Friday, November 11, 2016

Love Action Plan

My passion is to make women feel lovely… truly lovely from the inside out. It’s not some conjured marketing ploy, it’s the very core of my being.  The raising up of strong women is so critically necessary.  Lately, however, it seems presumptuous.  How can I inspire loveliness when so many are filled to the brim with fear? Friends not sleeping until their police husbands return safely home.  Friends with children receiving hate because of their parent’s choice of candidate.  A world posting, sharing, spewing fear and hate on a daily basis. Fresh anxieties cropping.  Fear and hate stacking, compounding.

It’s overwhelming and when I feel overwhelmed, I pray.  So I sit each morning, before the sun rises and I pray for myself, then moving outward, upward I pray for my family, my friends, my neighbors, my town, my state, my nation, then the world. I have a big God, so I pray big prayers and he does extraordinary things. But then I rise and keep silent. God doesn’t need my help, but telling myself and my family to keep quiet, keep your nose down and don’t respond to hate and fear doesn’t seem right, either.

If every difference-maker kept silent, only the angry and fear-filled would be represented.

So I choose to speak.

I was not sold on either candidate…in my mind I chose the one that aligned more with my concerns.Those concerns tipped the scale every so slightly in one direction. My concerns may be different than others but doesn’t make me an uneducated white racist.  My vote doesn’t mean that I want someone to come and take away your Hispanic baby, remove your health insurance, send you to another country, or take away your house. It doesn’t mean I have low respect for women, quite the contrary. Deleting friends doesn't make them or the issues go away, it just decreases the size of your bubble. I've watched safely from behind a keyboard as friend after friend emerges to debate and defend only to watch them be swallowed alive. I'm not here to debate, only to tell you how I plan to move forward. I don’t know if things will get better, but I have a Hope that doesn’t rest on government, certainly not on social media, my community, or even my self.  My hope rests a bit higher. I choose Love. Not the pay-for-Starbucks kinda love, a bigger, better Love. Here's my Love Action Plan:

1)      To believe nothing of what I hear (or read) and only half of what I see, I will train myself to filter, research, question everything. I will not perpetuate fear/hate so if I haven’t researched it fully, I will not share it with the world.
2)      To raise educated children that treat others with respect, defend the defenseless and know without a doubt that they are fully loved.
3)      To become visible in the community, battling the negative and showing the world that those who choose to spew hate and fear do not represent the whole.
4)      Continue to encourage, lift-up, and listen to every single woman I am blessed to encounter each day by being intentional and transparent.
5)      Continue to pray… perhaps encouraging others to do the same.

This world seems soon to unhinge.  It would be much easier to stay comfortable believing everything will be okay but doing nothing. So this house chooses Love…we will continue to treat every soul we meet with absolute love regardless of bumper sticker or yard sign, regardless of skin color, regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of religion and I will watch with eager anticipation how my prayers will show up in extraordinary ways.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Visit from Mom

Mom visited Maya in a vision shortly after she passed.  Appearing in the doorway of her room while Maya was overcome with sadness, her appearance instantly calming Maya.  She appeared with purpose.  As quickly as she came, in a blink she was gone.  Mom has visited Angel in dreams, answering questions she deposits in a journal.  I’ve sensed her in darting Cardinals and Monarch butterflies, but never a manifested presence.  Maya, ever so wise, explains it’s because I don’t need her.  But still.

Then she came last evening.

She was resting, barely covered with loose semi-transparent sheets, in a bed located in the  middle of a bustling city intersection.  Immediately jumping to protect and shield her from eyes too busy to notice, I climbed into bed noticing her battle scarred body.  Mastectomy breasts, port in her chest, needle scars and bruises.  I nestled her head into the nook of my shoulder and there she rested.  But I sensed that she didn’t need the rest, she was simply pacifying me.  I still can feel the sparse regrowth of bristly hair  on my lips as I curled closer and kissed her crown. My right arm, curled around her frame can still feel her soft, loose skin on my fingertips.  Reaching to cover her with more of the thin sheets, I could sense that she no longer needed the cover.  She visited me in the only way I’d still recognize her but she no longer carries that frame. 

Then, as quickly as she appeared, she was gone.  The bed gone.  The sheets gone.  I was in the busy intersection, but no longer and not ever alone. 

Awake, completing my morning routine, but ever processing the dream.  Content.  Inspired.  Grateful.  Eager to journal so that I wouldn’t forget a single ounce.

