Reflect & Connect…

There has never been a time in my life where I have witnessed so much despair. Isolation might bring out the very worst in some of us when it could help us be better and do better. What a perfect time to connect with ourselves and with God as we quietly reflect on our lives.
connectwithGodDuring these times of isolation, it is so easy to fall into a state of sadness, depression, and maybe even anger. However, we can also choose to look for the lesson in our current situation and try to redirect our thoughts. Think about it, isn’t this the perfect time to see how we can help someone who may be feeling alone, feel loved? Isn’t it an ideal time to take our loneliness and turn it into a tool that can help ourselves and others? One means of doing that is through social media. What an excellent way to reach out to laugh, enjoy the jokes, the comments, the memes, and some of the silliest things people are coming up with just to connect and make life a little more bearable.
I have always believed that there are two types of people; those who see opportunities in messes and those who see the inevitable disaster in them. The people who see the glass half-full and the ones who see it half-empty. I also believe we can choose which of these two we want to be.
Are we going through a difficult time right now? Of course, we are, but what part can we all play in making someone’s life easier? I believe that everything happens for a reason. God is not surprised by what is happening in this world. I look over the last month and see where the things I grew up being taught, came rushing to the forefront of my mind when I needed them.

I recently left a job I loved because I knew, in my heart, that whatever assignment God had for me there was finished. Was it scary? You bet. For a woman who plans everything, did I have a plan? Yes and no. Did I have a well-thought-out strategic plan? No. Did I have a faith-walk plan? Yes. I planned to seek God and to trust God for the next thing. You see, I had begun to feel alone, and I thought that I was losing a little more of myself each day. During the entire time, I felt these various ways, and I had to keep encouraging myself to trust God. I read scripture more desperately, trying to hear from God. I had friends saying to me, trust God. I heard myself staying to myself, I will trust God, but my feelings to move on got more anxious. One day, I said Lord, I am trusting You for the next thing. It was within days of me resigning, that the “next thing” just showed up. It showed up during a time of uncertainty. It showed up during a time when we were shut-in when I was quiet, reflective, and not distracted by other things. It showed up when God had my undivided attention!

theLordismyshepI am about to begin that next chapter. I am excited about what God is doing in my life. More than that, I am excited about what He will do in yours. I am not saying to be foolish. I am saying to take time to connect with God during these days of isolation. Reflect on His goodness so that you are not paralyzed with fear. Look back on where He has brought your from and what He has done in your past. Trust yourself too.
And always remember, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

 

Someone Needs You…

someone needs youA friend in India sent me a note and asked if I would do an inspirational video.  She wanted it so that she could play it for the women in her company during Women’s month.  I was so impressed with this young lady when I met her this year as I conducted a Business seminar.  She is a Human Resources Manager and this young woman knows where she is going and has a clear plan in place to get there.  Plus, she is so positive and enthusiastic!

I have been under a time crunch so I didn’t know if I would get it done or not.  So much happened in February. Anyway,  at my age, I automatically thought I needed to schedule some time in the studio and get it done for her. She is a millennial! I love them!  She said, “can you just do a video on your iPhone and send it to me to play?”  I loved it. After doing about 4 videos, I decided on one. The title was: Someone needs you. After doing the video, I began thinking about people like you and decided this would be my blog for this week.

You know, It is so true.  Someone needs you too. I believe that something magical happens when you share yourself with others. When you share your hopes and dreams, you move others to think about theirs.  I started thinking deeply about what I just said and thought to myself that You—not just me—but You are so very special. You can be very impactful to and for others if you want to be. You can either believe that you were designed by God to share love, forgiveness, acceptance, and encouragement with others or not.  If you believe it, you know automatically that all of these positive traits flow from a heart of love that God has given to you . It’s people like you who generate warmth and affection that lift others up to higher heights. You nurture lasting bonds of friendship because God designed you to do so. It’s because of you, others dream dreams and seek to achieve their goals and believe in themselves. Yes, that’s you. Or at least some of you. If you are positive, you know it’s true. someone needs you 2

I know that some of you have been designed to be bold and assertive. It’s easier for you to go after your dreams. I also know that others are a little more passive, somewhat apprehensive, and you kind of know what to do and you will get there eventually. Then there are those of you who are shy and careful and maybe  a little fearful because you don’t know where to start in going after that which God has placed in your heart. That’s okay too.  Each of us brings value to this beautiful tapestry of life.  Although we may be different in our approaches to life, still we have much to add.

