Category Archives: Living Successfully

We all have choices to make every day. We can choose to live well, or we can choose to live by the seat of our pants and hope things turn out okay! This category is about living with the intention of making the best out of every situation, every day.

For Anyone Who Asks the Question: Why Do Bad Things Happen?

I’ve been through a lot of hurts in my life.  I would wager you have too.  Over the years, God has shown me a common theme throughout His Word.  It is that He is God, He is good, loving, and just, and He is always working in our lives–through our circumstances, our losses, our trials, and yes, even and especially through our pain.  Put another way, He has a purpose in our suffering.  It is not just for the sake of seeing us squirm–as Jim Carey’s character stated in the movie Bruce Almighty.

Does the fact that we hurt mean God has abandoned us or that somehow He has failed us? Does it mean He is evil, bad, or mean? Although our human hearts often believe these scenarios to be true, they are not.  Does God allow bad things to happen to us? Yes. The Bible is full of heroic Christians and faithful God-followers who suffered great pain, loss, punishment, disaster, or catastrophe–sometimes even in the name of Christ.  As the late Elisabeth Elliot stated in one of her books, “All events serve God’s will.”

But we still want to know why, don’t we?  I know I do.  As I have processed and worked through my own trials and painful times, God has shown me a few of the answers to the question “why?”.  That’s what this brief E-book is about.

If you or someone you know has struggled with the question “why?,” this E-book, Why Do Bad Things Happen? (And Where is God When They Do?) is for you.

Order your copy now and tell a friend.  And be sure to leave a comment below after you’ve read it!

If you are struggling in your relationship with God, yourself, or others, I can help!  Contact me today!

Make today count!
Mary

How a Simple Question Can Change Your Life

For years, whenever I met new people, my aim was always to be open with them about my story so they could get to know me, which meant they were more likely to like me.  After all, I figured most people could relate to some of the things I’ve been through, and in my mind, that relating would build a bond or a bridge between us.  While this technique worked well sometimes, for the most part it didn’t produce the results I hoped for.  Sure, people got to know a little more about me, but there was something missing that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

A while back, I learned a tiny little secret that completely revolutionized my relationships–especially those with new friends or acquaintances.  What was that all-so-powerful secret? It was quite simply turning the tables and asking the other person to tell their story!

I will never forget the first time I put this secret power into action.  I was having lunch with a potential new friend that I had only met in passing a few days earlier.  As we sat down to eat, I began to ask her questions about herself.  One question led to another, and before I realized it, our entire lunch time had been taken up by me expressing interest in her–in her life, and in her story.

A few weeks later, this woman’s closest friend came up to me and introduced herself saying this mutual friend had told her what an amazing person I am and she stated that she too wanted to get to know me!

As I thought about that second interaction, I realized that what the first woman saw as me being “an amazing person” was very simply me expressing interest in her.

One of Zig Ziglar’s most famous quotes is, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  So what do people want?  They want the same thing I always wanted:  people want to be known and liked and cared for.  The interesting thing is, as I showed genuine interest in them, the door was open for them to also get to know me.  The result has been a mutual sharing and caring relationship.

This simple encounter taught me the immense power of simply asking questions and listening closely to the answers.  In doing so, the bond and the bridge was built, and a new friendship was able to grow.

To recap:

     1.  Show genuine interest.

     2.  Ask thoughtful questions.

     3.  Listen closely to the answers.

Give it try and share your experience with us using the comments section below.

Here’s to living the life you’ve always wanted!

Mary

 

[Photo source: Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/152137293632308148/]

Word for the Year: GRACE

My words-of-the-year have taken on an interesting picture when I look back over them. In 2011 and 2012, my word was HOPE. Romans 15:13 was the corresponding verse: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (NIV). During this time I needed hope like I’ve never needed it before.

In 2013, it was AUTHENTICITY. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” James 3:17. I determined to be authentic, honest, and sincere in all my interactions with others and in my internal dialogue.

In 2014, my words were FREEDOM and FORGIVE. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1.  And in Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  If Jesus could forgive the very people who were torturing and killing Him, and even making sport of the situation, then how can I not forgive those who have hurt me? The most interesting revelation of the year? When I FORGAVE others, I was set FREE!

This year, my word is GRACE. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:1-10. We were rescued from our sin and ourselves–not for ourselves, but for Him–so we could LIVE and BE the message of how He saves and that He does so with love beyond our comprehension, with undeserved pardon (mercy) and unmerited favor (grace). We were saved to be vessels of His grace to others…and that is what my word for this year entails. I am called to be and reveal His grace to others who need it.

