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On Nov. 5, 1872 a woman cast her first ballot in a US Presidential election — and she was put in jail!

You can help BREAK the “GLASS ceiling” in your life by owning the “space” that has already been given to you! When opportunities are in front of you, step into the space and occupy. Don’t lean back and make excuses, instead break through and just do it.

There are many ways to ACTIVATE positive change but today one of the biggest impacts we can each make is by VOTING!

No one can take your place to cast YOUR vote.

Each of us must own our space and cast our ballot based on our own prayerful deliberation. We have already been given enormous POWER to break the glass ceiling for every woman in America by casting our votes for candidates and policies which will impact lives. No one is going to change anything until there’s action … and today the biggest action I could do to shatter the glass ceiling in America was to VOTE.  

It is lazy and self-damaging to complain about women’s issues if we DO NOT TAKE ACTION when we have already been blessed with the gift of voting. It was not always this way for the women in this country. Women must accept the responsibilities for which much sacrifice has already been invested.

The 19th amendment, passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920, granted women in the United States the right to vote. That seems like such a clear-cut statement, but it took a lot of sacrifice to get to that point.

Women had few rights in the early years of our country. In fact, when the country was first founded rights were even taken away from women! According to Susan Milligan, a senior writer for US News, “Historians describe two waves of feminism in history: the first in the 19th century, growing out of the anti-slavery movement, and the second, in the 1960s and 1970s. Women have made great strides – and suffered some setbacks – throughout history, but many of their gains were made during the two eras of activism in favor of women’s rights.” (1) Here are a few of the dates Susan gives in her timeline of women’s rights:

In 1769 the colonies followed the English system and women could not own property or keep any money they earned.

In 1777, after the Declaration of Independence was signed declaring all men are created equal, each state passed laws taking away a woman’s right to vote.

In 1839 Mississippi became the first state to allow women to own property in their own name, but only with permission from their husbands.

In 1848 300 women and men signed the Declaration of Sentiments asking for the end of discrimination against women.

In 1866 Congress passed the 14th Amendment, defining citizens and voters as male.

1872 was a year of progress! Victoria Claflin Woodhull was nominated by the National Radical Reformers as the first female presidential candidate, women who were federal employees were guaranteed equal pay for equal work, and Susan B. Anthony voted to test the interpretation of the 14th amendment and was convicted of “unlawful voting.”

In 1890 Wyoming gave women the right to vote in all elections!

By 1900 all states passed legislation allowing married women to own property and keep their wages.

In 1916 Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1920 women were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment!

All too often we take for granted the rights we have today. Rights your great grandmother and her mother didn’t have. The generations of women who came before us fought for equality and the right to vote so you and I would be able to live the lives we are living right now!

The first major gathering for women’s rights took place in July 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York.  Elizabeth Cody Stanton, one of the organizers of the event, “drafted a ‘Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions’ that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.’”(2) This event inspired women all over the county to stand up and step out on the path to equal rights.

They marched and practiced civil disobedience, often ending up facing prosecution. They wrote and lectured on the importance of equal rights for women and that women deserve equal representation. The lobbied to lawmakers and picketed, held hunger strikes, parades, and silent vigils. These women faced retribution at home and on the streets. They were ridiculed, jailed, and even physically abused for seeking equality.

This foundation of hard work and sacrifice is what our rights are built on. This is the legacy we carry on when we exercise our rights, and it is the legacy we ignore when we choose not to exercise them.

On November 2, 1920, more than 8 million women voted for the first time. Many of those women still faced opposition at home and in their communities, but 43% of women went to the polls and cast their vote. (3) That number grows every year, and every woman who votes owes that right to the women who marched, protested, and lobbied for that right.

This year, 28,500,000 women are eligible to vote. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, female voters have outnumbered male voters in every Presidential election since 1980 and in every midterm election since 1986.(4) And every one of those votes has value. When we vote, we are saying that the course of this country matters to us. We are saying that we care about the rights of the citizens of this country and we want our faith reflected in our vote.

We have each been given much. We have the right to own property and cars and jewelry. We have the right to speak out against what we don’t believe in. We have the right to have a job and keep what we earn. We have these rights because others fought for them. We have been given much, and we must give in return!

Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Have you ever taken time to reflect on what that means in your life?

Jesus came to earth to repair our relationship with God. That is good news in the best sense of the word. He has become our conduit to God, interceding on our behalf and providing us with the Holy Spirit’s presence to guide us through our days. What He does grants us an eternal life at His side when we accept Him as savior. What He doesn’t do is live our lives for us. We still have to do the work, make the decisions, and express the power of God in our lives through every choice we make.

This is not easy. In fact, I know I couldn’t do it without Him! But the fact remains that I have to make choices every day that reflect on who I am as a child of God. And so do you!

Each of us has been given much, and each of us has been entrusted with even more. That means we are required to give much in return. Some of what we have been given comes from the sacrifices of those who came before us.

So tomorrow morning, get to your voting station and exercise your rights. You can make a difference!

 

 

 

(1) “Stepping Through History: A Timeline of Women’s Rights from 1769 to the 2017 Women’s March on Washington” by Susan Milligan. https://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2017-01-20/timeline-the-womens-rights-movement-in-the-us

I encourage you to take time to read the complete timeline!

(2) https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/WIC/Historical-Essays/No-Lady/Womens-Rights/

(3) “The Women’s Vote in National Elections.” https://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1927053100

(4) http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/resources/genderdiff.pdf

 

Over decades of Ministry I’ve counseled women who have dealt with various forms of sexual harassment. With the recent #MeToo movement, the topic has become big news, and it is starting to get the attention it deserves.

Let’s lay all of the cards out on the table. Sexual harassment is one of those insidious evils that surround us. It lurks in the background and we don’t really pay much attention to it until it directly affects us in some way.

