Why the Butterfly?

One of the most vivid memories from my childhood comes from the butterflies that filled our home. Plates, cups, pictures, clothes & jewelry. On pillows, on the wall, and even on the Christmas tree. They never stopped coming into our small, ranch home on that dirt road in lower Michigan. Our house may have been surrounded by cow pasture, but it was filled with butterflies.

My mom collected butterflies, and people gave them to her a lot. She definitely received them on birthdays, at Christmas and on Mother’s Day, but she also often received them on regular days too. Whenever friends and family saw a butterfly, they thought of my mom, and often bought and gave them to her for no special reason.

Now, over 25 years later, she still collects butterflies, and people still buy them for her on special and not-so-special days. I still think of her when I see a butterfly, especially the live ones as they flutter around my lilac bush. This is one reason why the butterfly graces my blog header.

The other reason a butterfly defines my platform is because butterflies represent a struggle to victory. They break out of a cocoon only after great struggle. Skip the struggle, and they die.

Today when I see a butterfly, I not only think of my mom, but I also think of how struggle brings victory. Really, the butterfly represents not only my past, but also my present and future as I focus on sharing the struggles and victories in my life with others.

DISCUSSION: What childhood memories endure to define you positively still today?

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How to… Grow

When I compare my mental, physical, spiritual & social health 2 ½ years ago to today, I see complete contrast. This changed happened through many small changes, all of which would be impossible to remember let alone list.

The following 10 small changes illustrate the principle of incremental growth as it took place in my own life. I offer them now by way of testimony of my struggle to victory in my life.

  1. Found the root cause of my poor health.
  2. Learned as much as I could about my health conditions.
  3. Eliminated bad & increased good nutrition.
  4. Asked for help. Lots of help.
  5. Took naps. Got the rest needed to heal & grow strong.
  6. Said “no” more in order to be able to say “yes” better.
  7. Rediscovered exercise. Quit timing, measuring & comparing.
  8. Made reading a daily requirement.
  9. Retired. (That’s what my husband calls it… I call it quitting my job.)
  10. Spent time daily in prayer & reading my Bible.
  11. Took my thoughts captive.
  12. Started a blog to tame those captive thoughts.

These small changes may or may not trigger ideas for changes needed in your life, but hopefully they do indicate over-arching areas needing attention for anyone’s growth to endure.

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Luke 2:25 indicates that Jesus grew physically, intellectually, spiritually and socially. Applying that to my own life comes throu

gh realizing that all the small steps I take are leading me down a path of growth that follows Jesus’ example.The cedars of Lebanon grew to 120 feet tall and 30 feet in circumference. They were solid, strong and immovable, and the writer of Psalm 92 saw believers who placed their faith in God as upright, strong and unmoved much like these cedars. And strong believers know that following God is not a one-time event but an ongoing, moment-by-moment experience.Just as a cedar of Lebanon didn’t pop up overnight like a dandelion, victory in our lives doesn’t spring forth without being first built through small changes made over time. Come to think of it, that’s how God builds an enduring faith too.

DISCUSSION: How are you growing physically, intellectually, spiritually & socially?

Related Reading: I have covered this topic of small steps leading to big change extensive at New Hope Ladies, a blog especially for the ladies of my church family. The post Focus on Small Changes and the study Small Changes: Little Things Make a Big Difference both focus on helping others understand how God works in the small areas of our lives in wonderful ways.

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How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 2 of 2

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The post How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 1 of 2 defined creativity and discussed its important and how everyone is creative. Today’s post explores suggestions for feeding your intellect and promoting creativity.

How can you encourage and stimulate creativity?

There are as many ways to stimulate creativity as there are ways to be creative. Let’s cover 5 ways to encourage creativity that are readily accessible to most people.

1.) Get an outsider’s point of view. If not stimulated, creativity declines with age. Age often locks us into conventional wisdom. Fortunately, an outsider point of view can be cultivated.

Be willing to try something new and to make mistakes. Refuse to constrain creativity and simply let yourself go once in a while. Find new challenges to keep creativity alive.Listen to those new to your field and allow their outsider point of view to stimulate your creativity. Let go of pride and risk the embarrassment of admitting you don’t know everything. Go ahead, ask silly questions.Traveling also promotes an outsider point of view by disrupting routines and showing the ordinary in new and different ways. Our thoughts are shackled by the familiar, so living in the unfamiliar encourages creativity.

