I Ran In The Rain…

Running n d rainI ran in the rain this morning.  Did I know that it was raining before I went out? Of course I did. I almost didn’t go because of it. I opened my garage door, looked to see if it was coming down really hard, stood there for a moment, closed the garage and went back into my house and sat in the living room waiting for the rain to subside.  I sat there for a few minutes, maybe 5 or 10, hoping it would stop but it didn’t. I got up and went back to the garage, opened the door and looked at it again, but this time I decided to just go. So I ran.

I had to run this morning.  During my devotional time, I thanked God for the rain. I told Him that He had put this love of the rain in me; I didn’t know why, but I feel deeply that He did. Also during my prayer time this morning, I remember asking God to cleansed me and revive in me a new spirit. I prayed for a washing of my mind. I asked Him to forgive anything in me that offended Him or anyone. Finally, I remember saying to Him to create in me a pure heart. (Psalm 51:10)

As I ran in the rain this morning, I could hear myself going back to what I journaled earlier. At one point I thought the rain was dying down, for a minute, it felt lighter. I smiled and thanked God for that. I stopped at a red light and as I stood there, I prayed again for a cleansing and a renewing of my mind.(Romans 12:2) All of a sudden, an outpour began. I laughed because I felt God was saying to me, “Here you are. Think of this as Me washing away the old; the old feelings, the old filth and creating you new this morning.”  I accepted that right then and there.

James 4-10You may not believe in God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but I do.  One thing that is foundational in my faith, is the need to repent and ask for forgiveness. To realize that He is in charge and not me. When pride, ego, and self, or should I say, selfishness, gets ahead of my commitment to Him, I have to remember to step back and acknowledge that as sin too. Thinking of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I become small (humble) as I stand in His presence.  The Word of God says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10. So I pray for a more humble spirit and a clean heart.

Lord during this month of fasting, my He be exalted and we be humbled.

Pray First…

i hate waitingI am a high achiever. I am all about achieving one thing and moving on to the next. I get a rush out of being able to check another goal accomplished off my list.  If you are the same, you already know that people like us want things done and they want them done now.  We tend to think that the next thing is waiting to be conquered and we are the ones to conquer.  People like us can be high strung and just can’t sit still. We are BIG Picture people continually developing a strategy for the next thing. Time is money, so don’t we don’t believe in wasting time!

Hold on though!  There is a problem with being like us. We can get easily frustrated; especially if things are moving too slow. When I was young, that meant bad news for those around me. Let’s just say, I wasn’t very patient. Now that I am older, I am a lot better. When frustration sets in, I try not to talk much. Maybe I am this way because of how extreme I behaved in my younger days. Anyway, something happened recently, and I realized just how much I have changed.

If you have read anything I have written in the past, you know that I believe in Jesus. You also know that I think when He said in John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” that He meant it. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us.”  For me, that scripture means He will help when I feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, ticked off,  confused, unsettled or whatever destructive emotion I may experience. God already knows what I need, I just need to give my feelings to Him by releasing them to the Holy Spirit.

prayer-changes-thingsWhen I mention the name, DMV, many of you have the same images come to mind as I do; inefficient, slow, uncaring, paper-pushers, unproductive and the rudest people you can meet!  Maybe that’s why my husband had a problem when he had to deal with them on my behalf.  He was at the DMV all day beginning at 745 that morning. He came home around 3pm. I came home after him, and  when I walked in and said “Hello Darling” and got very little response, I should have guessed something was wrong.  I went to the kitchen to make some food and yelled, “do you want something to eat?” “No,” he replied. I looked and realized I was talking, and he was not talking because he was on the phone.  I sat down at the table and began to eat. When he finally got off the phone, he told me what happened at the DMV. He looked beat! Well, he didn’t get done what I needed. He had all my paperwork and handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”  Well, ok, but I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally getting the right person that took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

