Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tribute to Sandra

Dear Sandra,

Today is your Memorial.  Just as much as you were celebrated when you came into the world, today I will celebrate you having left this world!

Today I celebrate the person you were, the life that you gave and shared with me, the faith that you were not afraid to talk about or show, your courage to press on even when death looked you in the face over and over and over, even in days when your pain was out of control, the days you laid in a hospital bed wavering between life and death, even in days when you wanted to die, even when you didn't understand what God was doing, even then, you still loved God.

Your life was one filled with challenges most would never be able to comprehend.  One filled with extreme pain.  Yet, as I reflect on the memories of the times we shared together, I am blessed to have known you.  Blessed to have been able to share this journey with you.

Today, I celebrate you!!!  You are in Heaven wearing Gold Slippers, having Angels Wings, and you have received your own personal crown as the Princess of The One True King with glitter and diamonds and you are dancing to Heavens Choir.  Your party today will have no tears, no pain, no regrets, no sadness, no difficulties, no sickness, no medicine.

Your party today is one filled with amazing LOVE of Jesus, the one who called you home on Thanksgiving Day 2015.  I find God's timing to bring you home on this day, not a mistake. I find the way you quickly went after years of misery, not a mistake.  God doesn't make mistakes and He has a message for everyone here to know and learn.  Your faith continues to speak to those around you.  I love you and appreciate all you were to me dear Sandra!

I love and celebrate you today!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

This is Who I Will Be

Life has disappointments, unexpected results, challenges. Often. Ones that sometimes make you loose hope, to the point you can become angry or depressed. The normal response is to complain. To not look for the beauty in the ugly situation. To believe that you have a right to feel the way you do.
And yes, there is an aspect that your feelings are valid. Please don't disregard them or try to shove them aside as being unimportant or something that is wrong. Yet it is in that moment that it is most important, to not look to remain a victim or focus on the negative in your thought processes. The power to change your situation is in that one small choice.
When I first became interested in motivational and positive affirmations, I thought that these people put on a front for their conferences and didn't/couldn't live the life they talked. That is what had been modeled to me for years, how could I think anything differently? People who had a mask, showing one face in certain settings and portraying another in others. I wanted what they had so desperately. Then I thought they really didn't face deep dark hard things like I had in life. I learned how far from the truth that was. I wondered if they put motivation and positive affirmations above God.
Yet as I have met and observed many lives, taken many courses, studied lots of material, I have found that there are true individuals [yes among the ones who don't], who know what being authentic is like, not just as a fad or cliché statement it has sort of become, but who really walk the talk. Not just people who have bought a line and are trying to sell a hype to make money. Full out walk the talk. And full out have seen the results hard proof in their lives by these daily simple choices.
I want more of these type of people in my life: People who do all things without complaining. People who love. People who show grace when the moment makes it hard to be grace filled. People who believe in mercy. People who choose to be of service instead of self focused. People who know the importance of kindness. People who make the choice daily to be different. People who desire to be a blessing, just because they have been in a place of need once themselves; they desire to pay it forward. People whose presence brings peace. People who know the value of life and make efforts to share in each others lives. People who honor their word in all situations. People who expect out of me what they expect out of themselves. People who have patience to help me grow, knowing that it's layers we work through to achieve results. People who have courage, to encourage me to keep the fight. People who know love heals all wounds. People who want to be authentic on all levels.
This is my purpose in life. To be just like those people I want in my life. Always. In everything. First with myself, then with you.
When I find a mask showing up, I am going to remove it. When I find my heart not following its true desires, I will unlock the key to change direction. When a door closes, I will search the hallways for another door, even if it requires flights of stairs. When I feel my passion suffocating, I will take a deep breath and let it out, for then I am forced to take in a new breath of fresh air. When I feel my vision covered by fog, I will give it time to evaporate. If I come to a place where I can't find my vision, I will seek quiet time until I do. When I feel the threat of regret, I will remember that I always have a choice, for there are no regrets, only lessons to learn. When I feel fear taking over, I will remember the power I have been given. When emotional pain threatens to destroy all hope, I will remember the times and ways God has shown up previously. When enemies or circumstances threaten to create defensiveness, I will consciously choose to respond in love. I will find the light to drive out the darkness. I will choose to make prayer my focus to become renewed. When all else fails, I will start with a fresh canvas.
No matter how crummy I feel right now, nor the plans I continue to have to cancel or the ways life isn't showing up to be how I want to matter the inner struggles I am facing to try to find answers that seem to elude matter the challenges to communicate and be matter how lost I feel for matter the ongoing battle to believe I am good enough, worthy, wanted...I will question whose voice I am listening to. This is who I will be!

I will choose to be grateful.

I will choose to believe in life.

I will choose to have hope.

I will choose to seek the truth.

I will choose to love.

I pray you will do the same. 
‪#‎WhoseVoiceAreYouListeningTo‬‪#‎CreateTheLifeYouWant‬ ‪#‎LiveWithGratitude‬ ‪#‎LiveIntentionally‬

Friday, November 6, 2015

Prayer 11.06.2015

I would love to pray for you today. I would love to encourage you to have hope in your pain. I want you to not make excuses and expect excellence. I would love to be a warrior on your side, petitioning your requests to God. I would love to thank Him for the things you are grateful for. I would love to pray that you won't live in fear, that you will embrace your journey, and move forward creating the life that you want. I would love for you to listen to that still small voice inside and not the chatter of other voices. I would love for you to know you matter and that God has your back.
I want to be your advocate. I want you to be mine. I want to share in your life. I want you to share in mine. I want to love you. I want you to love me. I want to give you grace. I want you to give me grace.
‪#‎PrayerChangesLives‬ ‪#‎ShareInEachOthersLives‬ ‪#‎HaveHope‬‪#‎LovePeople‬ ‪#‎CreateTheLifeYouWant‬ ‪#‎YouMatter‬ ‪#‎PrayerWarriors‬

