Have you ever been sucker punched feeling like the wind has been knocked out of you?
I have as well as every other woman I have ever known. It’s a part of life.
Unexpected circumstances, losing a loved one, job or financial issues, a health crisis, a crumbling relationship that once held promise – situations that leave us in an emotional fetal position barely able to breath.
After years of setbacks (mostly self created ones) I found myself pleading to a God I had abandoned not realizing my comeback was about to begin.
Every woman will experience setbacks.
Some choose to live in the setbacks.
Some choose to make a comeback.
When reaching a breaking point finally deciding that enough is enough, the comeback woman finds an inner strength she never knew existed and creates a life she once only dreamed of.
The setback woman wants to come back yet has become a slave to her fears and her emotions unable to break free from the stress and havoc they create.
Fears paralyze us and living in an emotional knee-jerk reaction mode proves destructive resulting in ruined relationships or impulse shopping, eating or drinking.
I lived this for years – being led by emotions and fear.
My mantra now is Go scared but Go!
Also, somewhere along the way many of us dismiss our own desires and allow others to decide for us what we want from life.
However, the comeback can only begin when we commit to taking back control of our lives.
While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for staging an incredible comeback, every one I have witnessed started when a woman became crystal clear on what she wanted.
To live not knowing exactly what we want is like driving without a destination in mind. Yes, we will end up somewhere but it may not be the place we wanted.
The comeback isn’t about deciding what we don’t want but what we do.
It begins with answering a few key questions.
What do you want your life to look like? Calm, laughter-filled, organized, fun, peaceful?
How do you want to be described? Successful, adventurous, energetic, cultured, a go-getter, fit, inspirational, elegant, funny, authentic, spontaneous, a risk taker, bold, confident, creative, stylish, a joy to be around?
What habits are necessary to create your comeback? Discipline, self-control, assertiveness?
Habits are created not inherited and therefore can be learned and unlearned at will.
Who inspires you to up your game?
It is an absolute fact — we will become who we want to be when we spend time with those who already are.
Want to get in fabulous shape? Hang out with a healthy person.
Want to start a successful business? Find a woman who has.
Want to grow? Get around someone who makes personal development a priority.
Want to declutter your home? Spend time with someone who has decluttered hers.
Want a more hopeful, positive, happier attitude? Find someone who has one.
The quickest way to stay stuck in your setback is being around others who are stuck in theirs.
They thrive on using life’s difficulties as an excuse as to why they can’t, won’t, shouldn’t have to, have no plans to or are not going to.
I heard a preacher once say “Someone could take the cards you have been dealt and win.”
I heard this at time when I was in a self-pity “why me?” mode. It was life-changing.
Your cards may not be ideal. No one’s is. (I don’t care how perfect their life may look)
There are countless stories of people who were dealt the worst hand a human being could get but they won. Just Google Erik Weihenmayer, Lopez Lumong, Cornel Hrisca-Munn or Marla Runyan.
You can too. Play to win.
Invest your time and resources into you.
Read books that inspire and inform you. Listen to podcasts or music that fires you up.
Take a social media break focusing instead on creating your comeback.
What would happen if you swapped the time spent scrolling Instagram or Facebook for a couple of laps around the park, reading a few chapters of an inspirational book, detoxing your fridge/pantry, cleaning out a closet, sitting outside appreciating nature, taking an online course, learning a new hobby, creating a financial plan, writing down some clear goals, creating a gratitude or dream list or researching your ideal vacation?
Invest in yourself because you will always be your best investment.
Surround yourself only with what you love.
Whether it is delicious smelling candles, fresh flowers, luscious bath gels, organized spaces, positive people, nature, a clean car or handbag, a rich shade of lip color, clothes or shoes you feel amazing in, writing, creating art, watching classic movies or reading beautiful literature – surround yourself with what lights you up and let go of everything else until your life looks and feels like a temple instead of a trashcan.
Pursue excellent physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Life-giving foods, regular exercise, down time, quiet moments and mindful thinking all provide the necessary energy to fully commit to and complete your comeback.
Simply put, we become what we think and eat.
When we were little day-dreaming was a part of life yet sadly somewhere along the way we stopped dreaming and started settling.
Where have you always wanted to go? What adventures do you want to experience? Who have you always wanted to meet?
My Dream List is well over ten pages of awe-inspiring adventures I want to experience and while I may not get to them all I have had a blast trying.
My dream trip is France. To ride a camel in Morocco would be an incredible experience and meeting Steve Perry of Journey would be absolutely amazing.
Daydreaming is free and harms no one and what joy that comes when another adventure gets checked off!
Be generous and grateful.
A setback is not permission to be self-absorbed believing the world revolves around us because it doesn’t.
Gratitude is the most powerful step in creating a successful comeback.
It was during my lowest point a kind friend cared enough to give me some tough love and reminded me of all I had to be thankful for.
She wasn’t downplaying my pain but simply pointing out that even in the darkest of times I had a lot to be grateful for. Everyone does.
