Monday, May 30, 2016

When You Realize You've Had It All Along


These are my new $3 Walmart sunglasses that I recently purchased on sale. It's the little things, ya know. 

A few days ago I needed to run a quick errand. I hopped in my husband's car instead of mine because of where it was parked in the driveway. Traveling down the road headed toward the sun I reached for the place where I normally grab my sunglasses in my car. I realized my husband had no sunglasses in his car. I squinted and held my hand up, lamenting that the sun was in my eyes most of the way there and back.  I was talking to myself and really didn't care if anyone noticed.

As I returned from my errand and turned the corner onto our street, I touched my head and suddenly realized that my sunglasses had been there the whole time. I had taken a bike ride that morning and when I came inside the house, I  pushed my sunglasses on top of my head and forgot about them.

The point is this. Sometimes we complain about the lack of something and fail to realize, we've had it all along.

"Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." Psalm 103:2

Have you forgotten your benefits?

It may be your job, your spouse, your church, a friendship, leaders who have invested in you and still are, the roof over your head, or your possessions.

Whatever it is, don't get to the end and realize you had what you complained about a lack of all along. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Women ARE the Thermostat!


Driving along on my journey to preach in Wauchula last week, I came upon this sign. As I often do when traveling and I pass something I want to capture, I stopped to take a photo.

Mothers set the temperature in the home.

We are the thermostat.

Whatever our mood, it impacts the whole household like no other person in the house.

While we set the tone, I believe we are also the person in the home who faces the most circumstances with the potential to affect our mood. No one cares about the state of the home more than we do. So, when everything falls apart or piles up, it impacts us like no one else.  None of my other family members seem to notice or care when this happens. But I personally experience a cloud of depression so real I can almost touch it when things aren't right at home.  It's even worse when I clean up the night before and after I go to bed someone messes it up.  I have found if I don't start playing worship music and begin to pray and seek the Lord for strength, it all goes down hill quick and stays there for quite a while.

Recently I listened to a message about mothers setting the tone (or "starting the fire" as she calls it)  by Pastor Deven Wallace, who is one of our speakers for the upcoming THRIVE Conference. It's one of the most powerful messages I've ever heard. I encourage every woman to listen, and then listen again. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"How Did Your Books Get Published?"

Many people have asked me this question. The answer is...

I didn’t want to get out of bed or brush my teeth.

I was so broken emotionally, it hurt to breathe.

My upper body was in such pain that I rubbed it constantly. As I spoke to people I would cross my hands over my body and knead my shoulders, back, neck and arms over and over again - not caring about how bizarre it must have looked. (No one can ever tell me that emotional injury doesn't manifest in one's body.)

Credit: freedigitalphotos.net
I could have cared less about appearances. If people thought I was a freak, so be it. I was so terribly wounded and quite frankly at a dangerous place. I was close to checking in to a hospital. I really don't know what stopped me.

A visit to a Christian therapist revealed I was suffering from complex trauma, significant loss and complicated grief. 

In the midst of my suffering, I blogged for catharsis. I didn't care about prettying anything up. Quite a number of people read all of the anguish I poured out. Maybe it was like when you drive by a bad car accident...you can't help but look. For better or worse, people read my story, in droves. Women and men. People from every walk of life. Christians, Buddists, Universalists, atheists, agnostics, and  Pentecostals. Doctors, lawyers, professors, pastors, college kids, the unemployed and stay-at-home-moms. The young and old and everyone in between. They not only read --they interacted with me, and encouraged and spoke into my bruised spirit.

I met Laura Dennis online, who became a very close friend. She’s an adoptee, a blogger and well known in both of those communities. She is also founder and CEO of Entourage Publishing.

When I was going through some of the most agonizing moments of my life, Laura said, “I think your 14-post blog series of your personal story should be a book." “No," I sighed. "I’m doing well to just get out of bed. I’m going to therapy to try to move forward, and I am in no shape to do a book.”

I kept saying no, and Laura kept saying, “Please consider it?” Finally I said, “What would I have to do?”

“Nothing but take your story down off of your blog and turn it over to me," she said. 
Ugh.

I didn’t want to do that, because of the comment section. On especially terrible days I would go through and read all the comments. There were hundreds of them on some posts. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and a comfort to my soul. I didn’t want to part with all of this life-giving encouragement that kept me going on many days.

Laura kept prodding.

I finally decided that if I could copy the comments into a document and still have them to read, I could handle taking the story off of the blog.  At a time when my trust level was at an all time low, I trusted Laura. I’m so glad I did.

