The Great Discovery

As many of you know, part of my (Ann) annual planning includes identifying a word for the coming year – one single word that becomes a sort of theme for me. And it’s surprising how relevant that word becomes as the year unfolds.

When I look back on the words of the past number of years, I see a person on a journey. But isn’t that the way it is – we all are on a journey. What we do on that journey, and what we believe, makes a difference to what we experience. Action + Belief = Experience.

Over the years, I’ve had words like foundation, focus, impact, surrender, faith, and courage. At the beginning of each year I have no idea what significant learning will come from each word. But by the end of the year it is quite evident. And “the word” with its lessons and experiences, builds on the others.

In 2011, my word was “Believe.” At the beginning of the year it didn’t make sense why that word was so important. But as the year wore on “Believe” came up against challenge after challenge and I found myself asking, “Okay God, what do you want me to believe you for in this?”

For 2012, my word is “Discovery.” I can’t imagine what God will teach me through this one but my eyes are wide open with anticipation and I look forward to sharing some of my discoveries with you in future issues of Fingerprint.

When life unravels – believe

Thank you again for your interest in us and for the special role you play in our ministry. We feel very supported and encouraged.Yesterday I received a text message from one of my granddaughters who was feeling the weight of some issues in her l ife. Among other things, I told her that when I’m faced with a difficult situation I like to ask myself what God might have for me in the middle of it.

Sounds simple; but I’ve learned that despite my good intentions, my first thought is not always to think about what God wants me to learn in the middle of a difficult situation.

My granddaughter’s reply was “Wow. That’s really good advice! Thank you so much Grandma!” But with her response, I was reminded that now would also be a good time for me to take my own advice. And the word “Believe” came to mind.

Each January, I identify a “word for the year” – a sort of annual theme for myself. I type the word at the top of my annual planning document and create a screen saver to keep the word top of mind. It’s surprising how relevant that word becomes as the year unfolds. And 2011 is certainly no exception.

This year my word is “Believe” and when I look at the events of the past months I realize that being able to “believe” is vital. For me, it means believing:

  – That needs will be met

  – That God’s timing is perfect – even with the loss of Donna’s husband Max

– That there’s a reason for the rash of health issues that my otherwise healthy husband has experienced this year

– That Grandma’s Fingerprint will successfully launch and reach beyond my expectations

– That Donna’s fall two weeks ago will be used for good (she broke her ankle and shoulder which required surgery and now demands an extended season to heal)

– That my children and grandchildren will grow in the midst of life’s challenges

– That Donna and I can trust God with our ministry as we adjust to ongoing changes and new realities

Do you identify with one or more of these life situations? Or are there other issues that you face? What do you believe in the middle of them? As for me, I believe that God is ultimately in control and, yes, He does have something to teach me. I just need to be willing to listen.

We were so blessed by the people we met on our Alberta and Saskatchewan trip last month. A special thank you to those who provided warm hospitality along the way.

Avoiding barriers to a healthy relationship – Part 2 of 2

After the unexpected detours that Donna and I have experienced over these past three months, we’re ready to complete our article on avoiding barriers.

In the May issue of Fingerprint, we talked about the situational issues that can create barriers to a healthy relationship. In this issue, we’ll look at relational issues. While the former involves our environment or circumstances, the latter has to do with the relationship of people and their interaction with each other. However, whether situational or relational, it’s what we do with each issue that determines whether the affect will be positive or negative.

Here are three brief examples of relational issues. If inappropriately dealt with, any one of them can hinder the health of your mentoring relationships.

1. Dependence – Allowing dependency to form in your mentoring relationship contradicts the purpose of godly mentoring which is to enfold and engage one another in healthy relationships that empower and encourage personal growth and a vibrant relationship with God.
2. Assumptions – When a mentor isn’t as sensitive to a given situation as their mentee thinks they should be, or a mentee becomes hurt or disillusioned when their mentor isn’t available, it’s often because assumptions have been made. Eliminate assumptions and turn the situation into a learning tool that deepens the mentoring relationship rather than drive a wedge into it.
3. Money Matters – Scenarios like co-signing for a mentee, entering into a business venture, or extending a loan to them, are situations where “Beware” signs need to be posted. They can create indebtedness and change the dynamics of a relationship. Instead, use these requests to help your mentee learn to manage finances or refer him or her to someone who can help.

This is a very brief look at the barriers that can damage an otherwise healthy mentoring relationship. While our book, A Mentor’s Fingerprint, covers this subject in more detail, we hope we have given you a glimpse of what to watch for in any formal or informal mentoring relationship..

Adjusting to new realities

Over the past two months, the two of us have experienced major events that affect both our personal lives and our ministry life. Our present reality is now one of adjusting to new realities and, as friends and supporters of Fingerprint Ministries, we believe you would want to know a little about it. Therefore, this issue of Fingerprint is of a more personal nature, with a glimpse into our past two month journey and a small look at the future.

As we unfold bits of that journey, we recognize that you too may be facing challenges and changes.

June 3
After going to hospital emergency on May 31 and being sent home the next day, Ann’s husband, Jim, was admitted to the hospital on June 3 with a serious pulmonary embolism (blood clots in both lungs). This was his second bout in less than six months. After one week in the hospital, and numerous tests, he was discharged with medication and told not to do anything.

