Be, Do, Become

I purpose daily to read several leadership blogs & intentionally post positive quotes.  This morning my chosen quote stirred my thoughts. This is actually the purpose.  Too many times we try to tell people what to think instead of inspiring or empowering them to think on their own.  Here’s the quote:

ImageBeing angry at the mirror won’t change what it is reflecting.
If you want to SEE something different you have to BE something different. – Steve Maraboli

 

A few years ago I learned about three little words that have the potential to create a catalyst for change.  Be, Do, Become.  These can be practically applied in any area in which we desire change. The process is relatively easy.  Begin with a choice of what you want to change or who you would like to be. Now let’s not get crazy & want to become another human!  Perhaps there is someone who is a role model to you.  What is it about them that you want to emulate?  Do they speak well in front of others?  Are they kind, generous & thoughtful?  Are they known for how they serve others?  Do they exude a healthy lifestyle? Are they physically active? Are they disciplined in certain areas of their life that challenges you to raise the standard in your own life?  Are they a great parent? Whatever it is, choose to glean specific info from an area.  This focus will include reading specific subject matter from credible sources.  Exercise discipline regarding this change by putting it into daily or even more incremental practices.  A book that has changed my life in so many areas, The Slight Edge, provides tremendous wisdom in how to implement & enforce this. During your waking hours, purposely think about this change.  One of my favorite Bible scriptures instructs us to call those things that be not as though they were.  I like to refer to it as the Speckled & Spotted Principle!  One of my favorite books, the ant & the ELEPHANT teaches us about the power of the conscious vs the subconscious mind. You have probably read how many world renown athletes see themselves batting that home run, or shooting that winning hoop, etc.  There is something powerful about visualization.

The second step is to Do what it is that you want to change.  If you are following a mentor or role model, do what they’ve done to accomplish their success.  This can start as small as setting the microwave for 5 minutes, look at yourself in the mirror & give a speech. Said speech can be just telling the person in the mirror how wonderful they are!  What if it’s writing a book?  Begin a blog. Becoming healthy?  Cut out fast food except for one day/week.  A marathon?  Start running at the local high school track or park that has a trail. How about a treadmill?  A simple way to begin running if you’ve never done it is to walk 5-10 steps, then run 5-10 steps & increase this, yes, incrementally, until you are running.  There are, of course, amazing apps to help you too.   Whatever it is….DO something!

Finally…..look in the mirror.  Who do you see?  Better still, who have you become?  Confident?  Happy? Healthy?  Competent? Courageous?  Empowered?  Free?  In the process, I can’t promise easy, but I can promise it’s totally worth it.

Blessings,

g

2 simple words….

Happy Valentines Day to YOU!  Reading all the amazing notes revolving around this beautiful day has been so sweet!  I love to see the variety of gifts given as expressions of love & adoration.  During our DivorceCare Connect Group last night I specifically addressed this day with our participants. It can be a painful reminder of what you don’t have, rejection, blame, self-loathing, & even depression.  For many years I would confess, “I’m getting roses this year!”  I’ve only received roses one time in my entire life & that was when my son, Bryce, was born.  Nevertheless, after my divorce, I would say this consistently every year as I worked at the hospital.  On Valentines Day, 1995, I did the same thing.  To my surprise I received a cute basket of mixed flowers from an anonymous admirer!  Who were they from?  Could it be?  There was, Earl, a physical therapist I had grown very close to.  We developed an excellent professional relationship & became friends.  I would have enjoyed going out with him, but at that time, I wouldn’t have dared asked him to join me for coffee!  When I received the flowers his reaction was jealousy, but not to the point of asking me out!  Darn it!  Who then were the flowers from?  Here’s my theory!  I had the best co-workers ever & I believe they pitched in out of pity & respect, mostly pity & purchased them!  I was so excited & appreciated the gesture.   In preparation for today I looked in the eyes of each person in my group last night & told them this.

Happy Valentine’s Day!! 
Please remember……You are so beautiful! You are loved very deeply. 
The Lord, your maker, is your husband & He is an amazing companion, YOU are the apple of His eye & He thinks about you continuously! He loves you beyond words & wrote a book filled with loving thoughts & encouragement for you. He is the lover of your soul!!

valentines day love

Even through reading all the mushy-gushy social media posts, for some reason there have been 2 specific words that have resonated over & over in my heart.  Not sure as to why they are captivating my attention, but in light of seeing all the beautiful relationships being affirmed, I know there are just as many, if not more, that aren’t.  BTW…if you’re an English major, please apply grace to my use of commas!  Here are the 2 words & their meaning:

com·pla·cen·cy – noun \kəm-ˈplā-sən(t)-sē\

a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition;  self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies

ap·a·thy – noun \ˈa-pə-thē\

Apathy is most commonly defined as a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern. It is a state of indifference, lethargy, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and/or passion.

An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life and the world.

