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Your Vision Isn’t Yet Your Present…Now What?

When I counsel people who are about to jump into a career or “the real world” experience for the first time, no matter the circumstances, one concern always comes up…they want to know what to do with their time in between filling out job applications and lining up interviews. If the process of securing employment takes more than a few weeks, restlessness and doubt quickly set in.

The advice I give is always the same. Some people are more receptive to it than others, but I akin it to the principles of reaping and sowing. Hey, you want someone to invest in you and give you a chance to prove yourself? You want a secure job situation with a living wage and benefits? You want to do something that you would be proud to talk about amongst family and friends?

It’s natural to want to be of use and wake up with a purpose every single day. But, where do you start? Simple: sow your most valuable asset while you are in transition: YOURSELF. You probably have an eyebrow raised right now, but believe me, your giving will be your gain. Besides, who said that going out and getting a paycheck is the only way to be of value?

I get it. You have bills to pay. We all do. So if you have to work part-time at your local coffee house to pay the rent or fold sweaters at the mall department store, there is no shame in that. The shame would be rushing through those experiences begrudgingly, while missing the opportunity to add substance to your life. So back to my solid advice…while you are working that necessary, but meaningless job – SOW YOURSELF!

What does that mean? It means that you should purpose to give of yourself in a way that is genuine and allows you to be a part of something bigger than your problem of the moment. Put your skills to work with the sole focus on helping others and see what happens!

The possibilities are endless:

  • Tutor kids at a local school, community center or after school program
  • Ask your church office if they need help cleaning, organizing, filing or need assistance with any special projects (ministries usually have so much to do and not enough man power or money to do it)
  • Cook/serve dinner at a local shelter or soup kitchen
  • Organize and package food for your local food pantry
  • Organize a group of friends/family to clean up and/or fix up a local park or playground
  • Volunteer as a sitter for a family member/friend who needs a break
  • Donate your time at the local children’s hospital, pediatric cancer center or Ronald McDonald House
  • If you can sing or play an instrument, perform at a nursing home or children’s hospital
  • Create and send inspiration cards or notes to a local nursing home or shelter
  • Become a mentor
  • Lend your time to an elderly family member or friend who may need help around the house or running errands

 

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When we step outside of ourselves to serve others, a few things happen: 1.) The mountain of problems we have, miraculously shrinks and seems more manageable or less critical in comparison. 2.) We learn more about the inner part of our spirit – what motivates us, where our strength comes from and how we relate to others. 3.) We grow in love and patience for humanity. 4.) The experience impacts our dreams for the future; family goals, career direction, financial goals, wants and priorities.

The truth is, if you’re waiting to have it all together to contribute to society, you may never do it. We all think that once we have the right kind of job, making the right amount of money, driving the best car and living in our dream home that we will give back in some way. Many people do – they write a check, put it in an envelope and send it off to work on their behalf. But there is no service in that. It doesn’t require your faith or sacrifice. Go sow of yourself while you are uncertain, feel stagnant and not sure where to go next. Do it while you don’t have it all figured out and need direction. Take your broken, depressed and tired self somewhere and offer it up to the people who will be glad to have it and put it to use.

If you can get up and go somewhere with a smile on your face and work hard with no financial benefit, imagine how much more faithful and effective you will be when your time to shine comes!

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much (Luke 16:10)

 

 

 

 

Burnout: When What You Have To Give Is Not Enough

Since the start of February, I’ve had the urge to break up with my life. I’m not talking about an all-out divorce, but definitely a trial separation. I think my life and I need to evaluate what we want from each other. We need space and time to determine whether we are meant to be together.

My life demands eager attentiveness, ingenuity, constant motherhood, gracious servitude and loyal wifedom. Life doesn’t care that I am physically unable to keep up at times. She runs ahead of me, occasionally looking back to mock my aches, pains and sleepless nights. She doesn’t think it’s important that I’m indeed exhausted and in need of quality me time. My life snickers at my daydreams of packing a bag and leaving for a solitary weekend sabbatical. She knows that I’m too loyal and unselfish to follow through.