As women, we are often told we need to “move past” any “uncomfortable” situations we’ve experienced. As in the situation made us uncomfortable, but that’s the extent of it, giving the impression the woman is overreacting. All too often, sexual harassment is swept under the rug, or dealt with quietly so the situation just goes away.

I want to do two things in this post. First, I want to look a little closer at sexual harassment: what it is, who it affects, and what kind of damage it causes. Then I want to look at the steps someone who is sexually harassed can take to find healing and how we can help.

What It Is

Sexual harassment is legally defined as something that happens in the workplace, or in a structured learning environment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment.

Stop Street Harassment defines sexual harassment as including: “ verbal sexual harassment (e.g., sexually explicit talk, homophobic slurs, repeated requests for a date after a person has said no), cyber sexual harassment (the use of text/phone and Internet to sexually harass), and physically aggressive sexual harassment (flashing or indecent exposure, being physically followed and being touched or brushed up against in a sexual way without consent).”

The Equality Act of 2010 in the UK defines it as: “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.”

Who It Affects

Everyone.

Sexual harassment affects each and every one of us in one way or another. Statistics show that at least 1 in 4 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. A new national online survey from Stop Street Harassment (SSH) reported that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they had experienced sexual harassment or assault over their lifetimes. Think about that.

According to SSH:

  • More than 3 in 4 women (77%) and 1 in 3 men (34%) experienced verbal sexual harassment;
  • 1 in 2 women (51%) and 1 in 6 men (17%) were sexually touched in an unwelcome way;
  • Around 4 in 10 women (41%) and 1 in 4 men (22%) experienced cyber sexual harassment;
  • More than 1 in 3 women (34%) and 1 in 10 men (12%) were physically followed;
  • Close to 1 in 3 women (30%) and 1 in 10 men (12%) faced unwanted genital flashing;
  • More than 1 in 4 women (27%) and 1 in 14 men (7%) survived sexual assault.
  • Among those who reported experiencing sexual harassment and assault, 57% of women and 42% of men said it had happened by age 17. High school-age, 14-to-17-years-old, was the most frequently selected age people reported being for their first experience (27% women, 20% men).

The Damage It Causes

Harassment must be taken seriously. It is emotionally and physically damaging, and in severe cases the effects can last a lifetime. Of those who reported experiencing sexual harassment in the SSH survey, 31% of women and 20% of men said they felt anxiety or depression and many changed their route or regular routine to avoid their harassers.

Women especially are conditioned to smooth over difficult situations. Many women are taught from a young age that if something makes them uncomfortable they need to remove themselves from the situation if possible, but whatever they do, do it quietly. That kind of thinking becomes hard-wired in the brain and it is difficult to change when in a crisis situation. The #MeToo movement has pointed out the dangers of that kind of thinking.

Victims of sexual harassment react in many different ways. There is no one response. They can appear calm, they can dampen their emotions, they might be distraught, or they might be visibly angry. If the abuse is serious enough, victims may self-medicate, engage in high-risk sexual behavior, withdraw from those around them, or attempt to regain control in some way.

The victim’s claim in sexual harassment is often questioned more than that of victims of other crimes. Especially if they don’t fight back in some way. This questioning can lead to doubt and confusion for the victim, and it is the reason many never report it or seek help. Neurobiological research has shown that the fight-or-flight response in harassment or assault situations might be more accurately called “fight, flight or freeze.” Victims may be rendered involuntarily immobile, becoming either paralyzed or limp as a result of the brain and body’s protective response.

The emotional damage victims of sexual harassment face must not be downplayed or disregarded. They have faced real trauma, and it not something that was imagined or a joke that was “taken too seriously.”

In cases of severe harassment, the harasser often incites feelings of confusion and shame and they manipulate the reluctance to identify as a victim. According to Valliere, those harassers she treats give two tactics they use to obscure their actions: they will camouflage the act as horseplay or humor, or they act as though nothing happened. She states, “If they do this enough, the victim can get really confused, like they’re really the bad one for thinking badly about the offender.”

Finding Healing

Sexual harassment takes an enormous toll on the victim, and it can have long-lasting effects if the individual is not proactive about seeking healing. Reactions to trauma are different for each person, but it often starts as shock. The person then moves into a state of denial: “this can’t really be happening to me.” Following that are feelings of victimization, which can impact self-esteem and the ability to function.

Steps to Healing

Healing is a process. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, my heart is with you and you are in my prayers. I hope the steps I’ve listed will guide you as you start your healing process. If you know someone who is struggling with the aftereffects of harassment, I hope these steps will guide you as you offer them your support and love.

Step 1: Acknowledge what happened. Someone violated your dignity. They put you in a situation that was not only uncomfortable, it was damaging to you emotionally, and possibly physically.

Step 2: Don’t blame yourself. Someone else did this to you. You are not to blame. You did not “tempt” them with your actions, your clothing, your makeup, the way you walk, or by being friendly. Their actions are to blame. It was their decision, not yours.

Step 3: Find someone to talk to right away. This is not something you can make go away on your own. You need to process what happened to you and talking to someone else will give you the support you need to face your pain. I would encourage you to consider a neutral party for this step. A trusted family member or friend can be invaluable to the healing process, but they often have trouble separating their own emotions from the situation. Instead, consider a counselor or your pastor or the equivalent. That person is there to listen to you, to be your advocate, and to offer you the support you need to find your own insights. If they don’t do those things, then find someone who will.

Step 4: Take back control of your life. Set goals, make plans, take a class, start a new hobby, do whatever it takes for you to feel in control and comfortable with your immediate future.

Step 5: Take care of yourself. You, my friend, are a blessed creation of God. He loves every molecule of your being, and He created you with great care and thought. You are valuable, and you must take care of yourself just like you would take care of anything of great value. I’ve talked about self-care and would encourage you to make this a priority in your life as you work through the healing process.

