nancy williams

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Archive for July, 2010

Supporting Our Children – Now That They’re Grown

I’ve been writing a book for parents whose children have become adults. Perhaps you fit that description, as I do. Or, you may have young adults in your life that you care about. Our adult children face numerous challenges as they embrace this new life passage, and we want to support them in every way possible.

We can offer wise counsel and help when asked. We can step aside and encourage them to take responsibility for their lives as we establish healthy roles and boundaries. We can offer praise and excitement in their victories and comfort in their losses. Yet, the most powerful gift of love we can give is to lift them up in prayer to God who ultimately has their lives in His hands. It is our greatest privilege and our utmost responsibility as parents and caring adults.

I remember praying for my children during those first few days of their newborn lives as I looked ahead with hopes and dreams for them. I prayed when they started school as I considered the people who would influence them—both teachers and friends. My prayers for them stepped up considerably when they began driving and as they dealt with the challenges of being a teenager. Then they stepped into the role of adult as they began building their own lives. And I now realize how little control I have over their choices and futures. I know that the opportunities, challenges and decisions are greater than ever before, and the only way they can successfully manage them will be with God’s help. So, I continue to pray for them.

Our children need God’s wisdom to make the right choices for their lives. They need His protection from temptations that would distract them from the path God has planned for them. They need a keen awareness of His presence and the comfort of His promises as they face success and failure, joy and sorrow.

They need the support we can offer as we bring our praises and petitions for them to the Lord. And we need the comfort of knowing that while they are in control of their own lives, we still have a vital part to play by praying for them. When we talk to God about our children, we feel a sense of partnership with Him. We share our heart and ask Him to intervene, and He reminds us of His love for them and His desire to work in their lives. As we listen to Him, we grow in our understanding of Him and deepen our faith in His love, His mercy, His grace and His power.

Perhaps you’ve been praying for your children since they were born. Or maybe you began after a key event in their lives. You may be at a place now where you recognize the power and the potential that is available to you and your children and you want to begin praying for them. The opportunity is ours to show our love for them by talking to God about them and listening as He shares His heart with us.

When we have concerns about them, we can place our hope in God’s promise: “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).

We cannot control our adult children’s lives or their choices, but God can guide their steps, as long as their hearts are open to Him. In order for us to pray for them confidently, we must believe that God loves them and that His power to hear and answer our prayers is greater than any problems they may experience. We need to pray and trust God to work, believing He knows what is best and is at work in their lives, even when we don’t understand what’s happening. With those beliefs we’ll find the hope that will guide our thoughts and guard our hearts as we carry our concerns for our children to the Lord. So, let’s pray for them in a way that honors God, supports our children, and strengthens our own spiritual life.

What Does A Balanced Life Look Like?

The question often comes my way, “What does a ‘balanced life’ look like and how do you achieve and maintain one, especially when the world around you is spinning and sometimes feeling upside-down?” Then there was a recent query that prompted amusing conversation, “Nancy, if you are telling us how to live a balanced life, why are you leaning to the side in your picture?” Fair question, but first things first.

Check out the bookstore shelves and magazine displays, attend life improvement seminars, or simply involve yourself in conversations about how to make life work well and the subject of balance comes up. There’s so much emphasis for us to be all we can be, do all we can do, acquire all we can while maintaining a balanced life in the process.

Encarta Dictionary defines balance as a state in which various elements form a satisfying and harmonious whole and nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest. If we work from this definition, we find that balanced living doesn’t mean everything is the same. It doesn’t indicate perfection or the absence of conflict and it doesn’t reference a busy schedule. It does say that the components work together and complement rather than compete with each other. There’s a place for everything and each element’s needs are satisfied. They’re seen as part of a whole rather than individual, competing pieces. While each is unique and may have attention given at different times, a common thread connects them; and all work to achieve a unified purpose.

Building on this concept, we can examine the various elements of our lives and see what’s complimentary and what’s competing. Are the components – those things that capture our attention and fill our days with activity – connected to a common goal of building life as God designed? Do they make a place for each other and respect each other? Is there room for flexibility to address the unexpected that life can bring without resentment or loss of touch with those elements that are an integral part of the whole system? Bottom line: when you step back and look at your life over a period of time, do you see those things of value being nurtured?

