Encouraging you: Some things learned in the first 50!

 

 

  1. Everyone      is not raised like me. Small town values may be simple but so good.
  2. Differences      in people do not make them wrong or evil. Resist demonizing and bigotry.
  3. Most      of the time, God has honored the agendas and goals I’ve set. Pray. Set      them.
  4. The      pain of remaining with unsafe friends is rarely worth it.
  5. Religion      is a noose around your neck. It creates bondage and legalism. Seek      relationship.
  6. To      obey is better than to sacrifice. Blessing follows obedience.
  7. God’s      unconditional love heals all things!

8.   Maturity is not linked to age or position.

  1. You      can be the answer to another’s prayer without their awareness of it.
  2. Children      are to be stewarded as the gifts they are: expressions of God and His      purpose. Good parenting is observing what God has provided and  learning how to nurture it.
  3. Be      able to communicate your values and boundaries. This is aligning.
  4. You      are charged to guard your heart. You alone. Just don’t build a fortress.      Be smart.
  5. Sadly,      genuineness is misunderstood. Be authentic anyway.
  6. Betrayers      are always around and often known.
  7. Desperate      people are THE most dangerous people.
  8. Apologies      are expected but rarely given.
  9. It      doesn’t cost a lot to help someone. Generosity is a heart matter.
  10. You      are the solution to some problem. Discover it.
  11. Judging      and pre-judging is cowardly and fear-based.
  12. Change      is inevitable, hard, necessary, and good at the same time.
  13. Sometimes      you just have to pick your pain.
  14. Life      is refining. Reflect often.
  15. Some      endings are purposeful. Seasons are real. Embrace them.
  16. Passion      is contagious!
  17. GOOD      friends will not bully you and “love you” at the same time. Hypocrisy.
  18. Pray      for wisdom.
  19. Marriage      is redemptive.
  20. Stay      close to those who help you find your voice.
  21. When      people show you who they are, believe them, but look for signs of true repentance      always.
  22. Great      friends are treasures. You are blessed to have a hand full. I am WELL      blessed.
  23. People      change and receive help if and when they are ready.
  24. Decision-making      is so important. Make choices wisely.
  25. God’s      grace is sufficient!
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Building Trust Levels

Leader and follower dynamics are very interesting and very complex. I have experienced quite an interesting paradox in leadership behavior and dynamics. Often leaders have an unbalanced one-sided view on trust. Trust is so pivotal to individual and composite relationships. Trust revolves around being able to complete task as well as having integrity and being examined as trustworthy. It is not the follower’s burden to prove or create trust in the relationship. Or is it? A better scenario with trust occurs when the leader takes full responsibility for the onset of trust in a team or group. The most effective leaders understand that trust and respect are earned by authentically walking the talk. Most people can spot a fake a mile away. Trust building behaviors are demonstrative. Characteristics like approachability, open communication, competency, consistency, active listening, and effective delegation are the precursors of authentic trust between leaders and followers. These qualities radiate from the inside out of the leader. Many times, trust is viewed in juxtaposition. Of course, I am not advocating keeping score or a tallying system with each other, but I am advocating a healthy level of reciprocity in building and facilitating sustainable trust in leader follower relations. In an effort to help leaders solve the challenge of low trust in a team, please allow me to offer six considerations (questions) to assess your trust quotient as a leader.

  1. Do my followers believe what I say?
  2. Am I consistent?
  3. Do they perceive me as consistent to execute what I say?
  4. Do they perceive me as “looking out” for them?
  5. Is my feedback constructive rather than critical and/or personal?
  6. Am I direct enough in my communication style asking for clarity and specifics without making assumptions or causing others to make them?

Trust is so foundational to healthy team building and productive results. Even in teams when disagreements are present, trust can be the leveling factor for the team particularly if the leader will foster discussion around the issue. There are times when we disagree with the leader. Yet if we have trust, we know the leader has the best interest of the composite picture at hand.

Name one quality that builds your trust in a leader and share why.

