Through My Eyes – Life as a Black Woman

…the color of my skin is with me everywhere I go/
And where you’re permitted “yes,” I am permitted “no”

Through My EyesFull of emotion…sometimes the best way to articulate the racism of our world today is through poetry. Racism is not new. It’s always been here and until people stop living in silence over what they see, it will continue. If you’ve seen racism and injustice (in person or on the news) and you’ve done nothing, then you are responsible and accountable. 

…the color of my skin

Is with me everywhere I go

And where you’re permitted “yes”

I am permitted “no”

 

Does Anyone Care? Finding Peace in the Storm

The other day, in the haze between sleeping and being awake. I saw myself standing on the shore of the ocean (one of my favorite places to be). This massive wave was building and rising and coming straight toward me. It was much taller than me, tall enough where I should have ran, but as I stood there, I saw a hand holding the wave and I didn’t flinch at all. In fact, I didn’t feel any fear. And seemingly in a moment, the wave receded back to the ocean as if it never even approached me.

Close your eyes, the wave is right in front of you, you can feel the mist, hear the roar, smell the salt water and just barely taste it upon your lips. Yet this same wave, does not consume you. Oh it comes close and it poses a massive threat to destroy you completely but there’s One more powerful than the wave. -EE Winkler

This is what peace looks like to me. The waves are still going to come right up to your face, but they’re not going to be able to consume you as long as your eyes are fixed on Jesus. I’d like to say that I don’t know emotional pain from personal experience. But before the COVID-19 pandemic I was going through my own personal pandemic of sorts. I was asking the same questions that people are asking now:

When is this going to end?

When can things go back to normal?

Am I really going to lose my home?

Where will I go from here?

I’ve lost everything, now what do I do?

Does anybody care?

I would love to tell you that in a divine moment of prayer with Jesus, that suddenly all of these questions were answered but truth be told, many of them remain unanswered, except for the last one: “Does anybody care?”

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

To that question, it’s like all of Heaven screamed:

YES! I care! Can’t you see it? Won’t you choose to receive it?

As humans, we’re trite enough to equate “caring” with getting what we want, when we want it and how we want it. But the way in which God cares extends beyond just provision, it’s that deep down, heart wide open, everything exposed kind of care. It’s the kind of care where he sees all of the ugly mistakes you’ve made and still smiles at you lovingly as if you never made one at all. His care, rooted in his perfect love is available to you right now. No one else is going to be able to fill that void you feel within and satisfy your soul in the midst of this land of question marks.

The beauty is that in him, we can have peace for all of the question marks. We don’t have to have an answer for everything to still follow him and enjoy our lives. That’s what He wants for you and for me — to love him, love others and enjoy our lives. He can safely and securely hold all of our question marks and our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. He hears. He sees. He’s near. We don’t see him because we don’t want to see him but he’s here, there and everywhere. You don’t have to look for him because he’s found you. And he’s been waiting, pursuing, wooing you closer to his heart. It doesn’t matter the state of your life now or the mess that you’re in, you can come to him right now. He’s is peace. So you can’t pursue peace without pursuing him.

Rest assured, he cares. He sees your pain. He knows you’re tired. He knows that you’re worried. He knows every emotion that you feel that you don’t even want to admit. Come to him. He’s calling through the waves. Will you call upon him today?

Written by: Erica E Winkler

©Copyright Erica  E Winkler 2020 All Rights Reserved

Who Do You Need to Forgive?

One could argue that worst type of captivity is not the captivity that you can see, but rather the captivity that you can’t see. – EE Winkler

Have you ever stopped to consider, what is it that’s holding you captive? Is it yourself? It is another person? Is it a substance? Is it unforgiveness?

So often, we don’t realize that we’re bound up in unforgiveness. We just think that we are the way we are because that’s how we are. But over time, even small offenses will build up and have the capacity to do so much damage in our lives.

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Photo by Maria Shanina on Unsplash

Forgiving is the key to your freedom. 

I think that all of us can look inside and find at least one person that we need to forgive. Truth be told, it might be that you need to forgive yourself. We think that the things that people do to hurt us do not really matter and do not affect us, but actually they really do.

By not forgiving them, you’re actually allowing yourself to stay in a perpetual state of bondage. Eventually unforgiveness turns into bitterness and it will affect your life whether you want it to or not. You will actually not be able to love yourself and love others at your potential capacity if you choose to stay stuck in unforgiveness.

What does it mean to forgive someone?

To forgive means that you CHOOSE, not necessarily feel, to no longer hold the offense of someone else against them. I emphasize CHOOSE, because so often we think we have to wait until we feel like it before we forgive. But this principle is a faulty logic that we do not apply in other areas of our lives.

We CHOOSE to exercise even if we are tired because we understand the health benefits.

We CHOOSE to go to work, even if we don’t feel like it because we are committed.

We CHOOSE to be kind, even if we don’t feel happy because it is the right thing to do.

We CHOOSE to love others even when they are not loving to us because we are called to.

We make choices every single day and forgiveness just has to be one of those choices that we make. IF, and only if, we want to be free and remain free. Freedom always costs something and just because we are free today does not mean that we do not have to work to maintain our freedom for tomorrow.

What happens if the painful feelings come back after we forgive?

Sometimes, after we choose to forgive, the feelings of hurt, sadness and pain start to creep up again. When this happens, we have to remind ourselves that we have chosen to forgive and choose not to stay angry. This is so important because if we entertain these feelings then will find ourselves being bound up all over again. We must release that hurt and choose, even when we don’t feel like it.

So, who do you need to forgive today? 

Won’t you make a choice to forgive them? The freedom that you crave is well within your reach if only you will just choose.

©All Rights Reserved 2019

Encouragement for Your Soul with Rhythms and Rhymes

“You are special,

you are loved,

who you are, is enough.” (an excerpt from “Who You Are is Enough”)

It is my honor to share my new poetry book with you today! It is my hope that it will encourage you and remind you that you are loved, you are special and that you have a purpose in life! We need you in this world and there is no one else like you!

In my poetry book, Rhythms and Rhymes, you’ll find dozens and dozens of inspirational, feel-good poetry. If you’re looking for a little encouragement to remind you just how wonderful you truly are, then you’ll definitely want to check out my book!

I write rhythmic, rhyming, uplifting poetry from my heart and it is my hope that it will speak to your heart in a positive way.

You can find my poetry book, Rhythms and Rhymes for sale on Amazon today in a paperback and Kindle edition. If it’s not available in your country, and you’d like to purchase a book, please let me know and I will do my best to personally get a copy to you. Buy the book: https://amzn.to/2DCtn5F

I hope you know just how special you are and to those of you going through a difficult season of life right now, hang in there, you’re going to make it through this, don’t give up, a better day and the best is yet to come for you!

Sending love and warm hugs,

Erica

 

This is the Day of the Girl (an Original Poem) #dayofthegirl

Celebrating 2019’s International Day of the Girl with this original poem & spoken word performance.

Today is the International Day of the Girl. Championed by UNICEF, this day works to drive awareness and advocate for young girls everywhere. Considering the fact that I used to be a little girl, I think it is a wonderful cause and it inspired me to write and perform this poem today.

Photo Credit: Canva

Look Up

Whatever you’re doing, stop for a moment to look up.

Seriously, look up.

Now, what did you feel? What did you see? What did you think?

Sometimes, we are walking about so consumed by what we see in front of us, whether literally or figuratively, that we become consumed with our challenges and difficulties because we give them way to much negative attention.

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Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

We have to be willing to put things into perspective within the big picture of our entire lives. Even the major problems, fall into perspective when you consider your entire life especially if it is not life threatening; and let’s face it, most of us have problems that are not. Maybe your problem is that something in your life has come to a crashing halt. An unexpected end.

A job?

A relationship?

A home?

You’re looking all around you and all you see is rubble from everything that has fallen apart and come to an end. But in the words of an amazing woman, who I so admire, Kendra Scott, “it’s not over, this could just be the beginning.”

When you’re tempted to keep a horizontal focus, I challenge you to force yourself to physically look up. The action of doing so, just may trigger something in your brain to remind yourself, there is more than what you can see right here, right now.

A horizontal focus tends to leave us so focused on ourselves and our problems that we actually forget that there are people around us with problems too. We forget that even if we don’t have something to give financially, the warmth of a smile or the utterance of encouraging words can lift a person’s soul far more than money ever could.

Look up, my friend.

I triple dog dare you to look up.

Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start being thankful for what you do have. If you’re reading this post right now, you are insanely richer than you know. Just look what you have in your hands. Look at the fact that you’re still breathing. Look at the fact that you have something valuable and special to share with the world, just by being yourself.

Look up, my friend. Look up.

 

Why Settle for Happy?

Happiness is temporary but joy lasts a lifetime. – EE Winkler

We all love to be happy. It feels good. I once had a history professor that stated, “everything we do in life is to make us happy.” It stuck with me. I pondered it in my head and I realized that there was a lot of truth to his statement. But I still wondered, is it entirely true? Are there innately things that we intentionally do for others without seeking our own happiness? Or do we do the things, to make them feel happy, because making them happy, makes us happy? Ha! Do you see what I mean?

There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

But beyond the idea of happy, I believe that joy is something that can actually be a life’s ambition, a state of mind, a posture. When I think of happiness, I think of this fluffy, fleeing, feeling.

  • I am happy when I eat my favorite food.
  • I am happy when I finish my workout.
  • I am happy when the light turns green.
  • I am happy when I see a butterfly.
  • I am happy when I have a soft serve ice cream cone.

But have you ever considered, that living your life from the ambition of finding happiness, could be settling for so much less than what you were actually made for? What if we’re settling by striving to be happy? What if, joy is actual the greater ambition?

What is true about joy?

Joy can remain in pain.

Pain does not make me happy. I don’t think about pain and smile. But I can still have joy, even when I encounter pain. Why? For I am learning, that pain is just a tool that is used to transform me. And if I choose, it will transform me to make me better and not bitter.

Joy outlasts happiness.

The feeling of being happy, typically does not last very long. I find that no matter what people get or do that makes them happy, if you look at their face in a few hours, you’ll probably find them with a scowl on their face as they scroll down the screen on their phone. Is that what we’re really chasing? That fickle, fading, fluffy, feeling? Alternatively, joy is a state of mind. If we allow it, it can permeate everything we think about thus directly impacting everything we do. There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Joy demands the marathon, happiness commands the sprint. Most people do not have joy because it’s difficult and it takes time to build. It requires a humility that most of us don’t want to submit to. Joy beckons to take one step at a time and not giving up, while happiness wants to measure life in sprints. Happiness yells, “if I don’t get what I want then I’m done!” Joy whispers, “I know there is more than my eyes can see. I will take one step at a time and keep going.”

We don’t have to settle for “happy seasons of life.” Instead we can embrace a joyous life.

What will you choose?

 

 

 

 

©All Rights Reserved

How to Find Peace in the Midst of Pain & Suffering

Looking for peace?

You may not be in pain today, but inevitably, at some point(s) in time in your life, you will experience pain and suffering. And at times it might feel so intense, that you wonder, how it is possible to endure. But the good news, is that none of us have to walk through pain and suffering alone. There is a companion who is closer than a brother, closer than a friend, closer than a husband, closer than anyone and while you are suffering, He’s standing outside the door of your heart, knocking….knocking….knocking….to see if you will let Him in.

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Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

Religion has done an awful job at making God seem far off or making Him seem cold and distant. But the nearness of God is closer than your actual breath. The love of God was displayed when He traded the throne of Heaven to be wrapped in swaddling clothes in a cold, dark, stable in Bethlehem. No earthly king has ever been recorded to trade his throne of riches for a life of poverty because it is only the love of the Almighty God, that would cause such an action in order to make a way for His creation to return to Him.

For some, the Gospel of Jesus has become common place. They’re no longer moved by it. They’re no longer in awe of it. Their hearts have become complacent or hardened from believing. Truthfully, it is indeed a love that cannot be found upon this earth. For not even the person who loves you the most would endure what Jesus endured for you, nor would they be capable of doing so.

God in the flesh, beaten until nearly dead, unrecognizable for all of the beatings and lashings that He endured, then hung on a cross, naked for six hours, pulling himself up by His nailed feet just to keep breathing for every minute of those six hours. All the while, people walked by, mocking Him as He suffered on the cross for you and for me. The soldiers who stood nearby, divided His garments among themselves like a game.

We have never seen anyone crucified in real life. But it was gruesome and horrific. What motivated Jesus, to endure the cross and all the shame? You. Me. Every human being that has ever or will ever exist. His motivation was pure, complete and total love. He knew that there was no way that we could ever “earn” our way to Him or “work” our way to Him. There’s no laws or pillars that will ever amount to “earning” your way to God. No human being can do enough good that would make him or her acceptable in the sight of God. It is only through the cross of Jesus. It is only in accepting and believing, confessing and receiving Jesus as Lord, Savior and God.

He hung naked on a cross with His arms wide open and when He breathed His last breath, it wasn’t the end. He rose from the grave and He is alive. Only God Himself could do such a wonderful, love stained thing. Jesus is God. One part of the Trinity –Father, Spirit, Son.

If you think that whatever you have done has somehow made God not love you or accept you, I’ve got good news for you. God loves you and accepts you right now, just as you are. You might be full of selfish pride, or full of heartbroken pain, regardless, God loves you. No person is better than the other. God loves us all and accepts us all. Jesus paid the price for our sin. If you’ve lived longer than a day on planet earth, then you probably have figured out by now that you have sinned. And so have I. And so has every person. It’s why we need a Savior. It’s why Jesus came to this earth.

When pain and suffering come into our lives (and they will, in various degrees and various ways), we can either walk through it on our own and try and “cope” someway or somehow, OR we can reach out and call upon the name of Jesus. How true to His Word He is. When you call upon His name, He will not turn you away. He’s been waiting for you to turn to Him. Regardless if you’ve never called upon His name or if it’s been a long time since you have, or if you’ve never known the PERSONAL love of Jesus, He’s waiting for you. His love is up close and personal. It’s real and tangible. It is a love like no other. The only love that can carry us through valleys of pain, suffering and darkness.