In her book, “Balance That Works When Life Doesn’t” (Harvest House 2005) Susie Larson notes three important components of balanced living: input (nourishment), output (response) and rest (replenishment). Consider them physically, emotionally and spiritually. What are we bringing into our lives and how we are nourishing ourselves? What do we put into our bodies and our minds? How do we care for ourselves? What about our responses to life’s challenges and opportunities? What are we pouring out from our vessels? What are we giving out of the well of our own talents and blessings? Then there’s the need for rest. If we don’t replenish ourselves in all three aspects, how can we continue to meet life’s challenges and respond effectively to life’s opportunities?

A tall order, indeed. How thankful I am that we don’t have to do that on our own. God promises to order our steps, if we draw close and keep our eyes on him. He’ll mold and shape us into the person he created us to be, and help us follow his guidelines for living each day in a way that honors him and creates balance, no matter what life brings our way. We can take comfort from Paul’s encouraging word in Philippians 1:6 of the Bible’s New Testament, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”

Now, about that leaning picture. Life can be very serious at times, so, when you have opportunity to loosen up and have a little fun, it’s important to seize it. Keeping your feet on a firm foundation and your goals in focus while taking care of yourself, and allowing for flexibility and a touch of humor will help you “keep your balance” – and maybe even bring a smile to someone else!

From January’s Intentions to December’s Successes

Here we are at the halfway mark for 2010. Every year, about this time, I seem to make the same observation. So, I might as well echo the familiar sentiment: “My, how time flies!” Seriously, it does seem as if it was just yesterday when we welcomed in this year with enthusiasm, goals, good intentions, and hearts full of hope. We were determined to make this a successful year as we made commitments to do more of some things, less of others. Our intentions were well meaning and our momentum was strong as January began.

Then the year unfolded, the busyness of life set in, unexpected challenges and opportunities came along, and some of our intentions may have given way to distractions and life alterations. We meant well, yet, perhaps without realizing it, we were drifting off course. Now here we are, midway through the year, wondering. Are our goals still reachable? Can we really do what we set out to do? Can we keep the pace all the way to the finish line? If you are still working on your goals and are in line with your expectations, these four tips can help you continue on that path. If you’ve drifted off course, don’t be discouraged. It’s not too late. Now is a great time to regain your focus, reevaluate your goals and expectations, and rekindle your commitment. Wherever you are on your journey, consider these four tips that will help you “stay” the course and turn your positive intentions into end-of-the-year successes.

S – First, Set a course of direction and Sharpen your focus. Ask yourself: What do you want to “be”? What do you want your life to reflect? Now, what do you want to “do” with your life that will help you be that reflection? Spend time asking the Lord to show you his desires for your life, then sharpen your focus in the direction you want to head this year.

T – Take time to set goals that will move you forward along the path you’ve chosen. There are many good things to choose from but it is up to each of us to carefully, and prayerfully, choose only those actions that will help us live our best lives and honor God’s unique desires for each of us. That means we need to take time to seek His guidance. He tells us He knows the plans He has for us. He also encourages us to seek Him with all our heart.

A – Once you set those goals, look ahead on your calendar and mark time periodically (perhaps monthly or midway through the remainder of the year) to Assess where you are with your goals. Some are great and need to continue. Others made need to be adjusted or set aside and replaced with new goals more in line with the shifts that occur in life. Taking time to assess where you are versus where you want to be and what you want to do is a critical, yet often overlooked step. Not doing so may result in drifting off course and not making it to the finish line.

Y – The final letter in our key word stands for You. If you want to reach your goals this year, and if you want to enjoy the journey along the way, you must take care of yourself. Physically. Emotionally. Financially. Spiritually. In your relationships. In all aspects of your life. Demands pull us in different directions, draining our energy and resources. If we’re not careful, we’ll get caught in the web of life’s stresses and pressures, and loose ourselves in the process. Make sure that in the busyness of life, you set aside time to care for yourself so you can fully live the life God designed for you.

While we don’t know how the remainder of this year will unfold, we do know that God promises to walk along side us if we invite Him, and to provide us with all we need for the journey. As we draw close to Him, we’ll not only find what we need, we’ll also find joy along the journey. So, step out, stay the course, and see what He has in store for you.