Time and Energy

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years in marriage is the importance of focusing my time and energy. For those who do not know the difference, let me break it down for you real quick. Time management answers the following questions- what do I need to accomplish? When do I need to have it done? When is the best time for me to do that? Where do I need to go to achieve this goal and how long is it going to take me to get there? Whereas energy management looks at the focus and attention you’re going to devote to the task or project. It asks, how am I going to accomplish this? What distractions do I need to address in advance so I can increase my productivity?

In my marriage, I had to reassess and ask myself- Am I just putting in time, or both time and energy? I realized that if I wanted the outcomes I was looking for, I had to do more than just show up everyday. No, that’s not enough. Instead, I needed to show up and do something. Have you ever attended a conference or an event and you got nothing out of it? It started at 6pm and you were there at 6pm. You stayed until 9pm and walked away knowing nothing new and not even sure of the purpose of what you just attended. This is a typical time vs. energy dilemma. Now think about where this has shown up in your marriage, friendships, and other relationships. How many times did you show up (time), but did not engage or was not committed (energy)?

Remember, time and energy, while different in function, do not have to be exclusive. In fact, you’ll find that you feel most accomplished when they take place together. So, with this new information, what are you prepared to do next? How are you going to bridge these two together in your relationship?

 

Decide to show up today!

 

Image result for quote on determination

The quote is self-explanatory. If you’re not happy with where you are, change it. Only you have the power to make decisions about your life. At one point in my life I would just dream about all the things I wanted to do. Then I started over analyzing things. I would “think it through” to the point I wouldn’t act on anything because I felt like I had more questions about my goals than answers. My aspirations didn’t scare me, I did. The final straw was when I was making too many excuses and was blaming other people for why I couldn’t move forward with my goals. Seriously? Why do we give other people so much power over our lives? Not anymore!

My life isn’t perfect, but I have decided that I am going to show up to the masterpiece everyday. I am committed to adding brush strokes of determination, grace, and umph until it becomes what I desire.

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. – Phil. 4:13

Five Quick Leadership Tips/ Reminders

I have been in a leadership role, and have followed others, for some years now. It amazes me how I still have different experiences almost daily. While driving home one night, I began to reflect and these five tips/ reminders came to me and I wanted to share.

1. Don’t be afraid to let your team shine. A leader is versatile, sometimes they lead in front, other times they lead in the back. At some point, leadership will require you to stand in the shadow and receive instruction from the leader at the moment. Be willing and be supportive; don’t power trip. There is no need to upstage anyone. If you’re effective in your leadership everyone already knows who you are.

2. Support your team member even when you do not agree. Every idea that will be carried out doesn’t have to be your idea. Give your team creative freedom and support them. Provide your thoughts and give feedback, but if a team member wants to go in a direction that is not your personal preference and it could be advantageous for the vision and mission at hand, give your blessing and let them run with it. If it is a success- great! If it fails- great! Don’t use it as a moment to reaffirm your position, instead encourage them through the process and coach them on what can be done differently next time.

3. Encourage and allow the team members to be themselves. You don’t need a bunch of yous. Your focus shouldn’t be on duplicating you, but building better individuals who are adequately equipped to fulfill their mission and assignment. Celebrate the diversity on your team and appreciate their strengths. Great leaders know how to properly apply their team’s strengths to the vision.

4. Provide timely feedback. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to share it. This is particularly true in moments where your team is overwhelmed. Feedback should be timely and well thought out. Yes, you’re the leader, but that doesn’t mean you have freedom to say what you want. Feedback should be on time, not on your time.

5. Celebrate and give praise when warranted. Don’t hold back praise, especially when it is earned. When someone does something exceptional, tell them. If you’re apprehensive about giving others credit, your confidence in yourself may be more feeble than you think. True leaders celebrate their team’s accomplishments, especially when they posses a strength that is greater than your weakness.

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.

The Fellowship of Suffering

The Fellowship of Suffering

I never quite understood what Paul meant when he said in Philippians 3:10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being conformed to His death”. “In the fellowship of His suffering”? What exactly does that mean?

When we fellowship with others, we’re enjoying their company and often partake in some group activity and/or experience. Maybe you’ve fellowshipped around someone’s birthday or watched a game or TV show of some sort. The foundation of the gathering was not in what was being viewed, but being able to partake in the comradery and bond each individual shared with one another. That is fellowship.

