A Redesigned Life

Guest post and a giveaway!

When you meet a new writer friend and discover she’s publishing a book about one of your favorite “Re-words,” you pay attention. I’m happy to have Tracy Steel with us today on the blog and to introduce you to her recently launched book, A Redesigned Life, Uncovering God’s purpose when life doesn’t go as planned. 

All of us are living a life we did not design, but one that God is redesigning for us. Like a human interior designer or artist uses a set of design principles to help them create, God uses his own set of codes to create a couture life for each of us. Recognizing what these are is key to uncovering the purposes of God when life doesn’t go as planned. Similar to all the other “re” words we’ve looked at here in this space, the word “redesigned” is no different. God is busy redesigning each of us so the focus of our hearts and mind will return to being fixed on him.

In her new book, A Redesigned Life, published in partnership with Revell/Baker Publishing Group, author Tracy Steel considers six principles of design and how God also uses the principles of movement, emphasis, pattern, contrast, balance, and space to redesign our lives. Each of these principles enable us to uncover something spectacular about the purposes of our creative God. The following excerpt from Tracy’s new book focuses on the principle of emphasis and how it helps us to see the “No’s” of God differently:

 

I love simple and elegant design. We’ve all seen pictures of a living room with its crisp white walls and cream sofa. Imagine a coffee table in the middle of that living room. On top of the table sits a glass vase filled with a bouquet of orange tulips or powder blue hydrangeas. Or perhaps there is a turquoise-and-white paisley pattern rug under the coffee table. Maybe there is a large abstract oil painting hanging on the wall composed of green, blue, and purple horizontal stripes. Our eyes are drawn to the flowers, to the rug, or to the oil painting because of the pop of color they provide among all the white. This is the essence of emphasis as a design principle. Emphasis makes us stop, helping us focus. A designer uses shapes, texture, or color to create emphasis.

 

 

 

Imagine the same living room but now everything in it is red—from the couch to the walls to the flowers to the rug. I don’t want to linger or enjoy the space because it’s overwhelming and nothing grabs my attention. There’s too much red. Nothing is emphasized.

In the same way, our world is pressing us to be like an all-red room. We must be all things to all people all the time, it seems. Good at everything. Involved in everything. Know everyone. I’m tired of the pressure, of all the striving, competition, and backbiting. Give me some white space, please.

 

I need God to give me emphasis and so do you.

 

God is not asking us to be all things to all people all the time. He’s the one who is capable of doing and being this. He’s the one who is all-knowing. God alone is our ever-present help and shield. We’re only to add our little pop of color into the corner of the world in which he places us. We do this through the emphasis that God has designed for each of us. The beautiful thing is, all our emphases or callings will look different. However different they may be, our little pops of color should cause others to rest the eyes of their hearts and minds upon God. And if we are doing too many things, we will be way too red or stressed out and no one will want to linger around us either.

But what if we really feel like we found our calling or purpose, and then it doesn’t happen? Sometimes the emphasis we wish for or desire in our hearts will not come to pass because God will say no and not allow it to happen. We may assume this is because God is not good or fair. Or maybe we believe we are not good enough for God to use us, or that God doesn’t care about the dreams or passions that we feel inside us. But this isn’t true.

Look at God’s “No,” from a different perspective. God, because he is good and is in the process of redesigning us, could be saying no to our good desires simply because they are not in line with the emphasis he has designed for our overall life. And God’s no enables our pop of color to be a beneficial and beautiful one. Here it is in a nutshell:

 

God’s no = not our emphasis

God’s no = the revealing of his emphasis for us

God’s no = his protection, preventing us from becoming an all-red room

 

And when God says no, that means we will have the opportunity to say yes to something that he has decided is better for us, because in his providence he knows and has already designed what is to come. So if you ever thought that by now you’d be living in the city or home of your dreams and making one million dollars and, well . . . you aren’t, it’s okay to admit your disappointment or feelings of failure to yourself and to your God. Ask him to heal you of those feelings. Realize that you’re beautifully gifted to do something else with your life and that God is redesigning you so you can bless the lives of others and bring glory to him.