Look around your life. What do you have to be thankful for?
You know how you feel when you do something nice for a friend or family member and they barely say “thank you”?
I can’t help but wonder if God feels the same way when we do that to Him.
When He provides a roof over our heads, food, electricity, fresh water, multiple freedoms and yet in our setbacks we only focus on or blame Him for what we don’t have. I know this because I have done this.
Being thankful for what we currently have opens us up to receive more while being unappreciative keeps us living in lack and discontent.
Don’t believe me? Adopt an attitude of gratitude and see what happens.
Don’t compare your comeback to hers.
The comeback requires we stay in our lane in order to create the life we want.
Comparison kills comebacks because it robs us of the energy and attention our own progress requires.
It also invites jealousy which is the thief of joy.
When someone complains because someone else is thinner, more educated, lives in a nicer home, married into a wealthy family or drives a better car she is actually saying “I would rather judge and be jealous than improve my current conditions.”
It is an excuse to avoid responsibility and justify her unhappiness in her own life rather than change.
You will never see her comeback because it will never happen – at least not until she stops the jealousy, ditches the victim mentality and matures emotionally.
Ya’ll this is tough love I know but I have been that jealous woman and I know its destructiveness. It kills dreams and runs people off.
Do something everyday towards your desires.
Take action daily towards what you want and the woman you want to be.
Change happens through small steps every day.
It is easier to focus on losing one pound, creating one new habit, walking one lap, paying off one bill, cleaning one drawer, reading one chapter of a motivational book, watching one inspirational video, sending out one resume or accomplishing one goal at a time instead of twenty.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Be known as the woman who takes the risk and says “yes” even when it is uncomfortable.
A comeback cannot be created in a comfort zone. The woman who refuses to budge stays stuck, never growing and never learning.
Comebacks take time, effort and a refusal to quit when delays or disappointments come which is why so many never experience their comeback.
Will you stay in your setback or will you create your comeback?
It is your choice and your story.
The page is blank and you hold the pen.
How will your story end?
Saying Yes to the Hard Things of God
Share my life story that includes my mistakes, shames and failures? Forgive those who have wounded me deeply?
Fully commit to a healthy lifestyle rather than sporadic exercising and fad dieting? Seeing goals and projects through to completion?
Take responsibility for my life? Stop trying to force relationships, fix other people’s issues, be who I wasn’t?
My Ninevehs – those hard places God was calling me to go and asking me to do.
For too long my reply was always “No!” I am stubborn.
Nineveh wasn’t in Jonah’s plans when God called and he too said “No!”
Perhaps Jonah’s reasons are also ours when God asks us to do the seemingly impossible.
Fear. Every negative emotion known to woman is always rooted in fear.
What will people think or say? What if they don’t like me or I fail?
What if I can’t? What if I forgive and get hurt again?
What if I don’t get the results I want?
What if I get my hopes and expectations up and am disappointed?
Fear of the changes or sacrifices that might be required of us.
Fear of having to assume responsibility for difficult circumstances.
Everything negative in our lives cannot always be someone else’s fault.
Believing it was kept me stuck in victim mentality FOR YEARS resulting in isolation as friends started distancing themselves from my emotionally draining and constantly negative presence.
Eventually they realized I wasn’t seeking to change but preferred pity over advice. In order to protect their own peace they had no choice but to walk away. I don’t blame them.
God doesn’t call us to the difficult to desert us but to grow us.
Saying “No” to Nineveh means staying stuck where we are.
Each month identical to the last one. Each relationship ending like the last one. Each diet producing the same results.
Going to Nineveh requires us to toss our excuses and move in the direction of change even if we go scared.
Your Nineveh could be losing weight, leaving an unhappy job, saying goodbye to a toxic friendship, paying off debt or simply getting out of your comfort zone more.
Is it hard?
Absolutely which is why so few of us ever find our way to the other side of Nineveh.
Ninevehs require us to face our fears and make sacrifices and hard choices.
But what if saying yes to Nineveh, your lost weight means more energy and confidence, your dead-end job gets replaced with a fulfilling one, those life-draining friendships get traded for beautiful ones, your zero debt means zero worry and stepping out of your comfort zone invites more fun and adventure?
How tragic to come to the end of our days wondering how life would have looked had we said “Yes” to the seemingly impossible challenges He calls us to instead of cowering to unfounded fears or preferring sympathy and pity to following sound advice.
I’ve learned that avoiding Nineveh can keep us stuck, resentful, unfulfilled and worried.
Jonah’s avoidance of Nineveh resulted in isolation and darkness. (Jonah 2:3-10)
We were never meant to go through hard places in our own strength and thankfully Paul reminds us that we “can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.” (Phil 4:13)
Saying yes to the hard doesn’t guarantee easy.
But we can go confidently knowing when we stumble and cry out to God, He “listened to my cry” (Jonah 2:2) and He will wipe away our tears, calm our fears and encourage us to press on.
