The Waiting Room

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

If you have lived in this world long enough, I am sure you have waited for something a time or two, such as a deferred dream of owning your own business or home, writing a book, obtaining a degree or license, or even starting your own blog. These periods of delay are known as waiting rooms. Do you become frustrated because of the delay or do you become more determined to endure through the process? In his book, Know Your Why: Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life, Ken Costa stated, “I have noticed over the years that people fail not because of a lack of dreams but because of a lack of determination. It can be difficult to endure the tediousness of the waiting room, and those who lack the determination to see it through often walk out in frustration.”

Costa reminds us of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, where Dr. King spoke of his dream of racial justice in the United States and worldwide. Dr. King was determined to see his dream fulfilled; however, there had to be numerous times in his life when he felt like he was stuck in the waiting room. Dr. King knew he had a calling from God, and he refused to let that dream die–even when it seemed impossible.

Being transparent, I want to share with you what sparked this blog post. I believe my calling is to offer financial assistance/advice to those in need. So in order to show myself approved, I had been copiously studying for my Securities Industries Essentials Exam (SIE) exam–one of the exams needed to obtain my securities license. I had been on lock down for days studying my little heart out. On the morning of the exam, I was very confident that I would pass. To make a long story short–after taking the exam, I was one point shy of passing the exam. Did you hear me??? ONE POINT!!! For anyone who knows me, I am an over achiever and failing is not in my vocabulary. Needless to say, my ego was severely bruised. However, I have to tell you when I finally got over myself, God gave me the topic for this blog post. He reminded me that my life is not my own–my calling is to use my experiences to help others. For now, I am in the waiting room until my dream comes to fruition. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11 NKJV)

I look forward to retaking the exam and I am confident that I will pass on the next go around. Just to think–if I had passed, I would not be writing this blog post nor being a source of encouragement for my readers. I am very grateful for supportive friends who served as my source of encouragement and talked me off of the ledge (as one of my friends so vividly stated).

Are your dreams and pursuits in limbo? Trust me–anything worth having will not come easy. As 2018 comes to a close and we begin a new year, I encourage you to stay steadfast and determined in whatever your endeavor may be–stick to whatever you believe God is calling you to do. Remember, it is the waiting room where He is preparing us. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NKJV)

Wishing you a warm and safe snowy Sunday. Also, since this will be my last blog for the year, I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

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I Won’t Complain

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearer.” Ephesians 4:29 NKJV

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the nail shop and found myself seated beside a chatty little woman. Normally, my nail time is my peace time, but for some reason, I decided to strike up a conversation with this woman. She was having her nails polished in black, all except the ring finger which she requested be polished in gray with a ribbon painted on it. Out of curiosity, I asked her was she getting the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. She replied that she was getting a purple ribbon for her cancer. At the time, I did not know what the purple ribbon symbolized but whatever it was, this woman was owning it. I now know that it symbolizes pancreatic cancer. During the conversation, the chatty little woman told me her name was Christin. She shared that she had recently been diagnosed with cancer and her prognosis would be revealed at her next doctor’s appointment on upcoming Tuesday. Christin shared with the nail tech that she may have to return to have the nail tips removed if surgery was imminent, but for now, she was going to enjoy being pampered and getting her nails done. Christin also went on to share with me that she also had a brain disease. I was sitting there looking dumbfounded at this extraordinarily positive woman who seemingly didn’t have a care in the world. There are not many times that I have been left speechless, but this was one of those times. I was in absolute awe–I could only say to her I will pray for your recovery. She told me thank you, but that she will be fine because she was too stubborn not to make it. Christin admitted that she had her moments, but she wanted to be strong for her kids. I cannot imagine what she was going through, but I admired her strength, courage, and for not allowing her adversity to enthrall her life. I have no idea if Christin was a Christian or not and it doesn’t matter to me because she was a walking testimony–her actions ministered to me.

As I thought of Christin, the scripture that came to mind was Proverbs 3:5-6–“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” After that encounter with Christin in the nail shop, all of my problems seemed so minute and superficial. I was also reminded of the song, “I Won’t Complain,” by gospel songwriter, the late Rev. Paul Jones. The lyrics state, “All of my good days outweigh by bad days so I won’t complain.” Ironically at the age of 30, Rev. Jones was murdered, but his legacy still lives on encouraging others through his song.

