Who are we not to?

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ImageBeing involved in a leadership development organization allows me the opportunity to utilize otherwise wasted time to invest in my self-directed education.  Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives.  I inventoried the time I have in a 24 hour period & determined where I could cut activities out which do not get me closer to my goals.  I love listening to music.  Pandora is currently playing my favorite genre selections of ’80’s, soft rock, country & instrumental right now.  In the morning while getting ready for work was time I could carve music out of my routine & plug into some amazing teaching CD’s.  This time, along with traffic time, is dedicated to feeding my psyche & not my emotions.  Over the past 6 years I have been educated in areas including politics, economics, relationships, finances, leadership, living my dash & leaving a legacy.  If you would’ve told me 10 years ago I’d be comfortable enjoying  a conversation about economics with anyone, I’d have to question what substance you’d been on!  Seriously, certain (most) subjects were met with rolled eyes & fell on deaf ears.  The only thing that changed where I was then & who I am now is associating with people hungry to learn, grow, change & make a difference in the world.  I became a hungry student & love the quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

This morning I was listening to a CD & this comment caught my attention.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  — Marianne Williamson

While all of it was brilliant, the one sentence that burned in my spirit was, “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”  WOW!  When we buy self-sabotaging excuses daily, who does it serve?  I’m fat! I’m single! I’m middle class! I’m not popular! I’m……insert your excuse here……. WHAT?  What could possibly carry any weight against the paragraph above?  Nothing!  All of these excuses can be converted to empower yourself & others.

I invite you to join me & others in taking the 90 Day Mental Fitness Challenge.  Locating where you are, where you want to be & what it takes to get there is a vital step in the right direction.  Self evaluation is a critical & often an overlooked or avoided test we should all take at different life intervals.

I recently watched the movie, The Help & adore one of the lines, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

You IS!

Blessings,

g

Seasons

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During the time of being the Singles Director, I taught a lesson on recognizing the need to change seasons in our life.  This was learned many years ago during Bible College. One of my favorite evangelists mentioned that not changing seasons when God clearly positions you to do so can be dangerous.  It’s as detrimental to your life purpose as doing your own thing.  In fact, that is exactly what you’re doing.  This caught my attention.  At the time, I wanted to teach adults.  Up to that point, for several years, I had the most amazing honor of teaching kids.  This was extremely fulfilling, yet there was a tug that it was time to lengthen my cords & strengthen my stakes.  In other words….. I had to step out of my comfort zone into a place that required me to learn & grow.  Hearing this man speak that sentence was a defining moment &  so much so, that over 20 years later I still remember where I was sitting in church when I heard it.

It reminds me of this verse, Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

What are some things you feel a “tug” about doing?  It can be a number of things.  Ministry? Career? Business? Relational?  I have felt a stirring for the past several  months in several areas of my life.  I have learned all too well this requires prayer & seeking the heart of my Daddy God.  I feel at peace about some things, while others are clouded from my knowing.  I constantly hear the scripture….to everything there is a season…..

Around the same time period in my life of hearing about the seasons, I heard this quote:

People change when:
a.they hurt enough that they have to–hurts, disappointments, failures, abuse
b.learn enough that they want to–mentors, educational programs, life skills
c.receive enough that they are able to–validation, benefits, incentive programs, rewards
–John Maxwell

Again, this was such a revelation, I remember hearing it & tears immediately filled my eyes.  I quickly realized I wanted to be obedient to change as necessary, be flexible & adaptable to the call or “tugs” of God.    I can’t possibly know what you may be facing concerning changes that need to occur in your life.  I can understand the turmoil it brings when you don’t obey.  I pray the peace of God that passes all understanding guards your heart & your mind in Christ Jesus as you make decisions involving current & future seasons of your life.

Always remember…..you are never alone in this journey & each season of life brings beauty, strength, courage & ability to reach for the next. You are also planting & empowering someone else to make changes.   I encourage you to take time & perform an intense self-evaluation & prepare to embrace change.

Make this your quest in every area of life.

Blessings,

g

Quote

He IS Able

He is able, more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today.
He is able, more than able
To handle anything that comes my way.
He is able, more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream.
He is able, more than able
To make me what He wants me to be.

I am thankful to be employed by an organization that believes in practicing weekly devotions.  We gather to share a favorite Bible scripture, offer prayer,  or what God has specifically  instructed us to talk about.  Today we were reminded of God’s ability to take care of what concerns us.  As we sang an old hymn, He is Able, I was reminded the  bottom line is the bottom line.

 In all things, HE wants each of us to become what HE wants us to be.  Many times we ask for trials or tribulations to be removed from our lives, yet it is through those we are refined.  The process doesn’t stop with us, but as we encounter people who are facing what we have faced, we are able to contribute to their journey with wisdom, experience, compassion & council.  2 Corinthians 1:4 clearly tells it, “He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God. “

Be encouraged today in whatever you are encountering.  God is more than able & His ultimate goal is to help you see who He sees when He looks at you.  Learn, grow, & pay it forward with compassion.

