Surrender Control: Give It to God

I know I’m not the only one that has control issues. Would it be nice to delegate tasks to others and take some stress off my shoulders? Sure. But then I’d just stress that they’re not doing it the way I would. Who’s with me? But if we’re supposed to have faith in a bigger power and a greater plan for our lives, how do we surrender control?

Surrender Control

This is one of those things that creates a power struggle in my mind. As I continue to build my relationship with God, I want to have unwavering faith in Him and His plan for my life. I want to replace all of my worries with trust. It’s so easy to say I want to surrender control. However, I also want to know exactly when and how everything will happen. I want to know the impact my actions will have. And, on occasion, I think I have things figured out enough to assume I know what is going to take place. And we all know what happens when we assume things…

My mind works on overtime. It likes to analyze things. It’s no surprise I make a good Financial Analyst. It also means I think about things I don’t need to. I imagine all kinds of crazy scenarios that will likely never occur, but I play them out in my head anyway. While that may be great when I’m writing, it’s not so great when I turn every small decision into a cluster. Like what would happen if we move our kids to a new school? Sure, they’ll probably make new friends and do okay. But what if they don’t get the education they’re supposed to or the experiences they need to properly reach their potential, and I effectively set them up to fail at realizing their purposes in life? Sigh.

So how do I surrender?

Step 1: Recognize

Once I realize my wheels are spinning in the muddy gunk of worry and speculation, I take a deep breath. I clear my mind. I tell myself to stop (sometimes out loud). Then I back up and think about what it is I’m really spinning around. After I have that identified, I determine whether or not it is something I can control.

It turns out there are actually very few things I can control:

My choices
My feelings
My attitude
My actions/reactions

It really all comes down to my choices. While they can seem instinctive or out of my control at times, I do choose my feelings, attitude, and actions. Or at least, I choose how long I want to stay in those feelings or keep that attitude. However, I cannot control what others do or what happens to me. And, as much as I would like, I really cannot control the outcome of my choices. At most, I can just increase the odds. For example, choosing to wear a hat outside in twenty degree temperatures will increase the likelihood that I will remain healthy, but it certainly does not guarantee I will not catch a cold.

If it is not something I can choose, I release it (see Step 3), but if it is a choice I can make, I seek guidance through prayer.

Step 2: Pray

Once I’ve recognized what’s really weighing on my mind and that it’s within my control, I pray on it. I lay out my thoughts to God. I identify the choice I have to make, my concerns, and my desired outcome. While many things are outside of my control, I still believe it is important to ask for what I want and be intentional in these requests. After all, I prescribe to the “ask, believe, receive” and “power of positive thinking” belief systems.

Check out my favorite books that expand on these ideas

I ask God for guidance so I can make the right choice. And by right choice, I don’t mean what I want or think is right. I am asking that He reveal to me the choice that aligns with His will and His plans. Then if what I want and what I am supposed to do are two different things, I have to actually accept this and follow through. Control issues and stubbornness – yes, I have them both!

Finally in these prayers, as with most of my prayers, I find something to be thankful for. I give thanks for the situation or the person or even the smallest detail. I also acknowledge the fact that everything I do and ask for is at the mercy of God’s will and timeline. And above all, I want to live my life and make my choices in accordance with His plan.

Jeremiah29:11

Step 3: Release

The last step is for me to surrender and let it go. Whether or not my concern is something I can control, I release it to God. I give Him my worries and place the decision in His hands. For those things outside of my control, I may still declare my desires, but in the end I am still surrendering the outcome to God.

Truly letting go has been the hardest part for me. I can recognize and I can pray. I can even say I give it to God. But letting go and not worrying anymore, no longer dreaming up every scenario and possibility, is significantly more difficult.

I am not saying that I plan to just give up everything and sit around waiting for results. That’s not how it works. I have to be intentional in my words and actions. I have to seek opportunities and be open to signs and guidance. I’m certainly far from perfect. This is one of those things I’m still working on. But by identifying this simple process, it makes it a lot easier to be consistent and work to surrender the control.

New Year’s Resolutions: Be More Me

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It’s New Year’s Eve. That time when you reflect on all that has happened the past year as you hopelessly attempt to find a place for all of the new things you’ve been gifted. And you might even contemplate your hopes and resolutions for the new year as you remember the mass quantities of cookies you consumed over the past week.

2017 has been a wonderful year for us. Troy and I both took on new responsibilities at work. We made it to a couple different concerts and even went on a couple mini vacations without the kids. We took the kids to the beach for the first time. My parents and sisters visited.

It was an especially eventful year for A. She had her first dance recital, played tee ball, and started Pre-K. T has grown so much in the past year. His curiosity never ends, which gets him in trouble when he does things like climb the pantry shelves or climb on top of his dresser during nap time (see the pattern?).

I wrote multiple short stories, entered a couple in a Facebook group’s contests, and have begun to narrow my genre and desired target audience. I started this blog. I submitted my first children’s story to a couple different traditional publishers (still waiting for good news). And, most importantly, I have strengthened my relationship with God, continually learning and growing in my faith.

Was 2017 perfect? Of course not! But all in all, it has been great. So what are my expectations for 2018? What are my resolutions? I plan to keep the momentum going. Let’s build on where we are and make things even better. I want to keep being me…a better version of me…a me-er me (yes, I’m making up words now).

How can I be more “me”?

Stay Healthy

Insert the typical resolutions. I want to eat healthier. Not all the time. I don’t do diets. I just want to make healthier choices most of the time. I’m not going to be the one giving up pizza or ice cream or carbs. I know the ramifications, and I’m at peace with this decision.

