Her name was Olivia

I can’t stress enough how important is is to show compassion for others. While grocery shopping today, we came upon this woman and her mentally disabled daughter. The daughter saw me and wrapped me in an embrace and attempted to lick my face. For those who know me, I’m not too keen on being touched by strangers, but the hug didn’t bother me (I moved my face so I didn’t get licked). I hugged her back and you could tell her mom was relieved that I didn’t lash out. Her mom said her name was Olivia and told her to “make good choices”. She let me go and smiled, but then hugged me again. Her mom apologized for her behavior, but I really wasn’t bothered by it. Her joy and smile was so contagious. I imagined a mother trying to have some normalcy while out of the home and hoping her daughter didn’t do anything to offend or bother others. After getting about 5 high fives, I walked away from that encounter smiling. I was grateful to have met Olivia and her joy. I learned today that joy is not measured by your circumstance, but in how you DECIDE to deal/ handle your circumstance. Thank you, Olivia. Until next time, make good choices.

Accept the Challenge, I Dare You

Accept the Challenge, I Dare You

If you’re like me the New Year has you thinking about what is going to be different. I am making a declaration that this year is going to be one of my best years yet! I am not talking about making some resolution that will fizzle out in a couple weeks to a month. Neither am I talking about making some half-hearted decision.

I have realized that true progress and transformation takes time. It’s meticulous. It’s specific. It’s sure. And it’s strategic. My church is doing a 90 Day Transformation Challenge and I am so excited about it. I could have registered on January 1st as expected, but I couldn’t. I had so many thoughts and possibilities running through my head and I couldn’t make a decision. I knew I needed to get organized.

Instead of just reacting and making an impulsive decision, I went into action. I assessed my life and the goals I set for the year. I bought a planner and made note of all my current commitments. I looked at what was on my plate and had to make some hard decisions. I picked up a new adventure and had to put a few things down. I am not interested in having a lot to do, rather I want to do a lot of what I love and what’s going to fulfill me.

After making some decisions, I had to be realistic about where I can accept challenge. You know, changing too many things at one time can be disastrous! I recently decided to go for another master’s degree so I’m taking a class. Instead of having sporadic devotion time with God, I decided to do it every morning. No longer am I going to bed whenever I want, I’m on a schedule. And there are a host of other changes that I am balancing and implementing with wisdom. Not all the changes will happen at once, but they’re planned so they’ll be sustainable.

Now that I have a few things settled and have a routine. I decided it was time to solidify my 90 Day Transformation Challenge. Some people think routine is boring, but there are certain seasons in your life when routine is needed to maintain progress and success. Last year was a season of spontaneity, not this year. Know your season! That’s another topic for another day! So what’s my challenge? No sweets (help me, Jesus!) and make healthier decisions in all areas of my life.

Spiritually– be more intentional and consistent in my devotional time and protect it

Physically– be mindful of what I put in my body and make better food choices and stop making excuses.

Emotionally/ Mentally– be aware of what I allow to affect my emotions and thoughts, ultimately my day. A dear sister of mine said, “Pick your thoughts like you pick your clothes. Ask yourself, do I want to wear this?”

I decided this year I am going to conquer and love with intention. I don’t want things to be happenstance, but I want experiences on purpose. Give it my all at all times and not just when it’s convenient.

What’s your challenge? How do you want to transform the first 90 days of 2016? The 90 Day Transformation Challenge is really just to get you started for a lifestyle change. It’s not too late for you to accept the challenge. Join me, I dare you! Register your challenge today to make it official and know that people are praying for you to succeed. Surveymonkey.com/tgcctransform90

Puzzle Progress

Puzzle Progress

It amazes me how God will use the simplest things to bring clarity to your life. I set out on a task at the beginning of my winter break and learned a couple good lessons. They are simple, yet powerful.Picture of puzzleMy husband brought home this puzzle before the winter break. I set my mind to complete it before the break was over. I was ecstatic about the challenge.Picture 1I fished through and found all the edged pieces and completed the border. In the process of me putting the border together, I came across other pieces and put those together too. The border alone took about two days. However, I remained extremely optimistic!Picture 2At this point, I felt like I should have had more progress, even if I was only devoting a couple hours a day to the project. Sure, I had other things going on, other commitments and responsibilities, but I wanted this task to come together so I sacrificed some of my nights, staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning! Picture 3I then begin to realize I needed to get organized. How I organized things changed based on where I was with the puzzle. I realized that I was not going to just find the right piece out of 700. So I decided to create goals. I broke the puzzle up into sections. First, I focused on getting the tower and the mountain outline completed.Picture 4My next goal was the sky. OMG, the sky was super challenging! The colors kept changing – light blue, dark blue, purple, yellow, etc. To help, I changed my organization method by putting the sky pieces into piles of similar shapes. This sped the process along, but it was still very tedious.

Although I have made more progress since this picture, I have not completed the puzzle. However I did learn a few things along the journey that I would like to share:

  1. Don’t be afraid to do something that appears challenging. If your heart is in the right place, trust that God is going to lead you along the way. Leaders understand the importance of growth. That growth comes from getting out of your comfort zone and/or doing something that you’ve never done before.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t be discouraged if you walk the journey alone. The puzzle was first presented as a family project, but I quickly learned I was the only one who was truly interested. And that’s fine. My family helped with some pieces along the way, and I asked for a second and third eye when needed, but I was determined not to quit because their commitment wavered. My conviction wasn’t their conviction. Leaders understand there are some tasks and journeys you have to walk alone. Just remember to share it with others when it’s done.
  1. Break the task down into steps and focus on one area at a time. Being a big picture person is great, but there comes a time when you have to focus on the details. You may even find that by completing one area, it’ll help you deal and solve some others. Leaders understand that you have to take challenges, and even success, in stages. Handling details can be exhausting, but it’s necessary to make sure the end goal is achieved.
  1. Stay positive and celebrate the small victories. There were times I wanted to give up on the puzzle completely. I walked away frustrated several times, but I was committed. Every time a piece fit, I celebrated. I would step back and look at the puzzle and see the progress. Leaders understand that there is going to be discouraging and frustrating days, but commitment and devotion with give you the strength you need to keep going.
  1. Don’t be afraid to tweak it. It wasn’t until I was down to two pieces that I realized I had placed two others in the wrong spot. You would think I would have noticed, but I didn’t. The wrong pieces actually fit (that’s another sermon for another day). I was able to identify my error and I corrected it. And you know what, it felt good! Leaders understand they are not perfect and can always learn something new and grow. There is nothing wrong with revisiting an idea or vision to improve it.
  1. Lastly, be flexible. I expected to be done with this puzzle this past Sunday night, and I am not. But you know, I have peace with that. I recognize that our timelines are not always realistic. And life surely doesn’t say, “I’ll leave her alone while she completes this task. I’ll throw some distractions and other things at her later”. Nope, doesn’t happen that way. Leaders understand deadlines, but strive for quality as well. A true leader knows how to navigate changes and setbacks.

Happy New Year.