2 Secrets to Catapult You to Greatness

Recently I took a trip to Montgomery, Alabama. While I was there I had the honor of walking through the house that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once lived in. Our tour guide was an amazing lady who was once part of his congregation and knew him personally. IMG_0815I found myself in awe listening to her tell us stories of this man, his family, and many others that were so influential in our nation’s Civil Rights Movement. I enjoyed each and every room we saw,  but it was in the kitchen that I found myself speechless.

It was in the kitchen she told us the story of a defining moment in Dr. King’s life. It happened while he sat at the very table I stood in front of. He had been actively leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott for about a month, which prompted multiple death threats daily. All the calls and letters began to take a toll on him; his courage began to waiver and he began to question his role in the movement.

That evening he’d been out late at a meeting arriving home around midnight. Exhausted after a long day, he began to get ready for bed and the phone rang. The voice on the other end spat out cold and threatening words saying, “N…., we’re tired of your mess. Leave town in three days or else we’ll blow up your house and blow your brains out.” When he heard this, Dr. King hung up the phone immediately.

He tried to go to sleep, but understandably shaken, he couldn’t. He walked into the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee and sat at the table with his head in his hands. Then something happened. He began to pray, and suddenly heard a very distinct voice speak to him, “Martin Luther! You must stand up for the truth, you must stand up for justice, and you must lead these people to righteousness.”

The guide explained that it was in that moment he regained the strength he needed to continue on. He knew it was his purpose. Three days later, the house was bombed. Thankfully no one was injured, and as we all know, Dr. King stayed the course and our country was forever changed because of it.

I left the tour feeling so blessed to have heard this story. It stayed with me for quite some time. I really thought about Dr. King and the things he accomplished in his life. He lived his life with such purpose and perseverance despite so much adversity.

We each have such unique and important things to offer in our own right, but all too easily we can become blind to the greatness we all have the potential to reach. We can let the weight of the world weigh us down and tempt us to remain in the “status quo” where it’s safe. If only we had the strength and courage to move past our struggles and into a place where we can bring greatness to the world.

The Two Things that Can Catapult You to Greatness

Recognize and Fulfill Your Purpose

The older we get the faster time seems to go by. The days can seem to run together as we become consumed by our routines. While this is a natural occurrence, it’s so important to make those days count.  I completely and wholeheartedly believe that each and every one of us has something special to offer, a purpose that we are meant to fulfill with the precious life we are given. When you can recognize what it is that you can offer to bring value to the world around you, then you begin to look at life with a whole new perspective and focus.

Recognizing your purpose is hard enough, but actually fulfilling it can be even harder.  It can be quite intimidating…even scary. Can you imagine the fear that Dr. King battled every single day? A great friend and mentor of mine once told me,

Courage comes from a sense of destiny.  The secret to your destiny is being able to surrender to God’s plan for you.”

When you have purpose you gain focus. When you have focus you gain courage. When you have courage you take action. From action, greatness can occur.

Don’t Let the World’s Opinion of the Life You’re Meant to Live Dictate the One You Do

There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to the influence of other people’s opinions; on one had they can help you to grow, but on the other, it’s easy to fall victim to them. When we listen to the “world” and what it has to say, it can be quite disheartening. It fills our minds with discouragement, self doubt, and negativity that can paralyze us from moving forward. Can you imagine if Dr. King let the world dictate the life he was meant to live instead of fulfilling his purpose?

When the world gets loud, remember what’s important. Remember that you get to decide what you do with the experiences given to you in life. We gain significant value from the things we encounter as we grow; but when situations and the influence of others begins to feel heavy and unhealthy, protect your heart.

Live with a purpose. Don’t let the negativity of the world dictate the greatness you can offer to those around you.

We all have an opportunity to bring greatness to the world in our unique ways. Recognize and fulfill your purpose and avoid letting the negativity of the world paralyze you.  Life is a gift, and how we live it is how we show our gratitude.

Go make the most of this day! Please feel free to share with a friend!