Blessings,

g

The Bottom Line

Act like the Mom! Excellent parenting advice for mothers from Terri Brady

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Usually when you purchase anything it comes with instructions.  Some are pictures, which are my favorite, & others come with explicit, technically written instructions.  Those are the ones I can almost guarantee will have parts left over!

The funny thing, that aside from the book of the ages, the Bible, there are no instructions handed to you when you leave the hospital with your newborn child.  You are left to figure things out on your own or solicit advice from others.  Parenting skills differ & unless you are associated with people who give solid, character based, advice it can be a scary ride!  Then…..each child is different so what worked with one, may not be applicable to the other.  There is, however,  an assuring constant.  Learning & applying basic parental boundaries will allow our children to thrive an any culture or environment.

Even though my own kids have families of their own, I am extremely fortunate to associate with women of integrity who offer marvelous advice.  Many of whom have multiple children, busy lifestyles, partner with their husbands in business & simply live life to the fullest.  Schedules, discipline & practical applications of raising children to honor parents, worship God, & serve humanity are included for anyone to glean wisdom from.  As a mentor, leader, coach I purpose to soak up these instructions that I may convey it to others.

I am sharing the post from one of my amazing mentors, Terri Brady.  Her examples, stories, & passion to be the woman God designed her to be is unparalleled in the world today.  I love, admire, & respect her immensely. Feel free to read her other posts as well & you will see why she shines in our organization!

After all…..the greatest reward a mother could aspire to is best said in Proverbs 31:27-29

She watches over the affairs of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,

but you surpass them all.”

Blessings & please click on the link below to read Terri’s post.

g

Act like the Mom!.

Restoring the joy of giving through pattern interruption

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I love Mondays!  I love Mondays!  I love Mondays!  What I focus on expands so…… I am practicing expanding my love for Mondays!  I had to share a quick post about a tiny portion of  my morning with you. I work for a non-profit organization who is responsible for placing Angel Trees throughout cities nationwide.  I, however, work in a department processing grants & contracts for funding throughout the Texas Division.  It’s not rocket science, but we are two totally different ends of the spectrum.   For some reason, most complaint calls regardless of the nature, are forwarded to our department.  I believe it is because we are very resourceful & truly dedicated to helping humanity. I say “we”  loosely because my boss is the best person for running interference.

With that being said, this morning I received a call from a dear, sweet lady who was extremely concerned & overly frustrated regarding an “Angel” she adopted from one of our many DFW Angel Trees.  Immediately I thought this call should be forwarded to someone more equipped to handle this situation.  Then she told me her dilemma.  The child is 7 yrs. old & his “want” was a hand-held game.  She quickly explained almost every Angel she viewed on the tree wanted a MP3 player except this one.  She continued to tell me how guilt ridden she is because she has looked at EVERY store possible & can’t find a DS or other hand-held game consoles.  Of course she interjected the obstacles of her disabilities, traffic, busy stores, the price, extra games &  how she couldn’t stand the fact that this 7 yr. old wouldn’t have his wish if she couldn’t find it.  The words frustrated, guilt, overwhelmed, & guilt, kept coming up in conversation.  Did I mention guilt?  As I listened to her, I carefully wanted to help bring her back into the true focus of Christmas & the goodness she displayed for adopting an Angel.  Once she finished explaining, I thanked her for picking an Angel off one of our trees & emphasized how much I appreciated her supporting our organization, but most of all blessing the life of a child.  Guilt was again mentioned & I explained that guilt was her choice.  This was nothing we remotely wanted her to feel or experience.  I suggested other gifts similar to hand-held games & explained the child was 7.  I confided, from my experience,  my own children would make out their lists & there were more times than not, when they didn’t receive all on the list.  I inquired about her children & how she personally handled this.   I suggested other shopping venues that offered a bundle which included games & console.  Most of all I listened & reminded her the guilt & frustration was not the reason for the season.  The joy of giving should be the dominate force, not guilt.  I mentioned the frustration & anxiety she feels right now is not the expectation for my organization as we would not want it to hinder her from adopting another Angel next year.  She quickly explained this was her yearly practice.  I attempted to help her see what she would feel next year if she continued this emotional roller coaster ride instead of enjoying the reason she has this practice.  At every turn, I tried to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Another very hard subject was to discuss the following months ahead if the child did receive a game console requiring new games.  Could the parent supply additional games or would they be at the mercy of yet another  opportunity to provide them?  Was there something just as enjoyable that wouldn’t require a financial commitment to maintain?  There is cyclic behavior we are attempting to break & something as simple as a game forces this behavior to continue.  I wasn’t trying to damper the spirit of giving, but offering an alternate solution that would also assist the parent.

Our conversation continued as I helped her understand her heart & motives were pure, & again thanking her for participating in this beautiful seasonal opportunity.  The frustration & guilt were robbing her of the pure joy she deserved to experience as the reflected what the child would experience upon opening his gift.  I shared the indescribable feeling I treasure  from years of watching children during Angel Tree distribution times. Working with volunteer fire department staff, as they lovingly joined their hearts to ours, is a priceless moment in time never to be taken from me! Seriously as I write these words, tears fill my eyes as I can see the precious faces of children elated with joy & happiness.  That is something I wish everyone could personally experience.  I assured her whatever she decided upon, her chosen Angel would have a smile & a warm feeling of gratitude in his little heart knowing he was special enough for someone to pick him.  Isn’t this what we want to accomplish?