Because He sees the reward waiting on the other side of our Nineveh that we can’t see in the midst of it.
There’s a quote that says “If God calls you to it, He will walk with you through it.”
Please know those hard places will always come with sufficient grace as God tells us “My grace is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9 NLT)
Everything you desire is on the other side of your Nineveh.
Are you ready to say yes to the journey? Go scared but go.
Nineveh or Bust!
Live long enough and you learn that life is never a straight road but consists of unexpected turns, frightening valleys and desolate deserts.
Those happy moments experienced on the mountaintops offer an unobstructed view of God’s blessings and how far He has brought us.
Yet when wandering through the lonely deserts of discouragement, that breathtaking mountaintop view of miracles and mercy quickly fades from memory.
We become emotionally exhausted and spiritually parched in the dry terrains of anxiety, worry and fear.
Others have experienced this too.
The Israelites’ departed Egypt for the Promised Land which required a long trek through a scorching desert where they would witness God’s wondrous working power.
At the Red Sea they saw the waters “divided and the Israelites went through on dry ground with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Ex 14:22)
In this suffocatingly hot region, God’s faithfulness was evident providing them manna and quail yet their trust in Him wavered as the dream-killer of doubt infected the camp.
Moses said “In spite of this you did not trust in the Lord your God who went ahead of you on your journey in fire by night and a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” (Deut. 1:32-33)
He reminded them that “The Lord your God who is going before you will fight for you as He did in Egypt before your very eyes and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord carried you as a father carries his child . . . ” (Deut. 1:30-31)
It would be easy to self-righteously criticize these complaining children of God except I too was guilty of forgetting to remember.
During hard times I forgot how often He carried me when I stumbled under life’s pressures, how many battles I stood no chance of winning that He fought on my behalf and how many messes I made He cleaned up.
When we find ourselves struggling with our finances, health, relationships, jobs, family or future how easy it is to blame God accusing Him of child neglect totally forgetting yesterday’s miracles.
Those times He rescued me from self-imposed storms were distant memories when temporary circumstances blinded me.
I failed to recall David’s exhortation to “forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps 103:2-5)
God, like any parent, wants to enjoy a beautiful relationship with us.
A healthy relationship requires regular communication and equal giving and receiving between both parties.
We all have that friend who only contacts us when a favor is needed.
They have little interest in events in our lives because life revolves around them and their current drama or crisis.
After a while we sadly realize we are not part of a “friendship.”
It hurts. Deeply.
I can’t help but wonder how often have I pierced God’s heart behaving like that friend only contacting Him when I needed a miracle yet showing little interest in Him otherwise?
Neglecting His word, never being grateful for all He has done, angry instead of where I felt my life was lacking or coming to Him only when I had a need.
I have purposely distanced myself from people who behave towards me like this yet I have treated Him the same way.
Oh it hurts to even admit that but it is the truth.
As Moses called the Israelites out he called me out too as I had forgotten to remember.
Yes, we still come to God with hands out when we have a need.
But let us also come to Him with hands lifted thankful for those desert moments in our lives where we witnessed His amazing, unmerited faithfulness and provision.
Let’s come to Him with gratitude instead of grumbling, praise instead of pouting, excitement instead of envy or entitlement, to give rather than to receive, serve rather than be served and to worship instead of worry.
And today let us not forget to remember that He is always present, always providing, fiercely fighting and compassionately carrying us through the deserts to our Promised Land.
Summer means pools, picnics and patio parties viewing magnificent sunsets.
Summer also means my close friend and I can meet for lunch.
She is a kindergarten teacher so come August our time together is relegated to evenings and weekends.
Time spent with her is always uplifting, inspiring and fun.
She exudes elegance, positivity and authenticity and lives life with a contagious enthusiasm and infectious joy.
Recently in a conversation we were discussing a painful event she had endured and she said something that resonated with me.
She commented “Well that’s in my rearview mirror and I am moving forward.”
And she did.
Instantly I recalled a favorite scripture.
Paul wrote that he was “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ( Phil 3:13-14).
We are also encouraged to “not remember the former things . . .” because “behold, I will do a new thing . . .” (Isa 43:19).
Much of life belongs in our rearview mirrors.
Learning life-changing lessons in our failures, mistakes, toxic relationships and poor choices is wise and necessary.
Failure to learn results in living life on “repeat” in a vicious cycle of the same mistakes, toxic relationships and poor choices leaving us emotionally depleted with our self-esteem in shambles.
Grudges, resentment, emotional wounds, bitterness and anger if not placed in the rearview mirror will negatively impact our daily lives.
Today is the day to forgive others, forgive yourself and forget what lies behind you.
Had Paul focused on his past we would be without three quarters of the New Testament.
A favorite quotes says “Don’t look back. You aren’t going that way.”
And I would add that if you are going to look back let it be simply to see how far God has brought you.
So, today what or who needs to be viewed from your rearview mirror?
What lies ahead that you desire that you can daily press towards that will result in the life you long for?
