Growth Charts

personal growthHave you ever stood as straight and tall as possible, back against the wall, while your height was recorded?

My childhood home had a wall where such measurements were displayed. A pencil was placed level with the top of my head and a mark made on the wall. If I’d grown, the date and my name would be printed beside this line. The same would happen for my siblings.

I had such a wall for my children and my daughter has maintained this tradition for her children. Down through the generations, we like to see a tangible sign of our growth.

Physical growth is important to record. My grandson, who recently surpassed me in height, can attest to that!

I haven’t gained in height for many years and lately seem to be getting shorter. These days it is other forms of personal growth I’m looking to achieve.

Marks on the wall would make it easier to measure if I’m growing or shrinking but that’s not how this growth works.

Instead I need to ask myself some tough questions. Have I challenged myself to learn something new? Do I explore creative possibilities? When was the last time I stepped out of my comfort zone? Am I reaching out to connect with new people? How am I doing with my commitment to make a difference?

It can be quite comfortable to stay in my safe, predictable routine but that is when my growth stops and my life becomes smaller.

My best intentions have to be put into action to ensure my personal growth. There is no better time than now to stretch myself in new ways. Who wants to join me? Accountability partners are welcomed!

One Shoe Dance

dance, distraction, perseveranceEmily is passionate about Highland Dancing. She works hard and was starting to “place” in competitions. One of the dances was more of a challenge than the others.

In the Sword Dance, two swords are placed on the floor in a cross pattern. The complicated dance steps move between and around each quadrant. Avoiding contact with the swords adds another layer of difficulty. Demerit points are issued if one is touched.

At one competition Emily took her place behind the swords. The piper started playing. In the first eight beats of music she prepared for the dance by positioning herself and placing hands on hips. In the next eight beats she made eye contact with the adjudicator and gave a slight bow. Eight more beats and with arms high above her head, the dance started.dance, missing shoe

As Emily executed the intricate steps, the lace on her right shoe started to loosen. Soon the shoe was completely untied. Instead of being distracted, she kept her focus – even when the shoe worked its way completely off of her foot. Her steps remained quick and accurate. The dance ended, Emily bowed again to the adjudicator and smiled as she picked up her shoe. She had completed the dance without touching a sword. Even better, she “placed” in the sword dance that day.

Emily’s focus and determination taught me an important lesson. Unexpected challenges may come my way but I don’t need to let them stop me. If I focus on my goal rather than the distraction, I, too, can end up a winner.

Step Out

#inspiration, #God, #Lord, faithThe English speaking church we attend in Mexico had an interesting beginning. We have met the Canadian couple who were instrumental in the formation of the church. I enjoyed hearing the story both from their perspective and that of the pastor.

After wintering in the area for several years, this couple could see the need for a church service in English. They learned of a pastor in the area who was bilingual and approached him with their idea.

He could see the merit in this but didn’t feel his language skill were good enough. After more conversation he thought it might be possible. “We can start next year” he said.

The immediate response of, “How about next week?” took him by surprise. Sensing this was God’s will, he agreed. The next Sunday fourteen people were in attendance for the first service in English. That was over ten years ago.

We appreciate the ministry of our Mexican church home. I have been privileged to be in attendance for both multicultural and outreach events with the English and Spanish congregations working side by side.

I am grateful for the pastor who didn’t feel equipped but accepted the challenge. He did not give in to the natural tendency to say, “No” or put off what seems too much to handle. Instead, he stepped out in faith and trusted God to lead the way.

This story has inspired me. I know that God has big plans for each of us. He doesn’t always call those of us who feel equipped. Instead, He calls those who are willing and equips them. When I step out in faith and trust the Lord, there is no limit to what He may enable me to do.

Don’t Hold Your Breath

#inspiration, challenge, changeI don’t fully understand why, but many of my story ideas come during exercise class.  It may be triggered by something the instructor or another participant said. Sometimes it’s the completely random thoughts that seem to flow when my body is in motion.

This particular inspiration came from the instruction given in a class. “Don’t hold your breath when things get hard” we were told. She said the toughest part wouldn’t last long and we needed to know how to breathe through it. We were instructed to inhale when the going is easier and exhale through the most physically demanding time. Not only would this help us work through the exertions, it would build strength and endurance.

I think this hold true for more than just physical exercise. When times get tough I tend to hold my breath and hope the difficulty passes quickly. The end result is never what I hoped for. I end up feeling weaker and don’t have the strength to fight through the situation. Sometimes I get so tired I give up.

I’ve heard it said that without challenge there is no change. This is a good reminder for me to fight through the challenge and keep moving forward. Each deep breath I take will bring me closer to my goal. When I reach the other side I will see that the positive change experienced was worth the temporary discomfort.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” quote often credited to Albert Einstein