We laughed & by the end of the conversation, she felt at peace & was very thankful I helped her.  You know what?  I’m glad too.  I realized I could have forwarded the call, it would have gone to someone’s voicemail [this is our busiest time of year & everyone directly or indirectly involved with Angel Tree Distribution is crazy busy], & her emotions would have escalated.  Or she could have gotten in touch with someone who had dealt with a million calls by 10am. Quite possibly this person would not have been prepared or equipped to re-frame the spiraling emotional minefield this person felt.   I was never equipped to understand or intervene with this method until I began learning & growing personally through LIFE, an amazing leadership & personal development organization. When you take the time to  pattern interrupt a situation, diffuse it at the root cause, resolve can then be accomplished.  The initial heart motive is illuminated, as in this case, the pure joy of giving shines as that faithful star shined ever so brightly from the heavens leading Kings & shepherds to our greatest gift.

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas & Blessings for a prosperous New Year!

g

Slight Edge Outcomes

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Today is “I Love To Write Day.” Founded in 2002, this day is designed to be the world’s largest party for writers. In honor of this day & my love of writing, I want to share something that has helped me out during this past week.  One of the privileges of being a part of a world-class leadership development organization is having a book of the month club.  Our leaders read tons of books & carefully decide which one book will be distributed to each of us as a whole.  This one portion of our system has been the defining moment for me.  I was a non-reader or only on a “need to read” basis.  I called myself a leader in church, but only read when I taught Sunday School, Small Group or hosted special functions as a speaker.  Sadly my practice for reading was if the book had 13 chapters, I would read the first chapter a few times, create my teaching outline, teach & repeat.  Very seldom did I read a book cover to cover prior to teaching.  Thank God I picked really awesome books because this would have been disastrous!

One book that has produced significant results not only in my business, but in my life in general is the book, The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson.  The “easy to do, easy not to do” philosophy helps me resolve many decisions.  I have to say one of the greatest areas it helped me gain discipline in was using the blessed alarm clock.  You have to understand my lifetime practice.  As a child, my daddy went through several sequences to get me up in the morning for school.  First he came to my bed & gently shook me to let me know it was time to get up.  This was repeated a few times.  Then he would unplug my fan, which was on a stand butted against my bed rail, pointed in my face.  This step was torment!!   The last step was water.  Yes, you read correctly.  He would get a cup of water & a teaspoon, pull my covers back & sprinkle me.  That step was the final step.  Once I got to junior high, daddy gave up.  He bought me an alarm clock & said I was on my own.  This created my practice of snoozing.  Once married, I had two alarm clocks.  My primary clock was set 15-30 minutes ahead & I would hit the snooze button several times.  The second clock was in the kitchen.  When it alarmed, I had to actually get up, thus being my final alarm.  I stopped that ritual, but adopted another one.  Until The Slight Edge, I set my alarm 15 minutes ahead, snoozed several times, then finally got up.  I can’t imagine even doing this now, but….. I did.  When I had kids, they got up.  I never went through this ritual with them.

Reading the book didn’t convince me at first to alleviate the snooze.  We attend monthly leadership seminars as a part of our leadership development program.  One of our Dallas conventions, Marc Militello, used The Slight Edge book to reference how our daily decisions can be directed differently therefore creating different results in every area of our lives.  Sounds elementary, but remember…..easy to do, easy not to do.  During this seminar, Marc mentioned how we were not being people of integrity in little things such as using the snooze button.  As I listened to him, I decided that night I would stop, cold turkey, the lifelong, habitual practice of using the snooze.  It has been almost 3 years & I haven’t used it since.

Moving on to something that I am passionate about.  Exercise.  Fitness/ health & wellness is a huge part of my business & being a woman of integrity I wanted to lead by example in this area.  I started off by completely & totally changing my eating habits.  Watching the documentary, Food, Inc., spurred me to do a 360 degrees turn.  I hope that is the right measurement of degrees to depict I changed everything!  (You could say 180, but I by the time I did a 360, I was a completely different person at the starting point!)  I actually carry this video in my trunk because I believe in it that much.  A friend of mine, who runs a family owned & operated tortilla factory, has it right now.  He told me he may not have to courage to watch it!  For over 25 years I worked in the sickness industry as a nurse.  During that time, I always believed prevention was the cure & chose the holistic / homeopathic route for anything.    On a daily basis I witnessed how poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking/vices  & a sedentary lifestyle contributed to the now epidemic proportions of disease & obesity.  Having this video to project the truth, not merely my opinion, is the greatest ever.  Once I developed the change in my diet, I had to master the exercise component.  I have to admit, it started off very good.  I was faithful until this summer when the heat index was a ka-zillion degrees in Texas & I wimped out.  No excuse, but I took the low road.  A friend from my old church, Elizabeth Brito,  recently moved, with her adorable family,  in my loft complex & we have committed to each other to work out daily beginning at 530am.  Yeah, you read right. Which means I get up at 5am.  The most convenient thing is she lives right across the hall from me & we walk down to the 2nd. floor to our gym! I can tell you this is the greatest decision we have made.  Here are some things I have noticed by participating in slight edge discipline:

