Be Still And Know — A Not So Perfect Family Christmas

Have you ever received what seems like an impossible suggestion or request or even command? How do you deal with it?

It was late December. I’d been sick for about a month, and found out the previous Tuesday I had a sinus infection. I’d probably been sick with it most of that month, but at least now I was on antibiotics. The Friday after my diagnosis, we learned my husband, who had also been sick all month, had one, too. He was given the same antibiotics.

Being sick, however, didn’t stop the massive, out-of-control freight train that was my “To Do” list and schedule. I tried to delegate some. I asked my husband (who was home and retired while I was still working full-time) to wrap the gifts. Our son took on a majority of the cookie baking, as he had every year (whether I wanted him to or not) for the past 4 or 5 years. (I still had to do the ones for the Cookie Exchange at work, and of course I’d signed up for the most complex and painstaking monster of a project imaginable!!.) The pair of them even decorated the house and yard with lights, and put up the tree, though it stayed without ornaments for over 2 weeks. My husband helped me stuff the stockings. I asked our daughter to make our traditional Christmas dessert which her husband adores, Pumpkin Cheesecake. But I was still rushed, frazzled and quite frankly, worn out. There was just too much on that “To Do” list, too little time to do it, and I was still sick . . .

Finally, at church on the Sunday before Christmas, a friend read a Scripture that touched my heart. It spoke to my illness, my “To Do” list, my hectic schedule and my lack of joy in what is normally my favorite time of year. When I heard it, I felt like God was speaking the words to me, gently slapping me upside my head.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.” The words spoke life to my rushed, troubled heart. Sweeping aside my “To Do” list, my schedule and my self-imposed Christmas insanity, the words of Psalm 46 demanded a paradigm shift of my priorities, my schedule and my life.

“Be still and know that I am God.” They called me to rest. Not just sleep, which my still sick body desperately needed. No, these words were calling me to true rest and peace in God. To know that perfect isn’t required, and okay is good enough. To know that the menu isn’t important, it’s who is eating the food, and making sure was Jesus our Guest, too.

“Be still and know that I am God.” They called me to remember the Reason for the season. They reminded me again of what I’d known since childhood: Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior. It’s about His life, His sacrificial offering of Himself for us so that we can have a relationship with Him and His Father. It’s not about the food, the presents, the lights and all the other trappings, no matter how good they are. Because they are the “good” of the season, while the gift of Jesus was, is and always will be God’s greatest and best.

“Be still and know that I am God.” They insisted I deal with the emotional weight I’d been avoiding, of that first Christmas without my Mom being among us after her death the previous March. I was reminded she was celebrating the holiday with Jesus, and even though it’s different without her, and always will be, that’s okay.

“Be still and know that I am God.” They reminded me I’m not in control of my life, and God is. Even when I tried to give in to the illusion and deception of being a (recovering) control freak, the words cut through my feeble efforts to direct my life and reminded me there is One who is ultimately in control. And He is in control not just of my life, but of situations and circumstances beyond my comprehension, even reaching to the far-flung galaxies of the universe. The words reminded me I can trust the One who spun it all into existence, and holds it together by His will.

That last reminder was very helpful 2 days later (and 2 days before Christmas), when I got a call at work, telling me our daughter and 6 month old granddaughter had influenza, despite having gotten flu shots! (CDC says the shots don’t cover every strain, and they got one it didn’t, of course!) Our daughter and son-in-law wanted us to take the 2 older children (who were not sick), and have them stay with us from that day, through Christmas and for several days after.

“Be still and know that I am God.” These words ran through my mind repeatedly as I spoke to my husband, working out first if we could do it. Then, when we decided we could, we discussed the logistics of my work schedule and transportation needs, all now more complicated by the presence in our house of 2 girls, ages 4 and 6, for a few unexpected days.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Stuff I’d planned and we “always” do didn’t get done. Our daughter didn’t get the cheesecake baked before she got sick. Since small granddaughters prefer Christmas cookies to cheesecake, we were okay with that. My husband and son decorated the tree with the help of 2 small girls. As long as my delicate, breakable ornaments were put high by one of the men, I didn’t care what it looked like.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  The 4 year old and I started having coughing fits on Christmas Eve. I suspected exposure to my daughter (for me, prior to her showing symptoms on Sunday) was the culprit. Instead of the “perfect” family Christmas, we had one that was a different and not so perfect kind of family Christmas. We were missing Mom, and almost 1/2 of us were ill. But in its own way, it was perfect, because those ancient words prompted me to remember Christmas is perfect when we are with people we love and we have invited God and His presence and peace to be in our midst.