In mentoring single adults, primarily separated or divorced, these words are very applicable.  We sabotage our relationships with actions of any/all of the words above & wonder what went wrong.  My heart is grieved to see this.  One of my favorite sayings is, “What it took to get her/him is what it will take to keep her/him.”  Once the relationship is solidified is not the time to drop our guard, but rather to ramp up & grow in every area possible.  I knew certain skills when I graduated from nursing school & was even licensed to do so.  After 25 years in the field, I gained tremendous wisdom that could never have been taught/learned during the education process.    Learning is a lifetime commitment & should be expected / practiced daily.   If we’re not learning, we’re regressing.  The results gained are worth the investment.

I’m an advocate of performing regular self evaluations.  I encourage you to read the definitions above, search every area of your life & determine if they exist.  IF they do…..please seek guidance in how to flip the coin to become a compassionate, concerned, involved, motivated,  person interested in the well being of others & aware of current situations / circumstances.

I can’t imagine going through life without aspirations, goals, dreams or expectations & you shouldn’t either!!! YOU are a one of a kind masterpiece & deserve to enjoy your life to the fullest. Think of how many others you can help direct along the correct path!  The ripple would be non-existent without the stone!

Happy Valentines Day Blessings,

g

2.17.14 PS….I have to add something!  I received roses!  Well…sort of!  I cooked gumbo during our one day snow blitz last week.  Being from Louisiana, I cook real, authentic Cajun gumbo & usually only cook it traditionally for our family Christmas.  It’s truly a labor of love! Around that time an older gentleman that my daughter, Summer, works with had mentioned the next time I cook gumbo, he would like some.    When it snowed again, I wanted it!  I sent gumbo & rice in my recycled LouAna Coconut Oil & Dukes Mayo jars!  This is what he reciprocated in return!  Such a sweet, pleasant gesture!  Maybe I should upgrade to glass jars next time!  LOLOLOL!

Roses for gumbo!

Roses for gumbo!

Accountability: The 7 Experiment

I disclosed in my last post we are doing a book study as a connect group at my church. Remember?? The 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker. I’m even more fond of it knowing she’s an Austinite!! Texas Strong!!

For public acknowledgement & accountability purposes, I would like to list my food choices for our 7 day fast. I realize when I fast, I’m not supposed to announce it like a production, mope & groan over it & certainly not draw attention to myself. I follow discretion & the book itself goes into explicit detail concerning fasting.   It’s not about me!! I did, however, have to determine what this fast represents for me personally. There are 6 biblical choices for fasting–Mourning, Inquiry, Repentance, Preparation, Crisis & Worship. I determined, before I even knew the choices, this fast would help me prepare for the next level of commitment, leadership responsibilities & relationships. Also to worship my Daddy God whose thoughts & ways are stratospherically above mine!  Our food fast challenge meant we were to choose 7 foods & eat only those foods for 7 days. Yes 7. Dairy is a million, so my Greek yogurt would be out. Single ingredients only, except we can have whole grain breads. Well forget that Paleo bread I was going to make!! Here’s why! I had some much-needed & long-awaited dental work done forcing me to adhere to a texturally limited diet for a week. Most all of my choices to sustain me while on this limited menu would have been a fail. This would have posed a problem except…… Jen gave us a list of alternatives to follow. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy! I’m saying that now, but I’ll definitely have to write a survival post next week!!

Image

On my desk today!

The alternatives are –>> eliminating 7 certain ingredients from your food choices; giving up 7 comfort foods; no fast or processed food;eating the simple diet of a country you are burdened for; eating the same thing breakfast, lunch & dinner for 7 days, eating from your pantry, fridge/freezer without purchasing anything for a week; reducing the amount of groceries you purchase in a week, etc. I’ve chosen a few from the alternative list.  First choice is that I’m giving up all pleasant foods.  Ice cream was a multi-meal choice after my dental procedure as it helped reduce swelling.  That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!  Must have worked, b/c I had no swelling!  Don’t think this is hard?  My first day back to work was our quarterly birthday party celebration.  Cupcakes, Fruit filled punch, etc.  Did you notice it’s a big day tomorrow?  Yes….Valentines Day & chocolate candy is floating around the building like butterflies migrating to South America.  This also means I can’t eat my Blueberry Belvita Breakfast Biscuits with whipped cream cheese.  OH &…..tonight begins our new DivorceCare Semester & my amazing co-leader is bringing one of my favorite snacks…..Target Scones!  Just this one choice will be a challenge.

My second choice is zero fast or processed foods.  You may know that only on rare occasions do I eat fast foods & am on an anti-processed food regime as a daily practice.  How can this be a fast then?  This means I can’t purchase a rotisserie chicken or eat any of my healthy, preservative free frozen meals.  I’m looking at them as my “fast food” choices. My co-workers & I are treating each other to lunch tomorrow at our favorite Vietnamese Pho Chau Restaurant. I don’t consider this fast food & instead of chowing down on my favorite seafood deluxe pho, I will eat broth & noodles only.   If I want anything, except a few choice frozen veggies, I have to cook it from scratch.  My time factor will prove this to be yet another challenge!