She simply says, “Get on with it. Pull up your big girl panties and be WOMAN!”

I would rather play in a sandbox and artfully craft a beautiful rock garden, roll in a grassy field underneath the afternoon sun or write for hours in blessed seclusion and reflection. Could I hop aboard a last-minute flight to an unfamiliar city and explore? I promise to leave a heartfelt note and detailed instructions for the care and feeding of the toddler. I am, after all, a mother.

As I write this on the back of a piece of paper I found at the bottom of my junky purse (the first thing I’ve written in over a month), I sit alone, but not at all lonely. I’m at one of my favorite restaurants, dining on Japanese noodles and salad. I’m enjoying a forbidden sugary soda – something I can’t have at home with a child around because she wants a bite…a piece…a sip…a lick of EVERYTHING she lays eyes on! I’m grateful to not be sharing, talking, answering, explaining, wiping tables, fingers, and cheeks or instructing. I’m just sitting, eating, thinking and in this long overdue moment of clarity, I’ve found myself unexpectedly writing.

This wasn’t a planned lunch date, but a personal intervention of sorts. My life dictated errands and grocery shopping for the afternoon. I was on my way to the supermarket when I suddenly found myself turning into the parking lot. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I hadn’t eaten and I hadn’t noticed. It was 2p.m. If one could be brought up on charges for neglecting themselves, I would be a candidate for serious time.

So, I’m soaking this time in. I am in no hurry whatsoever.

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I’ve heard women say it countless times, but I didn’t understand the meaning of the phrase until now… “I lost myself.”

I used to think, how does one lose herself? Is she not attached? Where did she go?

Now, I get it. I see it. I feel it.

When I return home today with a trunk full of groceries, there will be meals to plan for the week, a potty training toddler to wake, a heap of laundry to fold and food to put away. I will have help, but I am the sergeant. I must be vigilant, present and give specific guidance. Then, my life will quickly demand the a change of clothes, waking the toddler and explaining the necessity of going to the potty again, dressing and combing of hair, packing of snacks, water and more snacks and off to church service. After that, my life will yell for more of my time and energy, but I won’t dare think that fare ahead.

My life has all of me, but I feel the need to set boundaries with her and take some of my control back. There is so much to do and so many people to please and care for, but what about me? Life’s demands have filled my calendar and restricted my freedom and creativity. I stopped striving to be perfect a long time ago, at least. All I want in this season of my life is to be balanced, healthy and sane.

I don’t want to look back in sadness and utter those words, “I lost myself.”

I realize now that what I have to give will be enough when I purpose to regularly give myself enough of what I NEED – time, peace and quiet, space to be creative, meditation, relaxation, exercise and the regular feeding of my soul. I cannot continue to try and give what I don’t have.

My interpretation of what life wanted, left me in my current position – last on the priority list. I’m not even penciled on my own calendar anymore! For this relationship to work, life has to start treating me like she used to with intellectual stimulation, date nights, lunch dates, massages, hair appointments, pedicures and good sleep. I also won’t mind the occasional pair of shoes or new handbag – she can afford it.

I might have to sneak away for a few hours and allow some of life’s needs to linger, but I purpose to do it without guilt because guilt has brought me to this uncomfortable place on the edge of reason. Guilt has worn me out and left me empty.

Here’s to more solitary lunches, walks in the park, coffee shop visits and shopping trips in my near future!

 

 

Are You Naked?

 

During this season of adjustment, change and utterly destroyed comfort zones… have you found yourself naked, exposed to the elements of life and shivering? I’ve been there and I’ve found that an all-weather covering is needed to get through times like these. It doesn’t matter if you are wading through of an expected life change or find yourself thrust into the middle of a world-shaking tornado of everything happening all at once, there is an answer!

Don’t go out into the world naked, my dear friend.

Teleology: Your Life, Your Choice, Your Purpose

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There is so much happening in the atmosphere. The year has just begun and I already feel like there is unprecedented potential for renewal and growth, if we allow it. However, I also see that people are hurting, disappointed and stuck reliving past hang ups. In this political and social climate, I have made the choice to believe that people inherently desire to be and do good, even when they fail at it. I feel it’s more important now than ever.

