Second Half Strategies

By on November 11, 2011

By Nancie Carmichael –

…This part of the journey does not require tools for building as much as it requires tools for letting go.

Our family loves watching football—and we especially love “our” Oregon Ducks. I’m intrigued to see that in many games, the Ducks come out to play the second half completely different from the way they played the first half—and then go on to a decisive win! Half-time can be a powerful place to stop; to evaluate the mistakes and strengths of the first half; get a major pep-talk from the coach, and come out ready to play.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

I think it can be like that in life.

In Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, he writes, “You cannot walk the second journey with first journey tools. You need a whole new tool kit.” I agree with Rohr. Last night I ended up scanning through the past twenty years of my journals. I wanted to know, “How has my journey changed, and how shall I be in this next part of the journey?” There have been a lot of changes: Our five children left home. We sold our family house; we sold our business, and started another. We’ve had five weddings, and added ten grandchildren. We’ve also lost. My husband’s father just died, and we had to move my mother-in-law to a foster home. We lost a big chunk of our retirement in real estate, and we working hard to recoup some of those losses.

It seems we spend the first half of our lives building and creating our families, our careers, our homes, and our communities. In this part of life we add, we expand. So nothing really prepared me for the letting go and the giving up of the second part. It’s been a whole new game, requiring a whole new strategy. And although I won’t “take nothin’ for my journey now,” in some ways the second part of the journey feels more complicated. Still, it’s quite wonderful and creative, as I have more insights than I had in the first half. I tend not to sweat the small stuff as much. But I am seeing that this part of the journey does not require tools for building as much as it requires tools for letting go. It requires open hands, giving away. Divesting and investing.

What are the tools we need to use more in the second half? Perhaps the most important one is the powerful tool of listening. Real listening takes deliberate intention; paying attention in order to listen to God, listen to others; and listen to our own lives.

The next essential tool to use is to respond out of that listening, which takes courage, boldness and faith. At times that response means to wait. To zip the lip, be still.

If you’re like me, listening can be hard, because it feels so non-productive, especially when life seems to be requiring so much of us. Inside, I rage, I must do something! I need to solve some of our children’s problems; I need to earn a living; I need to fix things, etc., etc. But in truly listening to God and to my life, I am confronted by my own inadequacy, my own helplessness. I’m confronted by my own lack of answers and solutions. This is not comfortable, but it’s good and humbling, as it reminds me of the One True Source, and that is God.

The poet W. H. Auden wrote, “It is where we are wounded that God speaks to us.” And C. S. Lewis spoke eloquently of pain as “God’s megaphone.”

God has certainly just gotten my attention this week…again, and through pain. The past two months have been unbelievably busy and stressful as I am on the final stretch of my Master’s program; work pressures, along with family challenges.

A week ago, I lifted something heavy that I shouldn’t have, and injured my shoulder. The doctor says it’s a separated shoulder. But whatever it is, it’s painful! It’s a pain so consuming that even though I see much good in my life, the pain over-rides it. So I’m being forced, in a way, to surrender to it—curtailing my activity, using a sling and Vicodin! Just when I need to “do” more things, I’m forced to stop. I’m forced to listen.

In this “half-time,” Coach Jesus has my attention. This morning I spent some time in Psalm 27 and these verses spoke powerfully to me: “I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle.” I’m reminded that walking in joy is a discipline, not a result of circumstances. So today I offer up joy. Pain—although impossible to ignore—shall not define this day—joy will! The joy of the Lord is my strength.  Verse five says that “in the secret places of His tabernacle…He shall set me high upon a rock.”  

Life happens to all of us. Sometimes we are side-lined by injury, by pain, or by a loss or change in life. Instead of pushing past it, this is a good place to re-evaluate why we are doing what we are doing, and if the tools we are using are effective at this place in life. Maybe we need new tools for a new journey. Maybe we need a whole new strategy or game-plan. And until we let go of the old, we cannot grab onto the new strategy, a new and more effective tool God is offering us to use for the next part of our journey.

Psalm 27 says that as we honestly inquire in His temple, He sets us high up on a rock. As we stay close to Him, listening and learning, He gives us perspective and wisdom to see just what we need where we are.

  • As you look back over the first part of your journey, what tools did you use that were most effective in building your life?
  • Are you at a place of transition?  If so, what tools are you using? How are they working for you in the second part of your journey?
  • What tools do you most need to use in this next part of your journey?



Nancie Carmichael is a speaker and author of several books, including, “Lord, Bless My Child” (with her husband, Bill);“Selah—Time to Stop, Think, and Step into Your Future” and “Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning”. Nancie and Bill are parents to five married children and grandparents of ten children and this time of year, Saturdays will find them watching the Oregon Ducks play football. See, or visit Nancie on Facebook.


About Nancie Carmichael

Nancie Carmichael and her husband Bill have been involved with the writing and publishing field for many years as they published Virtue Magazine and Christian Parenting Magazine. They now own a book publishing company, Deep River Books. Nancie and Bill have written several books together including: Lord, Bless My Child; and Seven Habits of a Healthy Home. Nancie has written: Your life, God’s Home; Desperate for God: How He Meet Us When We Pray; The Comforting Presence of God; Selah: Time to Stop, Think, and Step into your Future; and her latest book, Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning. Bill and Nancie make their home in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and are parents to five married children and grandparents to ten. Nancie received her Master’s of Spiritual Formation from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2012, and in 2005, received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Western Baptist College. Website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Second Half Strategies