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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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!

 

The “Busy-ness” Trap

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It’s okay to say yes ALOT. It really is. Being busy is only bad when it’s not fulfilling or purposeful. When there is no greater purpose to the “busy-ness” it becomes draining and tedious. Doesn’t it?

But when we are busy because of a goal, vision, or shared interest, then it becomes life-giving.

Take my week. This is what is has looked like for the past 5 days:  Morning runs, home-schooling with the kids, online college classes, a lunch meeting with other women about leadership, an all day workshop with other worship leaders, dinner with girlfriends, blogging, practicing the piano, snuggle time on the couch with my husband, and a trip to the grocery store.

None of the above things are a waste of my time. They are all important.

Have I had a very exhausting week? Yes. Do I feel enriched, fulfilled, motivated and inspired despite the exhaustion? A resounding yes!

Why? Because I said yes to the important things. So, let’s keep the whole “being busy is a bad thing” in perspective, shall we?

The trick to this mindset is simple. Prioritize the exhausting stuff alongside the energizing stuff in order to maintain a sense of balance in your life. And make sure there is a reason behind what you’re doing. Doing something for someone else is fine and dandy as long as it doesn’t take the place of you taking care of you. (Obviously I don’t mean quit your job because you’d rather be at home binge-watching Netflix!)

Balance is really not as elusive as everyone makes it out to be. I promise anyone can find a personal rhythm that drives them to say the right yeses and no’s.

And when you do, your spirit, soul, and body will thank you for it!

 

 

 

Personal Mission Statement

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I’ve been looking at my foundation lately to make sure it’s not faulty. We all need to assess our values and principles every once in a while to check that they line up with foundational truth. The nitty-gritty of my core beliefs is found in why I’m here and what I’m doing with my time.

So I thought I’d design a personal mission statement as I finish up 2015 and start 2016. I need to start this next year right. Don’t we all?

I’ve picked a quote that sums up my focus for 2016 and then chose 5 “to do/be” statements that follow the theme of that quote. Feel free to follow my example and do this for yourself as well. It’s a great exercise in creativity and focus! Here I go:

“Be like the cliff against which the waves continually break; but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.”
― Marcus Aurelius

  1. To be immovable in my commitment to my family above everything else- even if I really, really want to do it. If it takes away from my time with them (reasonably speaking), then I will choose my husband and kids instead. 
  2. To do only the things that add to my health, my happiness, my creativity, my purpose. I will say yes to the best things and have no guilt on my conscience for saying no if it is only adding “busy-ness” to my schedule. 
  3. To actively pursue relationships and opportunities that support my desire to help others who are struggling, desperate, overlooked, and hopeless. I will go looking for the weak and the wounded and purpose to love them to Jesus by helping them out of their pit. 
  4. To be consistent in my discipline, boundaries, and lessons with my children. I will be creative and thoughtful in my correction but always stay the same so that they can trust my response and be %100 sure of the rules in our household. 
  5. To live in a way that my faith is evident to all. I will choose to pray in the good and the bad times, speak the truth even if it’s hard, and give of myself to others at inconvenient moments if necessary. 

 

 

True Worshipers

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” – John 4:23

photo credit: img_6184 via photopin (license)
photo credit: img_6184 via photopin (license)

What is the mark of a true worshiper?

Well, according to the scripture above, it means that worship is led by the spirit and focused on the truth.

I believe what Jesus was saying in our verse is that true worshipers don’t follow their flesh down paths that compromise the “tried and true” word of God.

This sounds like a heart issue to me. So, regardless of the style of worship music we sing or listen to, we are defined by the position of our heart during the music set.

Because, ultimately, all of us (whether on stage/radio or not) will have to make a choice. Does my heart line up with the words I’m singing or not?

Worship can look pretty daunting to those who don’t even understand how to engage the God of whom we worship. So, we must show them. The newbies to the Christian faith. The prodigals just longing for a taste of something real. The long lost soul who never trusted God because of weathering one too many storms in his life.

They all need to see that worship isn’t about the flash and the fame. It’s not about the big name or the high tech equipment. It can’t be about the large crowds or the sold out show.

It’s about looking heavenward with our hearts. Posturing ourselves in a way that invites others to worship the God of the universe, too. Being more excited about Jesus than we are about the band on stage.

Because, really, who are we trying to please? God is looking for you, dear worshiper. Give him your heartfelt praise.

I promise you, He will notice.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

You Can’t Lead Someone To a Place That You’ve Never Been?

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The popular phrase that many well-meaning people attribute to great leadership advice is: You can’t lead someone to a place that you’ve never been.

But, as I sit here thinking about those words, I come across a conflicting thought.

What about pioneers that blaze new trails in medicine, the arts, music, etc…?

What about the experimental trials that fail multiple times before the one that finally succeeds?

What about the first brave soul to climb up Mount Everest?

What about the leaders by default? Don’t they count?

So,I guess, my question today is: Who says that you can’t lead someone to a place that you’ve never been?

There has to be a person willing to carve the dirt road before someone comes and lays down the asphalt, right?

Pioneers are what make America great. Home of the brave. Land of the free. A few good men (and women) have to lead the fight into unknown territory.

So, I guess I’m giving you permission to dream that dream of yours that noone else understands. Go do what it is you are gifted to do, even if it has never been done before.

Yes, mentors are great and necessary. But, many mentors were the first in their chosen field. Who led them?

Exactly.

I say that God is the best mentor of all and if He says that I don’t need any prior knowledge or experience to do what He has called me to do then I think I’m okay.

Being an original is always better than a copy isn’t it? So, the next time someone feeds you the line that you can’t do that because you’ve never done it before, I dare you to really think about their accusation.

And then counter with, “Who says?”

NaBloPoMo November 2015