“I DON’T NEED TO BE FAMOUS…”

I was boutique shopping with a beautiful friend of mine the other day. She just so happens to be an awesome singer and a super favorite around our small town. The gal working the register, an obvious fan, noted “When are you gonna go on TV???!!! You are SOOOO good!!!!”

My friend responded with great modesty, true to her character, “I don’t need to be famous, I’m happy just playing my music here at home, with my people.”

I was so blessed by her response. I could TOTALLY relate. However, I could also understand how foreign her response was to the clerk. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be famous, right? Who wouldn’t want to be seen and adored by thousands, if not millions, right? Why not share your talent with as many people as you can, right?????

As a society, we’ve gotten to the place where more is better. Where all we do is measured by the number of likes, customers, product sold, people in the audience, etc. We crave acknowledgement, a certificate, pin, title, award, or some sort of notoriety for everything we do. We secretly want our content, our YouTube, blog post, picture, or even rant to go viral. We want to be discovered. We crave validation. Acceptance. And ultimately, love.

The problem with this is, in our plight to be noticed by the masses, we forfeit the journey of growing, learning and allowing God the chance to promote us in His timing. We spin our wheels and max out our resources to produce results, often times based on standards of another person’s success. We are so busy climbing ladders, grinding, and chasing a name, we miss out on the little opportunities to cultivate relationships that produce the lasting love that matters.

Within the last couple years, my singing friend retired from an awesome career in education to be at home full time with her family. Nope, she didn’t pack her bags and move to Hollywood, instead, she volunteers at the school, she helps her husband with his business, coaches her son’s basketball league and tends to her parents and elderly grandparents. When she gets a chance, she sings and plays guitar at local venues, festivals and weddings around town. But SHE is super ok with that. Currently, she doesn’t have a triple platinum album, she doesn’t have a Grammy on her wall, she won’t get Administrator of the Year this year, but in the meantime, her daughter has a friend she knows is always there when she needs her. She has a solid marriage of 17 years. She hasn’t missed a ballgame and is able to take her mom to her weekly check-ups at the doctor.

Perhaps if we get back to some of these things that really matter in this life, we will grow our character. We will develop the characteristics necessary to sustaining greater levels of success. We will have a true support system of people who love us and look out for our best interest along the way. We will have made major impact on individuals and created memories throughout.

I’m not saying give up the pursuit of greater or abort taking your talent and visions to their highest level possible. Go get your Grammy!!!! Just don’t let it be at the expense of the things that truly matter. Don’t let it be an attempted replica of someone else’s journey. Many of the people we all admire, follow on Instagram, and see adorned by millions, go to bed lonely with no one they can truly trust. When their career ends, they have no one by their side. No trusted companions or skills to help them sustain or recover their achievement.

As you pursue your purpose, trust in God’s ability to customize the experience for YOU. Put your best foot forward in everything you do because it will ALWAYS lead to greater. Be sure to enjoy the growth that happens during the journey and develop and cherish relationships with the people in your life right now. You will find, their love is better than the superficial love that comes from the masses. The mountaintop is so much better when you get their whole, with great people on your team, with true love in your heart, and with God leading the way. Until then, sing your heart out and enjoy each time you perform in your hometown, post your best blogs if only for an audience of 100, and rock out that business from the ground up … You’ll get your Grammy soon enough… While you’re at it… enjoy the journey!!!

Proverbs 16:9

18 WAYS WE MADE IT 18 YEARS… AN ANNIVERSARY REFLECTION.

Today I celebrate my 18th wedding anniversary!!!! WOWZERS!!!! It’s hard to believe it has been that long, but what an INCREDIBLE adventure indeed. Especially jumping into marriage at 22, my husband and I grew up together. We have raised 2 children, traveled the world, bought and sold property, developed businesses, paid off debt, overcome challenges and setbacks, and learned SOOOOO much along the way. The best part about it, is that we did it all TOGETHER!!!!! And more importantly, with God at the forefront the entire time. We are by no means perfect, sooooo far from it. We have DEFINITLY had our challenges, but we are committed to growing and getting better and better as we go. Over the years many people ask, how do we stay together? How do we keep the love alive? Well, I truly believe that the secret sauce to a successful marriage is doing it according to the bible. Marriage is created by God. It is a sacred covenant between you and Him and when done in line with His Word, it can be the greatest journey of our lives. In honor of 18 years, I reflected on 18 specific things that I believe has kept our marriage blissful.

