Is Your’s a Wonderful Life?

This Christmas we started a new tradition–watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. A classic.

I cried throughout. Despite the positive title, it revolves around situations, people, and events that keep George Bailey from the life he’s always dreamed of. And to top it off, a seemingly impossible crisis finds George a very desperate man.

Many people have been there, or will be some day. What makes life worth living? And how can we follow our dreams?

Here are two key factors:  God and being intentional.

I believe God makes life worth living because he gives me unconditional love, forgiveness, true freedom, purpose, and a hope for the future. And in turn, I can share those with others. Do we really have those things without God?

We can’t always plan how our lives are going to go. Look at George Bailey:  Nothing seemed to be turning out the way he wished, but he was a happy man in the end. At the same time, the dreams we have for our lives won’t happen unless we are intentional with how we live. For example, say you want to be a famous painter, but you spend every spare minute watching TV. A few years later, those hours watching TV haven’t brought you a single step closer to being that famous painter. (You might be able to tell I’ve been reading Quitter, by Jon Acuff)

So. New Year’s Day, I will be working my way through Michael Hyatt‘s Creating Your Personal Life Plan. That is my first step toward being intentional with my life.

What’s your plan for New Year’s Day….or your life?

What Will You Do?

There always have been and always will be obstacles and challenges in life. They surround us. It’s how we react to them that determines where and how far we go.

What’s your breaking point? At what point do you resign yourself to the “inevitable”? What has to happen for you to consider a goal in life not worth it anymore?

Too many people give up way too easily:  It’s too far to drive. I don’t want to give up my daily Starbucks for that financial goal. I don’t have time, I need to relax…in front of the TV. Still, there are fighters!

In fact, I saw a fighter tonight. She was running toward me. Usually I make eye contact with other runners and say “hey”, but she didn’t look my direction. That’s when I noticed she was missing a leg. In place of her leg was a prosthetic. Later, we passed again. This time I said, “Hey, you’re an inspiration!” She replied, “Thank you.”

How many people would have taken up running, without a leg? How many people would have even thought of the possibility? What about areas in our own lives? Things we have no control over…Things we may be missing….Things that make us different… Are we willing to think outside the box? Are we willing to commit the hard work? Are we willing to go a different route? Are we willing to push through the pain?

Are we willing to do what it takes to achieve dreams others label as impossible?

Do what you need to do to achieve your dreams!

Blessed.

Home Sweet Home

Yesterday we picked up the keys to our new home!!

It is an apartment; not a house. But that doesn’t make it any less special. Family members have lovingly provided a roof over our heads the past seven months; now we have our own place!

Getting an apartment, as opposed to a house, was slightly influenced by attending FPU. We want to be smart with our money. Even though we have enough money to get into the apartment, we don’t have enough yet to rent a U-Haul for all our stuff that is currently in storage. So, we’re going to temporarily make do. And fortunately for us, the couple that led our FPU small group is loaning us a set of pots and pans, and a few dishes. Otherwise, we have a couple camping chairs. And we’ll be sleeping on sleeping bags. I guess it’s a good thing we enjoy camping. And this has an upside–air conditioning and no bugs!

God’s Covenant

The most awesome part about yesterday…

When we stepped outside our apartment, there was a gigantic double rainbow right overhead. It reminded us of God’s promises:  God loves us, and will be with us. A rainbow is one of the only natural phenomenon mentioned in the Bible, that God used specifically to signify a covenant, and intended as a reminder in the future that he always keeps his promises.

We felt so blessed.

It’s been a year!

I published my very first post on July 21, 2011, titled The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams.

Let’s celebrate!

So much has changed in just a year! A year ago we debated moving halfway around the world. And my husband decided to quit his job to pursue his passion of the fine arts. Now, even though we decided not to move to Thailand, we do live in a very different city, and my husband has a very different job. It’s crazy all the things that can occur in a year. The craziest thing of all is that we both believe we’re exactly where God wants us.

