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I always considered myself rather intentional when it came to parenting. I took to heart the saying, Aim at nothing and you will surely hit it.

I found parenting very challenging–and rewarding. From the time my children were very young I had a plan to help them grow into godly, responsible, creative adults. It was a fluid, way-of-life plan, not a rigid course of action. I was always looking for ways to build into their lives.

So the year my three were 15, 16 and 17, I chose to share with them some of the principles I thought would encourage their success in life. On the first Monday of each month that year I wrote them a letter, conveying a different “secret of success.” Things like Work Hard, Trust God, Accept Responsibility. Simple truths–biblical and practical. Admonition and motivation, hopefully.

I’ve shared these “secrets” with others, who seemed to find them valuable. So I have put these principles into a small gift book. It is written with students in mind, but the truths apply to all of us.  You can read it in 30 minutes, but it will take a lifetime to live it out.   Twelve secrets make it a great 12-week study for a youth group.

Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success is available through New Life Resources.

Enjoy. What are some of your “secrets” for a meaningful life?

NOTE: Follow a series of excerpts from the book.

c2012 Judy Douglass

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On the first Monday of each month when my children were in high school, I wrote a letter to them describing a secret of success in life.  Recently I compiled a year’s worth of secrets into a small book.  Secrets of Success is a great gift for graduates or any high school or college student.  To give you a glimpse, I posted Secret #5 here.

BE PURPOSEFUL

Success doesn’t just happen. People are successful because they figure out where they want to go and how to get there, while making sure they are going where God is leading.

1. Dream big!

What kind of person do you want to be? What do you want to do with your life? When you blow out your candles on your final birthday cake, what do you want to have become and to have accomplished? Think big! Use your imagination! Seek out God’s dreams for you. Allow Him to fill your mind and heart with His plans. He has promised that you can’t even imagine all He has in store for you.  (I Corinthians 2:9 and Jeremiah 29:11).

2. Plan ahead.

Dreams rarely come true if you don’t plan to make them happen. How will you get where you want to go? What resources will you need to get there? Which of those resources do you have? Which do you need to get? What are your strengths that you can apply? What are your weaknesses that you need to work on? What are the next steps that you need to take to begin to fulfill your dreams? Be sure God is part of your planning if you want to have any hope of real success.  (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Proverbs 16:3)

3. Be flexible.

Things don’t always happen as planned. Be willing to make adjustments. Learn from your mistakes. Try a new approach. Don’t quit if it doesn’t happen at first. Recognize that God is in control and He often uses detours to bring about a higher purpose and a greater success (Proverbs 16:9 and James 4:13-15).

My prayer is that you will seek God’s plans for you, being confident that, since He created you, His plans are designed for your personality, interests and talents.  I pray that you will work toward those plans and never settle for less than God’s best.

You can order Secrets of Success in the US from New Life Resources.  In Asia, you can order from CCC Mass Media.

© 2011  Judy Douglass

en español: Secretos del Éxito: #5 Se Determinado

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On the first Monday of each month when my children were in high school, I wrote a letter to them describing a secret of success in life.  Recently I compiled a year’s worth of secrets into a small book.  Secrets of Success is a great gift for graduates.  To give you a glimpse, I posted Secret #2 here.

Secret #2: Believe in Yourself

The ability to believe in yourself is important to succeeding in every area of life. There will be times when you fail, when you feel inadequate, discouraged or even hopeless. There will be times when others don’t believe in you, when Satan says you are a loser, or when you want to give up. At those times you must choose to believe that what God says about you is true.

1. Acknowledge (agree with the fact) that God created you and called you to be His follower.

You are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). God says He formed you, that what He has made (that’s you) is wonderful and beautiful, and that He has planned your life (Psalm 139: 13-16). He has called you to serve Him, benefit others, find satisfaction in fulfilling His purposes for you, and bring glory to Him (put all the attention on Him and His love).

2. Recognize and develop your gifts and strengths.

God said that His Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts to do your job in God’s kingdom (Romans 12:4-8). He has also given you many talents and abilities and He wants you to use them (I Timothy 4:14).