  1. Seek Godly/professional counsel during the tough times. Sometimes you just need a 3rd party who can shed light/Godly wisdom on an issue that neither of you can seem to agree on. We have sought counsel on several occasions during our marriage and it helped us regain our focus.
  2. Travel/ride through beautiful neighborhoods/test drive nice cars/connect with people you admire/try new foods… DREAM BIG!!!! It sets the tone for “the possible.” We are not called to settle and be stagnant. Step outside your comfort zone and dream/vision cast together. We do this ALLLLL the time. It is so much fun to explore the AMAZING possibilities that await.
  3. Do as many things as you can TOGETHER. Pretty much, if you see me, you see my husband and/or the kids. We are always together. We LOVE being TOGETHER. We grocery shop, walk, ride, go to basketball games, read, eat, worship, do yard work, etc. TOGETHER. We are a team. It makes EVERYTHING enjoyable.
  4. Divide chores and tasks evenly among each other. Because we are all stakeholders in this estate, we work together to help it run smoothly. He has strengths and so do I. We use them daily to help take care of the needs of our home/family in a balanced way so that no one is overloaded.
  5. Build your budget on one salary. Even though for a while we had 2 incomes coming in, it made it that much easier to transition into me stepping away from my job (both times) because we ALWAYS set our budget and spending on his salary. This takes the pressure off when babies come into the equation or any other demands that will require one of you to reduce work or step away from the job.
  6. Get out of debt and stay out. We eliminate the main area of contention when we don’t have enormous amounts of debt lingering over our heads. It takes such a load off and allows for great freedom to not have to use every dollar we make paying a bill. SOOO worth the sacrifice.
  7. Take vacation time. We go on at least 1 major trip and several weekend getaways each year. We enjoy the time SO much and it helps us recalibrate for all the great adventures ahead.
  8. Go on a date regularly. We go out at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but just getting dressed and out keeps the party pumpin’!!!
  9. Put the kids to bed!!! Many people allow the kids to stay up late, sleep in their bed etc. We never did that. The kids have a bed time. We spend a TON of time with them every day. But when it is bedtime, they go to bed. That leaves time for us to have some time each day as well.
  10. You build your family, let God build your enterprises. Though we have goals and dreams, we are careful not to rush them at the expense of our marriage and/or family. Enterprise and businesses will come. However, these precious moments to raise our kids and build a strong foundation takes time, effort and dedication. It is our #1 priority.  We leave the work at the office…
  11. Pray together daily. Though we pray and have our time with God each day independently, we also pray together as a family each day. It sets the standard in our home that God is the head. It helps us keep our hearts on him FIRST.
  12. See and celebrate each other’s differences as additions/bonuses to what you lack individually. Though I am super outgoing and passionate, Mike is laid back and calm. This helps complete the package vs. creating a source of division. Differences are assets.
  13. Keep a thankful journal. I write in a thankful journal every night. Often times when I get frustrated or FORGET how great my husband is, or how great things are in our life, I can look back on years of great things that have happened to me EVERY SINGLE DAY and it INSTANTLY gets my mind right back into perspective.
  14. Take a MILLION pictures, keep records, make playlists of moments during the journey that you can regularly reflect upon. It goes SO fast and there are SO many monumental adventures to cherish. They will help keep a smile in your heart.
  15. Build your foundation on the Word. Avoid TV shows, movies, songs, examples of marriages that don’t line up with the Bible. This thing IS NOT miserable. Instead, it is SOOOOO much fun, when done God’s way. (ie. Love is patient, kind… does not dishonor others… is not easily angered… keeps no record of wrongs… etc) Look in the right places for wisdom and examples of marriage.
  16. Look good for each other, KEEP IT TIGHT!!! Lol!!! Put on your make-up, workout, dress nicely, be sexy for him/her as much as possible. Reinvent your game and stay SPICY!!!
  17. Spend time growing spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc. as an individual to offer your best to the union. Read books, attend conferences, invest in yourself regularly in you can be a strong and healthy teammate.
  18. Last but CERTAINLY not least: Acknowledge that DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION. I KNOW times get tough. I mean TOUGH. But (with the exception of infidelity/abuse), it can be worked out. If you fight for your marriage, and don’t give any outside force a foothold, together you and your husband can put 10,000 to flight. Love never fails. I am thoroughly convinced!!!