Monday, September 28, 2015

Live with No Regrets

I am a list maker. I like to see what needs to be done and feel the accomplishment of being very productive. It's something that makes me thrive.
For the last few months, I have been making a list of things I need to do/want to get done before going to Uganda to ensure I got the important things done and didn't forget anything. Once I returned it was used to help me prioritize what I needed to do so I could stay focused on work and get caught up while dealing with the aftermath of my travels and all that affected me emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I have recently been working on making a new list of people I have made promises to and haven't fulfilled, people I want to connect with either for additional time together or for the first time to get acquainted, projects I want to complete, things I want to accomplish in my life, goals I have to make sure I finish out 2015 the way I want...
However, in reviewing an item that has been on my list since July 2015, "return VM to Margaret King", I decided to stop work and make it happen event though my day is very full and the schedule is in overdrive from spending the weekend not doing my chores on top of being Monday and all that that day entails. Margaret called the week before I was going to Uganda and it just didn't work out to be a part of my schedule. Yet, I have thought of her several times, haven't known when to call her, and if she would be up to talking. For those that don't know, this lady has cancer, is ridden up in bed being paralyzed on one side of her body, and can't do anything without the support of her husband. Yet she is making calls frequently to tell people a message: I love you and have changed from being the judgmental person I once was.
I just decided I would leave a message if she couldn't talk just like she did for me. She answered and we talked 25 minutes. I wasn't sure what I could say that would make a difference, but I prayed that I might brighten her day. I wasn't sure what she wanted to tell me, but I prayed that she would remember. I wasn't sure what I could even do to help, but I prayed that somehow my talk would help.
I shared 3 memories with her. An evening at a Friday Night Sing at church when Jon and her talked to me trying to learn more about why I moved to Texas and the similarities her parents and my parents were alike in upbringing and abuse, my 1st surgery in Texas when her and John came to visit me when my own Dad was never allowed into my bedroom because I was in my nightgown, and after a testimony I gave September 2012 when I laid my heart out to these people who had been judging what I was going through physically in my life and begged people to come sit on my couch and give me a chance to share and stop assuming what was going on - Margaret said she wanted to be one to sit on my couch and listen. I encouraged her to reflect on her blessings and continue to do what she is doing, making a difference in someone else's life by letting them know she loves them.
None of us know how much time we have, but we all have the opportunity to make a difference and to choose! I struggle with this too. Though I get lots done, and can be so driven I drive some of my friends crazy, I also can procrastinate and feel I am not good enough. I have to work through my negative thoughts. But I am learning to let the vision of what I want my life to be be what fuels my fire each day and continue to Seize The Day as my voicemail tells you to do!
Isn't it crazy how we make excuses for why something isn't the right time? Isn't it crazy how we think we aren't capable of making someones day better? Isn't it crazy how it only takes a minute to impact someones life? Isn't it crazy how we spend more time trying to think things through instead of just creating action? Isn't it crazy how we live more from a zone of regrets then positive memories?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Prayer 08.22.2015

Asking for prayer isn't about putting burdens on friends. It's about letting them walk with us down a path we were NEVER intended to walk alone. -Renee Swope with Proverbs 31 Ministries ‪#‎ThePowerOfPrayer‬‪#‎PrayerChangesLives‬ ‪#‎Pray‬ ‪#‎PrayerWarriors‬
As one who values the power of prayer, who has seen the results of Prayer Warriors dedicated to praying on my behalf, who knows the privilege and the opportunity it is to communicate with God, whom I consider a very close friend, and let him know my thoughts, feelings, blessings and challenges...I have done some personal development, reflection, and study on prayer as I was challenged earlier this year by someone who had previously been very close to me tell me that prayer was a private matter and not something to be done in a public format; that my requests for prayer on Facebook were an attempt for show, to be nosy in other peoples business, and that I was proud of my prayer life; and more.
I wondered if I had put a higher importance on prayer then God wanted me to have. I wondered if I had incorrectly believed it's power. I wondered if others felt as this person did. I wondered so many hurtful and difficult thoughts.
And yet what did I do? I prayed about them. I asked God to show me how prayer was supposed to be used in my life. I asked God to help me figure out these answers. I asked God to reveal to me the importance of prayer.
Over the last 6 months, I have come to believe even with deeper conviction that PRAYER changes LIVES! PRAYER is POWERFUL! PRAYER is IMPORTANT! PRAYER creates PEACE! PRAYER is LIFE! ...and I will continue to be a part of your life in prayer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prayer 06.23.2015

Too often we pray ASAP prayers — as soon as possible. We need to start praying ALAT prayers — as long as it takes. ‪#‎PrayerChangesLives‬

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Reflections

I have very few childhood pictures outside of my yearly school photos. I think this is the only picture I have of me with me Dad, provided to me by one of my Aunts last year.

