Why your quiet time matters!
Tired, overwhelmed, joy-deprived, anxious, even depressed could be words that, if we are being honest, could describe many of us on any given day. I am no exception.
There are days when my energy is lacking, joy seems non-existent, overwhelm forces me to fight back tears and I want to simply quit. Can you relate?
Those moments usually come on the heels of disappointment, discouragement heartache, failure, rejection or defeat.
Elijah could relate. This man known for calling down fire from Heaven and defeating the enemy, is now in a desert sitting under a tree and praying “that he might die.” 1 Ki 19:4. Then “he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.” 1 Ki 19:5.
Elijah wanted what most of us want when overcome with difficult days – to simply go back to bed and escape from it all through sleep.
But God knew it wasn’t sleep Elijah needed.
He needed nourishment.
Shortly thereafter an angel touched him and said “get up and eat for the journey is too much for you.” So, Elijah “got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” 1 Ki 19:7-8.
Even with all of Elijah’s anointing and power, he still experienced moments of spiritual malnourishment.
Life will often demand we go at break-neck speed but we were never designed to do so in our own strength.
Eventually we will find ourselves in a desert of discouragement suffering from spiritual starvation.
We need nourishment for this journey we are on.
John 6:51 says in part “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven.”
Yes, those quiet moments you schedule to spend in His presence, whether morning or evening, are critical to maintaining the spiritual stamina necessary to live and thrive.
It isn’t easy to find time to sit at the feet of our Father and draw from His strength through His word and conversation with Him, but here is where we receive the energy and determination to press on.
God is a gentleman and will never force His way into your day or force-feed you the spiritual nourishment you need.
But His feast is always prepared when you decide to come to the table and dine on His love, strength, forgiveness, wisdom and counsel.
My encouragement for you is to schedule a time daily that works best for you to spend with the One who has prepared a life-giving meal just for you.
He is always ready to strengthen and refresh you with the nourishment you need because without it the journey will always be too much for you.
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
From childhood my mom always encouraged her children to read.
Why? Because she was and is still of the opinion that books are the gateway to the world.
They introduce us to cultures, exotic locales and interesting characters whose paths we might otherwise never cross.
Books have allowed me to stroll the streets of Paris in Spring with Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, take risks I normally wouldn’t, A Year of Yes, embrace elegance and simplicity daily, The Simply Luxurious Life and Soulful Simplicity, pray effective prayers, Fervent, move through life like a French woman, Bonjour, Happiness, dine my way through France, French Lessons – Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrews, and become intimate friends with Coco, Chanel and discover who it truly is I want to be, The Woman I Wanted to Be.
I am always curious as to what others are reading and love sharing books that have deeply influenced me in some way.
What books have left you deep in thought, inspired, challenged, or encouraged you? Novels or non-fiction, if you could recommend at least one book, which would it be?
Your comments are welcome and always much appreciated!
Do you know Why?
“Why” is a hard question!! It requires looking within, facing the unavoidable truth and forcing accountability.
A time came however when I had no choice but to finally answer the difficult question of “Why?”
“Why?” pushes us to think, reflect, accept and own up . . . if we are being honest that is.
Why do we think the thoughts we think, speak the words we speak, make the choices we make and behave as we do? Why does life sometimes feel like a struggle, out of balance, unfulfilled and often lonely?
After spending the majority of my life blaming others, making excuses, playing the victim and living in fear, my life reflected my avoidance of answering the critical question of “Why?”
And because it is a known fact that you get what you focus on it is no surprise I merely survived but never thrived.
Can you relate?
By not asking “Why?” we often end up spending time with people who don’t value us, making unhealthy emotional choices, neglecting our physical health, focusing on everyone else’s wants but our own, spending too much energy worrying about what others think and waiting on someone else to give us what we need when we could give it to ourselves.
And yet we live this way because we know the alternative could cause some serious discomfort.
So, we hide inside our comfort zones while secretly envying women who are breaking out, stepping up and doing the impossible!
You know those women.
