An Excerpt from Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices

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Before I ventured on the trip to Alaska…I wondered if I would enjoy the trip. After all, it rains almost every day, it’s downright chilly (even in the summer) and it’s so far from Michigan. I did a lot of wondering before I stepped onto that first plane. But once I arrived, all I thought was, “Wow”.

The view from our cabin was that magnificent. Every single night before I pulled the shade, I’d look one more time. Every single morning, I’d open the shade for another look…and I was never disappointed.

You can imagine how glad I am that I didn’t forgo this trip just because I wasn’t sure if I’d really like it.

Regret.
I was so close to experiencing it.
Looking back, I’m just grateful I didn’t give way to my doubts.

Of course, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve had doubts and let them hold sway over my decisions. Truth is, I’ve always struggled with the unknown…which is why I’ve written on that topic in my new book, Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices.

Below is my chapter on Regret: The Definitive Thief.

“And between the old and new— the “was” and the “not yet” – there exists only one thing: a very frightening journey called faith. It is stripped of the usual comforts. It comes in one color: dark. It offers one amenity: catharsis.”
Margaret Becker in Coming Up For Air

If we’re honest, everyone longs for the bonuses, the benefits, and blessings that positive change can offer. True enough, the future is expansive, ripe with possibility, and can appear quite friendly (on certain days, under specific circumstances). Depending upon one’s perspective, one’s resiliency of spirit, and one’s ability to access and evaluate accurately, tomorrow may be viewed as a gratuitous opportunity. Or not.

Balance this opportunist mentality with the sobering fact that personal transformation is a lifelong process. Those of faith would term this forward-moving alteration of character, “progressive sanctification,” and the passage from what “one was or is” to what “one can be,” never ceases. So it is not surprising that most individuals wrestle with the personal adversary (formidable foe that it is) of regret.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda’s haunt men and women alike, the young and old, and everyone in between. Every person has said, done, or thought something (or failed to), which they ultimately come to regret. As perfection is non-existent on planet earth, all must reckon with their personal mistakes, wrong choices, and ill-made decisions. So how does this painful truism square with summoning up the courage to walk forward?

Author of Lost in the Middle, Paul Tripp says, “…the more life you have behind you, the more dreams give way to reflection, and before long you are spending much more time looking back than looking forward. You become a regular spectator on the person that once was. And you don’t always like what you see.” Ouch. Still, there exists some paradoxical principle that even the worst of happenings can be changed over and remade for the good. But for this transformation to take place, a person must be, first of all, honest, facing past regrets with courage, then willing to learn from these mistakes, and finally, face the future with expectant, hopeful possibility, forging new habits, patterns, and lifestyle choices on a day by day, hour by hour basis.

When individuals face their failings, something significant can happen, something quite wonderful, in fact. Tripp shares that as clarity is realized, “This moment of personal honesty and truth can be crushing and paralyzing, or it can be the beginning of a remarkably new phase of redemptive insight, change, and personal celebration.”

Reasons for Banishing Regret

* Regret is futile, inefficient, and unproductive, it offers nothing by way of solution.
* Regret paralyzes, no forward movement can co-exist with fear-bound inactivity.
* Regret cannot make amends; only pro-active restorative actions can bring healing.
* Regret is shortsighted, fixed on yesterday’s failings and doesn’t see the whole picture.
* Regret produces anxiety, fear, and dread, short-circuiting both physical and mental health.
* Regret denies the possibility of change and refuses to seek help in order to change.
* Regret is a thief that robs and robs and robs never to be satisfied.

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Dog Sledders and Other Walking, Talking Miracles

firstgreatraceOne of the most memorable mornings of our trip to Alaska was getting up close and personal at a real dog sledding camp. Unlike the beautiful photo-shopped pictures you might see in magazines, these dogs weren’t so pretty in the flesh. In fact, they were bred for smarts and speed.

It was so inspiring to see how much our dog owner/musher loved his animals. It was also heart-warming to see how much they loved him back. During our several hours at this camp, we learned a lot about how the real-deal sledding dogs are born, raised, trained, and how they thrive in this harsh, harsh land.

I just kept thinking…those who call Alaska home are one tough breed (human and canine alike.)

On our last day, we were able to spend a few hours in Anchorage, and it was at an open market where we had the privilege to meet one of the original founders of the Alaskan Iditarod.

Now author, Dan Seavey, ran the first Iditarod race way back in 1973 and has written, The First Great Race: Alaska’s 1973 Iditarod. Seavey’s story is compelling, amazing, and awe-inspiring. Readers will get a rare insider’s look into dog sledding in the early days and how the sport has developed over the years.