I am 6 months old in this picture and my Dad is 32. I don't ever remember sitting in my Dad's lap though I am in this photo and I am sure it happened more than once. I was raised to give my Dad a kiss good night before bed and he was usually sitting at his desk in the living room, transcribing preachers messages on a typewriter, reading the newspaper or a book, paying bills or reconciling the checkbook. I would approach him and stand by his desk, waiting for him to acknowledge me. He would look up annoyed and I would fearfully say, I came to say good night. He sometimes would soften and lean his check out for me to kiss. It was never a throw your arms around his neck and snuggle close kind of moment. My Dad never cared what was going on in my heart and mind, how I was doing with school, or what interests I had and at age 14, my Dad in a heated discussion with me, he confirmed that he never wanted kids and that he only had them because my Mom wanted them. I was never left alone with my Dad nor was he allowed to even hug me. My Mom was deeply concerned he would be inappropriate with us and prevented us from ever being in that setting with him.
6 month old me with 32 year old Dad

Yet, today, as I see people write about their Father being The Best Dad, I have a different perspective. I am gonna share who my Dad was to me and can't pretend he was The Best Dad. Yet at the same time, I am keenly aware that there are others like me who didn't have The Best Dad and you feel like there is something wrong with you because you didn't. You may have a hard time with Father's Day. You may be envious of the relationships that others portray they have. It took years for me to work through these thoughts and feelings. However, the fact remains, he was my Dad and though we never had the chance to have the relationship I wanted, I am grateful for so many things, and I know the bulk of this wasn't something he could control and came from his inability to face his own fears. The pain he had with guilt. The stipulations he felt he had to follow from others, the love and forgiveness he never got from his wife, and ultimately the life he could not have because he let my Mom rule the house and he eventually died (literally) from her killing any desire in him to live.

For years I could not understand. For years I could not imagine living that unhappy. For years I never dreamed someone would accept their situation like he did and not make choices to change their life. This drove me to be different and create a different life. This drove me to find answers.

I am grateful for the skills my Dad gave me in accounting, in a desire to create a legible great penmanship, in the meaning of writing in the front cover of a book you give to someone, of his love for the bible and theology (tho yes, sometimes it was so over the top you dreaded bible studies), his admiration for a great book (he collected books), his passion to share Jesus with every person who knocked on our door to give us literature for their religion, his few favorite foods that he so appreciated when we cooked them for him, and a love for saving and being frugal after getting my hard earned pay. My Dad's level of commitment to his job, no matter how stressful or what hours it took to complete, never diminished. He believed in being responsible on all levels to your employer and he taught me to do the same. My Dad had some great character traits that he taught me without words and by his actions.

Dad had a nickname for me and it was Strombolini. I never understood it, don't know it's meaning or where it came from, but he was never angry with me when he used it and was usually in a great mood.

I do have a few fond memories with my Dad. I remember one New Years Eve me and my Sister got to go at midnight to the grocery store with my Dad to buy one bag of candy each. We were giddy!!! Skipping along. Happy and laughing and excited. Beyond words, first to be up so late, second to be out with Dad, third to get to buy and eat candy was unheard of.

The second fond memory I have is when my dad had to take me to Junior High School because the bus didn't come out as far as we lived and my Mom would not get up that early to take me, besides it was on my Dad's way to work. She figured nothing would happen because I had to be at school and Dad had to be at work so she would eventually know if there was a problem. Even though I sat in the shot gun seat scared to death that I would do something to make my Dad "lust after me" and held my seat belt away from my chest in order to not expose the shape of my breasts (as instructed by my Mom), I would work very hard to break the cold walls of silence in my Dad. And eventually we had a few great conversations. When I graduated from Junior High School to take the Independent Study course from home, he actually cried that we were not gonna have time together. I suggested we create other opportunities for this, but with the dynamics of my home life that did not happen. This interaction with my Dad prepared me for being Self Employed and dealing with Physician's and their cold walls they put up to keep people out.
Dad was always unique in his form of discipline. As the oldest of 3 kids, I tended to be bossy and a tattle tail, and so Dad decided one day that I needed to get one of his ties for work and he tied it around the belt on my dress and I had to wear it the rest of the day to remember to not be a tattle tail. I remember people coming to the house and I still had to wear the tie. I wanted to die. I felt so humiliated. But in all seriousness, I think it had more impact than spanking my butt ever would have!

Yet, to get a letter from my Dad 3 months before he passed away...asking for forgiveness, apologizing for not being the Dad to me he should have been for contributing to some dynamics I deal with today...I could never have asked for anything more. I didn't believe my Dad had the ability to do this and that he risked so much to do so, will always remain a dear treasure in my heart for his ability to be humble and reach out after no communication with me for 16 YEARS!!!

You never know what small things your children will remember. You never know what moments will make the greatest impact. Don't be so caught up in your life not to realize that truly, it's the small things that count. Even if you don't have The Best situation, you can choose to remember the moments that bring a smile, the things that contributed to make you who you are today, and have a new perspective for what someone else went through.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kindness - No Dirt

You might not like the way someone handles some things. You might feel they are unfair. You might do things differently. You might be done and want out. You might be upset. You might have a lot of feelings over the circumstances.
You can always choose to take the high road. You can always be professional. You can always treat someone the way you want to be treated. You can always be truthful. You can always always always be respectful.
I continue to be amazed at the character of people who refuse to show up when the tables or events create dynamics that make life challenging. Stop and think first. Don't over react. Don't dish out the dirt.
‪#‎BeKind‬ ‪#‎ChooseToBeDifferent‬ ‪#‎BeProfessional‬ ‪#‎HaveIntegrity‬‪#‎LetTheFireRefineYou‬

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Reflections

I have very few pictures from my childhood. Let alone with my Mom. This one of us is during the stay after my birth in the Hospital. 

Though my childhood has very few fond memories and was filled with lots of emotional, physical and mental abuse, I choose to reflect on and remember the things that have made me who I am today.