I encourage you to forget the past and focus on the present detailing exactly what you want from this moment on and always trusting that yes God is doing a new thing indeed.
The Chic Creative
She kept a jar of miniature candy bars on her desk with a box of birthday candles next to them. I didn’t notice them immediately but they came to play an important role as the school year went on.
Being a shy, insecure, introverted eleventh grader, I was mesmerized by her confidence, elegance and subtle sophistication.
She was well-spoken, worldly and cultured.
I often wondered how she came to live in this sleepy, southern town.
She taught English and Literature and firmly believed possessing proper grammar and a knowledge of beautiful literature could open doors for her students.
Later I learned she was correct.
Walking into her class each day, we quickly knew which student was having a birthday because a “Happy Birthday” sign was displayed on her podium and she gifted them with one of those miniature candy bars complete with a birthday candle taped to the top.
For that one hour of class that student believed he or she was worth celebrating.
She shared her fascination of Beowulf, introduced us to Canterbury Tales and invited us to sail along in Homer’s The Odyssey knowing one could travel the globe with fascinating characters, grow and learn simply by opening the pages of a book.
My essays were always returned with critiques kindly laced with compliments. Little did she realize how much I valued and needed those words of praise.
Each time I sit down to write a blogpost, journal entry or speech, I hear her reminding me of the power, impact and influence of words so always choose them wisely.
She repeatedly stated that education was not limited to the classroom and should not end upon upon graduation contrary to popular belief.
She believed that opportunities, adventures, experiences, people, places, books, music, art, theater, successes and failures are all teachers with life-changing lessons if we will simply listen and always remain curious.
She encouraged me to see beyond my small town and ignited a passion within me to explore the world, study and emulate those I admire and develop my talents of writing and public speaking skills to inspire others.
While waiting my turn to kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland, I remember wondering if she had any idea that day in class when she encouraged her students to create a Dream List, the profound effect it would have on this country girl living in the Deep South.
She granted me permission to dream big without limitations and each time another adventure get’s checked off my list I silently thank her.
To this day I don’t chew gum because she demonstrated in class once how one looks chomping on gum while carrying on a conversation. It was comical yet mortifying. Lesson learned.
Thankfully, she took the time to teach us excellent communication skills and how to express ourselves in an educated, dignified manner, skills I still employ today.
She instilled in me the value of continued learning and acquiring culture which is why I am often found strolling museums, spending countless hours at the library, taking online classes, learning new languages, reading biographies, traveling anywhere, watching documentaries, attending the symphony, shows or the ballet or have my head buried in a book.
My eleventh grade teacher stood shoulder to shoulder influencing my life with another teacher, one who never stepped foot into a classroom yet has spent her life educating and encouraging others in the bounty of God’s love, mercy and grace.
For her, the classroom is anywhere life presents an opportunity whether she is behind the pulpit, standing in the checkout line or sitting in her living room.
Her daily curriculum includes studying the Word, always saying “Yes” when God calls, never writing off those the world has deemed as lost causes and above all practicing what she preaches.
If ever someone walked their talk it is her. If you don’t believe me, ask my friends.
Each time I stand up to deliver a speech, write a blogpost, conduct an empowerment course, guide a client through a strategy session, take someone’s hand in prayer or share my story with others, it is because I watched this teacher live with complete authenticity and never a judgmental spirit.
She encouraged me to move beyond my past, always pursue spiritual and personal growth, step out of my comfort zone, seek to be a blessing, love without expectations and extend forgiveness even when the apology never comes.
Two teachers, two different learning environments, one forever changed student.
It would be impossible to determine how many people these two teachers have positively impacted.
Their legacies will forever continue simply because both answered the call to educate, empower and encourage their students, giving unselfishly of their time, talents, experience and wisdom.
To all the teachers in the classroom and beyond, thank you!
To my teacher Donna McLean – thank you!
To my mother (my greatest teacher) Joanna Barnes – thank you!
Know a teacher who changed your life? Thank them today.
Lately I have been knee deep in dirt, planting, potting, and pruning.
While I am no green thumb, in gardening I have learned much about life.
Social media can be a positive force in creating awareness, encouraging generosity and inspiring change but also a source of negativity, frustration, comparison and criticism.
Facebook allows us to peek inside the homes, adventures and lives of others.
I don’t know about you but I have spent hours scrolling through the “gardens” (lives) of others while my own garden was slowly dying due to neglect.
Overgrown with the thorns of comparison, weeds of pity and procrastination and dehydrated from lack of attention, my garden left me feeling frustrated, left out, cheated and resentful.
From my sofa I lived vicariously through others though my own life pleaded with me to get off the couch.
For years I whined about the life I didn’t have, the life I said I wanted yet I refused to budge because complaining was easier.
I didn’t have to confront my fears, take any risks or be accountable for my actions.
My pity party consisted of me and my overgrown garden with any potential beauty choked by emotional and physical clutter, toxic friendships and unhealthy habits.