We have each been given a special gift from God. Each designed to add value to not only our lives but to the lives of others. Did I say that someone needs you? Well they do.  They need your boldness. They need your passivity. They need your vulnerabilities and your love, affection, forgiveness, acceptance and encouragement. Don’t you agree that if you touch the life of one person; If you can help someone believe in themselves; If they are moved to do more and be more because of you, your job on earth would have been achieved? I think so.

I am going to tell you a secret. Ready? You can either add value to others or you can distract from others.  You can choose to see the best or default to the worst. You can live in envy and jealousy or you can choose to share who you are with others; hoping that what you share is enough because it is.  If we can get it in our heads that we really are special and that we are on this earth to make a huge difference in someone’s life, everything will change.

Are you positive and optimistic? Are you a person who speaks life into others? If you are, I bet you already know the impact you have on others.  I like people like you. Thanks for being available for someone who needs you.

The Value of Openness

I am amazed at how much I love the people of India!  About 3 years ago, a friend asked me if we could go to India as we were preparing Christian business students to use their business skills to serve in underdeveloped cultures.  I mean, really, we could have gone to a hundred, if not a thousand, other places. We ended up in India.

After visiting India for the third time, someone said to me, “you seem to just fit in.”  I didn’t really give much thought to the comment until someone said: “when you speak, you connect with the people so easily and in such a short period of time.” At first, I didn’t think much of what was said, but later, I was reflecting and that comment came to mind.  Later in the evening, I started thinking about the comment again and as the night rolled around, and I couldn’t sleep due to all the party noise outside the hotel window, so I began to write this blog.open-arms

Have you ever met someone who says they value others but their actions tell a different story?  I think, like little babies, some people can sense if you are an authentic person or not. In fact, I think many of us can tell right away; it is something in our gut that tells us about another person. The reason we get fooled is because we allow ourselves to be fooled; we override the feelings we have about that person. I believe we have conditioned ourselves to “give the person a chance” when signals are flashing in front of us. Some people refuse to be authentic. I didn’t say they cannot be authentic, they choose not to be.

The concept of authenticity and openness are very different. Some people will say what they think others want to hear, but they don’t have the heart (openness) to learn from others. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that we are just people. Regardless of our status in life, we are people.

I was thinking with all my credentials and some popularity, it can be so easy to become so full of myself that I will not “hear” the heart of others. How about you? Do you guard yourself against that too? Have you had to do like me and remind yourself that you are not all that?  I didn’t say that you had to belittle yourself, simply have you stopped yourself from being or acting as the superior one in the midst of others and become the humble one?  Have you learned that regardless of what levels we reach in life, at the end of the day, we are all just people trying (I hope) to do better?

When we see the other person who may not look like us, talk like us or behave in the same manner that we are accustomed to behaving, do we look and say “I love that” and really mean it? Or do we look at that and judge that how they look, speak and behave must conform to how we see the world? Shouldn’t each of us look at others with the eyes of learning something different, yet wonderful? I think that is what openness is about. I didn’t say that one culture is superior to another. I am saying that when we embrace an “openness” attitude, we grow a little more, we accept a lot more and we love a great deal more.

Keep It To Yourself….

keep it to yourself.2Like others, I am bothered whenI hear things like “that person doesn’t like you” or “she has a problem with you.” Look, Whatever!  Yes, I will admit it, it bothers me. I have learned to push back when someone tells me that someone feel that way about me. I push back when I have felt the animosity from a person first hand also.