  1. Accountability partners rock!  I preached this for years as a Singles Director.  I wimp out on myself, but would never leave Liz hanging.
  2. I no longer avoid the elliptical machine. Confession: I felt like a spaz because I was so uncoordinated on the machine.  Not anymore!
  3. I plan the clothes, accessories, & of course, shoes, I will wear to work the night before. This may not be a biggy for you, but….it is for me!
  4. I am a clean freak &  before I leave for work, my loft is clean.  Because I allow a few extra minutes before meeting Liz, some of my ritual cleaning habits are accomplished! The rest is done by the time I leave for work because I have instituted the things outlined above in #3!
  5. Water…..I have doubled my daily intake of water by drinking what I would normally drink during the day before I ever leave home. This is always better for me.
  6. My morning discipline is prayer w/ Liz, exercise, & then listening to self-development CD’s while getting ready for work. By the time I actually start my day, I have covered many of the most important things.
  7. In making sure I squeeze all of the items outlined in #3, #4, & #6, I am finding I am no longer late for work!  Yay! The power of compounding works in many areas!

In summary, I  encourage you to read the book, The Slight Edge, & determine for yourself which areas of your life can be adjusted to make necessary changes in your life.  I recently gave this along with the book, Success for Teens,  to an acquaintance  whose son attends a prep school & has to read a certain number of books per school year.  To date, it is one of the most referenced books in our business.  I have not arrived by any means & have far, far to go, but……this is a huge step in the right direction.  What you do will either lead you closer to or further away from your goals.

Easy to do, easy not to do!

Blessings,

g

I quit [making excuses]

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Transition of any type, whether it is in business or personal attempts, you will always find out who is truly serious toward proving their commitment. This is seen during college semesters when many people change their majors. Gym memberships in March. Divorce. Career paths, such as medicine, that offer such a broad spectrum of opportunities often find people who were once passionate about say, geriatrics, suddenly thrive in an environment of critical care. Huh-ummm….wonder how I knew that example???

When people in relationships face a geographical re-location suddenly the eternal flame becomes a dying ember & commitment is passé.

In launching a new business these past few weeks I can’t help but notice the same scenario. It saddens me in the aspect that people so easily quit. They aren’t quitting a business model, opportunity or even being partners with me. They are quitting on themselves, their dreams, & the chance to leave a legacy for generations. I’m sure the reasons are valid in their mind. Time? Money? Family? God? Each of these reasons for quitting should be the reasons for pursuing even harder.

The past few days I have heard amazing stories of people who faced insurmountable odds, yet pursued. Louis Zamperini, Chuck Yeager, St. Francis of Assisi, Abraham Clark and more. The lives & determination of these men make it virtually impossible for me to whine or complain about anything being too hard, much less even remotely thinking of quitting.

The scripture, “For a wide door of opportunity for effectual [service] has opened to me [there, a great and promising one], and [there are] many adversaries.”- 1 Cor. 16:9, resonates in my heart strongly. There are amazing opportunities presented to us, yet none without the promise of adversity. Most of the adversity comes from our own limiting beliefs.

The only way I can face the aspirations I have is to deluge myself in daily self-education through a world-class training system. Before this system, I listened to the thoughts in my head or others who had the same results I did. If you looked at my life, you could quickly tell this was my practice by the results I had. Once I was exposed to the truth, I was challenged to define the lifestyle I wanted, learn from the people who had that lifestyle, & simply do what they did to achieve it. This principle can be applied in any area of your life. If you’re married & desire to have the greatest marriage on planet earth, research & mentor with couples who have that type of marriage. Find out what books they read. If you desire to become debt free, owing no man nothing as the Bible clearly defines, mentor with men & women who practice that freedom & financial discipline. What about fitness?? Have you decided to make some changes in your health? I would suggest taking advice from someone who practices a healthy lifestyle as opposed to someone who knows the choices on the fast food marquee by number. How is your relationship with God? Chances are if you are surrounded by people who live a carnal lifestyle, you have probably adapted that belief.

There is a “scarlet thread” woven in each of the previous examples. Associations. People. Relationships. Circle of trust. The old saying, “You can’t soar like an eagle when you hang out with the turkeys” is more than just a saying.
It takes courage to soar. The truth is, the mother eagle begins to pull the nest apart making it virtually impossible for the eaglet to remain in the nest of comfort. She also knows when to push them to the edge, yet surrounds them with safety while they discover their wings. A mentor does the same. When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, we change. It grieves me to see people merely become accustomed to pain rather than make the choice to change. I guess worse than grief is the fact they become bitter therefore affecting others around them.