“Be still and know that I am God.” I pray your holiday season will be filled with the gentle stillness of God’s loving presence and at least some of the people you love.

Merry Christmas!

When Pain Mocks The Song — Even In The Christmas Update Letter by Terri Brady

Success 401 — Putting It All Together

As you recall, in my previous several posts, I have been discussing the principles of success as laid out by Robert Kiyosaki in his Cash Flow books. These are Long Term Thinking, Delayed Gratification and The Power of Compounding.

Let’s review what we’ve learned so far. Long Term Thinking is the element of patience over the long haul. It is the skill of hanging in to see something through to its end. It’s not getting our attention swayed by distractions or “good” things when we are holding out for the “best” things in our lives. It’s holding on when others have let go.

Delayed Gratification is denying ourselves something now, to use it as a leverage over ourselves when we achieve something later. We could perhaps afford it now (or maybe not), but as we keep to the discipline of denying it to ourselves until we reach our goal, it helps us to find the motivation to achieve what we want.

The Power of Compounding is the secret that small things, done consistently and with discipline, combine into great things. It’s the secret of the snowball and avalanche. Alone, snowflakes are nothing, and melt easily. When combined into a snowball, they are a bit more intimidating, especially if someone is throwing it at you! When joined into an avalanche, they are devastating in their impact.

So, how can we put them all together?? We do it by remembering that while these secrets work well alone, they work even better together. The synergy created when all three are combined is very powerful!

Consider personal growth, for example. Books, CD’s and events with positive, motivating people are proven methods when used in combination for adults to learn and grow personally and professionally. However, the process takes time, and results are often not seen immediately. Over a year or three, however, the change becomes evident.

That’s because The Power of Compounding is especially powerful when paired with the Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification. While our penny a day example we discussed in The Power of Compounding post radically compounds over 30 days, in real life, The Power of Compounding takes time, and Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification are definitely required to see the process through. This is especially true in matters of personal and professional growth! Having patience with the process is a necessary skill successful people develop. Those who are quickly frustrated or bored will hop to the next shiny object to attract their attention, before The Power of Compounding, Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification has done its work in their lives.

So, what does all this have to do with success?? Remember my first post in this series when I was talking about the super-successful 1% born into the wealthiest, the 95% of most of us who aren’t super-successful, and the 4% who joined the wealthiest super-successful? The final 4% or so are those who were born into the 95%, but who through diligent work, study, learning and application of a few simple success principles launched themselves into the rarefied air of the 1%, making that total about 5%. In other words, they implemented the secrets contained in The Power of Compounding, Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification to achieve their goals and dreams!

The books, CD’s and events hosted by LIFE Leadership are a remarkable and simple way to achieve personal and professional success through The Power of Compounding, Long Term Thinking and Delayed Gratification. These are principles LIFE Leadership teaches, and where I learned most of what I know about them. I invite you to find out for yourself.

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Success 301 — The Power of Compounding

In my earlier posts, I discussed the idea the secrets of success are available to all of us, and not just the fortunate few in life. I mentioned best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki and his Cash Flow book series, and the clues he shares in it. In this post, we’ll discuss clue #3, The Power of Compounding.

If you will recall, I started this series with a story about talking to someone about whether they wanted a penny a day doubled, or $1 million. They chose the $1 million, not understanding the concepts of The Power of Compounding.

So, what happens when you use The Power of Compounding and double a penny daily for 31 days? The following chart is eye-opening!

DAY AMOUNT
1 $0.01
2 $0.02
3 $0.04
4 $0.08
5 $0.16
6 $0.32
7 $0.64
8 $1.28
9 $2.56
10 $5.12
11 $10.24
12 $20.48
13 $49.96
14 $81.92
15 $163.84
16 $327.68
17 $655.35
18 $1,310.72
19 $2,621.44
20 $5,242.88
21 $10,485.76
22 $20,971.52
23 $41,983.04
24 $83,886.07
25 $167,772.16
26 $335,544.32
27 $671,088.64
28 $1,342,177.28
29 $2,684,354.56
30 $5,368,709.12
31 $10,737,418.24

Now that we see the amazing things The Power of Compounding can do, how can we put it to use for ourselves, in our lives? Author Jeff Olson wrote about it in his book The Slight Edge.

