4 Questions to Help You Get Unstuck in Life or Avoid Being Stuck All Together

Ruby Throated Hummingbird in a Flower GardenIt is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jong

Hummingbirds happen to be my favorite bird. They are the tiniest birds alive, but they’re also very smart. They can remember every flower they feed from and know exactly how long to wait before returning to it. I also love to watch them because I feel they have grace and beauty unlike any other bird.

One of the saddest experiences I’ve had with a hummingbird is the day we tried and failed to rescue one. Somehow the little guy had found his way into our screened-in backyard. When we found him, he was lying down on one of the chairs near our back door.

He was exhausted from flying around for who knows how long trying to find his freedom. Immediately, my mom got some of our hummingbird food and put it in a flat dish while I cradled the bird in my hands trying to help him eat. Incredibly, he perked up just enough to take a few sips of the nectar. His little body began to regain strength and he could hold his head up on his own.

We smiled in relief as the little bird suddenly regained life.  And then, just like that, I felt his little body stiffen and collapse. He died in my hands. It broke our hearts as we buried him and said a little prayer for his life.

I later read that with the amount of effort it takes for a hummingbird to fly as fast as they do, if they don’t have food within as little as one hour, they can starve to death.

I thought quite a bit about our little friend that day and into the next. How ironic it was that a single wrong turn landed such a resilient and smart little animal in a place where he was unable to survive.

It’s so easy in life to end up in a situation much like this poor animal.

Where you make one bad decision, make one wrong move, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a place that becomes threatening to your very livelihood. Maybe it’s a person you have a relationship with, or a habit you’ve developed, or maybe it’s a state of mind that has taken control over your actions. Whatever it may be, it’s something that is depleting the joy and purpose from your life.

Here’s the beautiful difference between us and that hummingbird; we have the consciousness of mind to be able to prevent ourselves from getting into those situations that starve us of our happiness. And, if we do in fact end up in such a place, we’re still able to see the situation for what it is and make the necessary choices to change it for the better.

You may be asking yourself:

“How can I do that?”

“How can I prevent myself from getting into a trap like that?”

“How can I get myself out of the hole I’m in?”

The answer is simple, and it starts with shutting off all the noise in your life, taking some time to reflect, and asking yourself some important questions.

Get Unstuck By Answering 4 Questions

Is the situation I’m in a reflection of who I really am?

If you are facing circumstances that seem to be draining you of joy, this is the first thing you should be asking yourself. Does it fit with who you are? Does it fit with who you want to be and what you want to do in your life?

If the answer is no, then you know you need to get out of it.  We innately want to live a life that is filled with meaning and purpose. If the situation you’re in is draining your world of these things, instead leaving you feeling empty and lost, then that is a sure-fire sign to move on.

How did I get here?

When answering this question, be careful to avoid pointing the finger of blame on others. We can’t blame our circumstances on others; we are ultimately accountable for our own actions.

Being able to move past the desire to blame others, and look within at what you personally did or did not do to get to where you are is how you find what you’re able to repair. When you identify the problem, you can begin to formulate a plan on how to fix it.

What do I need to change in order to change my circumstances?

Once you find what actions led you to where you are, you can then work towards change to avoid getting there again, and to remove yourself from the situation.

It’s important to remember the difference between what we can and can’t control in our lives. Focus your energy not on what  you can’t change, but what you can. Focus on what you can do to bring yourself out of toxic place into a positive and productive one.

What are my lifelines?

Don’t make the mistake of taking on change without recognizing and utilizing the lifelines you have. Maybe it’s a friend, or family, or a support network. Maybe it’s someone whose been in similar shoes and can offer the insight you need to see things differently.

Lifelines are not only found in other people. Don’t forget to use your own strengths in conjunction with the help you find from others. Remind yourself of what you’ve already overcome in your life and how you did it. Remember the will power you’ve had before and the determination you possess to pull through adversity.

We all face defining moments that will test us in life. Sometimes we make the wrong decision and end up in a place we don’t need to be. When that happens, it’s not what got us there that defines us, it’s what gets us through it.