Step 6: Surround yourself with people who support you. Don’t underestimate the value of positivity in your life. Especially right now. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. People who will understand and not judge you if you have a bad day. Your connections are always important, but right now they are vital. The flip side of this coin is temporarily removing the negative from your life. If you love someone (friend, relative, mentor) but they are feeding negativity and bad feelings into your life, then you need to remove them from your circle for a while.

This is the time to focus on you. Focus on healing so you can live the life you God intends for you. God is good and His plan for your life is to prosper and thrive. Trauma is not the end, instead it’s the beginning of a pathway to healing through God. Although you may always remember the victimization, God’s Grace has the divine energy to flatten the pain and reframe the loss into your weapon for personal growth. In our weakness, the Bible promises that Jesus will be strong!

Resources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/us/sexual-harassment-weinstein-women.html

http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2018-National-Sexual-Harassment-and-Assault-Report.pdf

Recommend resources for healing:

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship by Laurence Heller Ph.D. and Aline LaPierre Psy.D.

Walking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine and Ann Frederick

Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life by Jasmine Lee Cori

Did you know that your thoughts TODAY are able to rewire your brain for higher levels of confidence, certainty, composure, and concentration? You can HEAL trauma and find wholeness no matter what has happened in your past!

God gifted each of us with a wonderfully complex brain, with the ability to change our thought patterns. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

This is possible because of a concept called neuroplasticity, the ability of our brains neural pathways to actually reshape and reform. Through intentional thought, we can actually rewire our brains to minimize negative thinking, reshape limiting beliefs about ourselves, and move toward a more positive, healthy life.

One response I received to my last post on changing your thoughts was, “But HOW do I do it? How do I use neuroplasticity to my advantage and rewire my brain?” So today I want to introduce you to a resource I think will change your life!

Neurosculpting®

The process is called Neurosculpting®, and it was developed by Lisa Wimberger. Neurosculpting utilizes the changing neurons in the brain by focusing directly on the type of reinforcement our neural pathways receive. The key is that our neural pathways grow stronger or weaker over time, depending on the type of reinforcement received.

Our brain cells, our neurons, are unique. Each one has structures called dendrites extending from them toward the neurons around it. They look like roads on a map connecting different towns! Those dendrites carry messages from one neuron to the next, like roads carry cars from one town to the next. When a neuron receives a message, it moves through the dendrites to the next neuron. If the message/information is powerful or strong enough, the next neuron in line passes it on.

This process forms a thought network, building roads so the signal—the message—can travel more easily in the future. Everything you learn, every thought, every bit of sensory input, builds new roads and forms new pathways. The more often the same input is received, the stronger and more traveled the pathway. Neuroplasticity allows the formation of new roads.

Sculpting Your Brain by Choosing Your Thoughts

 

A Map Of Our Brains

Have you ever been stuck on a major highway in a traffic jam? Likely there were other roads you could have taken, but they weren’t as fast, as well-built, or they didn’t go exactly where you needed to go. The pathways in our brain are kind of like those major highways. The ones we use the most are busiest. The messages travel faster and easier. They go right were we send them. But sometimes they get jammed up. There is too much input, or we are inputting the wrong message. When that happens, we need to reroute our thoughts and build up new pathways.

Our goal is a brain map that is strong and is full of pathways and alternate routes. One thing you need to understand is that our neural pathways are use it or lose it. The less we use connections, the more they deactivate. This process is known as the “Hebbian Rule.” Donald Hebb summitted the hypothesis that when two neurons are active at the same time, the synapses (pathways) between them are strengthened. This creates networks from the pre-existing “wiring” in our brains. Hebb’s hypothesis proved correct, and researchers used that idea to discover neuroplasticity!

Any knowledge you rarely access or behaviors you seldom use result in neural pathways that are weaker. Some connections may even be lost completely!

Careful and Intentional Progress

Neuroplasticity is a powerful tool. But it can hurt your brain and your mental health as easily as help it. Dr. Michael Merzenich, author of Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life talks about what he calls “negative learning.” He writes, “It is almost just as easy to drive changes that can impair one’s memory or slow down one’s mental or physical control as it is to improve one’s memory or speed up the brain’s actions.” You must take great care when you work to rewire your thinking. Neurosculpting uses deliberate, careful steps to institute change.

In her book, Neurosculpting, Wimberger says, “Neurosculpting is a mental training process that quiets our fight or flight center and activates our prefrontal cortex, which is the mind’s seat of compassion and empathy. It also engages left- and right-brain stimulation and incorporates somatic awareness for a whole-brain and whole-body approach to meditation and rewiring. It’s a lifestyle of day-to-day exercises, nutritional tenets, and meditations designed to allow dialogue between compartmentalized and silenced parts of ourselves.  It involves learning about a brain supportive diet, exercising, and identifying and enhancing opportunities for neuroplasticity throughout your day …”

That may sound complex, and in some ways it is, but it can also be approached on a smaller scale. On her Neurosculpting Institute website, she tells us, “The practice can be as simple as some daily meditations and mental exercises, and as comprehensive as a full life-plan to include nutrition, exercise, sleep hygiene, and one-on-one support.”

Wimberger’s Neurosculpting® practice follows five steps:

Step 1

The first step is regulating your stress level and learning about your body’s natural responses to stressful situations. You do this by intentionally pausing when you encounter a stress response. We all encounter stressful situations each day. Yours might be when you are stuck in traffic, when your child throws a tantrum, when your boss hands you a big project and wants it done yesterday, or maybe it’s when you and your spouse disagree with each other. Your reaction might vary: increased pulse, higher blood pressure, a flash of anger, or the desire to run away. The intentional pause helps you catalogue your reaction. You start to learn how your body reacts to negative situations so you can institute thought process changes.

Step 2

The second step is an enhanced, focused attention. This will help you start the process of emotional regulation. Stress has a way of scattering our thoughts. Those well-worn neural pathways light up and we react instinctively. This second step is only possible after you intentionally pause and assess the situation. In that moment, you then focus your attention on your emotions and evaluate what you need to change. If your child is throwing the twelfth tantrum of the day you might feel despair, frustration, anger. When your boss is unreasonable you might shut down or feel overwhelmed. When you argue with your spouse you might feel hurt, frustrated, angry, or even resigned. You can’t make a change until you know what you need to change.