If you have the tendency to quit things, I encourage you to examine every area of your life. Once this inventory is made, index your associations, habits, results & see if this is where you want to remain. Most of all, if you remain in this place or within these associations, will you fulfill your God-given purpose & destiny? I realize this may be a tough subject, but in 2006, I had to do this. It was very difficult in that one of the areas I had to release was ministry. Many may sneer at that choice. You see, I surrendered a directors position & soon realized I had accepted a much higher calling & even greater responsibility in leading people to truth, freedom, & yes, most importantly to God. In making this choice, I was forced to learn, grow & change me. Once I began making hard choices like this, I recognize the time or season of change when it presents itself. Just recently I made a decision to change churches. This was an extremely bitter-sweet choice. I loved my church & friends, but God began to gently nudge me toward embracing my true community in Dallas. It took several months for me not to cry every time I went to church because of this separation, but I have to say, obedience is better than to sacrifice. As with other choices to change, I have never looked back & continue to exercise slight edge discipline because you see…..there are people waiting who aren’t strong enough to make changes on their own.

I found a beautiful quote today: “Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the man whose object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life.”— James Allen

I made a decision. I quit…..making excuses. I will not be held hostage to anyone or anything, especially myself. This may be tough, but I know I am surrounded by the greatest mentors on earth who will lead, guide, & direct me in love & truth. If you struggle in any of these areas, I suggest doing what I did. Commit to your dream & to what it takes to change. I can also suggest the greatest self-development system on earth. I can’t promise you easy, but I can promise you it will be worth it.

Blessings,
g

Success in anything is only one decision away. Failure in anything is the decision to quit.-Jim Briley

If we must protest, protest ignorance.

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Last week my BFF’s & I attended the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a GNO event.  Traffic was blocked at several locations for the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  I had heard this happening in NYC, ATL, & now it was in my home town.  I have to admit, I was completely ignorant as to why this was going on.  As we passed the protesters, I read their signs & watched their passionate attempts to have their voices heard.  The Dallas PD was doing a great job as well with traffic, crowd control, etc.

In the next few days I Googled the term, 99% and found this site that helped me understand some of the reasons for the protesting.  As I scrolled through reading the comments one caught my attention.  I guess the reason it did was because the writer resonated many of my similar beliefs.  I realized at that point, I too, was a protester.  However, quite different from the ones that stand on the corners of Wall Street or other government buildings across the nation.  I believe the type of protesting I support is the fiber of what will truly make a difference in our nation.  Let me explain.

Many of the comments made in the referenced web site complained about missed opportunities, loss of jobs, inability to purchase homes, unfair treatment from the government, bank bailouts, capitalism, the rich getting richer & etc.  As I read, I realized years ago I used to chime in on such convos, but today I will not entertain being a part of them.  Instead of being part of the problem, I am becoming a part of the solution.  Following men such as Orrin Woodward & Chris Brady,  who develop leaders globally, I have learned many of the problems we tend to blame on the government are self-inflicted.  In reading & listening to the audio, “The Creature from Jekyll Island,” I understand historical beginnings of government control on money.  Gaining new information from credible sources have helped me learn how to alleviate my position as a “victim” of society & become a catalyst for change.  I am a protester against why our nation is disseminating before our eyes.

How can such change occur?  Simple.  Everyday practices done in small increments over time compound into affecting a person, community, generation & nation.  Slight edge mentality develops long-term results in every area of our lives. How much more do you think these changes will make a difference as opposed to public protesting?  A closer look at this quote reveals how:

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Imagine, if you will, a small group of committed people practicing these methods stamping out the ignorance of how to live sensibly. 

A. Live within your means & begin to eliminate debt-all of it! Sit down & write out all of your monthly expenses paying attention to all purchases made within a three-month period.  There are little “foxes” that spoil the vine when it comes to sucking the life out of your income.  Such “foxes” that virtually go unnoticed are vending machines, coffee shops, convenience stores, unreturned video rentals,  purchases that allow a year or more to begin payment toward the balance, credit cards of any kind,  eating out for breakfast, lunch & dinner  during the week, smoking, alcohol, & other vices.  Mint.com, a free service, keeps me posted on purchases dividing them into categories.  Once you discover all the areas you spend money, begin targeting what you can carve away. If 50% of all marriages that end in divorce are largely because of financial stress & differences, what percentage can be eliminated when we resolve debt?

1.       Bring your lunch to work. Stop the fast food frenzy!  Your wallet, health & waistline will love you for it!  If you must stop & purchase coffee, I suggest McDonald’s.  Great coffee, great prices. This is the ONLY thing I purchase from there!  When eating out in a restaurant, drink water instead of tea or coke (I’m from the south where everything is coke first, & then you say what kind!)  Share a meal with a friend.  Did you know it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s full?  Do you realize how much food you can consume before that happens?  Seriously…..portion control helps your body & wallet!

2.      When you stop to get gas, don’t go inside. Pay at the pump to avoid purchasing the junk causing your total to creep beyond the necessary.  You stopped for gas!

3.      If you need furniture, appliances or other major purchases, save & pay cash for it.  We live in a micro-wave, self-entitlement dispensation of time & this mentality has caused people to falter in their basic responsibilities of food, clothing & shelter.  There are terrific places where I live that  offer the same exact furniture at half price or less than that found at those “wholesale to the public” places offering extended credit terms.  When it comes to major purchases, I’m a research shopper.  This has paid off for me tremendously.  If you can’t pay your rent, chances are when that payment comes due, you won’t make it either.  Go even deeper than this….do you really need it?