Today’s Challenge: Take a moment and reflect on your life. Are you stuck or unstuck?

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Do You Know The Weapon of Choice in Battling Life’s Monsters?

super dylan2I’ve never felt safer from the “Boogie Man” than I have over the last several weeks. My new found security is thanks to my very own live-in superhero, Super Dylan. By day he goes by the name “Dylan”  living under cover as a normal two and a half year old boy. But! When danger comes calling, my superhero comes to life.

It’s been so fun to watch as my little guy storms the house looking for the Boogie Man or any other monster that may threaten his family. I may be in the kitchen or in my room and out of nowhere I’ll hear, “Don’t worry mommy! I save you! Be right back!” and off he goes on his quest to defeat the monsters of the house.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all had a Super Dylan to defeat all the monsters in our lives? Imagine having a hero to save you from all your fears, self doubt, disappointments, and mistakes. How cool would it be for someone to rescue you from all your failures and shortcomings?

What would you say if I told you that such a hero does in fact exist? It’s someone you’ve known your whole life; someone who has all the weapons to defeat these villains. That someone…is You.

We’ve all heard the cliché “We are our own worst enemy,” which can certainly be true, but we could also argue that we’re also our own biggest hero. The reason I say this is because we all hold the most powerful weapon against adversity,we just have to know how to use it.

The most powerful weapon that we all possess is the Weapon of Choice

We may not get to decide what circumstances we battle in our lives, but we do get to  chose how we let them affect us. We get to say how we let adversity impact our thoughts and actions. We get to decide how we move on from the challenges we face.

I promise you, this one realization will change your world. When you face those moments in your life that test you, those moments you so desperately wish for a hero to rescue you from your pain, remember the Weapon of Choice.

  • Choose to learn from your mistakes
  • Choose to overcome and be even better than before
  • Choose to not let the actions of others influence you in a negative way
  • Choose to keep your thoughts focused on the positive
  • Choose to believe in yourself

Life is filled with monsters we will all face in battle time and time again. When you do, remember your superhero within and the power you hold in the choices you make.

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. ~William Jennings Bryan

How have your choices impacted your life?

Have a wonderful day filled with intentional growth! If you know someone who may benefit from this post, please share!

 

 

Are You Making Lemonade or Holding On to Lemons When Things Don’t Go Your Way?

Greg and Bobby Bowden ballA game ball signed by Bobby Bowden, former Florida State University head coach, (also the winningest college football coach in Division 1 history) was a surefire “Most awesome Christmas gift Ever” for my husband Greg; who is the biggest FSU football fan I know. I was beside myself with excitement as I thought through my strategery of keeping it a secret.

You see, it’s next to impossible to find a gift that he really wants, that would catch him by total surprise. But this time…well, I felt sure it was going to be nothing short of amazing.

I had my mom purchase the ball so there would be no evidence in our bank account pointing back to it. I had it mailed to her as well, and when it arrived, we hid it in a place he would never find it. I didn’t drop any hints, left no clues,  and felt secure in knowing I left no room to slip up. My plan was fail-safe, and as we came closer to the holiday my excitement grew, and so did my confidence…perhaps a little too much.

I started bragging, saying there was no way he knew what I got him. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he told me, “I’m pretty sure I do.”

Impossible! I thought, so I kept on with my charade. “There’s no way you know! No way!” I said, starting to get nervous as he continued to give me the look. It was a look like he was almost apologizing with his eyes because he really did know. I retraced all my steps and couldn’t find anything I did wrong that could have leaked my surprise.

When Christmas finally came, I presented him with his “most awesome Christmas gift Ever.” He tried very hard to act surprised, but as I watched him, I knew somehow he had indeed figured out my surprise. I was crushed, tears literally welled up in my eyes. I wanted so much for that moment to be awesome, and it didn’t happen at all like I thought.

When he saw how upset I was, he told me how he found out. Apparently, I didn’t cover all my tracks.  A couple weeks before, I handed him my phone while we were sitting on the couch, and asked him to look something up on the internet. When he pulled it up, the last page I visited (the website where I got his gift), was still open….and he saw it.