My garden was in a sad state because I was too busy constantly comparing my garden to everyone else’s.
I was so engrossed in other’s lives that any goals or dreams I had wilted on the vine with no available space for growth.
It’s a truth I had to own before anything could ever change.
One day while having a “spiritual hissy fit” giving God an earful of poor, pitiful me, He lovingly reminded me of a truth I knew but didn’t want to acknowledge.
My messy, overgrown garden was due to my neglect and if I wanted a different garden, a different me would be necessary.
It was time to focus on cultivating my own fabulous garden so there would be no time to compare or critique anyone else’s.
Although initially overwhelming due to the accumulation of “stuff” physically and emotionally, I was excited to create something beautiful.
Before starting, I had to decide how I wanted to feel as I strolled through my garden.
Calm, peaceful, interesting, exciting, connected, adventurous, elegant, simple, healthy and joyful became my goal.
How do you want your life to feel?
With that in mind, we begin prepping our gardens for planting which requires removing the weeds because in order for the new to grow, the old has to go.
What in your life needs to be pulled up today?
What needs to go, physically and emotionally?
For me it was clutter, old habits, resentment, guilt and feelings of unworthiness.
A gorgeous, quality garden requires quality conditions in which to thrive.
Enjoying a morning prayer and devotional, reading a motivating blogpost, spending time with positive minded people, adopting rituals that refresh us (for me it is smooth jazz, hot baths, long walks and reading), pursuing activities that energize us, listening to an uplifting podcast or music – all contribute to an environment in which our gardens can flourish.
A beautiful garden also needs regular pruning, cutting back to encourage more.
To create space for more of what you want in your life, what or who needs to be cut away?
I ask myself this when I am feeling frustrated, unmotivated or “stuck”.
Sometimes it’s an old belief that no longer serves me, unjustified fears, a relationship past its prime or time stealers like hours scrolling social media.
It is important to remember that life, like gardening is an ongoing process with each season serving a purpose.
When we compare our lives to “her life” it is easy to forget she may be in a different season than we are currently in.
While “she” is losing the weight, meeting the soulmate, scoring the dream job, jetting off every weekend to the beach, moving into the new house, starting the business, leading the small group, we are perplexed and maybe a little envious because it seems nothing is happening in our own lives.
She is not smarter, luckier, prettier, worthier etc than us.
She is simply in a different season.
Only when we become so engrossed in cultivating our own gorgeous gardens, sashaying through each season with grace and gratitude, being fully confident that we too will have a glorious space in which to thrive, then life becomes amazing.
With this new approach, our lives take on grander meaning.
We are now positioned to be introduced to new people, adventures, opportunities and experiences that leave us joyfully breathless and utterly amazed.
Today is the perfect day to begin cultivating our own stunning gardens!
From childhood on our mothers warned us that “birds of a feather flock together” understanding the powerful influence of those in our inner circle.
Solomon did too.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Prov 27:17
We have learned that a beautiful life begins with a beautiful mind built upon the solid truths of Christ and our thoughts determine who we become.
But did you know we also mirror those we spend the most time with?
This is a critical component to successfully living From the Inside Out.
While we are called to love others, we are also advised about the company we keep “or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” Prov 22:24.
For years, I allowed anyone into my “tribe” because 1) I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, 2) I was unaware of God’s Word regarding associations and 3) I valued quantity over quality when it came to friendships thinking the more friends I had the more worthy I was.
After studying scripture I knew my life needed course-correcting beginning with those within my Circle of Influence.
Some ties had to be severed if I was going to become the woman I desired to be.
I had to sever ties with:
1) The Complainer: Her cup never overflows and her life is always clouded by negativity.
From the weather, family, friends, her husband, children, co-workers, customer service, the checkout line etc she has no trouble finding issues and flaws because we will always find whatever we are looking for. “He who seeks good finds goodwill.” Prov 11:27.
Yes she loves Jesus and her church even though the music is too loud, the preacher talks too long and the sanctuary is always freezing.
Though her life reflects many blessings, she only focuses on all that is wrong.
2) The Critic: She often offers unsolicited critiques to others truly believing she is “bettering” them.
Her biting remarks and harsh words are laced with condemnation and she has conveniently forgotten her own failures and shame-filled past.
She believes she is helping you by calling attention to your “specks” all the while blinded from the “plank” in her own eye. Matt 7:3-5
3) The Comparer: While she is “okay” with life, she harbors deep-rooted jealousy towards others.
She compares her body, house, husband, career, car, clothes (you name it) to everyone else, always ending up feeling shortchanged.
She believes her lack and unhappiness is everyone else’s fault never assuming responsibility for her life.
She lives under the umbrella of “If Only” – if only she weighed less, had a husband, made more money, lived in the right neighborhood, hadn’t been mistreated, etc.
She has a victim mentality and her life reflects it.
4) The Condemner: Yes, your choice of friends, how you dress, your church attendance record, spiritual beliefs or political stance if not in agreement with her is simply wrong in her self-righteous eyes.