Third choice is to only eat what is already in my pantry, fridge or freezer. I remember my son, Bryce, would stand at the pantry & say, “There’s nothing to eat!”  I’m the mom who could prepare an entire feast from “nothing” & have leftovers to share!  That was when I purchased for a family.  I am an eat-to-live grocery shopper, not live-to-eat. Trust me……making sure I have things for grands to eat is a mental note!   I try to meal plan so I primarily purchase for that.  Meals may be averted if I eat with my kids, so I may have a few things in reserve, but there’s generally not an abundance. When I purchase fruit, I only buy for 3 days.  This guarantees my fruit isn’t ruined & trashed.   Another note……my last shopping trip was to prepare me for my texturally limited diet, so nothing on my regular list was included & my 3 days of bananas are long gone.  I have one lowly mango!  Remember the Paleo bread recipe I was so excited for?  Unless I have the ingredients in my pantry, that will not happen! In addition to only eating from my reserves or excess, I am not eating certain meats like the delicious nitrate & preservative free, uncured bacon or pecan smoked andouille sausage. It’s chicken & fish only!  My condiments will also be reduced & I should confess something.  I’m a real butter & mayo ‘holic.  Everything is better with tons of both.  Oh my geeeeeeeeeee!  What was I thinking?

Here’s the thing………..The 7 Experiment is to Stage Your Own Mutiny Against Excess!  Had I been able to choose 7 foods to eat, I would have had to purchase enough of them for 7 days without really any limit of how much.  I could have gone out to eat as long as the foods were on my list & the things in my pantry would be sitting there. So……I was forced to finally start drinking the Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness that has been in my fridge at home & at work for a month.  I’m forced to cook that fish I couldn’t pass up.  I’m forced to clean out my pantry.  I’m forced to eat those scrumptious green peas that I purchased to use as ice packs for my mouth! Yes…I do use the frozen veggies for that! Shopping from home & using what I already have ought to be interesting. Wait……isn’t this the reason for the book study?

I’ve heard some of my amazing council members already getting tired of chicken.  I have to eat mashed potatoes & other soft or liquid foods.  Yikes! Talk about getting tired!  It isn’t about my individual tolerance.  It’s about realizing how truly fortunate & blessed I am while learning how to pattern my life after this study.  I’m really grateful for this opportunity!

On the other hand……..I’m also glad I have Apple, my pup.  She eats all natural, preservative free canned dog food.  Her Sunday Brunch, Grandmas Casserole or Moms Turkey Dinner varieties may be tempting in 7 days!  LOLOLOL!

Blessings,

g

The 7 Experiment

Sunday began our new Connect Group Semester & honestly I can’t remember when I’ve been challenged this extensively.  I was feeling guilty/convicted for not doing the Daniel fast for the 12th year. Despite receiving phenomenal, clear-cut, precise directions from God every year, I can’t help but wonder if it had become ritualistic??  This is the fast I also use during the year when I need to make important decisions.  I firmly believe the Elevate Church Girlfriends book study of  “7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” will stretch me beyond my limits & empower me to become who I need to transition into. Initially I just wanted to read the book & not commit to the group. I’m very selfish about my Sunday evenings & wasn’t willing to give them up. I decided at the last-minute on Saturday to do this.  I can already tell relinquishing my next several Sundays will yield an unbelievable reward. The book doesn’t promote the age-old belief that the church needs to operate substandard or in poverty.  It promotes developing a relationship with God that is second to none.  He alone, not our things, will have priority in our lives.  

7What an amazing group we had  & it was only the first night!! Listening to everyone blessed me tremendously!! The study explores  7 areas  & each  requires a fast. Next week we begin the fast involving food. We have to choose 7 single foods & eat only those particular foods for 7 days. We all think we eat the same food over & over until it comes to actually doing so!  What would you choose??  Salt, pepper & olive oil are free!  So far I’m thinking chicken, eggs, spinach, grapefruit, rice, & honey. I’m stuck on #7.  I entertained using bacon for seasoning.  I LOVE bacon & have found some awesome nitrate & preservative free, uncured bacon, but I don’t eat it on a regular basis.  To add this for flavor would almost defeat the purpose of a fast!   I could switch grapefruit for a banana & peanut butter!  I’ve seen some cool recipes for pancakes using bananas & eggs.  Or I could make that Paleo multigrain bread I’ve recently gotten the recipe for &  skip the rice.  Like bacon, I don’t eat bread or rice on a regular basis either!  I can do this!! I’ve done the lemonade fast 3 times!! Decisions!! Decisions!  If these are the type of negotiations I’ll be making with myself over food, can you imagine the clothes fast?  The best part is, within the past several years, I’ve began practicing similar ideas & believe this study will solidify Biblical principles equipping me to more effectively mentor others.

I anticipate the results achieved by a determined group of women intentionally dedicating their minds, bodies, & possessions will be a force to be reckoned with!!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.-Margaret Mead

This experiment, for me as a leader, is to reach the next level of responsibilities.  One of my fav scriptures comes to mind, “To whom much is given, much is required.” As I step into a new role, I believe God is stirring me to sharpen my skills.  I encourage you to read this book & if you conduct small groups, consider using it as a guide.  You will definitely not be disappointed.