After having visited a dog sledding camp myself, then having read Seavey’s account of this adventure of a lifetime, I came away with the same conclusion…those who call Alaska home are one tough breed.

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A Minnow in the Ocean of God’s Mercy

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This is how I felt overlooking the stunning waters of Glacier Bay…

Max Lucado—

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. Psalm 126:3

You have not been sprinkled with forgiveness. You have not been spattered with grace. You have not been dusted with kindness. You have been immersed in it. You are submerged in mercy. You are a minnow in the ocean of God’s mercy. Let it change you!

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How Do You Spell Adventure in Six Letters? Alaska

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Off all the beautiful photos I could have chosen to share, this single shot of me all bundled up in waterproof head to toe gear is what best represents what I took away from this excursion to Alaska.

Traveling to Alaska (which is remote enough by anyone’s standards) and then going on excursions to even more remote locations was an experience I won’t soon forget.

So what did I learn from this 11 day adventure?

You should always plan ahead.
You should always be prepared (for the worst…in the best possible sense.)
You should always expect the unexpected.
You should always look for the bright side.
You should always remind yourself you get one shot at living this life and go for it.

In the coming weeks, it’s likely I’ll be sharing more of my time in Alaska…it really was bigger than life in so many ways.

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Life Support

michelehowe:

My first review for Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices, is here!

Originally posted on Doyle's Delights:

Who doesn’t want a happy, abundant life? Ironically, we are the ones who often stand in our own way.

Author Michele Howe describes 20 means to living the life we dream of in Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices. She calls things such as faith, faith, friends, and flotations devicesfriends, forgiveness, providence, freedom, contentment, and peace our “flotation devices.” According to Howe, these are the means to carry us through the rough times and enhance the good ones.

Women try to do it all. We want the happy, healthy family and a career that is personally and financially rewarding—and we want it to be perfect. Our expectations for ourselves are demanding, exhausting, and impossible. Howe’s guidance assists us on that course with solid advice, examples from other women, and a list of points to consider.

She uses Scripture verses from the Catholic/Ecumenical Edition of The Message to bring it all to the forefront…

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Dog or Cat? Excerpts from Canine and Feline Diaries

michelehowe:

Now that we are the owners of two (outdoor) cats as well as two (outdoor) dogs…I felt this post was a good refresher for me.

Originally posted on Burden Lifters: Every Woman's Daily Guide to a Healthy, Happy Life:

Just because some days (like today) we need something to laugh about…

Excerpted from Max Lucado’s newest, Great Day Every Day.

Excerpts from the diary of a dog:

8:00am Oh boy, dog food – my favorite.
9:30am Oh boy, a car ride – my favorite.
9:40am Oh boy, a walk – my favorite.
10:30am Oh boy, another car ride – my favorite.
11:30am Oh boy, more dog food – my favorite.
12:00pm Oh boy, the kids – my favorite.
1:00pm Oh boy, the yard – my favorite.
4:00pm Oh boy, the kids again – my favorite.
5:00pm Oh boy, dog food again – my favorite.
5:30pm Oh boy, Mom – my favorite.
6:00pm Oh boy, playing ball – my favorite.
8:30pm Oh boy, sleeping in my master’s bed – my favorite.

Excerpts from the diary of a cat:

Day 283 of my captivity. My captors…

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Nothing Better Than a Box of Books

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Opening this particular box of books made me want to weep (almost.)

This book has a story behind it.

Way back in 2008, I had sold this book to a publisher (new to me) and I was excited that within 9 or so months, I would see it in print. Well, we all know what happened in 2008 to our economy. It tanked. So did many publishing houses.

I still remember getting the email that regrettably announced they were returning my manuscript but I could keep the advance. Bittersweet moment.

Once again the hunt for another publisher began. Truth be told, I was so busy with other projects I had forgotten about this one.

Then one day I was cleaning out my files and something sparked in me to try again. So I did.

Within a day or so of contacting, ACTA Publications, the publisher got in touch with me, we talked, he worked up a contract, my agent looked it over, and I signed.

That was over two years ago.

Once again, I sort of forgot about this book.

Then, in January 2014, I received an email saying the editing was in full-swing and the book would be out in the summer.

Needless to say, actually holding this book in my hands is sort of surreal given I had given up on it so many times.

Thanks for bearing with me as I told the story behind these stories.

To read more…you can find Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices here.

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June 24, 2014 · 7:10 am