Whew!!!! Aren’t you glad we haven’t been married 40 years!!! Lol!!! You would be reading forever!!! Lol!!!! I am thrilled to share this awesome ride with my best friend. We are having a BLAST!!! We have built something SO special and I am committed to seeing it through to forever. I hope some of the items on this list are a blessing to you. It was a fun reflection for me. Thanks for reading it!!! May you experience all the joys of an awesome union!!! Here’s to Happily Ever After…

QUIT QUITTING…

My husband and I took our kids to the track at the high school this weekend to help get my son in shape for track season. After a great warm up and stretch, we challenged them to a timed race in the 100-meter dash. They started on the appropriate lines, took off at the command, and seemed to be pumped for what appeared to be a fair competition. Half way through the race, my daughter took the clear lead, at which my son slowed down and discontinued his attempt at winning. I stood at the finish line appalled. Though I was happy my daughter got the win, I was quick to encourage my son to finish the race. What was he thinking???? Sure, it LOOKED as if he would not be victorious in this race, but quitting insured that outcome.

Later I considered how many tasks we are quick to start, yet perform in a similar manner. We get distracted, see the outcome as overwhelming, too much to do, or impossible and quit before we experience the victory of completion.

I want to encourage you to finish your course strong. Stay focused. Though 100 meters can appear intimidating, there is victory in crossing that finish line. Every single small step toward that goal is a step closer to achievement. It’s not about “who gets there first,” or if we get there RIGHT NOW… but that we made it, and more importantly, that we didn’t give up. Know that with God, all things are possible. That He can provide the tail wind needed to lessen the load. Trust in His strength and finish strong!!! You are on the winning team!!! YOU GOT THIS!!!!

Quit Quitting on:

  • that healthy eating plan you started this year
  • the book you began and can’t seem to finish
  • That loved one who won’t seem to do “right”
  • your goals to stop smoking
  • The exercise routine you planned
  • Getting out of debt
  • Drinking more water
  • that degree you started but keep putting off
  • Going to bed earlier
  • Your marriage
  • Keeping up with your blog!!!! ☺☺😜😜😨😨😨😆😆
  • not eating at fast food restaurants
  • Controlling your temper
  • That tough project at work
  • Getting up earlier
  • Being on time

Perhaps your goal is not listed above, but you know what it is. See it through. Finish your race strong. That finish line is closer than you think and there is victory waiting on the other side!

