Archive for July, 2011

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go!

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This post is about me trying to get to Catalyst 2011 in Atlanta from my personal blog: Stop Comparing Me! Feel free to share it and THANK YOU!

Have you ever just known with ALL of your heart that you need to be somewhere? On a specific date? To hear something specific that could be just what you need to find that convergence you’ve been praying for over the past few months? That’s exactly where I am at. I have be making notes in my 7 Day Sermon Workbook about that exact thing lately: Convergence in my life, my purpose, and my next steps. And I just know I need to be present. And in fact, that’s what I have posted on the bulletin board wall in my training room. It’s the paper advertisement that was sent to me by Catalyst 2011 in Atlanta. And with all my heart, I just know I am supposed to be there.

It’s not a vacation. It’s where I believe God will speak to me about the convergence of ministry, training, and how He desires me to go forward from here on out one obedient step at at a time. So, I’m doing whatever it takes to get there. But in order for that to happen, I’m going to have to do some fundraising. And no, I’m not asking you to donate money. Unless you’re moved to do so! Then by all means, contact me! 🙂

Instead, I am fundraising as quickly as I can, because I don’t have much time by asking everyone who reads this to purchase one of my 7 Day Sermon workbooks. Buy one, buy two, or consider buying  them in bulk  for your church members. I’d be blessed if you’d just take orders for the workbook from your church members and order them at once if you can’t outright purchase a copy for each of them. Anything will be helpful, and I’d be most grateful. And please understand that this is not a marketing tactic to ask people to buy my book. I was listening to the words from a sermon preached a few weeks ago that was about using what you have. And to support this trip and make this conference a reality, it is all I have. Therefore, I am using it to not ask for donations, but as a tool that can help me earn the funds that can make this a reality. I don’t know why I need to be there. But, I’m doing my best to use my faith and just find out.

I have a general breakdown of the expenses to attend this conference, and I’m estimating about $2000.

  • Airfare $168 round trip plus fees, so figure $200.
  • Conference registration $420, because I’d like to attend the pre-labs and labs the day before the main event begins.
  • Hotel $140 per night x 4 nights: 560
  • Transportation to and from the airport and conference center $??? Unsure and am contacting shuttle services
  • Food $ Whatever God provides is what I’ll be blessed and satisfied with:) I am more hungry and thirsty for His plans than food/water!

I don’t know what the future holds. But I know that God has plans and that I am a part of it. Whether this be fuel for my training, life management trainings, or the work I do to develop and equip self leaders to take an active role in the world right where they are, I haven’t a clue. All I know is that this conference is about the CONVERGENCE and it says over and over again in the tag lines to “BE PRESENT”, which is so much of what I’ve been praying for these past few months that it has become absolutely clear. I need to focus on just being obedient and go.

I’ve learned a lot in life, and I just know that when you gotta go, you gotta go!

And when God calls you to act on it and go, you gotta save the questions for later, and just go!

To learn more about Catalyst 2011 in Atlanta click here.

To learn more about the 7 Day Sermon Workbook click here.

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Ooooooh, What You Can Learn From The ‘F’ Word!

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I just spent a few minutes working on what I label a FAIL.Yes, I said the ‘F’ word as some would call it. And it’s even four letters! But folks, the word fail has as much to do with you reaching your successes as all the easy victories you celebrate do. Those easily reached victories are “short-term keep your momentum going” types of experiences. But your fails are something much deeper and more valuable. The truth is, if  everything we attempted worked out the first time with little effort, we wouldn’t learn much nor would be know what it means to truly have the life skill of perseverance. Only our failures can teach us the deepest and most valuable things about ourselves, our abilities, and grow us toward our future successes.

So don’t shy away from the word FAIL.

Instead, use it to your advantage!

I recently tried something that just didn’t work out the way I had anticipated. Part of it was my fault simply because it was something new to me, and I honestly didn’t know how to do it all. It was totally foreign. I tried, and I failed to be successful with it. But, there’s a difference with the failure here. Before I tried to do this, I had no clue how to do it. So I took a risk. I tried it. And guess what. It didn’t work. BUT, now I have a clue. Now I know what to do. And the most important thing I walked away from this “failure” with was the knowledge of what to do next time! Wow! That’s a lot of knowledge and experience to walk away from a failure with! In essence, is this really a failure? Did I learn? Do I know how to do this stuff now? How can I use it in my future?

Now I don’t see the failures. I see only POSSIBILITIES!

Change the way you see the ‘f’ word. Here’s my perspective on the word fail:

I don’t fail as in give up, but I can FAIL myself forward! When we TRY something and it doesn’t work or we didn’t exactly know how to do it and it fails, spend a few minutes working on the “TAKE AWAYS”. The take-aways are the things you walk away from a failure or life lesson with.

