Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Mother's Work

A mother’s love is fantastic and bright,
A soothing fire light, escorting us gently,
Urging us firmly to just “be me” and
With every dream that buds,
Trust that we will make it.

There’s no corner office with my name prominently displayed on the door.  The hours are long.  Someone else is always first.  There are no paycheck bonuses in my future.  There are always unexpected duties and unscheduled conferences.  Still, motherhood is beautiful, carrying with it indescribable powers and everyday blessings.
No, my audience isn’t a million.  My audience fits in a minivan.  I’m changing the world right here in my own home.  I’m raising a family unto the Lord.  A woman doesn’t have to give up her dreams and ambitions for the sake of those in her life.  However, I do believe that her aspirations should not be to the detriment of her family’s well-being.  Climbing the corporate ladder is fine as long as your children are not made to suffer.  No woman has the right to have children and then not put them first.       
The art of parenting requires balance.  Parents are like gardeners- tending, pruning, nourishing and always cultivating.  Breaking up the soil and diligently removing weeds will create a beautiful garden that will provide years of enjoyment.  Being kind and gentle, firm yet patient with my children is my goal.  My children are precious to me.  A person can hold my wallet, car keys and ATM card with the PIN number before I remove my watchful eyes.  Ladies, let’s stop allowing people we barely know to watch our children.  Stop offering up our babies on the altar of romance, just to have a chance to have a man by our side.  Our children are depending on us for protection, guidance and love.  We owe our best to our children.
Our children are fertile ground and they’re looking for somewhere to hang their hearts.  Let’s teach them all the things we weren’t taught.  Let’s teach them and actively show them where to focus their hearts and minds.  The world is bound and determined to lead them astray.  The enemy wants to steal your child and attacks in various ways.  That only means that we have to be that more vigilant in raising our children.
Parents need to invest in their child’s spiritual well-being, help them build character and understand the importance of having integrity.  Children need an investment of our time more than expensive purchases like laptops, tablets, cell phones and fashion.  If our children are truly reflections of who we are, let’s make sure that they are kind and respectful, fruitful and creative – not fashion statements.  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22: 6
Disrespect, unaccountability and a sense of entitlement seem to be a sport with many young people today.  Children are given so much, but nothing is required of them beyond good grades in school.  For some, that’s not even a requirement.  Children are setting the pace and dictating to their parents what they will and won’t do.  If that’s not putting the cart before the horse, I don’t know what is.  Children are young and strong, bolstered by friends and a society that tells them they are free to do as they please, even if that means suing parents who attempt to discipline. Understandably, parents are frustrated and way past exhausted.
This is not the time though to fall asleep at the wheel or just throw up our hands.  In parenting, there is no room for lazy attitudes.  We don’t help anyone when we withhold correction.  We must be sure to address issues and redirect any unhealthy behaviors we notice.  We can’t keep rewarding disobedience and disrespect and expect to see lasting improvements or experience the tide turning.  Yes, parents are responsible for their children, but children also have a responsibility to show appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices made on their behalf.
Parents, we can’t be afraid to have our children upset with us.  Saying “no” isn’t going to hurt anybody.  “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15 NKJV). Children, pulled in so many directions, are faced with many choices and invitations.  Society can be spiritually toxic.  With peer pressure, life can be a minefield for our young people.  We have to teach our children to better navigate tough situations and even manage bad moods.
I have an idea.  Let’s be crazy enough to demand respect and excellence from our children.  How do we serve them by spoiling them, but not equipping them?  They need to know that they can do better.  It should be no secret that we expect them to do their very best.       Our children should have crystal-clear clarity about what flies in our households and what gets shut down.
Let’s continue to speak blessings over our children.  Teach them early to pray and trust our God, who can equip them for every challenge life brings.  Let’s listen to our children with excitement and an eager heart.  Let’s answer all of their questions like we’re being graded.  Let’s continue to affirm good behavior and right choices.  Let’s congratulate them on successes, praise their strengths and guide them in areas where they are still learning.
Let’s laugh with our children and spend time with them whenever we can.  Let’s soak them up during their “formative years.”  Let’s do our best to accept every invitation to color, draw, play a game, watch a movie, or cook a meal together.  Never be too busy to have a look at an invention, a work of art or literary creation.  Enjoy the simplicity of picnics, light-up shoes, blowing bubbles, gathering leaves and picking fruit at the Farmer’s Market.  Quality time with our children provides us the opportunity to know who they are, understand what’s important to them and gain insight into the dreams they have for their lives.