4.      Vices can include smoking, drinking, nails, hair, spas, etc.  I have a business partner that realized he could have purchased a ticket to one of our leadership conventions with the money he spent on cigarettes.  I admire him so much for making the choice to stop smoking.  His lungs, heart, body & bank account will reveal the harvest of doing so.  Local beauty schools offer hair cuts at reduced prices.  Learning how to color your own hair or having a friend to help will benefit all involved. Set goals for other things once you have paid debt down or carved some of the other areas out of your budget if there are “must haves” in your life.

5.      Purchase used vehicles.  Vehicles depreciate the second you drive off the lot.  Reading the book, The Millionaire Next Door, enlightens us on how first generation millionaires live.  It was amazing what I realized when I read that book.  Having to have the appearance of being rich has caused us to become broke.  The wealthy don’t care about appearance.  In paying cash for used vehicles, you also save on insurance which can be applied to other areas of debt. Please be careful of the kind of used car you buy because as parts need to be replaced, you don’t want that to be a “fox.”  Mentor with someone before purchasing.

6.      Utilities can be a tremendous area of savings.  Go wind!  Use smart meters when available. If you live in a power vacuum, MOVE!  I live in a well insulated loft & never once used my heat during the winter.  Even when we were shut in due to the snow, I never used it.  There were 2 months that I actually had a credit on my utility account.  Sweet right?  I have to admit, I was the woman who would never, ever adjust the thermostat when I left for the day.  During the heat wave this summer, I complied with the request from our loft manager concerning adjusting thermostats to 85 when we left for work.  You know what happened?  Every time I got home, my thermostat was never above 76 degrees.  It was comfortable & I lowered it only when I went to bed.  I also unplug everything I can reach. This has made a huge difference.  These are the type of adjustments you make & put the extra money toward other debt & maybe you can squeeze in something you can’t live without.  Not both, either –or!

7.       Commute to work.  I never rode on public transportation until I worked a nursing strike assignment in San Francisco.  On the few days I was off, during the month there, I rode the BART.   My friends in La were very concerned for me, but when I saw elementary school children & the elderly riding it daily, I felt safe.  The first time gas prices spiked to almost $4/gallon, I asked if our workplace offered reduced bus passes.  Several of us decided to partake & it changed my daily commute costs.  Instead of being stuck in Dallas traffic, I could relax & leave the driving to someone else.  Many apartment complexes are on the public transportation lines.  Save gas, contribute to lowering the carbon footprint, resist road rage & take a nap if you want.  It is also the greatest harvest field to encourage hurting people.

8.      Cable, dish network, etc.  Get rid of it all!  How much do you currently pay in these areas?  How much are you short each month once all bills are paid?  This is a huge “fox” stealing not only money from your budget, but precious family time.  The average father spends 38 seconds a day looking into his child’s eyes yet how many hours does he spend looking at TV?  So you think you can dance is more popular than so you think you know what your children faced at school today.   There is a serious epidemic of ignoring the most important things in our lives…..the only thing we are able to bring to heaven….our family.  Replace this time with reading great books on finances, relationships, history & see how your life will change for the best!  Read with your kids.  Instill this habit at an early age. Unplug the TV & plug into your real life, not reality portrayed by someone else. If people are so far in debt, they should start a home based business or get a second job. Either way, nightly entertainment from T V isn’t the answer just like blaming Wall Street isn’t the answer.

9.      Out of town travel costs can be cut tremendously by using services such as Priceline.com & bidding on flights, hotels & rental cars.  I have radically saved in this area as I never pay full price.

B. Shelter is an essential part of our budget.  There is controversy whether or not it is better to own or rent.  I have done both & for this season in my life there is no way I would own anything unless I paid cash for it.  Unless your house creates an income or is paid for, it is a liability.   I am a design & landscape freak.  Admittance is the beginning of overcoming right?  As an empty nester, I choose to live in a loft.  I have a wonderful maintenance man who replaces my light bulbs, replaces my air filters & fixes anything that breaks (which is a tiny savings in itself right?).  I don’t pay water, trash or sewage which is at least a $60/ month savings.    There is a fabulous lawn management group that keeps our property manicured year round.  I live 8-10 minutes from work saving even more money on transportation & it is located on the DART line, within walking distance to my beloved AA Center & the popular Katy Trail for walking / biking.  I do not pay HOA fees, property taxes, high insurance prices, or other expenses included in being a homeowner. You may not believe you could move your family into an apartment complex, but there are alternate choices.  Either way, I would suggest looking at where you currently live & decide if it is the best place or if it is the source of your frustration.  Are you fighting over the lawn?  Garbage? Neighborhood situations? When you work 60-80 hours per week to make ends meet, when are you actually enjoying your oasis?  If you must purchase a home, consider an unconventional way of doing so & use NACA.com.  Not only do they offer no down payments programs, low-interest rates, but also utilize a strict budget management program which assures you buy what you can afford.