In honor of my blog’s year anniversary, I thought I’d list my top five posts. This is based on the number of views each post received, not including being read from the home page view.

1.  WealthRock: Joseph Irons

2.  Financial Success: James Smith

3.  The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams

4.  Can Stress and Communication Co-exist?

5.  Get Motivated! Business Seminar

Thanks for reading!

FPU Goals

Attending Financial Peace University has been so inspiring!

What’s for dinner?

The other day my husband and I sat down to outline our financial plan for the next four years…

And if I write those goals out here for all of you to see, that means there’s more pressure to accomplish them, right!?

So here they are:

  • Pay off all debt
  • Second car
  • 10 year anniversary trip to Hawaii

Now don’t you feel better after reading that? I know it makes me feel good to write it, because I know it’s possible! It’s actually possible to get that all done in less than four years…. But don’t tell anyone…

 

Meaningless

I’ve mentioned in multiple posts how much I love to continually learn!

But the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. The more I realize I don’t know, the more things I want to learn. The more things I want to learn, the more I realize it will be impossible for me to learn everything I want to before I die.

Eternal

Morbid? Disappointing? Silly?

It reminds me of Solomon, the wisest person to ever live or ever will live. He is know for describing different things as “a chasing after the wind”. See Ecclesiastes 2 for an example.

The reason it reminds me of Soloman is, when I start realizing I’ll barely scratch the surface on some of the things I’m passionate about, I wonder what the point is in continuing down that road? Why do I want to go down that road in the first place? Because it makes me happy? If our lives are but a mist, it almost seems a waste of time. So…what isn’t a waste of time?

What is the whole purpose of life?

What’s the point in what we do if it doesn’t affect things on an eternal level?

So, what is affected on an eternal level? The greatest calling:  to bring others to Christ, so they too might have eternal life through a relationship with God.

That doesn’t mean we have to go to the opposite side of the world and preach the gospel to people of a different language. (There are wonderful people who do that, and you may do that…) But there are an infinite number of ways to reach others on an eternal level.

Maybe that’s why people have so many different passions…so we can try out all those different infinite ways of reaching others.

How do you use your passion(s) to reach others?

Black Licorice

The cough syrup I’m taking at this very moment tastes like black licorice. I hate black licorice.

I’ve been fighting a cold and cough for almost a week now and am completely out of it, so I thought I’d give you a quote that inspired me the other day:

Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,

Got any mountains they say “can’t tunnel through”?

We specialize in the wholly impossible, 

Doing the things they say you can’t do.

song of the Panama Canal builders

People…And the impact they have on our lives

“Hi, Laura! This is ________ from _________. Not sure why but you have been on my heart all morning. Just want you to know that your sweet spirit is valued and appreciated! Praying that you have an abundantly blessed day!”

I received that text the other day and boy did it lift my spirits!

People are definitely important when it comes to pursing “impossible” dreams. No matter how determined we are in our pursuit, there will be key points in our journey when we need encouragement.

There will be people who temporarily appear in our lives, people who impact only a part of our lives, and those who have a huge impact on our lives.

"man's best friend"

My husband definitely has a huge impact on my life. I know it’s cliché to say my husband is my best friend, but it’s true! He is the first person to believe in me. He has helped me develop into who I am today. I know he loves me despite (or maybe because of!) my imperfections. I used to cry over spilt milk, literally. He would stop me, make me look into his eyes, tell me that he loved me; it was okay, an accident, and taught me the best four-letter word out there:  oops. I know if I have a hard day, I am coming home to someone who loves me.

The other person who has influenced my life as much (or maybe more) is my dad. He laid the foundation for who I am becoming. I remember growing up, my dad would come into my room before I went to sleep and we would kneel next to the bed. We would solve the world’s problems and pray together. There are three reasons why those moments had such an impact on me:  My dad listened to me, responding with care and respect—that showed me I had value. My dad would share his thoughts, explaining the “whys” behind them—that taught me to consider everything before making decisions. My dad made sure we prayed about specific things, instead of just going through the motions—that taught me the importance of prayer. I am constantly reminded of how much I owe my dad for who I have already become.