If she knows your past she makes certain you don’t forget it.
Bound by legalistic chains she operates and attempts to impose a rigid, religious structure of “shoulds” and “should nots” on others sadly never experiencing the true spiritual freedom that Christ offers.
5) The Complacent: She accepts her average, mediocre life “as is” and lives in the prison of her comfort zone.
While her friends are out enjoying adventure, losing the weight, achieving lofty dreams and experiencing personal and spiritual growth she remains stuck and stagnant yet refuses to make any efforts towards what she claims to want.
How do I know all of these women?
Because at one time or another I have been every single one of them.
And I know the damage she can do to anyone who comes within hearing distance.
She means no harm but when you are pursuing growth of any kind she may need to be relegated to the outer fringes of your Circle of Influence (your tribe) for a period of time.
A favorite quote reads “You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.”
Another reads “Sometimes you have to unfollow people in real life.”
This is truth!
I have to continually be mindful not only of who I allow into my inner circle but also not be one of the roles described above.
Paul was thrown into prison with Silas.
Together they prayed and sang hymns until God sent an earthquake shaking the cell doors open. (Acts 16:25-26)
How would this scenario have unfolded had Paul been in prison with someone who complained the entire time, criticized the cell conditions, compared their cell to someone else’s, condemned everyone involved or simply accepted their fate and did nothing?
Friends, now is the time to look closely at your associations.
Do you they inspire you to step up your game, grow spiritually, appreciate your blessings, dream big, upgrade your mind, your surroundings, your life?
In a dark time of life would they pray and sing with you until the storm has passed by?
Because like your mama said “birds of a feather flock together.”
Who do you think you are?
Has anyone ever asked you that? Have you ever asked yourself that?
We know creating a beautiful life begins with a beautiful mind established on the foundation of Truth and shedding old belief patterns (see Session 2).
Fabulous clothing designer Diane Von Furstenberg said “I didn’t always know what I wanted to do but I always knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.”
Until reading that I had never considered who I wanted to be.
Of course I wanted to excel in my roles as a daughter, sister, wife, aunt, grandmother etc. but who did I want to be?
And, was who I wanted to be and who I thought I was the same woman?
Not even close.
That quote and these questions forever altered my life.
Our foundational scripture for this series reminds us “As a man thinketh so is he.” (Prov 23:7)
Is the woman you want to be and the woman you think you are at this moment the same?
We will always become who we think we are and until those thoughts change nothing will change.
How would you complete this sentence? If I thought I was _____ then I would _____.
I knew I wanted to be a confident woman yet always thought I lacked confidence so it is no surprise I was not confident, not even a little.
Because I thought I wasn’t confident accompanied by my fear of rejection I said no to life-changing opportunities and was robbed of incredible adventures and experiences.
However, after reading that quote, I wrote down in my journal the kind of woman I wanted to be beginning with “confident.”
I then wrote “If I thought I was confident, I would then. . .” and began writing furiously all I would do if I truly believed I was confident.
I would start the blog I had been dreaming about, face my fears of rejection and pursue my love of speaking, join a small group without knowing anyone, volunteer, take risks, step out of my comfort zone, and the list went on.
Next I wrote “If I thought I was healthy and fit, I would commit to exercising consistently, sign up for and complete a half marathon, ban the word “diet” from my vocabulary, cultivate a dining lifestyle of life-giving foods with the occasional sweet, and stop critiquing and criticizing my body and begin complimenting, loving and appreciating her.”
And my list went on.
I wanted to be “cultured,” “fun,” “generous,” “well-travelled,” “inspiring” and “grateful.” “Joyful,” “authentic,” “elegant,” “adventurous” and “kind” all found their way onto my list and into my thoughts.
How would that woman think and act?
Learning to think like the woman I wanted to be led to actions that resulted in enormous positive changes in my life.
You are reading this blog today because I changed my thoughts on confidence.
Believe me, I am still a work in progress and am constantly monitoring my mindset.
I know first hand the damage toxic, negative, self-fulfilling thoughts will do – the dreams they will steal, relationships they will destroy and the life they will take.
John said “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (10:10)
How does the thief (Satan) accomplish this?
Through our thoughts because he knows they dictate our feelings which determines our actions.
If he can stop us in our minds, the rest is easy.
But Christ came that we may have life in abundance and that also begins in our minds.
What is going on in our minds?
Are we constantly complaining about what we lack or are we so grateful for the abundance we do have?
Are we telling ourselves and others we “can’t afford it,” “lack the time,””will never lose the weight or get in shape,” etc?
The abundant mindset vs the scarcity mindset is topic worthy of its own post because of its self-fulfilling, life-altering effects.
Whatever our minds focus on grows! I simply cannot emphasize it enough.
As we learned in the beginning – MINDSET IS EVERYTHING!
So I ask you again. Who do you think you are?
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. . . He was despised and rejected by men and was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. . . He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. . . He was pierced for our sins, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him . . . and by His wounds we are healed.” Isa 53:2-6.