Blessings
g

I think myself happy!

I recently enjoyed a conversation with a beautiful, brilliant, newly divorced friend.  We discussed many things, but the most significant conversation concerned  life & how it seems to be passing by without any joy, satisfaction or making memories.  Mere existence is simply not in my vocabulary!  I am a strong believer that life is what you make it. Granted, I can’t control whether someone runs a red light & crashes into me or a disease process takes it toll on my body.  I can, however, make sure I exercise wisdom, caution, & keen observation while driving.  I can also take care of my body including diet & exercise.

When mentoring, my opinion is humble & although it may not be taken seriously, I attempt to steer clear of it.  In doing so, I generally point to the Bible as my primary point of reference.  If I know a great historical example, I utilize them too.  During the above conversation I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite stories.  The Apostle Paul is one of my heroes next to David, Esther & of course, Jesus.  In this story Paul was captured, chained & tossed in prison.  The day came to stand before the King & what Paul said was profound.  Going back in history, it was prophesied that Paul would stand before Kings.  It didn’t allude to how he would be standing, but God would be glorified.  His statement in Acts 26:2 to King Agrippa was, “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews.”  Regardless of his circumstances, Paul took responsibility & when the opportunity arose, he chose to think himself happy.

In our lives, we face circumstances that can steal our joy; render us paralyzed with fear;  & create anxiety by consuming our thoughts whereby dominating such emotions.  I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen anyone literally bound with chains & shackles.  Oh wait……I forgot!  This is exactly what our thoughts become.  See….it isn’t the circumstance that instills fear, but our reaction to the circumstance.  We have a choice.  Here is a simple example.  For years I volunteered as camp nurse at our state campground for  youth retreats or summer camps.  I loved this time &  there were always exciting challenges.  When my son, Bryce, was around two years old he discovered something fun.  Rhino Beetles.  I, on the other hand, was extremely afraid of them.  They were huge, ugly & I had absolutely no idea what their capacity was, but I knew I wanted nothing to do with them.  One day Bryce wanted to show me his catch.  When I saw he was carrying a Rhino Beetle, I immediately wanted to scream & run.  I knew my son well enough that if I showed this type of reaction, I would have Rhino Beetles in my bed!  Regardless of my fear & anxiety, my response, not my reaction,  was cool, calm & collected.  I shuddered after he left!   The beetles, my circumstance, had no idea I was freaking out.  We can respond appropriately or react in fear, anger or anxiety.  Paul had many valid reasons on numerous occasions to forsake his mission, yet he was a man with a determined purpose.

choosing to be happy is healthyEach choice we make requires energy.  We can expend our negative energy on fear, anger, or anxiety OR……we could devote the same amount of positive energy on faith, prayer, gratitude, confidence, hope & belief. Today I used an example from something the Apostle Paul did.  His choices became his legacy & continue to direct people on a daily basis.  YOU are just as valuable & capable of making significant choices.  The mind is the greatest battlefield.  Thoughts can be held captive or left to sabotage our lives. Either way we can direct the battleground. 

 It’s a choice.  In the end….I pray above all things that you think &  choose wisely! 

Blessings,

g

Kids & Self-Entitlement

After Christmas I began seeing quite a few blogs regarding the way we raise our children without creating brats or little humans displaying self-entitlement mentalities.  I found them very interesting & agreed with quite a few suggestions.

I have successfully raised two wonderful kids ages 25 & 36, both of which have children of their own.  When they were young I probably paid them for chores until I realized chores were a part of being a family. Everyone is responsible, pitches in & does their fair share or at least age appropriate fairness!  If there was a particular situation where they needed money for a project such as camp, I would suggest “working” for someone else or I would assign special chores in which I paid them for doing. I divorced when Summer was a senior in High School & Bryce was in first grade.  It was vital  to institute a plan that worked for everyone.   I will never forget when Bryce wanted to make money for something he deemed important & he created his own list.  Each contribution to daily chores were carefully calculated in cent values.  It was priceless!

When it came to gifts, I encouraged my kids to buy for parents, friends, etc.  When Summer was young, many of our gifts were handmade as we were very creative.  Bryce had the luxury of being raised as an only child after Summer married & had privy to all my spare change throughout the year.  He saved diligently & purchased gifts Christmas for friends / family.  Hearing his description of how good it felt to give to others is forever etched in my memories.