 

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2 Insights to Help Us Have Faith in the Bigger Purpose

Tera and Jenn Conference June 2015In 2009 I was in a very dark place. I’d returned from a deployment to Afghanistan that left me broken;  questioning everything about who I thought I was. After enduring six months of the horrible realities of war,  I felt like a shell of who I used to be.

I lived in a state of denial for over a year after I came home, but eventually my efforts to avoid facing the truth were no longer effective. I felt like I was drowning in an endless abyss of the anger, sadness, rage, and emptiness inside of me.

Eventually, I sought help, and was then diagnosed with PTSD. After the diagnosis was made, I began the long and painful road to recovery. If you’d told me then, that there was a much bigger purpose to my pain, I’m fairly confident I would’ve rolled my eyes in disbelief and promptly removed myself from the conversation.

I was recently reminded of that stage in my life, when I spoke in Alabama with the very special lady sitting next to me in this picture. Allow me to introduce you to Tera, a psychologist, and dear friend.

I’ve often referred to her as my “flashlight” during that painful time of my life.  In fact, if you’ve read my book 166 Days My Journey Through the Darkness, you’ve seen a special dedication to her on the first page. Tera helped me through my struggles with PTSD and equipped me with the tools I needed to find myself again.

Since my recovery, I’ve done quite a bit of speaking about my experience.  I’ve shared my story with thousands of people, and in doing so, I’ve been able to re-purpose all of the pain into helping others. This particular speaking event was extra special for me; because I was doing it with Tera. As I sat on stage with my friend, and we prepared to deliver our message, I found myself overwhelmed with a profound sense of gratitude.  It was amazing, and quite humbling, to be able to impact the lives of others with the person at my side who helped me through such a horrible time in my own life.

That deployment, dealing with PTSD, and many more struggles in my life, have taught me to have faith in the bigger purpose. Life can throw some big curve balls which can leave us searching desperately for a way to understand why things happen the way they do.  Often, the answer doesn’t appear as quickly as we’d like it to. But, when we can trust that there is a reason, a purpose to what we go through, we gain peace.

When you question life’s happenings, here are two insights to serve as a reminder that there’s a much bigger purpose:

The Power of Influence

The interactions that we have with each other are so powerful. Even the smallest moments we share in passing can have an incredible influence. Have you ever met someone who left a lasting impression on you? Has someone ever touched your life in way that prompted you to make a big change for the better?

To realize that our relationships have such an impact is quite humbling. Knowing this, imagine what a difference your experiences can make for someone else. The impact your story can have on another person can be profound. Use your experiences to mentor and grow others around you. When you do, you realize how much bigger than you that experience was.

Growth in Strength and Character

Growth does not occur from status quo, it requires a catalyst. Just like a plant will not grow without water, a person does not develop strength and character without challenges and adversity. In the midst of our struggles it can be almost impossible to see this, but when you can look back on them, and how we come through them,we  can appreciate the value they bring. When we can grow into better people from the circumstances we face, we can have a much bigger impact on the world around us.

 

Life is a gift. Trust that your experiences are about something much bigger that what we may be able to comprehend in the moment.

Have you had challenging moments in your life that have served a bigger purpose?

Valuable Insight On How To Approach Life’s Flat Tires

Yesterday on my way out the door from work I gave my husband Greg a quick call letting him know I was on my way home. His voice sounded frustrated, and as he spoke I quickly learned why. He’d been out training for an upcoming triathlon and was stuck on the side of the road with his bike changing a flat tire. I instantly offered to come and pick him up but he declined the offer stating “Nope, I’ve almost got it.”

About an hour went by and I finally got a call from him letting me know he was on his way home. I was relieved to know he was safe, but at the same time I wondered which version of my husband would be walking through that door. Greg is an amazing guy who openly admits sometimes his Irish temper can get the best of him. I braced myself for an earful of his frustrations as I heard the car pull into the garage. He walked into the house a few minutes later covered in sweat and dirt.  He looked exhausted and I chose my words carefully.

“Hi honey, how are you?”