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The Goal

Goal setting should be an intentional part of our lives and part of our planned development as we do life. It is kinda the reason people have a bucket list, goals to accomplish before the transition into heaven. What about your monthly bucket list or weekly bucket list? It is wise and prudent to set goals in many areas of our lives. Of course, the goals should be rather varied. For example, some goals are means goals and others are end goals. It is important to have both types because they interrelate for success. Let me explain. Means goals will often focus on performance something we want to do better. For me, my spiritual goals are always for me to BE better as I walk with Christ. The result of being, results in behavior change when the newness is internalized. Ends goals can be those that give direction in the larger scope of your life and destiny. In the event you have not considered setting any, all goals can result from prayerfully asking 3 questions:
“What should I start doing?”
“What should I stop doing?”
“What should I continue doing?”

Every goal we consider must take into account the process of change: unfreezing, unlearning, changing and refreezing. Goals are so important because they position us for the opportunity to learn which welcomes in growth and development.

Here are some effective components that all goals should have.
1. Specific/Measurable
Every goal should have a defined non ambiguous outcome.
“Here is what I will do differently……”

2. Time-Bound
Set dates and deadlines for yourself

3. Challenging
Necessary for proper motivation

4. Few
Having a small number helps with focus

5. Participatory Development
Ownership and commitment toward the goal

6. Aligned
Submitted to the full process of learning and change

Goals add great value to our lives by allowing us to reach personal milestones in multiple areas of our lives relationally, spiritually, socially, financially and developmentally. Today is a great day to start. Setting goals can jumpstart your new year.

Happy New Year Friends!!

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“SECRET WEAPON”

“Secret Weapon”

I can remember going down a memory lane of reflection on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. This was final day of the Oprah Winfrey show. About 25 years ago, as a young woman living on her own in Atlanta, daily I would come home from work, prepare a cup of international gourmet instant coffee, and watch the Oprah Winfrey show.

On so many of the days, I felt like I was in a classroom and a much needed one at that. Many of the topics and concerns that she addressed were unconventional yet interesting and informative. I began to really learn positive constructive information from the show and even received information on a medical diagnosis. Of course, I was hooked. I have been an Oprah fan for many years. I felt a particular kindredness to Ms. Winfrey sharing many experiential similarities in socialization and culture. . I watched as year after year she accepted, affirmed, and showed empathy, and blessed millions of people in many ways. So regardless if I agreed with her opinion and stance, I certainly gleened from the content of her shows and by watching her serve so many people in so many ways personifying a major core behavior of Jesus who came to serve and not be served. Serving people IS the way we serve God. We are His hands and feet! Many times in the 25 years, her show reminded me of a passage of scripture, namely Matt.25:

“35‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

I watched as year after year she accepted, affirmed, showed empathy, and blessed millions of people in many ways. She helped people feel comfortable enough to bring aspects of their lives to the light and helped many others reverse curses and paradigms in their lives. So regardless if I agreed with her opinions and stances, I certainly gleened from the content of many of her shows and was inspired by watching her serve so many people in so many incredible ways. I think it is very interesting that on her last show she choose to speak to her audience up close and personal with no guests, but certainly with a few surprises for some people anyway. Ms. Winfrey clarified the reason for her success-Jesus as her “secret weapon”. Wooooo!!! Another similarity. She glorified and professed the “one and only God, G…O….D, the Alpha and Omega” and it was broadcast into MILLIONS of households in hundreds on countries. He who confesses me before men, I will confess before my Father in heaven. I wonder how God used this up close and personal occasion to move MILLIONS of people toward Him even if in small steps. Well Ms. Winfrey, thanks for impacting and making the world a better place and for positively influencing this southern girl. KUDOS!!!!, to God, to you and to your staff. I continue to learn from you- be about what I believe.

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B Discerning

Well on last evening, I finished another great class in the master’s leadership program. At the end of each class, I participate in a period of time for reflexive journaling into the aspects of the course that have strongly impacted my leadership understanding and behavior. So I will just share a bit of this with you because it will add value to your thought process or perhaps someone’s in your life.