We live in a fallen world and no person will escape the troubles of this life regardless of their status, wealth or name. There is only one name that is above it all and that is the name of Jesus. He wants to walk with you through the pain you’re facing right now. He wants to comfort you and give you His peace and joy. He wants you to know how deeply you are loved and accepted and cherished. You don’t have to push Him away. He wants you. You don’t have to wait until you go to a church building, He is wherever you are right now. You can meet Him, right where you are. You can tell Him your story and your pain and not live in shame anymore.

His presence, the presence of Jesus, is the blessing of pain and suffering. His nearness in a way that is unexplainable. His comfort through weeping that seems to never cease. His mercy to provide blessings in the midst of brokenness. His peace to calm and quiet our fretful minds to sleep at night. His love to cover over all our sin and embrace us in His arms. Oh beloved, take your heart and entrust it in Jesus. He will never break it. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has many good things in store for you. He wants to walk with you through this. His love can give you a good attitude, full of His joy even in the midst of suffering. Really knowing Him, makes you really love Him. I know I don’t deserve the love of Jesus and yet He loves me anyway. And you know what, He loves you too. Just as you are, disheveled, broken, smelly, fearful, however you are, He loves you.

Jesus wants you, do you want Him?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Cultivate a Positive Mindset for Success

Success is something that starts in our minds way before we actually do anything. 

How To Cultivate a Positive Mindset for Success:

Dream BIG dreams: Sometimes if you fail and experience rejection enough times it can sometimes make you dream smaller or shorten your reach or settle for mediocre or ordinary. But what if instead of thinking of failure and rejection as limitations, we instead viewed them as stepping stones that propel us upward to achieve more and reach for more? The rocks that you encounter when you climb a mountain are not to be avoided nor are they meant to slow you down, they are meant to step onto and used as leverage to push yourself forward.

Don’t settle for Less: when it comes to a shopping spree or buying groceries, it’s nice to pay less. But the price you pay for success is not one of these coupon, discount, pay-less opportunities. Success costs a LOT. Although many will try to fluff it as something that it simple and easy and not costly, it will cost you more than you could ever imagine.

Catch Your Thoughts: what are you thinking about? Yes, right now. What are you thinking about? Are your thoughts limiting your success or building it? Ninety percent of the time are you thinking good thoughts or bad thoughts? Catch your thoughts. Don’t just think about whatever pops into your mind but think intentional good thoughts about yourself, your future and other people.

Searching for more inspiration? Check out my inspirational poetry & content!

Photo Credit: Photo by Gradikaa on Unsplash

© All Rights Reserved

The Struggle with Writing…

To every aspiring writer, stop calling yourself an “aspiring” writer. If you want to be a writer than be a writer. Write everyday. Write something. Write for more than just yourself and don’t worry if it sounds perfect or not. It will never be perfect. Just write. -EE Winkler

 

The Struggle with Writing

by EE Winkler

the struggle with writing comes when you think too much

and you think that the words that you say are not enough

enough to satisfy the critic’s ear

who judges you before the first verse it hears

the struggle with writing comes when you become consumed

by the words that marinate in your mind and you just assume

that you don’t have something special to say

and you undermine your gift and go on your way

the struggle with writing comes with limitation’s claw

that threatens to tell you that you have nothing to say at all

it speaks and breathes through it’s insecurity

hoping to keep you bound in a fearful reality

the struggle with writing comes when you fall prey

to the excuses that try to crowd in your face

they bombard your thoughts and cause a commotion

they hijack your words fueled by imagination’s ocean

the struggle with writing is that you don’t take care of it

and work it out like a muscle to keep it strong and fit

and so it depletes in your desk drawer

only hoping for a moment of freedom with words to explore

the struggle with writing is that you’ve taken too much heed

and caution has become your mantra for reality

no risk have you been willing to step out and take

and so your gift dies under the pressure and weight

the struggle with writing comes when you start to believe

that you don’t have what it takes to really succeed

and so you sell yourself out before you even buy in

and in a moment you end before you even begin

©All Rights Reserved

Photo by Sanm Rios on Unsplash

Productivity for Work: Getting Past the Sick Day Blues

Let’s face it, sick days may be inevitable, especially during cold season, so how can you still be productive even in the midst of these times?

Push past the sick day blues with productivity? Before you think it’s crazy just weigh in what you might actually still be able to do. 

I think like most people, I absolutely hate getting sick. If I see a person coughing or sneezing nearby, I will try to walk at a distance to avoid them, without looking too awkward if you know what I mean. But every once in a while, despite living a healthy lifestyle, I will get sick with a cold or a sore throat especially during the winter season.

Personally, I hate taking sick days. I hate just having to lie in bed and do absolutely nothing. It’s so boring. But sometimes, for the sake of colleagues, it’s better to stay at home or even work from home especially if you have something that is contagious.

While I know my productivity levels may not equate to the same efficiency when I am sick versus when I am well; I am still convinced that there are reasonable and feasible ways to be productive.

How to Be Productive Even When You’re Under the Weather

1.) Know Your Limits. It’s good to know what your limitations are based on the sickness that you have. For example, if your voice is weak from a sore throat, then try to focus on communicating via text, emails and Skype. Try to limit voice communication to the only dire “need to have today” type of conversations. Sometimes when we try to push ourselves too much we end up feeling worse and unable to do anything at all.

2.) Take Extra Care. Don’t forget that when your body is in this state, it needs extra care. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious foods to energize the body and try not to overexert yourself. If you take a little extra care, then most likely your recovery will be more rapid than it would be if you still tried to do all the things that you normally do.

3.) Focus on the “Can-Do’s.” Okay, so of course you’ll have limitations when you’re under the weather but what can you do? If you’re working from home and can’t go into the office, then maybe you don’t have access to all of the software and equipment that you normally would have, but thankfully since so many things are Internet-based, there are still many things that you can do in order to still get work done. For example, in the Marketing world, I can still work on e-marketing campaigns, design cool thumbnails in Canva, communicate via Trello boards, update social media accounts, curate content for website and promo materials, etc. There are still many things that I can do, but the efficiency of course, depends on the level of sickness. For example, when I had a migrane that made me sensitive to light (artifical or natural) it made it quite challenging to even keep my laptop open. There’s no shame in this, it’s just good to know what you can and cannot do and to know that eventually, you will feel better.

4.) Be Patient With Yourself. Sometimes when we get sick with a cold, sore throat, etc., it’s our body’s way of saying that it needs a bit more rest. Sometimes it is even the result of a super busy season of life that has required more of your time and energy. But regardless the trigger, we must be patient with ourselves and make the most out of even these gloomy, old sick says. If leveraged and perceived correctly, they can still most certainly add value to our lives.

Tell Me…What do you think about productivity when you’re sick? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

©All Rights Reserved

Poetry is…

Poetry is…

by EE Winkler

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

with words I reconstruct my day and build dreams in the night

in a matter of moments I can be anywhere I want to be

with a few lines or verses I write a new story

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

since my childhood it has not betrayed through joy or through plight

it has been there to right my triumphs and comfort my despair

it never leaves me wondering if it really cares

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

fueled both by sorrow and joy do they simultaneously ignite

a sputtering of endless words that somehow coexist

to help my brain take my thoughts and make sense of all of it

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

no matter where I am it has been by my side

with a longing to convey the emotions that bang on the door of my heart

it is poetry that has remained the train for my feelings to embark

©All Rights Reserved

Photo by Michael Mongin on Unsplash

Just for Today (Imagine)

Just For Today

by EE Winkler

Just for today imagine that you can’t lose

and that every wrong around you can be diffused

you don’t have to be led by the feelings at bay

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that hope is restored

in the things that you’ve always been longing for

no longer bound by the limitations you see or say

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that there are endless possibilities

to be the person that you always longed to be

not restricted in any single way

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that the end is near

not to keep you contained or bound in fear

but to finally give you a chance to really live beyond the zone in the grey

if you can imagine just for today.

©All Rights Reserved

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Reframing Your Goals to Optimize Goal Setting

Don’t let your goals get you down, let them left you up! 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced discouragement from goals that you have set but struggled to achieve. It is not always easy, especially when if there are many goals that you want to achieve. But, through reframing your goals, it can set you up for a more successful journey. A journey that considers that starting point, the finish line and the space in between that I like to refer to as the “journey.”

Check out my video below where I give a more detailed explanation about how to Reframe Your Goals Today:

 

I would consider the “journey” to be the hardest part but also the best part of any goal. It is where all the action actually happens. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to consider your favorite book, movie or play. Why do you love it? Is it just because the character succeeded or was it because they overcame so much adversity along the way?

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Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

Or is it because they were the underdog and no one expected them to succeed. Or was it because so many external forces effected their life in a negative way and still they found a way to overcome? Whatever the reason, I think we love these types of stories because we can see ourselves in the story. We relate to the character’s struggles and we too want to accomplish something great.

 

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Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash

Below, you can find a little, simple poem I wrote about “reframing.”

Reframing

by EE Winkler

She said, “my life will never be the same.

Ever since I viewed it through a different frame

I took a different approach than the way I always did

and now more and more is changing and I really like it

There seems to be a freedom that I had yet to find before

and suddenly closed opportunities are becoming open doors

far beyond what I expected things to be

a simple reframing has set me free.

what I thought could never be has come to be

and now I see the world through a lens of possibility

simply because I help up a little frame

and placed it around my goals today.

©All Rights Reserved

 

 

3 Tips How to Manage Negative Stress…Better

It’s true, we all have to deal with negative stress at some point in our lives. But wouldn’t it be nice to deal with it better?

1.) Identify the Root Cause and Know Yourself: It is so important to ask yourself this question, “Why am I so stressed?” Then ask yourself, “Is this the real, underlining, root cause for my stress?” Perhaps work might seem like the reason why you are so stressed but perhaps it is not your work in and of itself but rather your response or attitude towards your work. What can you do to change this?

2.) Take Action: After identifying the root cause of your stress, now is the time to take action. To make a plan to take actionable stress in order to minimize and eliminate the stress in your life. For example, perhaps you need to take a different approach to the stress trigger in your life.

3.) Make a Plan, Stick With It, Assess and Re-Assess the Plan (as needed): What are you going to plan on doing on a daily basis to address the stress triggers in your life? Perhaps you need to make a list, or get an accountability partner or make a tangible commitment that will keep you on track. Commit to “sticking with your plan” and then be willing to make assessments as needed. The assessments are so important because you are changing and your environment is changing (even in small ways that you might not notice).

These three tips are what I have learned along life’s road through my personal experience. I hope that they help you and encourage you.

Feel free to share, how do you manage negative stress?

 

5 Intangible Items to Bring on a Job Interview or Big Idea Pitch

Interviews…we all have them at numerous points in time in our lives. How do we prepare for them in such a way that we can be successful?

Beyond the tangible items, your resume, portfolio, references, recommendations, flash drive with digital versions of your documents, etc. — it is so essential to prepare and bring the intangible items. The ones that also require preparation, focus and sometimes speak much louder than the tangible items ever could.

1.) Confidence: it is an essential component to interviewing well or having a successful idea pitch. It is not only about confidence in yourself but also a confidence in your experience, education and abilities to meet and exceed the requirements of the job.

2.) Humility: humility goes hand in hand with confidence. They actually can compliment each other. You can be confident that you have the skills and experience to perform a job but you can also be humble in your approach to completing the job. By this I mean that you keep an open mind about how to best complete the job even if you are considered an expert in this knowledge base. A humble person can come to terms with the fact that they don’t know it all and remain open to learn and grow.

3.) Poise: it’s that cool, calm, confidence that’s undeniably attractive. Although poise is something commonly attributed to royalty or reserved for beauty pageant vocabulary it actually really makes a dynamic difference if leveraged in interviews or presentations. How you carry yourself, says a lot about how you feel about yourself so make sure you’re communicating a message worth listening to.

4.) Energy: it is so important to have a natural level of energy and enthusiasm on a job interview or when you’re pitching a new idea. Think about it this way: the interviewer chose to make time to meet you and to see if you are a fit for their company or organization. They are already interested and partially convinced about you, you just have to make them completely interested by showcasing your best.

5.) Positive Attitude: your attitude is one of the few things that you can control in this life. So let me ask you a question, do you have it under control? Positive people are not just born this way, they actually take the time to develop and train themselves to think in a positive way. By having a positive attitude you are giving your perspective employer a preview of what they can expect. Everyone loves to work with positive people with a “can-do” attitude. Are you one of them? Don’t simply have a positive attitude but let it transcend into your descriptions about your past work experience and your outlook on the future. A positive attitude is contagious and every employer wants a team of people with one.

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Photo Credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

When: Say Goodbye to Fear, Doubt & Anxiety

When – an inspirational poem to encourage you to say goodbye to fear, doubt and anxiety. 

Poetry is one of the most beautiful expression of words that I know. I first fell in love with it as a young child. I started reading poets like Langston Hughes and Shell Silverstein and I was inspired by the beauty of their work.

When is an original poem I wrote to talk about issues like fear, doubt and anxiety.

Rose photo credit: Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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5 Tips of Encouragement in the Growth Process to Achieve Your Dreams & Goals (+ What No One Tells You About Growth)

Watch what happens when you don’t give up…

What No One Tells You About Growth

1.) It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The race will not immediately be over, instead it’s about making a commitment to make little steps over a long period of time. It might seem exhausting but with each step you are making a “step” an improvement, a stride towards the finish line and towards your desired goal, so KEEP GOING!
2.) Don’t Focus Solely on Appearances
It may look stagnant at times (but you’re either taking a step forward or backwards; if you’re doing the right thing, then you are taking a step forward so keep on doing the right thing regardless of it you can see the progress immediately.There may be times when it looks like nothing is happening. But keep going anyway. Don’t live based on appearances. If you’re doing the right thing, you might not be rewarded at every moment but keep on doing the right thing.
3.) Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
Everyone’s journey looks different because we are all so uniquely differently crafted by God. You were not created to look like, sound like, be like, act like, etc. anyone else except you. God expects for you to be the best you not the best replicated version of the person next to you or the person you most admire.
 