Ask yourself:

  • What did I do that I should do differently next time?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?

And then plan how you will use what you learned next time! This is important, because there MUST be a next time, a next step, a focus after the failure. Then it is not failure. That’s failing FORWARD, which is not a negative, but a positive that will build you up along the pathway to success! And you and ALL your “failures” will lead you straight to success, simply because each new step you take is a success.

It’s okay to put the ‘F’ word back into your vocabulary, yet so many people want to shy away from it. FAIL and learn from it, and then run as fast as you can to do something with it!

 

*My disclaimer, LOL: You know which word I’m talking about. Whether you’re 10 or 50 years old and reading this, you know the ‘F’ word I mean is FAIL. Don’t try it to use another. You won’t get away with it.  Soap tastes NASTY. See, I learned that, too from a “FAIL” long, long ago, LOL. Amazing how those fails teach us things we just won’t ever forget!

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Last Friday Night (TGIF 30 years later)

Web image of Katy PerryOk, folks. Sometimes I have to write about a subject that just gets under my skin, and I can thank Katy Perry for this one. I was at the gym working out while listening to one of our local radio stations. While I was working hard burning off the excess calories I consumed while enjoying a piece of incredible cheesecake at a birthday celebration, a song came on the radio that carried a pretty good beat. But soon I was consumed by the lyrics. In fact, I reached for my MP3 player to switch stations, but intrigued that this is what some of our young folks are growing up listening to, I left it on and continued to listen.

The entire song “TGIF” by Katy Perry sounded so juvenile, it reminded me of some of the high school days stories I’ve heard over the course of many years. It even reminded me of some of the silly things (none as intense as this video portrays), and even funny things that as teens we tried, did, and usually didn’t get away with. I kept thinking how stupid it was now to think about this stuff at my age and especially as this song portrays. I’m a 40 something, and I was counting my blessings that I’d grown up A LOT since then!

Here’s just a sample of the lyrics:

“Trying to connect the dots
Don’t know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
Ripped my favorite party dress
Warrant’s out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale”

If you’re inclined to see the rest (I warned you!) they’re here:

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/katyperry/lastfridaynighttgif.html

But then it hit me. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people complaining about their lives and then follow up with a story that seemed to have come out of the music video for this song. Only they are not 16 and 17 years old and learning from life experience the first time around. These are 40 and 50 something (and up) that have been talking about “last Friday night” for decades now. And they tend to think it’s cute until they start wondering what happened in their life.

I hear:

“I don’t know why I’m not married yet.”

“My relationships just never work out.”

“I have commitment problems.”

“I can’t seem to be taken seriously professionally.”

“I got passed for the promotion.”

“I can’t retire, because I want to have fun instead of save right now.”

“It was either take the kids for a week and do the Disney thing or head to Vegas, baby! I chose Vegas!”

“Settling down is too hard. But maybe someday I’ll own that home and have a family.”

And then I hear about how they either are too tired, too hung over, too proud of their ability to party like they’re still in high school or college, and how they still haven’t been able to achieve what they really want to achieve in life.

You don’t say?

I’m not here to judge people. But I am saying if this is how you choose to live, then stop complaining about the life you have, because you get out of it what you put into it. Last Friday night won’t get you to where you want to go. If you keep going back to the last Friday  night you had so much fun at and yet you didn’t know diddly squat (the teenage years), you’re just not going to grow up. It’s time to grow up and live in the present if you really want to change your life and expect to be taken seriously. Being young has it’s advantages. But when irresponsibility is attached to it, that’s all people see. Including you. And thus, the Friday night cycle continues. Even if it is 20 or 30 years later.

Warning/Disclaimer/Escape: The following video is the original video and it’s got some pretty raunchy and disgusting footage (drinking/vomiting/typical partying garbage taken to the extreme. Don’t watch it if you are going to complain. It IS bad. We know that. However, to see just how dumb (and scary for your children to see glorified partying) living like this is, I’ve included the link to it here.

PS. A note to parents: Your kids learn from you by watching your behaviors. You can say all you want. But they do as they SEE you do. It’s all in the witness of your character. And that applies to many things in life.

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Building Bonds Beyond Entertainment

Santa Cruz Boardwalk - Theme Park

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As a single mother, I have watched my kids grow up over the years and witnessed their maturity in so many aspects of their lives. When they were little, they lived for entertainment more than anything else. They not only wanted to be entertained with games, toys, books and stories, art, and their imaginations, but they also craved to entertain. I had countless tea parties and imaginary conversations with people I couldn’t even see sitting in those extra chairs as we dined on cookies only real to our imaginations.