I have a problem.

I read the news online and I inevitably find myself reluctantly reading the commentary, even though I have made repeated promises to myself not to. I know…I definitely shouldn’t. It’s not healthy and most of the time, it’s not productive. In the comments is where the ugly underbelly of humanity is exposed. It’s laid out for all of the world to see, unapologetic and crude. It’s where people have the gall to say things about and to others that they would never say to their face. It’s sad, frustrating and often depressing.

If I believed everything that I read, I would believe that everyone has a deep hatred for people different than themselves. If I believed that every snide comment and hateful word vocalized the secret feelings of the strangers I come into contact with on a daily basis, I would be ruled by fear. If I believed even a fraction of what I see in those despicable comments was prevalent thinking, then I would believe that the world is doomed and I might as well give up.

I have a solution.

I have chosen to believe that I can make a positive impact intentionally by being authentically who I am. I know that I can do it, if I do so with purpose. I will continue to bless strangers in secret when I feel led to do so. I will speak kind words to encourage and uplift those who seem to be struggling with life. I will pray for those who seem to be disconnected, mean and hurting. I will smile at strangers and say “Hello!” even when they don’t smile back. I will hug people with permission and compliment them honestly. I will leave my house determined to make someone’s day better, however I can.

The week before Christmas, I stood in line at a busy deli counter in the grocery store, patiently waiting my turn. The young black gentleman behind the counter was visibly flustered. He had commands coming at him from all angles: his co-workers were asking him questions about what was in the back and customers were asking for deli meat, cheese, a little bit of potato salad (No, that’s not enough!), and so on. It was on my heart to say something kind to him. I was last in line. He took my order and packed my grilled chicken in a deli back, weighed it and handed it to me.

“Thank you.” I said with a smile. “You’re doing a good job.”

He looked at me with disbelief. He shook his head in disagreement as if what I said wasn’t true. He ducked back behind the counter to straighten up the display and close the sliding glass door. Then he turned his back to me to go on to the next task awaiting him. I walked away.

I purpose to acknowledge those I meet and let them know that they matter because I will never know how much they need to hear it.

I won’t argue with foolishness. I won’t let anger and suspicion rule my thoughts. I will stop reading the commentary since it ads not one ounce of light to my life. I will instead, put out positive, encouraging and uplifting words. I choose to be accountable for what I put out into this world, even when others do not.

I am also determined to make my own way, figure it out as I go and take risks even though I may be hurt in the process. I won’t let anyone’s opinion of me, my talents, my abilities or experiences dictate my potential. There will always be someone who feels like I am inferior because I’m a full-time mom, because I am black, because I am a woman…because, because, because. I won’t let them win. You shouldn’t either!

It’s your life. How you live it is your choice, but do it with purpose.

 

 

 

A Vision of Peace

I’m used to hearing people here in the Midwest say, “I love winter.” Or “I love it when it snows!” I grew up in the South and didn’t share the same sentiment when I first moved here. However, it’s grown on me over the last thirteen years or so. It’s common here to hit the man made ski slopes, go sledding or build snowmen. I love it too, but for a different reason.

Have you ever realized how quiet the Earth seems after a heavy snow? It’s like a large blanket that muffles everything. Cars driving by on the street seem quieter. The animals – birds, squirrels, etc. are quieter. You automatically feel the need to hibernate, stay home and rest, drink a hot beverage and do something low-key or do nothing at all. All of the sudden, the fireplace that doesn’t get used, seems necessary.

Last night, we had about three inches of light fluffy snow. I call this the “good kind of snow” – no ice on the sidewalks or roads. I woke up this morning to bright white light streaming through my curtains and it made me happy. But today, I was able to connect the dots and I know now why this weather makes me feel this way.