You see we all have someone who do not like us. Wow, you thought everyone you met like you? Well, they don’t. What a revelation, but it is true.  The most popular people have folks that find something wrong with them. The most unpopular do too.  What makes the world go round is to recognize early if you can that we are all different and we may not like the same things nor can stomach some of the people we have to interact with.  That’s just reality and it’s okay.  My problem is with my friends and pseudo-friends.  I love you but….let me tell you a couple of things. You probably think you are doing me a favor by making sure I know that someone does not like me.  I get it.  However, please do me a favor.  Keep it to yourself.

That’s right, keep it to yourself. You are not helping the situation at all and if it bothers me to hear, I can imagine how it might destroy someone who is not as confident as I am.

You may think that you are just saying something either to help me (or to be mean to me pretending to help) but don’t. My life is full, filled with happiness and joy and on a positive trajectory. I am winning.  I don’t want to be brought into a negative space.  Honestly, I don’t believe that is your intention at all; at least I hope not. But that’s what happens when hurtful words are used even when those words are no intended to be used as such.

keep it to yourselfLook, even the best people who are positive and optimistic can be brought down, albeit for a little while, with those comments or opinions you are passing on.  Now let me ask you something. Do you feel good about yourself when you pass on that “stuff?” I bet not.

Okay, so maybe you didn’t know this. Soooooo now you know. Also know this, “Haters gonna hate.” That’s just a fact of life. I have always believed and stated when a person is focused on me, they probably want to be just like me. Of course the hater will say that’s not true. But to all my haters, yes it is.  I can’t say that I blame you though.  If I were you, I would want to be just like me too!

Have You Tuned Out?

I don’t know about Encourage-One-Another1you, but if I don’t watch it, I can easily find myself criticizing everything.

How about you? Can you get on a roll if you don’t like something? Me too.  I  have listened to myself get on a roll if something irritated me.  To think of it,   when I start, I can just keep going and going and going. I think that’s why the word, “whiner” came about.  We just keep whining and whining until no one wants to listen. In fact, I know that’s why kids, spouses and others close to us learn to tune us out.

If you think about it, when we whine, our emotions are not “good feeling” emotions. They are stressful emotions.. They come in the form of irritation, anger, frustration, fatigue, being unforgiving, intolerable or just down right —I want to be nasty today.   I used to tell myself if people would hear how they sound, they would stop, but I am not so sure anymore. I am convinced there are those who love experiencing negativity; they just like to complain or condemn and discourage.

I block out complainers and I make it a point to try to hear myself when I get on that train.  I wantuned-out-2t to catch myself and stop to right away. I don’t want to be a person who becomes the crier of bad news and the person who is the Debbie Downer in every
situation. I don’t want family or friends to think of me as the one who is always negative. I pray to be a positive person and to be a person who can help bring joy to others.

People have a lot to deal with in life and most times, they know when they haven’t made the right decisions. They know when they could have done better but chose to do otherwise. I don’t think they need me pointing that out. I learned this from having a son.  I want to uplift him and help him. I want him to always feel that he can recover from anything; from any failure. Heck, I have.  I don’t want anyone in my sphere of influence to ever feel totally defeated, I don’t care what they have done.
You know, Jesus encouraged others. He didn’t tear them down. He didn’t look at those who was already beating themselves up for their mistakes and beat them down more.  Rather, Jesus strengthened and encouraged.  That’s what we are supposed to do too according to Romans 15:1 “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith.”

If you know you have a habit of becoming negative, stop yourself. If you have tuned out and can’t hear yourself speaking negative, get a true friend who can gently point it out in you and bring you back.  If your words would change and become more positive, I bet your entire life will reflect that too.

 

Embrace Joy!

joyThere is so much sadness in the world today.  The lost of some very popular celebrities are in the news. People are experiencing pain with relationships and there seems to be an overall sadness in the air.  Some people who I have talked with recently are really struggling with being joyful.