 

Don’t be all things, just be you-things.

 

pop of color

 

Your emphasis matters in God’s eyes. May this encourage you whenever your life doesn’t go as planned.

 

Guest post

To hear more of Tracy’s musings, visit her online home and subscribe at www.tracymsteel.com. “A Redesigned Life” is now available for purchase at various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Baker Publishing Group, and Christian Book Distributors.

Tracy Steel graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in interior design in 1998 and has a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Phoenix Seminary. As a project designer, Tracy created and coordinated the design and space planning of commercial spaces for clients such as Bank One, Wells Fargo, Express Scripts, DHS, and Lockheed Martin. Moving from one type of interior design to another, Tracy then worked in full-time youth ministry, serving as the director of female students at Scottsdale Bible Church. God’s true design for Tracy now involves improving the interior space of the hearts and minds of women around her. Currently stationed in Washington, DC, this military wife and mother of two enjoys linking up with other bloggers, leading Bible studies at her local church, and speaking at various moms’ groups and women’s ministries events nationwide. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a 10-week Bible study for young women that focuses on identity, overcoming and healing through Christ, and bearing the image of Christ.

 

COMMENT TO WIN!

Have you asked God to redesign your life? How is He answering your prayers? Leave a comment to be entered into a giveaway of Tracy’s new book, A Redesigned Life!

book cover

 

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Retreats Aren’t For Wimps

If you know me at all, you might wonder why in the world would a die-hard introvert host her own women’s retreat?

Answer: Introverts need retreats, too. That, and God loves to nudge me out of my comfort zone!

Honestly, I just really love the idea of a retreat, especially since most retreats rely heavily on the promise of refreshing, restoring, renewing, and refocusing.

Re-words? Yes, please.

 

Retreat, restore, recover

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Pushing the reset button

Pushing the reset button is a nightly occurrence at our house, and this is the part where I have to make a confession: lately, we’ve been eating our evening meal in the living room while watching reruns of Alias. (I know, I know; we should eat at the table and talk about our day, reconnect—practice what you preach, Susan.) I’m just gonna’ blame Jennifer Garner and all those fantastic outfits and ever changing hair colors.

 

 

Here’s where the reset comes into the picture: we use Amazon Firestick to watch TV and inevitably it stops working right at the part where Sydney Bristow is about to get captured by the bad guy. It’s maddening.

Roger has to get up, turn the TV around and do whatever it is he does to that little Firestick to reset it.

The only way we can continue to watch “our show,” is to reset the connection and my husband is the only one who knows how to reset it. (Note to self: have him write down the process in case it happens when he’s not here. Never mind: if he’s not here, I’ll just turn off the TV and read a book.)

It’s the running joke at our house… if anything ever happens to Roger, I’d have to sell the TV because I’m pretty much clueless to how he has it all set up.

 

If you don’t know the setup, there’s no way you’ll know how to do a reset. Click To Tweet

 

I may not know how to reset the TV, but I have learned how to reset my heart.

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Marital Bliss and other thoughts on our 47th anniversary

We celebrated our 47th anniversary yesterday. Well, no… that’s not exactly true. The truth is, we forgot that it was our anniversary until Facebook reminded us. The actual celebration begins this Sunday when we head over to a cute little Airbnb cabin that we rented on the banks of the Neuse River, near where my Mom grew up on the coast of eastern North Carolina.

 

 

Among those Facebook memories was one I posted three years ago in 2016. The last line of that post mentioned that I was looking forward to what the future held for us as a couple.

I was soon to find out.

Our fall schedule was crammed with ministry trips—a women’s retreat in the mountains, four days speaking in Virginia and a long-awaited speaking engagement in Ohio. Roger would be providing music at most of these events. Little did we know on August 6th that the most exciting trip we’d take that fall was to the Emergency Room on September 30, a trip that would turn out to be not only life-saving for my husband, Roger, but life-changing for us.

