Willing to Make a Change?

I think a lot about change, and frequently write about it. Maybe because I’ve experienced so much change in my life due to both choices and things out of my control.

When we become comfortable or lazy, we often avoid making change, even though it could make our lives better. In our own home, we've recently had a few situations that relay that very thing.

We remodeled a large portion of our home about four years ago and purchased a beautiful lamp to hang over a table set in a kitchen nook. I’ve included a photo here. There’s a large bay window to the left, which lets in a lot of light during the day. But in the evening, that space has always felt too dark. I thought it was because the light from the lamp shone up instead of down. The lack of light has bothered me all this time, but I thought I had to live with it. The other day, after listening to me complain, my husband decided to put in bulbs with a higher wattage. Problem solved! I just shook my head. How silly to not have tried that solution a long time ago. All it took was being willing to change the light bulbs!

I was an avid recycler before marrying my husband. I suggested to him that we recycle, but it just kept getting delayed. Neither one of us made the call; he was hesitate, wondering where we’d fit another bin in our garage. Then one day I looked closer at our garbage bill and inquired about a charge that didn’t make sense to me. We discovered that whether we recycled or not, we were being charged for a bin. Well, that clenched the deal! Turns out that with replacing our large garbage can with a smaller can and a recycling bin, we not only saved on our regular bill, we got paid for our recyclables. Go figure! We just had to be willing to make a change!

Sometimes we choose to make much more serious and difficult changes, knowing it’s the right thing to do.

When my oldest daughter and her husband decided to accept a job promotion for him and move from Seattle to Brooklyn, New York, it was hard on everyone. We’re a close family, and the thought of them living on the opposite coast was not an easy change to accept. But we all knew it was the right thing for them. My daughter is an actress. What a wonderful opportunity for her. They love their life in New York. They’re not here for holidays, but we use the Internet and web cams to be together. We all make trips back and forth from one coast to the other, and utilize Facebook on a daily basis to keep up with each other’s lives. My daughter and her husband are living their dream—but they had to be willing to make a change.

A young woman I know partied hardy in high school and college. But once she got out on her own, she found a church where she made new friends and grew spiritually. Her old friends were threatened by the changes they saw taking place, and were afraid of losing her. They were jealous of the role her new friends played in her life. She had to show them that even though things wouldn't necessarily be the same, she wasn't abandoning them or their relationship. She had to be willing to change in order to find peace in her life, but her old friends had to accept that she wasn’t the same person.

I’ve seen husbands and wives fearful of changes their spouses want to make—whether it’s returning to school, finding a job, or losing weight. The insecurity of one hinders the other from making changes. How sad. If one person is hungry for change and is held back, resentment will grow. What the husband or wife feared may happen anyway. They may lose a spouse because of not being willing to change.

The Tartar tribes of central Asia used a particular curse against their enemies. They didn’t call for the people to suffer terrible illness or death. Instead, they said, “May you stay in one place forever.” Think about it. The worst thing they could wish for their enemy was for them not to grow, but to remain stuck where they were.

If you are contemplating a change … or are faced with accepting a change you’re not sure you want … give it a chance. Don’t be afraid of trying something new.

Without changing, a caterpillar would never become a butterfly …


What Does It Say About You?

Personalized license plates and frames are great. They tell so much about people's personalities, their sense of humor, or what’s important to them.

A friend of mine has a frame around her license plate that reads, “Drive Only as Fast as Your Angels Can Fly.” Another friend’s says, “My Other Car is a Broom.”

My youngest daughter graduated from Washington State University. The school’s mascot is a cougar. For awhile my license plate frame read “WSU – Cougar Mom.” I never thought about the other meaning that could relay. Cougar mom—yikes! LOL My new frame says, “I’d Rather be Writing.”

You’ve probably seen the popular “Whoever Has the Most Toys Wins.” Really? At what?

I once saw a personalized frame that said, “Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans.” Maybe I'm being too analytical, but what does that mean?

Has the driver become cynical? Did he once ask for God’s help with his dreams and aspirations, but failing to accomplish them, now blames God? Does he believe that God sits on a throne, laughing at us while thinking of ways to thwart our plans?

Perhaps God laughs because he sees the humor in us trying to do our own thing, thinking we know what we need. God sees the bigger picture. He knows what’s really up ahead and what’s best for us.