4.) It Might Hurt – Growth Can Be Painful
 
There’s a lot of truth when it comes to the word “growing pains.” Often in order to grow and keep growing, we might experience pain in the process. For example, in order for muscles to grow, the muscle fibers must be torn so that they can rebuild themselves to be stronger, in order for a palm tree’s roots to grow deep into the ground, sometimes large weights are placed on top of it to force the trees roots to dig down deeper, and in order for beautiful spring flowers to bloom, they must first start out as a seed buried underground and must push through the soil in order to grow.
5.) Your Growth Can Stimulate Others to Grow
Your personal growth process is about more than just you. Although it may seem so all consuming about yourself, your dreams, your hopes, your future, etc; there is more to it than that. You have the power to positively impact the lives of others through just simply choosing to live a life of integrity as you steadfastly pursue your dreams. You don’t have to be called a “mentor” to be one. There are probably people that already consider you to be one. So keep going forward and don’t give up. In the end, you will reap what you sow.
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Broken

via Daily Prompt: Broken

Broken

By EE Winkler

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Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

When you are broken you are at your best

still alive, you have withstood the test

humbled completely and compassionate

are breathed out from your brokenness

When you are broken the world is not as it seems

your lens is tainted based on what you see

and it’s hard to imagine all that you could be

but behold that there is a world of possibility

When you are broken don’t stay there

there is a Healer who desires to heal and repair

every broken place inside of you

with His Word he heals with peace, love and truth

When I am broken what my eyes can’t see

is His tender love that washes over me

His voice whispers to me and He calms all my fears

gives me hope for tomorrow and dries my tears

He holds my hand in my despair

and reminds me that His love has always been there

in my joy and in my pain

His perfect love pursues me all the same.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Dry

Dry

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

Beware of what seems barren, empty and dry

don’t count it off as dead when from there He can breathe life

from the dust we were made out of nothing we see

and from the dust He still makes beautiful things.

Don’t be disturbed when your heart shatters

for only broken things that are restored can grasp what really matters

what seems like a thorn that will not cease

is being shaped into a beautiful thing.

The desert may be all that you see

but behold there is an oasis, a life giving stream

not around the corner but in the desert where you stand

the Living Water is walking with you through the sand

The journey may seem long, dark and unknown

but oh the treasures He longs to bestow

if only our eyes can be opened to see

that there in the dusty desert He is walking with me.

©All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Affliction

Affliction

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Florian Bernhardt on Unsplash

Don’t get caught up in momentary woes

afflictions and trials they come and go

they have the power to shape our lives for the good

but only if we respond to them as we should

Some they blame affliction for their hate

and it gives them a platform for their complaints

but others see affliction’s tender blows

that births beauty, strength and growth

The afflictions of life they never cease

no matter your status or your wealth or pedigree

affliction bears its weight upon us all

and the truly strong at heart never crumble or fall

Afflictions in and of themselves are not a joyous thing

but when they are viewed from the right lens then great joy they bring

no affliction is never desired or yearned for

except by those who have tasted affliction’s rewards.

©All Rights Reserved

A Retrospective State of Mind

via Daily Prompt: Retrospective

A Retrospective State of Mind

by EE Winkler

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Photo by A. L. on Unsplash

A retrospective state of mind

doesn’t consider the future but only this moment in time

it gets swept up in the past and on momentary things

but neglects the joy that hope can bring

A retrospective state of mind

is determined and set out to find

something that can be gleaned from past events

something to prevent future hardships

A retrospective state of mind

in and of itself can be just fine

but coupled with a future tense

it has the power to make a lot more sense

A retrospective state of mind

contemplates on the memories that it finds

it has the power to be a strength or a weakness too

if you only allow yourself to see from the retrospective view.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Thin

via Daily Prompt: Thin

Thin

by EE Winkler

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Photo by patricia serna on Unsplash

     She looked in the mirror and said “I wish I was thin,”

“then I could be normal like my friend Jen

I wouldn’t be picked on about my size

and maybe more people would know I am alive

     If I were thin I bet I would be popular like those girls

the kind that are graceful and do flips and twirls

I wouldn’t have to worry about fitting in

all if only I was thin

     The measuring tape says I am too wide

and the scale says my number is to high

the mirror screams that I take up too much space

and the school bus seat exclaims about my weight

I really like who I am inside

and wish that others could appreciate me,” she shrugged and sighed

      No one knew about the pain she felt within

over her struggle of wanting to be thin

She never actually saw herself for the beauty that was

because she was too busy thinking she was never good enough

but she is brilliant, she is one of a kind

not based on any merit or credit earned over time

but simply because she’s a unique creation of God

His treasure and beloved, will she ever know this thought?

© All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Life Without Laughter?

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Life Without Laughter?

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

A life without laughter is not really a life

but simply an existence in the world does one abide

laughter is the medicine to our souls

to provide some relief in the midst of troubles and woes

A life without laughter is not really a life

without any real joy dwelling inside

when the serious matters are taken too seriously

how can one live life as it was meant to be

A life without laughter is not really a life

void of anything lasting it lives only to survive

take a moment to laugh in the middle of high stress

and a smile will calm your mind and give you a moment of rest

The power of laughter one cannot negate

it can give you the energy you need after a long day

it’s better with friends and those you love

to share a little bit of laughter and a lot of love.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Travels to Israel: The Garden of Gethsemane & Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony)

Although it is said that the exact location of the Garden of Gethsemane is unknown, there are many reasons that point to this location being the most likely location of where it would have been.

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     The Garden of Gethsemane was full of olive trees and the literal translation actually means “olive press.” The olives that were harvested from this garden were pressed to make olive oil that was of such high quality that it was reserved for kings. Is it any wonder that this is where Jesus was praying the night before His crucifixion? He was about to be pressed like these olives for the sins of all mankind.
     Today, if you choose to visit the Garden of Gethsemane (which I highly recommend if you are visiting Jerusalem, it is worth it), then you will still find a garden of olive trees* that are indeed thousands of years old.
     There is also a church called the “Church of All Nations” or Basilica of the Agony. It is absolutely stunning. From the outside, the large columns protrude from the building and a large colorful painting covers the top front part of the church building. You can look up at it but I definitely recommend crossing the street to get a better view.
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The church photo taken from across the street.
    At the entrance, there is a sculpture of an olive tree constructed from iron that you can’t miss as you enter the church. As I walked in the church I was in awe of the beautiful purple stained glass windows, the colorful array of mosaics and the massive dome that is the canvas to even more elaborate paintings.
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    The church is dark inside for the purpose of remembering that this is the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that Jesus prayed in such deep sorrow before He was handed over to be crucified. The Word describes it best.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46

     This was definitely worth visiting and I am so grateful that I got to visit it in person. If you have the opportunity and you’re interested, I would definitely add this as a place to visit.
*Factoid: olive trees can live and produce fruit for literally thousands of years. Ponder: could some of these trees been the same trees that existed when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Rivulets

via Daily Prompt: Rivulet

Rivulets

by EE Winkler

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

I was walking in darkness I could not see

until I was awakened to His truth about what He has done for me

It was a day that I won’t forget

He was knocking on my heart and I let Him in

He poured out His love like rivulets

and he paid a price that I won’t forget

now I am alive because His spirit lives in me

set free from my bondage now I am free

Within His kingdom there is a place

for anyone and everyone that will profess His name

not as slaves but as children to the Father’s love

a love greater than any other I cannot completely fathom

He poured out His love like rivulets

and he paid a price that I won’t forget

now I am alive because His spirit lives in me

set free from my bondage now I am free

Grace, grace is what He gave

paid by the His body broken and blood poured out to save

Love, love is found in His name

purer than any other all for love to this earth He came

He poured out His love like rivulets

and he paid a price that I won’t forget

now I am alive because His spirit lives in me

set free from my bondage now I am free

©All Rights Reserved

Authentic You (an inspirational & motivational poem)

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

Authentic You

by EE Winkler

There is only one authentic you

not another one could do what you do

uniquely created by God’s loving hands

whose good thoughts about you outnumber the sand

There is only one authentic you

shaped and molded for good things to do

with a plan and purpose for your life

you can live at peace knowing God is right by your side

There is only one authentic you

perhaps you need to see yourself from another view

stop focusing on all the negativity

but see your potential and the possibilities

There is only one authentic you

beautiful, brilliant and accepted too

you will never be able to measure the depth of how you’re loved

with a love so deep that a billion words would never be enough

to describe the magnitude of His love for you

it would make you love yourself  and your neighbor too

There is only one authentic you

oh the peace if you only knew

that there has never been and never will be

another person just like you or me

you might find a twin

or have familiar looking kin

but none of this will change what’s true

that there is still only one authentic you.

©All Rights Reserved

 

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Parallel Lives

via Daily Prompt: Parallel

 

Parallel Lives

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Javier Graterol on Unsplash

We were walking parallel lives

but from two different parts of the globe in time

each traveling round on roads unknown

to learn about life outside of our home

while others around us stayed in their comfort zone

we destined out to unafraid and alone

We were walking parallel lives

each within the same lifetime

yet with all of the places that we trekked

we still somehow never met

we were both being shaped and prepared

for one another and the love we’d share

like a harvest there would come a time

when the fruit would finally appear on the vine

We were walking parallel lives

until suddenly our worlds collide

some might describe it as a cute first meet

while others say it was simply meant to be

you reached out your hand and I reached out mine

two parallel lines became one life

with all the years I waited for you

in a moment a thousand prayers came true.

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Daily Prompt: Fret

via Daily Prompt: Fret

Why Fret?

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash

Why fret and worry your life away?

when one worry will not gain you an extra day

we only must live this life to the full

and make the most of every moment to do good

Why fret and worry your life away?

it does no good to get so carried away

on the things that are beyond our control

we can only have faith and trust as they unfold

Why fret and worry your life away

there’s more to this life than words can convey

have you ever seen a bird worry with a furrowed brow?

searching for food and hoping to build it’s house?

Does a bird have more faith then you?

To believe that God will provide it with food

Why fret and worry your life away

you are treasured and loved just as you are today

simply have faith and believe

that the God unseen will provide your every need.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Daily Prompt: Song

via Daily Prompt: Song

A Song for You

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Sergei Akulich on Unsplash

She wakes up in the morning

tosses and turns while she rubs her eyes

The sun is shining on her face

through the window pane so bright

There’s no telling what this day will bring

but she awakes with a smile in the presence of her King

And she sings…

“I wanna sing a song for you

I wanna make every line a melody so true

I wanna sing a song for you

cuz you gave me this voice and singing is what I do

oh, ohhhh, a song for you”

With a few steps out of bed she pours a cup of ‘Joe

and gets herself dressed from head to toe

With one last glance in the mirror she heads out the door

“here we go,” she says with a smile and on her way she goes

She stares up at the pale blue sky

and whispers, “if you’re listening I hope this one makes you smile,”

“I wanna sing a song for you

I wanna make every line a melody so true

I wanna sing a song for you

cuz you gave me this voice and singing is what I do

oh, ohhhh, a song for you”

She never would have guessed it that this very day

would be the last one of this earth before her heart gave way

A sudden accident and in an instant she was lifeless and cold

but when she opened her eyes again, her King, she could behold.

And she smiled said…

I wanna sing a song for you

I wanna make every line a melody so true

I wanna sing a song for you

cuz you gave me this voice and singing is what I do

oh, ohhhh, a song for you

©All Rights Reserved

 

Glimmer – Daily Prompt

Glimmer

Glimmer

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash

Watch it glimmer, watch it glow

a single flame that lights our way home

just a small flicker, a gentle light

that takes us onward through the night

Watch it glimmer watch it glow

we only see a little but still we know

there’s a purpose behind this journey we take

and very soon we will see more of the way

Watch it glimmer, watch it glow

our story still continues to unfold

the flame dances as the wind blows strong

we walk slow and steady and carry on

the night is dark but our flame glows bright

keeping us with our vision and our sight

Watch it glimmer, watch it glow

just a little longer, we’re almost home

we press on though weary and tired

we know this journey will be worth it when we arrive

Watch it glimmer, watch it glow

this single flame it seems to know

that there’s a reason why we’re rushing home through the night

someone awaits for us to behold Him with our eyes

©All Rights Reserved

 

 

Daily Prompt: Disrupt

via Daily Prompt: Disrupt 

A Sleeping Lion

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps on Unsplash

Shh…be very quiet

whisper, don’t shout

there’s a sleeping lion we don’t want to disrupt

he’s stretched out reclined in his den

but with one shout you’ll find him awake again

his eyes will open slowly like a shade

to reveal his large golden eyes glistening beneath his mane

Shhh…be very quiet

whisper, don’t shout

there’s a sleeping lion we don’t want to disrupt

although he might look like a cuddly friend

he’s the king of the jungle and he’ll make sure you know it

with a single pounce he can jump over 10 feet

and there before our eyes the lion will be

our feet are not fast enough to outrun his

and if it was a race, well the lion would win

Shhh…be very quiet

whisper, don’t shout

there’s a sleeping lion we don’t want to disrupt

all around him his pride is sleeping

but with his orders you’ll find them creeping

seeking a prey for their dinner to be

when the lion awakes he’ll be alert and hungry

Shhh…be very quiet

whisper, don’t shout

there’s a sleeping lion we don’t want to disrupt

©All Rights Reserved

Daily Prompt: Froth

via Daily Prompt: Froth

Froth

by EE Winkler

It sits upon my coffee cup

I take a sip and drink it up

It leaves a little white mustache

But with one lick of my lips it does not last

It dances like a foamy white flower

But still it barely last one hour

Until it slowly fades away

Drifting to the bottom of the mug today

Until the next cappuccino when we meet again

Goodbye Froth my tasty little friend.”

You compliment a good cup of coffee so

I really do hate to see you go

But I bid you a found farewell

Until tomorrow your story I will tell.

©All Rights Reserved

 

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Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

7 Strategies for Starting a New Career & Making a Career Change

Starting a new career or making a career change is not always an easy transition. It takes courage to step out in the first place and then endurance to keep going in pursuing your goals and dreams.

7 Strategies for Starting a New Career & Making a Career Change

1.) Humility: Walking into a new career with humility speaks volumes. It shows that you have an open mind, you’re eager to learn and willing to start from the bottom. It’s true, that you will not be the expert, but humility will pave the way to success.

