It Starts with Love

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Last night I was on the couch getting caught up on the lecture material for a new professional certificate program that I am in. It’s a cert for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) which I am very interested in. It’s awesome to check out if you are interested and free! #USF #USFMuma. Anyway this week’s lecture focused on emotional intelligence as the foundation of #DEI. Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express ones emotions and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. This morning, as I read 1 Cor. 13:4-6, all of me just screamed this is the root of DEI. This scripture is about loving others, not thinking that we are better than others, but supporting others, standing up for righteousness, and seeking to understand others. Why is this so hard? Well I guess we still find love to be hard. Yes, love of family, spouse and kids can be challenging at times but many of us have an extremely hard time connecting the concept of love and the principles of love to those outside of our circle. Don’t get me wrong, love is a constant work in progress and a constant personal test but we should be trying, actively, to do the work.

If we can pledge to keep 1 Cor. 13:4-6 or at least try our best with not just our circle but all that we come into contact with, just maybe we have a chance at evolving into a society and a world that lives out diversity, equity and inclusion.

We think of so many things as new topics of the day, but nothing is really new under the sun. The bible truly provides us life instruction if we would only apply it. It is not the book of old but rather the book of yesterday, today and tomorrow. I would love to hear your thoughts, additions or modifications on the below. Let’s live it. We are called to change the world. We have the tools — let’s just come together and do the work. If we can’t spread God’s love (1 Cor. 13:4-6), how can we spread the love of God (the message of God). If you are up to the challenge, join me in the comments. Will you pledge with me? Will you invite others to pledge. Share the pledge. Print the pledge, Live the pledge.

Love Pledge

In accordance with 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, I will uphold the principles of love and apply them not just to my circle but those in my work, church, and community. I will apply them and uphold them with those that do not look like me, do not speak like me, do not believe as I believe, or think as I think.

I will be patient enough to listen to the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others with an open mind. I will seek to be aware of and patient with the needs of others.

I will be kind and thoughtful even when I do not understand. I will be open to revisiting my ideas of what kind and thoughtful could mean to someone else.

I will not be jealous or envious of the strengths and successes of others but I rejoice in them. I will not try to repackage their strengths or ideas as my own but I will support the strengths and successes of others and support their advancement.

I am aware that I have no reason to be arrogant because the things that make me me are not the differences that make someone else less than me. I will not be arrogant because we are all God’s children.

I will not dishonor, demean, mistreat or ignore others. I will not be easily angered, rather, I will seek to understand the backgrounds, ideas, perceptions and experiences of others, even when they do not align to my own and respond in love. I recognize that God makes the determination of right and wrong and that He is the judge, not me.

Regardless of how I am affected, I will not delight in or make excuses for evil, but I will rejoice with truth.

Happy Sunday! Happy Palm Sunday! Hosanna! Be blessed! #Godapplied #ApplyingGodin2021 #DEI #Devotional #ChristianProfessional #ChristianLeadership #WritingCommunity #Love #Blessed #Grace

Rise and _________

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Back in the day this phrase would typically read “Rise and Shine” but in the age of gig economy, booming entrepreneurship and just a culture of maximized productivity, we tend to see Rise and Grind. It’s popular. You see it everywhere. One morning I woke up and thought to myself “Rise and Shine” and then I also thought of the popular “Rise and Grind.” There is nothing wrong with Rising and Grinding, but I think I want my emphasis when I wake up to be Rise and Shine as my key purpose. Interestingly enough to know me is to know that I am the queen of being productive. I like efficiency, time management and accomplishing what I set out to do. The thing is that I am realizing that when that is my focus, I sometimes forget miss the opportunities to shine my light. I sometimes neglect relationships. Rise and Grind could cause us to prioritize the work, the tasks, our to-dos and accomplishments over connecting and remaining connected to our relationships — at least for me. Instead I want to make sure that I focus on continuing to Rise and Shine. I want to make my key focus each day my relationships, interactions, opportunities to share with others and generally speaking letting my little light shine. I will of course manage to “grind” (accomplish, complete and do) but I just will be mindful to not let it overshadow the thing that God wants most of us – to connect with others, bless others and support Him in the great co-mission.

Well – Happy Friday guys! Rise and Shine!