WordPress is SO Much Better Than Facebook Right Now…

Ok. Many of you can agree that social media has gotten RIDICULOUS with all the political rants, conspiracy theories, social injustices and just divisive, opinionated vent sessions that actually resemble elements of virtual bullying. It is sad to see some of your “friends” (who are understandably frustrated) behave in ways that are foreign to their regular demeanor.  While I wait for the temporary adult temper tantrums to settle, I have recently taken a bit of a break from what was otherwise a great spot to reflect and share experiences, celebrations, pictures and great ideas. In the meantime, I have greatly enjoyed scrolling through my WordPress feed to read various blog posts. I have to admit, I find myself enthralled with the thoughtful, insight I am finding through various blogs. There are beautiful reflections of life experiences, helpful tips, recipes, DIY’s, poems, short stories and points of wisdom and motivation; actual depth. As a former English teacher, I am already accustomed to reading various forms of literature, so I feel right at home. If you find yourself needing a bit of a breather from your typical scroll through FB, Instagram or the like, scroll through your WordPress feed and check out all the goodies that lie in wait of great reflection. Don’t just “like” it. Give some feedback. Just as you love for others to stop by your page and reflect, they love for you to do the same. In the meantime, if you are looking for someone to read your awesome post, attach a link in the comment section. I will be sure to take some time to read and reflect!!! Blessings to you! #sharingthelove

TOTALLY RADICAL DUDE!!!

I remember when selling our home a couple years ago, our agent did a walkthrough of the property.  She was very impressed with all the amenities the house offered, but she was quick to warn that buyers preferred a “neutral” décor. “It would appeal to the majority of potential buyers and allow them to picture themselves as owners,” She explained. I totally understood that philosophy, and though I had heard it before and recognize it as a staple thought for home buying, it didn’t fit me. In fact, I had just spent the last few years prior customizing that home to fit my vision, and it was FAR from neutral. Lol. I had the walls painted charcoal, hung a wall size world map mural on my son’s bedroom wall, a stairway with velvet damask wall paper, a yellow shag rug in the dining room, a bold red front door and a baby grand piano I just painted a distressed yellow!!!! NUETRAL YOU SAY????? (See pics below)

Now though I definitely wanted to sell my home, I was NOT about to change my style. I figured it would be my gift to the buyer. My stamp.

I realized that the world is JUST like what this realtor was asking me to be. The world will box you in. Require you to believe, act, respond and decide based on a popular idea. A majority rule. A neutral belief… Follow the trend. Color inside lines. However, you were born with a purpose. You were called to do something OUTSTANDING in this life. You were created as an individual. You were fearfully and wonderfully made to make impact in this this world. Though it can be uncomfortable at times, as believers, we will have to make very radical decisions that will be very “unneutral”.

What I love about God, is that when you stand firm on His word and live as a bold believer, you will always come out victorious. My husband and I sold that home. We had record breaking numbers of interest. The blessed family that ended up buying the home, paid a large amount over the asking price and purchased every bit of furniture and décor that was in the house… including the yellow baby grand piano!!!

Though life can be much more challenging than velvet wall paper, let it be a reminder that you are called to be a BOLD believer. When your decisions don’t seem to line up with a “neutral palate,” remember that you and God are the ultimate majority. There is a great reward for following His word. And together you can blaze uncommon trails to victory!!! SHINE ON!!! Paint your walls black, your pianos yellow and your doors red!!! 😘😘😘

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A Family that Prays Together…

We have used our commute to school every day since the kids were little (2&4) for family prayer. We call my husband on speaker phone and he, my son, daughter and I thank God for His many blessings, and pray for many people and things. Over the course of 11+ years we have witnessed God answering those prayers time and time again! It is most touching on days like today when my daughter led prayer and asked for healing for a classmate of hers who has been absent because of a surgery. That girl may never know it, but 4 prayer warriors are praying for her, like we have prayed and believed for so many.

As we go about our day, let us not forget the power of prayer. Let your petitions be made known to God. He hears and answers prayers. Teach your kids this at an early age. Let them witness its’ power, that they may live a lifestyle and lifetime of prayer. Happy Friday y’all!! BE BLESSED!!!

On Turning 40… A Few Truths… And an Awesome Birthday Vacation!!!!