I am grateful for the skills my Mom gave me in a strong work ethic. She taught me to play the piano having had 12 years of lessons herself. To cook from scratch. To sew all my clothes. To appreciate the value of saving money and not buying something I could not afford. To reach out and develop friendships by writing letters every single week to an adoptive Grandma Potter and to one girlfriend. To be a friend to everyone and not just the gals I wanted to have as friends. To love the process of learning. The opportunity and choice I had to create an internal culture of choosing to be positive in the midst of an ugly, painful, and devastating environment. To stand strong even when I was being torn down on every level. To believe the importance of having courage even when there is no hope of change. To be willing to ask questions even when it challenged the leadership and authority of my parents. To not back down. To be a woman of strength. 

#2015MothersDay #CreateTheLifeYouWant#LiveWithGratitude #FocusOnTheGoodThings

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

if only I could say the right words

Do you ever have something you want to say to a friend, either in person or in a written format and you don't know how to say it?  Or maybe you just feel that you just don't have the right words?  

Maybe sometimes you know.  You know you don't know how to say it and you know you don't have the right words.

Or maybe you feel you have the right words but you don't know how to convey it to the person you want to share them with in a way that they will understand.

Many times in getting to the message you want to convey, you have to spend time finding the right words.  It is generally in these situations when you are trying to learn how to say something that you will actually give it more thought.  You try to figure out how to say what you feel needs to be said.  You contemplate what the message is that you want to say.  Sometimes it is what you feel should be said, even if it is hard to say.  

Sometimes as you give it thought, the words come and it flows.  Sometimes it takes thought and prayer to find the answer.  Sometimes it comes out all wrong.  Sometimes what you were wanting to convey gets totally misunderstood and taken the opposite way you were intending for it too.  Sometimes what you say just flat out gets taken offense to and makes you wonder why you attempted to communicate at all.  

When you feel there is something you want to share with a friend, there is a reason for that.  Don't second guess yourself.  Be willing to explore the reason you want to share this and build on that.

Sometimes in trying to find how to express it, we have to work through emotions.  These emotions can be Pain.  Hurt.  Discouragement.  Frustration.  Sadness.  Anger.  Resentment.  Or they could be Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Kindness.  Courage.  Faith.  Hope.  They type of emotion doesn't mean the words are any easier to find.  It only shapes the message that you are trying to formulate.  And sometimes you have to work through the emotion before you can figure out the message.

Communication is a tool that deeply develops relationships.  Yet many times when we feel we don't know how to say it or don't feel we have the right words, so we stay silent and the emotions will build.  This usually only makes the communication more difficult, not less.  It generally only creates frustration when we do not feel we can share to be understood, even if its our fault for not being able to communicate effectively.

I want to encourage you today...
The message you are trying to convey may not be done with the right words or in the right way, but do it any way.  Try.  Again.  And again.

Communication is very important to me!  And yet, as much as it is, sometimes it is a difficult process with some people.  I want to stay focused on the reason communication exists is to interchange thoughts, opinions, views and information.  It doesn't mean I will always do it right.  Either in the right time or with the right words, let alone the right method (in person or written).  Nor does it mean I will always be understood or received when I do.  It means that I have attempted a method to share something that is important to me.  It means I am willing to open up a part of my heart and let you into my mind.  Staying focused on this dynamic and being willing to communicate even if I don't always have the right words or say it the right way, gives me the ability to grow and continue to use this critical element as a part of building a relationship.

How do you find what you want to say?  How do you know you have the right words?  What method do you use to improve your communication styles?

Monday, May 4, 2015

reflections {5 Years Ago Today}

Today I am reflecting on events that changed what I had on my agenda and going on in my world 5 years ago...and remembering the reasons and ways I had courage through the event...and I feel called to share with you some of my reflections.
My brother, 5 years younger, who had been in Texas for 5 months after my mom sent him out to me unannounced on the bus, was now laying in a hospital bed, after laying 22 hours in the following state and having been found: unresponsive, on the floor in his bedroom, saturated in bodily fluids, with a large burn from his cell phone battery eating into the skin on his leg from a reaction between urine and electronics, after his 8th (known) attempt at suicide and overdosing on all his medications in his possession.
I was presented with choices to go see him and talk to him even if he didn't hear me, respond to me, recognize me, want me. I was presented with family members who stated this was all my fault that I hadn't done enough or the right stuff to help him since he had moved to Texas. I was presented with church family who thought they knew the reasons why my brother continued to struggle and who said he was stubborn, arrogant, unruly and obnoxious. I was scheduled this day for the photo shoot for my website and everyone told me I should cancel and forget this.
I chose to listen to my inner voice and went to see my brother every day before work, at lunch and after work. Even when people told me it was not worth my efforts. Even when people told me that he didn't care.
I listened to voicemails of encouragement and voicemails of people tearing me down. I read words from people who knew I was in pain and trying to have hope and I read words from people who had no clue what they said only was a slap in the face to the trauma and pain that I knew first hand me and my siblings had experienced. I still went and had my photo shoot done and smiled to the world knowing I would choose today to still have courage and be who I felt God called me to be: A woman of Faith. A woman of Courage. A woman of Generosity. A woman of Love. A woman of Strength. A woman with a Voice.
I listened to music, particularly one song, on I drove down the road with tears streaming down my face, in the shower with my face lifted to the heavens praying God was listening, curled up in bed with my pillow curled up against my stomach and heart seeking answers through prayer...I sang. I memorized the words. I sang it loud. I sang it in tears. I sang it every day all day long to make it through the dark days. I sang it in the moments when I felt my heart would explode because of how close I felt to God. I sang it because it was the theme of my life in this moment.

And though the storms may come, I am holding on to the rock I cling...

I will life my eyes in the darkest night... 

I will walk with you knowing you will see me through...

