Dreams Achieved…

howiachievedmydreams

I was thinking about when I decided to retire from a company I had worked for more than 25 years. I then thought about when I first interviewed with them; how I waited excitedly to see if I would get a job offer, and the exhilaration I felt as I opened the mailbox years ago and found the anticipated offer letter. When I opened it, there it was! The letter offered me a position as a college management trainee starting at $18,000 annually. Boy, that was big money back then, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be selected. No one in my family that I knew of had worked for an international company. No one had held a white-collar management job. I had arrived!

Through the years, I was very fortunate. I worked hard and smart, tried to be a good team member, and made it my goal to please my bosses. I rose through the organization to levels I wanted but did not really know how to navigate. Thank God for those who helped me along the way.

There are so many life experiences that shaped how I view the world. The story I just shared was a positive one that I will treasure forever. However, there were other experiences throughout my life that could have derailed my dreams. There were people along the way, who criticized, subtly belittled me, and in some cases, ignored me altogether. There were challenges that could have caused me to lay down and not get up again; circumstances that would make others give up. I did not. It’s not that I did not because I was so strong; I did not give up because of my faith, people who encouraged me, and sheer determination and grit. I remember being embarrassed by a situation early on in my career, I went home on my lunch break, cried my eyes out, finally got the nerve to return to work, and my boss was standing at the back door. He looked at me, said, “you ok?” I said yes. He smiled and I knew he believed in me and the “you ok?” was all I needed to hear. I knew I would.

What does any of this have to do with you? Everything! I meet so many people who just cannot handle difficult situations. They cannot get over criticisms, and they get stuck questioning whether they are good enough or capable of doing the things they dream of. When they can, if they would stop and see the thing they are dealing with is only temporary.

obstaclesdontblockthepath

Many of the challenges we face are designed to help us grow. Yes, that’s how I see it now and if anyone had helped me see that sooner, I would have gotten over a lot of hurts early on. This is why I share these experiences with you. I want you to learn how to navigate challenges in a positive way. You can achieve the things you dream of but dreams don’t generally happen on a bed of roses. Long-term marriages do not succeed without both people having to deal with a lot of stuff from each other. Career success does not just happen (at least, not for most), it happens for those who can take the good with the bad and strive in both environments. Financial success doesn’t happen without sacrificing and being willing to stick with your process for the long-term. Think about it, if you invest, you go through downturns in the economy and you go through upturns in the economy.

If you want to have positive things happen in your life, look at every situation you face as temporary. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

The next time you are challenged, remind yourself that we go through seasons. Keep the faith. Tomorrow things will be different.

When I am Weak…

 

whenI am weakMost days I am happy. I wake up thanking God for another day to be alive. I honestly don’t take my being here for granted. Over the last year, I have experienced close and personal losses and they made me consider my own mortality.  There have been days that I sit back and say to myself, “God is still on the throne. Don’t lose heart.”

Most of you know I run each morning. The other morning I was outside, pushing through my run, when I promise you, I heard the voice in my head say, “When I am weak, You are strong. ” For many of you, I don’t have to explain what was happening.  Anyway, I kept running and I continued to hear that phrase.  At one point, I said it out loud. I knew that I needed to say it to God.

I have thought about why that statement came to me. Perhaps I was supposed to share this with someone else.  Not too long after that spiritual interchange, I spoke with a person who had contacted me and her actions suggested that she desperately needed to speak with me. I was on my way out of town, so I said to the person, “if you need to see me, you have to do it today because I fly out tomorrow.” The person made it a point to get over to see me too.  As we sat down to catch up, all of a sudden in the midst of our conversation, I thought I saw her eyes tearing up.  At first I tried to tell myself that I was imagining things, but after a few seconds, it became apparent that she was tearing up and finally crying. I walked over to her, gave her tissue and wrapped my arms around her. After more than an hour of conversation and her sharing some of her deepest frustrations and fears, we parted ways. As I walked towards her to say goodbye, I wrapped my arms around her again, but this time, I would not let her go without praying for her.