On this Good Friday, Jesus Christ, the Last Lamb, bloodied and bruised, weak from a brutal beating and stumbling under the weight of a cross meant for us, was “led like a lamb to the slaughter” (53:7).
And with the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19), He willingly shed His blood for us all knowing “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22).
“The death He died He died to sin once for all.” (Rom 6:10)
The ongoing sin offerings required by the Levitical Law ended that day when “the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God” fell, cleansing “our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the Living God.” (Heb 9:14).
“When you were dead in your sins . . . God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code (Old Covenant) with its regulations that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14)
The King of Kings was tortured for you and me and treated like a filthy criminal “oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.” (Isa 53:7)
The Last Lamb willingly took His place on the altar as an atonement for our sins then breathing His last bowed His head and declared “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
His ending is our new beginning, His death our eternal life.
He paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.
The greatest expression of love ever known to mankind came through a cruel, inhumane death and gloriously ushered in a grace so amazing it cannot be comprehended.
What makes this Friday so “good?”
The unmerited, undeserving goodness and eternal life gifted to us through the brutal slaughtering of the Last Lamb, Jesus Christ.
What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make us whole again? NOTHING but the blood of Jesus.
Oh precious is that flow that makes me white as snow. . .
Mind Design – Session 2
A beautiful life begins in the mind.
Today we prepare to create an exquisite, elegant life as if building our dream home beginning with laying a firm foundation.
When designing our minds, we must establish a Rock-solid mental base that can withstand life’s storms and the enemy’s lies. (Matt 7:24-27).
That foundational base is Truth.
In Proverbs, Solomon tells us “By wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” (24:3-4)
Wisdom frees us from negative thought and belief patterns that keep us stuck, is “generously given” to anyone who asks (James 1:5) and is the foundation upon which we build. “Ask and it will be given.” (Matt 7:7)
Designing the mind requires commitment, discipline and a willingness to let go of old beliefs that have been ingrained since childhood.
Beliefs like the Not Enoughs – “I am not skinny, smart, educated, talented, rich, brave, pretty, capable, young, old, qualified enough”.
The I Don’t Knows – “I don’t know what I want, who I want to be or how to achieve my goal.”
The Should and Should Nots – “I should eat healthier, work out more, read my Bible more, should have taken that job, not have trusted him, not befriended her, not bought that.”
The What Ifs – “What if I fail, they don’t like me, it doesn’t work out, I diet and never lose weight, he breaks my heart, someone judges or criticizes me?”
The Wells – “Well it has always been done that way, because they said so, because I don’t know the right people, don’t have the right qualifications, never attract the right kind of men.”
The I Can’t – “I can’t lose weight, exercise, eat healthy, find a better job, meet a decent man, improve my marriage, find time, declutter my surroundings, take my dream trip, save money, start a business, ask for the raise, learn a new skill, go back to school, lead a small group or volunteer.”
In order to create space for the new, old thought patterns like these must go (be forgotten).
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I (God) am doing a new thing! … I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isa 43:18-19)
A life filled with “beautiful treasures” is the result of thinking beautifully.
Various events often blindside us resulting in confusion, anger and resentment (a wasteland).
Harsh words and lies told us in childhood sadly are still poisoning our minds today keeping us in a vicious cycle of emotional turmoil.
Our lives reflect this.
But, when we choose to “forget the former” God promises He will do a NEW thing creating “springs” – new, replenishing, restoring, powerful thoughts and beliefs.
Life, like every memorable masterpiece, begins with a blank canvas.
Your mind like your life is your masterpiece – the space you create daily.
You get to design and decorate it piece by piece however you wish.
Will you fill it with priceless treasures (powerful truths) or foul smelling, cheap trash (destructive lies)?
It is your choice.
What if you replaced every lie told you over the years with God’s truth?
What if every thought or belief not in alignment with God’s Word is immediately thrown out like trash?
As Solomon said “knowledge” (of His Word) is key to acquiring the “rare and beautiful.”
Because when you possess knowledge of the truth (his Word) it will set you free (John 8:32) and “who the Son has set free is free indeed!” (John 8:36).
When the destructive, defeating thoughts, beliefs and lies come, raise your sword “which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17) and remind the enemy, yourself and anyone else that you are:
Made in His image (Gen 1:26) – Redeemed and forgiven (Eph 1:7) – Called by name (Isa 43:1) – Are His daughter (John 1:12) – Are not condemned (Rom 8:1) – Are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3) – And His peace guards your heart and MIND (Phil 4:7).
Now that we have established our foundation of truth we can begin determining the layout and design of the mind and life we long for.
Until then think truth.
In January, 2011 I committed to valuing quality over quantity and set out on a massive life purge.
Out went ill-fitting, unflattering, uncomfortable or poorly made clothing and shoes purchased simply “because it was on sale.”
Multiples of any items (did I really need five spatulas, three sets of mixing cups, fifty food storage containers?) got tossed along with linens that had seen better days, books read, dated magazines and expired pantry items.