A pulmonary embolism was not what we were expecting in the fall of 2016.

Marriage is like that—full of things you don’t expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most.

Marriage is full of things you don't expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most. Click To Tweet

 

 

Last night my daughter texted me, wanting to know how many years we’d been married and then asking how many of those years were marital bliss.

 

“Bliss is a myth,” I answered.

 

I know, I know; that sounds really pessimistic, doesn’t it?

Hey, I’m not down on marriage; I’m just a realist. Only heaven will be bliss. Her next question was even more interesting:

 

“Would you consider yourself an expert on marriage?”

 

She was surprised when I said no.

“Really?” she asked. “After all you’ve been through together?”

 

All we’ve been through… I thought about that all night, because just like you, we’ve been through a lot in 47 years of marriage: raising a family, moving across country, ups and downs of jobs and ministry, financial challenges, disappointments as well as dreams come true. The marriage vows are spot on, but we get blinded by the bliss thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Expert? No, I’m not an expert. There’s always more to learn and one thing I’ve learned is that unrealistic expectations will take out your marriage quicker than you can squeeze the toothpaste the wrong way.

There’s been bliss, sure, but also plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, many of them self-inflicted due to those unrealistic expectations.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I got married at 19 (19!) but I know I didn’t expect it to be so challenging. One expectation was certain, though… divorce was not in the equation.

When my husband proposed, he was adamant that if we got married it would be for life and I agreed. By the grace of God and sheer stubbornness we’ve managed to remain together.

 

(Stubbornness will wreck a marriage unless you’re stubborn about the right things.)

 

Stubbornness will wreck a marriage unless you’re stubborn about the right things. Click To Tweet

 

Here’s an expectation for you:

Expect your marriage to be opposed; the enemy despises a united front and he will do everything in his power to divide you, including using the myth of daily bliss to make you disappointed in your marriage.

I mean, really… I’m certainly not blissful to be around 24/7, so why should I expect my marriage to be blissful 100% of the time?

The movies portray marriage like one big romance, a la Titanic or When Harry Met Sally. In reality, it’s more Raider’s of the Lost Ark… romance, adventure, drama and humor. The humor helps!

 

 

On a hunch, I looked up the etymology of the word ‘anniversary.’ It comes from a root word meaning, “to turn, bend.”

 

I just knew it would be something like that.

 

So, yes, we’re celebrating our anniversary this week. 47 years of turning to God for help, patience, strength, unconditional love.

Turning to face each other when we wanted to turn our backs.

Bending to avoid breaking, bending to serve when we’d rather be served, bending our wills to benefit the other’s.

Bending our knees in prayer.

Bliss? Depends on how you define it, I guess.

But most definitely blessed.

  

 

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Aggressive vs Assertive

 

It was a showdown I’ll never forget.

 

I was taking my daily walk around our apartment complex in Tampa, FL when I heard a loud, angry hiss that stopped me in my tracks. There in front of me was a face-off the likes of which I’d only seen in a John Wayne movie: a huge tomcat had tried to play nasty with a ferocious snapping turtle who was not in the mood to play. I watched, incredulous, as the hissing turtle (turtles hiss?) stood upright on his hind legs, (turtles can stand up?) and lunged forward, totally intimidating that tom cat who had completely misjudged its prey. The cat was assertive. The turtle was aggressive.

I found myself cheering for the turtle.

 

Snapping turtle is the epitome of aggressiveness

 

When I came home and told the story to my husband, I mentioned that I wished I could be more like that turtle; now it was his turn to be incredulous. “You ARE that turtle!” he said.

Who, me?

I’d worked hard to be more assertive… maybe too hard. Had the assertiveness I’d pursued unintentionally turned into aggression? Determined to live my life in a more balanced manner, I began to study the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. I read, took notes, wrote in my journal and even now, years later, I look over those notes every so often to see how I’m doing.

OOPS, is my most frequent comment, but occasionally, I see some progress. 

 

I’ve come to see that assertiveness is a response while aggressiveness tends to be more a reaction.

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