How can I keep from singing your praise?  How can I ever say enough?  How amazing is your LOVE!  How can I keep from shouting your name?  I know I am LOVED by the King and it makes my Heart wanna SING!
- How Can I keep From Singing by Chris Tomlin
I decided I would sing this message acapella the following Sunday at church. Yes, I broke down with some tears in the middle between verses, but I swallowed hard and pressed through it. I wanted my message to be heard. I wanted people to know why I had peace. I wanted people to know that even in the midst of extreme pain you have a choice. And that because of this choice, this is why I pursued life with my whole heart. That I was going to be intentional about how I lived. That this is why I cared about showing love to someone who didn't want it and yes, maybe didn't deserve it by certain standards, but who needed it desperately. Why I made effort when everyone else told me it was pointless. Why I let my actions be defined by courage and not by fear. Why I would not quit.
My story is filled with many like this...that are being written in my I shared a part of my story with you. Why? Because I want you to know that you have the power within you to choose. You get to choose whose voice you are listening to. You get to choose when, how and who to love. You get to choose to be a light. You get to choose to fight with all you got. You get to choose to be different. You get to choose what matters to you. You get to choose how your story is written.
Mine was ugly for years. I felt in bondage to people, things, religion, and work. I believed lies. Yet, the courage I had to create something different created a process in me to make choices that have changed my world.
You are not stuck. You are not a victim. Unless you listen to the voices that tell you you are. You are not anything anyone says you are, unless you chose to believe them. The power doesn't belong to someone is yours, if you want to claim it and live it!
How has your story created you to be who you are? Who do you want to be? What choice are you making to create the life you want?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What are YOU doing?

You ever have something come across your path that makes you stop and think about how many areas it could be applied to?  Yup.  That's what this Vlog by Michael Barata did for me.

I listened to it.  All 6 minutes.

I listened again.  

...and I wrote down questions.  

Questions I want to contemplate.  Questions I want to answer and journal about.  Questions I will no doubt blog about further.  Questions I really would love if you thought about.  You answered for yourself.  

No matter the situation you find yourself in today, consider these:

Are you empathetic? 
Are you compassionate?
Are you able to not judge?
Are you always choosing love?
Are you only living in opinions?
Are you willing to dig deep?
Are you willing to dig into the bigger issues?
Are you living off of circumstances?
Are you willing to love?
Are you willing to be compassionate?
Are you willing to not point fingers?
Are you willing to not judge?
What are you bringing to the table?
Are you willing to learn?
Are you willing to understand?
Do you want to make a difference?
Are you willing to choose love over hate?

‪#‎WhatAreYouFocusingOn‬ ‪#‎BeLoving‬ ‪#‎BeYOU‬ ‪#‎WhoseVoiceAreYouListeningTo‬ #ChooseLove #CreateTheLifeYouWant

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is Prayer a Private Thing?

Pray is a huge part of my life.  It has become an even greater part over the last 2 years as I have learned more of the impact of prayer.  The deep power it has.  As I have seen prayer in action, not only in my own life, but in others on a level not previously witnessed, I have come to have an even stronger belief in prayer.

A few times a month, I will post on Facebook asking how I can pray for you, or encourage and support you if you don't wish to ask for prayer or make a request known.  Sometimes people comment but don't put out a reason, just asking for an unspoken prayer that God knows about.  Sometimes the post gets lots and lots of comments, sometimes it gets very few.  Sometimes people send messages privately, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes it just gets likes.

I have never felt my post is something anyone is obligated to respond to.  I believe if they need prayer, desire prayer, or want prayer, they will comment or send a private message.  They actually may even call and ask me to pray on the phone with them right then and there.  Sometimes they will even email or text me a request.  The post to pray, encourage and support is meant to be an available resource, nothing more, nothing less.  If it isn't, you have every right to pass right by it.  I don't believe my prayers are any more important than yours, but I know that when I take the time to engage in your world and think about your challenges, your pain, your problems, your issues, your makes mine seem smaller.  And more than that, it makes me feel so much more connected to you and a part of your journey.  And it brings me comfort to know that through a circle of prayer, that major impact can be made.  Knowing I have prayer warriors fighting on my behalf always encourages me!!!

I was told recently by someone that prayer is a private matter and should not be discussed on a public social platform, like Facebook.  This person told me that of course, that might just be their opinion but that I should consider it since I do it quite frequently.  I might want to reconsider my motives.

Over the next few weeks I was on the lookout for how many people in my news feed asked to pray for the people who were their friends or liked their pages, from authors, speakers, musicians, ministers, to everyday individuals like me.  I am connected with and follow a lot of people who do this.  It has blessed me even if I don't leave a comment or prayer request.  It has touched me to know that there are people out there who will take the time to pray for everyone who comments.  I find this powerful.  Very powerful.  Why wouldn't you want every source of power in your life to improve your circumstances?

I thought about Daniel who went to pray before the rulers and people in high power, before the inhabitants in the city who walked by seeing him down on his knees even when he was ordered not to, praying even at the risk of being thrown in the lions din and his life being taken.

I thought about the times Jesus left the disciples and walked to a garden to pray, in the quiet, alone.

I thought about the times I pray before I get out of bed to start my day, in my car, in the shower, in the middle of conflict with a client, right before I head into a meeting, before an employee shows up to work, with friends before they leave having spent time with me, sometimes over a meal (though I must admit this ritual that was done faithfully before food ever was taken has not been a ritual that I have kept up as much as I have wanted prayer to be in every aspect of my life, not just meal time), as we join hands in my bible study group or create a prayer list at the end of our session, at church during worship music, during the sermon, and after...

Prayer comes in all types of forms.  

I concluded prayer is both a public and a private matter.  There are times prayer is something that is internal dialogue that isn't uttered aloud.  There are times prayer is done as a group.  There are times prayer is done in silence.  