I could tell he felt horrible. It was pretty awkward; I was so deflated, and he felt so guilty,  and for a good thirty minutes you could hear a pin drop in our house that Christmas Eve.

When Things Don’t Go Your Way

My situation that Christmas is rather silly now, but at the time I really was devastated. I planned so much, and put so much thought and effort into making it a big moment for Greg, and when it didn’t happen, it hurt. In life, we all experience times like this one. Times when you do everything you can to produce a certain outcome, but despite your efforts it doesn’t work out like you planned.

When those times happen, sometimes it helps to take a deep breath and put things into perspective. Remember what’s most important and find a way to make the most of what happened. In doing so, I was reminded the most important thing that Christmas was not the gift, but celebrating a sacred holiday with the person I love most in this world. And now, that story is one we’ll laugh about for many years to come.

Of course I look at the glass half full. The only time I would look at it half empty is when I think about how good the first half tasted. ~Drew Deyoung

Life is way too precious to focus all our energy on the things that don’t work out the way we plan. That energy is much better spent enjoying the moments we have together. Find ways to experience joy in your days, even when they don’t go as planned, because each and every one is a gift.

How have you grown from something not going as planned in your life?

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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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3 Areas Where Your Attitude Can Make Or Break You

As we start a new year, many of us will begin to focus on areas we can improve ourselves. One area I challenge you to focus on is attitude. It has such a profound impact, and can be the catalyst to how we live our lives.

I’m about to share one of my not-so-proud moments as a mom. It was the day I took my daughter Ayla to her first dental appointment. She just turned five years old, and I hadn’t gotten her to the dentist yet.   She should have had her first appointment several years ago, but for whatever reasons and excuses I can provide, I didn’t take her until now.

Our experience at the appointment is something I had to share, because it carries so much value for us all. Our conflicting attitudes throughout the whole appointment and afterwards served as a huge reminder on the impact your attitude can have on the situations you’re in.

Ayla at the dentist

Here’s how it went down:

The day I told her she had an appointment:

Me: I  can’t believe I haven’t taken her to the dentist sooner, I know better! I failed my own kid on preventative care, something I am so adamant about with my own patients and myself. I’m so mad at myself.

Ayla: “I get to go to the dentist! What’s that? A doctor who looks at my teeth! That’s so cool. Do I get a shot there Mommy?! I can’t wait, let’s go right now!”

When they called her back for her appointment:

Me: Ugh! I hope she does ok! What if she’s scared when they put all their instruments in her mouth? How is she going to react to the x-ray? What if they find something wrong? I hope it doesn’t hurt her!

Ayla: “Mommy! It’s my turn! Come on, let’s go! Look at this cool chair, I get to sit in it all by myself?” She proceeded to jump onto the chair and did everything the hygienist asked her to. She opened up her mouth and didn’t bat an eye as they took her x-rays, cleaned, and flossed her teeth. “This is fun! I like it here!” she said as she waited for the dentist.

When we got the bad news:

The Dentist: “Hey mom, did you know about Ayla’s cavity? Take a look at her bottom molar, this thing has been there for quite awhile. It looks like a developmental problem; that tooth didn’t have the same enamel as the others.  It’s actually very close to the nerve, and we need to put a cap on this as soon as possible to avoid it getting worse. She will likely need a root canal in the process.”

Me: My eyes instantly well up with tears of shame as I listen to him tell me about the horrible cavity that we could have found so much sooner had I just taken her when I should have. It’s going to be so painful and scary for her! I’ve failed my little girl. I’m the worst mom ever.

Ayla: “What? I get a silver princess tooth? Awesome! I knew I was a princess!”

The Dentist: He saw my face and quickly offered  some comfort, “It’s ok. She’s here now, and we found it. We can catch it before it gets worse.”

The rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about the cavity, the upcoming procedure, and my failure. Meanwhile, Ayla and her 2 year old brother Dylan (who also had an appointment that day) strutted around the house with their brand new toothbrushes. Ayla kept talking about how excited she was about getting her cool new princess tooth.