SO… Um…. When I was a teenager, I think I thought 40 was like “OLD.” And though my husband crossed the burning sands of 40 about 4 years ago, I have prided myself on still being in my 30’s… at least until about a month ago… 😨😨😨

So now I am 40. I’m 40. And things are indeed a bit different. Surely, I have the stubborn strands of grey that tend to crown (the most obvious) parts of my face… And the occasional chin hair… (Yikes!!) I have somehow, also become a natural fan of the skirt/shorts bathing suits, reading books opposed to TV, long walks, theatre, tea vs. coffee; occasional wearing of Spanx, kale smoothies for breakfast, old school music, flats over heels (and other logical beauty regimes vs. the more time consuming/expensive alternatives). It is amazing the insight and wisdom that comes over time. But I think there are a few ways my perspective has changed as well. And these are the changes I am super excited about:

  1. I have a desire to be more and more like Christ. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks about the decisions I make, or the marks of achievement I attain. At the end of the day, I want God to be pleased. And I am committed to that goal daily.
  2. My husband is my best friend. Though times are not always perfect, he has been by my side for 20+ years. We have built something so great together and our relationship is top priority to me.
  3. I have the great privilege and responsibility of raising my children. This time is so short yet so monumental. I am committed to not only teaching and telling them of the ways of God, but modeling and surrounding them with other examples of His goodness. It has never been the popular route, but I am SO ok with that.
  4. I do not govern my decisions or perspective by the status quo, what everyone else is doing, or what appears to be the majority vote. In most cases, the route the rest of the world is taking, I end up heading the 180 degree opposite direction and I love the fruit it is producing.
  5. Our bodies were built to last. If we take care of them, they will perform. Healthy food choices, full rest, regular physical activity and non-stressful days trump hospital visits, medication and surgeries ANY DAY. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle and I feel good.
  6. Beauty is not defined by a size, number on a scale, great outfit or hair length. We are made in the image of God. The love that fills my heart has permeated to the outside of my physical being. I am more beautiful now than ever and I feel radiant.
  7. And finally, FUN. Life is to be enjoyed!!! I do and will continue to incorporate fun and enjoyment in every single day of my life. No matter how great or small, I will enjoy the moments of this journey on purpose.

My husband knows all these things about me. In order to kick off my 40th birthday with a BANG, he took me on a surprise trip that included all of my favorite people, places and things. See pics below of the amazing time we had together!!! In the meantime, whether 20, 35, 55, or 100. I pray you regularly take stock of your awesome journey and enjoy every drip drop of it!!!!!

Here are a few pics from the 40th surprise birthday vacation:

(Las Vegas: Lionel Richie Concert at Planet Hollywood, Dinner at Caesars Palace, shopping at Fashion Show Mall, movies to see Fences)

(San Francisco: Rented a Mustang, drove the coast, walked the Golden Gate Bridge, shopping at Westfield Mall, Golden State Warriors Game… Steph Curry live!!!! Food, food and food…AWESOME!!!)

(Dallas: We went to the Cotton Bowl to watch my Alma Mater -Western Michigan University play!!! SO AWESOME!!! Stopped by Magnolia Market in Waco -AWESOME!!!! Met up with family and friends for dinner. Took the kids to see Hidden Figures – AWESOME!!!)

Had the time of my life!!!! I am super blessed!!!

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God is not Black or White…

God is not black or white, Democrat or Republican, Baptist or Catholic… These (and others) are labels created to separate His creation. He IS however, love not hate.

While some celebrate, while others morn, let us shed off the spirit of division and abide in a spirit of faith, hope and above all else, LOVE… Let it govern our thoughts, words, comments, posts, actions… and life.

What’s Wrong With a Lil’ “Rose Colored Glasses” Perspective??? A Practical Journaling Experience.

