It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
FaithWords (October 9, 2008)
Paula White is a renowned life coach, bestselling author, and highly sought after motivational speaker. She launched her television show, Paula Today, in 2001 and immediately captivated the attention of the American audience. Paula's commitment to humanity is felt worldwide as she reaches out through numerous charities and compassion ministries, fulfilling her mission and call to transform lives, heal hearts and win souls.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $21.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (October 9, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Patricia stood in silence on the small plot of ground where her home had once been located. She stared with vacant eyes at the gnarled trees across the dirt road, trying to remember the details of what had once been there. The storm that had passed through the area nearly four years earlier had destroyed most of her community. In a matter of minutes all that had been familiar and comfortable was reduced to rubble. Hearts were devastated as family members had separated in their search for survival and neighbors had said good- bye to neighbors, perhaps for the last time in their lives.
Builders were coming in the morning to lay new foundations for Patricia and two of her former neighbors. Her family members were excited. Patricia had not fully sorted out her emotions. She was still angry at the unseen forces that had ripped her life apart. She was still in grief at her loss. She was still perplexed, wondering if there was any purpose in all that had happened, other than a renewed awareness of a fickle and uncontrollable cosmos. She mostly felt numb.
“It’s been four years,” Patricia’s daughter had said. “It’s time to build again, Mom.”
Patricia wanted to share her daughter’s enthusiasm, but she saw nothing ahead aside from hard work and struggle. The past was still too vivid and too raw for her to feel much hope.
Thousands of miles away . . .
Ubara stood in the doorway of her house staring down the roadway to the east, her eyes focused and penetrating. She longed for nothing but to see her two sons walk out of the dense foliage where the road took a turn and seemed to end several hundred yards away. It had been eight months since renegade military extremists had taken her two sons at gunpoint, conscripting them into a political struggle that Ubara knew little and cared nothing about. She had seen fear in the eyes of her sons, but any thought of defying the crazed and angry soldiers would have been suicidal.
Most of Ubara’s neighbors had told her they thought, by now, her sons must certainly be dead or they would have returned. A few held out some hope that her sons were still alive, conjecturing that her sons could be working in the capital city so they might bring home money. One neighbor thought her sons might be reluctant to return in order to protect Ubara.
In recent days, Ubara’s husband and married daughter had told her that it was time for her to resume the full extent of her chores and responsibilities. She knew she had neglected her husband during the last few months. She had been spending more and more time standing at the doorway. It seemed now that she alone held out full hope and longing that her sons would return — and that it would be only by the force of her will and desire that they would reappear and make her heart, and family, whole again.
She had asked, “Why my sons?” a thousand times.
She had cried, “I didn’t deserve this. I have been a good wife and mother.” She believed what she said with all her heart.
She had wondered, What will happen next? She dared not think about the worst, even as she also dared not think that life could or might move forward without her sons.
How could she resume full responsibility for her chores? How could she regain full engagement with her husband and daughter, son- in- law, and grandchildren? How might she once again be the joyful and teasing Ubara her family and friends tell her she used to be? These questions had no answers.
Still thousands more miles away . . .
Styrle stood, with a tall latte cupped in both hands, staring out the window of her eighteen- story condominium. The vast expanse of a wintry Lake Michigan stretched before her. She had only a few moments before she needed to take the elevator down to the walkway that bridged to her office and there begin the twelve-hour day that forced her to give full emotional and mental focus to the management tasks of her company. She was grateful she didn’t have any more “spare moments.” Those that she did have seemed always to gravitate back to the fact that her husband was gone. Physically, he had moved out of the condo five months before. Emotionally and sexually, he had moved completely out of their marriage more than a year ago.
Styrle missed the smell of her former husband’s aftershave, the sound of his laughter as he watched old Groucho Marx television shows, and the way he had once looked at her — many years ago — with appreciation and affection. She did not miss the cold, aloof, silent man he had become. She had many questions about how the warm and fun- loving man she had married fifteen years ago had turned into the cold and rigid man who had sat across the table, flanked by attorneys, as they wrangled about portfolio division and property disposition.
On the one hand, she blamed their divorce on their mutual- but separate success. Both of them had started their own businesses, which they in turn had taken to the top. On the other hand, she blamed the “age in which we live” — too many temptations and too high a set of expectations for perfection. In her heart of hearts, she truly did not know what more she might have done to keep her husband focused on and faithful to her. Even so, she felt she had failed in some way — certainly in her own eyes, also in the eyes of her parents and siblings, and ultimately before God. Divorce was never something she had expected to happen in her life.