2.) Teachability: How easily can you be taught? Is it difficult for you or do you see something that you can learn from anyone and everyone. We must be eager and willing to learn, regardless of whom is teaching us. In a new career, this is essential since almost everyone who’s been working in that field a day longer than you will have something to teach you.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

3.) Patience: Success does not happen overnight and starting a new career requires an extra degree of patience because it’s almost like starting over again. But success is a process. Day by day, you’re making progress if you stay diligent, committed and keep putting in your best.

4.) Disciplined Focus: Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked but rather remember why you started in the first place. Get disciplined by creating a schedule for yourself in order to make ample time for your new tasks, responsibilities and independent learning. Focus on what you want to achieve and don’t let your failures weigh you down. Instead, use them as teachable moments to take you further.

5.) Adaptability: Your willingness, eagerness and speed to adapt will make a dynamic impact on your overall progress. Are you willing to accept that there will be differences, there will be things you did not expect (both good things and bad things), there will be obstacles to overcome and there will be opportunity.

6.) Positive Attitude: You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction to them. To have a positive attitude is something you must practice. See the best in every circumstance and try to find something positive. Choose to let difficulties make you better and not bitter.

7.) Courage: The voice of fear will always try to keep you bound and rob you from achieving your dreams. But having the courage to see the fear and do it anyway says a lot about your character. Courage in the midst of fear is like paving the road for possibility just simply taking the first steps.

 

©All Rights Reserved

5 Lessons in Character Building from ‘Black Panther’ (the movie)

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Black Panther. Was it just a movie to you or did you glean anything insightful from this feature film? 

Valuable life lessons exist in a myriad of contexts and feature films are no exception to this principle. I was excited to see the movie Black Panther and after I saw it, I was not disappointed. It was a great movie! But not only was it entertaining for me, but it was also insightful.

Here are some things that I gleaned from the movie:

5 Lessons in Character Building from Black Panther (the movie)

1.) Community — in the movie you see a deep rooted sense of community that’s held together in times of celebration and defeat. We all need community — essentially, people that are in our corner and who have our back through success and failures. Your community can be your family, colleagues, friends etc.

2.) Sacrifice — nothing good in life is achieved without sacrifice. It’s actually what makes a story interesting and in the movie you see that sacrifice is a vital component of overcoming obstacles. From time to time we too have to make sacrifices in order to achieve our desired goals. Sacrificing by waking up early to run, sacrificing by working extra hours to complete a project, sacrificing your career to stay at home with your kids, etc. But the positive sacrifices will always reap a reward in due time.

3.) Justice — it’s something we all inwardly crave; this deep desire to make the what’s wrong right. In the movie we see that when the Black Panther loses the battle, for many of the people of Wakanda, they seek justice. They seek for the wrong to be made right. In our lives, we must let our desire for justice not just be used to benefit our own lives but also the lives of those around us.

4.) Integrity — doing the right thing at all times. In the movie, we see the integrity of the Black Panther shine through because he does the right thing even when it would be easy and acceptable to do the wrong thing. At the end of the movie, we even see him willing to make some changes and speak at the UN in order to offer the resources of Wakanda to benefit other nations. We also must be people of integrity, committed to doing the right thing even if it’s not popular or common. We must not compromise our integrity.

5.) Love — an essential part of any good character, love is what makes it all worth it and the driving force. Especially if it’s a love that it unconditional and selfless and truly seeking the greater good of whomever is the object of your affection. This type of love is what kept people fighting for what it right until the end. And ultimately, love conquers all. If you let love lead your life then it will affect every area of your life in a positive way and most certainly build your character.

      Character-building is an ongoing process but thankfully there are so many opportunities for us to learn and grow on a daily basis. What character-building traits did you find in the film?

Photo by Chris Leggat on Unsplash

Daily Prompt: Radiant

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

Radiant

by EE Winkler
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Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

His love is so radiant it shines so bright

too brilliant to see with the naked eye

beyond our comprehension our minds cannot grasp

His eternal love that always was and is and never will run dry

His love is so radiant it dazzles more than any star

it has no limit and it covers everyone near and far

there’s no way to measure His love so divine

so pure and perfect by design

Just as you are you are accepted by Him

His radiant love has covered your sin

a free gift open to all

whosoever will answer His call

Not with condemnation did He come

but with arms open wide on a cross He hung

forever don’t forget His open embrace

His love so radiant that He came to save

©All Rights Reserved

Never Again

An original poem inspired by #NeverAgain 

Never Again 

by EE Winkler

Now ain’t the time to stay seated

we’re rising up…

Now ain’t the time to stay silent

we’ve had enough

Haven’t enough lives been lost

Isn’t it time we count the cost

If we really want to live a life that matters

Then we need to start speaking up

Never again are we going to let this happen

Never again on our watch…

 

 

©All Rights Reserved

I’m Speaking for Her (a poem inspired by International Women’s Day 2018)

Although one day is designated to celebrate International Women’s Day, this is something we can choose to see, embrace, support and celebrate every single day of the year.

I wrote this poem on International Women’s Day 2018. I am inspired by the movement of so many women who have come before me and paved the way and I’m ready to lay some pavement for my generation to make this world a better place for those after me.

I’m Speaking for Her

by: EE Winkler

Every woman has a voice

Every woman has a name

Every woman has a purpose to fulfill today

It’s time we start embracing the truth within our hearts

You were created so beautiful with a purpose, a role, a part

So speak right now if you know it

So speak right now if it’s true

Let’s build a better future

That’s built upon the truth

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

If we want to make this world a better place

Then it’s going to have to start with us today

We’re going to speak out for justice

We’re going to speak out in love

We’re going to speak with compassion

We’re going to shine with a light from above

We’re done with the sidelines, we’re kissing them goodbye

Cause I have a voice and I’m using it tonight

So speak right now if you know it

So speak right now if it’s true

Let’s build a better future

That’s built upon the truth

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

We are not guaranteed tomorrow

We only have this day

It’s time we seize this moment

And make the most of this day

What are we doing that matters?

What are we doing that counts?

We’re speaking out against injustice, and we’re speaking out right now

So speak right now if you know it

So speak right now if it’s true

Let’s build a better future

That’s built upon the truth

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

© All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit:

Photo by Lui Peng on Unsplash

Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Photo by Doug Linstedt on Unsplash

Photo by Doug Linstedt on Unsplash

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Are You Ready to TESTIFY? “Master, I Want to See”

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Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash
What if the one thing that’s standing in the way of your testimony is you? What if you are the one that God is waiting for to participate with Him? What if we’re waiting on His timing, only to discover that He is waiting on us.
We cry out for help and healing and he’s ready to do it but we are not. Sometimes there is some sort of resistance in our lives. Maybe pride? Maybe unbelief? Maybe unforgiveness? Maybe hopelessness? Perhaps we are relying on our own understanding or past experience or present circumstances instead of relying completely on Christ. And so, He waits.
Is there anything in your life today that God may be ready to heal but that He’s waiting for you on? Cry out to Him. He’s listening. If you’re a human being on this earth, He loves you regardless of who you are.
In the story of blind Bartimaeus we read the story of a blind man sitting by the roadside who calls out to Jesus. Even when other people tell him to be quiet, he still cries out even louder until Jesus calls Him over and asks Him something so beautiful,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
What if Jesus is asking you today, “What do you want me to do for you?” Are you honest enough to tell him what you really need? Bartimaeus didn’t sugar coat it, at the heart of his blindness he just said what he desired, “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?

The blind man answered, “Master, I want to see!

 Jesus told him, “You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.”

Right away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus.”

Mark 10: 51-52

Could it be that the obstacle is not God or someone else but you? Could it be that today is our day where we lift up our hands to him, humble our hearts and profess to Him, I’m ready now. “Master, I want to see!”
Are you ready to testify? I am. 

Choose Love

“Love is a choice. Beyond feelings, beyond a moment in time, it’s a daily deliberate decision to choose to love.  But in order to be able to love like this, you must first know how much you are already loved by Him.”  -EE Winkler

Choose Love

An original poem by EE Winkler

Choose Love when your enemy spits in your face

criticizes you and calls you harsh names
Choose Love when hatred feels like a fiery flame
seeking to destroy you and your name
Choose Love when everyone else is choosing to hate
with excuses that seek to justify their pain
Choose Love when every door is closing to you
you can open a door with kindness to a stranger caught aloof
Choose Love when your soul is in pain
when loving seems to be all in vain
Choose Love when the world seems calm
and when life serenades over you like a pillowy balm
Choose Love when the sun sets on your season
and you have to find in hard work a brand new meaning
Choose Love when there is no friend in sight
and you find yourself crying through sleepless nights
Choose Love when it all closes in like a storm
and you’re left with a sadness like never before.
Choose Love when it’s hard and not easy to do
in choosing you’ve selected the greatest option for you
Choose Love when a day turns into a night
and the hardest thing to do is just stay alive
Choose Love when no one believes in the truth
listen closely Love is rooting and cheering for you
Choose Love when it’s not popular or in style
you’ll find it’s always the better choice to go the second mile
Choose Love when it’s hard to persevere
when the going gets tough and the end is near
Choose Love when things don’t go your way
there’s a plan for you just wait and pray
Choose Love when you’re ready to give up
hang in there a little longer – beyond the corner is the mountaintop
You can love because He has first loved you…
Photo by Magda Fou on Unsplash

For All the Times You Hear “I Can’t”

An original poem by EE Winkler. Don’t ever, ever give up. 

For All the Times You Hear “I Can’t”

EE Winkler

For all the times you hear “I can’t”
Stop for a moment and consider the ant
watch how steadily and diligent he moves
to carry up to 10 times his weight over hills and grooves
you won’t hear him whimper or complain
but slowly, slowly he builds his place
no matter how small each item seems
it all adds up in the greater scheme
For all the times you hear “I can’t”
Consider the smallest plant
that starts as a seed buried underground
concealed in darkness it can’t be found
yet diligently it extends its roots
then out from the ground it moves
just a little glimpse of green but everyday
you’ll see the plant growing in the sun rays
For all the times you hear “I can’t
Consider this little chant
I can, I can, and yes I will
onward I’ll tarry across rivers and uphills
until I’ve reached the end of the race
I can, I will for all my days.
In Video:

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash (1st image)

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash (2nd image)

Don’t Let This Moment Pass You By–Making the Most of Time

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Photo by Crew on Unsplash
It’s gone. That moment when you first read this title. It has passed you by and it will never come back again. I think that we lose sight of the ugly truth about time. Time is the most expensive commodity in this world and yet we waste it. We find ourselves being distracted by things that don’t matter. Distracted by things that at the end of our lives, will not be something that we recall to mind. Yet although we know these distractions exist and we’re irritated that they exist, we still nurture or pacify their existence.
But what if we starting reclaiming the hours, minutes and seconds of our time back? What if we were more intentional about our investment in the way that we spend our time? Not for the sake of getting more done, but rather for the sake of living a life that brings more fuliment and meaning to our existence.
Time has no meaning outside of relating it to someone higher than ourselves. The Creator of time and the ruler of time. The One who designated a time for us to come into the world and a time for us to leave the world. The One who simultaneously sees our whole lives from beginning to end. At the end of our lives, what will He have to say about our investment of our time? What if the all the things we worked and strived for that we thought mattered, actually don’t?
If a rich man loses his wealth, his title and all material things, but looks around him and sees his beautiful wife and children, is he not still rich? Is his wealth determined by the material things or the people that surround him and love him?
We are each given a predetermined allotment of time on this earth. But do we live a life considering that there is an eternity that will follow this life?
How Do We Make the Most of Our Time?
  1. Take a Recap. Ask yourself the tough questions. What did I do with my time last year? Was it worthwhile? Was there anything I would have done differently? Be honest with yourself. If your recap doesn’t look the way you wanted it to look, then be joyful, today you can start making this a year that will be better than the last.
  2. Examine Your Life Story. If someone wrote a book about your life right now, would it be a story that you were proud of or would it be full of regrets? Would there be things you wish you would have done or did you take every opportunity to do good? Would it be full of excuses or would it show that you made the most out of what you had?
  3. Invest in People. This is the investment that will never be affected by a stock market or interest rate. The investment you make in the life of another person, is indispensable. We need each other. We were made for relationship with other people. No one is an island, nor is anyone a self made person. It was through the investments of many people that made us who we are. Parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, mentors, friends —they all made an impact in our lives to shape us into who we are today. So, how can we invest in other people?
  4. Seize the Day (and the hours, minutes & seconds). See beyond the mundane aspects of daily life and see what’s really there. If it was your last day on earth and you were ironing clothes would your attitude have been positive or negative? Can you see the beauty in the simplest tasks? Can you see the beauty in serving someone besides yourself?
  5. Know the Creator of Time. How can life really be meaningful if you don’t know the Author and the Finisher of life? If you were a computer engineer, and you had the opportunity to sit in a room and talk with Charles Babbage, the father of computing, would you? Wouldn’t your friends, family and colleagues think you were crazy if you passed up this opportunity? Yet, what if daily you’re passing up the opportunity to talk to the Father of life? He’s already extended the invitation. It was sent via an old wooden cross. If you thought it was just a story for the “religious,” think again when He said “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What a joy it is to know, that includes you and me.
Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick…

The Vine

An original poem inspired by John 15

 

 

 

The Vine

The Vine called out to me the branch…
whatever you do, just don’t let go
I love you more than you could ever know
you don’t have to fret and fear
just look by your side
and you’ll see I’m near
I make the sun to shine upon your face
and I’ve given you everything you need by my glorious grace
my love it truly knows no end
I’m holding you together again and again
The branch replied…
But the wind it blows and it shakes my life
I try to hold on and I’m holding tight
but I feel like this storm is going to tear me apart
it’s hitting me to the core of my heart
The vine said…
Don’t worry about a single thing
In me you’ll find everything
even if the storm blows everything away
I will still be holding you at the end of the day
Your tears I’ve gathered like precious gems
In your ear I’m whispering sweet encouragement
If only you will just stay connected to me
You will find the beauty in everything
The branch it smiled and leaned in close
looking at the vine it could suddenly know
that every care and concern
the vine of course had surely heard
the branch experienced the love of the vine that day
when the fiercest storm came and threatened to blow it away
but as it held on to the vine it soon began to see
that the all along the vine was holding onto me.