For days, I thought of this young woman. I left for my trip and thought about her on the plane. I got back home and thought of her again.  As I recalled all that had happened between us the day she came to see me, the phrase “When I am weak, YOU are strong” came back to me.

I am strongYou see, even the best of us will encounter days that are frustrating and disappointing. We will encounter people who will count us out, not take us seriously, reject our dreams and goals and even tell us that we will never be something that we have always dreamed of becoming. That’s why we are hesitant to share our hopes and dreams with others; we are afraid of their judgment and rejection as this young lady was. As I said to her that day in my office, I will say the same to you.  If you have dreams, go for them. It does not matter what other people think; it matters what you do.  If you don’t go for it, you are saying that they are right about what they think of you. If you go for it and fail, you don’t have to be embarrassed, trust me, the next time you will do better. One thing is certain, if you don’t pursue what’s important to you, you can count on never getting it.

Don’t let others rob you of what God has placed in your heart and mind.  Don’t let them stop you from being what you want to be. When people say things that hurt you, remember, “when you are weak, He is strong.”  He will carry your burdens and He will lift you up above the negativity, the fear and the doubters.  Let the doubters doubt you, but don’t you dare doubt yourself or Him. He believes in you and so do I!

2 Corinthians 12: 9 says, “…But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Do You Remember?

memorylaneEach morning I rise around 4 am, actually it’s more like 340, to go to my quiet corner of the house to read my Bible, to pray and journal.  Some mornings I feel half asleep and half awake, I pray “Lord, give me the strength” and I crawl out of bed and head to that place, turn on the table lamp and begin my daily ritual. I know, the word ritual, just doesn’t seem right when I write it either. That’s what some would say I do, a ritual. However, I’d like to call it a part of my daily discipline. I want the time I spend with God each day to be a natural part of what I do; you know? Like some just get out of bed and head straight to the coffee pot, I want to head straight to meet Jesus.

I’d like to call it a part of my daily discipline. I want the time I spend with God each day to be a natural part of what I do; you know? Like some just get out of bed and head straight to the coffee pot, I want to head straight to meet Jesus. I won’t lie, some days I read the scriptures and tell God, “I got absolutely nothing out of that” and on other days, like this one, I can’t seem to put my Bible down.

This morning I was continuing my read of Isaiah when I came across a scripture that hit me like a ton of bricks.  It hit me because it was a scripture I had memorized at a young age. The minute I began reading Isaiah 54:6, “We are, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us to our own way, and the Lord has laid upon Him the sins of us all.”  I immediately remembered the scripture and stopped to think about it. Instead of dissecting it, I found myself going back looking for scriptures I learned years ago and seemingly never used them anymore. I went searching and writing them down as I found them. By the time I had finished with this little exercise, I had written down eight scriptures. I found myself mulling over each scripture and saying them to myself, affirming each scripture as I spoke them.

You may say, “so what?” I know, right? I have no idea why I became obsessed with doing that this morning. As I sat to write this blog, I did hear myself say, “do you remember?” Do I remember what? Is the question really, do I remember where God has brought me from? Yes! Do you?  Do you ever sit back and think about where you are right now and where you were five years ago, ten years ago, 20 years ago or even longer than that? I sure do.  I think about how blessed I am today.  When I look back five years, I was recovering from an illness that made life look bleak. When I remember ten years ago, I had just evolved from a work situation that had me questioning my competence and my potential. When I recall 20 years ago, I had gone back to school to complete an MBA.

Do you ever sit back and think about where you are right now and where you were 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even longer than that? I sure do.  I think about how blessed I am today.  When I look back 5 years, I was recovering from an illness that made life look bleak. When I remember 10 years ago, I had just evolved from a work situation that had me questioning my competence and my potential. When I recall 20 years ago, I had gone back to school to complete an MBA. Yes, I was shocked to realize that one too!