Well, he didn’t get done what I needed and deep inside, I was not happy about that. I didn’t say anything though. I saw all my paperwork in his hands and he handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”.  I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally get the right person on the line who took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

I had to get up early to go to a meeting.  I dressed and got out on highway 57 to sit in the morning parking lot of traffic. My goodness, I thought everyone would be on vacation; it is the week before Christmas. At least the traffic was moving. I got to my meeting, we finished up around 1115, and I headed over to DMV without an appointment. I got there, and to my amazement, there were very little people outside (that’s a good sign). I went to the “do not have appointment line” that is usually out the door but was short today. I stood behind a guy that was pleasant, and we talked about our experiences. We were three and four in line! Well, it was his time, I wished him luck, and he did the same. I got to the window, no problem, got my waiting ticket and went to sit down. The entire time I sat there waiting, I prayed “Lord, please make my path straight.” When I was called about an hour later, I walked up to the window, explained my situation, gave the man my papers, he processed them and “BOOM!” I was done! No frustration, no confusion, no annoying conversation.

You may say “so what?” I tell you “so what” I felt from the beginning of the frustration before I got on the phone, if I started with prayer, I would approach the situation with a better attitude. I knew that if I believed and relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, I would not rush and become impatient. I know that prayer changes things, but more importantly, prayer and the Holy Spirit changes us.

The Power of Words…​

wordshavepowerHow do words affect you? Are there words that immediately turn you off?  They just rub you the wrong way? That’s how I feel about the word “businessman” being used in a meeting of any kind in the 21st century.  I may be wrong, and I pray to not be so easily offended, but in a day and time like now, if you haven’t gotten it, you never will. Your words matter. They can be demeaning or empowering in the context of work. What’s worst is, I hear sexist words more in Christian settings than in others; why?

The truth is, I actually understand why, but my God, enough of living in the dark ages already.  It is time to appreciate the subtleness of your words.  To me, when a person, generally the person is male and holds a level of leadership, makes sexist phrases, first off, it seems ignorant.  Those who do so seem oblivious to the fact that today, in 2017, there are lots of businesswomen. In fact, there are 32 women in CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. The top 4 are at General Motors, IBM, Pepsico, and Lockheed Martin. Guess what? 2017 holds the record number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies! That says something.

So, why do I get up in a funk about the word “businessmen?” Because the term is sexist.  It just is.  The proper term that should be used is businessperson or business leader. Why? To work to get rid of stereotypes!

Okay, so I will get off my soapbox for now. Please be patient with me, but I do want to share with you why the word bothers me so much.  When I hear the word being used, typically, the person using it has no idea how much they may be overlooking a businesswoman in the room. This woman in some cases may have far more business experience and a greater understanding of how to cast vision, develop strategy, set goals and use the emotional intelligence she has to build high-performing teams. She knows how to drive for bottom-line results just like the man. But when she is sitting in the room, with a bunch of men and every one of them have no problem with the presenter saying businessman and not correcting him, that is a problem.

sexismRecently, I was at a Christian conference focused on business leaders. The presenter was so refreshing. As he spoke, I listened carefully. What struck me about him was his sensitivity in making sure when he said the word businessmen, he also said businesswomen.  He did this throughout his entire speech. Did he get my attention and my respect? You bet he did.

Words matter. Why? Words can empower or marginalize. I hate being marginalized. Maybe you don’t, but I do.

I feel it’s important to say something so that it does not continue. Now, this may not bother you, and that’s okay, but you know that I am bothered and now you may consider that there are probably others around you who are annoyed too.  Don’t just excuse yourself and say, “They are too touchy, or they are too sensitive.”  Just don’t.  If I say something that may be bothering you, tell me. I would want someone to tell me so that I can stop doing it.  If I care, I will stop. If I don’t care, I will make an excuse and continue with the same behavior.

Little things grow into big ones.  Whether the issue is one that no one ever thought would be a big deal like, you know, sexual harassment?  All the things that were said 20 years ago suddenly have come full circle. I bet some of the people affected look back and wish they had never said or did what they did, now careers are destroyed, reputations ruined and families are in turmoil.

