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)

 

 

 

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.

You Got This….

underestimate meIt can be frustrating when you have to deal with people who tend to always underestimate you. I want to tell you that I totally get it. However, I want to offer an alternative to you.  Don’t get frustrated or mad. Learn to smile within yourself when they do.  Think of what they are doing but do so and laugh at them.  You will gain much more positive energy than if you allow yourself to become angry.  Look, isn’t it really funny?  Yes, it is. So instead of letting them get to you, let them fuel you.

I bring this up because of what I have noticed with some of my dear friends. Some are good at handling it when others underestimate them, while others are not so good at it. There are two kinds of people, those who act strategically and those who react irrationally.  First of all, you may not even be aware that your reactions can come across to decision makers as irrational. If you tend to lash out by commenting or by displaying negative body postures, you only hurt yourself. So the best thing to do is learn more positive coping strategies to get better results the next time you may be challenged to do a job.

react  Those who are strategic and ultimately get what they want, make good out of a bad situation. They learn to discern when they are taking things personally and recalibrate because when they begin to see everything as personal, they tend to not think strategically. When you are not thinking of the other person’s next move, they get a leg up on you and they win.  They don’t cause you to react; you cause you to react. Not cool.

When you react, you do so out of pure emotion. Emotions range from frustration, anger, and even fear if you feel people are (a.) underestimating you or (b.) trying to take something from you. The most strategic thing you can do over deliver and show others that you have what it takes. You are smart.

In everything, think of your next move as if you are playing chess and try to remove your personal emotions out of the equation. I don’t care how hurt you feel, think above the pain and create your next move.  Your next move may be to look for other opportunities elsewhere is you are continually marginalized. Don’t stay where you are being frustrated and feeling undervalued.  I have seen many people hate where they are and don’t do anything about it except stay and complain. When they never move up, they stay where they are and continue to complain and become more and more bitter.  I say, don’t stay anywhere where you feel undervalued.  The first thing you need to do is to recreate yourself where you are, but if you can’t, move on, and find another place to start again if you need to.

I have seen many people hate where they are and don’t do anything about it except stay and complain. When they never move up, they stay where they are and continue to complain and become more and more bitter.  I say, don’t stay anywhere where you feel undervalued.  The first thing you need to do is to recreate yourself where you are, but if you can’t, move on, and find another place to start again if you need to. Too many times, we allow life’s situations define our destiny. Don’t let that happen.

Anyway, always remember, being strategic is about being proactive and irrationality is reactive. One gives you the advantage and the other does not.  Oh! One more thing. In all things, pray and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Your part? Be all that God has created you to be. He did not create you to be second, third, or last. He created you with a uniqueness that no one else has but you and you can count of Him fulfilling His perfect will for you.

 

 

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 Power of Positive Faith

power-of-holy-spiritI have always used the phrase “The Power of Positive Faith.” As you know, I write an article monthly in TWJ magazine online and the title of my column is The Power of Positive Faith.

Recently, I was running and that phrase came to me.  I asked myself, what does it really mean?  Faith is supposed to be positive isn’t it?  As I thought more about it, I concluded that yes, faith is supposed to be positive, but so many times I have watched people of faith not act positive at all.  So I ask you the question, why?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” So if we say that we believe and if faith is one of the foundational principles of what we believe, why is it that our behaviors can be found lacking?  Why is it that we exhibit doubt, fear, uneasiness, fear, anxiety, fear, stress, fear…? You get the picture?

We have faith, yet, at times, we don’t act like it.  I believe in our humanness, of course we will experience some doubt, fear, uneasiness, anxiety, and stress, but I don’t believe that we are supposed to allow these negatives to reside with us nor control us.  I have faced personal tragedies, financial hardships, marital problems, child problems, work problems,  boss problems, and just about anything you can name. So please don’t think that I have no clue as to what you might be going through.I promise you, I do. I have probably faced way more than you could ever imagine and yet, you might not be able to tell that I have because I refuse to allow life’s challenges to define me or control my future.

standinfaithI am also a woman of faith and have questioned God not just once, but on many occasions. In the end though, I say, “Father, help my doubt. Take away my fear. Help me to stand in the face of uncertainty. Lord help me.”  I am not better than you and I have to constantly remind myself of what the Bible says.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will give us Power. Power to stay positive and hopeful in the midst of chaos.

John 14.16-17, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit. . . he remains with you and is in you.”

Luke 24.49, “ …I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait…until the power from above comes down upon you.”