Whatever you believe prayer is, I would ask you why you would want to limit prayer as being only a private opportunity?  Why would you not want the power of prayer to an all knowing and loving God to be fully present?  Why would you want to limit Gods power to be made alive in a public moment?  Why would you want to keep that a secret?

In reflecting about what prayer is, how it is done, what the purpose is to be accomplished, based on not just my personal experiences but the many examples we have in the bible on prayer, I have come to the following beliefs about prayer:
  • Prayer connects individuals to God.  
  • Prayer creates a bond between like minded believers.  
  • Prayer has power, intense power, beyond any human effort to bring peace.
  • Prayer increases faith.
  • Prayer thwarts Satan's attempts to defeat us.
  • Prayer releases burdens.
  • Prayer increases gratitude.
We are instructed to pray without ceasing.  This means just as our lives will interact and touch people through out the day, as we pray without ceasing, our prayers will be silent and audible.  They will be in the presence of others and without.

What is prayer to you?  Do you believe it is a public or private matter?  How do you carry out prayer in your daily life?  What methods have you used to create more powerful prayers?

As I close this post today, I am sending a prayer up for you that as you read this, it will provoke you to think about the power of prayer and how you want that to be a part of your life!

Monday, April 20, 2015

what is the goal of online dating?

I did online dating for 6 months last year.  The response and amount of messages sent to me was really intense.  I might get a handful of messages on any given day or I just might be overwhelmed with as many as 65 messages in one day!  I had no idea this many people participated in such a platform.  Yet the longer I did it, the more I realized how vast the amount of people online are!

And just as vast as the number of people online, were the ways I got messages.  90 percent of guys simply said something simple like "Hi!"  Maybe with a smiley face.  Or "You are really cute!"  Or some generic question like "Hey, how are you?"  Very few guys actually took the time to write something of significance, to write a paragraph about themselves, something either about what they do for work and things they enjoy in life, to create more of an introduction, something to establish and create a connection, build a foundation of a relationship.  A few just said check out my profile and message me back if you are interested.  Some guys simply had no class and were all out in your face just hitting on you making it clear that building a relationship was not their focus.

I purposed to respond to each and every single guy that messaged me.  Intentionally.  With class.  With my personality.  Being open, authentic, genuine, loving and courageous.  Asking questions to create a dialogue.  Being firm in my boundaries.  Not allowing myself to be put down or belittled.  However, I simply wanted to leave a mark on them they would remember.  My goal was to achieve this in every way possible and grow me in the interim and face my fears of men and dating, to learn more deeply about relationships.  And maybe even create some guy friends in the process.

There are people who have met online and gotten married and had successful relationships and marriages.  There are people who met alone and haven't achieved successful relationships or marriages.  There are people who think that an online presence is fake, unrealistic, and living behind a mask.  There are others who approach this as just another form to meet people and have another type of method to create a connection and approach a dating relationship.  There are people who think this is scary and risky beyond words.

So I would ask:

  • Is meeting online going to decide whether your marriage is successful or not?
  • Is meeting offline going to decide whether your marriage is successful or not?
  • Is meeting online risky?
  • Is meeting offline risky?
  • Is an online presence fake, unrealistic, and living behind a mask?
  • Is an offline presence fake, unrealistic, and living behind a mask?

So which is it?

To answer that question, you must look at a two things.  

  1. What you have experienced.
  2. What you believe.

If all your experiences online, especially when it comes to any type of relationship, have been horrific, tragic, difficult, painful and unsuccessful, you are liable to believe that this method of dating will be exactly the same.

If all you have experienced is difficult dating relationships, you will believe online dating is exactly the same.

If you believe that any negative experience or challenge that you faced wasn't the results you wanted means it wasn't right or good, and therefore was wrong or bad, then you will believe this about online dating too.

In reality, it is your choice.  Whatever you want to experience, you will.  Whatever you want to believe, you will.  

You can choose to believe your previous experiences will always define your future experiences, or you can be open to something different, new and be receptive to different results.  You can choose to believe whatever you want.  But remember, not everyone has experienced the same things you have and won't have the same beliefs you do.

In the time that I did online dating, I didn't meet my prince.  But I met my goals with online dating and got what I was looking for.  

I faced my fears of men and dating.

I learned a lot about relationships.

made some great guy friends, all of which I am greatly thankful for!  Because a year ago I didn't have single guy friends that stayed in touch with me in my life.  

I consider my online dating experience to have been a huge success.  How about you?  Have you done online dating?  If so, what did you learn?  What feedback would you give someone else?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

POEM: The Hidden Life Vision

Where is this life vision? Why is it so hidden from me? How can I find it when he seems so buried deep inside of me? Is it a new vocation? A new designed path? Does it include a man or is this not my path? Is it a chance to pursue the gifts of my past? Why does it elude me? And feel like it's an illusion? How do I recover a dream that seems lost? How does one see what ones called to do? Do you just discover it? Or somehow find clues? Do you just embark on the path in faith believing answers come in the first step? 

As a child, we naturally dream and live big, but as life happens to us, our paths many times are chosen for us. It is likely, our parents will deter us one way or another, church will teach us we can't have this or that, our learning will happen and beliefs will be made, and though we desire to pursue this great dream, the choices we want oh so elude us. 

Then life becomes all out of focus, like a fog, unable to clearly define the view in front if us. This is how we live, day in day out.  Today, we no longer believe in the ability to dream, to cultivate the dreams of our youth and follow this personal pursuit. We no longer feed the life deep inside, we somehow believe it was never inside us. The path becomes harder, to find on our own because the voices we hear are no longer our own. Those days we just dreamed, with all fear aside, to be someone great, the one we feel called from inside. To live in the clouds, where everything is possible, and our dreams always come true, like the stories we read and the ever after viewpoints we so easily believed, the desire now burns deep but remains out of view. 