I’ve recently been ushered into a place of peace in my life. I’ve experienced loss, reconciliation, self-realization and I have also had to cut out some toxic people. However, I have so much joy and feel completely at ease. The things I have experienced in the last twelve months would have been enough to send me into a spiraling depression ten years ago. Today, I accept all of these things as part of my growth journey.

The snow has covered all of the ugly. Of course, it’s still there underneath the blanket – the broken down car that’s been parked on the street for way too long, the crooked sidewalk, overgrown hedges, rusted chain link fences and sorry excuse of a lawn aren’t visible anymore. All I see is pure white. All I hear is quiet and whispers of blowing wind.

I imagine God covering me with a blanket in my times of sorrow and confusion. The blanket is white, soft as snow, all-encompassing, warm and shielding. It covers my frustration, regrets, doubts and all of my ugliness. It’s how I’ve made it this far. It’s the reason why I look out of my window and smile, despite the cold. This is what I imagine peace looks like.

2017 Encouragement: It’s Not Over!

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Whatever  you have been through in 2016 does not determine your future. You determine what happens from here. Don’t let those disappointments, failures, let downs, bad relationships and naysayers rob you of your joy. This is a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to shine brighter than you ever have before by faith!

Watch Here to see why I am so excited about 2017 and why you should be too!

Make 2017 marvelous (the type of year you’ll brag about!)

The Art of Letting Go

just-let-goI’ve been a master of worry most of my life. Even as a child, I worried. If I saw my parents argue, I stayed up at night and wondered if they would get a divorce and who I would go live with. If I got a message mid-day that I needed to walk home from school, I thought obsessively about the probability of getting hit by a car right up until the last bell. Speaking in front of the class meant that my stomach would be in knots for an entire week leading up to the assignment. I was almost always anxious about something.

By the time I was 16 years old, I had ulcers and acid reflux. By the time I left for college at age 17, I had obsessive compulsive behaviors that I was convinced were normal and necessary. I was particular about some of the smallest details. When I ate, I didn’t want my food to touch. I wore long sleeves when out in crowds because of the fear that my skin would touch someone else’s and I would break out in hives – which would actually happen. At restaurants, I would only sit in a seat that faced the door.

At 18, I met my now husband, who was and still is a sweetheart, but didn’t know how to properly use a vacuum cleaner, wasn’t bothered at all by a day-old sink full of dishes and only did laundry when he felt it was absolutely necessary. When we married, I found it nearly impossible to keep up the high standard I upheld when I was single. One day while I was melting into a blubbering mess over the constant grime my husband was leaving in the shower, I realized I was close to having a breakdown over something I couldn’t control.

Letting go of my obsessive thoughts and behaviors wasn’t an option. I had to do it for my sanity and overall health and survival.

Starting in high school, I had begun experiencing intense bouts of nausea and vomiting, which resulted in numerous emergency room visits over a span of seven years. I spent dozens of nights on the bathroom floor and I developed food aversions as a way to try and control my symptoms. In 2009, after a visit to the emergency room revealed internal bleeding, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. It was a relief because the monster I had been fighting finally had a name. Although not much was known about why I had it or how it developed, I was convinced that I had brought some of it on myself.

About nine years later, I can confidently report that I have let go. I no longer have the expectation that my closets will look like a photo in a home magazine. (My husband’s corduroys hanging next to a pair of cargo shorts is not my vision of order). My house is never messy, but it’s definitely not my ideal version of clean. If I need a break, I take a nap…sink full of dishes or pile of laundry be damned! I have faith that it will still be there when I wake up. I play with my eighteen month old daughter every day. We make messes together and it’s glorious.

I’ve gotten better at controlling my thoughts, but it’s an everyday battle to keep my mind from traveling down the rabbit hole of “what if…” I question every decision I make at least twice. I imagine the worst before I believe for the best. I am overly cautious. I like rules and boundaries. Freedom and spontaneity are scary to me. I like things that fit nicely into boxes and don’t overlap. Black and white is nice, but never grey.