Eventually, I was able to move past my own negative emotions and appreciate what a great attitude my wise little 5 year old had. I was so proud of her. Her positive attitude about the whole thing helped me to shift my focus to the fact that we caught it, and were getting it taken care of. I was glad that her brother Dylan made it to his first dental appointment when he should have,  and his teeth had a clean bill of health.

That day I was reminded of the power our attitude can have over our lives. It can impact so much of the outcomes in our day to day.  There are three areas in particular that can have a very positive or perhaps negative outcome based on our attitudes alone.

3 Areas Your Attitude Can Make or Break You

Overcoming Adversity

We all face adversity that manifests as failure, mistakes, disappointment, and misfortune. How we handle those moments in our lives is vital.

If we get consumed in the negativity of a situation, it becomes even more challenging to move past it. We miss the lesson our missteps carry and the opportunity to grow. Instead, we beat ourselves up, feed our self doubt and the snowball of negativity grows bigger and bigger.

If we look at adversity as an opportunity, as a stepping stone to make us better, then we’re able to overcome it much quicker and much more intentionally. Focusing on the positives lightens the heavy load our challenges can bring. Appreciating the value and growth life’s hiccups give us makes them so much easier to manage.

Commitment to Your Goals

How you look at your future aspirations will directly impact how they occur.

If you set out to accomplish something feeling you’re going to fail before you even start,  you’re setting yourself up for it. If you feel you’re incapable of the goal you strive for, you give yourself an excuse to be.

However, if you start something with the mindset of making it happen no matter what, chances are that it will. Focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses fuels your motivation to complete the process. A positive attitude helps to guide you through the inevitable bumps in the road allowing you to take one at a time, and stay focused on the end result.

The People in Your Life

People are such a huge part of our world; we have countless interactions with others throughout the day. Have you ever noticed how much we feed off of each other’s attitude? Ever have those times when you’re having a horrible day and someone comes along and makes you smile? Or maybe you’re having a great day and someone is rude to you or does something hurtful. How quickly your attitude can change right?

Here’s the thing, your attitude has just as much of an impact. The way you handle your day, the way you speak with others, and the way you handle an interaction will influence the people around you.

I challenge you this new year and many more to come, to handle your attitude with care. Appreciate the impact it has in  your life, especially in overcoming adversity, staying committed to your goals, and the people in your life. We can’t always choose what life has in store for us, but we can choose what we do with it, and that choice is the product of our attitude.

How has your attitude recently impacted your life?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Guest Post: Resilience is Your Ally


 

Happy New Year Everyone! What better way to start 2015 than with an inspiring blog post from my friend Beverly Lewis! As many of you know, resilience is my passion, and Beverly recently wrote a powerful post about resilience on her website www.beverlyspeaks.com I couldn’t wait to share!


 

Bounce_lifeResilience. Mental Toughness. Agility. All characteristics naturally associated with leadership.

Being enamored with words, I discovered the origin of the word resilience is the Latin word resilire, which means to spring back or rebound. Buoyancy. Now there’s a goal that makes me smile: to become more buoyant.

Resilience is your ally.

Imagine how your world would improve if you could truly forgive and forget when someone offends you. That’s resilience. Imagine your world if you could learn from mistakes and move forward without beating yourself up. That’s resilience. Imagine your world if you could find the best in every situation – even the hard ones you would never choose. That’s also resilience.

Since everything happens in the head first, resilience starts in your thought life. I’ve always figured a challenge is an optimist’s destiny_fulfilledname for a problem. In another vocabulary search, I learned that “challenge” literally means false accusation. The word can be traced back through the Middle English calenge and Old French chalenge, then back to the Latin calumniari. (I know- I’m a bonafide word geek.) They all mean “accuse falsely.” The reality is, every challenge to the advancement of your destiny is not the truth!

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, wrote “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” I have clung to that truth through some rotten times and seen the rewards of hanging on until the tide changed.

Challenges build mental toughness which is often the necessary margin for victory. Discouragement is an enemy of your destiny. Your own negative thinking can produce lies to distract, deter and ultimately stop you. Leaders learn to discern and use truth as a weapon to build the muscle of the soul.