He looked up and said simply “I’m better now, thanks.” He washed up and sat down at the table with the rest of the family and ate dinner, his mood was surprisingly pleasant. He laughed as he told me of his two hour struggle with learning how not to change a bike tire. He had been riding for just over 30 miles when his rear tire went out. He’d never had to change the rear tire before and couldn’t for the life of him figure out how to detach the wheel from the chains. He struggled for over an hour before he finally resorted to YouTube.

“Thank God for iPhones!” he joked, “The lady on the video made it so easy! The bright side is,  I know now I won’t be joining any Nascar pit crews anytime soon.” He went on to tell me of his frustrations at the time, but how he was able to move past them. He reminded himself throughout the situation to focus on the positive.  “It could’ve always been worse. I was only three miles from the car, it could’ve been farther. I wasn’t hurt, and while I didn’t ride as much as I intended, I was still productive with my workout. And hey! Now I know how to change a rear tire!”

greg bike

I was so proud as I listened to his insights. He reminded me of how life constantly throws unexpected challenges at us, often leaving us feeling frustrated and disheartened. So much of what happens in life is out of our control; but how we choose to handle those challenges is an incredible gift. We get to decide how we move forward and grow from it. There’s always a reason, a lesson, an opportunity for growth. If we are intentional about finding it, life becomes filled with purpose.

How can you make lemonade out of lemons?

Do You Know the 5 Types of Negativity That Can Steal Your Happy?

Griff and Jenn cleaning the poolThe past several weekends, my stepson Griffen and I have been working on a very tedious task. We have a saltwater pool, and it has developed quite a bit of calcium build up along the tiles. The only way to really get that stuff off is to scrape it with a putty knife. Not too big of a deal, until it came to the tiles on the bottom of the pool. Diving down to the bottom, scraping, coming up for air, and diving down again for several hours can get really old.

The more we scraped, the harder it seemed to become. And then, once we completed the bottom tiles, we moved on to the never-ending ones along the sides. Once they were all completely scraped, all the calcium we’d scraped collected on the bottom of the pool, making it look even worse than when we started. So, then I had to sweep it all up and finally get rid of it once and for all by vacuuming.

Needless to say, we did it; but it took us several days filled with several exhausting hours to complete the task. Despite the pain, once it was finally complete, it felt great to have accomplished what we did. As hard as it was, it’s nice to start the new pool season with a nice clean slate.

My pool tile maintenance adventure is not that different than the many aspects of our lives we have to maintain. Negativity can build up in our worlds just like the calcium can build up on the tiles.

If we let it continue to build, eventually it can take over and begin to consume our thoughts, actions and words. If we’re not careful, as we move into new seasons of our lives, we’ll carry all the negativity with us. To avoid this, we must maintain our hearts similarly to the way I had to maintain my pool. We have to learn to scrape off the build up of negativity and prevent it from weighing us down.

Talk about a daunting and tedious task! This chore makes  scraping the tiles of my pool look easy! And yes, it can be even messier. But, we have to find a way to let go of the things that muddy up the waters of our livelihood.

Pastor Andy Stanley has a similar comparison; he uses the analogy of re-painting a car or furniture. We all know what happens if you just add a new coat of paint on top of the old, peeling and cracked surface. So, as much as we don’t want to, we have to do the work of sanding it down, accepting that it will look a whole lot worse before it gets better. We know that if we don’t, we won’t get the outcome we desire.

Let’s look at the key areas we need to avoid excessive build up in.

The 5 Types of Negativity That Can Steal Your Happy

 1. Guilt

Guilt is one of those things that can eat away at the soul. When things don’t turn out as we plan, we immediately think of all the should’ve, would’ve, could’ve scenarios. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Looking at a situation retrospectively and evaluating how it could have been handled differently is healthy. But, when you let these things make you feel like a failure, and you alone begin to bear all the weight of a bad outcome,  it will bring you down to a place you don’t want to go. Instead, own and learn from your mistakes and let them go.

2. Resentment

To forgive is one of the hardest things we have to do. But, it’s also one of the most necessary. When we harbor resentment for someone who has hurt us, in a sense we let them win. If we continue to carry the pain of a wrong doing with us, we surrender to it.  To forgive allows you freedom to move on. It allows you to be purposeful with the pain you’ve endured.

