Fixer Upper

I know I’m not alone. I know many of you share my infatuation with Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper on HGTV. I am hoarding 14 episodes of Fixer Upper on my DVR and DO NOT ask me to delete them! I love seeing a house with untapped potential being transformed into a beautiful family home. I adore Joanna. I didn’t think it was possible to love her more- until I saw the video of her testimony.

It is such an inspiration to hear her speak (so eloquently) about her faith journey. JoJo (when we become besties she will tell me I can call her that) offers powerful encouragement to LISTEN as God speaks into your life.

 

Linger on these words from Ephesians 3:20: “Glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of- infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.”  Read it again and let it sink in.

Do you pray BIG prayers and dream BIG dreams?  Are you living your life’s purpose? Have you decided how you will make the world a better place? Have you established your legacy? I hope your answer is Yes- a million times YES!! If not, what is holding you back? Is it that you haven’t identified your life’s purpose? Or is it something else? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of failure? Or what people might think? Are everyday struggles at home and work interfering with your BIG desires, thoughts and hopes?

Sorry for all of the questions. I don’t want you to feel like you are being interrogated. I get a little excited because I am passionate about unleashing potentential. I am begging you to answer those questions.  Not for me, but for yourself.

You see- I am a “fixer upper” and so are you.  We all have things that need to be touched up, shined up or even broken down and re-built all together. We are all a work in progress, but God’s mighty power is at work within us! I can’t wait to see your untapped potential transformed into something beautiful!

Be a blessing today.

 

MLK

Preacher. Christ follower. Servant leader. Love giver. World changer. Justice seeker. Author. Father. PhD. Champion of nonviolence. Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Activist.  Leader of the civil rights movement. Hero.

I have loved (been obsessed with) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as long as I can remember. Before there was a national holiday to honor him, I celebrated him on my own. In high school, I made my original MLK “post”. I took white poster board and covered it with pictures of him and a few of my favorite quotes of his and duct taped it to a cinder block wall. One year I “posted” it in a locked display case.

Now, I have the ability to honor him in a more “high tech” way, without poster board or duct tape. There are a multitude of phenomenal quotations on a number of important topics from Dr. King that I could share. Today I am sticking with one theme.

I have decided to stick with LOVE…

MLK spoke about love the way I have grown to see it. An outpouring of God’s BIG love. The kind of love that transforms hearts, transforms lives and changes the world. These are a few of my favorite quotes. Read his words and remember that LOVE is one of the many reasons why we celebrate him today.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Be a blessing today.

 

Stuff

One of my favorite things to do in January, is to get rid of stuff. I am on a mission to simplify my life, so reducing the amount of stuff I have is at the top of my to-do list. It is time to purge closets, drawers, cabinets and even entire rooms. I love to organize, but some stuff can’t be organized. It just has to GO!!

While I was cleaning out the drawers in my bathroom recently, I learned a valuable lesson. I could probably corral every product and tool I use on a daily basis into one small drawer (scratch that, the hair dryer wouldn’t fit in a small drawer. That sucker is huge). However, I somehow manage to have 3 drawers and one large cabinet overflowing with stuff. They are full of junk (the worst type of stuff) that I rarely use, if ever. These items include, but are not limited to: shades of lip gloss that will NEVER look good on me, lipstick that I wore 10 years ago, samples of face creams that I keep meaning to try, various scrubs, lotions, potions and 15 spools of dental floss. Deep breath- now for the hair products: brushes I don’t use, old flat irons, 27 pony tail holders, 16 hair clips and 6 headbands. But wait, there’s more- a combined total of 32 bottles, tubes and tubs of the following: mousse, gel, straightening serum, curling serum, pomade, hairspray and dry shampoo.

So…. I pull out all of the drawers and open the cabinet. I assemble a throw away pile, a give away pile and a keep pile. From the keep pile, I set aside the things that I actually use, love and need the most. They are VIPs, if you will (very important products). Then, the inevitable begins, my brain tries to convince me to keep things that I will probably (definitely) never use. Once everything has (finally) been sorted, the items in the throw away pile are tossed in the trash and the give aways are placed in the trunk of my car. Next, things from the keep pile are put away.  Lastly, it is time to place my VIPs in the most convenient and accessible spot a.k.a. prime bathroom vanity real estate (PBVRE). Darn it!! There is hardly any room in the PBVRE for my VIPs! I am literally “stuff”ing and smooshing my best and most important stuff into the limited space. My VIPs should be arranged beautifully in the PBVRE like pictures from my “get organized” and “master bathroom” Pinterest boards.

Then it hits me. How many other areas of life am I treating this way? How often am I spending time and energy on stuff that I don’t value very much and in turn sacrificing the stuff that matters the most? How many other spaces am I filling  with “OK” and  “so-so” stuff, leaving little to no room for my VIPs? How often am I stuffing my VIPs in at the last minute because I have filled my schedule with stuff that has to GO?

What and who are your VIPs? The OK and so-so have to go! Your VIPs are worth it.

Be a blessing today.

If you need a little inspiration on how to deal with your stuff, check out this video from Gretchen Rubin. It’s an oldie but goodie. Her de-cluttering strategies and habits have been life changers for me.