Natural Medicine

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The other morning, I found myself in a funk thinking about something that happened at work the day before. Then I had a random thought of encouragement based on the lesson from bible study the night before that I shared with some friends in attendance. We started texting and sharing insights, thoughts and links from there. From there, I posted something encouraging in my LinkedIn Christian Professionals groups and started seeing and reacting to comments. At the same time, I started writing a few blog posts and was just on a role. As I was working, I received the chime from an instant message. I was sharing with my husband that I was bummed this morning because of a known work frustration. As I shared with him, I realized (only then mind you) that I was no longer bummed out and hadn’t been since I started sharing and encouraging and posting this morning’s God-sights (like insights).

Sharing God’s goodness, encouragement and motivation is good natural medicine. It is a natural mood lifter. No side effects just life affecting for both you and the recipients. I hope and believe that someone was blessed by the encouragement that I was pouring out to my friends, LinkedIn, and in the blogs that I wrote earlier that morning but I can honestly say that I surprisingly and without even noticing, was being uplifted and blessed as well. Being good and doing good to others, sharing God’s message with others, and knowing that you are being a help, blessing and encouragement to someone, is good natural medicine. I think I will keep this at the front of the medicine chest.

If you are feeling down, lift someone else up. You will be surprised at how it lifts you up in the process.

Bless and Be Blessed!

Dressed for the Day?

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I have established a decent routine during COVID. I wake, pray, read my affirmations, read a scripture or Bible chapter, exercise, get dressed and go about my day. I feel good about this routine. It’s got God, exercise and positive focus — all the essentials, right — or at least that’s what I thought until this very moment. This morning, I couldn’t help thinking about my 30 minute one-on-one with my new manager. Every time we chat, it is just an emotional drain to my positive energy. With each engagement, I become less enthralled with the work that I actually enjoy (and that’s putting it mildly). This morning I still felt the drain from yesterday. Then the scripture came to mind to Put on the Whole Armor of God. But I do that right? I read the word each morning. I read my affirmations each morning. Is that not enough armor? The realization that I had this morning was that maybe I am not necessarily dressing in the right armor for the particular day.

When we get up and get dressed, we tend to dress for the day — the weather and the activities, yet when we “put on the whole armor of God,” perhaps we are putting on our generic Godly armor. I mean, we read a scripture or scriptures, we pray, we read our standard affirmations but we haven’t put on armor for the weather, the activities of the day. By now, I know the days that I meet with my manager and I know the effects. Perhaps I should be armoring up with the words and scriptures that cover me and speak to what my day might hold and not just the scripture that aligns to my reading plan or devotional.

I have heard so many say I read my Bible every day (or even that they want to) but I don’t really know what to read. I too have said that. Reading a devotional or a planned reading is a great place to start but in the spirit of personal / spiritual refinement, perhaps a step further would be to look at what is on our plate for the day (assess the weather) and align our Bible reading and our prayers to cover us, protect us and build us up from the elements that we know are sure to hit.

So, are you dressed for day? I’m not but before I get dressed tomorrow, I plan to start checking the weather and armoring up accordingly. #Godapplied #christianencouragement #grace #armor #continualimprovement #ApplyingGodin2021 #ChristianQMS

Be blessed friends!

No Looking Back

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Early one morning last week I went into our dry cleaner’s and sitting on a whiteboard was a quote from C.S. Lewis, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. ” As I waited for my clothes to come from the back, I meditated on that for a bit. I feel like I am always looking back on something I did, didn’t do, said or didn’t say. I tend to “overprocess” as one of my aunts say. It’s natural I think, but all habits can be changed. In this moment of waiting for my clothes, I thought about Lot’s wife. God was taking Lot and his family to a new place to do a new thing for them and Lot’s wife didn’t keep her eyes gazed on what was in front of her, but looked back at the past. At that point, she turned to a pillar of salt. As I thought about it, I thought of her as stuck. We have all made choices and mistakes in life, but we can’t be held captive by our pasts, what we didn’t do, did do or should have done, but each day, we get the new opportunity to start again. If we don’t move past the old (yesterday, last year, or even 10 years ago) we run the risk of getting / staying stuck kind of like Lot’s wife.