I even remember listening to my kids as they planned out our vacations and time with their dad and other relatives. Many of those plans consisted of their desires to visit parks, zoos, and movie theaters. Entertainment was their way of relating to things when they were small. It also helped to capture their attention in those days when it was hard for them to grasp the larger concepts of things. Entertainment to them was so simple and they loved it.

As my kids grew, I was able to see a different side to the entertainment bug. If it becomes too much of a focus in our lives, many times we find that when the entertainment is removed, so is the relationship. And this is especially true as I look at how my teens have matured. In many aspects, as they’ve matured they care less about the entertainment and gimmicks and more about the people and things they are relating to personally. It’s kind of like the cereal box. As a kid it’s all about the “toy” inside. But as they have grown, they could care less about the gimmick. They want to look at facts. They want to know they eat it because it’s good for them and then do the research to find out why. As they mature, they seek more than just generics. They want real, meaningful relationships and things in their lives where the focus is on knowing who, what, why, and how, instead of just gawking and being OK with what sits in front of them. No longer are flashing lights and loud, catchy sounds what they seek. And instead they look beyond the surface for meaning and depth.

It just bring us to wonder how to balance the good, the fun, and the entertaining parts of life with the real, the relational, and those things that get us through when there IS nothing fun happening. What happens when we enter a season of life where the fun has stopped and we are left with nothing but the relationship?  Do we know how to relate to the people we’ve been surrounded with? Or did the entertainment and constant hubub mask itself causing us to believe we had a relationship when truly we were not relational at all, but merely entertained? What then?

As my children have mysteriously turned into adults in what seems to be an overnight miracle (because I am still 29 and am not aging at all, LOL), I began to notice in several areas of their lives that some relationships are not what they used to be. The entertainment is gone and they are seeking the relationship instead of the circus clowns and ice cream. As my children continue their journey into adulthood, I see now that they are searching for the bonds that go beyond where the entertainment left off.

Maturity in all of our life areas matters. And so do the relationships that go with the growth. Growing people up is not a matter of keeping them occupied. It’s not all about the entertainment, because when their is no entertainment left or it simply grows old, people need something deeper to grasp.

We need to ask in our relationships in our families, churches, businesses, and communities: What is it that people are bonded to? And then we can work on creating relationships that they really crave.

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Leaders Get StrongGrrrr

Arthur Saxon performing a bent press.

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Sometimes it just seems that life is unfair. More junk gets thrown at us at times than we think we can handle. But somehow we find that we manage to keep moving the obstacles out of the way. We find the courage to forge ahead. We learn to keep our focus. Leaders learn how to take all this stuff we’d rather avoid at times and learn from it. Leaders do something with stuff they are given. And they use it for a future purpose.

Sometimes we learn to avoid repeat encounters that are unnecessary or cause us harm. A perfect example of this is the kid who repeatedly beats a hornets nest with a twig. Junior beats it, Junior gets stung multiple times, Junior learned that this isn’t the smartest thing to do, so in the future Junior avoids it. I’m happy for Junior, because after about five minutes of his crying, I’d be poking him with the twig to get him quiet. (I am kidding…I think! 😉 )

Say you have a friend named Jimmy. And Jimmy was lied to by his trusted friend and lost a ton of money. His best bud never repaid him, ran off with his best girl, and Jimmy thought twice about loaning out money again. A hard lesson, but one learned well from life experience.

Say your friend sweet Suzie is the neighborhood mom who always has a houseful of kiddos. Hers and everyone else’s. She learns that in the morning all the parents on the block send their kids to her house to play with her kids. And then they all leave to run errands and spend the day away from home knowing their kids are with her. Sweet Suzie is not happy and can’t leave to run her errands and make her appointments. She learns that some boundaries need to be established and quick!

While these are just some examples (although real stories where the names have been changed to protect the innocent), we realize in life we can find value in overcoming things that are painful and hurtful experiences. The lessons and things we learn as we trudge through them can be helpful to us in the future. We just need to remember to use the experiences and lessons learned. OK, so most of us remember to use them to keep from making the same mistakes twice, but there are those who truly just never learn. But we’re not talking about them today. I’m talking about those who get stronger.

How?

They get the Grrrrr out of the stronger. It changes how getting stronger looks.

Stronger becomes StronGrrrr!

There is a Grrrr, a growling factor that is involved in strength training. Getting stronger (or stronGrrrr) is hard work! As we become stronger by working through our issues, problems, challenges, wrongs, mistakes, failures, and even those things that occurred that weren’t necessarily our own fault (we had no control over them, but must work through them anyway), we find that we have to painfully work through the Grrrr factor.