Even though the fi nal divorce pronouncement had been recent, Styrle’s friends knew the estrangement had been progressing for years and they were already encouraging her to get on with her life. Two of her friends had told her only the day before she should make herself available for dating again, and one of the women had even made a suggestion or two about eligible men she might invite to a dinner party.
Styrle cringed at the thought. From her perspective, the ink on the divorce decree was barely dry. Furthermore, how could she trust again? How could she love again? She wasn’t at all sure how much she would be able to risk her own emotions to future rejection. “It’s time to get back on the playing fi eld,” one of her friends had said.
“You’ve got to get out there!” another friend advised.
She found herself thinking about their statements that morning as she stared out her window. What playing fi eld? Is it all a game? Out where? And even more important, she questioned, Why?
I have felt what each of these women has felt. I’ve been there, too — engulfed in a painful past and not knowing how to move forward in a positive way.
I lived a wonderful life as a little girl. My father was my superhero. Every morning, Daddy took me to breakfast and let me order whatever I wanted, and just to make it extra- special, he drew a smiley face on my pancakes with syrup. After breakfast we would go to the country club, where Daddy and his friends laughed and drank heartily, played cards, and gambled in smoke- filled rooms. I had the run of the club and created all kinds of mischief, but I was Daddy’s girl so nobody stopped me.
From the club we’d often go to the toy store my parents owned and my mother managed. I’d scoop up all the toys I could hold, and Mom would say I couldn’t keep them, but Daddy always said I could. And Daddy always won. Sometimes he’d even take me to the park after that, and then we’d end up back at the house, watching our favorite TV shows, drinking V- 8 juice together, and resting on the couch. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Then the horrible night came when my father showed up at our front door drunk and demanded that I be handed over to him. My mother refused, and they literally had a tug- of- war fi ght, each of them holding one of my arms. For the fi rst time I saw my father become violent, and in the end, the police came and took Daddy away. He was released from their custody some time later, but in a disoriented state, my father killed himself just as he had vowed to do if he couldn’t have me with him.
For decades, my little- girl reactions to Daddy’s suicide echoed through my mind: How do I wake up from this nightmare? All I want is to be held and cuddled, feel safe, and be loved! Nothing added up. Daddy loved me — how could he leave me?
What about me was so unlovable?
After Daddy died, our situation changed dramatically. My father’s family took over all the family businesses as my mother chose to move forward with her life. Mother worked long hours to support my older brother and me, and I hardly ever saw her. She arranged for a lot of babysitters — teenaged girls and boys from the neighborhood. They were supposed to take care of me. But I was just six years old when a babysitter began to violate me. Over the weeks and years that followed, it happened over and over. I’d run and hide for hours afterward thinking about what a bad girl I must be. I’d take long baths to try to get clean again, and I’d cry as I sat in the bathtub, pleading with the world, Will someone please love me?
I strove for perfection, trying to make myself lovable. I studied hard to be a straight- A student, a trophy- winning gymnast, a diligent worker, and an attractive, thin girl — surely such a girl could be loved! To stay skinny as I entered my teen years, I began to purge and exercise even harder. I struggled with eating disorders for seven years.
In my anger over my father’s death, I began to manipulate my mother and others — friends, teachers, and any counselor who tried to help me confront my problems. All the while, I continued my frantic search for someone to fill the void that the loss of my daddy had left in my heart. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend — and with each broken relationship, the hollowness in the pit of my stomach grew deeper.
One day I was sitting in the home of an older woman and her middle- aged son. As we sat around the table, we talked about various things, and then suddenly this man said to me, “I have the answers to your problems and the solution to your pain.” Initially I was defensive and didn’t want to hear what he had to say. But as
I felt his sincerity and love, I let down my defenses and began to receive from him.
