Time To Start Over

2016 Calender on the red cubes

Well, another year has reached its end.  Tonight, I, along with everyone else in the world, will tip my hat to the year of 2015 and welcome in the new year of 2016.  It’s been a big year in a lot of ways for us here at Tanner Manor.  We have laughed, cried, stood in disbelief, and sighed in relief.  We made new friends and said goodbye to some old ones too.  We watched travesties and tragedies unfold in the news, but we saw people rise to stand for what is right in the middle of those tragedies as well.

We are at that time of year when I feel an urge to start over.  The year feels like a shirt I have been wearing just a little too long and I am ready for something fresh.  So, it’s time to look at what I am doing, what I want to do, and how do I get there!  While I say I’m a simple man (please don’t read that as simpleton), I have many different aspects of life to think about when it comes time for change.  Trust me, you aren’t any different.  Our categories may not all be the same, but you have at least as many as I do.

So, here are a few things that I want to work on this year.  I’ve pretty much been an open book on this blog over the last three years, so if you want to be a voyeur, this is your chance!

Me As a Believer – This year has been a good year for growth for me.  I’ve had challenges, faced them, had some good and bad outcomes, but I’ve learned something from all of them.  I have spent more time in God’s Word this year than I ever have, but when I add that up, I honestly have not been as close to Him as I would have liked.  Reading my Bible, journaling, and praying are drawing me closer to Him, but in the last few weeks I have come face to face with the fact that I still try to do too much on my own.  I need to be fiercely dependent on Him in all aspects of my life.  God’s will and direction need to be my first thought in anything I do or say.  Big goal.  A Relentless goal.

Me As a Husband – This year Tammi and I have had some really good conversations about fears, plans, situations, and how to endure.  We are approaching some major life change this next year as our daughter will be leaving the house for college in the fall.  We are bracing for that, and while there is an aspect of my life that can simply address that as a parent, I need to be ready to address it as a husband as well.  My wife will need me in new ways.  I will need to be listening to her and listening for new things and how I can meet her needs as a  husband.  I will continue to love her, support her, and grow closer to her, especially as our lives are changing and in a  blink we will be just the two of us again.

Me As a Father – Like I said, Jessica will be leaving soon, and Zach is hot on her heels.  I only have a short time left with my kids in my home, and just like every day for the last almost 19 years, I don’t know what I need to know for the next thing until it happens.  God has blessed me with two great kids, and I pray that as they continue grow they will understand just how seriously I took the job of being a Dad.  I might not have gotten everything right, but I’m not done trying either!  This final stage of “parenting in the home” is confusing for all of us as we try to give freedom to them while protecting them from trouble and guiding them to do the right thing.  Prayer time for my kids and their future is growing and becoming a greater comfort.  What better thing can I do than to ask God to carry them?

Me As a Friend – This year I have been working harder at being a friend.  It takes work for a guy like me, but the dividends are priceless.  I’ve had chances to weep with friends, laugh with friends, see my friends pour into my family, and times to just be together.  God never intended for us to live our lives as individuals.  Our first and greatest relationship is with Him, and He has given us His Son as our example, our brother, and our friend.  We should be taking that example and identifying people in our lives that we can grow with.  My goal this year is to deepen and strengthen the friendships I have and to continue to look for other men I can call friend as well.

Me As … Well, Me! – This year I have been much more aware of my health – and the lack of it.  Knee problems have plagued me for most of my adult life, and this year they have become harder to ignore.  It is requiring some changes in my lifestyle.  I’m not going to sit here and list out my goals for losing weight or eating healthy.  Let’s face it, nobody wants to read those because everyone knows that those goals are usually shot by March.  My goal this year is to be more conscious of my opportunities to make a better choice for my health (after tonight’s party – lots of good food tonight).  I want to take the opportunity to take the stairs, walk down the block, or skip the second helping.  That is the goal.  If more happens than that, then fantastic!  I just want a healthier me when I sit down to write at the end of 2016.

Me As a Writer – Like I said, this is the completion of my third year of writing this blog.  I’ve also had opportunities to do some writing for our church.  I love writing, but I don’t take the time to do it as often as I would like.  The goal for this past year was a post per week.  I fell a little short of that, but I had some of the highest numbers of readers/views this year as well.  I have been humbled by the number of people that have read my “stuff”.  Some of them even come back!  This year, the goal will be to blog at least once each week, but additionally, to write for 15 minutes at least 5 days per week.  I want to focus on developing this skill and figuring out how to best use it for God.