“Keep Your Eyes on Me,” He Whispers

Keep your eyes on Me,” I hear him whisper.

     Life is full of ups and downs. Even on the calmest day, I still have to pause and refocus. Where are my eyes? Where is my hope?
If I keep my eyes on myself, I’m headed for trouble.
If I keep my eyes on other people, then I’m headed for trouble.
But if I keep my eyes on Him, there I find peace and the meaning of life.
Apart from Him there is no hope. He is hope. So in Him, keeping my eyes on Him, I find hope.

Who is this HIM I’m referring to? It is no other than Almighty God. Father, Spirit, Son. The Great I AM. The One Who Was and Is and Is to come.
Maybe you have heard of Him or you know Him in a way that’s not true to His character. If you met Him today, you’d be pleasantly surprised that He’s absolutely crazy about you! He loves you more than you can imagine being loved.
Instead of waving a finger when He looks at You, His arms are wide open and He’s running to greet you. Politely, he knocks on the door of your heart. He waits for you to respond to Him. He doesn’t barge His way in. But when we allow Him in, we find all we’ve ever wanted. Finally, that part of us that we’ve tried to fill with a billion other things is complete because our Savior resides there.
Life will not always be smooth sailing, but the comfort and peace is found in knowing Him we can rest assured that we know the Captain steering our ship, and He is good, VERY good. Not everything that happens to you will be good. The world is a fallen place. But you can rest assured that He is always Good.
If you feel like you’re carrying a weight that’s too much for you, then cast it all on Him. He’s always available and He’s just waiting for you to say YES.

Is It Time to Check Your Outlook?

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Photo by Alex wong on Unsplash
       If you find yourself having too many bad days in a row, maybe it’s time to take the metaphorical glasses of your life off and look at the lens. Chances are that over time they have collected dirt, debris and maybe the glass itself is broken and all of these things are negatively affecting your outlook.
       You don’t have to continue to live your life looking out of these marred lenses. You can choose to deliberately check your outlook on life and change your perception today.
How to Know if it’s Time to Check Your Outlook Checklist
  • If you’re living for the weekend without enjoying the weekdays and expecting to find a treasure in each day, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If your joy is only based on your personal circumstances, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If your attitude has become so negative that you hardly recognize yourself, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If you’re constantly blaming and pointing the finger without ever examining your own heart, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If you’re constantly berating others in order to improve your own self image, then it’s time to check you’re outlook.
  • If there’s someone that you’re angry at that you choose not to forgive, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If joyous or peaceful people make you upset, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If you can’t find one thing to be thankful for every single day, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If your life is only about you and your household, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If you are too inward focused and self conscious, then it’s time to check your outlook.
  • If you have allowed your belief system to alter based only on circumstantial evidence, then it’s time to change your outlook.
      This list can go on and on and can be customized in many ways but the truth of the matter is that we all need to take a moment from time to time to just take our glasses off and check out lenses. None of us, no not one of us, is immune from the difficulties or troubles of this life. They will come and when they come, we need to decide ahead of time if we are going to let them hinder our outlook on life and cripple our walk OR will we take off our glasses, take a good look at the lenses and CHOOSE to wipe away the things that have hit us. We don’t have to become prisoners to the difficulties of this life. Like Paul and Silas, let’s sing out in the night. Let’s not allow the difficulties of this life to take us captive, let’s use them as a catalyst to push us forward.

Just One Thing

 

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Do One Thing Everyday that Brings You Closer to Where You Want to Be…

If you’re anything like me and you have a to-do list that’s a mile long, then sometimes the agenda of daily tasks can seem daunting. We strive to do so many things with the goal of maintaining a balanced life but at the end of the day, we’re so burnt out that we actually don’t really live the type of intentional life that we desire.

Although there is an extreme satisfaction of being able to check items off a list, what if we pushed ourselves to do the one thing that actually brings us closer to our dream or where we want to be? This may be the one thing that you put off until the weekends or evenings or even retirement, but what if you dare to believe that right now, is the time to incorporate the one thing into your daily life.

How to Refocus on the One Thing?

Sacrifice. Many of the best things in life require some degree of sacrifice. Although it is not a warmly embraced word, it’s the truth. While the one thing looks a bit differently for all of us but the common ground is that it requires some form of sacrifice. The sacrifice could be one hour less of sleep, or saying no to the office birthday cake, or not straying from your faith.

Determination. It means that when the going gets tough, you stick with it and don’t give up. In order to pursue the one thing, it’s going to take a great measure of determination. The only way to build more determination is through being found faithful in taking daily steps to not give up no matter if it seems like a success or failure. With each fail, you’re one step closer to success.

Setting Your Mind. It’s not your lack of ability that is standing in your way, it’s your mindset. Check your thoughts, on average are you thinking positive or negative thoughts? Do you see your failures as stepping stones or road blocks? Don’t let negative thoughts hinder or prevent you from doing the one thing today.

Choosing. We make lots of little choices everyday, but the truth of the matter is that all of these little choices are what makes up our lives. We don’t just suddenly get “happy,” but we choose to rejoice even when we’re hard pressed in difficulty trusting that there is something good coming out of it even if “the good” is just the fact that you’re getting stronger.

Don’t leave the one thing on the wayside of your life. Choose today, to not wait until tomorrow but to bring the one thing back into your life and start working on what matters.

 

Tunnel Vision

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Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

When was the last time that you went through a tunnel? Do you recall the feeling of the dark, narrow space where all you could really see or focus on was the tunnel? Do you recall the feeling you felt when you were going through a very long tunnel and you finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel?

A tunnel can actually be a metaphor for a difficulty or a challenge that comes along on the road of life. Sometimes, the difficulty can obstruct our vision so that we develop tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision can plague us in ordinary life even when we are not physically going through a tunnel. If we allow ourselves to become centrally focused on a negative situation for a long enough period of time, then we’ll find ourselves completely consumed and limited by it.

The tunnel is simply a tool;  A means to an end. It’s a facilitator to take you from one point to another. If seen correctly, it can actually help prepare us for what’s on the other side of the tunnel. But when you have tunnel vision to the extent where all you can see or focus on is the tunnel, what do you do?

How Do You Break the Cycle of Tunnel Vision?

       Remember the Big Picture. When you’re going through a tunnel it seems like that’s all there is because it is all you can see. You don’t know how long you will be in the tunnel and even if you’re still pressing onwards it can be easy to forget to see the big picture. Enlarge your vision to see the big picture. Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t see but remain hopeful knowing that there’s still more to be seen.

       Stay Focused. Tunnel vision has a tendency to distract us and rob us of actually staying focused. As a result, we must train ourselves to become more intentional about staying focused in the midst of a tunnel knowing that it will soon open up into new territory. When we refocus we shift our attention from the negative to the positive.

      Beyond the Tunnel. We must look with eyes of faith beyond the tunnel. It’s not that we don’t see the tunnel or deny its existence but rather we see beyond it. We can’t allow ourselves to rely on what we see in the natural. We must be willing to stretch our faith to see beyond the tunnel.

None of us is immune from difficulty in life but we do have the power to choose how it will affect us. Resist the urge to develop tunnel vision in the midst of difficulty. Although the obstacle will still exist, it will no longer have power over you when viewed through the correct lens.

Just in the Knick of Time

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Photo by Dieter de Vroomen on Unsplash
       Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere that is absolutely contingent on whether or not you’re on time?
      The doors close at 9:00am sharp or the race starts right on time or the last tickets are given to people that arrive on time or even early. Time is the one thing that no matter how much money you have in your pocket, you can never buy it back. Once a minute, hour or day is over, it is over. There’s no way to try and get it back again. And yet with the basic cognitive awareness, we still lose ourselves in the concept of time.
      We plead for time to somehow speed up during the times of drudgery or boringess (e.g. at work or waiting in line or while on the subway headed home) but yet we plead for more time in the midst of the most blissful moments (e.g. wedding day, dinner with your aging grandparents, a once in a lifetime trip). But time is not in our hands, nor does it submit to our selfish whims no matter how we try to justify it, time simply does not belong to us.
So who does time belong to? 
      You see it’s a question that you must answer for yourself at some point in time in your life. It’s not a question that anyone can answer for you, it’s up to you to answer it for yourself. We all embrace the concept that we didn’t decide when we were born, nor are we given the foreknowledge of when we will die. And when we are met with near-death circumstances, only then does it really seem that we think about it more in depth. But what if thinking of death does not fall into the grasp of sheer morbidity—what if thinking of death allows us to really make the most out of this life.
      Some say you never know what you have until it’s gone. If we don’t see the preciousness of life in light of the fact that there will be an inevitable end to it, well, how do we really know if we have allowed ourselves to live to its maximum potential. 
      We were all made uniquely. Each with a unique string of DNA that tells our body to have green eyes or brown eyes, curly hair or straight hair, brown skin or white skin. And yet somehow we forget our uniqueness and strive for the ideal of sameness, of fitting in. And yet, we were never made to be the same or to simply fit in, we were made to stand out. Each uniquely designed for good works to do by our Creator.
      So who does time belong to? And what are you doing with the time that you’ve been given. At the end of your life, there will be something said about you, have you considered what words would matter the most? Does your life now move in the direction of this?

Seeing & Embracing Your Potential

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Photo by Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash

The thing about potential is that it starts off small and grows into something extraordinary. If properly nurtured it will not simply remain the same, but eventually there will be a fruitful harvest. Potential is like a seed buried in the ground. It is only a tiny fragment but when placed in the soil, buried, fed with sunlight and water, it begins to take root. But, all of the initial work begins under the surface. It is not seen and in fact, many people pass right by it never knowing that there’s actually something growing and taking root under the surface layer. Then seemingly out of nowhere, the first initial sprout of green life emerges from the surface. Delicate and small it still continues to grow above the soil while also making sure to extend its roots deeper into the ground. There is much more taking place underground than above the ground.

Is Your Potential Planted in Fertile Ground? 

Allow it to Grow: Potential means nothing if it is not applied. If a child has the potential to be an Olympic gymnast but he never practices or refuses training, how can she ever expect anything to develop from that potential? Allowing your potential to grow is making an investment on a daily basis in what you have been given.

Feed & Nurture Your Potential: Now that you’ve “planted” your potential, what active steps are you taking to let it grow? Are you attending trainings or classes to make you better qualified in your field. Do you spend your time thinking of new ways to develop your skills rather than diminish them?

Keep Investing in the Growth Process: As grueling as it may sometimes be, don’t give up on the growth process. Some days will be easier than others, where the sun is shining and all seems right with the world. Other days will make you feel like giving up and the rain and thunder clouds will ominously hang over the sky. But, there is sill progress to be made in each of these steps along the way.

Don’t Forget About Your Roots: Yes, it’s important to nurture the plant above the ground that everyone can see but don’t forget to nurture your roots. Although they remain unseen their role is critical in providing the plant with all of the nutrients it needs to stay alive and healthy. What are you doing to nurture your roots? Your roots are  what sustain you even when you are exposed to difficult circumstances and life events out of your control. Without strong roots, then the beautiful plant that you’ve become will not stand the test of the storms of life. That’s why it’s so important to know your roots. What are you grounded in? What are your absolutes?

The beauty of potential is that there’s always room for growth. It’s never too late and it’s never too soon to let your potential grow into something extraordinary. It all comes down to a choice.

What will you choose to do with your potential?

 

 

My Cup Overflows

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” -Luke 6:38

Whose cup are you overflowing right now? Whose life are we investing so much in that if we were not there, a real difference could actually be felt.

We are not only meant to be reapers of the harvest but sowers. Sowing seeds that bring forth fruit and not weeds.

Generosity is not just about the things we do, but the way we live. We can live generous lives that overflow positively amongst those around us. How you you live generously?

More Than Just Your Table. Is your career all about you? Is your life all about you and your household? Although it might seem like a perfectly natural tendancy to think only within this realm it can actually deteriorate and diminish the potential that you actually have within you. You were not gifted with your unique talents exclusively for yourself and your benefit. Your gifts and talents are meant also to benefit those around you. If you’re work and you’re life is exclusively about building your life, it’s time to rethink beyond just your table.

Expectant to Bless Others. Do you live with the expectation that you can be a blessing every single day? How do you see yourself? Do you love yourself? Are you comfortable in your own “skin”? If you’re not, this can actually limit you from being a blessing to someone else because if you can’t love and embrace yourself, then how can you love and embrace others. Instead of waking up everyday waiting for someone to bless you, wake up with the expectation and desire to be a blessing to those around you.

Meaning Behind Your Work. Whatever work you do, it has meaning. Our identity is not found in our work (although we live in a world that attempts to label people according to what they do). The truth of the matter is work should be an aspect of our life through which we glorify God. We are working unto Him and for Him and so the work that we do is all about Him. Whatever work you do, if you understand that the meaning of your work is all to bring God glory then you can experience a real freedom and meaning behind the work that you do, especially for those difficult days.

Challenge Questions:

So whose cup are you overflowing today? 

How does your work show an overflow of the grace that’s been shown to you?

How can you let generosity be an everyday player in your life?

 

Are You Ready to Go to the Heights?

 

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. -Habakkuk 3:19

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Photo by Micah. H on Unsplash

Any experienced hiker or climber knows that in order to go to the heights, you must go through the valleys and tread the “not so frequently travelled” ground in order to reach the peak. It’s not a journey for the faint hearted nor for the ill-prepared. It requires discipline, preparation, commitment, dedication and perseverance to begin the journey, stay on course and finish the race.

Where our minds can get derailed in the journey is thinking that our strength is in ourselves and leaning on our own understanding to try and make it through this life. However, as we see in the book of Habakkuk, our strength comes from the Lord. It’s beyond a carnal strength but rather, it is His indwelling Spirit that takes us and transforms and carries us beyond the life we could ever have imagined.

The question is not, is it possible? The question is, do we really want to go to the heights? Do we really want to go? Certainly from a distance and through an eloquent narrative, the heights sound and look marvelous; and they truly are. But what we often don’t see, is the road it takes to get to the heights. We don’t see the process and so when we get started and encounter difficulty, we can confuse it for a problem when in actuality, difficulty and challenges are a part of the journey. They are the tools that carve us along the road, equip us for the next steps and enable us to persevere further.