We were very involved in church & had many opportunities to sow into the lives of others.  These type of activities didn’t always include monetary donations, but rather time.  At one time, Summer & I were both enrolled in Bible School.  After my graduation I went on staff as the assistant administrator of the Bible School.  One of my duties included being the program director for community outreach & Saturday Sunday School was one of our largest ministries. On Saturday mornings, throughout the city, several student groups would host meetings with children of all ages.  We had praise & worship, played games, performed skits, offered time for them to ask for prayers & salvation.  We fed them lunch & left with indescribable feelings of love & gratitude for having the opportunity to serve such precious kids. I was a clown!  Of course I was! It was the greatest, most uninhibited freedom ever!  Summer was responsible for a group of her own. Every other weekend Bryce accompanied me & participated in every activity.  In addition to Saturday Sunday School, Bryce & I accompanied a group that visited a local Boys & Girls Clubs each week.  Our time was consumed with being others focused. One Saturday we blitzed a neighborhood where we would begin a new group.  Our conversation afterwards, describing his observance of the people we talked to that day, is another etched memory.  You see……we must give our children the chance  to understand how they can make a difference & in doing so they become extremely grateful for what they have.  

The Bible compares our children to arrows in the hands of mighty warriors.  Why do we feel like we are not giving them enough & continue to stress over it?  Arrows pierce.  Our children can & should be the greatest force in the world around them armed with confidence, validation, courage & purpose. Instead…..we allow the world to pierce or wound their little spirits.   ALL THE TIME I hear how people want to give their children things they never had.  Let me ask you some questions?

  • What kind of adult are you?  Responsible?  Irresponsible?  Complacent?
  • Do you work & provide for your family?  Do they have the basic needs – food, clothing & shelter?
  • Are you concerned about their well-being?
  • Are you protective of their associations?

As you ponder these, please think about what was so horrible as a child & what you didn’t have that fuels this drive to over produce for your children.  Going without “things” often creates a sense of determination to succeed & easily recognize the needs of others. Not having adequate supervision often creates a sense of responsibility & concern or protection for others.  The struggles you feel you had as a child could have affected the adult you are now.  I was raised on a farm & we pretty much had to be self-sufficient.  I worked during the summer helping my daddy with the crops.  I couldn’t do any activities until I completed my responsibilities.  My mom sewed our clothes, canned/preserved food for the winter, & we raised our own animals for meat / dairy consumption. When friends stayed over, they helped too.  Please evaluate what was so terrible about your childhood?  Chances are you are extraordinary & I’m confused as to why you won’t allow your children to develop the same amazing qualities.  In providing a hand out to our children instead of a hand up, we alter their ability to discover who they really are & what they’re capable of accomplishing. The result of producing clones mimicking the world around us is very frustrating. How many times have you told your children how ungrateful they are?  Why are they? Don’t get me wrong. I have seen some children who have been given every opportunity to show gratitude & simply won’t.  I was determined to help my kids discover & practice gratitude. Here’s a story!  Once we pulled in a drive through window at Burger King & as soon as Bryce got his kid’s meal he pitched a fit.  Not over the food!  He was mad because he already had the toy he just received in his meal.   At that moment I reminded him his behavior of being ungrateful was unacceptable & has just cost him the privilege of getting kids meals for quite a while.  When I finally allowed him to order them again, he never once pitched another fit!  We created a basket to collect duplicate toys & donated them to toy drives.  Again…..giving to others.

We, as adults, have self entitlement attitudes in in-quantifiable magnitudes.  Remember…..from the second we enter the world as an infant it’s all about us.  We’re hungry & we cry.  We’re wet/dirty & we let the world know.  The world revolves around us because our nature dictates so.  As we grow, we develop a learned behavior that quite possibly there are others who have needs as well.  This is a hard revelation for some!  I won’t begin to list the growing number of adults in our nation who continue to believe the world revolves around them & demand everything. We have a tendency to scold our children for being ungrateful or unappreciative, but in reality……they could be mirror images of who we are.

ImageI encourage you to chart a new course for 2014.  Find community opportunities that will allow you & your children to participate in serving others together.  Before getting new toys, have them give toys away to others. Instead of you throwing them in a trash bag & dropping them in a donation station, have them sort, pack & actively give them away.   Involve them in local seasonal activities such as Angel Tree gifts, back to school, Easter, etc.  Allow them to help you prepare meals.  They learn to appreciate the time & effort spent on your behalf to provide something for them to eat.  Suggest making meals for shut-ins & allow them to help you prepare it & accompany you with the delivery.  They can create the artwork for get well / thank you cards & have them write letters or cards to our military serving away from home.  Perhaps you could participate in a group clothing swap.  Instead of you spending time purchasing teachers gifts, involve them in making gifts from the heart!  When you financially prepare for sending your children to summer camp, provide a scholarship on behalf your child to assist with tuition for another child to go. Be sure to involve you child in making the money to do so!  I’m sure there are unknown hundreds of ways to accomplish your new course. Please feel free to share ideas, projects or technics you practice with your children.

Our children are only in our care for a few short years & the cycle they continue is critical. My childhood responsibilities on the farm has made me very independent & appreciative of my ability to embrace the natural basics of life with minimal transition.  I used to tell Bryce I wasn’t raising just him, but I was raising a father & a husband.  What I did may not have made sense to him at that time, but prayerfully it would later!  Today, I am so very proud that he is an extremely responsible father & husband!  The creativity I used to involve Summer in has paid off with undeniable dividends!  Over the years we have done some unbelievable projects & just spent New Years Eve creating our own whipped body butters, toothpaste, day/night creams, room sprays, shampoo & etc.  She is one of the most giving, talented & resourceful women I know.  As a single mom, I never felt I did enough & I certainly wasn’t a perfect mom.  I felt like a failure on so many levels I can’t even describe them. Somehow….my kids were resilient & are amazing!