In a blog titled “How to Keep a Positive Attitude in Adversity,” Michael Kold provides the following five tools when facing adversity:

  1. Take time to go for a walk. When you take a walk and give yourself time to think and breathe the fresh air out in nature, it can often work wonders.
  2. Focus on your goal. One of the greatest challenges in adversity is the fact that it shifts your focus. Write your goal down for your immediate future while thinking about how to reach it. When you do this, it will change your attitude.
  3. Focus on solutions. Far too many people focus on problems rather than opportunities for solutions. Instead of talking about your hard times, start talking about the available solutions. Stop asking why you have adversity, and start thinking about how you can change hard times to good times–redirect your focus.
  4. Be inspired. You have the opportunity to change your focus by doing things such as talking to a good friend who can cheer you up. You can also read a book or listen to an inspiring audio book about people who have succeeded. This will make a BIG difference in the way you think when you are faced with adversity.
  5. Remind yourself that nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever, and at some point, the circumstances in your life will change so things go your way again. When you remind yourself of this, you ignite a hope in yourself. A hope that slowly but surely will change your attitude.

Despite what I go through, I know that my good days outweigh my bad days and for that I am grateful. I want to thank Christin and the legacy of Rev. Paul Jones for being a reminder that what I may be currently going through could be worse. If we continue living, we will face some type of challenge; however, it is how we choose to see that challenge that will make the difference. Christina did not see a death sentence–she saw an opportunity to be a living example of how to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of adversity. Be encouraged!

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The Storm

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:23-26 ESV

On September 17, 2018, I left home in the afternoon to go out of town for my job. I had no way of knowing that a couple of hours later a tornado would hit my community. This tornado followed Hurricane Florence that punched the Carolinas with a devastating blow a few days prior. The storms have now blown over, but the devastation and lasting effects are evident–power outages, flooding, downed trees, damaged homes, and fatalities. As I looked at the news and saw the destruction resulting from the storms, I could not help but to think of how the storms of life can leave emotional devastation and cause damage as well. I began to ponder about the storms we endure in our own lives–financial storms, relationship storms, family storms, grief storms, health storms, addiction storms, and those storms we endure in our professional lives. The aftermath of a major storm calls for massive cleanup, just as it can be very difficult to pick up the pieces after an emotional storm as well.

Last Monday, I dodged the physical storm; however, there have been many storms in my life that I have been unable to dodge. Thirteen years ago, I was facing the storm of divorce again. At that point in my life, it felt like a Category 4 hurricane had hit my life and left such emotional devastation that I was not sure how I would maneuver past it. I felt like a failure–marriage was the one thing that I could not seem to get right. I was excelling at everything in my life, but marriage. Today, I can honestly thank God because during this storm, I found ME! Before the storm of divorce, I could only identify myself as a wife and mother. Now, I can confidently say that I am a strong, powerful, empowered, creative woman who knows that possibilities are limitless. I am better emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. Thirteen years ago, I could not have boldly expressed this. I believe God uses storms in our lives to draw us closer to Him and to make us better. Do not discount the storm–ride it out! Because of that storm, I have ministered to others through facilitating a Divorce Care Ministry and through my blogs all of which would have never existed if it was not for the experience.

In an article titled, “7 Promises of God for When the Storms of Life Hit,” Debbie McDaniel offers the following advice:

  1. Storms will come. Storms are inevitable and unavoidable, but God reminds us in His Word he will be with us in the midst of it all.
  2. Heed the warnings. Sometimes God provides us a way of escape from what’s ahead; we need His wisdom to know when to stay, or when to go.
  3. Be prepared. Often storms come on without much warning. The best way to stay spiritually prepared is to stay in close relationship with God.
  4. Know where to find refuge. When facing a storm, we instinctively know to find a place to be protected from the elements.
  5. The enemy comes in like a flood. The enemy will try to wreak havoc in our lives. He loves disaster. He loves it when we struggle. His whole aim is to steal, kill, and destroy.
  6. God is over the flood. God is still all powerful, over the floods, over the weather, and He’s not pacing heaven’s floors, but He “sits enthroned over the flood.” He’s still in control and He knows our way.
  7. Life comes back. Even in the face of huge loss and ravaging storms, hard times do not hold the final say over our lives.