They are the ones losing the weight they always wanted to lose, enjoying the relationships they always desired, cultivating the friendships they longed for, setting and achieving exciting goals, growing personally and spiritually and basically living lives they adore.
Yes, they are the ones planning the a fun evening out with friends, learning a new skill, asking for the raise, signing up for the 5k or online course, meeting new people, saving for a long travel weekend, hiring the mentor, joining the small group, trying the new hobby or filling their calendars with experience and excitement. They are the ones who know their comfort zone and are determined and unafraid to step out and do something different.
Because they forced themselves to answer the difficult question of “Why?”
Like why wasn’t the weight coming off even though they’ve been on every diet known to man?
Or why did every relationship end with tears, a broken heart, shame and shredded self worth with lasting love always beyond reach?
Why did friendships never seem to last? Why did they value what others thought over their own desires? Why did they let fear, anger, resentment, unforgiveness or poor past decisions keep them stuck never growing personally or spiritually?
And finally, why did life feel like a constant battlefield without joy, peace, achievement or contentment when God designed it as a playground for His children to experience fun and fulfillment? My own answers to these and other “Why” questions were often ugly and downright shameful but they forced me to take a hard look at myself! Perhaps theirs answers were too.
Believe me asking “Why?” wasn’t easy … but it was necessary if I was ever going to experience any lasting change!
When you look at areas of your life that have been less than fulfilling and begin to ask “Why?”, being completely honest and taking full accountability and responsibility, the doors of lasting change and incredible new opportunities will open for you.
John 8:32 says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Seeking and acknowledging the truth is the path to experiencing real freedom.
Though it may be difficult, asking “Why” is the first step down the path that leads to self-growth, fulfillment, miracles and endless joy!
Where in your life does the question “Why?” beg to be answered?
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
If I asked you today “Do you absolutely love your life?” how would you respond?
Would you politely say “Yes” (and mean it to some degree) but inside silently scream “No” but not sure why?
While most of us are grateful for our lives we secretly yearn for more only we aren’t sure what “more” is.
Many of us attempt to fill the void of “more” with stuff, seek our worth in a relationship, attach our self esteem to the number on the scale, or drown our insecurities in food yet the void remains.
Once I was that woman. Yes, I appreciated my life but deep within I longed for more. In order to find out what “more” was I began a quest to find the answer. And here it is what I learned.
In order to live a life you love you must build it around what you value and enjoy most and LET GO of everything else.
Yes it is that simple.
Proverbs 14:1 tells us “The wise woman builds her house . . .” Your life and all it contains (your self-worth, value, happiness, achievements, etc) is your responsibility and not that of others.
Because I learn best by example I began to seek out people who seemingly adored their lives (even during hard times) and quickly saw a pattern emerge. Each of them centered their lives around what they valued and enjoyed.
Of course the best example is Christ and throughout the gospels we see what he valued most emerge.
He valued servitude and was often found in the crowds healing the sick. Sharing his knowledge of His Father was of utmost importance so he sought places in which to teach the masses whether it was a boat, a mountain top or a temple.
Cultivating meaningful friendships brought him joy so he developed deep bonds with his three closest friends – Peter, James and John. Both connection and solitude were important so he purposely created moments in which to break bread with others and enjoy quiet moments alone with his Father.
I also looked at others for examples.
My mom values servitude so whether she is teaching the Word, visiting the elderly or helping a neighbor, her life centers around helping others.
My sister Cindy values family and spends her precious free time connecting with then whether over the phone or in person.
My friend Machelle values beauty and nature and is happiest elbow deep in God’s earth transforming an ordinary clay clay pot into a mini garden bursting with beauty. It is no surprise that she is sought by many for advice when Spring rolls around.
My granddaughter Layla finds joy in creating and is happiest with a blank canvas, a bin of art supplies and nowhere to be.
If you aren’t sure what you deeply love begin to pay close attention to your daily life along with those around you and you too will see values and joy-activities emerge.
And over the last year I did exactly that. Determined to find what I loved and letting go of everything else that did not serve me became my focus.