We gave a two week warning to readers that the story was coming down off of the blog. I will never forget a frantic call that came into our church office from a woman in California who had just started reading it the day it was to come down. She discovered the story that day -- was in the middle of it and was upset that it might be removed before she finished. Reading my bio she saw the name of the church where my husband and I pastor, Googled the phone number and called. I let her know we would be removing  the story from the blog at midnight and she had a few hours to hurry up and finish. She did.

A year later after removing the story from the blog, Worthy To Be Found was released and the same people who loved the story as a blog also seemed to love it as a book. Actually many of them seemed to love it even more because I expounded on it in the book and filled in more details.

I am eternally grateful for saying yes. Entourage Publishing also re-released my former book, Juggle. I had self-published Juggle two years prior and the response to it was excellent, however Laura asked to re-release it to make some improvements and more in line with where I was going with Entourage. It made that book all the better. Subsequently, Restored, the sequel to Worthy to be Found, was released. In March of 2016 my book, Stronger: 30 Powerful Principles for Leaders debuted.

I am now years beyond that difficult time in my life. Jesus, counseling and community have done wonders in mending my broken heart. 

People hunger for transparency. In a world of fakes, phonies and frauds they crave the real thing. I find that the more openly I share, the more people showed up to read and interact.

In addition to my four books with Entourage, I was asked to be a contributing writer for five anthologies. I discover that the more transparent I am, the more opportunities come.

Every writer seems to have a unique path to publishing. 

Mine was an emotional breakdown.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but it's my story.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"I'm Sorry But I've Got Something Going On..."

"I'm sorry I dropped the ball, but I've got something going on..."

I've heard this excuse too many times to count in leadership. And here's a question I have to anyone who offers this up as a reason for not fulfilling a responsibility...

When don't you have something going on?

There will never be a time when you don't have at least one challenge in your life.

I look at every  person on the leadership team I serve with and I can name something big (and stressful) that each one of them has going on. It could be a financial hardship, a son or daughter getting married, a grandchild on the way, an illness, a church conflict, a marriage issue or a myriad of other things.

Every time I get up to preach I could truthfully say, "Bear with me folks, I have _________________ going on."

But I don't. 

Leaders who desire to produce over the long haul need to come to terms with the reality that they will ALWAYS have something going on. And if you let what's going on stop you, you'll never move forward. Pressing through is essential, to reach what God has for you.

This past week I was having lunch with our Pen Florida Girls Ministries Director, Bonnie Pait. We had a discussion about this and she agreed with me that we will always have something going on while we are fulfilling the call of God on our lives. After our lunch she texted me and said that after our conversation she was still mulling it over and had this thought: "If there was nothing else going on in my life when I did things, then I would be able to do it in my own strength. But going things with multiple things going on requires the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit."

So...will I rely on the grace and power of God and press through or will I offer up excuse after excuse, live in mediocrity and never reach my destiny?

Monday, May 09, 2016

More Than a Village
Spiritual Parenting in Today's World





What a child learns to believe by age thirteen, they will die believing. That's what research by the Barna Research Group shows, about the majority of people. Yesterday I preached a message at our church for Mother's Day about the need for spiritual parenting. If the majority of our kids are making a decision by the age of thirteen, we'd better be about the Father's business. It takes more than just any kind of village or any kind of people to raise children for God. Spiritual  parenting requires Godly moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and Christian adults in general.

The need is great. Did you know that sixty-four percent of decisions are made for Christ before the age of eighteen and seventy-seven percent are made before the age of twenty-one?(Source: Barna Research Group)

Those statistics should light a fire under us! We must spiritually parenting our own children, and care about reaching as many others as possible.

To spiritually parent requires taking notice of the young people around us. When my husband was a very young teen (and a new Christian) he was the only one in his family attending church. The family who had been giving Larry a ride to church let him know that due to distance,  it required too much gas money to continue doing so. Larry didn't go to church for a while. One day he came home from school and to his shock, Harry Sorbo, a board member of the church, was at his home. Harry told Larry he noticed he had not been at services lately and asked why. Larry told him he didn't have a ride anymore. Harry said, "I'll take care of that right away." From that day forward, Harry saw to it that Larry was in church every time the doors were open.

Harry was not the youth pastor, nor even one of the official youth leaders. He was not Larry's Sunday School teacher. He was simply a man in the church who noticed and cared. Without Harry Sorbo watching out for my husband, I don't know whether he'd be serving God today - or a pastor. Harry wasn't the only significant leader in my husband's life. There were many men and women of God who made investments in his life.

Many times we do nothing because we are waiting for something "official" to take place. A lot of people wait for the pastor to ask them to teach a class, or believe that doing something of significance means helping a larger group of people - not an individual.

The truth is, helping just one person does change the world.

Who are you reaching out to?