C. Clothing is a subject some people will argue over.  I speak to people on a regular basis who place this above many other areas of living importance.  Really?  Why?  Appearances right? I used to sew for myself & my kids & I know what goes into clothes.  In my area there are fabulous thrift stores, outlets & other choices where I find fashionable clothing at amazing prices.  It is my choice to shop thrift stores as a point of actually giving back to my community.  Numerous times I have found pieces of clothing with the price tag still on them.   I have also met vintage store owners shopping at the same thrift store I frequent to purchase items to sell in their shops, at an increased price of course.  I buy what I like & am not a label girl at all.  Interestingly enough, my closet contains designer clothing purchased at thrift store prices.  Buying seasonally is a great choice as well as holding clothing swaps between friends especially when small kids are involved.

D. Food, primarily grocery purchases, soars with the increasing costs of fuel necessary for distribution.  Many cities have instituted farmers markets.  This not only provides healthy alternatives, but supports local businesses.  I shop at a small, neighborhood, local, market that features all natural / organic foods primarily from local farmers.  It costs me much less than the big box stores because it is their specialty.  I purchase smaller quantities that prevent spoilage which prevents waste.  There are many wonderful ways to cut the grocery budget.  Do inventories of what you purchase versus what you never use & eliminate the difference.  Again, stop the fast food frenzy.  Allocate this cost back into your grocery budget & watch the savings add up.

I realize this has been a long blog, but after reading the reasons for the Occupy Wall Street Protesting, it has been on my heart to write.  By gaining control of our expenses, eliminating debt, taking a risk for successful entrepreneurial opportunities & making contributions to our communities, we will be the percentage of people who provide the answer our nation needs to thrive.  Just as our forefathers left the tyranny of an evil king to establish a new nation, it’s our responsibility, not our government, to establish personal change. We can’t continue to blame the wealthy simply because they choose to sacrifice & risk what it takes to succeed, while we choose to rack up debt & complain. Imagine a group of people who practice the things outlined above.  We will impact our economy in a positive way increasing capacity.  In becoming economically independent, we will provide the stimulus instead of needing one. 

Don't just carry a sign, be one!

If these suggestions are elementary to you, please consider taking the time to mentor someone who is struggling.  

Blessings,

g

 

Stoplights of Life

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I had a “eureka” moment on my way to work this morning. This certain event has happened millions of times during the past 38 yrs., but somehow this morning, it caused me to think differently.  

I have been tweaking my quick route to work & there are two stop lights that regardless of what I do, I am always stopped by.  There is one located at the Market Center & World Trade Center, Dallas, which is iffy!  While stopped at the Market Center light this morning my “moment” occurred.  I was in the center lane behind one other vehicle & just as the light changed, cars on each side of me zoomed past.  The vehicle in front of me finally took off & we continued our journey.  Nothing extraordinary, just normal stuff right?  

As this happened, I was enlightened that this is exactly what happens to us in life.  We are all on a journey & there are things that could stop us along the way.  Some things are unavoidable, while others are distractions.  I have realized in the past 5 yrs. most are self-instituted distractions.  Once you stop the momentum, even for a season, it is extremely difficult to gain it back.  Being in the “middle lane or middle of the road” in life is not always the best lane.  The story I often use to describe myself is “The Tortoise and The Hare.” You know the story & we see it hundreds of times in life & business.  Some people start off zooming past everyone, have a false sense of accomplishment, stop to rest, & lose the race.  The others are steady, confident, & never stop focusing on their goal.  The journey is the destination & we often miss the most beautiful parts of it.  The cars this morning were a metaphor of  our journey.  Many things break our focus & cause us to stop pursuing the things that will produce the greatest results for us.  We look around & it appears others are zooming past us. Stopping, being distracted, or just quitting on your dreams & goals take much more effort to get started again than if we would have simply exercised the example of the tortoise & just kept going.  You may not appear to be gaining traction or zooming past others, but you will win the race.  Here are some great quotes on momentum. 

If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum. -Holly Near

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.-Michael Korda

Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life? -Tony Robbins

If you are stopped in life, I can only suggest making the choice to begin again.  If you have goals & dreams that you have longed to accomplish, begin again. If you are at an “intersection” in life & don’t know what to do or which path to take, please find a credible mentor & discuss a game plan.  Playing it safe, staying in the middle of the road is something I would suggest for you to reconsider. Following those who play is safe is even more detrimental to your goals & dreams.    I love Ben Franklin & believe he is one our greatest examples to follow. He says, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”   It isn’t about you!  It’s about the countless thousands of people who could be given a spark of hope by your courage & momentum to accomplish great things.  Here is something to ponder, “Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.” – Thomas J. Watson   I couldn’t have found better words to say it!  Sounds like a Rascal to me!  

I encourage you to count the cost of what each decision will make in your life & in the lives of others.  What will the result be if you quit?  What will the result be if you succeed?  Who will benefit or lose from each decision?  The choice is yours. Choose wisely. 

Blessings, 

g

Where are the Leaders?