2.) Rest and relax regularly. Resting promotes divergent thinking, which we need when we’ve hit a wall and need an insight. In these instances, logic won’t help, so interrupting focus often leads to creativity.At 3M, workers are encouraged to spend 15% of their time pursuing and sharing speculative ideas and to take regular breaks. What 3M has figured out is that innovation often comes when a person’s mind is at ease, when people quit analyzing

Daydreaming walks teach us to relax mentally, thus promoting divergent thinking. When we take our time and avoid rushing, which causes automatic responses that are anything but creative, innovation has a chance to show itself. Playing, coloring and doing puzzles also stimulate divergent thinking. Even taking naps can be a great way to cultivate creativity.

3.) Persist. While divergent thinking is necessary when you’ve hit a wall, persisting or convergent thinking becomes necessary when solutions seem just out of reach. They’re there, but you can’t quite get to them. Pushing through and getting frustrated sometimes stimulates creativity.

Psychologists say that the ability to “stick with it” or having “grit” is one of the most important predictors of success. Examples of divergent thinking include editing and refining a piece of writing, coming up with an answer to trivia questions, and solving algebra equations.

4.) Interact often. Interaction is what 3M calls “horizontal sharing,” or the sharing of ideas across fields.  3M figured out what research now shows, namely that people who interact with more people, even if the relationships are not very strong, tend to be more creative that those who exist only in small networks of close friends.

Interpersonal collisions, or human friction, are found in abundance in crowds. While these interactions can feel unpleasant, they can also breed tremendous innovation. This is why Pixar Studios insists upon the interaction of employees across departments. In fact, they design their office space to force interpersonal collisions.

Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine, expresses this idea of interaction by saying, “The most creative ideas, it turns out, don’t occur when we’re alone. Rather, they emerge from our social circles, from collections of acquaintances who inspire novel thoughts.”

5.) Consider opposites. Broadening your base of experiences increases creativity and innovation as a whole. If you’re an accountant, take up dancing. If you’re a musician, follow the stock market. If you like to cook, go out and play football. Find as many different ways as possible to express yourself, and then watch your creativity flourish.

Don Hahn, author of Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self and producer of the Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, says, “The nut to crack with creativity in any career is that one must cultivate a lot of creativity about a lot of things, and then bring that knowledge into ones’ very special chosen field of focus.”

A Warning about Cultivating Creativity

As you work to cultivate creativity, be ready for insights and innovation to flow your way. Once creativity is unleashed, it tends to spread like wildfire.

DISCUSSION: How will you stimulate your creativity in the coming weeks?

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Sunday Reflections: Are You Listening?

NOTE: I am making a slight format change with Struggle to Victory. “How to…” posts will now be on Mondays, and “Sunday Reflections” will now be on Wednesdays. This change will allow more time for me to reflect on Sundays and to even attempt some application before writing the post. I believe this will make the posts – and me – better.

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When I was about 13, I remember distinctly telling my mom when she tried to give me advice, “Let me make my own mistakes.” She wanted to prevent me making some of the mistakes she made, and I failed to listen. This regret represents a time in my life when I was not teachable. Fortunately, I have since become more open to learning from the mistakes of others.

While I still am not a great listener and am continually working on my listening skills, I have improved since those foolish teenage years. Because listening has never come easily for me, I feel compelled to ask myself, “Why is listening such a struggle?”

In answering this question, I discovered that I do not stand alone in this struggle. Here are some reasons why listening might be a struggle:

  1. You think you already know what you need to know.
  2. You have too much going on in your head already and can’t take in more information.
  3. You’re judging what a person is saying.
  4. You’ve already come up with a solution for the person talking
  5. You’re relating everything to yourself.
  6. You’re impatient.
  7. You’re afraid of the silence that might happen if you wait to formulate a response.
  8. You’ve got a “one-up” story you just have to tell.
  9. You want to impress others, maybe improve how intelligent you are.
  10. You have to be right, and why listen since the person talking is already wrong.
  11. You’re uncomfortable with what others are saying.
  12. You’re tired or hungry or both and just can’t focus.