Step 3

In the third step, you increase the interaction between your “analytical self and your intuitive feeling self.” We are reactionary creatures. Very few people react to stress and trauma with analysis of the situation. Instead we enter a highly emotional “fight or flight” state. By pausing and focusing our attention on our reaction, we are then able to take a mental step back and look at the situation more logically. We need to form neural connections between these two parts of our brain.

Step 4

The fourth step creates a link between sensation-based engagement to perceptual shifts in patterns. Once you have formed those new connections, you have to intentionally use them. If your pulse starts to race and your blood pressure goes up, you want your brain to instinctively pause, focus your attention, and recognize why you are reacting that way. When you do this, you shift the pattern. You will develop the ability to react intentionally instead of instinctively. This gives you the ability to stop your boss and say, “This is a great project, and it deserves my full attention. Can I pass some of my other work off to other employees while I focus on this, or is there someone else who will be assisting with the project?” Your analytical side allows you to show you recognize the importance, but you are not able to do it alone with what you already have on your plate. You have shifted the pattern from reactionary to deliberate action.

Step 5

The fifth step allows you to identify and replicate the process in day-to-day activities. When you reach this fifth step, you have rewired your brain! You have created new, healthier pathways in your brain. The more you use them, the stronger they become. The less you use the old, unhealthy thought patterns, the weaker they will become.

Every day I encounter people who are stuck in negative thought processes. I counsel women who have suffered trauma and are struggling to move on. I work with young leaders who are letting stress and uncertainty rule their lives. Each of these individuals  has the power to rewire their brain. By doing so, they move from a place of struggle to a thriving, active, forward-moving life!

Start right now by ASKING GOD to help you. PRAY out loud: “God, I believe your Word, and it says that I can bring every thought under control. Today, I am asking you to help me practice these steps and to change my thinking so my brain rewires to elevated thinking! I am starting NOW! Amen!”

Have you ever taken out a necklace only to find it is tangled into knots? That usually happens because you just chuck the jewelry into the box at the end of the night and them quickly rummage through to find what you want the next morning.

What do you do when you have to deal with tangles? I know you don’t expect the tangle to just miraculously vanish. If you are like me you start at one end and unravel one knot at a time (a little baby powder helps!). Eventually the necklace is a smooth chain again, and it’s ready to do its job and shine.

The brain is the same way. We tend to chuck­­ thoughts into our brains and expect new thoughts to come out untangled and pure when we need them. In reality, it takes a little work to make sure the brain is ready to shine.

Repeated behaviors and thoughts become hardwired into our brains, allowing us to coast through some tasks while hardly thinking about them at all. The downside is that negative thought patterns can become hardwired too. But don’t worry – you can change the wiring in your brain!

Scientists have come to realize that each of us is the architect of our brains. God created us as incredibly complex beings, but He didn’t set our plans in stone. So with a little work, you can actually begin to change thoughts and behaviors that are holding you back, causing you stress, or hurting your relationships.

Neuroplasticity

Let’s take a quick look at the science behind re-wiring our brains. Neuroplasticity is the formal name. This refers your brain’s ability to reorganize itself throughout your life. This happens due to environmental stimuli, your behavior and that of others around you, your thoughts, and your emotions. What’s really amazing is that the brain can rewire itself both physically and functionally!

Our son, Graham, suffered severe brain damage due to spinal meningitis. We were told he would exist in an almost vegetative state without the ability to speak, see, hear, or walk. But through God’s grace and His amazing design, that was not the case. Graham’s brain was able to rewire around those damaged areas and today he is able to not only speak, he raps! He actually serves on the security team at our church!

If his brain can rewire to give him back basic functions lost to illness, imagine what your brain can do if you work to change your thoughts!

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Your brain is capable of more than you can imagine, all you have to do is visualize it. Because when you visualize a new process, you materialize that process in your life.

Dr. Michael Merzenich, explains in his book, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life, “Whatever the circumstances of a child’s early life, and whatever the history and current state of that child, every human has the built-in power to improve, to change for the better, to significantly restore and often to recover. Tomorrow, that person you see in the mirror can be a stronger, more capable, livelier, more powerfully centered, and still-growing person.”

So how do you make these changes? Well the first thing is to actually get up and move. It may seem counterproductive, when your thought process is what you want to change, but movement actually helps. According to Christopher Bergman, moderate to vigorous physical activity is one of the most effective ways to stimulate neurogenesis.

Changing Your Thoughts

One way you can rewire your brain is to use motivation. In other words, you are moving toward a specific goal. First you need to define your goal in positive terms. Make sure every step is moving toward something, not away from it.

So if your goal is to change your thoughts about your body while losing weight, your goals would be to eat healthy, become more physically active, and to actively think positive thoughts about yourself. Compliment yourself in some way. Once you’ve come up with your plan, write it down, and remember that everything should be positive. The language you use can absolutely affect your results.

You are changing your thoughts by saying what you do want, instead of what you don’t want. The goal is to edit negative words out of your vocabulary and your thoughts. Focus on what you want to happen not what you want to avoid. Be POSITIVE. Never focus on what you don’t want, because if you do then that is what you will create instead!

Remember that your energy flows where your attention goes. 

Marisa Peer, a psychologist and bestselling author, says, “If you haven’t got what you want, it is because you are not communicating correctly with your mind … the brain does what it thinks you want so you have to be very careful when telling your brain what you want.” Don’t be afraid to empower yourself! Think and use phrases such as: “I want to do it,”  “I’m choose this,”  “I’m going to succeed at this,” and “I love doing this.” Put yourself in a position of positive control.

If you believe that you can do something, you will!