Best Year Ever

I sincerely hope that these 16 things will make 2016 your best year ever:

  1. Put God first. In your life, in your marriage, in your parenting, in your career, in your schedule.
  2. Pray. Without ceasing. Your prayer is never too big or too small.
  3. Adopt a “word of the year”. This word will become your theme for 2016. In 2015, my word was “generosity”. It has been life-changing.
  4. Establish evening rituals. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow, plan your schedule for tomorrow, check your calendar, go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  5. Master your morning routine. Wake up early, pray/meditate, be active, journal, drink lemon water, eat a healthy breakfast.
  6. Set SMART goals. Every goal should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. Set goals for the day, for the week, for the month, for the quarter, for the year. Not just for yourself, but for your marriage, for your family, for your career, for your health, for your finances. Write them down!!
  7. Write a personal mission statement. I mean it- and I would love to help you create it!
  8. Own your calendar. Does your calendar reflect your personal mission statement? Schedule down time. Just because Thursday night at 7:00 is open on your calendar doesn’t mean you are “free” for another activity, another lesson or another meeting. Instead- eat dinner with your family, play with your kids, put on your pjs and watch your favorite sitcom. You are only as busy as you allow yourself to be.
  9. Simplify. Embrace simplicity in all areas of life.
  10. Purge to splurge. For simplicity’s sake – purge your to do list, your schedule, your possessions, your wardrobe… Identify things that you can get rid of, stop doing or avoid in order to have and do things that matter. Make sure your daily habits and routines reflect your personal mission statement.
  11. Be a quitter. When you “purge” your to-do list, quit anything that isn’t in alignment with your personal mission statement. If it is something that you dread, it is a waste of your time and/or it doesn’t bring you joy- QUIT IT!
  12. Load up on the good stuff. Good food, good books, good music, good people.  Allow time for “good stuff” for yourself every single day.  Leave no room for garbage- literally and figuratively.
  13. Embrace abundance. You can’t simultaneously have your best year ever and a scarcity mentality.
  14. Cultivate meaningful relationships. With friends, family, your spouse, your coworkers.
  15. Live generously. Be a cheerful giver of your time, talents and resources.
  16. Demonstrate acts of love every day. Kindness matters. The simplest gesture can mean so much to so many. Change your life and change the world.

Be a blessing today.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Confession

I have a confession to make. I’m not a big fan of Christmas music. Does that make me a terrible person? I do have my favorites (yes, Bono sings a few of them). In my defense, right before Christmas I get in the mood for it and could listen to (most of) it all day.

With the exception of this song. I am a HUGE fan of this song. It gets me every time. It is beautiful, and poignant, and heartbreaking, and inspiring and it brings me to tears without fail. It could come on the radio in July and I wouldn’t switch the station. Every version gets me right in the feels. This version, sung by CeeLo Green with video from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s “The Bible”, is epic.

Take a moment and give this video your undivided attention. You will be glad you did. Merry Christmas!

Be blessed today.

 

 

 

 

 

Friends

Poor Sheldon! At least he recognizes the importance of making friends, right? You’ve heard the saying, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Another saying in the same vein is, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future”. I believe this wholeheartedly.

I’m stealing this idea and generalizing it to another area. I believe that the degree to which you are generous/kind equates to the generosity/kindness of the people around you. If my theory is true, it would be physically impossible for me not to be a nice person. I have the absolute most generous people in my life. Can you believe that recently  I received gifts from two different friends for absolutely no reason within 24 hours? Seriously. Two gifts (not for my birthday, not for Christmas) from two different people in two different cities in two separate gorgeous gift bags stuffed with cute tissue paper. It just isn’t fair. I don’t deserve the generosity I receive on a daily basis. It inspires me to bless others all.day.long!

I have friends who send me written notes of encouragement. I have friends who send me text messages that say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. I have friends who are foster parents. I have friends who adopt children from all over the world. I have friends who visit the sick. I have friends who serve the homeless. I have friends who feed the hungry. I am blessed to be friends with some of the kindest, most generous people on the planet.

Two years ago, I participated in the Chazown workshop at my church. Our pastor says, “Everyone ends up somewhere. Few people end up somewhere on purpose”. It was through this experience that I created my Chazown statement. It is basically my personal mission statement. It goes like this: “My Chazown is to passionately lead and encourage women (sorry guys- don’t tune out) to pursue excellence and inspire them to demonstrate acts of irrational generosity in everyday life”.

One of my action steps for bringing my Chazown to life was to start a lifegroup that would help me to live out this mission. One of my BFFs, Natalie, and I started the Love Gives life group (unlike Jen Hatmaker, Natalie is a real life best friend of mine). This is the description of our group: “Love Gives is a lifegroup for women who share a passion for leading the way with irrational generosity in everyday life…Various books, lessons and activities will be used to explore what it means to be a missionary in our own neighborhood”.

Do you long for more meaningful relationships, or to be more intentional in showing your love for others, or to show more kindness to strangers or to feel more hopeful? “Join the club”. Or, start your own. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, encourage you and share a desire to lead the way with irrational generosity. Simply hang out with super nice people!

Who are the kindest and most generous people you know? I hope they are among the 5 people you spend the most time with. If not, reach out to them (without applying Sheldon’s algorithm, of course). Cultivate that relationship. Meet them for coffee. Meet them for lunch. Start a book club. Start a bible study. Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.

Be a blessing today.