Some of these reasons for not listening may hit home with you, while some may not apply at all. For me, I am ashamed to admit that all of them have been a struggle at some point. Getting outside of what’s going on in our lives and truly focusing on others is a struggle that I think most people, perhaps everyone, has.

Over the years, I have become a better listener, though still not a great one. I’ve come to realize that every person’s words have value. Christ gives tremendous value to every person, and listening is one way I can embrace that value (Psalm 139:13-16).

I’ve also learned that even if someone is talking a lot about nothing, they may be expressing unfulfilled needs for love and acceptance. At least, that’s often what’s going on with me when I’m talking.

As a result of this tough look at my own listening skills, the following are the approaches I am taking to become a better listener.

  1. Do what I can to free my mind to listen to others.
  2. Listen better at home with my family.
  3. Understand why listening is important.
  4. Listen for what I can learn from others.
  5. Avoid being tired, hungry and stressed when I need to listen.

Listening seems counter-cultural in a society that touts instant gratification, speaking up for yourself, and standing up for your needs, wants and desires. Yet, I am realizing more and more that Jesus’ life exemplifies living counter-culturally, that the way of the Father is often not the way of culture. That I must choose the narrow way (Matthew 7:13).

Perhaps if we learn How to… Cultivate Creativity we can constructively express our emotions leaving room mentally to truly listen. Perhaps if we truly understand that No Man is An Island, we can better practice the tenants of scripture that exhort the importance of truly hearing what others are saying. In other words, as we find ways to learn and grow as individuals, the body as a whole becomes stronger.

As we move from just knowing that listening is important to God to living His instructions out for listening (James 1:19) in our attitudes, actions and words, we further develop the deep roots and cohesiveness that Christ prayed for His body to have (John 17:20-26).

DISCUSSION: What struggles have you personally experienced with listening?

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How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 1 of 2

What is creativity?

Let’s start by saying what creativity is not. First, it’s not a talent that some people have and some people do not. It’s also not limited to those in the visual and performing arts or to just one field or activity. Creativity is not a quirky tendency or a genetic trait.

Instead, creativity is simply seeing the world differently than others. It’s solving problems that others seem unable to solve, seeing solutions that others couldn’t see. Today, creativity is better known as innovation. More importantly, creativity is an attitude and a skill, a practiced state of mind that everyone can develop.

In 52 Ways to Get Your Creative Self to Listen, Rachel McNaught defines creativity as “the ability to think beyond what you’ve been taught, to ask questions until you get the answers you need to pull something unique from inside you.”

Why is creativity important for everyone?

Every person has constraints they must work within, a poet who must stick to rhyme or a scientist bound by the laws of physics, and working within these constraints can often breed great creativity. Dr. Seuss writing Green Eggs and ham using only 50 words provides a terrific example of creativity that may not have happened without constraints.

Another benefit is that cultivating creativity in any area tends to spill over into all other areas of life. Not only that, but being creative fulfills a need within all humans to create. Not feeling the creative urge? Many experts believe we’ve been taught to suppress it, and this is why we no longer actively feel the need to create. Picasso expressed this sentiment well when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”

Creativity is also important because it allows our intellects to flourish. If we keep in mind that just as physically and spiritually we are what we eat, our intellects are also the products of what we feed them.

Finally, the importance of creativity shows even more when we realize that our creativity is how we respond to life. Stimulating creativity can potentially lessen negative emotional responses to life’s frustrations and disappointments.

How are you creative?

So knowing that everyone can cultivate creativity and that creativity provides immense benefit, let’s now consider the different ways creativity might show up from one individual to the next.

Since creativity is not a predetermined personality trait, it really can show up in a myriad of ways in a person’s life. The challenge then is to figure out how to get that creativity to show up, and the answer, simply, is effort.

Milton Glaser, legendary graphic designer, fully believes that there are no true creative types “as if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real, and that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.”

The post How to… Cultivate Your Creativity, Part 2 of 2 discuss suggestions for cultivating creativity with 5 ways to feed your intellect and promote innovation.

DISCUSSION: How do you feel about the status of your creativity? 

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“The beacons are lit!”

One of my favorite scenes in Lord of the Rings comes in Return of the King when the beacon of Minas Tirith is lit to start a chain of lit beacons spanning Middle Earth and asking for any who can to come to the aid of a city on the brink of attack.