If you are a Believer, the world should not set the standard of how you should behave, whether you are at work or at church, you are to set a tone of fairness, justice, and equality.  I think Jesus would.  When I read the Bible, I don’t see Jesus making distinctions between male and female (some will argue differently, and that’s okay).

Just remember the next time you are in a boardroom, a meeting, sitting on a committee, or in some kind of setting where men and women get to play, men and women are playing equally.  They are both needed, and there is no environment where one is competent, and the other is not. Either can be capable just like either may not be capable.  Your words, though, sends a message; what will your message be?

Remember,  “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)

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.”

It’s In the Quiet Times…

The_Quiet_Time_-_QT1.jpgLately, I have felt unsettled.  No, I didn’t say that I am not content; I said unsettled. There is a big difference.  For days now I have felt this unsettling in me.  I have been praying for a person for weeks now, so that may be the reason why. I moved last year and just experienced the 1 year anniversary of that, so maybe that’s why. I don’t really know. I just feel that way.

In the rush of everyday life, when we are busy moving here and there, working, socializing, and just living life, the noise of life can be overwhelming. In fact, if we aren’t careful, the sounds can drown out what we should be listening to.

That’s why quiet time is so important. We need to set aside time to contemplate, decompress and live quietly.  At least that’s what I need. I do it each day; usually, early mornings with shorter times. Also, I do a bigger block of time each week just to sit quietly and think. Life can be busy and the important things can be easily missed in our rush to achieve the next thing.  I will admit it, I can’t seem to sit still and be satisfied. If I am not working in my office, I am writing a book or an article or a blog. I do several things at once. I work on several emails to various people while I may be working on establishing some new program or I am setting up some kind of meeting, working some marketing strategy or coordinating some speaking engagement. It’s always something.  I push hard to get things done each day, and I will admit, I don’t have patience with what I perceive as “excuses”  for not doing something. You see, I can’t stop striving.

I have to give myself a break though. I know for a fact, God made me this way. He made me passionate, resilient, persistent and strong. As much as I appreciate the woman God has made me, I also know that I can turn my strengths into weaknesses. The same is true for you too. If you are always working, pushing, striving and achieving, do you have time to stop and enjoy the accomplishment? Do you stop and savor the moment in quiet solitude before you jump to begin again?  These are a couple of the questions I have had to ask myself lately. You see if you have always been the kind of person who believed that doing proves your self-worth, you need to rethink that. You know who proves you are worth something?  God. However, you won’t know it, if you never sit down and take the time to hear from Him.

quiet-the-mind-soul-will-speak-life-quotes-sayings-picturesTurn off the music, turn off the television, put away your computer, put down your phone, sit quietly in His presence and open your heart and your ears. Stop thinking about what you have to do next and be fully present to hear why He has you where you are now.  For the unbeliever, this is foolishness the Bible says, but to you who believe, you know what I am talking about.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].”

God needs your attention and your time. Not after you are exhausted but He needs to talk to you when you are alert and ready to hear. He may have been trying to get your attention for a while now. Has He?

I Don’t Want To Let It Go!

let goI don’t know how anyone can go through life holding onto bitterness. Do you?  I mean, I get ticked off with people too.  I can understand getting angry, and I even understand not speaking to someone who has hurt you, but not talking to them forever? That’s nuts! You know why?  Because the other person isn’t being affected, you are! At the end of the day, you do not hurt the person you are mad at in the least. Oh, I know you think you do. But you don’t.