Let me repeat that. If you believe that you can do something, you will! There have been times in my life when I didn’t do something I really wanted to just because I thought I couldn’t. Not believing can lead to regret! Just embracing this one attribute can change your life in unimaginable ways. You need to visualize the change you want, and make sure you use your senses as our senses trigger activity within the brain. Remember – only dwell upon the END result.

You might:

  • See your hands wrapping around the steering wheel of your new car while you smell that new car smell.
  • Picture how your new dress will look, and how great you will feel after you’ve lost the weight you want to lose.
  • Imagine what it will feel like to walk down the aisle holding your groom’s hand as everyone applauds your happy day.
  • Visualize what work will be like after you get that big promotion and imagine the satisfaction you will feel.

Make sure you’re detailed and precise in what you visualize. When you talk about what you want, make sure you use descriptive and powerful words. Engage your senses with sensory words, which are more powerful because they engage more areas of your brain.

If you use words describing taste or texture, the parts of your brain that would process those senses actually become active. This idea is often used by athletes because it is so effective. Imagining your positive outcome will help guarantee your success!

I want to stress again that whatever you put in your mind is what it believes and reproduces. So be positive, be powerful, and be an instrument of your own change. So what changes are you going to make to the wiring in your brain? I know you can do this! All you have to do is want it.

It’s the positive FEELING that helps create the change. So how bad do you WANT change? 

 

 

Christopher Bergland, “How Do Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis Rewire Your Brain?” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201702/how-do-neuroplasticity-and-neurogenesis-rewire-your-brain

Dr. Michael Merzenich, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life

I want to tell you something today. Something I think you need to hear. You need to rest. You need to take time to renew yourself. Yes, I know you are busy and have a lot of stuff to do. You have people depending on you and people to lead, but you can’t do any of that if you burn out.

The concept of renewing is not something I’ve made up, it is a mandate from God, and it appears as an important aspect of life and leadership throughout Scripture. Jesus consistently modeled the need for rest and renewal to His disciples. We MUST make renewal a cornerstone of our lives if we want to thrive!

Busy Gets In The Way

Women today (and men too) carry enormous loads at home and in the workplace. You have deadlines, dinners, activities to get the kids to, church commitments, hobbies, and family obligations. Your skills toolbox is full. You are equipped to move forward. But without renewing your energy you will be too limited to accomplish everything you need to do.

Endless obligations take a toll on every woman in every walk of life. According to Kelley Holland, women now make up half of the workforce in the United States, but those working moms still take on the bulk of household chores. The Institute for Employment Studies shares that a growing modern workplace trend in our culture is “engendering a long hours culture where ‘being present’ is valued as a sign of commitment to work.”

This is a dangerous trend! Other countries recognize the importance of rest, especially when it comes to productivity and efficiency, and they build the concept into their workplace cultures. We seem to have gone the opposite direction, demanding that each of us are always “on,” always connected to work, and always splitting our focus between our work life and our home life.

Looking At The Whole

If you are anything like me, stressed, tired, and rushed have become daily parts of your life. When we add their extra load of family and household responsibilities to our professional work-week, it’s easy to understand why so many experience debilitating burnout. Although we, as women, have tremendous new opportunities, many of the same old challenges remain. We are totally exhausted, have too much to do, and have too little time.

Here is what you need to understand: you are Body, Mind, and Spirit. All of the different areas of your life and your work will come to a grinding halt if you don’t discover your key to sustainable renewable energy. It’s no wonder you fall into bed totally spent every night. I’ve been there, friend. In fact, I still struggle with renewing.

The Missing Ingredient

So here is the question you need to ask yourself today: What is my missing ingredient?

In order to figure out your key to renewal, you need to start by rethinking the concept of balance between your personal/home schedules and your professional work. You might assume that you are out of balance and that is the cause of your energy issues. Conventional wisdom may say home time is restorative and work time is draining, but things aren’t black and white. The wrong kind of home time can be a total energy siphon. Think of endless diapers, screaming teenagers, empty refrigerators, piles of laundry, or a needy husband. Every day you experience a teeter-totter of energy ups and downs in every part of your life. Balance is tough to define.

There Is No Secret Formula!

As busy women, we all share a notion in the back of our minds that some woman, somewhere, has the secret formula to handling everything in her world efficiently and effortlessly. We look around and think we’ve failed to crack the code to a perfect, balanced, stress-free life. Relax—there is no secret formula! There is no perfect balance in human planning. But we do all know other women who take vacations, have a happy family, and are glowing with health—so how do they do it?

Steps To Finding Your Missing Ingredient

Step 1. Let go of the idea that you can reach a constant state of total control. Only God can initiate perfect balance. Start your journey to renewal by giving Him your schedule. Commit your home time and your work time to Him. He can expand and balance what you will never be able to stabilize.

Step 2. Replace your current vision with a new plan of managing your own energy flow inside the framework of what is important to you—at that moment. You need to reframe your challenge to replace an unsolvable problem (sustaining a work/life balance) with a big payoff—never running your energy batteries on empty. If you let yourself hit rock bottom, that’s when you’re most vulnerable, most likely to make mistakes, and you lose your joy. Energy plays a huge role in your success!

Step 3. Focus on your relationship with God. It may seem counterintuitive to take time you don’t have and spend it on spiritual formation, but I’ve seen it work over and over again. When you put God first, you suddenly have more clarity, more energy, more focus, and more peace. Stress decreases, you want to focus on staying healthy, your mind clears, and your spirit is filled with joy.

Boundless energy and true RENEWING is available to you as you allow your body, mind, and spirit to be transformed!

 


Love is a fruit in season at all times,
and within reach of every hand. 

~ Mother Teresa

 

Connecting is about garnering the “support and gifting” of the humans around you. We need to connect, because no one does anything alone! Just think about it for a moment. As each of us move forward in our lives, as we work to achieve our goals, there a always others who contribute in some way. It’s like when you see a turtle on a fence post, you just know it didn’t get that high by itself. It needed help!