Lord thank you for new mercies each day. Thank you that while we can’t change the past, we can walk confidently into the new day, week or era with an ability to start fresh. We don’t have to re-do the past because the past helps to create who we are now. We are who we are for the things we have experienced, mistakes we have made and the lessons learned. We can take all of that into a new day that can be shared to not only make us better, but hopefully blesses someone else along the way. C.S was once an atheist, yet went on to be a prolific Christian writer. What if he couldn’t get past the regret of his time as an atheist that he didn’t allow God to use his story, his testimony and even his gift of writing to share with the world. Our pasts are not just for us but for those that we can effect with the tomorrow of our lives. By leaving yesterday, we can become a blessing tomorrow. #GodApplied #blessing #grace #ApplyingGodin2021

If you are stuck in the past, today, choose with me to keep moving forward.

Vaccine

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The other day I saw a news article pass by my feed that there has been some enlarged mammograms in those that had taken the Covid-19 vaccine. Not reading the entire article just yet, I was immediately a bit worked up. The question to vaccinate or not vaccinate is a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. There is so much information to weigh and from my initial vantage point, here was another potential risk. As someone planning to vaccinate, I became concerned. Do I risk one thing for the sake of protecting against another? What is more dangerous, what is more likely? These were all things that I asked myself. I was overwhelmed within the span of 10 minutes. (Seemingly rather unnecessarily.)

In that moment, I thought to myself at the end of the day, the truest vaccine, the truest protection is prayer. We can’t plan for all the what ifs or what if nots, but we can ask the Lord to protect us, to protect our families and the world around us. You may not receive the call for vaccination for months but you can call on God daily to protect your family, to provide his covering over your life and your home, to shield your respiratory from the germs that abound and to help you to do what is best for yourself and your family. Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have been asking for God’s protection and covering. Whether you decide to vaccinate or not is a personal decision, but regardless of which you do, the only vaccine that can provide ultimate protection of covid-19, of any effects of the covid-19 vaccine is the word of God. So, I will likely continue down my path to vaccination but I will never stop relying on the power and strength of the truest vaccine, the truest protection that there is against this virus and everything else that plagues the world, effective and fervent prayer. I will continue to pray his words daily and continue to inject the daily dose of the vaccine of all vaccines (prayer). I just wanted to remind you all to join me and continue to do the same.

Be well. Be safe. Be blessed!

Who Are We Beholden To?

Two weeks ago I admitted the areas where I was not really on track with in terms of my goals. I felt a bit weird sharing that my couple prayer time was not on track with my goals nor my 1 on 1 dates with each kid. I overthought about sharing that. What will they think? Will they think that my husband and I aren’t connected or aren’t spiritually aligned? Will they think that I’m a bad parent? Essentially, I was concerned about the perception of those reading. Should I go back and explain myself in the post? Should I clarify? I didn’t, the post remained and I was actually glad for another opportunity to grow in my own transparency (after about an hour of self-talk).

As I went about the week, I noticed a similar pattern where people were explaining themselves, their lives and their decisions on social media. We don’t owe explanations of our actions or clarification of each aspect of our lives to the world. Their validation, comprehension, permission, and approval are not required.

But why do we have such a preoccupation with the perception of others? Are we as concerned about God’s perception of us as much as the public perception of our followers, friends, family and network? Do we rush to explain to Him or clarify? Do we care what He thinks about our actions? At that end of the day, the opinion that matters most is of our Lord and Savior. So, together, let’s try to go about the day, the week, the year trying to impress Him, explaining our actions or inaction to Him, and seeking His approval not the worlds. #GodApplied #Christianwoman #grace #blessed #ApplyingGodin2021 #encouragement.

Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.

Declutter

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A few years ago I feel like decluttering was the hot topic. Decluttering is simply about simplifying your life, but it is usually used in association with your space – whether it be a certain room in your home, closets, etc. Not sure if any of you watched Marie Kwondo's show or read her book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, ” but she talked a lot about keeping things in your life that Spark Joy. Well, last night, I thought of this very thing. I was scrolling through my Facebook page and our county’s public school parent page came up. While it has about 4.5K followers, there must be the same circle of posters that post to this page. This should be an informative page where we can share, stay up-to-date with what is going on, etc., especially in this physically disconnected environment, but my goodness it is one of the most venomous sites on my timeline. As I read the latest post, I literally thought, I gotta stop reading the discussions on this page. It reads like arguing children at recess, not responsible, respectful parents — let alone adults. I want to stay connected on the slim chance that helpful information is posted, but I decided it was time to leave this page. Thanks to Marie for helping me decide. I thought about Marie Kwondo’s approach to decluttering and asked myself, is this bringing me joy or anything positive or is it just adding angst to my timeline and my mind when I read it.