Inspiring others through writing brings me incredible joy so I started a blog and to further connect with likeminded women I sought out speaking opportunities and also formed this FB page.
Simplicity is a core value so I regularly purge, walk away from and let go of the unnecessary or unhealthy as well as the energy and time drainers including possessions and people.
Creating and encouraging brings me joy so I am now developing programs and workshops to encourage women to create a life they love and will begin offering those soon.
Quiet moments of solitude spent with the Lord fill me with amazing joy and that time is now on of my few non-negotiables.
So I ask you. What brings you joy? What activities cause you to lose track of time? How would you spend your perfect day? What or who inspires, energizes and challenges you to step up your game? Who do you spend time with that leaves you emotionally and physically drained? What are you doing when you feel most at peace? What or who do you need to let go of in order to live a live you love?
It may take a little time to began to see answers to these questions emerge but once you do you can then begin to see what is essential in creating a life you love.
Please understand that while I love my life, it is not all unicorns and rainbows.
I have bad days, cry my share of tears, let my emotions run roughshod over me, endure rejection, struggle with feeling “not enough” and question my sanity but I have learned not to let those moments define WHO I am or demand control of my life.
In order for you to love your life you must begin to build it around what you value and gives you the greatest amount of joy and all else must move to the periphery.
No it isn’t easy and yes it takes time but the reward is worth the risk I assure you.
Seek the answers to questions like those above and listen closely to the woman within because she knows what she values and what brings her joy – she only needs you take the time to listen amidst the “busyness” of life.
Now is the time! Today is the day!
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
Welcome to 2018!
Did you know in scripture the number 8 represents a new beginning? Yes, 8 reflects a fresh start, a new chapter, a clean slate and a blank page!
Often, women tell me they often look back at the end of the year only to realize it looks identical to the previous year.
Their lvague goals go unfulfilled, loneliness and boredom finds them wasting precious hours on social media or mindlessly snacking and emptiness is a constant companion. Those resolutions are abandoned by mid January leaving them feeling guilty February to December.
Believe me, I get it! That was my life for years! And the guilt and shame from all those failures took its toll and was reflected in my self worth.
Enough was enough!
Several years ago I decided a new approach was in order. Life is much too short to live like that!
So instead of writing down vague resolutions I invested in a beautiful, simple notebook and wrote down adventures I longed to experience, books I wanted to read, restaurants around me I had yet to try, museum exhibits I wanted to see and places I wanted to visit. I wrote down how I wanted my home to look, how I wanted to feel about myself, traits I wanted to possess and people I wanted to meet.
It was a list that literally excited me, challenged me, pushed me so far from my comfort zone, educated me, encouraged me and empowered me! By the end of that year I knew I would never again set resolutions and I never have.
If you find yourself quitting on your resolutions before February rolls around I encourage you to toss them and try a different approach.
Invest in a journal or simple notepad, put on your favorite music, turn off your tv or phone, light a candle sit still then ASK YOURSELF “What do I want (not need or should) to do this year?” Where do I want to go? What would I like to learn? What would challenge me and thrill me at the same time? Who would I like to meet? What trait(s)would I love to possess? What experience(s) would bring me joy, make me laugh, invite simplicity into my life, empower me with confidence, connect me with others, utilize my talents and skill, spark creativity and ignite my soul?
This year my list includes taking a cooking class, reading the complete works of Socrates, hosting a dinner party, learning basic French, completing a 5K (considering I don’t run that ought to be interesting), touring Eudora Welty’s home and gardens, reading two books a month for an entire year, completing a free online jazz appreciation course to meeting Steve Perry from Journey – yes I am an 80s girl and that is my favorite band!
Yes it is a lofty list and even downright far fetched but it certainly excites me instead of filling me with dread like my previous resolutions did (lose weight, clean house etc).
So what if you don’t accomplish everything on your list? It doesn’t matter. Think of the joy and growth you will experience pursuing what you truly want. Think of the woman you will become in the process! Think of the stories of adventure you will have to share! The people you will meet!
If setting resolutions works for you then by all means continue. But if not, let me encourage you to try a new approach.