The older we get, different choices we make, some out of fear, some out of fate, some come from thoughts we never thought we would make. Some out of desperation and a need for a new breath, some from the decisions that seem like regret, some from mistakes, and it threatens to become all we can take. Some yielding situations beyond our control, some create the journey that isn't our choice, some make an impact that that has long lasting effects, but not every moment is just golden in fact. 

The farther we go down the journey of life, we tend to get focused on all of the strife, and discouragement threatens to tear at us like a knife. The red carpet gets pulled out beneath us, the waves of doubt threaten to sink us, it's in these moments of life, we question and wonder the meaning of our life. The dream we lived for no longer exists, in comes the questions did we even ever have any gifts? The stronger we doubt, no longer believe, that we can and we are, worthy of all of our dreams. We can choose, we can be, a life giving vessel with purpose and a plan that is once again renewed in that child like dreamy land. Life has provided experiences and challenged our views, but God has determined the path we will choose. 

How does one see the life driven plan that God has designed all by his hand? How does one create this passion inside to be fully discovered and not run and hide? How does one obtain clarity and a new focus? Can one change ones thoughts and refocus? And discover the right path to the meaning and purpose, to believe in the choice to live out my calling?  The life, the one set deep within my heart, yet completely within my grasp? 

Who cares about reasons, people's words and problems, for I want to live an abundant life clearly focused. A life filled with love, a purpose and plan. An unmundane life, driven to experience every moment completely, designed with my friends and the things that complete me. Unique to just me, one filled with firsts, determined to be, in all areas of life, just perfect for me. To be called with a passion in all areas of life, filled with a heart to live out my life, with courage and inspiration in all that I do, that my paths and journey will support and encourage you. To live fully in the moment and choose the positive thoughts that create a new focus, for I have a calling that's never been noticed. A life lived above what I ever dreamed possible, a life in the dreams of my God given motives. To be someone I want, no matter the voices, with no reason to doubt, no people in focus, aside from all fear and words I have been told that I am not wanted, not worthy, don't matter and can't be someone who should live quite so driven and bold. To open my heart and search for the purpose that fills my life journey in a way in line with this heart felt purpose. 

Oh, what is my vision? What is my calling? What is my dream? How does one find ones mission in life? Where is my God given purpose? I know I will find it. The answers will come. For I am a woman of God and I have the power to overcome. I will pursue this with all my mind, body and soul, for out of it will develop the dreams of my heart!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

{resuming} my book writing

In my coaching/mentoring, I am working on my vision for myself. One of the things I have neglected the last few months, matters a lot to me. Writing. Both in blogging and in writing my first book. So, I am making changes and will be intentionally allotting time again for the purposing to get back to it. Writing my first book. My Story.

Today, I made a list of Book Titles for my book that intrigued me. I may pick one of these. I may create something new. Either way, I have started the dream of the title for my book.

I read through all that I had written. I added and tweaked portions to explain things better to the reader. I wrote more. In the end, I took my Book writing from 18,960 words to a grand total of 22,594. This is 3,634 words. Pretty impressive day!

I will continue to pursue my dream to write my story and publish my first book!!!

#FollowYourDreams #BeAnAuthor #ShareYourStory

Thursday, April 2, 2015

the fork of life

You are on your discover Gods will and plan for your life.  To live life to the fullest.  To embrace each and every opportunity along the way.

I am on my discover Gods will and plan for my life.  To live life to the fullest.  To embrace each and every opportunity along the way.

Your journey is leading you down a path.  A path that I may be with you partway on.  A path that you may be all alone on.  

My journey is leading me down a path.  A path that you may be with me partway on.  A path that I may be on all alone.

You will have forks in your road.

I will have forks in my road.

You will make choices that I would make.

I will make choices you would make.

You will make decisions I would not make.

I will make decisions you would not make.

Yet still, you and I will be on the path.  And both of our paths will have many forks.  But where will the forks of life take us?  Where will we end up?

As I reflected on this recently, I realized that the handle of the fork is the end.  It is where all paths come together.  So, either way, each path will lead to the final destination.  The end goal.  Heaven.  Where we will get to spend the rest of our life with God.  

Your spoke of the fork isn't close to mine, and mine isn't close to yours, but it gets connected.

Go live your path and's all part of the fork of life!

#EnjoyTheJourney #LiveIntentionally #EmbraceYourPath #BeCourageous

Monday, March 30, 2015

11 Lessons from One Year of Dating

Today marks One Year from my very first date.  A date that was an incredible first experience!!!  11 Hours being treated like a Queen.  Yet, this unplanned experience is the very thing that ended up having my coach challenge me to dig deeper and look into the reasons for my walls.  The pain that was behind them.  The beliefs I had about myself.  The negative feelings I had about men.  The fears that kept me from letting someone in my secret places of my heart, mind and life.

I did online dating April 2014 - October 2014.  Six months paid subscription to Christian Mingle, 3 months on Tinder (a free online app), and 2 months on OkCupid (another free online app).  I responded to each and every single guy that messaged me with the soul purpose to be different in the dating process and to leave an impression with each guy I had communication with.  The initial process was simply to work on me.  Get comfortable meeting guys alone.  Having discussions all over the map.  As I got used to the experience, I approached the experience differently.  After doing the process for about 3 months, I learned that I would like to have someone in my world.  I ended up having one exclusive relationship in that time.