“Life can be a rocky road. The challenge is to not let it grind you into dust, but to polish you into a bright gem.” ~Milton Fogg

Resilience embraces faith and stirs up hope. Don’t think for even one minute that faith and hope are fluffy, ambiguous elements. Hope propels us into the future, like an unseen slingshot. In fact, when you fix your eyes on what is unseen, you’re touching the realm of your destiny.

The audacity of hope in the face of obstacles, not the least of which are fear and unbelief, holds inestimable power. “Inside each of us are powers so strong, treasures so rich, possibilities so endless, that to command them all to action would change the history of the world.”

Resilience will be your ally in the coming year.

Rise to Resilience. Join me for an interview with Jennifer Clark, author of 166 Days: My Journey Through Darkness to hear her words of wisdom on this subject. A Lunch and Learn Session is available at no cost on Tuesday, January 6 at 12:30 PM CT. Register Here.


I hope you enjoyed this message as much as I did! You don’t want to miss this powerful and FREE! Lunch and Learn Session next Tuesday!

How can you make resilience your ally in 2015?

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The 4 Blessings in Unanswered Prayers

“Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” ~Garth Brooks

prayerWords we’ve all likely heard in one of his most famous songs, but words that are a lot easier said than believed for most of us. I know I’ve personally struggled with accepting them myself in many moment of my life. Here’s the kicker though; they’re so true. I’m  grateful to be able to look back on my life and see how true they really are.

One of the first times I realized this was when I was 20 years old. When I graduated high school, I had a scholarship to a broadcasting program at a university. I remember feeling so comfortable in knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I’d never been so sure of anything, I had it all planned out. I often joked saying I’d be the next Barbara Walters one day.

Sadly, soon into my Freshman year of college, the perfect picture of my future I’d created came crashing down around me. The more I learned of the industry, the less I connected with it. It wasn’t at all what I thought it was. Eventually, I dropped my major. I’d never felt so lost; I’d always had a plan, now I had nothing.

What came of that moment I couldn’t have predicted at all. I ended up leaving college after my sophomore year, joined the United States Air Force, and became a medic. Soon after I arrived at my first duty station, I met the man who would later become my husband.

Over the course of five years in my enlistment I completed three degrees, and in 2007 I was commissioned as 1st Lt. Jennifer Clark, Physician Assistant. After graduating school I went on to deploy and experience one of the most life changing events in my life. Several years after I returned from that deployment, I published my first book, 166 Days My Journey Through the Darkness, a memoir of the deployment and the aftermath.

I served proudly for our country for almost eleven years. So much happened in my life from one unanswered prayer. The 19 year old me never saw it coming; but now, looking back I’m so thankful for things not working out as I’d planned. We’ve all had unanswered prayers in our lives. As painful as they may be, they hold four blessings that leave us better because of them:

Humility

We can all use a dose of humility from time to time. If everything happened the way we plan it in our minds, can you imagine the egos we’d create? When all you do is win, you lose the value of your victory.

Being humble allows us to be gracious and grounded.

New Direction and Opportunity

Sometimes a bump in the road is exactly what we need to see a new direction that we may not have thought possible before. I remember in high school, I took the ASVAB but never thought I’d join the military. “I’m not military material” I’d say. What I thought was never an option for me turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done in my life.

When things don’t work out as well as you thought they would, look for the opportunity. Look for the scenario you didn’t see coming. Perhaps there is something that’s been there the whole time but you never noticed.

Personal Growth

Through our struggles we grow. We learn far more from our missteps and failures than our successes. Look at your disappointments as an opportunity for you to become even stronger. Look at those moments as stepping stones you travel to the best version of yourself.

Character

Character is defined as moral or ethical quality. Character is what we develop through the trials and tribulations in our lives. It’s the fruit of the life lessons we learn through our experiences. How we handle disappointment, failure, heartbreak, all builds character.

Character is one of the most precious things we have as individuals. It paves the path for how we live the rest of our lives. Without challenges, we don’t build it.