In 2011/2012 I desperately needed hope…. In 2015, God has worked so much in my life that I am excited about being a vessel of His grace (and hope and kindness and love, etc.)  to others.  This is what being a Christian is all about: finding what we need in God and then showing others how to do the same.  We are the prism through which His light shines….  It’s a beautiful thing, and so many people need His light in their lives!

Do you have a word for the year? If you do, please share it here.  It’s interesting to see how that word continually crops up in your life throughout the year, and how, by the end of the year, it has changed you.

His grace to you, today and always,

mary

3 Simple Behaviors That Can Change The World

Our world is in dire need of being changed.   People seem to be losing hope—and getting angrier—like never before in our lifetime. So what can you and I do to make things better? We can start with these three simple actions:

 

  1. Listening Well: You’ve probably heard the old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Well, listening is the simplest form of caring. When you show genuine interest in someone it’s amazing how much that shapes his or her view of the kind of person you are.   Everyone is in such a hurry these days that when you take the time to genuinely ask someone how they are or what’s going on in their life, and then you listen to their response, you stand out in their memory as a truly caring person. Try it!

 

  1. Offering Genuine Appreciation: Two words that people never get tired of hearing are THANK YOU. And those words are even more powerful when they are followed with words describing exactly what you’re thankful for. In our rush these days, we don’t always take the time to utter those two simple words of appreciation. No one likes to feel taken for granted.   Say it often; and always mean it. You will likely make someone’s day (which will make you feel better as well).

 

  1. Showing Respect: Some would say that respect has all but become extinct in our culture. Social media has added to this problem, enabling people to speak their minds with little or no consequences. But here’s the thing: we don’t have to agree with one another on everything, or anything, really. If we could only learn to disagree with respect, how our world would be transformed! Respect is simply regarding another with dignity and honor without condition. Every human being bears the image of God. If for no other reason they deserve a measure of respect.

 

You may not be able to change the entire planet with these simple acts, but like ripples in a pond, if we all adopted them, how much kinder our world would become. You can’t change everyone, but you can do your part. And there’s no better time than the present!

 

Make today count!
mary

 

Challenge: Add these three actions to your day every day for a week and observe if you see a difference in your life or in someone else’s. (Feel free to share your experiences here.)

 

Copyright Mary Comm 2014. All rights reserved.

10 Rules For Living a Successful Life or For Running a Successful Business

  1. Sincerely care about others—your family, friends, strangers, your staff, customers, and peers. Show each one respect. Honor them. As far as it depends on you, get along with everyone.

 

  1. Do the right thing. Period. Be a person of integrity in every detail—even when no one is looking.

 

  1. Live with passion and courage. (Be brave!) Do at least one thing every day that stretches you or pushes you to be bold or to go beyond what is comfortable. Engage in things that make your pulse quicken. Find something to laugh about or cry over or work to change for the better. Make every day count.

 

  1. B R E A T H E . . . . Don’t sweat the small stuff OR the big stuff. No matter what, today is just 24 hours on the calendar. Tomorrow is 24 fresh, new hours. Find humor where you can; take the stress in stride. Do your best today and start over again tomorrow.

 

  1. Give back. Take time out every week—or every day—for those who are less fortunate than yourself. Be grateful for what you have. Be generous with your time, your resources, your smiles, and your kind words.

 

  1. Always take the high road, regardless of the choices other people make. Other people will respond with criticism, contempt, hatred, scorn, sharp words, or condescending tones, etc., but as a follower of Christ, you are called to answer with love, kindness, concern, encouragement, or at the very least, silence! The old adage is true: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. But given that God has redeemed your life, forgiven your sins, and placed His Spirit within you, shouldn’t you go the extra mile to do or say the right thing? You’ve been blessed; pass it on.

 

  1. Really SEE people.  See beyond their words, their clothing, and their façade. See past the minutia. Look at what lies behind their words, attitudes, and actions. People’s lives are really difficult these days. Offer kindness and compassion when you can, even in the face of less than stellar attitudes. Celebrate with those for whom life is going well; be empathetic toward those for whom life is hard today.

 

  1. Be humble. Treat everyone the same regardless of what they may or may not be able to do for you. Treat them with respect, kindness, and graciousness. What you give out will come back to you.

 

  1. Don’t seek revenge. Recognize and accept that what goes around comes around, naturally. You don’t have to help it along. (Doing so only makes you seem small.)

 

  1. Remember, in the long run, good always wins. Don’t be overcome by unkind, selfish, hurtful, or evil people. There will always be evil in the world. Choose good every time and let the chips fall where they may. Tremendous good can come from even terrible circumstances. Look for the good and you will find it (Romans 8:28).