At this point in my life, I feel beyond accomplished.  You can’t measure it materialistically, but that isn’t always what counts.  There is one thing you & your children are entitled to…. this feeling & living a life dedicated to serving humanity!

Blessings,

g

Regarding your children. The days might be long, but the years are short. – Andy Stanley

Perspective

The majority of my employed life was spent working in the medical community receiving hourly wages.  I could work for my hospital, a staffing agency,  nursing strike or travel assignments, & Per Diem.  There were always ways to increase my income by trading my time for money. As a single parent,  I did it all.  It was exhausting, stressful & unpredictable.   I am now employed hourly, but there’s only one avenue of making money.  Granted I have zero stress compared to nursing, work only one job, & can pretty much predict my yearly schedule. This was a welcome change.

I work at the divisional level of a well known non-profit organization.  As you can guess, there have been decreases in government funding, donations, etc. which naturally creates challenges.  Each year we have performance reviews, but our raises aren’t based on this.  I used to get frustrated when we received a 4% raise. Then my friends began having their hours cut, placed on furlough, or even lost jobs. I’ve witnessed families suddenly have to learn how to live on one income — what every single parent has endured.  In a sense it’s heartbreaking & at the same time I must applaud my single friends who’ve continued to make tough choices.  This year we received a 2% raise. Funny how perspective changes & instead of frustration, I am thankful for a job.  I realize my faith is not in a J.O.B. & because of recent events, I know all too well I should never be 100% dependent on one.

It is sad that the majority of the people in our nation practices what our government just instituted. The splendid example of raising their debt ceiling by using credit. What was America about to do??? Default on debt? Yea, that makes perfect sense!!

I strongly encourage to do whatever it takes to act your wage, live within your means, get out debt, & develop alternate streams of income. Here are some simple examples to help:

  • For one month save & record every receipt from every purchase.  Yes EVERY one!  Regardless of how small or even if it’s a vending machine purchase, write them down or save them.  At the end of the month, have an open mind, review those purchases  & determine what areas can be cut out.  One of my fav scriptures says, it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine!  My paraphrase of course, but you get the drift!
  •  If you have single parent friends, schedule some time with them & observe what they practice to thrive while others can’t breathe.
  • Participate in a financial class & learn how to reduce monthly expenses, pay off current debt & prepare for unforeseen circumstances.  My church offers Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University as a Connect Group.  I love hearing the stories of how marriages are restored, debt is eliminated & lives are completely changed by simply obtaining different information.
  • Mentor with someone who is financially stable, allowing them to speak into your life concerning changes, & adhere to their advice.  Adhere is the key word!
  • Teach your children to do the same.  This cyclic behavior pattern of debt has to stop. Changing a nation begins with individual families!
  • Last, but most importantly, follow Biblical examples.  Prepare for a rainy day.  Joseph led the people to prepare in famine & minister to others.   The Hebrew children cast their bread (seeds) on the water that after many days it would come back to them.  What happened?  They wandered & when they came to a certain place there was grain waiting on them to harvest & make into bread.  Quite prophetic, but that happens when we prepare. Why shouldn’t we practice the same principles?

Perspective changes many things around us.   During one of the worst times in my life, I enrolled in a program offered by my workplace. I met bi-monthly with a case manager, attended monthly life skills classes & managed my financial affairs for the first time ever.  I had enrolled in computer school a few months earlier & during our career development course, I had to create a projected yearly budget. Until that time, I’d never created an actual budget.  I realize that can be embarrassing to admit, but I can because I’ve changed!  To date that program is still the most significant discipline I’ve practiced.  After that, I immersed myself in personal development & continued to make necessary changes in every area of my life.

What the enemy intends to destroy us, God will & does ultimately use for our good.  If you are frustrated, I pray you gain a different perspective.  When I changed my attitude, thinking, associations & expectations, things changed around me.

As everyone gears up for ritualistic New Years Resolutions, why not incorporate & practice slight edge principles that will actually resolve problems? Better yet, in doing so YOU can then mentor others!

Blessings,

g

Preparation time is never wasted time!

I have to share a recent experience that of course, reminded me of one of my favorite Bible stories.  It will revolve around the amazing subject of dating.  I’m no expert in this field as it took me ten years after my divorce to actually begin dating.  The move from Louisiana to Texas nine years ago was the catalyst that started my dating journey.   I had a pre-conceived philosophy that was so beyond marred in many, many areas.  In my defense, I will say my primary concern was introducing my children, primarily my son, to men who may or may not continue be in their lives.  I knew the pain of divorce & how broken it can make one feel.  My daughter, who was graduating from high school, clearly understood, approved & embraced the reasons for my divorce, but my son was in first grade.