Are you ready to go to the heights? 

Fear’s Final Fallout

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Bang! You’re Out! Dripping with sweat I wipe my brow and stand there looking over it. My chest rises and falls quickly and with my fists clenched I feel victorious yet ready to punch again if it even flinches.
There it lay on the ground. After holding hostage seasons of my life, I had finally roused up the courage to fight back. The reporters gathered in around me as the referee wrapped a purple robe around my shoulders and a golden belt across my waist. They bombarded by a series of questions:
“How did you do it?”
“What’s your secret?”
“Did you have doubts about being able to take him out?”
“What were you thinking about during the match?”
But all I could do was stare over at fear. Although I was utterly exhausted both physically and mentally I felt a large weight lift off my shoulders. Fear was dead. Its final fallout had arrived.
How do we deal with fear? The type of fear that arises when you’re about to embark on new territory in the land of your dreams? What is the truth about fear?
1.) Fear sometimes sounds like the voice of logic. We sometimes confuse the voice of fear for the voice of logic. Logic says, if you put ice cubes in the freezer, they will freeze. Fear says, if you put ice cubes in the freezer, they freeze and then maybe your whole home will freeze too by default. Fear has a tendency to blow things way out of proportion and especially in our mind. If we let it, fear will bind us before we can even utter a word. Fear has a clever way of mixing just enough logic with a big fat lie and if we’re not careful, then our minds will begin to rationalize and eventually give in to voice of fear.
Are you willing to try and fail and then try again and again until you succeed? How long are you willing to wait and what are you willing to invest in order to achieve your dreams and goals? What are they worth to you?
2.) Fear sometimes will seem to make sense.Golden nugget of the day: not every good thing or good opportunity is going to make sense. It simply won’t. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we’ll stop trying to make perfect sense out of the many mysteries of life. Are you willing to try and fail and then try again and again until you succeed? How long are you willing to wait and what are you willing to invest in order to achieve your dreams and goals? What are they worth to you? We can’t explain why it took Thomas Edison over 10,000 attempts before he finally succeeded. He was even quoted as saying, “ I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” What will you be quoted as saying?
What will you be quoted as saying?
3.) Fear will work with reason and procrastination to try and convince you not to do something you know you’re called to do. Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you ended up talking yourself out of doing something that you actually wanted to do and committed to do in the first place? Fear manipulates reason to facilitate excuses in our minds that make us feel not so bad for not doing the things that we know we should (and even wanted) do in the first place.
4.) Fear will try and justify itself when you confront it. Fear is the king of excuses. So once you confront it when it shows up in your life, then the excuses will pile up faster than you can imagine. Fear can even lead you to believe that it is the excuse in and of itself to keep you from achieving your goals and dreams.  So before fear even knocks at your door you must already have a strategy of how you will respond. Once you get face to face with fear, the only way to fight it and win the fight is with the truth. And the only way to fight with truth, is to actually know the truth. Do you know the truth?
Do you know the truth?
5.) Fear will try and steal your voice, diminish your potential and rob you of the life you could live. It’s so subtly deceptive but if we listen to the voice of fear long enough we will become fluent in the language of fear. We’ll start talking like fear talks until we have no real voice left of our own. Once fear has taken your voice then it will try and keep you from ever going to the heights that you were destined for. Whether it was actually running that marathon, starting a new career or making new friends, fear is a thief waiting for those that will fall prey to its snare.
       So, when you hear the voice of fear, you don’t have to entertain it nor allow it to rob you of a single moment of your life. Decide ahead of time, before you’re even confronted with fear, how you will live your life. Will you look back on the things you wish you would have done? Or will you live by your convictions and not by fear.
© All Rights Reserved

With Just a Grain of Sand

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Are you experiencing difficulty? Do you have something that is an unwelcome irritant invading your world with seemingly no resolve? Does it feel like the difficulty is trying to overtake or consume your life?
Consider the beauty of the pearl. One of the most precious and beautiful jewels of the sea is formed out of difficulty. When an irritant enters the oyster’s shell, it responds by coating the irritant with sheets of aragoniteconchiolin and secretions of narce between each layer. These are the very same things in which the oyster’s shell is made out of. Over time, as it continues to add layer upon layer, a beautiful pearl is formed. What once was only an irritant, seeking to impair and possibly destroy the oyster has now become the platform it has used to create something beautiful. 
 
How do you take difficulty in your life that seems like an un-welcomed irritant and make something beautiful out of it?
Refocus and Leverage the Difficulty for Good. Do not let the difficulty consume your life and your attention. We have a choice. We can choose to allow the difficulty to overcome us and let it be the place where our story ends or we can choose to leverage the difficulty and respond accordingly. Don’t allow yourself to be the victim to the difficulty. Instead deliberately choose to respond, forgive and press on. Train yourself to leverage the difficulty for good and watch them turn into beautiful things in your life that empower you instead of victimize you.
 crutch that victimizes you and keeps you from overcoming and robs your joy. Instead, leverage the irritant for good and the way that you see the the irritant will turn into something beautiful much like how the pearl is formed in the oyster.
What Starts Off Difficult Doesn’t Have to Stay Difficult if You Respond the Right Way. What if the oyster just let the irritant just exist in it’s shell? What if it simply just got used to its irritation? What if the oyster complained to all its oyster friends (who also have irritants too) about how bad it was and how unfair it was and how it wished it would just go away? We might say to that oyster, “get it together! That irritant is trying to kill you but you have the power to overtake it!”  But since the oyster chooses to respond and and keep responding by covering it with aragoniteconchiolin and secretions of narce between each layer, it is able to create something beautiful out of the very thing that sought to destroy it. What beautiful thing are you creating from your difficulty?
When it Feels Like There’s Too Many “Irritants” or Issues Flaring Up in Your Life at One Time, Hang On. Just like some oysters have multiple pearls, they are formed through multiple irritants. The ones with extremely large pearls are developed through the process of responding continuously over an extended period of time to the irritant. Some of the most successful people in life do not live difficulty free, but instead they’ve chosen to continuously respond the right way.
 with the irritant that enables them to make an even bigger and more beautiful pearl.
Stay Engaged Even in the Midst of a Difficulty. A pearl is not produced by the oyster just watching the irritant and worrying or complaining about it. No, the oyster deliberately chooses to stay engaged, not just upon the initial invasion of the irritant but continuously. We too must also stay engaged. It’s not enough to stay engaged one day and to disengage the next few days and expect constant long term progress. Everyday, we must not only respond but stay engaged.
Use What You’ve Been Given. The oyster does not respond to the irritant with anything outside, it simply uses what it has been given. It has been designed not only to experience these irritants but also, it has been designed with a response mechanism within its body that is comprised of the very substances in its own shell. What have you been given that has equipped you to respond to difficulty? Do you know that the same power that conquered the grave lives in you? That means that since we have Jesus, we have been equipped to handle every difficulty through His strength and grace. But, this is only if we choose to allow Him to.
Respond the Right Way to the Difficulty. The oyster responds to the irritant with the most powerful weapon is possesses, the aragoniteconchiolin and secretions of narce. The oyster responds to the irritant with the strongest thing it possesses. Like the oyster, we must respond to difficulties and challenges with the strongest thing we possess which is the Word of God. It in the irrefutable truth through which we can continuously build our life upon. Ephesians 6:10-11 tells us to “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:10-18

Just Call Me “Steward”

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Stewardship. It extends so much farther beyond a financial perspective. Stewardship also applies to time, gifts, talents and our very lives. What are we doing with what we have? Are we stewarding it properly to leverage the greatest return?

The good news is that we’ve all been given something. In some cases, we have been given multiple different things. But the truth about stewardship is that it comes down to what we will do with what we’ve been given.

1.) Acknowledge what you have: Sometimes we tend to forget just how blessed we are. Start by making a list of all that you’ve been given stewardship over. Don’t focus on your lack and what you don’t have or wish you had. Simply focus on what you do have.

2.) Respond in Gratitude: Read the list out loud and respond in gratitude. When was the last time you said thank you to God for all of the things He has given you both great and small. Choose to practice being gracious and thankful. It won’t just happen naturally so deliberately plan to say out loud what you are thankful for.

3.) Evaluate how you are currently stewarding: what are you currently doing with your finances, time, resources, talents and gifts. Are you making the most of them and using them to affect others in a positive way? Make a list of how you’re currently practicing stewardship amongst what you’ve been given.

4.) Plan for how you can become a better steward: Look at the list that you made and identify other opportunities to become a better steward or to practice stewardship in a new way. There will always be room for growth no matter how old we get. We must simply be open and available to growing.

So would you consider yourself a good steward of what you have? If not, practice becoming better at stewardship by actively paying attention to it in your life and looking for additional ways to apply it in a practical and realistic way.

Like a Child

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One of the hardest things to do as an adult is to be “childlike.” I don’t mean childlike in the sense of childish immature behavior or playfulness but rather the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child and to learn like a child.

Children have a natural receptivity to be open to learning, trying and failing. They’re not afraid of mispronouncing a word if they learn a new language they simply try. They are teachable and eager to learn. They are expectant that they can and will learn. And yet so often as adults we live inhibited and bound because we do not allow ourselves to really be open enough and humble enough to learn and embrace life through the lens of a child.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:2-5

In Faith: Do you ever wonder why Jesus tells us to become like little children? Think about it, what is childlike faith? It’s believing something or someone no matter what the outer circumstances may look like. It’s pure and simple. It’s the ability to believe beyond what you can see, confident that it will happen. Childlike faith takes yes as yes and is coupled with a sense of anticipation when a promise is made with the knowledge that it will be granted.

In Learning: why is that children seem to learn so quickly? Is it simply that they’re eager to learn? Or that they have much to learn? I reckon that their ability to learn comes from their level of receptivity. They’re receptive and expectant to learn and they always do. They’re not afraid of making a mistake or failing, they simply stick with it and keep trying. It may explain why it seems that they learn so easily and quickly in the eyes of an adult.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity

In Humility: Have you ever been in the presence of an extremely humble person? This, in and of itself is humbling and reminds us to examine our hearts and confess where pride has crept in. As adults, it’s easy to focus on ourselves and look out just for ourselves with a fear of provision or lack there of. Humility causes us to fix our eyes on God and lean on Him for everything. It requires a daily decrease of self so that He can indeed increase. If we acknowledge and really live knowing that God is our Father and we are His children then we can experience the beautiful submission and dependency in Him.

In Our Perception of the World: What if we could shake off all our biases and learned stereotypes about a culture or country and see it with a transparent lens. A lens that has not been burned by hurt feelings or broken from heartbreak or crushed from a sour defeat or distorted by bitterness or shaded from hateful discourse? As adults, we have many learned behaviors about the world. While some are good, in terms of safety and common sense, others can actually keep us from really experiencing the beauty of a place, culture or people group.

In Our Sense of Wonder: Do you remember those moments in your life when you said “woooow”? Most likely, most of those moments were when you were a child. You always saw something fascinating even in “mundane” situations because you expected to. As a child, the simple act of my parents driving through a tunnel evoked a sense of wonder. It was exciting to experience it, not knowing how long the tunnel really was. What if, we choose to see the world around us with eyes of wonder? Imagine how your days, weeks, months and years would look from this viewpoint.

Let yourself embrace life through a new lens and experience life “like a child.” You just might find that it is exactly what you needed.

Just Show Up & Be Available

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When did we start believing the lie that in order to make a difference that we must actually have a specific gift, skill set or calling. When did we forget that sometimes the greatest thing we can do is just show up. Showing up is half of the battle and many people lose this battle on a daily basis because they just won’t do it.

But underneath it all, there is this great joy that’s found when you’re present and making yourself available to all that could be possible.
Consider…
If your 5 year old has a recital, she doesn’t care if your shoes don’t match your belt all she cares about is that she can look out in the audience and you are there.
If you’re home with your kids and you’re not a very good cook but you still try your best to put nutricious meal on the table and dine with them, then you’ve done what matters.
If you say you’re going to be at work at 9am and you’re there; In doing so, you’re proving that you are a person of your word and you’re actually framing the lens through which people will receive the words that you say.
My track coach used to say the hardest part about running is putting on your shoes and getting out the door. We used to look at him crazily thinking, “No it’s not. Easy for him to say. He’s not the one about to spend the next two hours on a brutal workout.” But looking back it’s true. Once you’ve made a decision to do something, the best way to stay committed is just to keep showing up. Commitment is not always measured by how much you know or how much you can do, but it’s really about are you available so that the fruits of commitment can eventually take root in your life.
What Happens When We Show Up:
1.) We’re immersed in the environment. 
There’s nothing like being immersed in an environment that you want to be a part of. If you want to be a reporter, being on the newsroom floor will by default cultivate this skill further in you. If you want to learn to cook Spanish food, spending some time in Spanish kitchens not only teach you to cook the food but it will immerse you in the actual experience itself.
2.) We begin speaking the language.
Every environment has a language. The tech industry has a different one than the fashion industry. The automotive industry has a different one than the food industry. Every field has it’s own unique language and if you’re new to it, then being there is like an immersion course. You will begin to speak the language from hearing others speak it all day, everyday and eventually, you’ll start to understand the language you speak.
3.) We’re always on the verge of hearing something new.
If there’s anything new or a special promotion going on there is always favor in the corner of those who just simply show up. You can win at anything in life if you don’t participate.
4.) We are building our true character.
Whether we like it or not our words really can say a lot about us. Partnered in agreement with our actions, they become a formidable force. When we say we’re going to do something and we actually do it, what is says to others is this person meant what they said. They were not just talking about it but they did something about it.
5.) We are on the road to become all were meant to me.
Sometimes we have a tendency to get so caught up in our qualifications but the truth of the matter is when you’re available you’re far more qualified than the person who didn’t show up. Sometimes your simple willingness to be there will open the doors of possibility more than your qualifications ever could.
© All Rights Reserved

For All the Times You Hear “I Can’t”

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For all the times you hear “I can’t”

Stop for a moment and consider the ant

watch how steadily and diligently he moves

to carry up to 3 times his weight over hills and grooves

you won’t hear him whimper or complain

but slowly, slowly he keeps his pace

no matter how small each item seems

it all adds up in the greater scheme

For all the times you hear “I can’t”

Consider still the smallest plant

that starts as a seed buried underground

concealed in darkness it can’t be found

yet diligently it extends its roots

then out from the ground one day it moves

just a little glimpse of green but everyday

you’ll see the plant growing in the sun rays

For all the times you hear “I can’t

Consider this little chant

“I can, I can, and yes I will

onward I’ll tarry across rivers and uphills

until I’ve reached the end of the race

I can, I will for all my days.”