He said small activities compound themselves over time. These result in big changes in our lives. When considering the impact incremental changes make in our lives, think about how much your body would change in a year if all you did was eat 1 donut every day, in addition to what you are eating now, without adding or subtracting anything else, or any exercise. What would happen? You’d gain weight!

In the same way,  saving a little money every month for years, slowly accumulating it, letting interest compound and never touching the balance will result in a nice nest egg years later if you start young. That’s why noted scientist (and acknowledged genius) Albert Einstein called The Power of Compounding Interest the 8th wonder of the world!

As you can see by these examples, The Power of Compounding can be used in our favor, or for our harm. In my next post, I’ll put all of what we’ve discussed so far together, and see where we’ve come out.

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Success 201 – Delayed Gratification

In my earlier posts, I discussed the idea the secrets of success are available to all of us, and not just the fortunate few in life. I mentioned best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki and his Cash Flow book series, and the clues he shares in it. In this post, we’ll discuss clue #2, Delayed Gratification.

What is Delayed Gratification? If you ask some people, you might get a blank stare of confusion. It is unusual to find people who actually understand it today.

However, prior to the 1960’s, Delayed Gratification was common in Western culture. Previous generations understood it very well. Credit was almost unknown to them. Purchases were made with cash or barter. Some of the only parts of society that had credit were businesses (though most operated on a cash basis) and the few who had mortgages for their homes or farms.

Today we have a credit driven culture. We often hear of young people graduating college many thousands of dollars in debt, not just in their student loans, but also because of credit cards, overspending and a failure to practice Delayed Gratification. We often hear of coworkers and relatives struggling with their finances because they got mortgages they couldn’t really afford or credit card debt due to not practicing Delayed Gratification. Some of this debt is due to life circumstances, such as job loss or catastrophic medical bills, but much more is due to a failure to practice Delayed Gratification than for other reasons.

We use Delayed Gratification when we see something we want, but don’t buy it immediately. We use the Long Term Thinking we discussed in my last post and set a goal to reach toward, understanding after we do the work to meet the goal, we can reward ourselves with the desired item.

To practice Delayed Gratification like that produces self-discipline as we do it over and over. Instead of acting on our impulses like small children, we grow into ourselves maturity and self-respect. We know we can see something we want, set goals, practice Delayed Gratification, apply some hard work and see the fruits of our rewards become manifest in our lives.

Toward this means, another purpose of Delayed Gratification is to teach us the stuff we set goals to acquire is just that, stuff. We learn the process and growth within the process is more important than the reward. By learning these things, we also learn some of the proper place in our lives of stuff, below invaluable things like relationships and undefinable things like life lessons.

I didn’t understand Delayed Gratification early in my adult life. I was a college student, paying for my needs with student loans and part-time jobs. A bit later, we got married. He’s a bit older than I am, and came equipped with credit cards, savings and cash to buy whatever we wanted and needed. A long series of financially unwise choices, including a failure to live frugally, and emergencies led to a crushing load of debt. Almost all this was debt we could have otherwise avoided, had we practiced Delayed Gratification.

It took us several years and information from our mentors and what we learned through the materials (particularly the best-selling Financial Fitness package) from LIFE Leadership to straighten out our financial mess caused by our own personal failure to practice Delayed Gratification. Now, we look at things we want, and if it’s not an immediate need we cannot live without (like necessary car repairs or medical bills), we look at our list of goals, decide where it would be appropriate on that list to reward ourselves with it, and put it on there.

Delayed Gratification is why our relatives think we’re out of touch with reality because we have smart phones but don’t use our data plan (as they do), and don’t have tablet computers (as they do). Do we have the money? Most folks have the money for something they really want, and if we looked, we could probably get a tablet. But practicing Delayed Gratification is teaching us discipline, self-denial and is an undeniable cure for the instant gratification culture in which we live today.

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