We Are Created For Relationship

We are created by God to live in relationship, both with Him and with others. Your relationships are formed and maintained when you make and maintain loving connections with others.

Connectivity itself is a range of activities that focus on creating and sustaining connections with others. That sounds really technical, but it can be boiled down to focusing on others as you communicate with them. This might happen through active listing, empathy, compassion, shared activities, through your leadership, or through reaching out to the other person.

None Of Us Operates Alone!

Sound familiar? None of us operates alone. You need that connection with others if you want to live your life to the fullest. The act of connecting links you to others. What you need are specific actions you can take to ensure connectivity happens. An attitude of servant leadership is the first thing you need to enhance and improve your ability to connect with others in a constructive, purposeful, and meaningful way.

Authentically connecting with others has numerous benefits. Technology has led to a new problem in connecting with others in an authentic way. Self-focus, a pattern of behavior encouraged by excessive time on social media, is associated with anxiety and depression. Instead of deriving pleasure from your experience—say, your trip to Paris—your device becomes your main source of pleasure. Unwittingly, it makes you less connected and more narcissistic, and with that comes a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows caused by obsessive attention-seeking.

The Benefits Of Community

God created us to be in community with others. We are a community of believers. Part of the family of God. We are created as His children to be in relationship with Him and with those around us. You hear that a lot here because it is vital for each of us to be in relationship with others. It’s actually more important than you might realize. Studies show that loneliness increases an individual’s risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive problems, and other health issues.

Humans were created to need intimate bonds, someone to confide in, and we need to feel like we belong. God created us to need the support of others, and He created us to be able to support others. Strong relationships not only make us happier, they make us mentally stronger.

Forming Connections

One way to form strong connections is through servant leadership. When you purposefully become a servant leader, the focus of your life shifts to the development of altruism, emotional healing, wisdom, support, and stewardship. This foundation facilitates empowerment and capability development, leading to a sense of community and an alignment of goals within your family, your close friend circles, in your workplace, and even in your new relationships.

Life isn’t an individualistic pursuit! You are participating in an interactive process involving hands-on action, and you must make an effort to include all participants. Communicating, listening, integrating viewpoints, taking action, and building trust are all critical to your success and your personal growth.

Be A Good Listener

If you don’t already possess it, or even if you think you do, I want to challenge you to actively work on your ability to be a good listener. Be sensitive toward others and give and take criticism graciously. Solid people-skills will take you farther toward growth and success than any other leadership trait! Or as President Theodore Roosevelt put it, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

Become A Servant Leader!

Jesus recognized the need to view personal development in a different light when He chose the role of a servant. He also demonstrated a foundation for equality in His actions, choosing to wash the feet of His followers. He demonstrated the importance of serving others and the equality in the roles they shared (John 13:12-15).

When you live as Jesus did, you can’t expect that you’ll receive reward or recognition. If you want to influence the behavior of others, and create a network of positive connectivity, you have to abandon that mindset! This is the lesson Jesus taught through His actions and through His relationships.

So are you ready to accept your role as a servant leader to meet the needs of those around you? If you are, you will connect with others more deeply that you could have imagined! Start with this personal affirmation: What I make happen for others, God will make happen for me!

I want to tell you something I think you need to hear today: You have unlimited potential! God wants to do amazing things in your life! You have a mission, set by Him, that will help you grow in ways you never thought possible. YOUR LIFE MATTERS.

God has a purpose for everyone. “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Ex. 9:16).

You are gifted and called. “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Prov. 20:5).

You are needed. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil. 2:12–3).

Sometimes the idea that we have a mission, a specific calling from God, can be overwhelming. Sometimes it is the fuel that fires the imagination and gives us the willpower we need to keep moving forward. The difference between the two is understanding and embracing your mission.

Your mission, your calling, is bigger than you. I get it. That can be scary. But this is what I know about you if you are a Christian who wants to activate God’s call in your life: You are ready to work hard to see your calling from God become reality. You aren’t alone!

Staying on Mission is your pathway to find meaning in all of your experiences.

Staying on mission keeps us energized so we can reach our destination. However, unless we have taken the initiative to stop and clarify what our mission is for ourselves, we can miss out on our greatest source of power. If you aren’t clear about your mission, I would encourage you to start the journey of discovery today. Spend time in prayer, ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, look at the skills, talents, and passions God has instilled in you. Once you understand your mission, it’s time to move forward!

To accomplish your mission, you must take hold of the responsibilities of personal development and the disciplines of spiritual formation. Spiritual formation, developing and growing your relationship with God is vital to succeeding in your mission. That relationship will give you the faith, strength, and determination you need to succeed!

Faith is central to everything you do in life. When you take on challenges, you wrestle with a degree of uncertainty, and you risk failure. You risk losing. You risk getting hurt. However, fail or succeed, by doing risky things you expand your vision of what is possible, and your faith grows as you lean on God during each challenge. Every effort builds your character and equips you with the skills, the confidence, and the essential attributes needed to navigate the obstacles you face.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like failure. I know I learn from it. I know it helps me grow and stretch and learn new things. But I still don’t like it. That dislike drives me to work harder, be stronger, and it pushes me to lean on God because I know I can’t do it alone.

When you think of strength, do you catalog your weaknesses and the areas you excel? Want to know a secret? None of us is strong on our own. Thankfully, God created us that way, and He also gives us what we need to make us strong. He places people in our lives to help us when we are in need. He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to fuel our forward movement. And He himself promises to always be there when we are in need. That, my friend, is true strength, and that is what you need as you complete your mission!

Your determination helps you press forward in spite of resistance or obstacles. That determination helps you develop confidence in your mission. A lack of confidence often stems from the overwhelming anxiety that your voice isn’t adequate or acceptable for others. When that happens, remember to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter5:7).