Live today well!
mary

[Adapted from Romans 12:9-19]

Copyright Mary Comm 2014. All rights reserved.

How to Overcome Destructive Thoughts

Overcoming destructive thoughts—i.e. taking every thought captive—is not as daunting an endeavor as one might think. The ‘every’ here is not literally every thought—it’s only the thoughts that run contrary or in opposition to God’s Truth. For example, if you experience a setback in your business or ministry, the voice inside your head may say something like, “Well, I did it again. I failed. I blew it. I will never get these things right.” Notice the voice sounds like your own and even communicates in first person. This voice uses “I”, not “you.” Using “I” reinforces the immediate acceptance of the thoughts.

However the truth is that you are not a failure. You may have missed the mark this time, but doing so does not diminish who God says you are. And who does God say you are? You are a child of God, dearly loved, chosen for His purposes before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-5; 1 Peter 2:9). He loves you with an unfathomable, unconditional love based on the shed blood and redemption of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:4a).

For the Believer, failure is merely discovering one way not to do something! It’s merely an opportunity to learn and grow.  It’s a step on the pathway, a part of the journey God takes us on as we become more like His Son Jesus.  But the enemy of God (namely satan) does not want you to focus on your identity in Christ. He wants you to focus on the failure, but not just this failure; he wants you to focus on this failure heaped on top of all the failures you’ve ever experienced.  He wants to beat you up, drag you down, discourage you, distract you, and derail you.

When these thoughts come into your head, ask yourself, would God speak to me this way? If the answer is no, single that thought out and then rout it out! Such deceptive, discouraging, disparaging, and demeaning thoughts have no place in the heart or mind of the Child of God.

To sum it up: Be aware of the presence of a negative thought or response. Identify the negative statement and determine whose voice it is. Refute it based on your identity in Christ*, and repent of ever agreeing with the enemy on this issue in the past. Then declare that those thoughts are in full subjection to Jesus your King.   Finally, praise God for His Truth, His Power, and His Provision in giving you freedom from the enemy’s lies.   This is one way to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and … take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Rinse and repeat as necessary. 😉

Stand firm upon God’s Truth that says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). This simple process is your weapon; wield it with strength and confidence as a Child of God and with the boldness of the Lion of Judah! Unlike weapons of this world, the more you use this one, the sharper its blade becomes! The more you practice this demolition process, the more it will become natural to you.

If you are struggling with thoughts of defeat, failure, or discouragement, I can help.  Email me at christianlifeandleadership(at sign)gmail.com.

Blessings on the journey!
mary

*Who God Says I am:

  • Chosen by God: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
  • Dearly loved: Colossians 3:12
  • Forgiven: Psalm 103:12
  • His treasured possession: Deuteronomy 7:6
  • His joy and delight: Isaiah 65:18; 62:4 (“Hephzibah” means, “My delight is in her”)
  • One whose name is engraved on His hands: Isaiah 49:15
  • One over whom He dances wildly and with thanksgiving: Zephaniah 3:17
  • One so precious that He treasures my tears: Psalm 56:8

Copyright Mary Comm 2014. All rights reserved.

You Were Made For More . . . .

You were made for more.

You were not made to live in despair or darkness. You were not made to live a defeated life, without hope or purpose.

You were made to know the God who created you and chose you and made every part of your being to be filled with His love and purpose.

You were made to rise above the circumstances of your life, to love and forgive and bless others regardless or even because of your suffering.

You were made for so much more.

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

…the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord…. Jeremiah 29:11-14a.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

[All Scriptures: English Standard Version]

Copyright Mary Comm 2014. All rights reserved.

Standing Firm – No Matter What

It is God who arms me with strength

and keeps my way secure.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he causes me to stand on the heights.

– 2 Samuel 22:33-35

Have you ever seen one of those documentaries on mountain goats that live in the rocky crags? These animals are perhaps the most sure-footed animals on the planet. They live on the cliffs among sharp rocks, huge boulders, and dangers of many kinds. Yet they skip along these mountain heights with the same ease that we walk on level ground. I believe God gave us this picture—of real life animals that are uniquely equipped to overcome numerous difficulties and live in strength and security in some of the most dangerous places on earth—for a reason. He gave us this example to encourage us in the dangers and difficulties we face. Just as God strengthens and keeps the deer on the steep and dangerous mountain wilderness, He also strengthens and keeps us.

Turn to God for strength today, no matter what difficulties or dangers, hurts or disappointments you’re facing. God will strengthen you. He will help you to stand firm—no matter what!

Make today count!
mary

 

Photo and post copyright Mary Comm 2014. All rights reserved.