There are a lot of things in life that we hold onto on the hope that maybe it will add something positive. It could be a relationship, a job, to-dos that you really don’t need to do, activities, and even social media pages and groups. The things that are negative, fussy, and angry that don’t add any joy to our lives are just taking up space. They are cluttering our life, our mind, and our hearts. Sometimes we all need to just take stock and assess what types of energy we are allowing into our life. If something isn’t adding value or joy, we just might need to let it go and make room for things that will add joy, knowledge, comfort and peace. Sometimes the things that need to be decluttered aren’t the rooms in our homes or the shelves in our pantry, but rather the space of our lives and our spirits.

God wants us to be surrounded by things that pure, lovely, noble. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” What we keep in our life become the things that we allow into our thoughts. What things are bringing you joy and what things might you consider putting in the throw away pile? It’s time to declutter.

Celebrate the Wins

I can’t believe we just wrapped up the second month of the year. We all started with goals in terms of our outcomes and hopefully our habits. This weekend, I thought about some of the positive strides that I made toward my goals. Yes, I have a long way to go to get where I want to be at the end of the year, but I have moved the bar to the right and for that I am proud. I looked at my vision board, applauded the wins (with a smile to myself) and also took stock of the areas where I have fallen short.

With my current client, we are pretty sales driven so each month there is a big month end process where we assess the planned objectives vs. our actuals. We look at the gaps and determine the plan forward. It used to be a pretty big deal with celebratory dinner and donuts each month (regardless of the outcomes) pre-Covid. The bible reminds us that without a plan the people perish. A plan is not just something that you write once and hope for the best. It is something that you plan, revisit and replan. A good plan is a living plan. I hope you had a good first two months moving in the direction of your plans. I hope you continue to invite God into your plans and make him the head of the consulting board on your decisions. I pray that you continue to speak to the mountains inhibiting your progress. I pray that you remove any doubt and maintain your faith. I pray that your plans are fruitful and blessed. Whatever didn’t happen last month, I encourage you to not look back in regret, but rather look forward with new energy and new perspective. Total honesty, I thrived in some areas but my goal of couple prayer time was lacking and I missed some 30-min dates with my kids. I could feel bad but instead I’m choosing to do something about them. Instead I literally created calendar invites to prioritize the time. (Hopefully you won’t judge me — remember I’m working to be more transparent). I also thrive with accountability so congrats, you have been drafted to keep me accountable :). Anyway, whatever your misses were, just keep moving forward. I pray you have continued success this year and specifically in this new month! Be blessed!

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Self-Care Not Optional

I think I have mentioned in the past that some people actually don’t like the woman in Prov. 31. True – I have heard it with my own ears. I think some find her to be hard to live up to. I mean she does so much and seems so selfless. As I read of her, I see her as balanced. Someone who gets up early to make time for herself. Someone who works in her garden (which can be relaxing and allows time for pensiveness). Someone who uses her hands to create and explores her creative side. Someone who spends time with God. See, while she worked hard, I also envision her making time to nurture her own spirit and interests. I see her as a woman in touch with her need for self-care.

The bible talks a lot of about self-care. Scriptures like the ones below from Mark and Matthew remind us that God wants us to care for ourselves. He wants us to take time for ourselves. Only then can we be awesome for those around us.

Mark 6:31 “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

How can we love our neighbors as ourselves, if we aren’t practicing love for ourselves. Self-care is not selfish, but one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves.

So, what are you doing today or this week to renew your soul and spirit? How do you practice regular self-care? …And on the 7th day, He rested, maybe you should follow his cue.

Lord, help us to disavow the lie that we must always be busy. Help us to embrace the concept and importance of self-care. Lord help us to make room for the person who probably needs us the most right now and gets the least from us – ourselves. Show us what brings us peace and joy. Remind us of our gifts and talents. Lord show us how to make room for our renewal and recognize the blessing that it is not only for ourselves but also for others. Amen!