Read to Live

 

READ to

I’ve always been a reader. As a result, I am a big believer in the lasting effects of reading on a person’s life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge I’ve gained through books.

So many people claim they are not the reading kind and I just sort of chuckle and then change the subject. Because I don’t believe that being a reader is optional. If you want to grow, lead, succeed, and dream, then reading has to become a part of your life.

Take growth, for instance. I’m not the same timid, unaware, insecure girl I was even ten years ago. And I have countless books to thank for that. The Bible tops the list, though, as being the most influential in my maturity as a confident woman. I now know who I am because of what the Word of God says about me. He calls me His beloved one, His chosen daughter, and His beautiful masterpiece.

What about leadership skills? Surely the proof is seen in the fact that so many great leaders of our time are self-proclaimed hearty learners. John Maxwell is one of my favorite authors on leadership and this is what he has to say about being a lifelong student:

“Live to learn and you will really learn to live.”

Without reading, we limit ourselves to what other people have to say. If you really want to learn, discover it for yourself by picking up a book.

Success is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot in accordance with the much sought after American Dream. Whether we are looking for external success through dollar bills or internal success through peace in our souls, we have to take into account the important words of those who have gone before us. Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States and human rights activist, said,

“One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people.”

We cannot succeed without gaining wisdom from the voices of influential men and women of yesterday. Our future depends on our remembrance of those that have paved the way. Read a biography about someone you admire. You just might learn that you share some of their passions and therefore be inspired to go after a greater purpose than you could have ever imagined on your own.

Dreaming is a lost art these days. Many times we get used to going and doing that we forget to stop and dream for a minute. But if we aren’t dreaming then we are living a pretty dull existence. So many books have brought the dreamer out in me. From fairy tales to poetry, reading has a way of opening our hearts and minds to a world beyond what our eyes can see. I loved getting lost in the Nancy Drew books as a young girl. I would pretend I was brave like she was and imagine going on mysterious adventures to rescue the wounded neighborhood cat or spy on the mischievous shop owner. Don’t knock the value that comes from lying down in the grass and letting your imagination take you beyond the printed page. I am now finishing up my degree in criminal justice all these years later. It looks like those Nancy Drew books paid off after all…

One of my highest goals in life is to add something of value to this world. I want to make a deposit of outlandish proportions into the futures of generations to come. This may seem like a daunting task to some, but to me, it’s why I’m alive. Where does reading fit into this picture? Well, let’s just put it this way: If I don’t stay presently aware of the needs in my society by picking up a newspaper or clicking on that online article, then I sure as heck won’t know what to do to make the world a better place for the children of tomorrow.

Reading is not only about personal growth and development but also about staying educated so that we can raise up future leaders that wisely take responsibility for their own growth, success, and dreams.

Read to live. One day you will look back at how far you’ve come and be so glad you picked up that book.

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Link up on #writingwednesdays through Write Tribe

How to Lead Well

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My March book choice from my 2016 Book Challenge was “Live Love Lead” by Brian Houston. This book was an interesting look at Pastor Brian’s life story from childhood to adulthood. If you do not know, he is the pastor to Australia’s largest church, Hillsong Church. I am a huge fan of their worship music!

Anyways, here are the main points I took from this gem of a read:

  1. God has called us to live a BIG life. He wants you to “follow your heart, stay true to the gift that is on your life, go forth in the strength that you have, be comfortable in your grace zone, be confident in your call- and watch as God exceeds your every expectation and leads you into a wide-open and spacious life.” (p. 41)
  2. We are meant to carry a pioneering spirit. Houston says, “Pioneering takes courage, ingenuity, and a sense of adventure. With a pioneer spirit must come willingness to fail and falter, but with an unwavering belief in the long-term future vision.” (p. 58)
  3. Stay committed to the process even when it’s painful. Jesus never said our life on earth would be easy. Dark days do come and we have to be steadfast in pursuing the God-given vision for our life despite opposition and trials. I love this quote: “Each of us must cling to our own revelation of Jesus whenever bleak days try to obscure our faithful path.” (p. 78)

I encourage you to soak this book up if you are in a leadership role of any type. It will motivate you to keep going, to expand your vision and to love relentlessly!

 

A Lesson from the Oak Tree

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The mighty Oak reaches out her limbs as if to say:

Gather ’round everyone! I have a story to tell. Come sit on my branches or climb to the top. Your choice! I can show you the forest and all that it offers. I can keep you safe in my entangled green brush. 

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She speaks in deep tones as she delivers her truth:

I have lived here for 200 years and have watched the seasons come and go. The birds build their nests in my magnificent shade and learn how to fly under my canopy. The squirrels collect my acorns as they prepare for the limitations of winter. Children run around my trunk playing hide and seek and jump in my rusty orange leaves of fall. 

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Her mysterious countenance reveals a secret:

When I was planted long ago, I had no idea how large I would become. I’ve grown and grown past my own sight yet I don’t feel overstretched or pulled beyond my ability. My deep roots keep me secure and confident as I expand up and out. The deeper my roots go down into the moist earth, the more leaves I sprout for the critters to eat, the more shade I provide to cover the birds from the rain, the more  secure I am in my majesty and strength. 

