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September 27, 2016

Life is More than Just Getting By

Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die today. 

--James Dean 

Are you going to merely live? Or are you going to live your dreams? These are questions that every woman must ask herself and answer at some point in life. If you haven’t asked yourself these questions, now is the time. How you answer them will determine what the rest of your life will look like, starting today.

The difference between merely living and living your dreams is greater than you think. Merely living includes behaviors like these:

• Going through the motions without much thought or concern for the future
• Getting through the day without carefully noticing how you spend your precious time
• Trudging through each week and month without any joy or peace
• Ignoring the areas of your life that cause you pain
• Assuming you don’t really have the power to change your life—or your response to it

Living your dreams includes much more intentional actions:

• Taking the time to identify what God wants you to do and then making plans to do it
• Allocating your time in a way that helps you meet your needs as well as the needs of those around you
• Embracing the joy and peace that a relationship with Christ offers
• Acknowledging and addressing the issues that cause you pain
• Learning how to let the Holy Spirit work in you and through you so you can live more abundantly

Every day I get the chance to meet with, talk with, and work with exceptional women from all walks of life. Some are married, and some are not. Some are parents, and some are not. Some work outside the home, and some work from it. Some run marathons, and some are challenged by chronic illness or pain. Some have gotten everything they wanted in life, and some have not. Most fit into more than one of these categories. But all have made the same decision: they choose to live life the way Jesus wants them to, fully and abundantly. Jesus says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10, MSG).

Some people may say that circumstances determine whether you can live out your dreams, but I disagree. I’ve met women who are challenged by the most difficult situations and yet manage to live abundantly. Joni Eareckson Tada is a great example. She has learned to live life to the fullest despite a diving accident that left her paralyzed and completely dependent on a wheelchair. And I have met women who have it all and are living small, unhappy lives. The difference is not in the circumstances. The difference is in the attitude. And the only difference between a positive attitude and a negative attitude is deciding to choose one over the other.

Extraordinary women decide that they will hold onto and live their dreams, regardless of their circumstances. In the weeks ahead, you’ll see that living your dreams requires making the decision to do so every single day. You cannot make this choice once for all time. You must make this choice every day—and then consciously choose again every time life throws you a curve ball. Consequently, I believe that a full life is lived in the moment of decision. Let me explain.

Extraordinary women decide that life’s disappointments, whether unemployment, the marriage proposal that never came, or the promotion that was never awarded, will not dampen their enthusiasm. They decide to continue to do their best and work to become better, not bitter.

Extraordinary women decide that a husband’s death, disability, or infidelity will not cause them to give up. They decide to bravely face their circumstances.

Extraordinary women decide that a child’s illness, physical or emotional limitations, rebelliousness, or waywardness will not completely bury the gift of mothering. They decide to persevere in loving and praying for each of the children entrusted to them.
Extraordinary women decide that physical limitations or illness will not rob them of joy. They decide to find the silver lining (as sparse as it may be) in every cloud.

Extraordinary women decide that money or lack of it will not determine their level of happiness. They decide that money is simply a means to an end and not an end itself.

Extraordinary women decide not to dwell on what they do not have. They recognize what they do have and are grateful for it.

Extraordinary women decide not to be overwhelmed by the tough choices and life-changing decisions that they will be called to make. They call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help them make wise judgments.

In short, extraordinary women decide.

Life is lived in the moment of decision. What kinds of decisions have you made lately? More importantly, what kinds of decisions do you need to make?

Do you need to get out of any bad relationships? Set boundaries with friends and family members? Start new habits or drop old ones? Do you need to change jobs? Do your children need more (or less) discipline? Has your marriage grown stale?

You may not know the answers to these questions right now. But I hope you’ll be challenged to think about them as we journey together. Ultimately, the questions you ask yourself or refuse to ask, and the decisions you make or refuse to make, will determine the quality of your life.

Life is more than just getting by. Ordinary women get by. Extraordinary women live life to the full, as Jesus desires. As you read on, I hope you will clearly see where your life is full and perhaps where it’s not. I also hope that the secrets we explore will encourage you to see that you can have a full and abundant life rather than one that’s characterized by emptiness and scarcity.

Jesus came so that you too can be an extraordinary woman.

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