After my divorce, dating wasn’t exactly talked about in our church, nor was a ministry for singles.  I’ll never forget how this made me feel when I found myself single…..again.  I am a huge activist in many areas & this was no exception.  We did establish a singles ministry, but the subject of dating or even re-marriage was swept under the rug.  It was especially difficult for those of us with children or “baggage.”  I was probably a dreamer even way back then, but I chose to believe there was someone who would accept my kids as their own.  I watched my daddy, who was my idol, do this & it was the greatest example I had.

Technology has provided some pretty amazing dating options. Dating websites are as vast as shoe choices.  Age, biblical preferences, career, gender, & regions are just a few of the menus one has to select from when setting up an online profile. I have friends who met online & are now extremely happily married.  I have high hopes right?

For this dating method, I carefully follow self-determined standards & precautious perimeters.  I was contacted by a handsome gentleman who lived in a nearby town.  My first point of contact is preferably coffee.  It’s innocent, very public & relatively safe.  We both agreed, but sometime between the first contact & confirming where to meet, he met someone & felt like he couldn’t meet me too.  This was a span of maybe 2-3 days!   I’m from a different mindset in that unless we are exclusively dating, it’s just coffee.  Nevertheless I obliged his feelings & simply forgot about it.  About two weeks passed & I was contacted by the same gentleman again saying he owed me coffee.  Not bringing up the past, I agreed to meet him.  We chose an evening meeting for a glass of wine at a familiar venue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rest of the story is a test for you to count the number of red flags that I immediately recognized.  Ready???  Here goes!   We scheduled the meet up for 8:15 pm because he was spending time with his buds on the golf course.  This time was perfect for me.  I arrived & he had already ordered a bottle of wine.  I walked to where he was seated & extended my hand to greet him.  He remained seated, but shook my hand.  I believe in asking questions to make the person feel comfortable about our meeting & not talking about myself.  Please understand this is not an interview type process, because I’ve usually conversed with them enough to choose key subjects to discuss, such as kids, activity preferences, hobbies, pets, etc.  I soon learned that the day with the golf buds involved quite a bit of drinking.  I continued my inquiries & conversation was going well if you consider 100% of it was about him.  Yes, I realize I was asking the questions, but……… generally they’re reciprocated!  I’m always curious about their online dating stories, so I asked for him to share his worst.  After he answered, he offered the first question of the evening & wanted me to explain mine.  I shared & at this point I wanted to hide!  He obviously thought it was funnier than I remembered.  I think our beautiful server picked up on the cues & when he obnoxiously insisted on telling her my story, she added hers which got high fives from me all the way!  Oh….I forgot to mention he had spent quite a bit of time on his phone texting his “carpet man.”  This was a Saturday night & the carpet man was coming on Sunday?? Yea, I guess that bump on my head made me forget I just fell off the banana boat!

During our one-sided conversation he mentioned he worked 80-100 hours per week, had his son every other week &  this combination pretty much consumed his time.   I’ve learned to respond, not react to things that could rile me, so instead of asking, “So please tell me why you’re on a computer dating site & why’d you insist on meeting me again?”  I smiled & said nothing.  He then asked if I wanted to go outside to sit around the fire-pit.  It was a beautiful moon so of course I agreed!  This was his second & last question of the night!  There were others outside around the fire-pit & he began a repetitive conversation with them about his golfing day & how he works 80-100 hours per week & has little time for anything else.  Again, I refrained from saying anything.  At this time I was very thankful I learned how to exhibit emotional intelligence.  We talked some more & he concluded he was ready to go home.  It was the best thing I’d heard the entire night!   As we made our way outside to say our goodbyes, he thanked me for meeting him.  Smiling, I nicely suggested that the next time he scheduled to meet someone, maybe he should consider not making them the leftovers for his day.  He shockingly searched for words & mentioned he wanted to meet before he got his son next week.  I politely responded by saying we could have waited & I didn’t appreciate being the leftovers.  I then informed him that others may not mind, but I value myself much more than that & again……..I didn’t appreciate it.  He offered to walk me to my car, but I wasn’t even sure he could find his, so I explained I could get to mine just fine. I waited & watched him drive off.

I immediately felt this was a total waste of my time.  How could I have agreed to meet him?  Did I miss the warning signs? Typical self-evaluation & verbal beating!  Wait!  This, in fact, wasn’t a waste because I loved the venue & each experience that is less than perfect will make me appreciate the ones that are.  During my drive home, I turned my miffed attitude into gratitude.  I was suddenly reminded of the story of Esther & how they were prepared to meet the King in hopes to be chosen as his Queen.  The selection process itself was quite extensive.   The year-long preparation involved the girls being thoroughly groomed & mentored in every area of their lives.   It’s just like God to quickly help me realize preparation time is never wasted time.  Also the fact that Esther was very courageous to stand up for what she believed in & what truly mattered to her.  I will continue following my guidelines &  gladly accept the opportunity for coffee or venues I trust  allowing these teachable moments to prepare me for my “King.”  Most importantly, I’ll also use this time to grow & strengthen the areas I need improvement in.

