Don’t you love when those magical parenting lessons take a U-turn and head back your way?

That’s been happening to me lately around the words “I can’t.”

I don’t particularly like these words when they roll of my daughter Mae’s tongue.

I believe she is capable of anything she puts her mind to; yet if something is hard, tedious, time-consuming or boring, she shuts down and powers off.

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Although it’s incredibly aggravating to watch it happen, it’s also frustrating to see the same pattern in me.

Truth be told, I also carry around the belief that “I can’t” when things get painful, difficult and uncomfortable.

But I’m learning the same lessons for Mae apply to me… time, patience and persistence just might mean I can. 

Here’s three areas of life I’ve been actively working on this:

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I Can’t Run…

Several years ago I trained for a 10K. It was exhilarating, I loved it.

But shortly afterwards, I began struggling with proctitis.

It’s a common side effect for people like me who’ve had radiation because of colon cancer.

Itching, burning and other non-pleasant experiences awaited me once I’d get home from a run. Soon I began hurting when I walked.

Eventually I sidelined myself and said I couldn’t run. I couldn’t walk more than a mile without pain. I couldn’t hike. I moved as little as possible.

But, one day I couldn’t stand it anymore. I wanted to try moving again.

I blogged about beginning to exercise a few months ago. It was a good first step to combating my fear.

And lately, I’ve started jogging again (very slowly). I hiked with my family last weekend when we took a road trip to Arkansas.

Fortunately the proctitis has not flared up.

And now, I’m working up to jogging 6 miles/week this upcoming July.

(Learn more & join me on my exercise challenge!)

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I Can’t Camp…

Living with 13 inches of large intestine (the rest of you have 5-6 feet) means I take a lot of trips to the bathroom. This led to my firm position for many years – I can’t camp.

And I’m not just saying tent camping. I mean I couldn’t stay anywhere that wasn’t my home or a place with a private or semi-private bathroom just a few steps away.

But guess what – this has started to change too.

Last summer I went camping, which felt like a miracle.

And a few weeks ago, we went on a retreat with our church where families bunked in private rooms yet all within the same cabin.

In these cabins there was one bathroom with two toilets for all the females, and another bathroom for all of the males. See…

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Prior to this, I would have never stayed on-site and insisted we go home or get a hotel. But guess what:

I toughed it out (prayed a lot) and survived.

I even met a new friend, a fellow mom at the church, because we brushed our teeth together in the morning.

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I Can’t Let Go…

I didn’t think I could ever let go of my “dream job.”

I couldn’t walk away from my salary with benefits. I couldn’t give up leading an awesome team and working alongside incredible people for a cause so dear to me.

I couldn’t go back to freelancing – the unpredictable income, the on-and-off hours, the headache of running your own business.

Yet last week, I did.

I said “I can” to the impulse to let go because God has called me in a new direction.

And while it’s not been easy, the “I can’t” easily melted away when I compared it to the sense of adventure that awaits me when my mind said “YES – I CAN!”

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Changed Mind and Changed Heart

Saying “I can” and fighting off fear, doubt and anxiety sounds so simple… but it’s actually really hard. Yet the reason I write about it today is because I know change is possible.

And I felt like you should read these stories of victory.

It doesn’t mean that life changes in an instant (although sometimes it can).

A lot of this has taken time.

It also doesn’t mean going from “I can’t” to “I can” doesn’t bring compromise and patience. (Or a headache and the need for anti-diarrhea medication, for example).

Sometimes we need to wait and be still until we attempt to make a change.

Oftentimes we’ll need to recruit help.

And sometimes we’re downright just not ready yet. 

And that’s perfectly OK.

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Because the opportunity for “I can’t” to become “I can” always circles back.

It’s like the waterfall we hiked to last weekend – the guide said there’s not a day the stream hasn’t been flowing in all the years he’s led people through the mountain.

When our minds are ready, our hearts will follow.

It will feel like they already know the path toward transformation and change.