Why is this one of my favorite scenes? Because it involves someone humbling themselves enough to admit help is necessary. Also, because it involves others coming to help  even when they hold no obligation to do so. They choose to help because it’s the right thing to do.

Wouldn’t it be helpful for us to light beacons when we’re under attack? But we essentially do the opposite. We do what Lord Denethor did, retreat and “die in what way seems best.” In other words, we hide our struggles which often results in our own demise spiritually, physically and/or mentally.

Let’s be clear that I’m not advocating the airing of dirty laundry or even of many, if any, of the details of a situation. What I am saying is that we simply need to ask for help from someone with the ability to come to our aid. I am saying that sometimes the battle is too much for us to fight alone.

For Christians, this principle is akin to being a part of the body of Christ where “its parts should have equal concern for each other” and where “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12).

Another principle at play here comes from Galatians 6:2 which says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” God clearly instructs members of His body to lift each other up when one part goes through a struggle. But so much of the time, a person goes through battles alone, never sharing struggles by asking for help. In other words, fulfilling this “law” becomes impossible when burdens remain unknown.

Being a part of the body of Christ means little when one member chooses to live as if independent from the rest of the body. This is, of course, impossible, since the rest of the body still becomes maimed when a member falls away.

So, what’s the solution? When you struggle, light the beacon. Tell someone you are struggling.

Recently, I struggled with feeling disconnected. I saw younger women hanging out together and connecting, and I felt alone. I saw myself as young, still, but I didn’t really fit in that group anymore. Yet, I also know that Titus encourages the interaction of younger and older as does the life of Timothy.

In the past when I struggled with disconnection, I fought the battle on my own. Sure, I turned to scripture and prayer, and of course God brought me through. Yet, I have come to believe that often God wants to bring us to victory through others. Sometimes, we hide ourselves in the Bible to avoid admitting our struggles and asking for help.

This time, I actually reached out to other women. I shared my struggle with disconnection and fitting in and felt almost immediate relief after doing so. No, the battle didn’t go away immediately, but sharing the struggle and having others bear it with me definitely encouraged me and gave me strength to endure.

What’s more is that I found that my struggle was not unique. Satan wants us to feel alone and as if no one can understand our struggles because he knows we aren’t as much of a threat when we struggle alone.

DISCUSSION: Do you struggle alone in something and need to light the beacon to request help? Are you preventing someone from “fulfilling the law of Christ” by hiding your burden and struggling alone?

Check out the related post Oh, God, I Am Lost and So Alone by T. Neal Tarver at A Curious Band of Others for more on this topic.

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How to… Develop Wisdom

As stated in How to… Be Victorious, there’s a big difference between knowledge alone and knowledge with understanding (Proverbs 4:7). But what exactly is that difference, and how do we move from having knowledge to living with wisdom?

In my health journey, I obtained a lot of knowledge from a lot of different sources. This knowledge led to several lessons, which I detail in How to… Obtain Knowledge, that I still use today as I struggle through to victory in other areas of my life.

Yet, I remain aware of the fact that knowledge means very little without application that demonstrates understanding and that also shows the growth of wisdom.

When I was very sick over 2 ½ years ago, I crashed. For me, this meant that I could not handle my life as it was at the time, and something had to give. I was simply physically and mentally spent and exhausted. My body gave up on me. We had also just adopted our youngest son, and this took an added toll on me mentally and spiritually. He needed things from me that I just didn’t have to give.

So, my husband and I made some tough choices, the first of which was me quitting my job. Not an easy decision considering the extra money it brought in and that it was offering even more… a move from ¾ to full time. We did this so I could focus on getting healthy.

My two top priorities then became my own physical health and the mental health of our new son, who also had a great deal of healing of his own to do.

So where does wisdom fall in all of this? The following points detail the growth of wisdom during this time in my life, aspects which continue growing still today.