As gospel musician, Douglas Miller expressed in his song “My Soul Has Been Anchored,”

Though the storms keep on raging in my life;

And sometimes it’s hard to tell the night from day; 

Still the hope that lies within is reassured

As I keep my eyes upon the distant shore;

I know He’ll lead me safely to that blessed placed He has prepared.

But if the storms don’t cease,

And if the winds keep on blowing in my life,

My soul has been anchored in the Lord.

I realize that sometimes in this life, we’re gonna be tossed,

by the waves and the currents that seem so fierce, 

but in the word of God I’ve got an anchor

and it keeps me steadfast and unmovable despite the tide,

But if the storms don’t cease,

and if the winds keep on blowing in my life,

my soul has been anchored in the Lord.

For those who are experiencing a life storm, I hope this blog post has been a source of encouragement. As always, please share with a friend and I would love to hear your comments. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:2

 

 

 

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Too Blessed to be Stressed

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”Matthew 6:25-27 NIV

As I grappled with what to write about this month, I settled on the topic of stress because of my own experience with the subject. My intent is to bring awareness as to how it can silently impact your body. Many of us lead hectic lives in a world where multitasking has become the norm. Our lives have become engulfed with work, family obligations, children’s events and activities, church affiliations, organizations, and countless other things. In a world of “busyness,” how can we minimize stress and the effects it has on our bodies?

For the past nine months, my life has been very stressful dealing with grief, my job, church obligations, preparing for my son’s graduation and for his next phase in life. I am sure you have heard the cliche–“To blessed to be stressed.” Well, it is definitely easier said that done. I know I am blessed, but I was still stressed.

In January, I was sitting in my hair stylist’s chair expressing concern for my unexpected hair thinning–the back of my hair had become “paper thin.” I told my stylist that I thought the thinning was due to a change in the weather. She laughed at me hysterically–I really did not think it was funny. She was blatantly honest stating that I did not realize how much stress I had been under and I refused to admit that it was stress. I have to confess that when something is bothering me, I will suppress my feelings and work myself into a state of oblivion. I don’t consider it stress–I consider it busy. Masking emotional pain and replacing it with multiple tasks was my usual modus operandi (MO). I want to believe I am always in control of a situation; however, the loss of my hair was concerning and had definitely caught my attention. Although I did not feel or look stressed, it had manifested through my hair causing the thinning. Yes, stress was the culprit of my hair loss. Although, I practice mindfulness, the stress had taken a toll on my body. As a result, my stylist cut several inches off of my hair to make it healthy again and I decided to make some changes to better balance my life which included a lot of “me time.”

In an article in Women’sHealth titled “9 Ways Stress Messes with Your Body,” dated May 1, 2017, Ashly Oerman offers the following symptoms of stress and how to mitigate the effects:

  1. It makes you exhausted. Stressing out triggers your brain to release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream which quickens your heartbeat, gives your brain more oxygen, and releases extra energy to help your body deal with the stress. Frequent stress can cause your brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into your bloodstream causing you to feel lethargic.
  2. It messes with your libido. Chronic stress can impact your body’s production of estrogen, which keeps your reproductive system in working order. In times of stress, concentrate on eating a healthy diet and cutting back on processed foods to help ease this symptom.
  3. It makes it hard for you to poop. Chronic stress can impact the hormones released by your thyroid glands, which regulate your metabolism among other things. If these hormones get derailed, it can lead to constipation.
  4. It makes you break out. When you are really stressing out, the level of sex hormones, called androgens, elevate causing acne to flare up.
  5. You can’t remember anything. Traumatic stress (stress that occurs when you feel a threat to your life or a loved one’s life and feels like intense fear or helplessness) seriously impacts your hippocampus–the area of your brain where your memories are stored. This kind of stress causes the hippocampus to actually shrink making it difficult to remember facts, lists, the entirety of an event, or long gaps of time (from minutes to days).
  6. It screws with your manicure. If you have a bad habit of picking or biting your cuticles, it might be how your anxiety is manifesting itself. Picking at your fingers can lead to an infection since you use your hands for most everything.
  7. It makes you gain weight. A University of Kentucky study found that dieters who learned stress-management tactics were more successful at losing weight than those who did not. The connection between reducing stress and losing weight could be that it helps to cut back on stress-related binge eating.
  8. You could lose some hair. A increase in androgens can also cause your hair to shed more than usual, usually three to six months after a super stressful situation. This unfortunate side effect should only be temporary, and a balanced diet can help the cells in your hair follicles heal back to normal.
  9. It makes your back ache. When you are stressing, your heart rate and blood pressure rise and your body pumps out hormones to assist with your fight-or-flight response. This combination can cause your muscles to constrict and intensify the aches you get from sitting at a desk all day. You can combat stress-related back pain by standing up every hour and stretching.