We growl. We grumble. We Grrrrrrrrrr. But, by the time we finish all the Grrr, we find we are stronger because of the experiences and challenges we had to endure, face, and overcome! If we avoid all tough and tiring situations and only take on the easy tasks, we can’t grow into a stronger leader. Anything that is to grow and gain strength, has to become stronGrrrr each time it is used.

As leaders, we do get strong. And most often it occurs when we get through the tough stuff. The stuff we don’t always like is in fact what makes us strong and capable. So when we encounter challenges and things that we dread, we have to focus on finding the lesson in it. And know that it is part of what will make you Grrrr as you learn to become stronGrrrr.

I hope you never view the word strongrrrr the same way.

Now go and build your strength!

Grrrrr…

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Are You Infecting Others?

Prototheca wickerhamii, an infectious alga, is...

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As I was pondering the many questions about life and leadership floating around in my head this morning, I wondered if being infectious could change the world in a positive aspect. Normally we describe being infectious as a bad or unhealthy thing. But, I believe we should be infectious in a positive and uplifting sense. Our attitudes and perspectives can have just as much of a positive impact as a nasty, discouraging, diseased, and fearful world can have on so many things.

I came across this video I’d seen a while back, and it confirmed how we as leaders and ordinary people can have a positive impact when we become infectious in the right ways. Spread the love. Spread the laughter. Spread hope.

Spread something good in this world.

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Leaders: Take Time To Crunch More Than Numbers

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Background: Most people who know me know me as a certified control freak. I like to plan in advance, know what’s going happen, and know what to expect when at all possible.  But they also know I love the challenge of figuring new things out just as much. It’s just that once I’ve been through something or figured it out, I want to have some sort of orderly control over it next time it presents itself. But, I’ve learned it rarely happens, and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to learn to simply roll with the punches and not focus on that control as much. It’s been a long process, but it’s also working! Lately I have relied more heavily on hard work and deep faith. And recently, I’ve re-prioritized my health and overall well-being, since health is a life area that affects the other 8 life areas. My health matters as much as every other part of my life. Why? My life kind of depends upon my health, and my health is directly related to my stress levels. And my ability to lead and teach effectively and fully requires that I be in good, solid, shape with tons of energy! It matters a ton, and that’s why I’ve added exercise to my top life priorities and make sure I schedule the time for it. So, now that you know all that, here’s the post:

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Today, God taught me a valuable lesson as I was working on some serious crunching. Not crunching numbers or figures. Not brainstorming business ideas. Not while leading others. Not while teaching. Instead, today I was the person being taught a lesson as I crunched my abs into shape at the gym. I’d just finished a rigorous workout on my legs and decided to finish up with my ab workout.

My day ended up nothing like I anticipated at the beginning of the week. In fact, the A/C in my office building needing repair in the July heat forced me to reschedule a Leader Feeder session today. And from there, I just gave up that control I so wanted to have, and relied on my faith. I trusted God and went with the flow. With the air conditioning in the office out and my training now cancelled, my daughter was able to get her painful wisdom teeth removed. The dentist suddenly had a cancellation. So, we took it, got her in, and got it done. (We are happy to say, she’s recovering well although pretty uncomfortable.) I got her settled in at home and made her comfortable, worked from home, ran my errands, and even made time in this uncontrollably crazy day for a workout. So, I headed off to the gym where I enjoy keeping myself in shape to be a strong leader not only mentally, but physically as well.

As I worked on my third set of ab exercises, I noticed how much more toned I looked. (INSERT VICTORY DANCE HERE!) When I glanced away from the mirrors I saw my cell phone which displayed a missed call and voicemail. Since I thought maybe the call was from the doctor with a follow up inquiry regarding my daughter’s procedure earlier in the day, I stopped briefly to listen the message. It wasn’t the doctor. It wasn’t the nurse. It was a business call about hiring me for leadership trainings.Wow! I left my work behind to get in a good workout. And business seemed to take care of itself!

I suddenly knew exactly what the lesson in all of this was:

While I am busy taking time away to take care of myself, God will take care of my business.

I got up with a huge smile on my face and said, “Wow, I get it!” I then returned to finish my ab workout and completely understood the importance of stopping, giving up control, and taking the time to take care of myself. As a leader, it IS important. And as a person in general it is important! After all, it’s what I teach in my life management trainings! We need to make sure that we are prioritizing our life areas to reflect and respond to our nine life areas to balance and manage our lives in order to become more efficient and healthier people.

I realized that while I took advantage of the time I had, stuck to my priorities, and worked to maintain a healthy and less-stress me, God was still in control and taking care of things for me. I think now when I’m in a crunch for time and control, I’ll remember that while I’m crunching (whether it be my abs or numbers) God’s got it. I can take the time I need to take care of me. Because he’ll take care of the business until I get back to it.

Awesome lesson.

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