Mothers, we wear a cape no one sees, rescuing those unaware of impending danger, preparing our children for their future.  Even when a mother is tired beyond belief and can barely lift her eyelids, she finds the strength to get the job done.  Make sure you celebrate all the wonderful moments that make you proud to be a parent.  With love, laughter and prayer, we are building and giving our children all that truly makes one rich, like a relationship with the Lord, family connections, grateful hearts and eager spirits willing to serve others.  Above all else, our children are loved and know that they are never a burden.  Let’s be everything for our children, even if no one ever showed up to give us what we most needed.  Let’s nurture the spark in our children until the embers grow into a flame too big to be extinguished by this world.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Your Past – The Bully

The past often feels like a giant that towers over you, limiting the warm, nourishing sun.  With its big rusty hooks in you, the past feels like the relentless bully who blocks your way from leaving the room and demands that you empty your pockets.  Even though it threatens and blusters, it cannot blow your house down.  The past has no power over you.  You can break free.
Life has truly given you a large lion’s share of grief, trouble, and betrayal.  There are times when you feel doomed to repeat cycles and incapable of jumping off of the merry-go-round, that was never fun for you anyway.  What has been done to you has such a pull, that you’ve been sucked into its orbit and you fear you will never escape.
You’ve made some mistakes, sometimes placing your trust in the wrong people.  The repercussions often feel like chains around your neck.  Failures and missed opportunities dance in front of you, taunting, and promising to never let you forget, to never let you move forward.  The consequences of every bad decision, made by you and for you by others, have a reach and power that always seems to overshadow any positive steps you make.  How is it possible that each misstep seems alive and strong enough to subdue and eclipse every good thing you’re now trying to implement in your life?
Take a moment and take a deep breath.  No matter how painful the past is, think about all that Jesus has done for you.  You weren’t created to be chained to your past.  Yes, the reality of your past may slow you down.  It may even require you to forge new paths or travel the long-way around to arrive at your desired destination.  In Christ, your progress can’t be crushed.  When doubt and anxiety move in, let the Lord fight for you.  Renew your mind by meditating on His word.  Do your best to stay the course and remain positive.
Keep light in your heart and the shadows of your past will flee.  Yes, the past, with all its heartaches and disappointments, was real.  All of that really happened to you.  However, living there now helps you as much as a motorcycle helmet saves you from drowning at sea.
Stop giving power to your past.  Stop believing that your past is stronger than now and every possibility that lies ahead.  Ultimately, the past keeps doing a number on you because you’ve handed it the access code to freely come and go as it pleases.  The enemy knows where your wounds are and will try all day long to trigger those buttons.  Yes, the past is a dangerous threat, especially when you keep moving to a safer neighborhood, but send the past a postcard with your new address.  If the people in your life are what anchor you to an unhealthy past, it’s up to you to remove yourself.  You owe it to yourself to walk away from any toxic situation.
Yes, most bullies aren’t known for having a change of heart.  Rarely do they decide that you’ve been tortured enough.  Bullies don’t know when to stop.  Bullies want everything – your shoes, socks and undies.  Bullies aren’t satisfied until your confidence level drops to the basement.  Bullies can be scary.  Bullies don’t quit. 
Well, don’t you quit either.  You can move forward.  You can stand up for yourself.  Bring every little thought captive, even if it’s a minute-by-minute requirement on your part.  Replace every defeatist attitude with a positive, affirming thought about your new plans.  Imagine better for yourself.  After everything, don’t you think you deserve it?  So claim it.  Live like it’s yours. Focus on now.  Be grateful that you even made it this far.  Don’t you dare give the enemy the satisfaction of keeping you shackled to fear and uncertainty.
It isn’t fair that your past was so painful.  It isn’t fair that people don’t appreciate how groovy and brilliant you are.  It isn’t fair that you were hurt by the people you love.  It isn’t fair that people have given you bare minimum effort for your loyalty.  It isn’t fair that your heart and life bears the mark of other people’s recklessness.  It isn’t fair that the ones you love spend their time celebrating and pining over others, who could care less if they live or die.  Just think of all those lessons you’ve learned.  Think of the wisdom that can’t be taken away.  Think of the warrior-heart that beats inside of your chest.  Think of how strong you are now.  The Lord has a beautiful plan for every nasty thing you’ve endured.  He can do a new work in you.  He is expert at restoration.  So trust Him and keep praising Him.