It occurred to me that if I am not careful, I could find myself beginning to feel and act as sad and down as others.

I have reflected on some of the most recent conversations I have been a part of.  What came to mind as I thought of some of the recent losses was how to pray for those who are experiencing pain. I have prayed over and over again. What struck me hard one morning as I was praying was this thought, “Watch it or you will find yourself sad too.”  That was the Holy Spirit.

watchyourthoughts“Watch it” is important to remember. You see the scriptures tell us to “guard” our hearts in Proverbs 4:23. I believe we are told that because if we are not careful, instead of embracing “joy” in our attitudes, we can end up on a downward spiral of sadness that so consumes us that we no longer look like joyful, happy and powerful people of God. We look like people who’ve been defeated!

In Philippians 4:4, we are told to “rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS.”

Already, I can hear some say, “You can’t always be happy.” Well, maybe not, but that does not negate what the Word of God tells us to do. I totally understand that heartaches and disappointments can get the best of any of us, but as one person put it recently: “I think that sometimes our attitudes can cause certain things to come to us.” My response to her? “You know I agree with that statement 100%.” I do believe that we can attract negativity, which includes sadness, depression, anxiety and other anti-joy stealers or we can attract positivity, happiness, peace, love, patience, and other joy-creators.

We all face “stuff.” We just do. However, we can have joy in the midst of our struggles and pain. That’s what the Word of God says.

                                          “When anxiety was great within me,
                                          your consolation brought me joy.'”

Psalm 94:19  

New Beginnings…

yournewbeginningCan you feel it in the air?  I can.  There is something new and fresh that is about to happen and I can just feel it.
I get excited when I think about all of the blessings of the past, but I am
excited about what the future holds.
As I have thought about this year of new beginnings, the scripture in Isaiah comes to mind. God says that He is about to do something new; it can be a new life, a new relationship, vision, hope, dreams or opportunities.  Will you be ready?
As you enter this year, are you entering it with an attitude of optimistic expectations or are you locked into your past, holding onto all the disappointments that you experienced?  Will you walk into this year with the attitude that says to anyone near you that you are going to move mountains, live out your dreams and take a more positive and assertive position in pursuing God’s will for your life or have you decided that whatever happens to you is God’s will and what will be will be?  Are you bent on holding onto negative attitudes? Are you comfortable with being passive, waiting for life to hand you your dreams?
11690912-attitude-is-everything-text-written-with-chalk-on-a-blackboardI don’t know which of these descriptions describe you, but I do know that you don’t have to let anyone lock you into a box. If the latter has been you in the past, it doesn’t matter and you do not have to continue that way.  You can decide to change the channel of your life.
I have gained great insight into the psyche of people over the years. I can almost intuitively figure out those who are just talk versus the ones who are a little envious of others. I can even tell the ones who will say they are going to do something and will get it is  done no matter what versus those who say the same thing and will never make one move toward doing anything.
Success, whether in our personal or professional lives, can be measured by our attitudes. God tells us that He has a plan and purpose for each of us, do we believe Him? He also says that He is about to do something new, do we optimistically look forward to it? Or do we brush it off as just historical sayings or stories of Old Testament Prophets?  I am crazy enough to believe Him and maybe that’s why my life seems to experience abundant blessings.  I not only believe Him, I expect Him to do something new. Heck, it’s already starting.
Don’t allow your blessings to slip away because you want to hold onto a pessimistic and naysayer-type attitude.  Look for opportunities that may be right in front of you if you would look for them.  A new thing is going to happen for you. Not because of magic or anything like that. A new thing will happen if you move towards thinking  positive, speaking positive, and acting in a way that will attract the positive things you rightly deserve in life.  Hey, He is about to do a new thing, can’t you feel it?