I plan to keep my commitment to exercising 3-5 times per week. This has been my status quo, but in the past few months, as life got busy, I let this slip a bit. And I felt it. It’s not about changing my physical appearance. I feel better emotionally and mentally when I work out. It’s a great stress reliever, even if it’s just 30 minutes over my lunch break.

And that brings me to the last piece of this resolution. I need to remember to take care of my mental and emotional health too. I need to do a better job of recognizing when I am stressed or mentally drained. Then I need to remove myself, at least temporarily, take some time to relax, regroup, or otherwise take care of me.

Pursue Purpose

The more I write, the more I am certain it is something I am meant to do. That doesn’t mean I want to make it my full time job. I don’t aspire to be the next J. K. Rowling. I just want to write each day and complete any stories I dream up, even if they turn out to be terrible.

When I do have projects that I am proud of, I will attempt to have them published and shared with others. While it is not my goal to become famous or make money from my writing, I still feel it is important to share it with others in hopes that it may have a positive impact on even just a select few.

Grow Faith

Finally, but most importantly, I want to continue growing my faith and building my relationship with God. I will start using a prayer journal (this is the one I bought) so I can be more intentional in giving thanks, asking for help, and declaring my desires. While I know that everything happens through Him, I still need to work on letting go of the control I like to have over my life.

I look forward to all that 2018 will have to offer as I continue my journey to discovering who I am meant to be. While there will certainly be downs with the ups, I trust that whatever God may place in my life, it will strengthen me. Best wishes as you strive to achieve your resolutions. May you have a blessed new year!

Finding the Christmas Spirit

I love the holiday season! The lights and decorations, the beautiful Christmas cards, loads of desserts, giving the perfect gifts to loved ones, experiencing pure wonder and joy through my children’s eyes. As they get older, though, my hope is that I can help them keep the true spirit and meaning of Christmas in the forefront of their thoughts through the season.

Here are a few ways we keep the Christmas spirit alive

Christmas Story

No, not the movie. The Bible story. We have multiple books that tell the story of Jesus’ birth. We read them multiple times in December, as well as periodically throughout the year. My two year old son (T) doesn’t grasp it yet, but my four year old (A) asks plenty of questions. We discuss why an angel visited Mary and Joseph, why they had to travel to Bethlehem, what the star meant, why King Herod was mean, etc. Yes, she’s this curious about everything, and all of our story times are filled with a multitude questions. I love that about her.

The beautiful nativity scene my husband’s grandma gave us is set up in the living room. This sparks daily games of “Who’s that?” and “What’s he doing?” with my son. My daughter has started fielding these questions on occasion. My heart swells knowing that she is learning and retaining this information.

Giving to others

I want my kids to find joy in giving to others. To realize that giving feels as good as, if not better than, receiving. We do this in a few ways.

Each year, I participate in the toy drive at my work. I pick a tag and bring it home to show the kids. We go to the store, usually the following weekend, and they are in charge of choosing the gift. Since the recipients have been much older than my kids (10-13), it has been difficult for them to gage age-appropriate gifts. So I typically narrow it down to a handful of choices for them. We also talk about how some kids do not have very many toys and that not every family has the money to buy Christmas presents.

Our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy, always has a request at some point during his stay that the kids sort through their toys. They find toys they no longer play with or can do without so they can be given to other kids. We talk about toys they loved at one time but may no longer have time for. They have to justify whether they really use a toy or if they’re just nervous to let go. Then we discuss how they are helping others feel the happiness they felt.

New this year, the kids have asked to give each other gifts. When my daughter asked me if she could give her brother a gift (and then he parroted the same sentiment), my heart melted into a pile of goo. Luckily, I had a couple extra books stashed away for future gifts. I let each go into my bedroom with me and help wrap their sibling’s present. A was so excited after wrapping T’s gift, she wanted to wake him up to show him. I eventually convinced her to accept my offer to allow them to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. This is when my sisters and I exchanged gifts, and I look forward to continuing this tradition with my kids.

 

Cut back on the gifts

I was so excited for A’s first Christmas! I bought all kinds of toys, clothes, and books. Everything was wrapped nicely with gift tags. Except for the bigger toys, which I, of course, assembled ahead of time. She was seven months old. I could’ve given her an Amazon box, it would have been a great day. The story was similar a year later. She was so overwhelmed between presents from us, Santa, grandparents, aunts/uncles, school, and other random people in our lives. By the end of the day, she could hardly tell you what she received, much less what she was excited about. It was then that I decided things had to change.

This will be the third year Santa will deliver 4 gifts for each child: something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need. I’m sure you’ve seen this floating around online and social media. Although, I think many people do this as the gifts from parents rather than from Santa. Here’s my take on it. I can explain how some families have money to buy expensive gifts or choose to do so while others don’t. What I can’t explain is why Santa gives so much to some and so little to others. The thought of this conversation breaks my heart. I wish more would consider this situation.

Not only does Santa bring less, but they also receive less from me and my husband. I would rather buy a handful of gifts I know they will love and appreciate than a heaping pile of every must have toy just to keep up with their friends. They still receive more than enough, and they never complain.

Earlier this month, A asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her, “I just want to enjoy time as a family.” She informed me that’s not a present. My response? It’s better than any present I could get. We had a brief conversation about gifts you don’t see, and she decided that spending time together was something she wanted, too.

Giving thanks

Last, but certainly not least, we practice thanksgiving. We talk about our blessings and give thanks to God. We discuss highlights of our day, as well as things we would have liked to do better. This is no different when it comes to Christmas, giving thanks for those that gave to us. And beyond giving thanks to God, they also express their gratitude directly to the gift givers.

 

I hope that you and your family have a blessed Christmas, filled with joy and gratitude. Keep in mind the reason for the season and keep that spirit alive for both yourself and your children. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!