Live Your Life!

live your life

Recently I was thinking about all that had occurred during 2020. I indeed can find a lot to look back on with dread. Like you, I can regret all the things that took place, whether personal grief, political anxiety, or professional and career halts due to the pandemic. I can complain, or I can be thankful for what did not happen. There were times during the year that I must confess; I did not know what to do. I just took one day at a time, refused to let fear control me, kept trying to do my responsible part, and continued to live my life..

As we end the first month of the new year, I think about things that I have said to myself since I was young. I think about the books I have written, and what has struck me most was the title of one of those books: It’s Your Life, Own It. No blame. No Excuses is one that I reflect on most because never has a title meant more to me this past year.

At the beginning of 2020, a few months before the pandemic hit, I knew that 2020 would be a year of change for me. I loved my job but not the environment. I realized no matter how much I tried; my values did not align with others. I decided that I could stay and become more miserable every day or leave at a good place on my own terms. I decided to do the latter, even though I did not know what I would do next. By the way, I had just sold my house and moved into a lease that would keep me in the area for one year. Almost immediately after I resigned, I went home, and the state went into lockdown. So, talk about uncertainty and second-guessing myself. During that month in quarantine, I read a lot, played on the Internet, and rested. Also, during that month, my mind played games with me—did I make the right decision? What now? Maybe I should have given it more time, etc. Do you know what I did when that would happen? I would remind myself that I had prayed about my life, I had thoroughly thought through my decision, I had made a decision, and I had to own it—the end.

Whew! Doing what I did could be somewhat disturbing and certainly anxiety-ridden for anyone. However, what could I have done about the decision I had already made? I could not reverse it, so I had to live with it. I could do one or two things: sit and sweat it, dread what I had done, and worry about a choice I had made. Thereby ensuring I would live in a state of negativity each day. Or I could embrace my decision. I could look to the future, believe that I had done the right thing, and be open to what was next. Thereby ensuring that I would probably attract positive things to myself. The latter is what happened.

Amid a lockdown, the most perfectly suited position just showed up. In the middle of quarantine, opportunities were still there. At least three came my way, and I chose the perfect one.

just live

I share my story not to brag on me, but to help you see that your life is yours and attitude means everything. Do not allow what the crowd may say about the economy, stop you. Do not let what your family may tell you about your limitations limit you. Please do not allow what you tell yourself about how others see or treat you, become your self-talk. Believe that your future is yours. Trust that you have what it takes and take the steps you need to achieve what you desire.

Never forget God along your life’s journey. I have never stopped believing that He has a plan and purpose for me. It would be best if you did not forget that either.

Who Can Dwell?

I was recently reading the Psalms and got caught up in dissecting one statement made by King David in Psalm 15. The very first verse asks God, “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” Immediately, my mind said, “No one.” I kept on thinking that no one is worthy to be in His presence. But, I also thought about Jesus and this month that’s been set aside to celebrate His birth. How wonderful it is that Jesus came to this earth, as a baby lying in a manger, unassuming, yet anointed and chosen by God to be the Messiah, our Savior.

As I reflected on Baby Jesus, I thought of all the occurred prior to His birth. If you know the stories, you know that his mother, Mary, was a virgin. You know that his earthly father, Joseph, was a good man that did not want her humiliated once it was revealed that she was pregnant. You know that both Mary and Joseph on separate occasions were visited by an angel telling them what God had planned.

Just recently, I read a couple of severely critical posts on social media that called these stories just that, stories. I guess the stories are strange and just not believable to those who do not have faith. I believe in Christ’s birth. I believe in his 33 years on earth and I believe in His death and resurrection. I believe through faith. Now, I want to go back to that a scripture that started all of this—Psalm 15, where David asks, ” Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” David goes on to tell us who. I want to take a different approach to answering those questions. Now that Jesus has come, it is through Him that we can sit in God’s presence. It is because of that baby that was born in Bethlehem, that we, if we believe, can have full access to God. Jesus came to bridge that gap between us and God. I am so thankful for that.

As we celebrate His birth in December, let us not get caught up in when He was actually born or where. What we should do is rejoice that the King is born. Matthew and Luke both record accounts of Jesus’ birth, Wise men followed a star to find Jesus, the King of the Jews. In Matthew 2:10, we are told these wise men rejoiced with exceeding joy. In Philippians 4:4, Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice!” I rejoice because He is born. I also rejoice because I can enter the presence of God because of the Blood of Jesus.

We truly have reason to rejoice!

Never, Ever Stop Trusting…

Vintage countryAs a child, I watched my grandmother and grandfather face their share of sorrows from the death of their middle son in Vietnam at the age of 19, to my mother at her young age of 28. I recall their attitudes as they watched some of their children make great strides in life while they had to endure the stress and anxiety of watching others take a path they would not have chosen for them. I watched the joy of victories they experienced as well as the challenges, but one thing that remained constant through their ups and downs; one thing that stood out to me just watching them was their faith in God.

There was a saying around that house, “Trust God; He may not come when you want Him, but He is right on time.” Yes, that’s what they said, but that’s what they lived also. They waited on the Lord. I think they waited because they really did trust that He would not let them down.