To discern means:
“to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend: to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different”. Discerning includes a strong element of critical or analytical thinking as part of its inherent composition. Leaders MUST be exposed to this level of skillful thinking because it is an empowerment tool. Leaders cannot make the mistake of confusing subjective reaction with objective evaluation. Objective evaluation protects relationships, builds trust, aids in resolving conflict, and avoids unnecessary hurt to followers. Fact proves that personal paradigms shape our decisions and perception. Our mindsets are strong! Our thinking left to it self is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed and prejudiced. Therefore, a process of thinking is needed to hold oneself accountable for decisions that affect many people on many levels which have far-reaching consequences.

Thinking is defined by 8 elements:
1. think about the clear purpose
2. state the questions
3. gather information
4. clarify your concepts
5. watch your inferences
6. check your assumptions
7. think through implications
8. understand your point of view

Followers will certainly appreciate leaders who are critical thinkers and familiar with elements of thought analysis. Hopefully, these steps can provide a foundational standard for you. Discerning is an ongoing practice in leadership formation.

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Last week, I was given a project that focused on questions and how to effectively implement them into leadership style and behavior. As I studied, it occurred to me how being able to ask good questions is beneficial to everyone as they build relationships with others within marriages, parenting, families, groups, teams, etc.. Since communication is quite often a major challenge in relationships, I would love to share with you a few nuggets from my discovery.

1. Questions will wake people up and cause the asker to learn better listening skills.

2. The goal of questions should always be to acquire relevant, honest, and informative answers.

3. Asking questions actually make people feel empowered and builds a culture of learning within the relationship(s).

4. The failure to ask questions may signal the presence of pride, fear, assumptions, and judging.

5. Questions can help build accountability in relationships and it should be mutual in nature.

6. Questions show the desire to understand and gain additional perspectives which reduces bias that can harm relationships. Understanding and being understood is imperative to relationship building.

7. Good questions do not persuade or coerce agreement. This is manipulation.

8. The questioner possesses one of two mindsets: learner or judger. Learner mindset is proactive, flexible, looks for win-win collaboration. On the other hand, the judger mindset is reactive, past focused, often blames, causes defensiveness, and results in win-lose scenarios.

Hope that my eight reflections will bless your life. Blessings.

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I Can Only Imagine…..

I Can Only Imagine!

Hey friends,

Just feel compelled to share with you in more detail today.  It is my birthday, but please allow me to extend to you a gift of encouragement.

This past weekend, God opened a door for me to serve the women at Prestonwood Baptist Church at their “WE” Weekend Retreat.  Nine years ago, a couple of years after moving to DFW, I was invited to attend a Christmas play at Prestonwood.  I had no idea the extent or how elaborate the program would be, but I can tell you, IT WAS FABULOUS!!!! Over whelming with live animals and even a camel! I remember sitting in the upper level to the right… in the corner.

At the beginning of the program, a choir of about 700 people started to sing and I was awestruck!  AMAZING! I was a worship leader at the time and wondered what it would be like to sing with a choir that large.  As I sat in my seat, I remember saying to myself how awesome it would be to worship from that platform and continued to enjoy the program with the family.

On Friday night when I entered the building, I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and joy as I entered the “Mega” sanctuary!  I could not help but look up to that corner where I sat in the first time I was there.  I was greeted with such warmth by my host and  the entire team. Everyone there was so kind and honoring. Coming out of the green room on my way to a reserved seat on the front row in front of Dr. Jack Graham’s pulpit, I glanced back at my first seat again- from the back corner to a place of honor on the front seat. It was an “Out of body experience”!  I never imagined! 

As I prepared the lesson for my session, God reminded me of my first experience and my desire to worship from the platform. He was sure to let me know that He desired for me to encourage His people with the spoken word from the platform which is worship.  Needless to say, It was not how I imagined it.  He knew that the thought had never crossed my mind that I would ever step foot on the stage.  It never crossed my mind because I did not understand the process of spiritual discovery that I was in the middle of with God.  I wonder how many things never cross our minds because we are viewing them from only a natural view point or limited paradigm.  Sometimes we view the rest of our lives from where we are at the time when our entire walk with God is a dynamic, moving, changing, revealing walk.  To imagine means to “form a mental image of something that is not present”.