3. Disappointment

If you ask any person of sound mind whether or not we should expect to experience disappointment at some point in our lives, every one of them will answer with a “Yes.” Yet, disappointment seems to continue to catch us off guard and has a tendency to steal our motivation. We try, fail, and often times because the disappointment can be so overwhelming, we quit. Don’t let disappointment make you stop, let it be your fuel to keep moving forward. To try and fail, no matter how painful, is still a step in the right direction. Regroup, and keep moving forward.  That may mean you take a detour, but don’t let it make you quit.

4. Bad Relationships

The influence people have on one another is profound. We see it so clearly in our children, especially as they enter into the teenage years and “peer pressure” begins to be on the forefront of discussions between parents and teens. Yet, sometimes as adults we lose sight of how dangerous bad relationships are in our lives. A bad influence can steal your happiness like nothing else. Be protective of who you let in your heart. Don’t be afraid to keep people at a distance. That doesn’t mean you aren’t kind and generous, but it means you don’t let them have an advantage point when it comes to your wellbeing.

5. Unhealthy Habits

We are indeed creatures of habit. When we develop unhealthy ones, it can become a catalyst to one bad decision after another. Be intentional with how you spend your time. We all have that little voice deep inside telling us if something doesn’t feel right. Listen to it. Your body, your mind, your soul, are the only ones you’ve got. Take care of them like they are the most precious thing you own…..because they are.

We all need to perform maintenance on the things that mean the most to us. Today, and everyday after, I hope you learn to recognize these areas where negativity can come in and steal your happy. When you do, you identify the areas you need to scrape away at the build up. Yes, the process can be tedious and even messy, but the being able to free yourself from what’s weighing you down makes it all worth it.

How does the negativity in your life influence you?

Thanks for reading! Have an amazing day and please share!

 

5 Habits To Protect Your Joy

“Death is gonna catch me eventually; but I tell you what young lady! It’s gonna have to get me from behind because I’m not stopping!”

These are the words of a vivacious 80 year old patient I took care of the other day. He was one of those people I wish I had the whole day to sit and talk to; he was filled with joy and love of life. If you looked at his medical records, you wouldn’t expect to see the man who sat in front of me that day. He had so many things wrong with him that could easily steal his joy, but he didn’t let them.

His wife with was him that day, and she sat next to him with a loving smile as he shared with me how he spends his days. As I talked to him about the importance of exercise, he reassured me that he doesn’t stop moving very much at all during the day. He has too much to do after all! I left the room feeling inspired and motivated by this man. What an example he set for us all.

As I thought about him,  I realized how easily we can let life steal our joy.  This  man has managed to hold on to his joy despite all his misfortunes. So, how can we do the same? How can we move past the adversity in our lives and be happy?

Happy

5 Habits to Protect Your Joy

Make Time to Focus on What’s Going Right

All too often we get so caught up in what’s challenging us, that we forget to focus on the blessings we have. Why do you suppose it’s easier to complain than express gratitude? Negativity is a powerful and consuming force, and it can easily sneak in and steal our joy. Make the time every day to focus on what’s going right in your life. I tend to do it every morning when I wake up, but I’ve found when I have a bad day, I make sure I fall asleep with what I’m grateful for on my mind. I’d much rather fall asleep thinking about what makes me happy than the opposite.

We all have challenges and adversity. Don’t let that consume who you are. There are plenty of things to be thankful for, take the time to recognize them.

Live to Serve

Our lives are so precious. One of the best things we can do with our time is to serve. I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and the ones that seemed the happiest, were those who live to serve others. The joy you feel from helping someone is one of the most profound emotions. It’s incredibly energizing.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Help  a stranger. Help a friend who’s struggling. Go spend an hour at a nursing home and listen to one of the resident’s stories. Clean out your closet and go give those clothes to a homeless shelter. Do something like this, and see how you feel. To serve another is one of the biggest joy generators around.