He pulled out a book that had the words “Holy Bible” printed on the front of it. He read to me from that book and told me about Jesus. It was the fi rst time I had ever heard anything about Jesus or encountered the Bible. It may be hard for you to believe that a seventeen- year- old girl living in a southern state of the United States of America had never heard the story of Jesus or the words of the Bible — but it was true. This man prayed with me and before night fell, I had accepted Jesus Christ, the living Son of God, as my personal Lord and Savior. It was the most glorious day of my life. I knew without a doubt, deep in my spirit, I was loved! I was not, however, emotionally healed of my past on that day. For years — even after I was involved in full- time ministry — IN struggled periodically with roller- coaster emotions that were deeply rooted in my father’s suicide and the abuse I had experienced as a young girl. Just when I seemed to make some progress and move forward, I was knocked back again. Old feelings and memories consumed my mind. Even as I smiled on the outside and helped others who had been abused, I was overwhelmed with anger at those who had hurt me.
Would I ever get beyond this? I knew I needed to . . . but how? What would it take for me to be able to step into a bright, loving future that wasn’t haunted by a horribly abusive and devastatingly sorrowful past?
WHAT IT MEANS TO MOVE ON
Although their circumstances are very different, each of the three women I described earlier faces what millions of people around the world face today — the challenge of “moving on” from the past, and moving toward a future that has not been clearly defi ned and is far from secure and discernable.
There’s far more to moving on than getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the next — although that certainly is a starting point for some people. Moving on means making new plans, taking on the future, and redefining what needs to be redefined. It means understanding and ultimately accepting that the landscape of your life has changed.
Moving on means making new plans, taking on the future, and redefining what needs to be redefined.
In many cases, moving on means moving out of the past — literally, at times, and emotionally, at times, and ultimately in most cases, both. Moving on means sorting through the past, gleaning the best from it, and reaching out toward something or someone new. New, of course, can be very exciting. It can also be very scary.
Moving on can be a factor related to sheer survival.
Moving on can be an outgrowth of rebellion.
Moving on can be a healthy embracing of growth and an opportunity
for personal development.
Moving on, in all cases, means some degree of change.
To change means to make or become different. To make an alteration or modification. A new experience. Although change is unavoidable on this journey of life, it can be difficult to embrace. The reason is that all change and transition initially feel like loss. How do we embrace an unknown future and leave a familiar past? This can be challenging and costly if not maneuvered carefully.
Yes, by all means, move on.
But the challenge to move on is not only for the Patricias, Ubaras, and Styrles of this world. It is the challenge facing every person . . . at some point and often at all times.
Because change is inevitable. The only thing constant in life is
The question is not, Are things changing? but rather, How am I dealing with change? How am I receiving, responding to, and reacting to change?
Are you a willing participant in the change process? Or are you kicking and screaming against the forces of change that are beyond your control?
MOVING ON IS A PROCESS
I encourage you to think of “move on” as a process phrase. The truth is, we are all in process, all the time. God has designed us for growth and development, from the moment of our conception until the moment of death. We may not be growing and developing physically every minute of every year, but we are changing physically — and ideally, we are growing and developing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually every day of our lives. That’s the design. That’s the plan. Ultimately the individual purpose of growth is to produce the character of God in our lives. We have the choice of embracing growth and development or attempting to deny, thwart, or redirect it. As much as we try, however, we can never completely sidestep or control change. I certainly am aware of many of the health books that attempt to defy aging, and I also am highly in favor of living a high- quality, healthy, productive, and energetic life for as long as possible. Even so, aging occurs and death comes. That’s the inevitable fact of life.
Instead of living in a form of denial and questioning why one dies, the better choice is to embrace the realities of life and ask why one was born.
We need to accept what is inevitable and uncontrollable — and then seek to exert influence over all other factors. Between birth and death, we can do countless things to direct and control change, and even some things to control the rate of change in our lives, but we can never completely stop change.
We have the choice of embracing growth
and development or attempting to deny,
thwart, or redirect it.
Growth is optional; change is mandatory. It happens! We each face three challenges when it comes to change, and whether we meet them determines whether we move up as well as on. The challenges are to pursue positive change, to seek meaningful change, and to put together a chain of sequential and cumulative changes that build a better life.
Pursuing Positive Change
The alternative to positive change is to slip and slide through life according to circumstances. If a person allows circumstances to direct her life, there’s a high probability those circumstances are negative, and if so, they are likely to direct her life toward negative outcomes.
For example, the death of a spouse can be devastating. What might be done in the aftermath of experiencing such a negative circumstance? Some widows give up — their lives become increasingly narrow and unproductive. They see a significant part of their reason for being as having been stripped from them, and they have great difficulty in making new friendships or trying new things. Some suffer financially because they have not trained themselves in money management or sought to become informed about their family fi nances. These women become confused about how to handle the money and property they inherit.