There is one thing that remained constant over the years, my faith. Through the ups and downs; through the joys and pain; and through the accomplishments and disappointments, the discipline of reading my Bible, remembering scripture, and drawing on it in times of happiness and in times of sadness, has sustained me. The joy of the Lord has truly been my strength.

Today, I have a wonderful life. In fact, when I think of my life in general, I have had a wonderfully blessed and abundant life.  God has been good. I would have never imagined some of the things I have accomplished and lived. Not for a girl like me; that little girl from New York, whose mom died so young.  The girl who was raised by Pentecostal grandparents in Georgia. Or the one who was not at all popular back in the day.  The one who was not counted out, just never considered by anyone other than the people in the little church in Georgia.  Her? Who would have thought this would be my life?

Anyway, don’t let anyone talk you out of living your dreams or doing what God has placed inside of you. That includes you not talking yourself out of it either. Also, you should think about starting the discipline of Bible reading and prayer each day too. I bet you will one day look back, remember, and be glad you did.

I will close with Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing, as it springs up, can you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Your Dreams are Important…

you-are-gifted-encouragement-and-inspiration-at-www-abettermedaybyday-comHave you ever seriously considered the gifts that God has given you? Have you ever just sat quietly and contemplated what you have and why you have a particular gift?  Do you honor God by doing something with what He has given you or do you find yourself sitting, looking or comparing yourself with those around you?  Do you look at your friends and secretly resent that they seem to be achieving every single goal that they set?  Do you feel a little jealous when a co-worker seems to be able to accomplish one thing after the other? Do you look at yourself and feel inadequate?  Well, stop! You are gifted too. You have your own road to travel to get to where you want to be just like the person you are comparing yourself  to.

When they achieve their dreams the process isn’t any easier or harder for them as it is for you. The difference is they are focused on achieving their dreams and using their gifts. Are you? Or are you sitting on the sidelines watching them?

I always say that one of the many reasons why dreams aren’t met and success isn’t accomplished, is a real simple one; we are too focused on watching what someone else is doing,  comparing ourselves to them and then worrying about what they have accomplished compared to what we have accomplished.

Hey, God gave you your own dreams. If He hasn’t given you the talents to accomplish them yet, you can bet that He will; He’s probably preparing you right now. In fact, Hebrews 13:21 tells us that He has given us gifts that are special. Did you know that? I believe the Bible!

I also believe that just as we have spiritual gifts, God has put dreams in our hearts that are just for us.  When we pursue those dreams, I think we are pursuing a destiny designed in God’s  grand plan.

Here is some news for you; you can choose to pursue those dreams and do so with an attitude that what God has begun in you, He will complete it or you can watch others pursuing theirs and comparing what they are doing versus what you are doing and just stay stuck where you are. I don’t think that pleases God though and watching others certainly does not do anything to keep you on a forward movement path.

My Journey is mineIf you aren’t careful, you will become consumed with what others are doing. How does that fulfill your own purpose?  It doesn’t.  Watching others and comparing yourself to what they have accomplished and what you haven’t, only causes you to question your abilities.  It stresses you out. You can become obsessed with their achievements and begin to doubt if you are even capable of achievement. Yet, we can agree based on scripture, that God has given you the ability to do just that; achieve His divine purpose for your life.

Look, your dreams were given to you for you only.  My dreams were given to me for me only. You can decide that you will pursue yours and I can decide that I will or will not pursue mine. The point is simple, your journey is yours to travel just as mine is mine to travel. We can trust God to give us the strength, talents, gifts and abilities to achieve our dreams and goals and to finish the race or we can sit back and be distracted by all sorts of things that won’t help us finish our race at all.

One thing that is sure, true and constant and that is, God is God. Whatever gifts He has given is ultimately for His glory. Choose if you intend to honor Him by trusting what dreams He put in you and believe that He is able to help you accomplish them.

Yes, your journey is yours and mine is mine, but all has been determined by God.  The question is, what do you intend to do about it? Will you simply watch and compare or will you move forward trusting and obeying? Remember, the choice is yours…