You can, you will, upward, onward still!

How to Maximize Time in a Busy Life

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Life is not slowing down. If anything it feels like it’s speeding up. We are all perpetually busy people with our work, families, hobbies and duties. Often it can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what you’d really like to do. So, how do you combat this feeling and maximize every moment of your day?

Wake up Early: There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “the early bird gets the worm.” Although waking up early may be bad news for the non-morning people let’s face it, the wee hours of the morning are precious. It’s quiet, the world is still and most people you know are still sleeping. That means you’ll have 2-3 hours (depending what time you wake up) of dedicated time to get a lot done. Imagine if you could workout, study a new language and prep your dinner all before you even start the workday? Guess what? You can!
Make the Most of Commuting Time: whether you drive to work in an hour of traffic, coast along on the subway, ride the bus or walk, there is still always a way to utilize this precious time. If you’re driving or walking, consider listening to an informative podcast or listen to an audio book. If you’re taking the bus or subway, catch up on your reading, study to grow in your career or practice a new language on an app. Commuting time is precious time that you’ll never get back again so make the most of it. It’s better than road rage or subway sadness.
Make a List: The benefit of making a list is to outline everything you need to do, manage your progress and set realistic goals. Try making a brief list on a notecard and posting it to your desktop, dashboard or wherever you’ll be sure to see it throughout the day.
Know When to Say No and When to Say Yes (even to your boss): As hard as it may be, sometimes you have to say no. Even if it is something you can do or enjoy doing, you have to make smart decisions for yourself in order to be able to give your best to each task. Saying no includes saying no to your boss. From experience I’ve found that when I’ve been asked to do several things by my boss, and it seems like they keep piling more work on my desk, I tell them, “I’d be glad to work on this. Right now I’m working on the employee schedule, does this item you’re requesting take priority?” Letting your boss know what your working on, that you’re willing to take on more work, but asking for the priority level of the assigned tasks sets you up to win. In some cases your boss may have forgot what you were originally working on and they may ask someone else to do the new task. But unless you’re honest and diligent about prioritizing your tasks, you might find yourself drowning in stacks of unecessary papers.
Balance: The cold hard truth could be that you’re working too much. If you have no energy or desire to do anything before or after work, you should assess your work life/balance. Is it just like that for a few weeks for a busy time of year or do you find yourself going into the office early and coming home late every day of the year. Take the time to assess whether or not a healthy balance exists for you.
At the end of the day, time is the one commodity that you can never earn back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Is it time for you to do a self check and ask yourself, “am I really making the most of and maximizing my time?

You’ve Got This

Sometimes all we really need is to hear “you’ve got this.” No, not in reference to ourselves taking the lead on our lives but rather that God has got this. “You’ve got this” is our bold confession to God that we trust that He’s in control and that He can more than handle whatever we may be going through.

He’s with you: Never does He leave nor forsake you. Is there any better friend to have? Who can make a promise like this one except for God? Since we know He’s with us, let’s acknowledge His presence and lean on Him for everything.

He sees the beginning to the end: God’s view of our lives is not limited to the past and the present, but rather He sees the past, present and future. He sees it all and He’s working it all together for the good. All things, He’s working together for the good.

He has a purpose: when we entrust our lives to God we can be assured that He has a purpose for our lives. We no longer have to believe the lie that our life has no purpose. It has a purpose and He is the life behind the purpose.

 

 

 

Do One Thing Everyday that Brings You Closer to Where You Want to Be

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     It sounds simple, but at the end of the day the reward is not always just for the swift, it’s for the committed and dedicated individuals who choose day in and day out to keep putting time in to achieve their goals.  It’s not as complex as it sounds. You do not have to make a scientific discovery or run a marathon today but opt to take steps in that direction that will enable you to one day do these things.
Start Small: Set reasonable small goals for each day. Starting with daily small steps takes a big dream and makes it more palatable and less overwhelming.
Get Real: Ask yourself, what are you willing to do and what do you have time to do? Make realistic commitments that you know are within your means of achieving.
Kiss Fear Goodbye: Don’t let fear lead your life. Take charge and decide to step outside your comfort zone even if fear itself is whispering in your ear.
Get Started Today: Sometimes it is “tomorrow” that keeps us from focusing on what we need to do today. Let tomorrow take care of itself and focus on what reasonable actions you can take today.
Remember, every day spent taking little steps will eventually amount to something really big. At the end of the year you’ll have a quantifiable measurement of how far you’ve come and just how much you’ve achieved!
You can do this! Let’s get started today!

We Don’t Know What to Do, But Our Eyes Are Upon You

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Have you ever had a moment when you felt like the whole world was coming against you? A moment when reality seemed to be caving in? A moment when justice didn’t seem to be something that was applying to your current situation? A moment that was just plain unfair or “too much to handle” or too overwhelming?

You just don’t know what to do…

You are in good company. Throughout the Bible we read the stories of kings, rulers and ordinary men and women who were met with real tangible obstacles but brought them before God knowing that no obstacle is too great for God to handle. When we look historically at some of the great kings in the Old Testament, King Jehoshaphat was a very powerful King but was well aware of his weakness and that his help and strength came from the Lord.

When the people came and told him about the vast army that was coming against him his first reaction was alarm. He was ‘alarmed.’ But his next response was so significant. His next response was to “inquire of the Lord.” He knew that the problem he was facing was great but that God was greater and he knew that when he didn’t know what to do, that  the first thing to do is to cry out to God. So, he gathers all of the people together and in the middle of this assembly he cried out to God. He ends his prayer with an honest confession to the Lord,

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV

How many times have we felt like that? An obstacle arises, a person is coming against us, our loved ones are stricken with an illness, whatever the case may be, we have all or will at some point in our lives experience circumstances that are difficult beyond our comprehension. We do not know how to resolve them. We see them and we are ‘alarmed’ just at Jehoshaphat was alarmed. But let our hearts turn quickly to seek the face of the Lord. While we are alarmed, He is not. While we feel overwhelmed, He does not. While the crisis seems bigger than us, we can rest in knowing that it is not bigger than God.

Oh let our eyes be enlarged and our souls revived again as we get a big view of who God is. Jehoshaphat prayed and as He did he reminded himself of the characteristics of God. In the face of a trial, we can learn to pray with eyes of faith as Jehoshaphat prayed. Here’s what we can learn from his prayer:

God is over all:

Lord, the God of ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations(v.6).”

Jehoshaphat reminded himself that God is overall all. Seated on high in heaven and ruling over all kingdoms and nations there is nothing and no one that is over God. He reigns over all: past, present and future, He reigns. Knowing that the God we serve is the one true God who reigns over all we need not be troubled a second longer. All things are under His feet.

God is all powerful: 

“Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you (v.6).”

We lest not forget that all power is in God’s hand. No authority reigns over Him. He is all powerful and any power that someone has over us has been authorized by God. We can expect that not only will God show up on our behalf but that He is already present, fighting as our Advocate. He will not give us more than we can bear and His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Recall the Faithfulness of God:

“Our God did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend (v.7)?”

Jehoshaphat recalled what God had already done in the past and we can do the exact same thing. The truth of the matter is that God has always been and will always be faithful to us. He has already given us everything and yet He continues to answer our prayers and provide for all of our needs. He is faithful. We recall His faithfulness not because He has forgotten but rather to remind ourselves, God was faithful then, He will be faithful again today and tomorrow.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord: 

“He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.(v. 15-17).’”

God is working on our behalf. Isn’t it amazing how when trouble comes we so quickly forget that the battle is the Lord’s. We think it’s our battle and that we have to figure it out and “get ourselves out of it.” Regardless of whether we got ourselves into a battle or one has come upon us we can still seek the Lord and know that the battle is the Lord’s and deliverance is in His hands. He’s on our side and “if God be for us, who can be against us?”

The Lord is with Us: 

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you (v.17).”

No matter where we are and what we’re going through we can be confident in the fact that the Lord is with us. God Himself is with us. Not for one single moment are we ever alone. We do not have to be afraid or discouraged but we can walk confidently in the fact that God is with us and for us. He has our back and does not let us go. In the midst of everything we face He is there with us, holding our hand through the process and acting on our behalf for His glory.

Praise Him:

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”

Praise the Lord! Something awesome happens when we begin to praise God. As we worship Him with the words of our mouth we are taking our eyes and hearts off of ourselves and fixing them upon Almighty God. God is always worthy of the praise because of who He is. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the One who gave us life. He is the One who sustains us. He is the One who gave His life to redeem us. He loves us with an everlasting love just as we are and there’s nothing we can do to not be loved by Him, hallelujah! There is always a reason to praise Him and no matter what we’re going through, He is worthy of the praise.

In the midst of whatever you’re facing, don’t forget that the King of Glory stands ever near. Our Counselor, Friend, Savior and a very present help in time of needs. Embrace Him and praise His name. He’s walking you through and will sustain you and encourage you. Be of good cheer, the Lord is near. When you don’t know what to pray you can say,“we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

Do You Need to Adjust Your Lens?

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How do you see the world? Is it a place full of possibility? A dangerous place? A place where there is hate more than love? Context is everything. It’s not just about how you view the world but how you view yourself in it. Are you too focused on yourself or your problems that you fail to see the big picture? Have failures snatched your optimism. Have difficult experiences robbed you of your joy? Have disappoints snuffed out all hope. Have insurmountable trials overwhelmed you and stripped you from the drive to try again?
Sometimes, we need to take the time to adjust the lens through which we view life. We must take a realistic picture of how we view it and with a discerning eye examine what needs to be filtered out of the image.
     How Do You Know When It’s Time to Adjust Your Lens?
        1.) Your Vision Has Become Blurry: Perhaps the hope that you once had has become cloudy and hard to see. What you once believed as ‘possible’ has been blurred by disappointments, failures and defeat. It’s time to adjust your lens. Use the past difficult experiences as learning lessons. Allow them to be stepping stones to propel you higher and not stumbling blocks that pull you down. Choose to forgive yourself and forgive others and clear your vision.
         2.) Your Words are Full of Negativity: Take a day to listen to the way you talk. How do you speak about yourself? How do you speak about others? Are your words building or tearing down? Are your words encouraging or are your words destroying. Be cognitive of your words and what you’re saying. Challenge yourself to speak positively about yourself and others. Find something kind to say about others and don’t allow past experiences or prejudices to become a hinderance.
         3.) You’ve Lost Faith: Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow? Do you believe that if you use your keys that your apartment door will open? Do you believe that if you drop something it will fall based on the law of gravity? These things all take faith and the truth of the matter is we all have faith. Even in the most minor things we have faith. Faith is simple and childlike. But eventually enough hurts can make you question the faith you once had. Take the time to invest in your faith again. Don’t lose sight of the fact that faith is simply choosing to believe. What do you need to choose to believe?
        4.) You’ve Become Nearsighted & You Can No Longer See the Big Picture: If you live your life only about you and for you, to benefit you and your circle, how do you really expect to live a life that makes a difference? People that make a difference in the world deliberately choose to focus on others outside of themselves. They are willing to serve and lead in humility. Be diligent about enlarging your perspective. See beyond your circumstances. See the other people in your world and look for possibilities to connect with other people in new ways.
       5.) You Only See Yourself in the Picture: If you go through life only focused only on yourself then you’re missing the point. We are not meant to live only for ourselves. We are meant to relationally interact with others. We need people and people need us. Expand your view to see more than just yourself. Consider who you could be serving, helping and connecting with. Consider who you can learn from? See more than just yourself.

Echo

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Do you hear it? Listen closely, pause and behold, He is speaking. Right now, every moment, every day. His voice can be heard. Do you hear it?

People trek around the world to find it, the enter holy places to hear it, they climb the mountaintops to encounter it when all along there He stands, nearer than your breath, knocking at the door of your heart. Knock, knock, knock. A gentle knocking but the kind that makes you curious. The kind of knocking that makes you pause and consider. A knocking that makes you question what you’ve always known and makes you ask if it is possible for there to be another way, a true way, the only way.

The truth about God is that He is Holy. The Everlasting Creator, the One who was and is and is to come, the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty King, the Savior, holding all creation together by His breath and word. This is He. And yet, he knocks politely at the door of our hearts. He doesn’t barge His way into our hearts but He knocks and waits for you to let him in.

If you’re searching for God, stop and pause for a moment because He has found you. His offer to come into your heart stands just as true today as it did when He first knocked. You have not gone to far down the ‘wrong’ path. You have not outrun His presence. You have not done something bad enough to make Him decline His offer to you. You’re not too young.You’re not too old. It’s not too late. It remains the same offer. An offer that seems to good to be true but is indeed true. An offer that promises a lifetime of fellowship with the King and an eternity with Him. A life not lived based on your own understanding but a life spent led by a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan and a purpose for your life. Is there anything better than this? This calm, sweet, blessed assurance. He’s calling you, He’s beckoning you, He wants you, He desires you. You are His child now and forever.

Stop being an orphan. No matter how you redesign the orphanage, it’s still an orphanage. Yours might look like a multi million dollar mansion or a humble apartment but regardless, it is not where you belong, you are no longer an orphan. You have been accepted by the King, your Heavenly Father, Creator God. He has chosen you as His child. Will you accept His offer? Will you give your life to Him simply by confessing that you believe in Jesus and that He died for your sins. The price was a high price that could not be paid by us and he paid it. He rescued us. Are you going to die un-rescued because of your unbelief? Your life is slowly slipping away. You can choose. You don’t have to live a life alone. Come to Him. He loves you. You are welcome in His presence. He’s calling and His voice echoes in the depths of our hearts. Remove the callous layers and welcome him in your heart today.

You’ve Set a Goal, Now What? 