  1. Wisdom sometimes comes through wise counsel (Proverbs 13:10). Not all the advice I received was wise even though it came from knowledgeable sources. Several doctors simply got the diagnosis wrong, but one godly source got it right and gave me a tremendous amount of wisdom that led to the health I now experience today.
  2. Discernment plays a huge role in going from knowledge to wisdom. How did I know when advice I received was truly wisdom for my life? Discernment. Discernment comes from God (James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:10) and from His Word (Acts 17:11) as we go to Him on a consistent basis and not just to put out fires.
  3. Fear of the Lord can be a tremendous motivation. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that wisdom begins with fearing God. I knew that being constantly sick, tired and irritable was not only not God’s will, but it also took me out of following His will in almost all other areas of my life. Being healthy and strong to be able to please and serve Him to the best of my ability pushed me toward healing

Over time and through small revelations that added up to make a big difference, the Holy Spirit led me to a place of understanding and wisdom with regard to healing in my life. About the time that journey began, I was lead to read the book of Isaiah. One portion of Isaiah is not only highlighted but also has the date “Spring 2010” next to it.

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Every time I read these verses, their truth resonates in my spirit. I felt and still feel like God was giving me wisdom by saying to me, “I will show you the way through. I will refresh you along the way.” That was my turning point. That was the place where I knew I was on the right track for healing.

DISCUSSION:  What advice can you add regarding obtaining wisdom?

Related Posts:

A Father’s Wise Advice

Overwhelmed with God

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Responsibility and Trust

Trust God

When your kids frustrate you. Trust God.

When your boss doesn’t agree with you. Trust God.

When a friend forgets to call you… again. Trust God.

If you’ve lost your job and can’t find another. Trust God.

When you feel overwhelmed. Trust God.

When your schedule is out of control. Trust God.

If you and your spouse just aren’t communicating. Trust God.

If you feel constantly work out and tired. Trust God.

If you lost your temper yet again. Trust God.

If life is just a constant struggle. Trust God.

The Blame Game

Unfortunately, our first reaction in these and other trials, tests and temptations isn’t usually trust. It’s blame.

We blame our kids for being disrespectful.

We blame our boss for not listening or micromanaging.

We blame our friends for being selfish or too busy for us.

We blame employers for being too picky about qualifications.

We blame the government for taking our job away.

We say life is just too demanding, others are constantly asking too much from us, and our spouses are just distant. Besides, we can’t help losing our temper… we’ve always had a bad temper, and we always will. Not our fault.

The blame game can be very easy to play. Too easy. And maybe, when blaming others doesn’t work, we blame God.

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

Blame avoids getting at the root cause, the desires that entice us. As a result, blame avoids us taking responsibility for our parts in any situation.

Responsibility

Responsibility is hard and uncomfortable. Taking responsibility means admitting we’re at least somewhat at fault. It means admitting the need for us to change. Focusing on blaming others also takes immense energy. It also holds off victory in our lives.

When we decide to take responsibility, we can finally experience true growth. We then discover true freedom as the chains of blame fall way and victory becomes a reoccurring reality.

Taking responsibility also shows integrity, which makes following Christ more appealing to non-Christians. It’s a conscious choice we must make over and over again but one that pays big dividends — freedom that leads to victory.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

When we take responsibility for the role we play in trials, tests and temptations, we show trust in God. We show we trust that He has equipped us with the gifts, abilities and experience needed to struggle to victory. We trust that He’s doing the same for others too.

Taking responsibility also shows trust in the testing of your faith. Trials, testing and temptations help us grow by first showing us how we’re doing, and then by increasing our endurance.

“…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

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Other posts on trust:

What Does the Bible Say About Persistence?

In the post How to… Be Persistent, we looked at the role persistence plays in obtaining victory in our lives. In today’s post, we’re discussing the basis for that persistence that is necessary for anyone to Be Victorious in this life. We’re going to look at the instructions Scriptures give us regarding persistence, including reasons to remain persistent as well as motivation for doing so.

