A New Year – A New Start

I’m a person who loves new beginnings and fresh starts so January is one of my favorite months. Not only is it the first month of a new year, it signifies an entire year for me to make changes that will help me lead a more balanced life.

Last year started out with me feeling the same way I do right now; however, by the end of 2006, I was glad the year was finally coming to an end. We began the year anticipating a grand year of celebrating the 25th Anniversary of First Place and a grand year of celebrating it has been. The downside of the year was that 2006 brought major staff changes that made the entire year one of the hardest we have ever experienced.

What do you do when you have major changes in life that you didn’t pray for and don’t like one bit? Well, we here at First Place began praying like we have never prayed before. We prayed as we sought God about His plans for the future. All of us learned some valuable lessons as we waited. Here are some of the things we learned.

We trusted God.
We knew that God was not taken by surprise with the challenges we faced. Romans 8:28 tells us that God will bring good out of the changes we face if we will wait on Him to show us the next step. Pat, Lisa and I waited and worked the entire year before God showed us the next step to take. We claimed Jeremiah 29:11, knowing that God had good plans for First Place and that He would show us His plans if we would wait on Him.

We Didn’t Panic.
Knowing that God would show us His will kept us from experiencing panic while we waited. The three of us worked harder than we have ever worked in our lives, but we lived through it. Personally, I enjoyed doing some things I hadn’ t done in years and getting back into the inner workings of the program.

We Did the Next Right Thing.
This little phrase has become one of my favorites, especially when I go through big changes in life. There is always a “next right thing.” What is it for me today? What is it for you? Whatever it is, do it! This is exactly what we did all year long and we were all amazed that God brought us to the other side of every challenge we faced in 2006.

I am thrilled to report that God was working the entire year and did some significant things for the First Place ministry. Here are just a few of the blessings God gave us:

God sent us three volunteers to help in the First Place office. Martha Rogers comes on Monday morning; Dee Matthews works on Wednesday and Sharon Philipp works on Thursday each week. We are trusting God to send volunteers to work every day of the week in 2007. These volunteers have been a tremendous blessing and have helped fill the gap.

Networking Leaders
Vicki Heath came forward and offered to help with our networking leaders. Vicki has led First Place for 13 years and has worked with us for years at First Place Conferences and F.O.C.U.S Weeks, so she was a natural to take on the job of working with our networking leaders.

Registered Dieticians
I have prayed for several years to have Registered Dieticians involved with the First Place ministry. This year I have been amazed at how God answered that prayer. I have met several First Place leaders who are Registered Dieticians

I met David Meinz, RD, who is a national speaker and wants to work with First Place to help our people get healthy. David will be speaking at our 2007 Leadership Summit and also at our national New York conference in September.

Four Registered Dieticians, who belong to our church, expressed interest in working with First Place. A long time prayer has been to have a First Place class for people with health needs and this month that class will begin with a couple leading it. The wife is a Registered Dietician and her husband is a Cardiologist.

Last, but not least, we hired Erin DuBroc, a Registered Dietician to work full time in our First Place office. She began January 2, 2007, and we are full of joy and anticipation as Erin begins her work with First Place. Erin will also be leading a First Place class for moms called Fit Moms. This class will be held at 9:15 on Thursday morning since we have Mother’ s Day Out on Thursday.

All in all, 2006 was not the most fun year I’ ve ever had, but it was a year full of God’ s faithfulness. I’m anticipating that 2007 will be a great one because God is in it. Hope you feel the same way.

Let’ s get started!

Carole Lewis
First Place National Director

Carole was a member of the original First Place group that began in 1981, and became the national director of the program in 1987.

When Carole attended the First Place orientation in March of 1981, she eagerly anticipated what God might want to do in her life. She had recently seen an old friend that looked great and who reminded her that they were soon approaching 40 years old. Carole determined she did not want to be “fat and 40.” She joined First Place and soon lost 20 pounds. Learning how to bring balance to her life, she became a First Place leader to motivate others to achieve this goal.

Carole is a popular speaker and author of the books, Choosing to Change, First Place, Today Is the First Day, Back on Track and Begin Again. Carole regularly leads Conferences, FOCUS Weeks, Workshops and seminars across the country in the areas of personal balance, fitness, encouragement and temperament analysis. Her audiences know her as warm, honest and humorous.