Let’s talk about “that person.” You know, the one for which you are holding your grudge. They have moved on. You are stuck.  Why? The person who is holding the grudge (you) is the person hurting. No? Yes, you are. You are the one who continues to recall what the other person did to you. The one who did the hurting tends to forget and move on to the next thing.  If they are narcissists, they are more focused on the attention they can get next rather than stuck watching you. If someone asked them why you don’t speak to them, most times than not, they just don’t care or remember. Hey, but you are the person who got hurt, you didn’t forget, did you? You probably remember the day, the hour of the day, and what you were wearing when it happened!

positive attitudeLet me ask you a question. Do you ever get tired? Tired of recalling those negative experiences? Tired of remembering what someone did to you? I am not saying that you have to be naive and continue to be friends with them. I am saying that you can learn from the experience, move on and be a more positive, productive and happy person.

Do you prefer feeling angry? Do you like thinking dark thoughts? Of course not, those thoughts and feelings are negative and defeatist. When I find myself thinking about what someone has done to me, I tend to over think the situation. I play and replay it over and over in my mind.  I sometimes have to talk myself out of thinking about the situation and that person.  See how much wasted energy these kinds of thoughts bring?  Change your way of thinking when you deal with these kinds of disappointments. Learn to flip that switch. You will feel better when you think positive.

Anyway, I am just trying to say this: You are a better person when you allow yourself to let go.  The best “You” comes through and that “You” not only changes the person you are on the inside, but it also changes those around you too. Well, it may not change the person who wronged you, but Who cares?  When you leave them behind and focus on what’s in front of you, the happy things, life will change.

Forget about things that will hold you down. Forget about people who will cause you to stumble. While you are focused on them, they are busy succeeding, and you are busy getting stuck.  Remember, if you can’t forgive someone for the wrong they have done to you, you can’t expect anyone to forgive you for the wrong you have done either. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15.

Encourager or Discourager?

EncourageI love being the person who makes another person feel good about themselves. I like speaking words of encouragement to them and then watching them come alive.  I know, probably more than most, just how powerful words can be.

The good thing about a person who likes to encourage is that they do it whether the other person needs it or not. They know how important it is to be sensitive to those with whom they interact.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I people watch. By people watching, I can tell immediately who the Encouragers are and who the Discouragers are.  I want you to think about this. You know just as I do, the value that Encouragers bring. We know the traits they demonstrate; generally, they are happy, optimistic and positive people. We also know the Discouragers; they are just the opposite.  Although they can be negative, pessimistic and unhappy, many times they display more subtle traits than that.  In fact, you may not be able to really point to anything specific; you just feel it.

Discouragers may not ever say one discouraging or disparaging word, but what they can do is not acknowledge any good thing about you.  They may be ones who withhold praise or stay quiet when someone else has something good to say about you. They don’t do or say anything to support you, although they claim to be your friend.

Encourage-1thessaloniansWhich are you? Are you an Encourager or a Discourager?  You may not be comfortable with giving compliments, but you can still encourage others.

I believe one form of encouragement is seen in actions.  We can “love” the way Jesus told us to do when He said to “love one another.” Life is hard and people are facing challenges every day.  People we meet or those we interact with each day are facing things that we know nothing about.  People are facing loss, whether in the form of a divorce or a loss through death. Others are going through the loss of a job, while others may be dealing with grave illnesses, addictions, family problems, work problems, foreclosures, or jail.  These are real life issues and some will share while others will not. You may be the difference in whether they keep going or give up, in whether they succeed or fail.  You don’t have to show sympathy–that’s not encouragement. What you should do is inspire another person with the courage they need to keep on going. No, you may not be comfortable speaking words of affirmation to others, but you can do other things to encourage those around you.

Be careful and watch the words you use with your children and grandchildren no matter how frustrated you might get with them.  If you are upset, always tell them that you love them and then tell them why you may be disappointed.  If you are frustrated with your spouse, do the same.  If you have an obnoxious friend that might drive you nuts, pray for yourself and be intentional in praying for them.  If you have a friend who seems to always achieve & get what they want, to include compliments, don’t begrudge them, encourage them to keep on achieving and thank God for their achievements and blessings.  All of the good that you do in speaking well of and to others, will come back to you.  In the end, God commands us to encourage one another. You want to obey Him, don’t you?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)