  1. You develop persistence as you listen to and put into practice the teachings of those given the responsibility to “equip God’s people.” Ephesians 4:11-16 indicates that maturity and unity in faith develop as you listen to godly teachers. This maturity and unity provide a foundation for persistence that keeps you able to “hold to the truth in love” as you become more like Christ.
  2. Persistence develops as you “remain in” and “stay joined to” Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you will dry up and fail to bear fruit. Keeping connected to Him and His Word develops your confidence in Him to supply all your needs. (See John 15:4-8.)
  3. Praying “at all times and on every occasion” develops your ability to be persistent in all areas. Learning to make prayer a habit develops a consistent dependence on Christ. Consistency in this area provides the basis needed to be consistent in all other areas of life. (See Ephesians 6:18.)
  4. Making a plan and moving forward in that plan increases your ability to remain persistent. Even when you’re tired and weary, you set an example. Having a plan to follow takes away the emotion factor and allows you to move forward even when you feel weak and tired (Hebrews 12:12).
  5. Knowing your convictions before you need something to stand on keeps your ability to be persistent strong. When struggles come, your beliefs and convictions give the hope needed to stay faithful (2 Timothy 1:12). They make decisions ahead of time that would be clouded when emotions run rampant.
  6. Continuing to do good gives your persistence necessary focus. While doing good sometimes seems fruitless and selfishness seems to be the way to prosper, don’t not lose sight of the fact that God does bless those who do good (Galatians 6:9-10).

As I thought about persistence and how it exists in my life, I realized that it didn’t pop out of nowhere. Persistence seems to be an integral part of who I am, and I believe that is true for everyone. Unfortunately, we too often learn to ignore that part of our selves. We live in an instant-gratification society that has taught us we don’t need to be persistent to get what we desire.

But fortunately, He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). That means that persistence can rise up again as we realize that God encourages as well as gives motivation for being persistent. The rewards – the victories – are so great and well worth any wait!

DISCUSSION: What does knowing God’s view of persistence do for your desire to never give up?

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How to… Obtain Knowledge

We gain knowledge from a variety of sources. The goal, of course, involves obtaining knowledge from positive sources that helps us grow. Part of that goal includes sorting out knowledge that comes from deceptive sources and/or that won’t contribute to our growth in a positive way.

Knowledge is another important element in our journey to Be Victorious. So how do we obtain knowledge that helps us grow and at the same time avoid accumulating knowledge that is not edifying?

My health journey has involved a tremendous amount of sorting through good and bad information. I collected knowledge that helped and tossed what did not.

My sources of information included the internet, doctors, magazines and books along with friends and acquaintances going through similar situations. No one source provided all the answers. Rather, the solution to my struggle with depression and other nagging health issues involved knowledge gained from a variety of sources.

The idea that small changes made over time add up to make a huge different certainly applies here. As I collected information and through the process of trial and error, I slowly made changes mentally, physically and spiritually that brought me to a place of health and wholeness.

Through this process, I learned several lessons that others can use to obtain knowledge in a way that promotes growth and health as an individual.

  1. Persistence is an absolute necessity. Simply refusing to give up is half the battle toward obtaining knowledge that promotes healing. For more on this topic, read the post How to… Be Persistent.
  2. Know thyself. I wrote in my journal regularly to help sort out what I was feeling physically, mentally and spiritually. I also kept food and exercise logs as well as noted how I felt throughout the day. Knowing myself well helped me identify the information that would help me most.
  3. Look for knowledge to come in unexpected ways. From the waitress at the coffee shop to your pastor, anyone can give a tidbit of information that provides a small step in your journey. Refuse to discount any information until you have had time to pray over it and to corroborate it with additional sources.
  4. Have & focus on goals. My first goal as I searched for the knowledge I needed was to overcome depression. I felt, and still feel, I can deal with any physical ailment as long as I’m stable mentally. I then focused on the physical ailments. Within all of this, I kept a focus on growing spiritually, knowing this was the glue that held all else together.
  5. Be aware of information overload. As I’ve already mentioned, there is a lot of good and bad information available. More than that, there is simply a lot of information coming at us constantly.  Take in information in bits and pieces and avoid taking in so much that you can’t process anything. And be sure to take breaks from building knowledge. On a regular basis, let yourself relax in a good book or movie or time with friends.
  6. Realize your helplessness and dependence on God. The hope of deliverance from the pit of depression kept me moving forward and pursuing knowledge. Most importantly, knowledge of the Source of that hope trumped all else.

In Hosea 4:6 we read that the people were actually being destroyed by a lack of knowledge and that the leaders (priests) had actually rejected necessary knowledge. Regardless of the situation, a lack of knowledge creates a severe handicap that leads to an unproductive and sometimes hopeless life. God gives us the knowledge we need to live victorious lives. Above all, as our knowledge of Him increases, He gives us opportunity to increase in knowledge in all other areas of our lives.

DISCUSSION: How does the difference between knowledge and information fit in with this discussion?

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