3. Maintain hope.

One of my favorite promises from Scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Even in the midst of the most difficult times, when you are most tempted to give up on yourself,

God is there. He will bring good and give strength, courage, and the ability to do what needs to be done. So keep hoping and believing.

I know you have a great future. My prayer is that you will believe how special you are in God’s eyes as His chosen and called child.

 You can order Secrets of Success in the US from New Life Resources.  In Asia, you can order from CCC Mass Media.

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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You would have thought he was in kindergarten:  (Hand waving frantically) “Me!  Me!  Send me!”

 

Who was this eager emissary?

 

The prophet Isaiah.  His story is told in Isaiah 6.

 

He had just seen the glory of the Lord, fallen on his face bemoaning his unclean lips—and had those same lips seared by an angel with a hot coal!

 

So when God (Father, Son and Spirit) remarked, “Who will go for us?  Whom shall we send?”, Isaiah was the first to volunteer.

 

I might not have been so quick to respond.  I’m sure I would have had a few questions:

 

Go where?

 

When?

 

For how long?

 

With whom?

 

Will I like my teammates?

 

Pay rate?  Will it affect my lifestyle?

 

Benefits?

 

Will the job fit my strengths?  My EQ?

 

Will it be fun?

 

Will I be successful?

 

Reasonable questions, surely.  But not needful to Isaiah.

 

Just, “Here I am.  Send me.  Wherever, whenever, to do whatever, with whomever.”

 

Sure, he and God discussed the details—and his assignment was no easy task —but the questions and answers came only after Isaiah had signed on the dotted line.

 

God’s will in anything—a job or ministry, a relationship, a location—can be challenging, and we never know where it will take us.  But God asks each one of us to say, “Here I am.  Send me.”  Then He will fill in the details and slowly unfold the amazing opportunities He has planned for us.

 

What is He asking you to do?  Can you say, “Here I am!  Send me!”

 

C 2011 Judy Douglass

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It’s Finale Week!!  Will it be Crystal or Lee?

Idol mania reigns.

Idol:  an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed; an image of a deity other than God; any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration or devotion

American Idol:  a reality television competition to find new solo singing talent.  It is the most successful reality show, producing real talent that has gone on to musical fame.  During Idol season chatter about the show is everywhere:  Facebook, entertainment news, Fox News, blogs.  The show itself is an idol.

Idol as defined by God:  anything that is higher in our affections than God; whatever we think we must have to be happy; something that occupies the throne of our lives.

Are you an idolator?  Often, I am.

What are some American idols?  (Other nations will have similar and different ones.)  The big three in the U.S. are probably money, intelligence/talent and beauty.  A person who has all of these has it made—he or she will surely be successful and happy.

We idolize lots of other things:  power, things, toys (for all ages), fitness, thinness, success, leisure, adventure, etc.

I have some of my own that occasionally or often become highest in my affections.  One would be independence.  I’m not fond of someone else controlling my life, squeezing me in, usurping my time.  I often prefer to “do it myself.”

Another is the people I love.  When my husband and I were dating—for 5 years—I was sure he would bring me the happiness I wanted–he was definitely an idol.  Sometimes I am fearful that some danger, illness or even death will befall my children–they can become highest in my affections.  And I worked hard to try to make sure my children wouldn’t ruin their lives with wrong choices–their success is so important to me.

A third potential idol for me—encompassing most all my idols—is my own way.  My life has been a journey of learning to choose God’s always better way over what I think I must have/do.

Are these things wrong?  Mostly not.  Until they become idols—gods in our lives.

God spoke clearly:  You shall have no other gods before me.  Throughout Scripture He reminds us that His love is unconditional, everlasting, full of mercy and beyond our comprehension.  He assures us that He will provide for our every need, that He has a just right plan for each of us and that His grace is far more than enough.  Why would we choose an idol over Him?

So when I find that I am worshiping an idol, when I think I must have something or someone, when my life is controlled by my desires, I have discovered a simple practice that puts all these things in the right order.

In my mind, I take the thing or person that is occupying the throne of my heart, lift it off, and deliberately put it on the altar as an offering to God.  Then come peace and freedom.

Until I do it again.  But God is so full of grace that He always receives my offering, over and over if necessary.

c Judy Douglass

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