Life is filled with some of the greatest celebrations and the deepest heartbreaks. When you find yourself with an unanswered prayer, remember to look for the blessings in it. Appreciate the humility you gained, the new direction and opportunity in front of you, the ways you will grow from it, and the character you’ll build because of it.

How has an unanswered prayer been a blessing in your life?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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3 Powerful Must-Gives This Holiday Season and Beyond

calendar“I call them divine appointments,” Pastor Marty of Northstar Church in Panama City said in a sermon last week. “They are the moments in our lives when God gives us an opportunity to share his love with the people we encounter in our lives. I can guarantee they will come at the most inconvenient times and will most certainly require us to step outside of our comfort zones.”

As I listened to him speak, I felt his message hit me rather profoundly; I agreed with him wholeheartedly. Little did I know how much those words would effect me personally the very next day. It was a crazy busy clinic day at work, and I was running behind. I quickly finished up with writing a note on my last exam and asked Katie, the medical assistant, for report on the next patient.

Thank God! I thought as I heard her tell me the words “routine follow up” and she reported normal findings from his recent ultrasound. I thought we could be in and out and catch up a little on the schedule….that was until she continued. “His blood pressure’s really low today, I got it at 80/50.” Those numbers were indeed very low, and he had a complicated medical history.

As soon as we walked in the room I knew it was going to be anything but a “routine follow up.” He was slouched down in the chair sleeping and was as pale as a white sheet. The more I talked to him, the more concerned I grew. His speech was jumbled and slurred and when he tried to stand to walk he almost lost his balance.

His wife had recently passed away, so he lived alone. Initially, he tried to deny anything was wrong other than feeling “tired” but eventually he admitted he’d been feeling bad for several days. We battled with him for quite some time to convince him to go to the hospital, but he kept refusing saying, “I’ll be ok.”

We persisted, and eventually he succumbed and admitted, “I think you’re right, something is really wrong.”  Katie, was incredible, going above and beyond to make sure he got to the hospital. I went to see him later that evening and the following week while he was admitted. He had been severely anemic, requiring multiple transfusions over several days. After an extensive workup he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

When I went to visit him the last time he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said “Thank you for getting me here.” I squeezed his hand and smiled as the tears welled in my own eyes. When he came in to clinic that day it would have been so easy to move right through that appointment like any other that we thought to be “routine.”  Katie and I both knew it was much bigger than that….it was divine.

This holiday season, and everyday after, be ready for the divine appointments in your life. When they happen, don’t be afraid to take the extra time to make a difference for someone else. Be courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone to show kindness and love to another. Give your acceptance to another and celebrate the differences that make us unique.

Your Time

We live in such a fast-paced world, time seems to be one of those things none of us seem to have much of. We’re all in a hurry, we all have so much on our To-Do Lists that its easy to get consumed with the day to day. We get so plugged in to our smart phones, devices, and television, that we forget to plug in to each other. What a blessing to have people around you that you love. Make that time count, because not everyone has family and friends to have fellowship with.

When you cross paths with someone who’s not as fortunate as you, take five extra minutes to show them some kindness. Your extra five minutes with that person may make all the difference in the world to that person.

Love

Loving those you care about is easy, it’s second nature. But what about everyone else? When you’re standing in line at the store impatient to get to where you’re going, or at a restaurant, walking down the street, or driving down the road; we interact with others so frequently, how often do we show love and kindness to each other?

Go out of your way to help someone, or give a compliment or a pat on the shoulder when you see them hurting. With all the negativity in the world, loving each other is so important. Love is the most powerful connection we have; much more powerful than hate and intolerance.

Acceptance

None of us are perfect, yet sometimes we can think we are. We get in the mindset of “my way or the highway” with the people in our lives. It’s in the moments when we can move past our own pride  and actually accept others and different points of view that we begin to truly appreciate our differences and how we can all grow from each other.

Instead of letting our differences divide us, perhaps they could bring us together. Open your heart to the people around you and love them with open arms.

How can you make a difference in the life of another this holiday season?

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What Kind of Baggage Are You Carrying in Your Life?

jenn suitcaseWhen I speak on resilience, I often talk of the  importance of unpacking what weighs you down from “Life’s Suitcase.” This summer my 0wn analogy presented itself in my world in a whole new light.