Knowing we become who we associate with, I evaluated my relationships and exchanged the drama, emotional drainers for healthy, life-giving friendships.
Trading my two-a-day Mountain Dew habit for water and lacing up my shoes I hit the trails and found renewed energy.
Though I was moving in the right direction the life I envisioned seemed just out of reach.
Why was that? One morning I found the answer.
In reading Proverbs I discovered a LIFE-CHANGING spiritual principle which is the foundation for this series – “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (23:7)
I had worked hard to change my external world never realizing having a gorgeous life was an internal job.
My mind was constantly consumed with negative, critical, judgmental, toxic, complaining, fearful, anxious, self-sabotaging thoughts.
Our minds can turn a bad day into a great day or vice-versa.
It can make us victims or victors, pitiful or powerful, determined or defeated.
Our thoughts can keep us stuck in guilt, shame and resentment.
The mind can keep us average, overweight, unhappy, unsatisfied and disenchanted with life.
That same mind can manufacture confidence, excellent health, beautiful friendships, exciting passion-filled marriages, successful careers or businesses, abundance, joy, contentment, and peace.
Mindset is not one thing – it is EVERYTHING because:
Life is Simply a Reflection of the Mind.
If you want a quality life you must think quality thoughts.
Life will never change until our thinking changes and our minds are either best friend or worst enemy.
Changing the mindset isn’t easy. It requires awareness and discipline but it is possible.
To monitor every thought every second is mentally exhausting. I tried that and failed.
But just by paying attention to my overall thought process when I found myself in various circumstances a noticeable pattern began to emerge.
The majority of my thoughts were self-sabotaging, negative criticisms soaked in guilt and insecurity.
No wonder I couldn’t lose the weight, enjoy healthy relationships, speak up, set necessary boundaries, venture out of my comfort zone, build a thriving business, love and appreciate myself or pursue my dreams with abandon!
My mind was telling me all the reasons why I couldn’t.
If we thought about what we thought about what patterns or dominant thoughts would become obvious?
Are you judgmental or critical of yourself or others?
Do you set a goal yet all the while certain you will fail?
Are you convinced the weight will never come off, the right guy will never show up, you will never get out of debt, your job will never be a source of joy, you will never start your dream business, jet-set around the world or enjoy a fulfilling marriage or meaningful friendships?
Are you often thinking “I am always tired, never have any energy, nothing ever goes my way, nothing is ever going to change, why do I even bother?”
Are you mentally complaining or criticizing your boss or co-workers, your employees, family, friends, traffic, the government, economy, checkout line, weather, the size of your bank account, house, closet, waistline or thighs?
Change begins with acknowledgement followed by accountability.
What if you began to think about what you think about – those dominant thoughts (that you usually give no thought to) racing through your mind at any given moment?
Are they life-givers or life-stealers? Do they have you living life on a battlefield or playground?
Are your thoughts energizing or depleting, inspiring or discouraging, complimentary or criticizing, filled with gratitude or envy, joy or resentment?
Are they cheering you on or tearing you down?
Do they invite or repel people, success, abundance, favor, opportunity and peace?
I encourage you to take a moment and think about what you think about!
How you think is a choice. Quality thoughts produce a quality life.
Because as you think so you are.
The goal of our new upcoming series From the Inside Out: Harnessing the Power of a Made Up Mind, is to study the mind and the power it wields.
A beautiful life begins with a beautiful mind.
Recently, during my spring cleaning, I realized after purging closets and drawers, there was one area left to be cleaned and that is my bookshelf.
For years (at least thirty) I was a devoted fan/junkie/addict of the “self-help” world.
If there was a book to be read, seminar to attend, video to watch or lesson to be heard I participated.
I spent years and a small fortune chasing a supposed better, improved version of myself yet instead of feeling enlightened I found myself exhausted, discouraged and berating myself daily for lack of perceived progress.
In trying to find my purpose, embrace my passion, fix my brokenness, erase my shortcomings, do, be and have more I was miserable.
This week I donated the last of my self-help books because I am no longer interested in chasing someone else’s idea of success.
My bookshelf now reflects my loves which include music, nature, classic literature and biographies, delicious food, travel and adventure, style, beauty and the arts.
Yes, biographies of inspiring, iconic women (Chanel, Diane Von Furstenberg, Sophia Loren and Jackie O), beautiful cookbooks that encourage food and fellowship, travel books that transport me to lavender fields in Provence or lush vineyards in Tuscany and style and home decor books that inspire simplicity and elegance now line the shelves once filled with books that were a constant reminder of my brokenness and shortcomings always telling me there was “more” to be had if I could just follow the “7 simple steps.”
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for personal growth.
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living is about inspiring you to create a life you love as defined by you alone.
What needs to be purged from your surroundings or life in order to create space for the life you want? Clutter, toxic relationships, negativity?
You are beautiful, bold and blessed-not broken and I believe it’s time for the old to go to make room for the new.