Fill Your Time with Your Passion

While we should strive to have a career that mirrors our passion, it often doesn’t.  Sometimes, in order to make ends meet, you have to do something you don’t enjoy, and that’s ok. But! That doesn’t mean you can’t find time for your passion. Make the time. What better way to experience joy than to do what you love. To do what makes you who you are.

If you can’t make a living by it, don’t shut your passion out of your life. The more you find ways to do things you’re passionate about, the happier you are.

Keep Moving

The more you move, the more endorphins are released, and the happier you feel. Be active! I’m not saying go run a marathon, but invest in your physical health by taking the time to go for a walk. If you can’t walk, swim. If you can’t swim, bike. If you can’t bike, find something you can do to be active.

Move. Find a way to keep moving. The more you do, the better you’ll feel.

Appreciate the Right Now

We all fall guilty of being too wrapped up in the future or lost in the past to appreciate Right Now. Before we know it, today becomes yesterday, and we missed it! Stop it! Enjoy the moment, it’s the only one like it. Make it count. Be present, appreciate your today. When you can do this, you’ll be amazed at how much joy it brings. The joy comes from not taking what we have, who we spend our time with, the beauty around us for granted.

As the wise man said to me the other day, death is going to catch us all, but let’s make it catch us all from behind. Live your life filled with joy, and protect that joy with all that you have!

What brings you the most joy in your life?

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2 Surefire Ways to Make the Most out of Disappointment

bowling alleyIf you would’ve told me when I was fifteen years old how challenging raising a teenager can be, I would’ve thought you were crazy…and then I’d proceed in giving you the infamous teenage “deer in the headlights stare.” Now that I’m older, and am raising one of my own, I get it.

Something mysterious seems to happen to the common sense portion of the brain when the teenage years hit. It can be so frustrating trying to find our way through the fog of hormones and personal agendas to get to the great kid inside.

Recently, we’ve been struggling with our fifteen year-old when it comes to responsibilities and making good decisions. Specifically, school work.

In dealing with the trials and tribulations of the teenage years,  my husband Greg came up with a piece of insight that was too good not to share. He pulled our son Griffen aside one morning not too long ago and began to explain the impact of our choices in life. The conversation went something like this:
“Griffen, do you like to go bowling?”
“Yes sir I do.”
“What is that thing called that you throw the ball down to knock over the pins?”
“Uh..the alley.”
“And what are those two things on either side of the alley?”
“The gutters.”
“Good. Now what happens when you throw the ball and it lands in one of those gutters?”
“Well…. I miss the pins.”
“That’s right. And when that happens, do you get upset?”
“Well yes sir I do.”
“Who are you upset with? Are you upset with the game of bowling because your ball landed in the gutter?”
“Well no, I’m upset with myself sir. Because I’m the one who didn’t throw the ball right.”
Greg then went on to use the bowling scernario as an analagy to life. He explained that we all get an alley with pins at the end. Our goal is of course to knock them all down, but how we throw the ball determines what happens to the pins. The gutters on either side of the alley serve as our boundaries. They provide us with understanding of where we need to aim. These gutters are similar to the boundaries we, as parents, set for our children, and what our morals set for us as adults.  Ultimately, when you throw the ball and it lands in the gutter, we are not to blame life itself for our own mistakes.
What a great analogy for us all to live by. Unfortunately, we don’t always see things this way. When things don’t go our way, we tend to quickly blame our misfortune on the world around us, instead of taking responsibility for what our role may have been in what went wrong.
The lesson is simple, yet oh so powerful. When life happens, and we find ourselves with our bowling ball in the gutter of disappointment, we must remember two very important things.