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As Much as You Can Plan, Plan

When you’re starting off anything new it’s good to not only set a goal but set a plan on how you can actually achieve the goal. A plan can be broken down into a daily guide, weekly guide or even a monthly guide depending on what the original goal is.

Yes, you’ve decided what goal you’d like to reach, why you’d like to achieve it, when you’d like to achieve. Now it’s time to establish the “how” behind reaching your goal. How are you going to make it happen? It’s time to make a plan. We use planning in every other area of our lives for anything that is important to us. We plan for our vacation. We plan our weddings. We plan.

Why is a plan so essential to keeping and achieving your goal?

From Ideas to Action Items: yes you might have ideas in your head but a plan takes the fluffy ideas and turns them into tangible action items. When you formulate a plan, write down all of the ideas that come to mind. Allow yourself to be free and jot down everything. Once you’ve written them down, narrow down the ideas to a more concise and feasible list. From this list, you can develop your precise action items. Be specific and arrange the importance of each of the action items, when applicable.

A plan actually takes those ideas and sets an agenda. No longer are they just ideas, they have shifted to action items.

Keep a Tangible Reminder: once you’ve created a plan, take the time to post it in a visible place that you’ll see on a daily basis. Don’t just keep a digital file, print a copy and post it to serve as an actual tangible reminder every time you see it.

creating a plan on paper is a tangible reminder to keep you focused on your goal. No longer is it just a lofty dream, it becomes something real. 

Let Your Plan be Your Compass & Guide: There will be days when you ask yourself why you do what you do? There will be days that it will be more difficult to stay on track. But be encouraged. a plan is a guide. It tells you what you should be working on and also helps you plan for what’s coming up next. Although it’s not perfect, a plan serves as a directional compass especially on the days when you feel especially lost.

A Good Reminder: a plan serves as a good reminder. It doesn’t let you forget what you said you wanted to do 3 months ago. Sure, you can schedule training sessions or even have meetings once a week with your academic advisor but the plan itself serves as an actual reminder.

Include a Realistic Timeline: every good plan must incorporate a timeline. A timeline helps you decide what you will accomplish and when. It can be a simple as a monthly calendar marked with daily action items or it can be a simple

Create accountability: whether it’s another person or a reward system for yourself accountability is a great way of staying on track. When you know that you have to report your progress to another person or when there is a risk involved we are more likely to stay committed to the plan.

Be intentional: a plan just doesn’t happen. It comes from committing to be intentional about taking small steps to achieve your end goal. That means, don’t just wait until you have time, make time.

Track Your Progress: How’s it going, really? Measuring your progress is paramount in the planning process. Be visual. The truth of the matter is most of us like to see a visual indicator that helps us understand where we are, where we were and where we’re going. This visual stimulus is a great way to keep yourself encouraged especially when the plan gets old.

Tracking your progress is a great reminder that you’re not where you once were and you’re on your way to success.

Stay in the Race

eyx2waq4oji-agberto-guimaraes.jpgLife is a race worth running. We are all alive but are you running your race or are you just standing on the sidelines watching it pass you by?

Know the Course: What makes you come alive? What job would you do for free? What do you find yourself thinking about everyday? Our passions are not far from us. They are the things that stay on our minds, captivate our hearts and resonate in our souls. We must not only know what we’re passionate about but we must also be intentionable about the course we want to take. The course is not just about you. Align yourself with something greater than yourself

Stay on Course: Sometimes the road can seem long, flat and boring. Sometimes it is hilly, slippery and you can’t see the other side. Whatever part of the road you’re on, remember that it’s just a season. This is not the road you will always remain on so just keep moving along at a steady pace staying faithful to the course before you.

Don’t Be Discouraged By Obstacles: Obstacles are bound to come along the way but do not be dismayed or discouraged by the obstacles. The obstacles are what make you stronger, teach you to adapt and gradually improve your reflexes.

Pick it Up: There’s always an opportunity to refine yourself and become better. If you’ve been steadily running the race for a long time, it might be time to pick up the pace again. Learn a new skill set within your field, connect with colleagues that are where you want to be someday, look for opportunities to mentor the next generation.

Check Your Heart Rate: It’s always good to know where you stand. Don’t forget to check your heart rate. Is your heart open or is it bound up in worry, stress and unforgiveness? Check your heart rate to ensure that it’s beating in step with the future you desire.

Don’t Let Your Mind Get Derailed by a Delay

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“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” – Isaiah 26: 3-4

Derailed. There’s nothing worse than a delay. Especially when you’re on the road to a place you really need to get to, or a delay in a dream that you’ve been praying for, or a prayer gone long unanswered. Delays meet us all along the way of life and challenge our thought patterns, our character and our faith.

The question is not whether or not we will experience a delay it’s a matter of when and how. So what do you do when you’re met with a delay? It seems as if God has not heard your prayer. Or if He has, it seems as if He’s uninterested. It seems as if the delay is just an obstacle or a barrier keeping you from where you need to get to in the first place.

It is even more frustrating if it feels like you’re doing all the right things, then what? What about then? When we encounter a delay, it’s time to really taste and see that the Lord is good and He is good all the time. And yet, if we were honest, many of us freak out at even a glimpse of a delay. We pout, complain, put up a fit; pretty much like a spoiled toddler who has no idea of the wonderous things God has in store for their life.

While we may not always have control over the delays in our life, we do have control of our attitude and how we will choose to respond to the delays. As difficult as it may be, God’s grace enables us to not be overcome by the delay but to be overcomers.

So how do we keep our minds from getting derailed by a delay?

1.) Bring it to God in Prayer: we must get more acquainted with seeking God more. Praying without ceasing. Be honest with God, pour your heart out to him and tell him how you feel. There’s no need to sugar coat anything with him because He sees and knows our hearts so we
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8 are free to be 100% honest with him. Also, practice being still before God and allow Him to speak and minister to your soul. Prayer is not a monologue but rather a dialogue, so give Him room to speak to you.

2.) Align Your Thinking With the Word of God: whatever thoughts are coming into your mind, immediately align them with the word of God. For example, if you feel alone and forgotten, that is a lie. God has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (see Deuteronomy 31:8). If you feel like there is no hope for the future, that is a lie because God has promised that He has a plan and a purpose for our life (see Jeremiah 29:11). If you feel anxious, cast down the anxiety by doing exactly what the Word of God says before you try anything else. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In everything that we face, we must be diligent about aligning our thoughts with the word of God. If it doesn’t match up, cast it out. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5” That means that we have the power through Jesus to take control of our thoughts. They no longer have to control us but any thought that sets itself against God’s word, we can cast out of our minds by the blood of Jesus.

3.) Delays Do Not Always Mean No: many times, we misunderstand a delay as an unanswered prayer or as a ‘no’ to a desire on our hearts. But delays don’t always mean a ‘no.’ For example, when there’s a delay at the local bakery, they’re still baking your loaf of bread, it’s just taking a bit longer than you expected but when it’s ready it will be hot, fresh, and just for you. We understand delays that we can see the reason why but when we can’t, it is then that we must set our heels in to trusting God. The delay is often times preparation for what is yet to come. God is a good Father. He doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, nor does He give us gifts before we’re ready. He is always working on us to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus. Hold tight in the midst of delay and submit yourself as a vessel to the Father and watch what He does with your life.

4.) What are you doing with the Delay? It’s a good question to ask yourself from time to time in the middle of a delay. If you’re unemployed and the delay is for a job, then at the end of that season when you do get a job and you look back on the waiting, what will you have done during the waiting. Sure, you were aggressively job hunting but were you a pleasant person to be around, did your faith get stronger, did you learn a new skill, did you spend time serving others? In the middle of a delay, we have the option to decide how we’re going to use it. True, we don’t always know the duration of the delay but we can still practice good stewardship with the time we are given.

If you’re in the midst of a delay right now, take heart. You are loved unconditionally, just as you are by God. He sees you, He loves you and He has a plan for your life. Put all of your hope in Him. He will never disappoint.

The Rest Note is NOT the End of the Song

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Life is like a song. There are many notes, some high and some low, that will fill our lives. And our lives are not complete without these much needed rest notes. We often misinterpret the rest notes as our “defeat,” or the end of our story but we are not looking at the rest notes through the eyes of the composer. When the composer includes rest notes into the song, it is an act of kindness and a way to beautify the musical piece. He allows the song to have a “breakdown” or decrescendo only in order for to build it back up in a way that it never sounded or looked before.

If you’re in the middle of a season of undesired “rest” where it seems as if nothing is happening, it seems as if your efforts are not paying off, it seems as if what you’re doing is not making a positive difference — hold tight. Your song is not over. This is just a pause and if viewed correctly you will be ready for the next new exciting notes that will follow immediately after.

Here’s what I know to be true about “Rest” Notes in the Song of Our Life:

There is a Reason for the Rest: we may not know or understand why, but we can trust in faith that God has a reason for our season of rest. He has a purpose for our lives and for every season of our lives. Even if we don’t understand, we can draw nearer still to our loving Heavenly Father who sees us and understands.

God is making something beautiful out of us. He is the ultimate composer; making melodies more beautiful than we could ever dream.

Rest is the Preparation: we must not discount the importance of rest in the preparation process. We consider preparation to be the “doing, doing, doing” but there also must be those intervals of rest in order to complete the preparation process.

Peace in the Middle of the Rest: it’s amazing how sometimes when we have a period of undesired or unexpected rest (unemployment, waiting to hear back from a university, etc.) how we will throw ourselves into a bit of endless worry or anxiety. The worry and the anxiety never solves anything. It only makes things worse and it’s an act of disobedience because God has already told us in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” What a beautiful promise and remedy we have for our anxiety. We can be at peace even in the middle of the rest.

Something Big Always Follows the Rest: If you’re in the middle of a season of undesired “rest” and you’ve been seeking the Lord but it feels like nothing is happening or changing, hold tight. At any moment, the rest will come to an end and the musical notes will sound triumphantly unlike ever before.

Uncharted Territory: Why a Movement Begins in Your Heart and Not Your Mind

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Movements around the world don’t just happen. They are centered around a cause, belief system or injustice. They have the power to not only change one particular cause but they have the power to change history and furthermore our perceptions and beliefs. But movements are more than a matter of the mind, they’re a matter of the heart, fueled by emotional reactions.

1.) We are wired to follow love: the things we love we are willing to do anything for. We work as hard as we can, we sacrifice everything, we devote ourselves fully all in a spirit of joy because of what we love. When love is the starting point of any movement, we are compelled to act on behalf of the object of our affection. We don’t have to convince ourselves, we do it willingly out of love and with love. If you are serving a cause from a place of love then the input and output should be love.

2.) It’s a decision initiated by passion but sustained by commitment and selfless devotion: we all have causes and people we are passionate about. But enough ‘long, hard days’ will make you second guess even your deepest passions. In order to keep the passion alive it must be sustained by commitment and selfless devotion. The focus is not on how much you have received but rather focuses on how much you can give. It is passion that is fueled by love and supported by discipline to choose each day to continue, prosper and thrive.

3.) True Love Knows No Fear, because fear based love is not love at all. If a passion begins from a point of love and then transitions to your mind then it eliminates the fear obstacle. The passion is not pursued out of fear but out of a sincere desire to serve the cause or person.

4.) What Resonates in Your Heart Will Haunt the Logic of Your Mind: whether we admit it or not, all human beings have a view of “right” and “wrong.” When we choose not to speak up on behalf of what is right, do the right thing or follow right course we are resisting truth. This resistance of truth threatens justice for the sake of comfort. We should always never left the comforts of this world keep us from doing the right thing.

Be Still My Soul, Be Still

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Stop Running. No, not in a literal sense but rather stop your mind from running; from moving a mile a minute across the vast territory of worry, what-ifs, regrets, and “what will be” in the future. This is not the territory that you are to cross or abide in. It is the territory of our minds, if let long enough neglected, will deplete and deteriorate and no longer hold our minds captive. This is territory that deceives us into thinking that we’re accomplishing something by worrying or wallowing in regret. It’s the territory that robs us of the things and places we should be doing and should be at. It’s only until we finally can tell our soul, be still my soul be still, and wait patiently upon the Lord, that we’re actually making progress. Oh the paradox that when we are finally still before the Lord He Himself is able to then pick us up and carry us onto the new heights.

Have you ever tried to hold a baby that keeps fidgeting and moving around restlessly? They’re tired and it is nap time but they want to get out of your arms and wander around not knowing that the rest they really need (and long for) is in your arms.

Many of us are still infants. Unable to eat solid food not because we’re not ready but we’re simply unwilling to stay still in the arms of our Savior and allow Him to work in our lives. It is an act of submission to Almighty God to say with our hearts and our actions,

   “Your ways are higher, Your thoughts are deeper, I submit to You.”

   Then we’re going somewhere. Finally we’ve put fuel in the engine that we’ve been trying to start all along.

What we often misunderstand or forget is:

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on the completion until the day of Christ Jesus”  Philippians 1:6

Meaning, yes God has called us to do many things but guess what, He’s also going to be the one doing the work through us. Ahhh, what a relief! When you really think about it, it’s funny, because all along, what we struggle and strive with is not our job to do so. Oh no, we simply need to submit to the hands of our Heavenly Father, obey Him and follow His leading in everything, trusting that He’s the one working through us all along.

Imagine you’ve been called to fix your car brake pads. You don’t know a thing about brake pads but God does. One way or another, He will get the work done either directly working through our hands or the hands of an experienced mechanic. But every minute you spend worrying adds up to nothing in accomplishing the work. It’s when we seek His face and follow His leading that then we’re finally able to make progress.

We ought not to worry about any single detail of our lives. God is not surprised by any of it. He   is alive and omniscient and actively working on our behalf. When we worry, we’re saying,

“Yes Lord, you are the one who spoke all of creation into existence and hold it all together by your breath, but my problems are too much for you to handle. Do you even know or care about my problems?”

   How we really still don’t understand the nature of God. We know our family and friends and willing we defend them because we know them and they would never do “such and such.” Yet when it comes to God, who’s shown Himself faithful in every way, we still walk around wondering. Get to know God. Spend time on your knees before Him. Read His word. Dwell in His presence. Finally, our souls get to taste true freedom and peace that only comes from Him. When was the last time you told yourself, Be still my soul, be still?