As I sit here writing this article, I think about my life. Every single morning I write prayers in my prayer journal. I read my Bible every single day and I have watched myself lately. I have become them. I have become that person who believes that God will show up.

No, He hasn’t always shown up the way I wanted to, when I wanted Him to do so, but He has never left my side. When He hasn’t shown Himself readily, He has still been there; right beside me teaching me patience, endurance, trust, belief, faith and the importance of steadfast prayer. He has taught me what it means to be merciful too.

his-mercies-are-new-wallpaper_1366x768As I thought about this column, Positive Faith, I thought to myself that this is what positive faith is all about, being positive in your faith. Positively believing when there doesn’t seem to be any indication that what you are believing for will happen. I am nudged to remember, the scripture that says “Now Faith is the assurance/confidence of things we hope for and the conviction/proof of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. That’s faith, believing when we don’t see.

So when you say you have faith in God, you have to learn to believe beyond what you can physically see. I always pray, Lord help me to see through Your eyes and help me to keep the faith, when I feel like doubting. When the voices in my head want to tell me to just give up or give in, Lord help me to say, I won’t because You are the God of the impossible. Let me hold out for hope when there seems to be no hope because You, Lord, specialize in the impossible (Ephesians 3:20).

Are you having a hard time believing that what you are going through is too horrible that you can’t overcome it? Do you think that what you are facing is impossible to get out of? Do you struggle with doubt and fear when life seems to be spinning out of control? Do you faint when the pressure gets too hard? Me too at times! But that’s when faith must kick in! You, like me, must remind yourself that your strength is pulled from your faith and your faith is built on a solid foundation, Jesus Christ.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service; What’s that?

1480503_10200865742397540_1900211115_nFor 26 years, I worked as a professional within the federal government. I began my career as a college trainee. I rose through the corporate ranks, attaining a different level management tag on my experience ring, year after year.  I held entry level manager jobs and I held senior level manager jobs.  I retired from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) in 2011 after 26 years of service as a Vice President. I loved that company and I loved the mission; it was the most commendable mission and I felt what we did mattered.  We supported the United States military. Who else would have such a wonderful calling?

I was introduced to AAFES several years before I actually came on board as a manager. I was traveling Europe, ran out of money and went to this American base with a friend to find a job.  I met my husband along the way (that may have been fate).  He was a military man.  We fell in love, got married, had a child and the life of travel and fun had come to an end.  A couple years into our marriage, we moved to Florida and into a little apartment. Life was good and my family was satisfied with our life.  I, on the other hand, was never designed to just settle.

When I got married, I didn’t even think that I would not be able to travel the world, see exciting things, experience new cultures or stop doing anything I had dreamed of doing.  Those things did stop for a while but I never stopped dreaming of my ideal life.  One day, as I was living my normal life, I thought to apply to this international company I knew back in England. I did apply without telling my husband, who was happy and satisfied and had just retired to Florida.  I applied and got the job and had to tell my husband that we were moving from Florida to Texas. I told him after I had accepted the job! Thank God he understood my immaturity back then.

AAFES was the best job one could ever imagine. Working with an organization that had a mission that I loved was great. Being able to travel the world, see exciting things, experience new cultures and not live in a tiny apartment was better.

I tell you about my time with AAFES because it helped shaped me. It also gave me an opportunity to learn and grow and to do the things I had always dreamed of. The only thing that was different is that I had a husband and son in tow.  Don’t allow excuses to keep you from living your ideal life. Live it in spite of detours in your life. Just because things are not as you had hoped does not mean that they can’t be.

Choice versus Fate

1480503_10200865742397540_1900211115_nYou may ask, “Is choosing your life that easy?” I guess it is about perspective. I mean it has to be something you really want.  Also, I know that sometimes you think you know what you want, but you are unclear how to get it.  For example, at a young age, you may have dreamed of growing up, becoming a big time executive that would travel the world, live in exciting places, have a wonderful home and a cool car.  As you grew into adulthood, things changed; you may have married, had a child, maybe you didn’t college and now you feel that none of what you dreamed of as a child happened for you.  You may feel less valuable because of it.  You don’t talk to your friends because they are in the same boat and you feel that that won’t understand your desire to do more with your life. You may have even heard someone say, “Life Happened” when you ask them about what their dreams were.

Yes, life happens for us all but that doesn’t mean that we have to forego our dreams. I know people who are in their 50s, 60s and older still going after their dreams. I was 49 when I got my PhD. I was in my late 20s when I got my Bachelor’s degree. So what?  The idea that you don’t have a say in your life is wrong thinking.  You have a say in your life. You can choose to live where you are, and live a life of regret, or you can choose to push past your fears and pursue the dreams you buried.

You may believe in fate (your destiny is set) but even the Bible tells us that humans were made with free will; we were created to make moral choices and we are responsible for those choices. If you or I chose to put our dreams of traveling the world on hold to raise a family, that is okay. If you or I chose not to have a family so that we could travel the world, that’s okay too.  The point is, it’s our own choices and our choices lead to how our lives are shaped.

When I have been frustrated with my personal or my professional life, when I have felt that I was not living what I wanted, I chose to change the direction I was going. My life hasn’t always been easy and I have certainly hit bumps in my professional life and sometimes in my personal life. I choose to live the life of my dreams in spite of those bumps. You can too.