the lives we’ve been created to lead -and those are lives of victory, great fulfillment, and abundant joy.

Order your life to fit your priorities, don’t let The Urgent make those decisions for you.  My dear friend and mentor, Gina Murrow, coached me on The Tyranny of the Urgent versus The Important.  Just hearing that concept changes how you think, doesn’t it?

I have started keeping a mid-sized white board by my computer that I update daily.  I have a list of The Important and The Urgent, as well as a list of to-dos for the week.  I check things off, I write new things down – it’s a way for me to keep perspective on my day.  When I get sidetracked by something on the computer that fritters away my time, I am learning to stop and get back on course.  I’m also learning to say “no” to email addiction.  You know what I’m talking about -that impulse to check email every 10 minutes so you can stay on top of the latest communication.  It all comes down to being purposeful and intentional with our time. I am choosing to stop my work to spend time with Wilder while he’s playing so I don’t miss out on those precious moments.  I am choosing to allot several minutes to electronic communication and conquering my to-do list during nap time instead of browsing folks and companies on Twitter (oh, so tempting…) I am choosing to plan dinner ahead of time so I can provide a peaceful and enjoyable evening for my husband after his 14 hour work days.

Live your priorities, not The Urgent. We live in a day of urgency, which gives no rest, no peace, no deeper fulfillment and we must choose to stop. Take control of how your life is lived and reflect on these verses with me.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13

That means the strength to stop.  The strength to take care of yourself.  The strength to live your priorities, not the world’s expectation of you.

Peace be with you as you begin to live in greater fullness.