Or … does the driver believe that God delights in our hopes, dreams, and plans so much, that it sets him to laughing from pure joy at our willingness to share them?

What does your license frame say?

Happy driving,

What If?

Have you ever asked what if?

Like … what if I had finished college?

What if I had excercised more last year?

What if I had been brave enough to try out for a part in the community play?

When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to attend a missionary training school after high school. My parents refused, and insisted that I graduate from college before making that decision. Three weeks after I graduated with a BS, I got married. I never became a missionary. And sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I had followed that path. It’s not that I feel going to college was a mistake. It’s more out of curiosity that I wonder what if?

Part of what my writer friends and I do when we meet to critique each other’s work is to brainstorm problem areas in our manuscripts. We throw out ideas starting sentences with, “What if …?” What if the smell of coffee makes the heroine nauseous, but the hero owns a coffee shop? Our wacky ideas lead us down trails that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. But the exercise opens our minds to possibilities.

I recently watched a new movie on one of the Christian channels (GMC) called What If? The lead was played by Kevin Sorbo, and the movie was produced by Jerry Jenkins. When I first began watching I thought, boring. I’d seen the same storyline in three other movies over the holidays. Hero (or heroine) is successful in business and gets a second chance to see what his life would have been like if he had married his college sweetheart, started a family, and lived a simpler life.

But then the movie took a turn. It wasn’t just about what if he'd made a different career choice. Instead of taking a short detour like he’d promised his fiancĂ©, the hero had chosen to continue on the detour and not follow his real calling—to become a minister. In the movie he was able to see how different his lives and the lives of others would have been.

I guess that’s what struck me about this film. What if we know our calling, and decide not to follow it? Out of fear we’ll fail. (The bills have to be paid, after all! And then there's that thing called pride.) Maybe we’re afraid that others won’t understand or approve. Some of us may refuse to follow our calling because we don’t like change—we’re too comfortable where we are. We may even fear success.

I’m not just talking about a calling to be a minister or a missionary. I’m talking about whatever God has placed in our hearts. A passion for something that nothing else can fill. A calling also involves using the gifts and talents God has given us to make the lives of those around us better.

So what if? What if we follow that calling?

And what if we don’t?


Book Review – The Fire in Ember by DiAnn Mills

I’ve been a DiAnn Mills fan for some time. Her novels have always delivered, and DiAnn’s latest historical romance, The Fire in Ember, is no exception. It’s actually moved to the top of the list and become my favorite novel by this author.

Some of the characters from her previous novel, A Woman Called Sage, are included in this story. It was great fun for me to be reunited with those people, but it’s not necessary to read the prior novel in order to understand or enjoy The Fire in Ember.

The story takes place in 1888. Deputy John Timmons feels responsible for his widowed mother and four younger brothers. Besides helping to keep the law in the area, he runs the ranch that provides for his family.

John’s world gets shaken up when he rescues a boy, Bert, who is about to be hanged by the owner’s ranch hands for stealing a valuable horse. The boy insists he didn’t steal the horse, but the owner wants to be compensated for the time the animal was missing. Afraid the boy will be harmed, John pays the rancher and takes Bert home to work the debt off on his own ranch. It’s only then that he and his family discover Bert is really a seventeen-year-old girl.

Bert (Ember) has never been treated so kindly, and she’s happy to work as hard as she can for them. The Timmons share their faith and love for God with her—something she’s never experienced. But once her debt has been paid, she plans to leave the ranch, afraid of being found by brothers who abused her.

When cattle rustlers begin attacking the area ranches, Bert fears her brothers might be the culprits. She worries they’ll find her and hurt the family she cares for. But ashamed of her past, and not wanting to put anyone in danger, she keeps her former life a secret.

John and Bert fall in love, but she’s convinced that she’s not good enough for him. And when cattle continue to be taken from surrounding ranches, he becomes uncertain whether he can trust her.

This novel is an action-packed adventure with twists and turns. The Fire in Ember is about facing fears with courage—trusting that God will help. It’s also about sacrifice, family love, and release from bondage (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) by sharing the truth.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical romance with a Christian world view.

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills has fifty books in print and has sold more than a million and half copies. She was a finalist in the 2008 Christy Award for her novel Lightening and Lace. She is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for 2005 and 2007. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and live in Houston, Texas.

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