So…..how’d you do?  How many red flags did you count?  If you say at least 10-11, you’re very perceptive!  I’ll hone in on dating skills, enjoy the opportunities & let you know when I’ve been successful.  Please share your experiences!!  Include what significant points were gleaned from them & how you used them for the next round!  Inquiring minds want to know!

You are valuable, beautiful/handsome, & will be a priceless asset to the one person who wins your heart.  Please, please, please don’t compromise for less than the best.

Blessings,

g

Excellent Advice Women Should Consider

I love to share posts from other sources.  This one is from The Huffington Post & I have to admit, following the advice would be an excellent place to start for many of us.  I also appreciate the supporting links confirming it  isn’t just opinion.

The school year has begun, holidays are steadily approaching & with trying to meet end of year goals, these would be slight edge disciplines to point us in the right direction.

Which ones stand out the most for you?  I work primarily with single adults & I would have to vote the ones dealing self judgement & overdoing EVERYTHING are top of the list!  We tend to self sabotage & over commit to compensate for areas we feel less confident.

life isn't about finding yourself. life is about creating yourselfOne of my favorite methods for instituting changes uses the PDCA {Plan, Do, Check, Adjust} approach.  Create a plan, because as the saying goes….if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Begin with short-term, easily attainable goals to prevent disappointment.  Do the thing required to meet the goals.  Starting is often the greatest enemy of our defeat!  Once you have implemented the necessary steps to accomplish the goal, check the results.  Are there ways to change or tweak the process?  When you begin with the end in mind, checking results can be done at any point during the process.  Once adjustments are determined, adjust the plan & continue.  Individuals, small businesses, or major corporations should practice these principles.

23 Things Every Woman Should Stop are listed in the link below!  Enjoy & journal what you are trying.  If you want to effectively change some things in your life, you have to change some things in your life!  Remember, experience is the best teacher is only a half truth.  Someone else’s experience is!  You could share your experience, help someone who’s struggling, & observe as they come to terms with themselves.  This is Friday the 13th. & I believe great things could happen to us!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/23-things-every-woman-should-stop-doing_n_3908151.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Blessings,

g

The Reign Is Gone

This has been on my mind for the past couple of days & I know I have to get it on paper! I know it’s not paper, but you know what I mean!  LOL!    In 1999 I left a place of association I had been an integral part of for 13  years.  As I drove away toward home, this song immediately began playing in my mind:

I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshiny day.

Oh yes, I can make it now the pain is gone. All of the bad feelings have disappeared. Here is the rainbow I’ve been praying for.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies.

Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies.-Jimmy Cliff

I didn’t understand it at first until I heard a small, still, voice clarifying the difference.  Reign, not rain was the reference.  The reign of man. Unrealistic dedications, impure motives, self-promotion, fear & even sin.  For years I had served selflessly & tirelessly, yet felt like something wasn’t right.  At that moment I realized I was finally free from the lordship / reign of man. The cloud that hindered my true judgement was blown away & over the next several years I respected Christianity as it should be.

ImageWhy is this memory surfacing lately?  In mentoring single adults, I recognize how easily our judgement is impaired / clouded when it comes to wanting to be accepted, affirmed, included & loved.  We allow a person or relationship to exercise an undeserving reign over our conscious decisions & actions.  One day we look in the mirror & suddenly realize we don’t even recognize ourselves, much less how we’ve gotten to this place.  Please understand, all relationships are not like this.  Healthy relationships nurture, protect, provide, serve, heal & constantly bring out the best in one another. I am referencing defiled, volatile, poisonous relationships where the victim is vividly aware things are awry. It’s as if they are looking through a glass as it’s pouring rain & only seeing a blur of  their former selves or what is possible for them to enjoy.

Hopeless? Never!  The steps back may not be the easiest path to take, but they can & will lead to the freedom you so desire. To date, the emotions I felt during that drive home are as real as me sitting in front of my computer blogging!  Once you discover a way out of the fog, you’ll be very discerning & cautious not to allow yourself in becoming ensnared again! Like one of my favorite scriptures, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery (bondage) on you.” – Galatians 5:1

If this resonates even slightly with you, I encourage you to perform a self-evaluation & talk to a mentor.  Necessary changes will probably involve choosing different associations.  Turn around, pack up & walk away as quickly as possible without looking back.  Surround yourself with forward thinking, like-minded individuals who will speak life & wholeness into your future. I promise……..before you know it, you will be that person bringing hope to others.  The only memory you will reflect upon will be the sweet sensationalism of freedom!

I’ll leave you with a scripture from Job. Most of us know what he endured for complete freedom & restoration!  Understand above all else, his restoration was worth the stand he took to attain it.

You’ll take delight in God, the Mighty One,
    and look to Him joyfully, boldly.
You’ll pray to Him and He’ll listen;
    He’ll help you do what you’ve promised.
You’ll decide what you want and it will happen;
    your life will be bathed in light.
To those who feel low you’ll say, ‘Chin up! Be brave!’
    and God will save them.- Job 22:28

Blessings,

g