Our brains are miraculous, wonderful constructions. They are intricate and complex, and if we are not careful they can steer us off course. I talked last week about self-fulfilling prophecy. What you think can become your reality. This means you can become so focused on yourself and your anxiety over how others will perceive you that you fail to move forward with your own mission.

Dr. William James wrote, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” To realize that the only things we know will last forever are the eternal human beings we interact with every day gives us the perspective to remember our mission to serve others is the greatest purpose we can accept.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Rom. 1:11–12). You, my friend, are the inheritor of Paul’s message to the Romans. Just as you have inherited the command of Christ: to spread the gospel and lead others into the kingdom of heaven.

Today I want to reaffirm Paul’s message. I want to encourage you with my faith. I know you have a mission. I know it is important and that you alone can complete it! I want to encourage you to have the faith, strength, and determination to press on. So do it right now, friend. Commit to your dream, your mission, today!

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (Prov. 4:23, GNT)

Your Thoughts Matter!

Did you know your beliefs unconsciously direct you in your moment-by-moment choices and actions? What you believe drives your viewpoint and your mindset in every situation. That means your beliefs actually become self-fulfilling prophecies in your life.

Self-fulfilling prophecies have been called the “Pygmalion effect,” a term derived from a play that later became the Broadway musical My Fair Lady. This fictional story shows how self-perception, who we think we are, is a prime basis for how we will experience life. We behave according to who we believe we should be.

So what do we do when we face a difficult situation and can see no positive side to the issue? There is no way you or I can predict the challenges we will face in our lives, and usually our priorities will change as we go on. But just as we shape our lives with our thoughts, our reactions to those challenges can alter the outcome. If your thoughts are holding you back, or negatively affecting your relationship with someone else, then it’s time to reframe.

When you reframe, you change your perspective on how you experience events, ideas, concepts, or emotions so you can find the most valuable positive alternative for the purpose of moving ahead, adapting, and implementing solutions for achieving goals. Being able to choose to see a different perspective is essential to problem solving, decision making, and new learning.

Your thoughts are things, and they become your reality. If you want to change your life, you first have to change your reality. We each have the ability to choose our thoughts and think things on purpose. In other words, you don’t have to think about whatever falls into your mind. As Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) says, “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he.” You could also say it like this: Where the mind goes, your life will follow.

Reframing Your Thoughts

Whatever situation you may be facing, if you are ready to reframe then start with this affirmation:

As I turn my thinking around, I break free in a new direction toward the solution.

Understanding how the brain works can help you grow in every area of your life. Quantum physics has proven that the observation process itself changes the properties of the atoms being studied. Since our brains contain billions of neurons made of subatomic components, it makes sense that this principle would also hold true for human particles. In other words, observing your thinking, your calling, and your internal self-talk, will have a profound effect on your development.

Thinking is actually a complex chemical process inside the cells of your brain called neurons. The neurons transmit information by firing electrical impulses through synapses. As you learn to think in new ways the connections between the neurons become stronger and the synapses are reinforced. “Cells that fire together, wire together.”

Your every thought is an electrochemical reaction. Each thought stimulates chemicals in magnificently complex electromagnetic waves that would sound like the most exquisite symphony if you could hear them. The brain, the magnificent control center God created, is said to be the most complex organic structure in the universe. Reframing, reworking those chemical reactions and rewiring the connections, changes your perspective to find a more positive alternative that will help you move ahead, adapt, and implement solutions for achieving goals. Choosing a different perspective is essential to problem-solving, decision-making, and learning.

By reframing, you can summon all your cognitive, intellectual, and emotional resources to create positive change because you believe that positive change is possible. No one can know the story inside your thoughts, but even if your thoughts are negative today you can switch your toxic thinking to positive power thoughts!

Start by reading through the following questions, thinking about how they apply to your life today, meditating on the impact of your answers, and praying for God to show you where you need change. Don’t rehash yesterday-ask these questions with future solutions in mind.

  1. When you are confronted with challenges, how do you focus on a solution?
  2. Are you acting on faith or fear?
  3. What obstacles do you see in your way?
  4. What steps could you take immediately that would make the greatest difference in your current situation?
  5. How do your thoughts make your life more stressful, or less stressful?
  6. What changes need to take place in your thinking?
  7. Your focused attention is your mindset. How can you make your mindset a positive, creative force?
  8. What do you participate in that is toxic to your mindset?
  9. What is the first change you would like to make to be fully satisfied with your life?
  10. For you to be truly happy, what would you have to change?

 

To find the answers to the obstacles you are facing in your life, you must be willing to change your thinking and turn your mindset inside out. By reframing, you can summon all your cognitive, intellectual, and emotional resources to create positive change because you believe that positive change is possible. To move forward, you can increase your power to reframe every part of your life on the positive pathway toward your solution.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest lessons that Jesus taught. In fact, He lived and died for our forgiveness and so we could learn the importance of forgiving. When someone hurts us in some way, intentionally or unintentionally, the act causes pain, frustration, and even anger to take root in our lives. Those feelings can take over if we are not careful, spreading to other relationships and even affecting how we function on a daily basis. Jesus wanted each of His followers to know that opening the door to negative emotions would ultimately interfere with their relationship with Him!

So What Is Forgiveness?

In order to understand why forgiveness is so important we must first understand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness means you’ve acknowledged the hurt or injustice you’ve faced and you are ready to let it go. According to Psychology Today, “Most psychologists recommend mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us and moving on from the past, instead of allowing bitterness and anger toward others to eat away at us.” Forgiveness is not something you are doing for someone else, you are forgiving for your own peace of mind and for your relationship with Jesus. When you hold on to the hurt and anger, you are essentially punishing yourself for what someone else did!

How Can I Forgive Like Jesus?

Forgiving another person is one of the hardest decisions we can make. Forgiving ourselves sometimes seems impossible. And what about forgiving God when we feel we’ve been treated unfairly? In a world with so much pain and wrong-doing, is it possible to forgive for real?