2 Surefire Ways to Make the Most of Your Disapoointments

1. Own Our Actions and Outcomes

Isn’t it much easier to be the victim of someone else’s wrong doing or unfairness then to be responsible for the situation? It’s not nearly as easy to discuss what may have gone wrong when you have a role in the situation. It certainly isn’t for me. But here’s the thing, whether we like it or not, we all have a role in what happens in our lives. Last time I checked, we weren’t a bunch of puppets at the mercy of our puppeteers. We are independent thinkers who make conscious decisions and act on them every day.
No matter how big, we all have a role in what happens in our life. When you find yourself in a place of feeling disappointment, the first place to look for resolution should be within yourself. This is not to say you are fully responsible for what may have happened; there are some times in life where it seems you did everything right, and it still just doesn’t turn out like you planned. But! You still can look back on the situation and review the choices you made, and how you let the circumstances affect you.  There is only one person you can control in this world, and that’s yourself. Be intentional and accountable for the decisions you make and the results that come from them.

2. Apply Lessons Learned to the Future

It’s half the battle to acknowledge your role in a disappointment. The equally important next step is to take what you learned from the experience and apply it. Here’s where we tend to go horribly wrong; we have something happen that shakes us, and we may acknowledge our role in it, we may even take all the blame. But, then we give up. We let that disappointment get the best of us and we begin to wallow in our sorrows. To experience disappointment without growth is to admit defeat.

Instead of letting past experiences define us, we need to make them work for us. Use those moments as building blocks for your success. Apply the lessons learned yesterday to your life today. I believe wholeheartedly, our disappointments have much more value in developing our character than our successes.

Life is a big bowling alley. We get an opportunity everyday to aim for those pins and get a strike. When it doesn’t work out like we hoped, if we can own our role in what went wrong and apply what we learned to our future, our aim becomes more intentional and much more effective.

 

How do you let disappointment effect you?

4 Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Your Mistakes

Little Picasso visited my house recently. More specifically, she visited the walls of her brother’s bedroom, mommy and daddy’s room, the hallway, and finally the backs of all the kitchen chairs. She loves to draw pictures and write letters, something we encourage her to practice, but did not anticipate her works would end up all over the house.

My husband Greg had the kids one weekend while I was out and about, and while he was preparing dinner, working on homework with our teenager, and fielding all the other distractions of parenthood, our daughter came out of our bedroom with a pencil in her hand. She looked up at her daddy with a smile and said, “Daddy, do you like my pencil?”

He quickly responded with a “Yes honey that’s neat,” and returned to what he was doing. It wasn’t until dinner was over, bath time complete, and teeth were brushed did we get to see the artwork she had created. Our bedroom wall had a giant letter “D” for “Daddy” and her brother’s wall had a large “A” for “Ayla”, while the backs of the kitchen chairs had everyone’s name written on them to the best of her capability; all with plus or minus the additional scribbles of her creativity.

As hard as it was, Greg and I knew we had to use that moment as an opportunity to teach Ayla about consequence. We explained why it was not ok to write all over the walls instead of her paper. We continued to explain when you make a mess, you have to clean it up. So, we got the soap, sponge, and elbow grease out and headed to the first wall of art.

Ayla cleaning up her art Apparently, cleaning pencil off of paint is not as easy as you might think. It required quite a bit of scrubbing. Poor Ayla did a great job, but eventually turned to us in tears stating, “It’s too hard! I can’t do it anymore.” Through much encouragement and perseverance, eventually we had all the areas cleaned.

Ayla’s situation is a great illustration of what can happen to us all in life; our great ideas and intentions turn into a big mess that we end up having to clean up. How many times have you made mistakes in your life and found yourself picking up the pieces? Our mistakes and bad decisions can often leave us feeling discouraged or even defeated. They can leave us asking the question “How can I move on from this?”

Four Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Your Mistakes

1. Own It

The first and arguably the most important thing we can do with our mistakes, failures, and bad decisions is to own them. Be accountable for your actions. The more you point fingers and play the “Poor Me” card, the harder it is for everyone to move on from what happened.

We’re all human, and we’re all imperfect. Those imperfections are one of our greatest blessings, that is if we can be humble enough to see them. Only when we acknowledge and recognize where we need to improve can we become better.

2. Learn From It

Each and every bad decision we make certainly has consequence, but they also carry a blessing. That blessing is the opportunity to learn and grow from them. In everything we experience, there is an important lesson we can learn from, and once we accept and own our mistakes, we can begin to look for the lesson.