So when the scripture talks about Christ in the fellowship of His suffering, it’s referring to us being in a position where we can empathize with Christ. Christ’s suffering had nothing to do with what He did wrong, and neither was it His consequence. Instead, it was a burden he carried that was placed on Him by others. He was sent by God to carry this burden, and although he struggled with it by asking the cup to pass, He quickly accepted the burden by saying, “Not my will, but let Your will be done”. Through His obedience, he was able to “destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

This leads me to you. What suffering or burden has the Lord put upon you? What weight are you carrying that is not your own, but instead was given to you because the owner of it was not capable of carrying it? Or has someone wronged you and has hurt you to the core? Is the burden/suffering placed on you so heavy that you can barely move and are not sure how you’re going to get through it?

If any of those questions struck a nerve, great! You’re right where God needs you to be. We often talk about wanting to know the mind of God, and few of us are brave enough to ask for His heart. But can you truly handle His heart? Sure, we want the warms and fuzzies. We want the compassion for humanity and the optimistic belief that people are good deep down inside. Well, there is another side of God’s heart. The side that withstands backsliding. The side that is often told He’s not powerful or capable of changing bleak situations. And then there’s the side that’s often wounded by our rejection. Every time we reject Him, He thinks about what He took His son through for our sake. When we experience these same feelings of rejection and doubt, that’s fellowship in His suffering.

Like a social gathering, our suffering draws us closer to God and teaches us other ways we can lean on Him for support. You may know Him as a keeper, but do you know Him as a way maker? Your current suffering may require you to call on the Healer. Or maybe you need strength. Or is it a miracle? Regardless of what your need is, He has it. Fellowshipping through suffering also gives us a greater appreciation for what His son did for us on that cross. And just imagine that the suffering and burden you feel is only a portion of what He had to bear. So the moral of the story is this – your burden/suffering is not intended to take you out. No, instead, this is an opportunity for you to get closer to the Father. Think of it as a special invitation to understanding His heart.

It’s Not You- It’s the Word

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

-Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23

Often times when we hear this message preached, emphasis is placed on providing a place for the seed to be sown—the good ground. Is it possible to believe that you have good ground for the word, but then realize it has no depth? Well, if you are afraid to admit it, allow me to be the first. This has happened to me plenty of times! I heard the Word, I received it, but then sometime the following week (or maybe even 3 days later), I find it difficult to regurgitate the Word! I mean, did I even receive one if I can’t remember it?

As a leader, God has entrusted you with the responsibility of maintaining your garden. It is up to you to put in the effort to make sure it has the proper nutrients so when you plant something, it won’t so easily be destroyed by the environment. It is imperative that you take notice and cater to the needs of your garden. Your garden will only produce to the degree it has been prepared and cultivated. If you don’t spend much time tilling the ground, pulling up weeds, laying fertilizer and watering it, nothing will grow.

How do you protect your ground? You read your Word, spend time in prayer and worship. The Bible instructs us to set our affections on things above, and not on the things of the world. But if you don’t spend any time with Him, you will not develop an appetite for Him. Developing an appetite for Him will keep you from stumbling as well. An Appetite means you need to satisfy a desire or a need. Once you spend time with Him on a regular, you will desire to seek Him more and more, BEFORE reacting to situations and BEFORE making decisions.

Have you ever noticed that when you are not trying to accomplish anything, everything seems fine? What about when you make the decision to accomplish something? Does it seem like things become more difficult? Verse 21 informs us that tribulations and persecutions are going to come, BECAUSE OF THE WORD! When a Word is spoken over your life, the enemy will bring about every opposition possible to keep this transformation from manifesting. Why? He stands the chance of losing a lot if you get to your next position in God. The more you grow, the more he loses.

Take your leadership role as an example. While God gives us grace for our designated tasks, there is still some opposition that comes with leadership. As leaders, we have to protect our vision. If God has given you a vision for something, write it down and make it plain so it can manifest at the appointed time. You have to be committed to the plan and strategy of the Lord. When opposition comes, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord! This thing will pass, but you have to endure hardness as a good soldier.

Leaders are charged with the responsibility of living a life of integrity, especially in front of God’s people. You want to set an example and give them encouragement that if God spoke it, it will come to pass! What does it look like if you are trying to reassure someone else that God’s Word does not return void when it looks like you are having difficulties experiencing the manifestations of God’s Word yourself? To their surprise, you forfeited your own destiny by not protecting your vision!

So next time you feel God pulling you in another direction, but your circumstances are not in line; or if you feel like the enemy has a personal vendetta against you—it’s not you, it’s the Word!