The light of the Lord’s promises is reaching out to you.  The past can only keep you away from your blessings if you remain convinced of its control in your life.  The power to move forward is yours.  You can move this world in a positive direction.  When you decide to wake up every day with victory on your mind and reject the lies of the enemy, the shadows of the past will disappear.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

A New Beginning

Ever take the time to look at the drab and dreary trees that line the gray winter sky?  However dry and sparse in appearance, winter trees are still standing, firmly rooted.  At the core, bundled safely away inside, lies unseen potential and promise.  In a very important way, we are often like those trees.  Exposed to the harsh elements, we wait, rest and grow stronger, just anticipating the right time and circumstances to bloom.
Today may not look exactly as we want.  While we may not have all we desire or everything we think we should have, we are present for another day.  This day contains so much possibility and is a perfect backdrop for a new beginning.
No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done or how much you’ve lost, you can always get your life moving in a new direction.  The time is seldom perfect and your first step may only have a sliver of light shining on it, but you can get moving. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Don’t be afraid of making a wrong turn.  Don’t procrastinate because you’re afraid to start or afraid of rejection.  Don’t allow mistakes, experiences or what others think of you shackle you to the past.  Despite any obstacles you face, you can excel.  Your past does not have to define you and can only keep you captive if you allow it.  Make sure your actions are deliberate.  If it’s only an inch at a time, keep moving toward your new horizon.  Allow your faith and determination to lead your life in a more positive direction.   You are free to move higher, forward and upward.
What’s making you uncomfortable?  What are you sick and tired of in your life?  Unfortunate circumstances or undesired realities can be just what you need to get energized.  Ever feel trapped by missed opportunities, or the responsibility and obligations of your life?  Tired of how or where you live or the conditions at work?  Let that discomfort or dread be your fuel.
Let the Lord give you something fresh and new.  Believe it or not, He can bless you in your current situation.  Your heart screams out and vibrates for the chance to begin again, to show life just what’s inside of you.
Ever get the feeling that God is about to do something special in your life?  He’s about to open the door to the situation you feel imprisons you.  Joseph had a word from the Lord and knew he wouldn’t die in prison.  Unaware of the day or hour of his release, his heart knew that the day would come when a new beginning would be his reality.  Let’s praise the Lord now for His promises and the blessings your faith knows will be manifested later.
Set your goals and hopes before you.  Be determined to build something. Your expectations and hopes keep you vibrant.  Focus on areas where you are strong.  Keep track of what has worked for you.  Remember past successes and never forget how the Lord dealt with your anxieties and uncertainties by turning them into beautiful stories of survival.
You may feel lost, weighted down, off track, off in a ditch or stuck, but you can begin to turn the tide.  Perhaps trying a new way will yield better results.  Maybe a brook of long-standing provision suddenly dries up.  Well, now is your opportunity for new challenges, reimagined solutions and growth – the proof of life.  Remember that the greatest rewards are rarely attached to the easiest challenges.  Tough trials and roads lead to triumphs and victories.
In Christ, you are a new creation.   A new beginning can be yours.  So, let go of the death grip you have on your disappointments in life, yourself and others.  Grab hold of all the glory and confidence your future holds.  Commit to your new journey.

Other new creatures learn to walk, talk, run, fly and care for themselves?  What new thing will you do?  What will you learn to do in a new way?  What hurdles will you jump?  What bridges will you build?  What fears will you face and smash?  What offenses will you forgive?  What love will you give?  What gift will you share?  What dreams will you cherish?  How high will you soar?  How bright and warm will your new beginning be?