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The mighty Oak laughs as she gives herself away:

NO matter the small beginnings, the changing seasons, or the quaking storms,  

the Sun never forgot to shine on me. 

 

photo credit: Thomasville Georgia ~ The Big Oak Tree ~ Historic Site via photopin (license)
photo credit: Arrival of Autumn via photopin (license)
photo credit: Angel Leads Me On via photopin (license)
photo credit: Paisaje de septiembre via photopin (license)

Home Sweet Home

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Home. There’s nothing like it. It can be a feeling that certain memories conjure up. A picture from when you were 5 that takes you right back. Smells from the kitchen during Christmas-time. Whatever home is for you, you know it when you feel it.

My childhood house was sold a few years ago. I was a married adult with 4 kids when this happened. I had been away from the house for 12 years. Yet, it hurt to say goodbye. And everytime I go back to my hometown, I get sad when I pass by this place I called home for so long.

Is it because of the structure,  paint color, or swimming pool out back? Yes and No. I miss that house because of what it represents. 

You see, the structure provided stability to my ever-wandering teenage self. It gave me a foundation to hold on to when boys broke my heart. I may have been a restless soul but I never left without the possibility of return. It never even occurred to me to leave it for good. Yet I did drift away for many years, forgetting how amazing that strong house had been to me. That’s what a good framework does, though. It gives you a solid covering but never forces you to stay under it.

The paint color throughout the house, well, it changed almost as much as my whimsical personality. And I loved that. The more paint that went up, the more freedom I felt to be me. I was, after all, the carefree one with a variety of hairstyles/colors to show for it. Each layer of paint stood for a season in our lives, good or bad. My bedroom was a sunny yellow though, because that had always been my favorite color. The yellow stayed on my walls because, despite the different seasons, I never forgot what made me “me.”

Lastly, the swimming pool in the back yard stands for too much to put into words. Afternoons laying out on a float listening to country music on the radio. Night swims with my high school friends. Deep conversations barely heard above the chirping crickets. Laughing with my sister as we joked about past crushes and how our lives turned out so differently than we thought they would. Mom and dad holding hands on the porch. This pool was an escape, a welcomed time of rest and play, and a distraction from the haunting reality that life would inevitably throw our way a few years down the road.

Home. It’s more than just a word that evokes an emotional response. It’s a way of living that you get to keep in your heart long past the day you move out. A knowing deep down inside that those doors and fences were meant for you to continue to grab hold of even after you leave. They have erected themselves anew in my grown up soul. And no matter where I live, those walls are a part of me. Because those people are a part of me. And no amount of new paint can ever change that.

Some may call this nostalgia or say that I’m just homesick. But I say, forgetting where you come from means you don’t really know where you are going.

photo credit: Wooden door and wooden sleigh via photopin (license)

How the Sunrise Spoke to Me

It’s Wednesday and I’m wishing it were the weekend already. I guess that’s why they call it “Hump Day.” Cause you’re over the hump of the dreaded first half of the week and only have a few more days left til you can get some rest.

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For me, I’ve been in this place of being so tired lately that not much productivity is happening on my end. I am fighting some sort of sinus infection and have had crazy pain in my neck for a whole week now. Plus I’m dealing with some personal issues that make it hard to get out of bed sometimes.

But during this difficult week, God has shown me His mercy in beautiful ways. Every morning I’ve had the privilege of getting up earlier than I usually do and this is what I see on my AM route:

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I don’t think you can get a clearer picture of God’s tangible mercy than an array of pink and purple hues shining through a blanket of clouds. What an image to be planted in my mind at the beginning of my day! I get to carry this visual display of beauty with me all day long.

What about you? Are you looking for God to show up in REAL ways this week? Or are you just passing the time and ignoring the visible signs of His goodness all around? (Believe me, I’ve been guilty of this in the past!)

I gotta say, though, this sunrise was a wake up call for me to really notice the handiwork of God as I go about my day. I’m tired but God refuels me with this radiant picture of His loving-kindness. I’m aching but God soothes my wounds with this impression of His merciful touch upon my heart.

I GET to wake up today. I GET to see the glory of God all around me. I GET to walk through any situation with the memory of His faithfulness singing in my head.

Today, I GET to arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord is shining upon me. (Isaiah 60:1)

And so do you.

 

 

15 Life Lessons from 2015

photo credit: Weekend Options via photopin (license)

  1. It’s okay to say no to the things that are only going to take from you.
  2. Living for someone else’s approval is never satisfying.
  3. I can only control me. You can only control you.
  4. Sticking to your word even when it’s hard builds trust with others.
  5. The more you pray, the less discouraged you get when life is crazy.
  6. People will let you down but God never will.
  7. Being busy with a purpose is ok. Being busy just for the sake of filling up your day planner is not ok.
  8. Eating dinner together at the table every night really does bring your family together.
  9. Grace means giving others second chances (and third, and fourth, etc…)
  10. Seeking justice doesn’t mean getting revenge.
  11. Doing what feeds your soul makes you happier and healthier.
  12. Fellowship with others brings encouragement and stability to your life.
  13. It’s all about perspective.
  14. Taking a risk enlarges your capacity to learn more and love better.
  15. Obeying the voice of the Lord always brings blessings to your life.