Take some time to decide what you want – what your soul needs right now to feel alive. Write it down. Look at it often and look at it daily.
I promise your 2018 will look nothing like years past and you will discover and appreciate who you are and what you are capable of dreaming and doing like never before!
Happy 2018! A Fresh Start!
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
She is single, divorced or perhaps widowed. Her smile hides her anxiety, overwhelm and fear. Her heartache is tucked away behind busyness so few if any know her truth.
Tears shed for a past cloaked in shame, guilt worn like a scarlet letter forced upon her by a hypocritical society, rejection upon rejection reducing her self-worth to crumbles and yesterday’s mistakes that silently taunt her, she lives in the shadows of her past.
She is often accosted by reminders of every failure, childhood cruelties, unmerciful criticisms by those claiming to love her, loneliness, fear of repeating yesterday’s sins or the dread of uncertain tomorrows, she bears the scars of life’s punches.
Suffering from the regrets of yesterday she struggles to maintain hope for today.
But oh how wonderful our God doesn’t reside in yesterday!
Isaiah 43:18 – 19 reminds us to “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not see it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
By releasing our past we can now experience this “new thing” God longs to do in our lives. We can focus on the new path He is forging through our wilderness and replenish our thirsty souls with streams of living water He is producing in our wasteland of regrets.
The enemy will attempt to remind us of our past missteps to keep us from accomplishing God’s plans and experiencing His peace, joy, forgiveness and fulfillment.
You are not your yesterday and your past doesn’t define you. It simply showcases God’s amazing grace, love, compassion and mercy.
Your story doesn’t end in yesterday and you don’t have to die in your desert.
God is doing a new thing! Do you see it?
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living.
She sits across from me over coffee as we discuss life, family and the never ending to – do lists.
Sensing and relating to her overwhelm I silently pray for a word of encouragement to share.
Zech 4:10 comes to mind – “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”
When the clutter was too much, the to-do list too long, the pounds to lose too many, the obligations too demanding, relationships became too negative and thoughts too toxic I ached for a change yet didn’t know how to begin until stumbling upon this verse.
A small beginning was the answer.
Yes, one small step towards your goal and the Lord rejoices to see you begin. Whether it is one pound, task, thought or one choice that small first step leads to massive achievement.
If losing twenty pounds is your goal, perhaps try beginning with losing three.
Want an organized home but are overwhelmed with clutter? Start with one drawer.
Always wanted to cross the finish line of a half marathon? Conquer one lap around the park.
Want to think positively regularly? Be mindful of one thought at at time.
Whatever you deeply long for is yours when you take that first step.
Celebrate those small achievements along the way as they are mile markers to your final destination and reminders that you can push through the doubt and fear and become who you want to be.
One step multiplied over time equals massive achievement.
The Lord is waiting to rejoice to see you take that first step. Will today be the day?
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
My pastor said something that, although he has said it before, finally hit home.
“Don’t make excuses, make adjustments.”
Oftentimes I realize I reign supreme as the queen of excuses.
I don’t have time. I don’t have energy. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. I can’t. What if I fail? What will others think? Is that even possible? And the list goes on and on.
Whether it is those unwanted pounds sitting on my backside, clutter creeping back into my surroundings, blogposts that go unwritten, family that goes unvisited, dreams that die on the vine, goals that go unfulfilled or projects that sit halfway finished, my list of excuses justifies them all.
Deep down I know some adjustments are in order. Those pounds would turn loose, the goals achieved, the blogposts written, the family memories made, the clutter cleared and the projects completed.
The cold realization sinks in. I have no excuse.
Often we make excuses when simple adjustments are all that is necessary to achieve our goals.
As I ponder the upcoming changes needed, I encourage you to consider doing so as well.
Set aside the excuses, make the adjustments and achieve what you really want!
Yes, those adjustments could make all the difference in the world! Thank you Pastor Joel!
Life’s best lessons can be discovered tucked away in the stories that grace the pages of the Old Testament.
With the recent turmoil dividing our nation, it is within these pages we witness a solution.