I did two sessions of Speed Dating, one in November 2014 and one on Valentine's Day February 2015.  If you love to have an evening out, get dressed up (or not if that isn't your thing), meet new people, and converse with a drink and maybe appetizers, then you will have a blast.  You get 5-10 minutes with each person.  This is enough time to get a basic feel for the person and whether you would want to go for coffee to get to know them more or not.  For me, both sessions were different experiences, yet complete fun!!!

I reactivated my online account with OkCupid for 2 months, January 2015 - March 2015, however I did nothing with the messages that came in.  Unlike last time when I responded to each and every one, I didn't respond at all this time.  I found my heart simply wasn't in it.  I decided it wasn't something I wanted to invest further time into filtering through and I deactivated my account.

I am grateful for the experiences this past year...they have grown me in ways I could have never grown myself.  They have challenged me to face fears that were deeply ingrained in my thoughts, actions, beliefs, and motives.  

Today, I wanted to make a list of 11 things that I felt were life lessons I have learned from my 1 Year Experience of Dating.  Please remember, these come from my experiences and through my eyes, yours may have been different, but they were things that stand out to me as I reflect on my experiences.  

My One Year of Dating has revealed:

  • Men have a story, but very few are really willing to share it.  The ones that do, become great guy friends.  The ones that don't is usually because a previous relationship shut them out so harshly, or told them it was nothing, or simply didn't want to hear it.  Either way, by showing them you truly care they generally will open up.  By inquiring about their world and staying connected you demonstrate that their story is important to you.  They will eventually share things they have never told anyone.  
  • Men have deep fears that they wish woman knew and they didn't have to share for you to understand them.  Yet once they do, they tend to brush them off like they are nothing for fear you will reject them, make fun of them, or think less of them for not being perceived as more strong.  Confirming you understand and accept them for who they are will get them to reflect on why their fears have such a hold on their life and maybe they just might be willing to face them in a way they never have before.
  • There is nothing better than getting a text message that says: Good Morning Beautiful!!!
  • Having someone in your life that you get the opportunity to be in touch with every day, is a meaningful experience.  It brings value to life.  You can have lots and lots and lots of friends, but being special to one person is a unique experience that brings out the best [and the worst] in someone.
  • A man that takes the time to truly get to know you, without you trying to have him do so, will truly make you feel like someone special, like a lady that is worth a million bucks! 
  • You have to hold to what you believe are appropriate boundaries no matter what someone says to you, thinks of you, believes about you, or does to belittle you.  In the end, the decisions you make will be between you and God, though they will impact them, they are yours and only you are the one who will live with the choices long term.
  • The more you focus on enjoying the dating journey and don't approach it with expectations, the more you find it fun.  It simply is another relationship, just a way more personal one.  
  • There will be challenges in communication styles, love languages, preferences, beliefs, but the more authentic you are in the whole process, the more you will filter out those who are not compatible.  Don't be afraid to be you.  On all levels.  You should not have to change who you are for someone else.  Though everyone tells you this, you are the only one who can sift through the situations and your reactions to them to figure out what this looks like.  But the more you love you for you and search for the one who will love you for who you are, the easier it becomes to release them and let them go when they don't.  Holding onto something that isn't a fit only creates friction and internal quandaries.  Anticipate each relationship and person you meet to develop you to a deeper level of trust, vulnerability and change you.  This is what happens when you let someone in your world.
  • With steady communication (email, text, phone calls, Skype), it only takes a few days to know if you have any general common ground to get to know each other beyond the surface small talk.  After some time of chatting like this, you will know if the two of you have a connection and mutual interests.  It doesn't take me more than one date to know if there is a connection, attraction and if I want to spend more time with you.  It generally only takes a few weeks to have a general overview of their life, what they are looking for in a relationship, what the differences are that may cause some work to understand or resolve, and the like.  In my experience this is about 2-3 weeks.  At this point, you will know if someone has potential at developing a deeper relationship.  If you have made it past this stage, I find it generally only takes a few more weeks, in my experience about 5-6 total, to know you are compatible and a match and if both parties have a foundation to build a relationship on and if both are willing to put the effort into the relationship.  If the issues presenting themselves at this point don't change, they probably won't.
  • Everyone will have an opinion on how you date, whether online dating is bad or good, how many guys you talk to at the same time, what types of formats you use to communicate, whether the girl or the guy should initiate communication and dates, when is too soon to see someone in person, when you should cut the relationship off, when you should move to being exclusive, if a guy can just be friends with you, if you are even ready to date...and more.  The more you ask yourself the hard questions and find your own answers through prayer and seeking Gods will in your life [just as you do all other decisions], the more you will realize that the answers come and that everyone will have an opinion as they view your life through their lens and their own personal experiences.  The more you keep this in focus and use the comments, feedback, and insight as additional guidance but not necessarily the written plan God has for your journey, the more you won't let the differences they bring up to oppose you stop you from pursuing the dating process as is fit for you.  Yes, many people will challenge you.  Disagree with you.  Tell you you are wrong.  They will do their best to pull you back from facing your fears, your dreams, your desires, and your vision that you have for your life.  They will believe they have better wisdom than you.  Yet, if you will appreciate having them in your life as a tool to help sort out the answers, knowing these people are not the answer, but they can be used to influence you, you will be letting these situations have their perfect work.  When it is tested against God's ways, then and only then, will you be following Gods will for your life.
  • You must have your mind, your eyes and your heart aligned as you evaluate a dating prospect.  At any point these three things get out of alignment, you will face an internal war that will make your relationship challenging.  If you embrace this internal war and seek to question and find the answers, you will not be ignoring red stop signs, debating yellow flags, or flying through green lights.  You will find the truth.  After soul searching the answers do not define the truth you need to see, and peace doesn't come, then you have your answer and you will need to make decisions based on this or face the consequences that come from ignoring them.