So to encourage you all, I want to give you a few things to consider as you imagine more for yourself from a spiritual perspective.  One, trust is an absolute must! You must believe the Word of God above all else.  It is truth.  Your failure to believe it does not negate its authenticity.  God’s ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts.  You can be who God says you can be.  Two, rejection is a must.  You must find a way to reject the accusing limiting minimizing voice of the enemy. Period! No matter how it comes. Choose your counsel wisely and listen to the voice of God in your spirit.  If you desire to do something and burn with passion to do His will which includes serving at a higher level, Go for it!  Do not allow that passion to be buried with you. Somebody needs to receive what you need to contribute!  God will do the connecting. Three, you will need to press through the times that do not make sense persevering, holding on to your identity in Christ, and nurturing your intimate love relationship with the Lord.

So friends, I do not know what you are being nudged to do for the Lord, but the Word is clear:  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” 2 Cor. 2:9

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Shakin’ My Head

A couple of weeks ago while listening to a national radio show,  a new company was announced that really got my attention.  The name of the company was “Rent a Friend”!  The conversation proceeded to exbound on the supposed success of the initial stages of this company.  It mentioned that people were renting friends to go to the gym or movies with them on a regular basis or whenever they wanted real conversation with another person.  I literally stopped in my tracks and shook my head.  What have we settled for!  There is no substitution for human relationships in our lives.  The social media avenues are great for surface connection or re-connection, but nothing takes the place of relationships with others.  I also paused to be grateful for the many relationships that I have been blessed to have and enjoy on a daily and weekly basis.  God places us in community for our own good, growth, development, and character refinement.  Life lived with others is sometimes challenging, but necessary and rewarding as well.  So if you are reading this and realize that you need community, please consider school, community, or church groups for starters. Go introduce yourself to the new neighbor.  It is SOOOOO worth the risk.  Encouraging you to be intentional in relationships this week. You may be the answer to someone’s prayer. Peace.

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IMMERSED!

Hey friends. I certainly hope all is well in your life. Well, today is my first official day of graduate school!    I actually started about 4 days early cause that is just how I roll. I can’t help but think of so many aspects of this chapter. The main one is that I have been totally immersed into a virtual world. Now any of you who know me will understand the trauma that I feel. It’s like that which I have feared (namely my computer) has come upon me! SMH. I am learning computer talk, have a virtual professor (who’s name is Dr. Taylor how prophetic is that), and virtual classmates. I have been plunged into and engrossed by another world. I am going to love it! It is what Father has chosen for me at this time. I have so much anticipation as to how He will use this for His glory and purposes.I am learning advanced levels of leadership development in a form that is almost counter to me. I love the energy of people and would love to invite my classmates over for lunch. The only challenge is that they are all over the world in many different fields. How exciting to learn diverse perspectives. Now for me this immersion has been a choice, but some of you have been immersed in things that you did not choose. Perhaps a child tries drugs and gets hooked. A husband decides to walk away for greener grass. A business fails and the finances plummet. How do you respond? One, it may be necessary to grieve what was, realign priorities, expectations. Two, dedicate yourself to spend time with a wise and seasoned confidant for support. Three, pray without ceasing to hear God’s perspective for yourself. Remember as a believer, you are immersed in Him first.

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WATCHING GOD

On yesterday, our family travelled to Tyler to visit Evan who is working at Pine Cove this summer as a worship drummer. It was a terrific day. The scenery was wonderful as the trees and the terrain reminded me so much of the southeast namely Tennessee where I was born.  We proceeded to arrive and go in to watch the ending session for a group of campers. We arrived just in time for worship!  Woooo Hoooo!  Entered the room and there were high schoolers everywhere! Behind them were the parents who came for the staff or for their camper.  The words of the song started. “He is jealous for me……..!” I watched as the kids poured out in worship to God with such a powerful expression of surrender and freedom!  As I looked around the room, I wondered why the parents were not engaging in the sweetness of the moment.  Then I heard “He loves us oh how He loves us oh how He loves us oh how He loves!!!”  Had to put my coffee down and engage with the kids.I am glad to see a generation of children who will teach their parents about the amazing faithful love of God. Just watching God move through our most precious gifts to turn our hearts towards Him. Oh that we can receive God and His love with reckless abandonment. Worship and pursue Him today!

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