I was traveling to San Diego for a medical conference with two of my colleagues. As soon as they picked me up, my suitcase became the topic of discussion. It’s very old, and well, rather large  making it and me an easy target for the butt of many jokes.

My fellow travelers  packed all of their gear into nice compact bags. When they saw mine they quickly questioned what on Earth I could be carrying in mine. The conference was only three days, and it looked like I was packed for several weeks.

It was so large in fact, in order to get it into the vehicle, we had to rearrange everything in the back. I have no doubt watching me lug it around the airport was quite a sight to see.

But the jokes didn’t stop there. Once we got to the hotel and into the elevator, it happened. Out of nowhere one of the wheels broke into pieces on the floor. Yep…my suitcase wheel shattered. Can’t say that happens very often! All three of us were in tears as we laughed at my “ghetto-fabulous” bag.

Thankfully me and my suitcase made the trip home in one piece…except for my poor wheel. As I unpacked it, I knew it would be for the last time. I bought it over 14 years ago and after this trip I knew it was time to move on.

When it comes to resilience, my analogy of Life’s Suitcase illustrates a very important point. Sometimes we collect unnecessary baggage that does nothing but weigh us down. That baggage can come in the form of:

  • Negativity

  • Toxic People

  • Things We Can’t Change

  • Self-Doubt

  • Fear

We tend to hold on to these things so tightly that they stop us from really enjoying life. Instead of carrying such heavy burdens with us, we should fill our Life Suitcases with things that bring us value and joy.

Negative things will inevitably happen in life, but the key is to push through them, learn the lesson that they carry, and let them go.

My old, beat-up suitcase served as a reminder of this powerful message. It also reminded me of the importance of taking care of your “suitcase.” Fortunately, I can easily replace the one I bought 14 years ago. In life, however, it’s not that easy. We’re it. We’re our own suitcase. Our mind, body, and spirit all carry our most precious cargo. Make sure you are taking the time to take care of them.

What are you carrying in your life suitcase?

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A Reminder on Perserverance from the Great Winston Churchill

Jenn run for redfish 2014Do you ever have those moments when you need a reminder on the power of perseverance? I know I do. Last week I ran a half marathon. My initial goal was to finish the race in under two hours, to beat my previous time. Unfortunately, there were a lot of factors leading up to the race that pushed me farther and farther from that goal.

I didn’t train as hard as I’d planned and so as the race day neared, my new goal became to finish. At about mile 11, we were running against the wind and it felt like the end was never going to come. I felt so much pain in my hips and legs as I continued on.

The more I ran, the more it hurt. I could feel myself physically slowing down to a pace much slower than I mentally wanted to go. I watched the people I’d passed a mile back now pass me. I began to hear the voices creep in my mind telling me I couldn’t go on and it’s ok to walk the rest of the way.

So, the last two miles of the race became a battle between my will to continue and my temptation to quit. It was the first time in an event like this where I really felt I could give up.

As the time passed by, eventually I saw the finish line, and standing right next to it was my family. My husband, beautiful children, and my mom were all there cheering me on. They gave me the last little bit of energy to finish strong. While I finished the race twenty four minutes slower than my original goal; I celebrated the fact that I achieved my second by completing it.

The race I ran that day is not unlike what we all face day to day in our lives. We meet challenges that tempt us to give up, to give in and quit. Challenges that make us question ourselves and doubt our capabilities. It’s in those moments we’re tested the greatest. Winston Churchill gave a famous speech on this very topic to a group students at Harrow High School in October 1941. The words he spoke that day have resonated within our hearts ever since:

 

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

~Winston Churchill

Never give in he said. Persevere. There will be bumps on the road, unexpected detours, and obstacles that will leave us questioning ourselves. When you face those moments, remember what Churchill said. We’re all capable of so much more than we often give ourselves credit for. Keep your intentions genuine and good. When you face moments in life where you’re ready to give up, remember why you started in the first place. Remember the will that has taken you as far as you’ve come.

Today’s Challenge: Don’t give up. Preserver.

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