I remember back to 1999. I had just graduated from college, got married, bought our first home, started an AWESOME teaching career, and finally had a couple dollars in the bank!!!! I was on cloud 20!!!! Everything seemed to be perfect and I was only 22 years old!!!! Clearly, I was God’s FAVORITE child!!! ☺☺☺ Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, and for no known circumstance, “reality” sank in. I was inundated with 150 essays from my students, I had real live bills to pay, my house needed to be cleaned and repaired and of course my new otherwise “Jesus Jr.” of a husband started acting like a real live human!!!! 😣😣😣

WHAT HAPPENED???? I was DUPED!!! I had been bamboozled!!! I found myself constantly evaluating my circumstances only to be frustrated. Somehow the zeal of newness was overshadowed by the effort necessary to maintain this dream world. I found myself looking for people with whom to share my “grief”. I wanted someone to corroborate that I had sufficient evidence to prove how awful my overall situation was. OF COURSE, if you are seeking someone to sit with you in your stew, you will always find them.😟 Let me remind you, NOTHING, had happened to me. I hadn’t been sick, I didn’t have any real issue; the bills were paid, the cars were working, the house was fine… I was just… I don’t even know!!!! THEN, I came up with an even BETTER idea. Instead of venting my non-issues to my buddies, I would write them down each night. I would think about the things that happened in my day and vent them on paper…release them…get them out of my system for them to never return.  OMG!!! What a RIDICULOUS idea!!! It actually made things even worse. I stewed in my own mess and rolled around in it and smeared it all over myself and I quickly gave life to my very own nighttime drama.

Thankfully, God rescued me from my SUPER HOT MESS and gently told me THIS:  focus on the things that are lovely, that are pure, that are good. Put the magnifying glass on the great things happening in my life, not the storms, the issues, the yucky stuff. (Cue trumpets, strings, timpani’s)🎺🎺🎺 It was like one of the greatest epiphanies of my life!!!! It literally changed EVERYTHING!!!

I went out the next morning and found the most beautiful “notebook” I could find. One that was inviting. Inspiring. And that night, I started a simple list of the great things that happened throughout that day. I can’t tell you how it revolutionized my day. I made mental notes in my head of the awesomeness that surrounded me, and I couldn’t wait to record it in my book each night.

This small adjustment has governed my perspective. I can say that I just bought my 17th book in celebration of my 17th year of writing in my thankful journal each day. I have learned that no matter how tough things get, how challenging days can be, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS something good, something for which you can give thanks. If you are looking for a great New Year’s resolution, challenge, idea, or way to keep your perspective rosy… consider a thankful journal. There are too many awesome things happening in your journey to capture!!!! 😘

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SWIPER NO SWIPING!!!! A New Year’s Resolution Suggestion…

Looking for a great resolution for 2017????? What if: you decided that starting 2017 you will live debt free? What if you cut up your credit cards and decided to make all purchases with cash/debit/check only, got out of debt and stayed out???? Sounds difficult I know.

My awesome pastor taught a series at church WAAAAAY back in 1998 about living a life free of debt, maintaining a budget and basing your spending on one salary (after tithes and offering). Since 1998, my husband and I made the decision to tithe and give offerings faithfully, live on his salary alone and to not charge or finance another item ever again. With the exception of a mortgage, (we have a payoff plan for that too!!! Lol!!!) we have maintained those goals without compromise… not for a car, my master’s degree, furniture, vacations, jewelry, clothing… NOTHING. It took a TON of sacrifice, delayed gratification, buying used, and strategic budgeting… But I tell you, we have never missed a beat, never gone without and have gained the true freedom to do exactly what we are called to do.

Many people ask me how I retired at age 37? How we were able to pack up and build a home in the mountains, travel regularly, buy a brand-new car in cash, give generously, etc… It really doesn’t make much natural sense. My husband and I come from low income families. Both of us grew up on welfare. When people see us now, they would never know. I am careful to share our story with others because our success is not based on traditional methods of education, intellect, some great investing scheme. We didn’t collect an inheritance, win a settlement etc…

Simply put, His ways are higher than ours. We’re not perfect, and never claim to be. But He is… When we were led to live debt-free, we simply obeyed. And God simply provided. I dare you to trust Him with your finances… With EVERYTHING!!!! You will soar to places beyond your dreams!!! I hope this blesses someone today… Happy New Year!!!! 🙂