Look at your failures as an opportunity to become an even better person. When you can look past your disappointment and take what you learned from the situation, it gives value to what you just experienced.

3. Clean Up Your Mess

Whether it’s as simple as cleaning the pencil off the wall, or as difficult as repairing relationships, it’s important to do the best you can to clean up the mess you made. Why is this important? One word…Forgiveness. From both yourself and the people  you may have hurt along the way.

It’s human nature to beat yourself up when you mess up. The guilt that comes with a mistake can be overwhelming sometimes. We naturally want to fix things, but when it comes to our own mistakes, sometimes it’s easier to ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen.

By rolling up your sleeves and doing the work to try and make things right, you can begin to forgive yourself. The people who were hurt along the way will be more apt to forgive you as well.  We can be quick to point fingers, but also quick to forgive when we see real effort from someone who owns their mistake. Sometimes, it takes awhile for others to forgive, but by trying to make things right, you give yourself the best odds.

4. Apply the Lesson

Own it, find the lesson, clean up your mess, and lastly apply what you learned to the future. The way we move on is to become even better from our experiences. That means not only do we learn from them, but we avoid making the same mistakes again.

Apply what you learned from the situation to similar ones in your life. Develop the habit of taking a pause to reflect on your past before you make any big decision or take action. Often times, just a simple pause is all we need to remind ourselves of how we’ve grown from something much like what we’re going through now.

Mistakes are inevitable in our lives. There’s no doubt they’re painful and hard to move past, but that doesn’t mean we can’t. Next time you’re facing one, remember these four secrets to help you make the most out of your mistakes.

What is one of the most valuable things you’ve learned from a mistake?

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Do You Know The 2 Reasons Why We Quit?

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed  is more important than any other.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Ayla 5yrs old riding bikeRecently, my five year old daughter Ayla and I were working on her bike riding skills. She’d been on her bike a few weeks earlier and did a great job riding around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, for some reason, on this particular day she struggled.

It started almost immediately once she got the bike out of the garage. We have a bush just off to the left of the door which is flowering right now. That day there were several bumble bees flying around it, landing on the flowers. She took one look at the bees and the panic set in.

“Mommy! I can’t move! The bees are right there! I can’t do it!” she cried.

Her fear literally had her paralyzed, she wouldn’t budge from where she was. After what seemed like an eternity of talking her down from the “Bumble Bee Ledge,” she worked up enough courage to get on the bike and pedal away from the danger zone.

Soon, she began to struggle as she pedaled.  Our driveway, like most, slants at a downward angle as you get closer to street. This is great when you are pedaling away from the house, but killer on the way back for a little 5 year old not moving fast enough. She couldn’t get enough forward momentum to sustain herself.

I tried to encourage her to keep pushing forward, but her frustration continued to get the best of her. She began to cry.

“I can’t do it Mommy! It’s too hard!”

After about  30 minutes of tears and “I can’ts” from her, I found my own patience wearing thin. Finally, in a moment that may not be remembered as my finest in terms of parenting,  I said, “Fine Ayla! Enough is enough! I’m tired of hearing you tell me you can’t, when I know you can! I’ve seen you ride your bike all over the neighborhood. If you want to quit, then quit already! But, listen here, in this family we don’t quit!”

I picked her up off the bike, took her helmet off and told her to get off the bike and go inside. As she stood in the garage crying, I began working with her little brother on his bike. After about five minutes, she came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder with her helmet in hand and what she said next made my heart fill with joy.

“Mommy, I want to try again.”

I looked at her and replied, “Are you sure?”

Her little blue eyes met mine and she said, “Yes ma’am, I’m sure, because we don’t quit.”

I gave her a big hug, put her back on the bike, and just like that, she was back in business. Her tears transformed to giggles as she pedaled around the neighborhood with ease the rest of the afternoon.

That evening, as I reflected on the day, I thought of my Ayla. Watching her struggle with her frustrations on the bike, I realized she was experiencing what we all struggle with when it comes to perseverance.