I protect myself when I can from threats to my health, balance and peace. I don’t diet because I can’t. It’s not wise for me to do something that requires a level of control that could lead to an unhealthy habit. I’ve cut ties with people who are toxic and only took from me and never added value. I don’t tolerate drama, gossip, negativity or people who refuse to be accountable for their actions. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I see a counselor regularly. I don’t watch movies or television programs that make me anxious, depressed, angry or that I find disturbing. I have found freedom in surrounding myself with positive people. I read positive books, articles and The Word in as many forms as I can digest. I do whatever I can to add to my life and then I put that positively back out into the world when I can.

It’s amazing how trivial things used to demand so much of my mental energy when I allowed them to…a messy closet, spilled milk on the couch, a scratch on the car door, a parking ticket, dog urine on the carpet, walking into a meeting late, the anticipation of a conflict, etc.

We have to be good stewards and take care of our bodies, minds and spirits. We don’t get to do it over again. We don’t get to go back in time and spend more time on the things that matter to us. We get one chance to mess it up and then course correct.

I’ve learned that bitterness and strife eat away. Anger stifles and suffocates potential. Doubt leaves trails of apprehension and the attempt to control is insanity in the making. With the time you have left, be free. Let go!

 

 

Find Purpose This Holiday Season with Ten Simply Fantastic Tips

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1. Focus on The Reason For the Season

Thanksgiving is about sharing quality time with family over good food, being thankful for our many blessings and acknowledging the relationships that we cherish. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a special gift to mankind. New Year’s Eve is the celebration of a year coming to a close and a new year full of possibilities. Although some may try to wash the holiday season in commercialism and mindless entertainment, don’t fall for it! This is an important time of year. Keep God, family and faith at the center and you can’t go wrong.

 

2. Choose People Over Possessions

Gift-giving is a big deal during the holidays and there is nothing wrong with that, but I plan as many social functions that are not gift-related as I can. Hosting or organizing a potluck, game night, trivia night, ornament craft party, holiday movie marathon or baking party allow you to connect with those you love, while doing something holiday-related.

To keep gift expectations reasonable, pulling names, organizing secret gift parties with a dollar limit or white elephant gift exchanges, where someone’s trash can become another person’s treasure, are ways to have fun without spending a lot of money. These activities come in handy with large families or groups where individual gift-giving could break the bank.

 

3. Have a Thankful Heart

Don’t be the Grinch! If you cannot afford to buy gifts for everyone, give Christmas cards with a heartfelt note instead. When I’ve been low on cash, but had a lot of cards to give to extended family or co-workers, I delivered hand-written cards with quality chocolate or candies to simply say, “thank you.” If a person has touched my life in a special way over the last year, I use it as an opportunity to let them know.

If someone wants to bless you, let them, even if you didn’t get them a gift. Keep a few blank Christmas cards and/or thank you cards and envelopes in your purse, work bag or desk. That way, if someone catches you off guard with a gift you weren’t expecting, you can show your gratitude by writing out a card before you forget.

 

4. Give Without Expectation

I make my Christmas list based on what is on my heart to give. It isn’t based on who I’m expecting to get gifts from. If you are giving gifts in expectation of keeping up appearances, making a statement or getting something in return, your heart is in the wrong place.

Give freely, sincerely and without needing reciprocity.

 

5. If You Don’t Have It, Don’t Spend It!

Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a period of about 40 days. It makes no sense to go broke trying to please everyone. When January 2nd rolls around, it’ll be time to head back to work, cars will need gas, rent and mortgages will need to be paid, electric bills and gas bills will be due and refrigerators will need to be re-stocked. The best way to start of the new year is with money in the bank and peace of mind.

So don’t max out your credit cards or take out payday loans out of desperation. As a child, I remember my parents sitting the five of us down one Christmas to explain that things were tight and my three oldest siblings and I wouldn’t get any gifts. My youngest sister was too young to understand so we all chipped in to make her Christmas memorable. It made us a bit sad at first, but we survived. There is nothing wrong with telling friends or family that you are on a budget and won’t be spending a lot of money this year.