In sharp contrast are those widows who pursue new futures.
This does not mean they mourn their husbands any less. It means, rather, that they refuse to become paralyzed by their losses. They are willing to make changes, consider a full range of options, and then pursue what they believe will give them the greatest opportunity for meaningful and positive lives.
In some cases, they devote more of their time and energy to their own creative passions or intellectual interests. Sometimes they dive into volunteer work and faith- based ministries. Going back to school to study things that have long been of interest can finally become possible for them. Or perhaps they give the deposit of wealth stored within their souls through time and experience to younger people still trying to figure out who they are and what life’s about.
A meaningful and positive future does not automatically flow from a negative circumstance — but the good news is that an unproductive and negative future is not an automatic outcome from a negative circumstance. A person must choose to recognize that the process of change is in effect and then choose to pursue positive growth.
Seeking Meaningful Change
Change just for the sake of change profits little. We must seek not only positive change but change that is meaningful and purpose filled. In times marked by difficult circumstances it is too easy to make quick, seemingly easy, overly optimistic changes in the hopes that anything will be better than what is. That isn’t the case.
The newly divorced person who jumps into another marriage within weeks . . . the person who is fired from a company and immediately goes to work for a competitor with a spirit of revenge in her heart . . . or the widow who quickly discards all of her husband’s belongings and moves to Florida even though she cannot tolerate heat or humidity . . . are examples of change not rooted in positive and meaningful purpose.
We must seek not only positive change but change that is meaningful and purpose filled.
In the embracing of change, we must be certain we are making choices and decisions that truly have the potential for giving us greater fulfillment and deeper inner satisfaction. We must make changes that further the release of our God- given potential, not just changes that offer a quick fi x of money, fame, or affection.
Seeking Sequential and Cumulative Change
Positive and meaningful change has a cumulative effect. God’s Word tells us that the good things in our lives can grow exponentially, so that we move from “grace to grace” and from “glory to glory.” That means we build upon our successes. We develop our talents and skills to their highest level and use them in ways that attract future opportunity. It means we begin to see patterns in our lives that enable us to put the pieces together into a greater and greater whole.
The alternative is to hopscotch through our lives, jumping from one seemingly good idea to the next, from one relationship to the next, from one opportunity to the next, never landing long enough to get accurate bearings about where we may be headed, or why we are making the moves we make.
Virtually all things of quality and lasting value take time to create or build. A person may appear to be an overnight wonder, but in all likelihood if the success is genuine it has been hard earned. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation that goes down in history.
Moving on successfully, therefore, means pursuing positive and meaningful changes that sequentially and cumulatively build a life of quality and purpose. The motion is forward. The result is growth that is fruitful.
This isn’t just moving on — it is moving up!
From that perspective, what presently is becomes something much greater, grander, and more glorious!
HOW HIGH IS GOD’S HIGH?
I have never met a person who said, “If I won the lottery, I’d decline my winnings.” The exact opposite is true — most people want to experience a financial windfall. People want instant miracles and overnight fame and to be catapulted into the arms of a dream lover.
Everybody wants to trade in the ghetto for a penthouse, get to the top of the ladder, or walk the red carpet and be handed the big trophy. Now, not everybody truly believes that he or she can or will experience life at the top, but people nevertheless daydream about or wish for more. The poor want more, the rich want more.
While change is inevitable, moving up is never inevitable. It requires intentional choices and decisions. The examples I have listed are examples about ambitions and desires rooted in human nature. We tend to ask ourselves, How much do I want? How much do I think I can earn . . . or have . . . or achieve . . . or accomplish? Those are questions rooted in our own human understanding of our potential and abilities.
But how high is God’s high? How good is God’s good? How much is in God’s storehouse with your name on it? I am 100 percent convinced that God’s high has no ceiling that we human beings can fully fathom. God’s best is perfection, completion.
God does not deal in “too much” or “too great.” God’s plan for every person is rooted in words such as “exceedingly,” “abundantly,” and “more than a person can imagine.”
God’s intention is that we move up . . . but even more so, that we move up to the ever- increasing levels that are according to His plan and purpose.
Keep reading . . . I’ll show you how.
How do you feel about the idea of moving on in your life?
What more do you intuitively sense God has for you that you aren’t currently experiencing, doing, or displaying in your character or spiritual life?