You see, there will always be trials. There will always be challenges and difficulties. When I have to go through something, I pray and ask God to help me. Do I get frustrated and maybe a little fearful at times? You bet I do. However, I have learned to quickly remind myself that there is someone living inside of me who has given me the power to face, walk through, and overcome.  When I think of the Power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me, those negatives that would have attached themselves to me and caused me to live defeated are quickly swallowed up with phrases that say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ ‘I will not live in fear because “greater is He who lives in me, than he who is in the world.”

If you need a little encouragement today, read the scriptures I have noted below. I needed them recently. When you say them out loud and remind yourself of what the Bible has to say to you about you and your life, these scriptures will help redirect your thinking and hopefully, you will become intentional in being positive in your faith.

Philippians 4:8-9, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” 

Proverbs 17:22, A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:13, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Jeremiah 29:11, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

Matthew 15:11, “It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

I pray that whatever it is that you are going through; whatever you have to face, you will remain positive and faithful. You got to go through it, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

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.

Get Back At It!

no-blame-no-excuses So here we are in another year.  I did a pretty good job accomplishing my goals of 2016 and I intend to work hard to do the same this year too.  I realize that I can’t do everything and that’s why I establish priorities.  That’s what I want to share with you as January starts to fade and the year takes off.

The month of January is when we set our sights on what we want to accomplish in the year. Many cynics show up during this time too and tell us not to waste our time writing goals.  I shake my head and wonder who will we listen to; the cynic or our hearts.

As for me, I don’t listen to cynics. I hope you won’t either. However, I would like to remind you of a couple of things.  First, if you don’t set smart goals, you will end up anywhere and then you can’t complain when the things you felt you should have accomplished never got done. Second, always remember at the end of the day, you control your destiny. “It’s Your Life; Own It” is one of my mottos. Third, you can either determine the path you will take in life and get at it, or you can let someone else determine it for you. In the end, whatever happens, if you decided along the way not to be an active participant in your destiny, it’s all on you.

It’s Your Life; Own It is one of my favorite statements because every day I hear someone say something or see someone post something on social media about how someone “messed” with them.  I have listened to the comments about how they didn’t get the job or the promotion. I have read the same type of comments about how they wished this person would leave or be removed from a position of power because that person will never give them a chance. I have listened to those who can’t seem to stop saying what they “can’t do.” Or they refuse to self-assess and make changes. I have accepted invitations to mentor some and coach others. I can tell right away those who only want to complain about their situation or they want to brag about what they are doing or want to do, and those who are serious about getting “at it” to make a positive impact on their everyday lives.

The questions I have for you as we “get back at it” this year are these: Are you serious about doing something more?  Are you truly interested in achieving something you have dreamed about? Do you really want that position? That promotion? Do you really want to finish school? Do you really want to open your own business? Do you really want to write a book? Do you really want to exercise more? Pray more? Study your Bible more? Do you really want to start a Bible study group? Do you really want to travel? Do you really want to be a better parent, spouse, or friend? What do you really want to do? You see, we can always dream and imagine, but do we “really want”  what we play at wanting? Because, when I “really want” something, I do something about it.

be-relentlessI learned long ago when I wanted a promotion where I worked, I went for it. When I didn’t get it, I tried other ways. When I still didn’t get it, I tried other companies.  When I wanted to travel to Asia or Europe, when I couldn’t fly business class, I flew coach or discounted airlines and stayed in cheaper hotels until I got to the place and status in life where I could stay in better ones. When I decided to write my book and couldn’t get a publisher, I self-published. You see, there is always a way. Let me share a true story:

I always dreamed of running outside. I never did. I would work out every day doing step aerobics or some form of exercise, but I desired to run like others did. I would stop myself by saying to myself that I hated running (knowing full well that was not true). I then would say, “I couldn’t run.” After I got sick in 2012, I could do very little exercise for almost a year. The only thing I could do was walk. I began to walk every day until I was walking 5 miles. I remember when I was out walking, I would talk to God about my fears of my illness. That time turned into a spiritual time.  In 2013, somehow I emerged from my illness. I continued walking but found myself jogging a little also. I began telling myself “if you could do 3 classes of step aerobics, one right after the other, and they were advanced, why don’t you think you can run?” It was like a lightbulb came on. I began running. Today, I can run 10 miles in two hours. Every day of the week, excluding weekends, I run no less than 7 or 8 miles each morning.

Look, there will always be some excuse or blame as to why I didn’t accomplish something; I just don’t want the excuse to be me. Do you? Set your sights high. Work to make your dreams a reality. Brush off naysayers and push aside negative thoughts. Stop telling yourself what you can’t accomplish and start affirming yourself daily, hourly or even by the minute. Just don’t stop….