 

6. Create Cherished Traditions

My husband and I have been able to start new traditions that are being passed down to our daughter. We decorate the tree together, make ornaments to add to our family collection and open gifts together. Most of the ornaments, ribbon and other decorations on our tree have sentimental value.

If you didn’t grow up with traditions or just not the type you want to continue, that’s okay! Start making positive memories today and share those things with your friends and family. Before you know it, you’ll have a few traditions that everyone looks forward to year after year.

 

7. Give of Yourself, Your Time and Talents

The best gift you can give to anyone is often the hardest gift to give, yourself. Giving of yourself requires patience, time, dedication and planning. If you sing, go visit a nursing home or children’s hospital and sing to patients. If you are artistic, give out hand-drawn or painted Christmas cards to the homeless. Serve meals in your local shelter or help out in the church food pantry. If you find the holidays to be a difficult time of year, this is one of the best ways to get over the hump. When doing something selfless, it’s easy to forget about your own problems and sometimes, they may seem pale in comparison to what someone else may be going through.

 

8. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

You are not your mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, best friend or cousin. You are YOU! There is nothing wrong with that. There will always be people in your life that want to try and make you feel small because you don’t have what they have. Maybe you are being pressured because you don’t have children or aren’t married. Maybe you are constantly being measured against someone else’s accomplishments.

Just be you. God makes no mistakes.

 

9. Schedule Self Care

It seems like I look up from my Thanksgiving dinner every year and my calendar is filled through the first week in January. There are so many social events, parties, lunch dates, work functions, fundraisers, galas, family gatherings that I agree to attend and many more that I decline. I have to be intentional to put myself on my calendar or I know I’ll get burnt out.

So go and do this right now: Get out your phone, calendar, planner or whatever you use to keep organized. Schedule a least an hour a week of “Me Time” for the next four weeks. It may seem silly now, but you’ll be glad you penciled it in.

There are only two rules: you have to protect the time and honor it. If it gets moved, reschedule it right away that same week. The second rule is that you can’t spend your “Me Time” running errands, doing grocery shopping or working. Do something by yourself for yourself during this time like get a manicure or pedicure, watch a movie, get a massage, walk in the park, read a book, go out for coffee or ice cream, take a nap or get a haircut. This will help you stay grounded and sane.

 

10. Ditch New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, fitness clubs make millions in their first quarter from good-intentioned people who either buy or are gifted gym memberships and don’t follow through. Like clockwork, people promise to do outlandish things starting January 1, only to fall short when reality hits. If you haven’t done it yet, what makes you think you will do it in January? Why wait until January to get fit, go back to school, start eating healthier or get organized?

Try this approach instead: Identify one thing you want to start or accomplish in 2017. Then define 4 simple things you can do toward that goal. Now, schedule time for those 4 tasks on your calendar over the next four weeks – one task per week. Research shows that it takes 30 days to start a new habit. By the time the 4 weeks are up, you’ll be well into January and should be on the road to your accomplishing your lifestyle change.

Have a Christmas and holiday season full of purpose and great memories!

 

 

Don’t Consider Yourself Small

I’ve always been small in the literal sense. I’m five feet tall exactly and it’s been that way since middle school. Because of that, adults and peers alike would assume that I was insignificant and I allowed it in a lot of ways. I mastered the art of being invisible. I would be in a classroom full of kids and my teachers would forget that I was there. I was quiet. I kept to myself. I didn’t want to be seen. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. As far back as I can recall, it’s been that way.

In middle school, I remember going through the lunch line on a particular day, as I did every day. At the register, the lunch lady asked me, “Who are you here to visit today?”

I looked around, confused. “I go here,” I told her, trying to straighten my shoulders a bit to look taller.

Her eyes widened and she laughed a hearty laugh, slapping her thigh. “Oh, I thought you were visiting your big brother or sister! You’re so cute.”

In high school, I felt wearing colors would make people notice me in the hallways, so I avoided them. I wore long sleeves most days, even in the summer I wore jackets or sweatshirts all day. I sat in the back of my classes and didn’t speak unless I was spoken to.

