Ellen’s Blog

Transformed

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Happy New Year, dear friends! As with the beginning of every New Year, I am beside myself with hopeful anticipation for what lies ahead in 2018. But the starting point of this year is very different than any other than I have experienced in my adult life.

For the first time, I have no lofty goals or professional resolutions for myself or our business. Steve and I closed a portion of our firm last spring, so for the first time in 23 years I have turned my focus from building an enterprise, refereeing employees and serving demanding clients to serving God and living life. I will tell you—as many a new retiree would report—it wasn’t easy. There were many dark days. That is until I allowed myself to be completely transformed. Over the past nine months, I slowly relinquished my old maniacal driven, type-A professional persona to allow God to change me into this new patient and trusting soul—almost childlike— who allows each day, sometimes each hour, to come to her. Many of my old colleagues would likely not recognize this “new” me.

For believers, I have learned that transformation occurs in two phases: The first phase is passive, the second is active. In Romans 12:2 Paul encourages us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way the you think. Then, you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Really? We just LET God transform us? Yes. It sounds easy but we all know how hard it is to turn situations over to God (when we think we can fix them ourselves). It’s even harder if we think about how God might change our entire persona if we were to allow him to do so! (Unless we realize our current persona might be affecting our ability to live joyfully and at peace with ourself or others. In that case, allowing God to change us into a new person is probably a great idea, eh? Just a thought.)

Allowing this transformation to occur, rather than forcing it or fighting it, opened the pathway to my new found peace. Probably like many of you, the concept of allowing anything to happen is heresy especially when we can MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN. And there lies the conflict and challenge because for true transformation to occur we must pray, submit, trust and wait. For most of us, any two of these four actions and attributes are challenging. Acing all four out of four? UGH!

Upon completion of step one is where we “go-getters” get going! Yes, we do indeed get to actively participate! Again, it is Paul, in Ephesians 4:22-23 and Galatians 5:22-23 who invites us to take action (allow me to paraphrase): “Throw off your old nature and your former of way of life . . . let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature and be like God—truly righteous and holy. Allow the Spirit to transform your life into one of of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “

I only write about concepts, challenges, learnings or outcomes that I have personally experienced. As I sit here writing to you overlooking the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico, in my PJs at 10:00 a.m., I am completely at peace that I have accomplished nothing more than my morning Bible study, my fellowship with Him and my visit with you. Yes. This is indeed a “new” me.

Let 2018 be the year you allow God to transform you. Wishing you a year of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

 

 

What You Can Bring

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Oh . . . Thanksgiving! It’s one of my favorite holidays! Whether I host our friends and family for the feast or come as a guest, the question that is either posed to me or I ask (of our daughter who will be hosting this year) is: “What can I bring?” Our typical answer is, “Whatever you want.”

Thanksgiving, like most holidays, is often burdened by expectations. Something as small and seemingly insignificant as a specific dish, can leave some “wanting” on the day of plenty. Let’s face it. It’s just not Thanksgiving for a subset of our population if there’s not a green bean casserole or a dish of marsh mellowed yams on the table! Really? Will their Thanksgiving world actually crash and burn without them? Unfortunately, it might. Expectations based on tradition are important to many which is why I’m open to the dish de jour on this important day.

However, there are a few things we all do need to pull off the perfect day of gratitude and fellowship. If you’re hosting this year, I made a list for you. Please feel free to forward this to the fam:

Mom, you can bring a non-judgmental spirit. Prepare yourself now that the dressing might be dry or the bird not cooked to perfection. Be grateful that you didn’t have to work a 50-hour work week, wrangle three kids and manage to get all fourteen side dishes on the table piping hot.

Dad, you can bring a measure of empathy and a pound of patience. I warn you now that the kids will be loud, excited and will likely eat the turkey (or something) with their hands. No, their table manners are not ideal (though we try). Rather than be frustrated, I hope you will be grateful that all six of your precious grandchildren are healthy, courageous and some of the kindest human beings on earth.

Bro, you can bring topics for conversation that are edifying. Whether our guests are pro Trump or against him, I really don’t care; the President does not get a seat at our Thanksgiving table. I would be so grateful if you’d help steer our conversation to happy family memories, the Dallas Cowboys, or what’s on sale at Amazon—anything instead of politics.

Sis, I could really use your grace for the snarky comment I made to you last week and will ask in advance for your forgiveness for seating you next to our obnoxious Uncle Joe. I’ve seated you there because it is your sweet attitude and good humor that keeps the man from going off the rails.

For the rest of our friends and family, I hope you will bring recognition that we’re all blessed beyond measure to just be sitting in the company of those we love and who love us. Let’s not allow ourselves to become immune to the tragedies that we’ve watched play out in the news this year; there will be a lot of empty chairs around family tables across the country this Thanksgiving.

What can you bring? Maybe some peace. A little joy. And a whole lot of love.

Everything else, I think I have covered.