Reflect Lately?

I was out running one morning recently, and as my feet pounded the pavement in the early morningsunset hours, I noticed the sky was a beautiful red and blue color. I didn’t stop; I kept running, trying to get my workout done. However, I felt as though the red was getting redder and the blues bluer as I ran. I still would not stop (I needed to get done). At some point, though, I felt God had been trying to get my attention gently, but because I didn’t listen, it felt as though He yelled, “Stop and look!” So, I did. I stopped and looked at the sky with amazement. I then took out my iPhone and began taking pictures. I posted those pictures to social media, and apparently, more than 100 people felt the same about how beautiful they were. As I viewed those pictures, I was able to reflect on God’s goodness. What a wonderful life I have lived. I thank God every day for blessing my life as He has done, and I want to be and do all that God has called me to be and do.

Like many of you, the last year has caused me to reflect a lot. Not just because of the pandemic, but as you grow older, I think one tends to look at life and wonder if you left the earth today, would you have made a difference. I am not saying that we must make some vast world-changing impact, but I wonder who will miss me when I am not here anymore. I realize initially, people are sad that we are no longer around, but after a while, even they settle into their own lives, and those they have lost may slowly fade into the background. Anyway, as I reflect on my life, I quickly recognize that I have more years behind me than in front.

What about you? Have you reflected lately? Have you thought about how each day you make a ripple effect into the lives of others? I have. Recently a person told me that I made a significant difference in her life years ago. She said that although college was accessible to her, it was just not something she had thought of pursuing until she met me. Today, she holds advanced degrees. As such, I began to think about several people I had encouraged to go to school so that they would have opportunities that may have evaded them otherwise. They did, and those doors opened. They don’t have to give me any credit; that’s not what I am looking for at all. But I will say it makes me feel good that this one person didn’t wait until it was time for my eulogy to let me see that I made a difference.

Person sitting quietly on the edge of a dock watching the sunset

Today, think about how you can impact others in significant ways. As much as people can frustrate, disappoint, and anger us, God calls us to think of others. I know it is hard, but God will make sure to reward you for your acts of selflessness. Remember, we don’t need recognition here on earth; although it is nice, we need to do what God has called us to do and let Him handle the rest. I am confident in saying that I guarantee He will.

Born to Thrive!

Most days, I feel as though I can conquer the world, and then, there are days when I think the world is defeating me. That feeling doesn’t last too long, however. I was born to thrive! At least that’s what I tell myself. The feeling of not just surviving but thriving has been with me since I was very young.

born to thrive

I recognize to hear someone claim that they thrive sounds self-assured and assertive. But, as much as I’d like to think I can face anything and overcome any obstacle, there is always anxiety behind the face of that courage.

The truth is, the fiercest of us experience our share of anxiety. Whether it is dealing with the loss of a job, an end of a marriage or relationship, or a betrayal of any kind, life can get the best of us. When I face struggles, I generally turn to scripture to ease my stress and I pray for guidance as to my next steps. Being a person who tries to control my destiny, I get frustrated when I feel I am not in control. Being a woman of faith, I caution myself to stop trying to control everything. To leave it, only to find myself going back trying to handle the situation again. If you are a control freak and feel you are not in control, anxiety comes. If you are a laid-back and carefree person and deal with those who are not, you probably feel that situation bringing about pressure.

Just remember, for anything that seems to overwhelm us, there is an answer. The answer to me can always be found in scripture. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This scripture puts things into their proper perspective. Stop worrying, focus on what is essential, and thrive mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

What do I thrive? I know it’s because I have the assurance through faith that God has my back. As Tauren Wells sings, “If I am on the mountain, He is there. When I am in the valley, He sees me there.

intention

Anxiety is as much a part of life as breathing but thriving takes intention. Someone said, “An intention is more than a thought or a theory about how you want to live; it is the thought and determination to make that change.” That change starts with our heart, and our attitudes will follow. How can you thrive? Think free like a child. Find an exercise that you will learn to enjoy and do it. Take risks. Take walks. Laugh a lot. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Now, these are easier said than done, but that’s why I say intention is key to thriving.

Fan the Flames?

Recently, I have thought seriously about just disconnecting. Some time ago, a person said to me that they could not keep a gratitude journal I had suggested because they did not see themselves writing the same things day after day in that journal. They were thankful, but they would get bored doing the same exercise each day. I remember thinking that I had done it for years and I could do it. But, I also felt that I would never stop doing it.

fan the flames

For years, I have gotten up in the early morning hours to read the Bible and pray. However, over the last year, I have noticed my early morning prayers getting shorter. I can remember saying to God to stir in me the passion for worship, His Word, and fellowship with others, just as I had when I was younger. I prayed that my prayer process did not become mechanical and mundane. Now, I feel that is exactly what it has become.

What do I do when I feel the very thing that has kept me is somehow losing its appeal? What happens when I don’t feel like reading, praying, or even interacting with others? Then it came to me. The reason I read, prayed, and took part in routine fellowship was for moments just like these. When I reflected on the “why” of my emotional state, I found that to be a good process. To ask myself questions that force me to look inward and evaluate my life is what many people go through. Those who have strong faith recognize what’s happening immediately. Do you know why? It’s because we have exercised specific disciplines throughout the years.

What do you do when you feel distant & disconnected from God or the people of God? How do you handle the feeling of ineptness, routine, boredom, or downright “I don’t feel like it anymore?” I will share what I have done. I have stepped back and asked the Holy Spirit to show me what to do. I have also asked the Holy Spirit to stir up a fire in me. I don’t believe that I would know to do that had I not read that in the Bible repeatedly over the years. In 2 Timothy 1:6-14, we are told the following: “That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands.” This scripture speaks to me. Even more is what comes after in verse 7,  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and love and calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 

These scriptures are reminders of a couple of things to me. First, I have to know without a doubt that regardless of what I am feeling, God is with me. He said He would not leave me or forsake me. As such, I have to trust that if I would pursue Him, I will find Him. Stirring up the fire to me means to press through despite the so-called boredom. It means to think of the things of God or the enemy will have me thinking, “why bother?” Also, I realize that I have a responsibility to fan the flames and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Second, I have to be bold enough to say to myself or my distractions that there is power in the disciplines. I don’t have to feel an emotional high; instead, I have to trust God. If I go boldly to the Throne of Grace, He will be there waiting.

So, what do you do when you “feel” you have lost your fire? Fan the flame! We’re not as hot and burning as when we first received the Lord. But Romans 12:11 encourages us not to be “slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit, serving the Lord.” So, remember, when you go through the season of slothfulness, God wants us on fire for Him. It may not be in your human spirit, but your born-again spirit will be willing.

2 Timothy1-7

These scriptures are reminders of a couple of things to me. First, I have to know without a doubt that regardless of what I am feeling, God is with me. He said He would not leave me or forsake me. As such, I have to trust that if I would pursue Him, I will find Him. Stirring up the fire to me means to press through despite of the so-called boredom. It means to think of the things of God or the enemy will have me thinking “why bother?” Also, I realize that I have a responsibility to fan the flames and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Second, I have to be bold enough to say to myself or to my distractions that there is power in the disciplines. I don’t have to feel an emotional high, rather, I have to trust God. If I go boldly to the Throne of Grace, He will be there waiting.

So, what do you do when you “feel” you have lost your fire? Fan the flame! We’re not as hot and burning as when we first received the Lord. But Romans 12:11 exhorts us not to be “slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit, serving the Lord.” So, when you go through the season of slothfulness, remember, God wants us on fire for Him. It may not be in your human spirit, but your born again spirit, is willing

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?