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Road You're Traveling

The road you’re traveling right now may be rough and have more detours than you believe one person can handle. The Lord will reward your faithfulness and strength.  Just keep the faith.  Stay dedicated to your assignment.  Trust the Lord to continue your progress.
Everyone won’t understand your decision to keep moving in the same direction.  People have ideas about how long is too long to stay engaged in one certain area.  When most people don’t see huge “measurable” amounts of success, they tend to give up.  Oftentimes, people base their level of commitment to a goal on external influences.  When they realize that others see no value in their idea, they sadly accept that as truth.  But not us.  We know how it feels to have a “yes” from the Lord take root and bloom in our hearts.
There may be times when people will fight against your process, by trying to discourage you.  They may even remind you of how little time there’s left to really make anything happen.  They may advise you to stay on the safe path and avoid anything new and uncertain. Whenever you’re feeling blah and you need someone to give you encouraging words, you may find yourself alone. You may even have to celebrate your own milestones and pat yourself on the back.
It’s all right though.  You have to know deep down inside that there’s just no other road for you to take.  The consuming fire that God has set in you is way too strong for you to turn back now.  The excitement you feel when you allow yourself to imagine the dream already being yours is too thrilling to ignore.  Walking away now and staying bound to status quo just makes no sense to you.
Reject any fear and doubt that tries to creep into the tight spaces in your mind.  Fear doesn’t pay any rent or contribute to your well-being in any way.  So, why let it stay?  Shield your heart from the noise desperately trying to pierce it.  Pray and ask the Lord to renew your mind every day and to let your dream pulsate like soothing music in your veins.
Now is the time to be braver than ever.  Now is the time for your purpose to escort you into tomorrow.  Now is the time to push comfort and complacency back. If necessary, use the biggest stick you’ve got.  Do whatever you have to do to hold on for dear life to your heart’s desire.  Now is the time to ignore dream killers.  Now is the time to meditate on everything you can gain– not your possible losses.  Now is the time to wake up every morning with victory on your mind.  Now is the time to believe you can make it, to know that this is what you were meant to do.  Now is the time to find your joy and stamp it across your heart.

Do it now.  Don’t waste your time trying to get everyone on board.  The permission or participation of others is not required.  Use every drop of energy to advance your dream.  Believing in yourself is a great idea.  Your spirit is unbreakable.  Every hurdle is conquerable.  The road may have bumps, but there are no walls.  There are no walls to box you in.  There are no walls to block your view.  You’re in God’s country now.  Your dream is achievable.  I’m hoping and praying for you.  Let’s go!

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Who Told You No?

Who told you no?  Who told you that you’ll never make it or that it’s time you stop trying?  Where did you get the crazy idea that where you are right now is where you have to stay?  Just what are these people’s credentials or qualifications anyway?  What great contributions have they made to life?  Are they striving for excellence?  Are they being faithful to the dreams God has given them?  What gives them the right to assault your dream?
No one is qualified to tell you that you can’t strive to make your dreams come true.  No one has the authority to tell you who you can’t be.  Never allow anyone to extinguish your hopes and dreams.  Hopes and dreams are the fortifying vitamins of life.
Maybe it has been stressed to you over and over again that it’s impossible to start that kind of business or pursue that dream and really make a living.  Well, even if one path seems daunting or impossible to you, there’s always another set of steps to arrive at your destination.  Trust God to light your path.  Listen for His instructions. Don’t you dare take advice from anyone who has no vision and refuses to see past now.
Ready to hear some encouraging news?  There’s no deadline to your dream, at least not one that can be imposed by the people in your life.  The young and old can dream.  God has the final say.  How dedicated are you to making your dream or calling a reality?  You owe it to yourself to dream big, to reach high, and to step out in faith.  Let’s walk in the victory God has planned for us.  Let’s put our everything into the pursuit of our dreams.
What are you waiting on?  Start today.  Start right now.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel that you have enough to get going.  Your dream is enough.  Just a scintilla of hope is all that’s required.  And I know you have at least that much.  It doesn't even matter if you're unsure or afraid of what people may say or think.  Be more afraid of what will happen if you don't try.  “Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets.” (Habakkuk 2:2)  Focus your heart, mind, hopes and actions on your dream.  I believe in you because I believe in who made you.  I’d really love to see it happen for you.  I’d love to see another check in the win column for God’s children.

The Blessed Woman Endeavor, available now on Amazon