Amos who was “neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but was a shepherd . . ..” was shown by God two visions of what He was preparing for the Israelites because of their behavior. After seeing the vision of locusts and “judgment by fire” Amos cried out “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” (Amos 7: 1-4)
So the Lord relented saying “This will not happen.”
Yes! One man’s prayer altered the entire course of a nation!
One person who held no seminary degree, never taught a Sunday school class or attended a small group pleaded on behalf of his beloved country to his Creator for mercy and forgiveness with a simple, effective, faith-backed prayer. God relented. A nation was spared.
With all the social unrest happening around America it is easy to believe that one individual’s prayer could hardly make a difference. It is even easier to vent rather than pray. I am guilty yes.
However, Amos reveals the incredible power of choosing to cry out to the One who has the power to forgive, heal and restore a nation instead of complaining, criticizing and condemning actions and events to anyone within earshot.
Amos called upon the Lord in faith being absolutely convinced that “Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing.” (Joel 2:14)
If you too are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed or powerless when you read the headlines, scroll through social media posts or listen to the news, please remember like Amos YOUR one simple, heartfelt, prayer backed with unshakeable faith WILL positively impact this great country and yes even make a difference.
James 5:16 says in part “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Indeed!
Soccer mom or secretary your prayer could be the deciding factor in the future of our nation! Will you be the One?
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
“No” is seldom heard from most women. Raised to believe that saying “yes” to every request, big or small, deems us kind and compassionate while saying “no” screams selfishness we exhaust ourselves remembering the adage “it is better to give than to receive.”
Saying “yes” is admirable and honorable . . . until it isn’t.
Matthew 25 tells the familiar parable of the ten virgins – five wise women gathered with five foolish women dressed in their finest apparel with lamps in hand waiting patiently for the bridegroom to arrive and begin a highly anticipated celebration.
What distinquishes these women is preparation should the bridegroom be late arriving. The five wise women bring extra oil. The five foolish women do not.
At midnight a cry penetrating the darkness announces the bridegroom’s arrival. It is here we learn that preparation and priority separate the wise from the foolish.
Because the five foolish women failed to bring additional oil their lamps began to dim. Panicked and fearful they asked the five wise women to share their oil.
“No” they replied, “there may not be enough for both of us” and kindly suggested they go buy more oil and return.
Reading this recently the word “no” stood out. They said “no.”
Scripture encourages us to share and rightly so. However, here we see when sharing can be costly and saying “no” is not only allowed but required.
Had they said “yes” they too could have missed out on the moment they had anticipated and prepared for. “Yes” could have cost them their goal of lifetime fellowship with the bridegroom.
Their “no” was not a reflection of selfishness but instead it was a form of of self preservation.
By refusing to say “no” when necessary we are exhausted, overwhelmed and overworked as well as consumed with guilt, resentment, self condemnation and frustration.
Inside we are screaming “no” yet with every request no matter how costly to our well-being we smile politely and say “yes.”
When saying “yes” cost us our goals and dreams because we lack the energy to pursue them, rob us of time with Christ our bridegroom, keep us from enjoying life because we are resentful, steal all the joy of giving and leave us unprepared for our future it is time to add “no” back into our vocabulary.
Five wise women in Matthew would affirm that saying “no” changed their lives forever. Had they said “yes” out of guilt, obligation or duty, all their hopes and preparation would have ended in that moment.
I encourage you today to give yourself permission to say “no” when necessary without guilt or condemnation.
Because “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun” (Ecc 3:1) there is a time to say yes and a time to say no.
Elevate – Chic Inspired Living
In my work I have witnessed a troubling phenomenon among women. Our internal dialogue is rife with criticism, cruelty and judgment. We speak to ourselves in ways we would never imagine speaking to others – friend or stranger.
Yes, we criticize our bodies, curse our fine lines and berate our backsides. We absolutely refuse to show ourselves an ounce of grace when we fail lording our flaws and mistakes over us like a cruel dictator.
Unknowingly, we are quietly condemning ourselves to a miserable existence cheating ourselves of joy, achievement, confidence and peace.