Jesus, as He was telling His disciples how to pray, said:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:9-15)

We Have to Learn to Let It Go.

The Greek word apoluo means “to let loose from.” It gives the impression of pushing away something that is undesirable. That is what forgiveness does. It pushes away those undesireable emotions, opening us to a true relationship with God and with those around us. Unforgiveness is the opposite. It is holding toxic emotions close. No one can do anything of significance in life (in relationships, in business, in your family, in ministry) until they stop running from yesterday. We have to stop thinking about “the way it should have been” and we need to quit asking ourselves, “why did this happen to me?” If you don’t let it go, unforgiveness can:

  • Allow anger and cynicism to color every relationship and new experience you have.
  • Prevent you from enjoying what is happening right now.
  • Lead to depression and anxiety.

if we want to move forward. Forgiveness is the key!

But WHY Should I Forgive?

Forgiveness isn’t for other people, it is for yourself. Forgiveness is God’s way of blessing you. What does it mean to forgive? Here’s how Jesus explained it in Matthew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Forgiveness is not a one-time thing. It is ongoing. Jesus freely forgave us of all of our sins, dying on the cross so we could have freedom for eternity. He tells us we are to follow His example and make forgiveness central in our lives.

Letting go, forgiving, can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

 

How Does Forgiveness Work in Me?

Forgiveness does three things in your life:

  • Forgiveness allows God to forgive me for what I have done.
  • When God forgives me, I can forgive others.
  • Forgiveness sets me free from the pain and disappointment of yesterday!

 

GOD wants to BLESS you, and He cannot do that if you are NOT releasing the hurts of the past.

This isn’t about others. Forgiveness is all about YOU. It is God’s method for you to clean out yesterday, so you can be clean and powerful for today! It’s never too late to begin again!

As we celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend, I thought a lot about my father and the lessons I learned from him as I was growing. My dad was a warm, affirming father. He supported my call to ministry, and I feel incredibly blessed to have learned my leadership basics by watching how he lived his life.

He gave his all to his God, his family, and his ministry. He loved his work so much that he worked full time as pastor until his eightieth birthday! In his retirement, as pastor emeritus, he continued to go to work every day to serve the church he loved so much. His personal mission to build that church continued to give him boundless energy and enthusiasm until he went to heaven at age eighty-six.

All of us have role models and mentors we learn from. Some are formal relationships, some are friendships, some of us are blessed to grow alongside amazing, God-ordained leaders. Dad was a great leader, and I want to share with you a few of the lessons I learned by watching him. Lessons I still live by today.

Never limit God’s influence in your life and ministry.

We do this. We do this all the time. We get a picture in our head of how things are supposed to be, and that is what we work toward. What you and I need to understand is that when we live only according to our vision we limit God’s influence in our life.

God’s plans for us have no limits. He sees potential where we see only walls. When we let God have his way, we end up in places we never could have dreamed because they are outside of our realm of experience. When we moved to Florida, we had a specific image of what our ministry would look like. And we struggled. We cried, we begged God to help us, we despaired of every making any headway. Then we had an epiphany. Where we saw insurmountable problems God saw unlimited potential.

As soon as we stopped doing things our way, and started doing things God’s way, the blessings started pouring in. Our ministry started growing and kept growing. Twenty years ago we never could have envisioned where we are now. That is what happens when you get out of God’s way and let Him influence your life.

Expect and embrace change.

I get it, change is scary. Most of us like to find our comfortable routine and stick with it. But when you are following the path God lays out, it seldom travels in a straight line. My dad dealt with change like he dealt with every other obstacle in life. He prayed, asked for guidance, and then accepted God’s will.

You see, Dad knew that change happens. Change is what keeps us on our toes. It keeps us fresh and flexible. If we acknowledge that change is going to happen, and then ask for God’s guidance when we face change, it takes the uncertainty and discomfort out of the situation. Then we are able to accept change for what it is, a continuation of God’s blessings in our life!

Plan for the future, don’t just live for today.

While we don’t want to limit God’s influence in our lives, and we have to be ready for unanticipated changes, that doesn’t mean we just sit and wait for life to happen. We need to prayerfully plan for the future. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I have found that to be so incredibly true through the years.

I can remember Dad planning for the future. He always had a long-term plan. He prayed for guidance, and he listened to others who had a stake. He planned carefully, but he was never set in stone. He built adaptability into his plans. This is what we all must do. Make your plans. Set you goals. But always remember to ask for God’s influence to guide every step, and always be ready for change!

Build a community.

I’ve said it before, and I think this lesson bears repeating. We are not made to travel this journey alone. You need to surround yourself with people who will support you, who love you, who want the best for you, and who love God as fiercely as you do.

Dad dearly loved people. He respected and honored them because he knew that each is a child of God, wonderfully made and wonderfully loved. His heart for people brought others into community with him. When their church burnt after they had just finished expanding, that community came together to salvage what they could even as the fire was still being put out. They gathered together and created something even greater. All because of community.

Don’t underestimate the importance of others walking beside you in your life. I don’t doubt that you are capable of doing things alone, but you don’t have to do it that way. I want to challenge you to build a community and then soak in the joy that comes from knowing those people are ready to step in and help, or hold you, or cheer you up on a rough day. Relationships are God’s greatest gift to us. And I am so thankful that I learned that lesson early on by watching my Dad.

Never, ever, ever give up!

My father’s last words before he passed were, “Never, ever, ever give up!” That was his last advice to his children, and I will always take those words to heart. I want to pass those words on to you today. God made you. God placed you where you are for a purpose. You will face hardships. You will deal with scary, unpredictable changes that you haven’t planned for. But never give up!

My father enriched my life in so many ways. I will always cherish the love and support, the guidance, the correction, and the advice he gave me. Even more though, I will hold close the lessons I learned by watching him embrace the life God gave him. I hope these lessons will enrich your life as they have mine!