After a month off work, he is now back on the job but tires more easily than in the past. Doctors are still not sure of the cause of the clots but have ruled out various cancers. While he waits to see a blood specialist, Jim continues his medication and weekly tests as they try to regulate his blood levels. He is currently holding his own, and we all are resting in the knowledge that God is in control.

June 18
Early in the year, Ann and her husband began planning a celebration for their 40th wedding anniversary. It was to be a major event – the first real anniversary party they had ever planned. The date was set, family and friends rallied to help with all the details, and invitations were mailed. Then Jim landed up in the hospital and people began to ask if the celebration would still go ahead.

One week before the big event, the doctor released Jim from the hospital and said it was okay for him to go to the party as long as he didn’t do anything. It was a wonderful time with family and friends from different stages and arenas of their life together. Jim and Ann acknowledge that after forty years of mountains and valleys, their marriage is a miracle and they are grateful to God for His steadfast faithfulness.

July 9
On Thursday, July 7 at 3:00 AM, Donna’s husband, Max, was taken to the hospital by ambulance. After working feverishly on him for about four hours, doctors told us that there was nothing more they could do, except to keep him as comfortable as possible. He had suffered another heart attack which was the final blow to a heart that had already been weakened and suffered so much.

For the next two days we kept a round-the-clock vigil that ended on Saturday, July 9 at 8:30 PM when Max passed from this life into the presence of God whom he served so faithfully over the years. For many of us, we miss our dear friend, Max. For Donna and her family, this past month has been the beginning of adjusting to life without husband, father, and grandfather and, in Donna’s words, “resting in God’s faithfulness.”

Today is August 9
In Max’s final hours, he looked straight at the two of us, took our hands in his, and commissioned us to get on the road and keep going with the ministry he believed God had called us to. Now, with both of our families’ support and affirmation, we are working to get our feet back under us. Look at the side column to the left of this e-zine to read about two trips we’re currently preparing to take. We’d love to see as many of you as we can on those trips.

As the past two months unfolded, our publisher kept pace with us and did all they could to help keep Ann’s next book, Grandma’s Fingerprint, on track for release early this fall. As it stands now, we hope to hold the finished product in our hands in October. We’ll keep you posted about the official book launch to be held later in the fall.

We continue to adjust to our new realities, and are so blessed. A big thank you to many of you have called us or sent cards and emails to let us know that you’re standing with us and praying for us – especially for Donna during this time of transition.

While we’re still on our journey that began two months ago, we realize that you too may be in the middle of significant life situations. You may be celebrating a milestone or a life-long accomplishment that puts you in a positive, stretching mode. Or you may be experiencing uncertainty in the face of health issues or adjusting to a great loss in your life. Either way, remember that regaining your equilibrium and getting your feet back on the ground is a process and one that you don’t have to take alone.

Please allow us to encourage you with some words that have encouraged us – “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Also, we can “trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4)

Thank you for being a special part of our lives and ministry. God bless you.

Ann & Donna.

Avoiding barriers to a healthy relationship

I’ve been thinking about what causes a healthy mentoring relationship to fragment and fall apart. And that led me to consider what causes barriers in any relationship.

Think about it. What creates a wall in your own personal relationships – whether with your spouse or child/grandchild, or a friend?

In this, and the next issue of Fingerprint, we’ll look at some barriers to healthy relationships and what we can do about them. Needless to say, there’s a lot more that can be said than what there is room for here. But let’s take a stab at it.

To simplify our discussion, we’ll identify barriers as either Situational or Relational and address the Situational category first.

Situational Issues involve the environment or circumstances surrounding a specific concern. For example, flexibility, freedom, and change would apply here. Let me use change to explain.

From time to time we all face circumstances that require change. The challenge is that some of us approach change with excitement while others struggle and may even be afraid of it. Here are two steps we can take to deal with change and keep it from developing a barrier in our relationships.

1. Anticipate and adapt

Planning well means that we anticipate the possibility of change. And being open and adaptable to change requires that we have a go-with-the-flow attitude. This double-sided approach to a circumstance like change contributes to our growth and the growth of the other person in our relationship. However, no matter how well we plan, the unexpected can happen. In that case, it’s up to us to choose. Do we see it as an interruption, an inconvenience, an opportunity, or an adventure? If we don’t anticipate how we’ll deal with a change in circumstances or adapt to changes when they come, barriers will develop in our relationships.

2. Be open

When we walk through change with someone else, it’s important to understand the difference of perspective that they may have about change. I have a good friend who cringes at the suggestion of change. Knowing this fact enables me to introduce change gradually and in bite size pieces that she can handle. As a result I’ve seen tremendous growth in her perspective on change. Does that mean she will always get excited about change like I do? Not likely. But then – she has been known to surprise me. Never underestimate the value of understanding someone else’s perspective and the value of taking baby steps – even if you are a giant step taker.

Are you more likely to anticipate or adapt to circumstances in your life? How could you learn to do both? Who in your life needs you to be open to where they’re at with change?

Hope you’ll share your thoughts in the section below.

Next month we’ll look at Relational Issues that create barriers in relationships..