Monday, August 29, 2016

But Write

Rising sleepily from my comfy couch while the house is suddenly quiet, all I can hear in the space between my ears is the quiet murmur to write. It’s so cozy here and I never get the chance to nap.  Even the dog isn’t pestering me. “But write”.  I only have 30 minutes until the next chauffeur shift.  “Have you not seen that I can do big things in a small amount of time”?  Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem after 150 years of desolation in 52 days.  Crumbled walls, impassable entries, unprotected people, discouraged spirits all rebuilt in 52 short days. Not without effort, but with full faith that God would show up in a big way.  Ok ok, I get it.  I’m up.  But first a snack.  “Humph”, I sense.  Then a bathroom break.  I should switch the laundry over to the dryer.  “Nope. Sit”.  Ok, ok.  Here I am.  Plugged in, not sure where this spiral will take me in the 20 minutes I have, but I’m obedient.  I wait for the words to come and sure enough, here they are.  He provides.  On small scales, in big ways, consistently over the span of time.  Not often in the way we’d like, with the results we expect, or even in the timeframe we desire.  But still he appears, reminding us He’s been there all along.  Waiting for us to arise from our slumber, stop the procrastinating and participate.  How humbling that the God that created the universe wants little old, fragile, silly me.  I’ve been asleep too long, indifferent, quiet, unsure, full of excuses: I’m not smart enough, not connected enough, not well-versed, not well-read, not inspired, not thin-enough, not cute-enough, not strong, tall, or clear-voiced enough.  A lot of Nots.  Too many Nots.  Nots creating Knots.  Ouch.  I’ve been trying to do this life-thing on my own devices, in my own strength.  Silly me.  Releasing now, surrendering what little I have left, to the infinite power, wisdom, strength, and courage of someone that knows every single thing, that has seen and felt every single emotion,  that has infinite power but instead, waits for little old me to rise and shine.  

And, just as quickly as the words came, they begin to slow and finally depart in perfect time to rescue my oldest from work.  What was frustration, a rushed sense of busyness has now been replaced with calm, thoughtfulness, my own personal love note.  I sense a smirk.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Global Leadership Summit 2016 Highlights

Fresh out of two days of the Global Leadership Summit, feeling like I’ve been trying to drink from a fire hydrant!  Two days of knowledge, experience, and wisdom-filled speakers all aimed at building up strong leaders.  I sat near the back, notebooks and pens all around me, without distraction and soaked it all in.  With each speaker, I mentally applied the principles to every aspect of my life…marriage, motherhood, home life, business, also gathering knowledge to pass along to Tim for application towards his own work.  My notebook is a jumbled mess, which was a good reflection of how my mind felt after so much rich knowledge.  The sediment now settled, I’m able to make sense of my notes…these are the most concentrated pieces, notes of the notes, items that spoke most heavily to my soul.  Putting this out there for myself, a solid place to find them in the chaos that may return.  How wonderful if they speak to someone else, as well. Clearly, I enjoyed some speakers better than others (T.D. Jakes - I'll be devouring all of his books, soon).  Broadcasts are global and I highly recommend anyone that is in business, wishes to be in business, works in a business, lives with other humans, or breathes the same air with other humans to attend this conference.  It's that good.

Bill Hybels – Senior Pastor Willow Creek Church, founder Global Leadership Summit
·         *  An organization is only as healthy as the top leadership wants it to be.  We have the mission to make it better
·        *   People really want to know how they are doing…it is cruel and unusual punishment to not let people on your team know how they are doing.
·        *   Leadership isn’t about time, it’s about energy.  It’s about where you focus your energy. How much energy do you put into each area of your life/ business?
·       *    Illusion of achievement: I’ll be satisfied if only I can reach this goal
·        *    Make space for love way down deep in your soul.

Alan Mulally – President and CEO Ford Motor Company, EVP with The Boeing Company
·        *   Must create a compelling vision and have relentless implementation
·        *   Work together, people first, everyone must know the vision and know their plan to get there
·        *   Henry Ford was driven to provide the opportunity to all mankind, not just those who could afford it.

Mark Schmidt – Lieutenant Colonel US Air Force Commander, 435th Fighter Training Squadron
·        *   Stop talking about being religious, live it out. Living in a way that interacts with people in a way that inspires them and shows you care about people.

Ibukon Awosika – Chairman First Bank of Nigeria, Founder CEO The Chair Centre Group
·        *   With building furniture, you decide at the beginning what the end result will be.  You cannot start with bad processes and expect a good final result. (applies well with business, family, etc)

Melinda Gates – Co-Chair Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
·         *  All lives have equal value
·         *  World-wide, there is no difference in what we want for our children.  The only difference is our ability to give it to them.
·        *   Spiritual practices:  Take time in silence every day.  Don’t go to phone first thing in the morning.  Journal your prayers, praises, thoughts, worries. Incredibly important to have silent moments throughout the day in this busy and stressful world. 
·        *  You have to let your heart break for need, take it in and determine a way to make it better.