Me As an Employee – It’s been an interesting year at work.  I have been encouraged in how so many long-term projects have turned out, how relationships and trust are growing, and how lessons are being learned.  This next year has some larger projects ahead that will require a lot of preparation and thought.  My prayer and goal for work is that I will be more focused while there.  The focus cannot be singular.  The organization is complex, and so are the challenges.  I need to have a focus that is broad, but can be sharpened when necessary to deal with things.  I wan too work this year on developing some other staff as well.  Their development is necessary in order for me to be able to let some things go in order to do my job better.  This is going to be fun!

It doesn’t really make a difference if you want to look at a new year as new opportunities. Those opportunities are coming whether you want them or not!  Relentless Living is living in a way that prepares for what it can, plans for what may happen, and adjusts to what comes, all while clinging to God for His insight, direction, and leadership.  He knows what every tomorrow will bring, and through His grace I can face 2016 with my head up and my shoulders back, because together, We’ve got this!

Have a Relentless New Year!

TT

Picture3

Advertisements

Get Me Outta Here!

I’m going to share something with you today.  I’m a little embarrassed by it, but I feel the need to share it with you.  I’m going to share something that has caused some of my deepest anxiety to come to the surface.  Every time I have to face this, I feel my heart race, I get a cold sweat, my hands go clammy, breathing gets more rapid, and my vision actually “tunnels” a little bit.  *deep breath* Here goes, please don’t judge me too harshly:

I am absolutely terrified of using Fitting RoomsCabines-d'essayage-Copenhague

There. I said it.  Not feeling very many reassuring words out there just yet. Maybe they will come as I continue.

I’m not sure where it all began.  My earliest memories of fitting rooms had me inside with an armload of jeans while my Mom stood outside telling me to come out and show her how they fit.  I’d rush to get changed and then step outside for the required tug, smooth, “Show me your butt”, and “How do they feel?” before going back in to try on another pair so I could go out and do the dance again. (Disclaimer – Mom cared and wanted to be sure I didn’t grab the wrong pair.  She wasn’t out to embarrass me. – OK.  Back to my story)

I remember thinking it would be better when I started shopping on my own and I didn’t have to go in and out so many times in order to come to an informed purchasing decision.  With age would come the freedom to understand whether or not I needed a “scoche” more room for freedom of movement and comfort.  What I didn’t expect was that the anxiety would not lessen.

Going into the changing room continued to be a problem.  The moment the door closed behind me it would all start.  The sweat, breathing, rapid heart rate would all come rushing back again.  Was it the sense of confinement? The fact that I am taking off my shoes AND pants in a place where strangers are walking past my door or curtain?  How would I defend myself?  Could I run if I had to?  Was it standing in a place where I could not help but question the hygiene of the person that had been in there before me?

Eventually I decided that I would just grab what I wanted off the rack and just buy it.  When I got home I could try it on and then just return it if it didn’t fit.  Not convenient, but it was a solution.  Not a good one as I did return a pair of jeans four times one time after trying to figure out just what size felt best and had the right “scoche” factor. I knew I had to try to get back into the room again.

So, the new practice of psyching myself up of the fitting room began.  I took a little time and started thinking more about what I was there to purchase.  No longer would I purchase shirts and pants at the same time.  I got no time for that.  Too much exposure and tucking is required.  Also, when going in I will rarely have more than two or three items.  We’ve only got a few minutes before I am curled up on the floor next to a pile of pins and a suspicious Kleenex.  Get in. Get done. Get out.  That became my mantra.

Honestly, I think most of it is the fact that I am a big guy.  I’ve been the size of an average adult male (or larger) since about the 6th grade.  When I get into those small rooms, I just start feeling closed in.  It’s not a true claustrophobia because I have no problem crawling under my house where I actually need to exhale to slide under the floor joists!  I just need more space. (Another true confession – If it is available, I will always use the handicapped fitting room.  Apparently the ability to turn a wheelchair around will also help lower my anxiety.)

arms-wide-open-1457804Coming out of the fitting room is the only thing on my mind from the moment I enter it, and when I swing that door open I almost feel like breaking out into song or screaming “Freedom!” all Braveheart-style.  The world gets a little bit brighter, the air feels fresher (there might be some truth to that), and life feels like it is worth living again!

When it comes down to it, I know the problem is not the fitting room.  It is a stressor.  Stress is the enemy.  It comes in different shapes and sizes for different people, and it changes with your circumstances and life events.  I’m on vacation right now and have been since last Thursday.  Stress right now is low, and I am loving it!  That was not the case a week ago.