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Many years ago, 27 to be exact, my best friend’s husband was being relocated to a military base.  This in itself was difficult as I loved her dearly. The other factor making a huge impact was the part of her being the director of a well-known AOG children’s ministry, Missionettes.  She was fabulous!  I on the other hand was her “helper.”  I served perfectly happy as the craft person.  I went from class to class each Wednesday night & devoted time with the kids performing arts & crafts.  This was my niche.  We were a busy group with meetings, camps, promotions, etc. & I loved to assist!

The Christian Education leader was a brilliant, resourceful, passionate, woman named Doris Asbury.  She talked about kids as though there was nothing more important on the face of the earth than ministering to them.  I, on the other hand, had 1 kid of my own, but didn’t like kids.  I know that is weird, but it was true.  I liked crafts.  Teaching kids annoyed me. Doris would tell stories that would hold your attention forever concerning how to teach kids.  I would listen & think, there is no way I would ever get this thrilled over children’s ministry.  You can imagine the number of times I rolled my eyes & let the speech go in one ear & out the other.  Yes, I was not interested.

No way until my friend moved leaving a huge, gaping hole for that program.  Doris called me to her office & informed me I had to be the director because I knew everything about the program.  I laughed & said, “No way, I am a follower not a leader!”  She strongly encouraged me that I had to do it because there was no one else.  I leaned across her desk & told her she had one month to find a replacement.  30 days!   I was adamant the director was not going to be me.  I went home, got on my face & admitted my dislike of teaching kids to God & asked Him to give me His heart.  One month turned into 4 yrs.  Our program grew, we had teachers & assistants for each class, each child & teacher had uniforms, we entered & won many promotions, attendance was at an all time high, missionaries would visit us while on furlow & I sincerely learned to love kids.  Each age group that I declared I would NEVER teach, I taught  at some time, falling deeply in love with them.  One night during pre-class praise & worship, a 3 yr. old gave her heart to Jesus.  A couple of months later she & her father died in a car accident.  Children would pray for their parents, friends, lives & their tender spirits melted our hearts.  That 4 years was the most incredible time I have ever had.

Having that background, several years later I was the program director for Saturday Sunday School which operated out of our Bible School.  Along with my administrative duties,  I was a clown!  Literally!  I painted my face each Saturday, wore my bright clown outfit & loved my time with kids. To this day, kids have a very special place in my heart.  Such a place that there are times I feel like giving everything I own away, taking my favorite red back pack & moving to Brazil to work in our MORE Project.  I would trade room & board for teaching Life Skill Classes!  This haunts me more some days than others.  Working in Singles Ministry for over 17 years, having such a passion for single moms & their kids mirrors the ministry there & I feel it would extend I feel called to do.

This passion & love would have never been developed had Doris not strongly encouraged me to stand in the gap, & make up the hedge.   She was a leader who developed leaders.  Leaders accept you where you’re at, but love you into the future.  I am forever grateful Doris loved me enough to love me into children’s ministry.  Since 2006, I have been extremely blessed to be partners in a leadership development organization. I believe leadership is lacking in our nation in epic proportions.  I listen to personal development CD’s every morning while getting ready for work & throughout the day while driving, or at home instead of watching TV.  This morning a quote was given that I had to research because it pierced my soul (mind, will & emotions).

We live in the crucible of a most extraordinary moment in time. Never
before have we faced the vast ethical and leadership challenges that lie
before us today. Those leaders who guided the moral fabric of society
up to this point are coming to the end of their leadership careers. New
leaders must be empowered to take their place. Who will share the vision
of emerging leaders? – Mentoring Leaders , Arrow Leadership

My story of time spent with children is just a mere fraction of what our nation needs.  Percentages of absentee fathers, abandoned children, divorce, business failures, & character compromises increase on a minute to minute basis.   I have repeated the word crucible over & over today. The definition that screams loudly at me is this:  a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. 

Never before has our nation, or planet for this matter, needed a more concentrated force of influence than right now.  I can’t force anyone to change.  I can, however, change myself & emulate the change.   John Maxwell, #1 World Leadership Guru says, ‘Leadership is influence.”   I love the quote,  “A rising tide raises all ships” & I believe we need a tidal wave of leadership development in our midst.

Just as I fell in love with teaching kids, I have fallen in love with learning.  There are ka-zillions of sources for leadership development, but I have always had discernment on who to follow.  Numerous opportunities, both in business & ministry, have presented themselves to me, yet in my spirit, I knew to walk away from countless many.  I have had the privilege to learn from the #7 & #12 World Leadership Gurus, best-selling authors, & other credible men / women who have earned their  respect. This association has broadened my horizon & helped me gain a perspective unlike any other. This is a leadership movement like no other.

If you feel called to become the person God has intended you to become  & have no idea where to begin, there is hope.  There is a world-class educational system in place for you to learn from.  Executives, corporations, renown ministries & organizations use it on a daily basis. It is a level playing field as we all have much to learn & lots of growing to do. Peter Senge once stated in an interview, that a learning organization is a group of people working together to collectively enhance their capacities to create results they really care about. This describes the mutual passion of those involved in our education system to the letter.

As the quote mentions above, who will share  in the vision of emerging leaders?  Will you answer the call?

Blessings,

g