The Two Reasons Why We Quit

Fear

Just like it did with my little girl that day, fear paralyzes us. It breeds self-doubt which in turn destroys our confidence. I think we’ve all been in Ayla’s shoes at one time or another; where you find yourself in a situation you know you’re capable of getting through, but fear steps in and takes the wind right out of your sails.

Fear fills us with “I can’ts.”

When you find yourself in a place of wanting to give up because you’ve let fear get the best of you, remember one thing. Instead of being consumed by all you fear you “can’t” do, focus on what you can. Remember all you’ve already overcome. Shift your focus away from fear and towards building your confidence.

Results

Results, or lack thereof, directly impact our motivation. When we don’t get the outcomes we expect, when we expect them, we tend to get frustrated, and often throw in the towel. We live in a results-driven time, and because of that, we expect them to come quickly, and with as little effort as possible.

Here’s the thing we must remember; our results are a direct reflection of our effort. Not very fun to think about is it? Sure there are variables that are beyond our control that can play a part, but our nature is to blame everything and everyone else before we look within. Like little Ayla, we all face situations that we expect to be a lot easier, but before we know it, we’re facing that uphill driveway that requires us pedal harder and faster.

When you find yourself ready to quit because you’re not getting the results you hoped for, resist the urge to point the finger. Instead, look within and evaluate your effort and what you can improve. Have you given it your all? Have you let the things you can’t control overshadow what you can?

We all face moments of frustration that can tempt us to quit. Fear and unexpected results are the two biggest reasons why we do. President Abraham Lincoln, one of our nation’s greatest leaders in an amazing example of perseverance. His life was filled with failures, yet he didn’t let them stop him from what he was meant to do.

What is your biggest motivator to persevere?

Have an amazing day! If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to share!

3 Reasons Why It Really is Better to Give than to Recieve

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ~Acts 20:35 New International Version (NIV)

Easter Bombed! 2015

Easter Bombed! 2015

We’ve all heard this throughout our lives, yet how many of us really know it to be true? How many of us have actually experienced the joy it brings?

I know one family who most certainly has. Can you imagine as a parent, getting up early on Easter Sunday to set out your children’s Easter eggs, and open the door to this?

That’s exactly what happened to my husband Greg and me this year. We were officially “Easter Bombed” by our friends the Shuler Family.

The girls are a little older and no longer expect the Easter Bunny to pay them a visit, so this year they decided to take Easter to a whole new level.

Dressed head to toe in black, the Shuler family strategically made their way through various neighborhoods throughout the night; leaving behind a sea of eggs and incredible generosity.

They were especially generous with us! The girls outgrew their bike and decided what better thing to do with it than share it with a friend! My five year old daughter Ayla squealed with delight when she saw it.

Walking out into the yard and seeing this was an amazing feeling to say the least. We were so overwhelmed by the love behind such a sweet gesture. As I watched our kiddos pick up each egg with excitement, I smiled thinking how neat it would be for us to do the same thing when the kids are old enough.

This week, I’d like to present a challenge to each and everyone of you: Live This Scripture. See for yourself what the Shuler family has already figured out. In case their story isn’t enough reason, here are three more:

3 Reasons Why It’s More Blessed to Give than Receive

It Builds Character

Character comes from life experiences. Those experiences help mold the people we ultimately become. The opportunity to build character is readily available in so many ways in our lives; through our successes, failures, and our interactions with each other. Generosity, kindness, and showing love to one another are such powerful and necessary ingredients to character.

It Brings Joy

Not only to the person on the receiving end of generosity, but even more so for the one who gives. To see the joy your acts bring to another person is unlike anything else. It’s a different kind of joy; it’s pure joy. Pure in that it comes from a place of genuine good intent.

It Teaches Us Humility

To put the needs of another above your own is such a valuable life lesson. It reminds us all how much bigger this life is than ourselves. We get so focused on our own happiness, we can forget about how much we can impact and make a difference for each other.

Take this challenge; Live this Scripture, and focus your efforts on giving to another. Look for the character you build, the joy you experience, and the humility you learn. Go do great things today!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to pass along to a friend!