Last Monday I woke up to get ready for work and I was literally sick with stress.  I’d had a headache behind my right eye for about three weeks, and my stomach was a rollercoaster.  The thought of getting up and going to work had me in a near panic.  The stress was all work-related, but it was not “bad” stress.  Just the stress of a large project nearing completion that requires a number of last minute details to be taken care of immediately – if not sooner!  My boss and the people I work with are all feeling it.  The end is in sight, but we aren’t there yet.  We’ll all have a big hug then!

Lying there in the dark I decided to do something I had failed to do for the previous three weeks.  I prayed about it.  Not just a quick, “Please help me, God”, but a sincere prayer asking Him to show me what I needed to understand in the situation that might make it more manageable.  I asked Him to give me wisdom, peace, and a clarity in the midst of the mess and change me where He needed to so I could get through it.

I got up and went to work feeling lousy, and I knew that the day held a lot of hours for me that included coming back in to work that night.   Shortly after arriving, my head started pounding, and as the morning progressed it just got worse.  Something happened around 1pm though.

I remember sitting there thinking that I had not felt this kind of stress since I worked for Kellogg’s.  The last three months there were terrible.  I was working 12-16 hour days and was in a constant battle to keep up standards and increase sales.  Then it hit me.  During those three months with Kellogg’s I was fighting for my job.  All of the long hours, distractions, demands, and hard work were in order for me to keep that job.  It was a job I hated, working for people that didn’t really want me around.  I was in a completely different situation then.

Now I work for an organization that appreciates the things that I do and actually helps me become better at my job.  Pretty big swing between those circumstances.  It has been very busy.  Nobody working there will question that right now, but the busy-ness of the situation was not the problem.  Busy was not the cause of stress.  The cause of the stress was the fear of losing my job – again.  Pairing busy, stressful work with a fear from the past made it all the more stressful.

As I sat there, I believe God chose that moment to remind me that I was going to be okay.  I was not in jeopard of losing my job.  I was just busy.  Things will be alright.  Just lean on Him and it will be okay.  The moment I had that thought, my head stopped hurting.  A week later, my stomach is returning to normal.  I’m on vacation, and that is helping too, but without that thought of security, I can assure you that this vacation would not be as good as it is!

A couple days ago I read this verse in Psalm 18:

“He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” – Psalm 18:19

Just like I feel that relief when I am finally able to escape the fitting room, God brings me out of those stresses and shows me that the world is wider than I have made it.  He shows me that by confining my view to my problem, I can’t see the breadth of Him!  When I shift my view to Him I see the possibilities, the freedom, and His grace for living.  He rescues me from myself and He does it for one, simple reason.  He delights in me.  He loves to see me live.  I don’t mean just regular living, but Relentlessly Living.

Living Relentlessly in the face of stress is maintaining a fierce dependency on God.  Recognizing that my issues are mine and that God is not hindered by them.  In reality, my issues and my frailties are where He is longing to come to me.  He expectantly waits for me to realize my need and reach out to Him.  That is where the peace of God is found.  Seeing only Him in the middle of the chaos.

I hope this serves as a help to you if you are facing a stressful time right now.  If you aren’t, then buckle up!  It’s coming!  File this one away for when you need it.  If it has been help, or if you would like to share a similar experience – even if it is about fitting room fears – feel free to share it with me through the comments or e-mail below.  If you know someone this might help, please share it with them as well.

Be Relentless in your life – even in the fitting room!

Picture3

Fly Like An Eagle

1511951_10207282273833590_389422727167795125_o-2It’s been almost a month since I last sat down to write a post.  Not sure how many people have missed me, but I am back!  I want to start his one off by introducing a guest writer – my wonderful and amazing wife, Tammi!

This past week, Tammi had the opportunity to go and see a rehabilitated bald eagle be released back into the wild.  Here were her thoughts as posted on her Facebook page.  They were so good, I just had to share them with you:

“Today Jessica and I had the opportunity to watch an adult bald eagle, that had been injured by being caught in a coyote trap, released back into the wild. It was one of the neatest things to watch, and as he soared freely high above us (he took right off happy to be free), my eyes teared up.

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with with wings like eagles…” Isaiah 40:31

1462592_10207282283913842_8755621716708803494_o

It was a real life example of this verse. He needed three weeks of rehab to heal his foot, but after being strengthened by rest and food provided for him, he soared as God intended him to do. Just as God intends for us to soar, sometimes we need to wait and rest in Him. Let Him take care of you for a little while. Then, you will soar.”

Picture3