It wasn’t until I started to pack for college that I realized how sad of an existence I had made for myself. I opened an empty box and took several pairs of pants out of the closet and off of their hangers – five pairs of khaki pants in various shades, three pairs of jeans and six pairs of black pants. I didn’t have any shorts because I didn’t want people to look at my scrawny legs. For the same reason, I didn’t wear dresses or skirts. My wardrobe was a reflection of my attitude about life; there was no color and there was no excitement.

In college, I walked into a popular intimate apparel shop in the mall near my parent’s house. I was on break from school, bored and looking to kill some time on a free afternoon. I browsed for a few minutes before I was approached by a saleswoman.

“Where are your parents?” She asked, without offering an appropriate customer service greeting.

I didn’t understand the significance of her question at first. “They’re at home…?”

“They let you come to the mall all by yourself?”

“I’m older than I look,” I told her as she starred at me in disbelief. “I’m in college.”

I don’t remember her response after that, but I was so embarrassed that I left. I couldn’t even buy a pair of panties without judgment! It would be another three years before I mustered the courage to enter one of the stores again.

In my mid-twenties, I went to a pharmacy to pick up over-the-counter cold medicine. Due to the local law, it required a signature at purchase. The older male pharmacist looked past me and over my head at my husband who was standing off to the side and asked, “Are you the father?”

He laughed and shook his head, “No, this is my wife!”

The pharmacist looked at me for the first time and offered a weak apology, but no smile. He begrudgingly rung up the medicine as if he didn’t believe me.

—-

This has gone on for long enough. I accepted it at first because I considered myself small. I saw myself as a grain of sand in the world with little to contribute and nothing much to offer. I didn’t believe that behind my small stature and little voice there was a purpose. I didn’t believe anyone would want to hear what I had to say. I didn’t believe that what I had to say was of value. I was wrong!

Not only do I contribute to the world, but I have a beautiful family who love and depend on me. When I speak, people actually listen. I’ve had the responsibility and privilege to sow into the lives of so many people that I can’t count them all. I am a woman of faith, a teacher, motivator, an encourager, mentor and leader.

I am a person who matters in the world and so are you.

Don’t consider yourself small. Don’t allow the issues of life to knodont-consider-yourself-smallck you down and then just resolve to stay seated until it all blows over. The power of change is in your hands. You deserve to live a peaceful, happy and fulfilled life, but that requires your participation. My desire is to see you emerge from the shadows and corners of life and find the seat at the table that was made just for you.

It won’t happen all at once. It won’t happen overnight, but if you work at it, it will happen. And when it does, you’ll look back at the disappointing times in your life and laugh at how much has changed. I look back now at the little girl with puffy hair, wearing hand-me-down clothes two sizes too big, lugging around 10 pounds of books, concerned about being teased in the hallways and I wish I could share with her what I know now. I would tell her that it gets better and she shouldn’t take life so seriously at such a young age. I would tell her that she will impact the lives of millions. I would tell her to believe and not to lose faith in the goodness of life and the kindness in people, because it still exists.

I would tell her, like I am telling you – you are worth it! You matter. You have purpose and your life has meaning.

Stay encouraged. Don’t give up. Get to know the sleeping giant inside of you. You aren’t small. You are just beginning.

 

 

The Demise of the Comfort Zone

Seeking a life with purpose will make you uncomfortable, vulnerable, at times miserable, but it’s necessary. Your growth is waiting for you on the other side of your comfort zone. In complete comfort we aren’t challenged. The comfort zone is where our dreams stagnate and eventually die. We all have t do it at some point. Push through!

Galatians 5:13

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 

There is safety in the Comfort Zone. This is the place where we know we know that our beautiful, steady boat stays exactly the way it is. Whether we are satisfied or not with this place is one thing; but we definitely know that this is where we have security, with no surprises or shocks. Our hearts are protected in this space. We may have been resting in this area with no one to challenge us out of it. We could also have been driven into the safe Comfort Zone by heart break, conflicting circumstances, gain and loss of love or trust, or fear of the unknown.

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