This Year Can Be Different…

new_years_resolutions_listEvery year starts with lots of New Year’s resolutions.  In fact, all kinds of goals are set. Resolutions range from fitness to career to relationship goals.  Many begin the year with all good intentions but for some reason, not too long into the year, those resolutions begin to fade into the background as every day life issues begin to happen.  Before you know it, you are at the end of the year again, only to look around and find that none of those resolutions you intended to achieve during the year never got started.

Disappointment set in. Then you become discouraged and ask yourself why. Maybe you try to ignore that you didn’t even try after your initial resolution was made, so you get a little perturbed with yourself. You might even blame yourself for not being disciplined enough to ever master your resolutions.  Well, don’t beat yourself up because you can do better.  Yes, you can even if you have tried over and over again.  It’s never too late to start again. You should never stop trying because I truly believe that you will eventually get the right process in place that will work for you. That is, if you won’t quit.

However, I will tell you this; it takes more than making resolutions each year to actually achieve them. You have to put some strategy in place. You see, sometimes New Year’s resolutions do not work because they are not well thought out. They are just thoughts that haven’t been formulated to be achieved. When New Year’s resolutions are made, generally, the person making them are just picking something fun to do or they may be frustrated with some area of their lives, so out of frustration,  they pull these types of resolutions out of the air and then announce what they “hope” they can master in the new year. Because they haven’t put any thought to the actual resolution, it fizzles out along the way.  When no results are seen, frustration, maybe even anger or disillusionment sets in and then you begin to tell yourself that New Year’s resolutions never work anyway.  You are right. If they are handled haphazardly, they don’t.

So how to do you ensure that this year’s resolutions don’t turn out the way your previous ones have turned out? Do things differently this year.  Begin your year with pen and paper. Write down your goals, put timelines and actions that need to be taken in order to achieve them. If you do these small actions, you will have better results.

YOU-DONT-NEED-A-NEW-YEAR-TO-MAKE-ADon’t let this year be just another year of loose resolutions when it comes to the things you want to see happen for you this year. Write down your top 3-5 goals for the year. Think through them. Make sure your goals are SMART, which means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. If they are, you are off to a great start.

This year can be different and you can achieve your goals. I don’t care how many times you may have missed the mark before.  Don’t you dare stop trying. Like with anything, the more you try, the more you practice, the better you become.  You may not have been the best at achieving your resolutions in the past, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually. Maybe, you simply need to change your process.

Are you ready to live the life you always dreamed of? Are you ready to do the work, be committed and never give up until you see the results you want to see? Well, that takes time, its takes real commitment, diligence and determination. Most of all, it takes you not listening to others or to your inner voice that may tell you that you failed before, why try now. I tell you why, because you want to be better and you want to do better. As long as you have the desire to do so, you can.

This year can be different, but you have to be different too. So get started the very first day and keep at it everyday for the rest of the year.  You are bound to see better results. Remember, I am rooting for you!

God bless you in the New Year and may He help you with your resolutions too.

Stop Second -Guessing Yourself

confidently2Have you ever made a decision only to go back to it over and over again wondering whether you made the right one or not? I have.

Like you, I have made so many life decisions. Especially when it comes to my professional life. I have always been driven to succeed. To me, I take a no hole bars approach to my life. I take an attitude of “the sky is the limit” approach.

Earlier in life, I would just make a decision without thinking of the consequences and go for it; many times it worked out. I think God knew I was young and silly, so He sent angels to watch out for me (at least that’s what I have told myself throughout the years). Later in life I learned the importance of praying before I made a decision. I had heard others say that people do things and pray about it afterwards, asking God to bless it, when they should have prayed about it ahead of time to see if it was God’s will.  That made sense to me so that has been my practice ever since hearing it. On the big important things, it was especially critical for me to stop and pray first before moving forward.