Should someone we love experience heartache, failure, loss or low self-worth we rush to encourage them with love and support but in our darkest moments refuse to speak even one kind word to ourselves believing we “should have known better,” throwing labels of “failure” “stupid” “fat” or “ugly” at ourselves like fiery darts. Harsh. Hurtful. Heartless.
Yes, immediately upon seeing this quote I was overwhelmed with guilt.
Guilty of actively cultivating friendships with others while ignoring my own achievements and worth. Acting as my own judge, jury and worst enemy. Guilty of verbally vomiting all over myself at every opportunity over every failure or mistake.
My inner dialogue reflected just how little self-esteem I possessed. My cruel words and criticisms denied me the joy of a beautiful friendship.
Friends, we would never dream of bullying others so why are bullying ourselves?
Confidence begins with our inner dialogue as does self-esteem.
The Message translation of Proverbs 18:21 says “Words kill, words give life; they are either poison or fruit – you choose.” Will your inner voice fill you with deadly poison or nourish you with life-giving fruit?
Today is the day to begin speaking life and love to yourself as your internal dialogue will always be reflected in your external world.
You see, the best friend you will ever have is the woman looking back in the mirror.
Be kind to her. She bears the scars of hard fought battles life forced her to fight. She has overcome the impossible, endured unimaginable cruelty, conquered inner demons, scaled emotional mountains and given generously often receiving nothing in return. She is your hero!
Our internal dialogue determines whether we are living life on a battlefield or a playground. So, if you wouldn’t say it to someone else, please don’t say it to yourself.
I have a confession to make.
I have held a lifelong fascination with all things French always seeking to possess that “je ne sais quo” (an indefinable, elusive, pleasing quality).
Over the years I have studied their lifestyle and learned five lessons worth sharing.
1. The French woman values quality over quantity.
Like her choice of foods and the relationships she pursues, her closet too is filled with quality over quantity. This quality over quantity mindset allows her to create a timeless wardrobe that can be easily updated with accessories while always remaining true to her authentic style.
She understands fabulous style is not dependent upon price or labels and couture doesn’t always mean quality she thoroughly inspects each item before purchasing whether it be Chanel or H&M.
2. She builds her wardrobe around a neutral color palette.
Choosing basic pieces in neutral colors such as black, tan, white, cream, gray or navy, when paired with colorful, interesting accessories, she can create multiple looks.
From a statement necklace to her grandmothers’s delicate pearls, a pair of oxblood red pumps or over-the-knee boots she well knows accessories complete the outfit.
3. She avoids fads and trends only and unless they blend with her style.
If the current trend leaves her feeling frumpy, she simply refuses to participate knowing her fashion dollars are best invested elsewhere.
4. She cares little what others think and unapologetically wears what she feels fabulous in needing validation from no one.
Having no interest in the opinion of others she knows if she feels amazing in an outfit it will show so she only wears what she loves.
5. She is willing to let go of an item when it no longer reflects who she is regardless of its cost or size.
Because many Parisian closets are small with limited storage space, clothing that no longer fits, is seldom worn or is in poor condition regardless of its cost or size must go.
Refusing to hold on to any piece simply because of its price tag or size she only keeps pieces she adores knowing she is gorgeous at any size.
If you want to live a chic Parisian inspired life your closet is an excellent place to begin.
Hopefully these simple suggestions will inspire you to cultivate a timeless wardrobe, create an elegant, organized dressing space and eliminate the frustration that accompanies an overflowing closet containing nothing to wear.
Not sure of your style?
Pinterest is an excellent inspirational source because by pinning outfits you love you will see a pattern emerge that will assist you in defining your style.
After doing that, I discovered I loved blazers or loose tees paired with jeans and fabulous pumps or knockout boots finished with a statement necklace then began incorporating these pieces into my wardrobe.
And, when your closet reflects your tastes whether it is tailored, bohemian, sporty, rocker chic or casual, getting dressed each morning becomes an experiment in style instead of stress.
(photo courtesy of Pinterest)