Jossy Chaco – Founder and President, Empart Inc.
·       *    Parable of the servant: Trusted with something, two multiplied, one buried in the sand and did nothing with his portion. Important to multiply and not hide your gift.
·        *   Trust what God has put into you…don’t worry about what others say because they haven’t seen the vision God has put into you.  Stay focused on that vision.
·       *   Opportunities are all around you…but only those that wish to multiply (only those that use their gifting) will see them. 
·         *  Be a Passionary…Find your passion and pursue it.  People will start to follow you.
·         *  Without risk, you move from pioneering to protecting. Risk is a friend, not an enemy.
·        *   We should be the most audacious leaders on this Earth because we do not have a spirit of fear.

Dr. Travis Bradberry – Author TalentSmart – Expert in Emotional Intelligence
·         *  Three Silver Bullets:
o   Get Stress under control – although a necessary emotion, it can cause degeneration and diminishes self-control
o   Clean Up Sleep Hygiene – Toxic proteins in brain can only be filtered when asleep.  No blue lights before bedtime
o   Get Caffeine under control – Don’t drink caffeine after noon.

Patrick Lencioni – Founder of The Table Group
·        *   Ideal Team Player – Humble (more interested in others and the greater good), Hungry (Strong work ethic, hate the idea of being a slacker…they get it done), Smart (emotionally smart – common sense around people, notice and adjust to other people)

Chris McChesney – Executive Franklin Covey – Author
·        *    Leaders struggle with changing behavior – we tend to blame others.
·        *    However, anytime the majority of people behave a certain way, it’s not the people, it’s the system.  Need to change the system.
·        *   Daily whirlwind activities will take up majority of time and any new goals will overwhelm.  Narrow focus to 2-3 goals in addition to daily whirlwind activities
·        *   Make sure the people around me feel like they are playing a high stakes, winnable game.  You will influence their life in amazing ways.

Erin Meyer – Professor at INSEAD
·        *    Don’t overlook bright eyes (someone eager for more information)
·         *  Cultural differences will influence how they receive your message/feedback, so keep that in account.

John C. Maxwell – Leadership expert, author and coach
·        *  Most people don’t live their life, they accept their life.
·        *   Five things John does every day:
o   Value people – Take steps to value others, are we going to spend our life connecting to people or correcting them?
o   Think of ways to add value to people – Intentional living requires upfront thinking – back-up thinking is repairing. Who am I going to see and how can I add value to their life?
o   Look for ways to add value- Keep your receptors aware…when you live in a way that is always looking, you’ll always find ways to add value. Actually add value to others – actionable, not just thinking

Bishop T.D. Jakes – Founder and Senior Pastor The Potter’s House
·       *    Life’s pursuit is to determine how much is in me – what else did God deposit?
·        *   Rip the lid off your gifts and use every single talent.
·       *   If you’re not doing something that scares you and that makes you pray more, you aren’t being challenged, you’re not growing.
·        *   Let the haters educate not distract. (eat the meat and leave the bones)
·        *   On your to-do list, you’ll always be incomplete.  The art is not to miss the same thing two days in a row (missed interacting with kids today, don’t miss it tomorrow)
·         *  God has given you more than your life shows, be fruitful, reimagine yourself.  You don’t want to die wondering what it would be like if you had just imagined and taken the chance.

Danielle Strickland – Senior officer The Salvation Army
·        *   The world is crying out for goodness, truth, fullness.
·         *  God calls us out for what we truly are, not what we feel right now.

Horst Schulze – CEO Capella Hotel Group, Founding President, The Ritz-Carlton Group
·      *    Determine your market segment so you can  give what it needs.
·      *     How to be successful:
o   Be more sufficient than your competition – produce it better (have to know what your customer wants)
o   Have to be efficient – find a way to make it cost less or determine what is really required (don't cut costs, work more efficiently)
·        *   Hospitality – the customer wants:
o   Perfect product
o   Timely service
o   That you care – this  point drives satisfaction more – they can receive a faulty product at times but will return if you made them feel worthy.
·        *   Treat your guests as if they were Jesus Christ himself.
·        *   Greeting customer when they arrive and when they leave with humility.
·        *   Hiring – select the right person for the bus.  Align them to your destination and give them purpose. Show them how it benefits them to do well.
·       *    Don’t hire for a function, hire them to make a business better – they should help grow and reach excellence.
Wilfredo De Jesus – Senior Pastor New Life Covenant Church
·        *   How can we integrate faith into business – in a way that lives it out, not choking them on it.
·       *    Everyone benefits when a leader gets better.
·        *   When a leader stops learning, they stop leading.
·       *    Christians are the salt and the light - not just a fluffy compliment – we are to provide flavor and light to a dark and flavorless world.