Once I have prayed about it and waited to hear from God, I feel good about moving forward. Here’s the problem though. Suppose you prayed and felt that you heard from God, so you moved forward believing it was Him only to find yourself going back and forth re-thinking or even regretting your decision?  What if you made the wrong decision? What if you didn’t hear from God as you thought you did? What if?

Let me help you with this issue.  I went through this just recently. I made a life-changing decision that would affect not only me, but my family. I prayed and prayed and made my decision only to question whether I had made the right one.  Early one morning during prayer as I talked to God about my insecurities, what came to me was this:  “Stop second-guessing yourself.”

Hmmm. It think it came to me from the Holy Spirit because I was saying to God that I had prayed and prayed and felt I had His answer and now I don’t know.  When I looked at other elements of my decision, I thought to myself well this change puts a dent in my 5 year plan, yet, I wanted to go with the decision I had made. I needed  to make sure God had blessed it.  As I sat in my “prayer chair” again, the words resonated in my mind, “stop second-guessing yourself.”  I smiled because I accepted what I was hearing.

The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.
The word TRUST carved into a stone wall. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

Many times you will make the best possible decisions you can with the information you have. You do your best to do what’s right. What happens is people who don’t want you to do something or maybe they want you to themselves, will speak things into your life that make you second-guess yourself. On the other hand, your mind will play tricks on you and have you question your decision and if you are not careful, fear will consume you. When that happens, tell yourself what is written in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.” If you have to say it over and over again, do that.

Anxiety is natural when you are making major life-changing decisions.  The question becomes, do you want to live a life that is full and purposeful or will you allow fear to stop you from fulfilling your destiny? When you make decisions, always pray about them first, wait to hear from God and when you believe you have and He says it’s okay, then move.  If he says no, then stay.  If He says okay and you are fearful to move, ask yourself, “Am I telling God that you don’t trust Him?”  I am sure you don’t want to say that, but your actions are.

Stop second-guessing yourself. Trust God and trust yourself.

 

Happy Attitudes = Happy Lives

ecclesiastes-3-12-13
Ecclesiastes 3:12 reads “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”  See, there it is!

One writer stated “The goal of every Christian should not be happiness because the Bible never promises happiness to the believer but joy, that is a totally different story.  While happiness is temporary and is based upon happenings, joy is from the Lord and you can still experience joy during trials, suffering, and testing.  Joy is permanent but happiness is fleeting.”

I understand what this writer is saying, but isn’t this just semantics? I don’t disagree, but I don’t think we have to get hung up on this either.  In fact, I feel if we are going to disagree on something, it should not be on whether or not God wants us to live a life of happiness?

11690912-attitude-is-everything-text-written-with-chalk-on-a-blackboardWe should not be fighting over this. So why do we? Is it just easier to sit and fight and to be negative?

Do you think that God designed us to with the attitude of negativity? No, He did not. In fact, the Bible tells us in Philippians to think on things that are good, pure, honest, all of these are positive thoughts. I know that it takes intentional effort to be positive, that’s why Romans 12:2 tells us that it is important to transform our minds and that’s what the Holy Spirit does for us. He helps us to draw from His strength when we would automatically default to the negatives in this world. When our minds are transformed and when we focus on what we are thinking about, I think we will work hard to stop random negative thoughts from becoming permanent negative thoughts that become our daily lives.

The Bible tells us “there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good.” I bet the happiness that is talked about here is not seeking to live our lives out of selfish gain, nor out of stepping on others to get to the top, nor is it in fame and popularity; neither is it just an emotional state that one feels just because something good happened. I think the end of the scripture really tells us how we will live a life that is happy and positive; a life that rejects negativity. We do it in being productive and not idle. We live happy by working and seeing the works of our hands, whether it is something tangible or intangible we produce.

When we reach out and touch the lives of others and when we add to the lives of others, those kinds of acts bring about joy and joy produces happiness in our lives.  Happy attitudes result in happy lives. So, can we actually accomplish what is stated in Ecclesiastes 3?  I think so. That, too, begins with our attitudes towards work and life