A friend of mine recently called, crying. She said she just needed to talk to someone who loved her, understood what it was like to be an emotional female, and would not take her conflict the wrong way. Her description is the type of friend I view her as. It was not long before she began to feel better, and I was glad she called me. That type of friend can be rare and should always be treasured.

Another person, whose friendship is a more recent development, is my writing partner. Getting away from the norm to talk about writing, goals, life, hardships….while drinking chai lattes and eating cookies just out of the oven….is the best! Those times bring relaxation, clarity of mind, and a sense of life coming together (even if it really isn’t!) In other words, her friendship provides a much-needed break from the daily grind!

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”  -Eleanor Roosevelt

Who has impacted your life?

Most People Never Get There

I receive quotes from Runner’s World via e-mail every day. And the other day I received one that made me think, I have to share this on my blog!

“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”   —Dean Karnazes

Think about it.

Most people want to take the “easy” road in life. They want to do what makes them feel comfortable. When things don’t go their way, they shout that it’s not fair. BUT at the same time those people usually seem miserable, at the very least not satisfied with life. They have no real joy.

Lester

Where does real joy come from? A favorite TV show? Fast food? Shopping? Relaxing? Puppies? Kittens?

Or is it something deeper? Discovery? Accomplishment? Giving? Learning? Loving?

I believe it is something deeper still:  a relationship with God.

I could go on and on about why I believe true joy can only be found with God, but to tie back to Karno’s quote….with God we gain confidence in accomplishing the impossible. The demands, resistance, struggle, and suffering become surmountable, even worthwhile.

The sentence that pops out to me is, “But struggling and suffering…were the essence of a life worth living.”

Have you heard the idea that if there are no conflicts in a marriage, the couple is not in love? The more one invests in a marriage the greater the chance of conflict, because people are making themselves vulnerable. At the same time, the more one invests in a marriage the greater that marriage will become.

The same goes for life. The more one invests in life, the greater the chance of struggle and suffering. At the same time, the greater one’s life will be.

Are you denying yourself an extraordinary trip?

Our Marriage….Rocky?

When I came home for lunch the other day, my husband shared a rumor that is going around about us. Apparently the reason my husband quit his job was because we are getting a divorce. News flash for the both of us! (To read the real “why” visit my first post The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams) At first I was upset…this person clearly does not know us and has too much time on their hands—they need a hobby. Now, I just laugh. Because it could not be further from the truth!

I have written about people’s reactions to our seemingly “extreme” way of following our dreams, see Initial Reactions….from friends, family, acquaintances…and strangers and touched on people not understanding, in general, why someone would pursue out-of-the-ordinary dreams, see Dedication, Discipline, & A Little Loopy. But I have not yet explained how our decisions have affected our marriage.

My husband was a band instructor and general music teacher, for eight years. He enjoyed teaching, interacting with students, and loved sharing his passion for the arts with others. But a teacher has to stay on top of many other, different things too.

In college, my husband chose music education as his degree because teaching was a “real” job—a person can’t earn money as a freelancing artist. At least that was the impression he had.

Being able to take advantage of the freedom to pursue his original passions, my husband is a happier man. He feels less pressure not having to maintain a high-stress job to provide for his family. He has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue his dreams.

At the same time I am pursuing my dreams.

On the Solid Rock: Jesus Christ

I am at a job where I need to be both logical and creative, where I need to meet deadlines and challenges head-on, and where I am not staring at the wall for half the day. I have found wonderful people to share my writing goals with, who hold me accountable. I am exploring the world of creating amazing things out of the seemingly nonexistent.

We are more where we want to be in life, right now, than we have ever been before. We are both happier now than we have ever been before. And our marriage is better than ever. The reason those things are true, is because we are following the plan that God has for our lives.

If our marriage can be considered “rocky” it would be because it’s built on the Solid Rock—Jesus Christ.