Have you experienced any of these symptoms? If you have, stress could possibly be the cause. As we continue to lead our busy lives, be sure to include proper diet, exercise, and down time–take the time to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. For me, I am planning for more reading, writing, relaxing and more trips to the beach this summer. Remember, we are most definitely too blessed to be stressed!

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

 

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Know Your Why

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

Last weekend, I attended a financial services conference in Winston-Salem, NC. There were several inspiring and motivating speakers; however, I found one common theme for each them.–“Know Your Why.” Your “Why” is your purpose–what God created you to be.

Several years ago, I was in counseling and the counselor asked me a simple question, “Who are you?” My response was typical–I am a wife and mother. Not satisfied with my response, the counselor repeated the question–“Who are you?” Unknowingly,  I had been identifying myself with my roles in life and I absolutely had no idea who I was as an individual. That was definitely one of my “Aha” moments.  After that counseling appointment, I began a personal quest to find my true identity and discover the purpose for my life. I was in search of my “Why.”

It is crucial to differentiate your identity from your job or your roles life–it could be devastating. Reason being, my roles in life have changed several times, but since finding my true self, my identity has remained constant. My role of a wife ended with divorce; my youngest son will be graduating from high school next month; therefore, my role as a mother will be shifting–he won’t be needing me as much; and my role of daughter and caregiver ended last year with my mother’s passing; however, I now proudly serve in the role of grandmother or “Mimi” to my two adorable grandchildren; and hopefully in a few years, I will be retired; therefore, I will not be identified by my job title. In his book, “Know Your Why–Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life,” Ken Costa states, “Our destinies are what He calls us to, but they are never a substitute for our identities–knowing who we are, knowing that we are uniquely and passionately loved by God. If we come to the end of a phase at work, then we are tempted to think of ourselves as having no further value. But if we are secure in our identities, we know that the end of an era is not the end of our destinies. There is always more to come.”

Forbes Contributor, Margie Warrell, offers the following questions in an article titled, Do You Know Your “Why?”–4 Questions to Find Your Purpose:

  1. What makes you come alive? It’s about connecting with what you’re passionate about, knowing that when you focus your attention on endeavors that put a fire in your belly, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
  2. What are your innate strengths? What are the things you’ve been good at (sometimes wondering why others find it so hard?) Are you able to see patterns and opportunities amidst complexity? Are you creative, naturally adept at coming up with ‘out of the box’ solutions?
  3. Where do you add the greatest value? Knowing your strengths and where you can add the most value–through the application of your education, skills, knowledge and experience–can help you focus on the opportunities, roles and career paths where you are most likely to succeed and therefore find the greatest sense of accomplishment and contribution.
  4. How will you measure your life? People who don’t stand for something, can easily fall for anything. Deciding how you want to measure your life means making a stand for something and then living your life in alignment with it.

Christian comedian, Michael Jr. states, “The key is not to know “What,” but to know “Why,” because when you know your “Why,” you have options on what your “What” can be.” (See attached video). Several years ago, I found my “Why.” Because of my own trials and difficulties in life, my mission became to empower individuals to attain balance, transformation, and achievement into all areas and aspects of their lives addressing the needs of the whole person (emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial). My “What” is my life coaching business, writing inspirational blog posts, and facilitating financial workshops.

What is your “Why?” It does not matter if you are a chief executive officer (CEO), investment banker, a custodial worker, or fast food worker, you should have a clear and distinctive view of your true identity. Ken Costa states, “No matter what others say about you–whether you are unemployed or employed, whether you have a history of failures behind you or a catalogue of success–you are infinitely worthy, chosen, valued.”

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

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Invest in You

“Do you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price; therefore, honor God with your bodies.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

As I prepare to facilitate another 12-week financial workshop at my church, I came across an article titled, “5 New Warren Buffet Quotes That Can Help You Invest Better.” Warren Buffet is one of the most successful investors of all time. He is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies including Geico, Duracell, and Dairy Queen. As of March 2, 2018, Buffet’s real time net worth was $86.6 billion (www.forbes.com/profile/warren-buffet). Buffet states, “It’s common knowledge that the central idea of investing is to buy when share prices are low and sell when they are high; however, many people do the opposite.”

We can also apply this same concept to our personal lives. Often times, we give so much of ourselves when things are going well or at a high. We dedicate ourselves to our jobs, family, organizations, etc.  When we have depleted ourselves or we are at a low, we have trouble replenishing our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. I am a single parent; I have a full-time job; I have a life coaching business; I am heavily involved in my church; I am a writer; I try to be a great support for my family and friends; and I am currently studying for my Series 6 Exam to obtain my securities (investment) license. So, how do I accomplish it all? I had to learn BALANCE! I have come to rely on my own personal “Top 20” practices:

  1. I have a relationship with God.
  2. I love and appreciate ME.
  3. I invest in others.
  4. I have come to the realization that I don’t always have to be busy.
  5. I have learned to rest and relax without guilt.
  6. I don’t have my cell phone constantly by my side.
  7. I leave work at work.
  8. I manage my finances well.
  9. I rely heavily on my electronic calendar to schedule appointments and activities.
  10. I have established designated times for my church and life coaching responsibilities and study time.
  11. I don’t let anyone monopolize my time.
  12. I exercise regularly including yoga.
  13. I have changed my eating habits by eating more fruits and vegetables, eliminating fried foods, rarely eating red meats, and increasing my water intake.
  14. I journal and write as my therapy.
  15. I meditate and pray often.
  16. I get at least 7-8 hours of sleep almost every night. I try not to work on anything past 8:00 pm because whatever I am working on will be in my thoughts when I go to bed hindering my sleep.
  17. I have designated times to watch TV. I DVR my favorite shows and watch them when I have my TV time.
  18. I play music often–music soothes my spirit.
  19. I spend a lot of quiet and alone time. It is in my quiet time that I get my inspirations for my blog.
  20. I have learned to let go of past and present hurts. Whenever I feel negative emotions, I meditate and pray to calm my spirit.

In an article titled, “Top 10 Ways to Invest in Yourself and Why It’s So Powerful,” Megan Tull states, “Investing in yourself is one of the best return on investments you can have. Whether it’s investing in learning a new skill, developing yourself personally or professionally, tapping into your creativity or hiring a coach, you need to give to yourself first before you can give to others.” Megan provides the following top 10 ways to invest in yourself:

  1. Set goals. Learn how to set personal and business goals for yourself. If you’re not taking the time to set goals, it’s like driving in the dark with the headlights turned off.
  2. Honor your intuition. You can show yourself love by trusting your gut and honoring the message that it’s sending. Listening to your intuition will allow you to make better decisions.
  3. Invest time in your creativity. Your creativity doesn’t have to diminish as we get older. Creativity can be the catalyst in the manifestation of continual learning and lifelong activity.
  4. Invest in building your confidence. People who know their value have something to say and others will listen. You can invest in yourself by developing and understanding the value that you possess and offer others.
  5. Read educational books. Books or audio books are an awesome resource to build your knowledge and expertise in any area.
  6. Attend seminars and workshops to expand your knowledge and skills in your business and/or personal life. A This will also give you the opportunity to meet and interact with individuals who are like-minded.
  7. Take care of your health. Eat right each day, fueling your body with nutrients. When you focus on eating organic and healthier choices, you will feel better and have more energy.
  8. Choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice. Happy people choose to focus on the positive aspects of life, rather than the negative. They are not held hostage by their circumstances.
  9. Work on your bucket list. If you don’t have a bucket list, then it’s time to start one. Your bucket list is meant to be a list of everything you want to achieve, do, see, feel, and experience in your life.
  10. Invest in a coach. A coach can assist you in putting all of these strategies into action. A coach is your partner in success. It is their job to assist you in creating and implementing your success plan, so you can become the best you that you can be.

Remember to invest in yourself before you give to others. Striving to invest in ourselves emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially will allow us to become the best version of our true selves. As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.

 

 

 

 

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