Posted in Faith

My story

I recently joined a women’s group at our church and was asked to give my testimony or tell my story to the group. It gave me pause…what is my story? I spent time thinking about it, but never put pen to paper because my story is 39 years in the making and I had 15-20 minutes to share it all. On the day I was set to tell my story I still had just a jumbled bunch of mental notes in my head. A friend of mine was working from my house that day and I shared with her this task and how I had no idea what I was going to say. [By the way, this is so unlike me. I was a Toastmaster for years and had gotten good at creating a story line, delivering my story with feeling and doing it on a time schedule. This task was different. I had never been asked to tell my Christian story before.] My friend asked me to tell her my story. I started with a bunch of excuses about why this story wouldn’t be what she expected, why I hadn’t prepared, why this was hard for me and being the great friend that she is – she didn’t even listen to that and pushed me to just start telling her my story. Once I started talking it was so easy to keep talking, and as I talked she would ask me questions that helped me edit as we went. I made notes and felt great heading into my women’s group that night. Now I’m going to share my story with you – should you read on. Remember God has a plan for everyone’s life.

One reason why creating my story was so hard was because I didn’t have this big turning my life over to Jesus moment. My mom started taking me to church from the week I was born. I was born and raised in Monroe, NC and we were members of Memorial United Methodist Church. As a child I was at church every time the doors opened. I was an acolyte and I sang in the choir. As I got older I got even more involved as an active member of our kids group who participated in bake sales, talent shows, sat in the infant room during church services. I had a great childhood in the church. I had made friends and people looked at me as a leader in the church from a young age and I loved it. However, as active as I was it was ceremonious not emotional. I went to church, read my Bible and sang the hymns because it was expected – I didn’t know of a relationship with this God and Jesus I read and sang about.

In middle school we started going to a small Baptist church right down the road from our house; Morgan Mill Road Baptist Church. Similarly, I got really involved quickly and did all the things. I made a lot of great friends and I did learn about the relationship that Jesus wanted to have with me, but there was still this mechanical feel to the relationship process – communion, pray, church, pray, be a good person and tell people about Jesus. I did it all, but I didn’t feel anything in return and was pretty sure that while I wanted to be all in for God, he had somehow forgotten about me or didn’t pay as much attention to me because I was already doing all the things. A group of us from church went to a Billy Graham crusade event in Charlotte and it was there that I first experience this heart shift. I felt the words that Billy Graham said. I prayed the prayers and sang the songs. I wanted more. Soon after that crusade event I started dating a guy who took me to a small Baptist church that was just getting started; Open Book Baptist Church. I was about 16 at the time. The first church building of this new church was small and white and held maybe 100 people if we were all sitting super close. It fanned the fire that the Billy Graham event had lit. I continued learning of a God that yearned for a relationship with me. Who loved me at all cost. Died for me even. There was enthusiasm across the congregation, hands were raised in praise, people prayed at the alter in together lifting each other up, I got baptized. I loved it so much that I invited my mom and sister to come with me. [Note: In all my years my dad never went to church with us besides the occasional Christmas service or to watch me or my sister perform.] My mom and sister started coming. We all joined this church. My sister and I were very active in the youth group, choir, we sang during the worship service. In my walk with Christ this church opened me up to the relationship that was there and I pursued it.

I went to college and attended a small church on campus a couple of times, but came home as often as I could in large part to go to church. My mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer right after I started college. She fought for years and members of the church were by our family’s side the entire fight. When my mom died I went to the funeral in that same church and read a poem I had written for her before she died. [Side bar: My freshman year in college, I had met a friend on AOL Instant Messenger that I’ve never met in person who read my poem, printed it and had autographed by Thomas Kinkaid at a gallery showing in his home town. My mom’s favorite artist was Thomas Kinkaid and that poem meant so much to her not only because I wrote it, but because he signed it. She cried the Christmas that I gave it to her.] When we left church following the hearse I knew it would be hard to go back. It took months before I actually crossed the threshold again. My mom and I had sat in the same pew of that same church for years. Now that she was gone how could I sit there without her? I did go back. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. During the meet n’ greet portion of that first church service back, two women noticed me and came up to hug me and tell me how much they loved that I was there. One of them said “Emily, you really should start coming back. We miss you and don’t want you to go to hell.” The other lady agreed with a constant head nod. It took the breath out of me. Yes, we went to a hell fearing church. Yes, you should know that if you don’t give your life to Jesus that there is a hell that you should be scared of. I know these women meant well, but not coming to church was not reason to not make it through the pearly gates based on my Bible and I’m pretty sure we read the same one. It turned me off.

I didn’t go back to church for years. I married a guy that provided an outlet for me to escape. He didn’t go to church and didn’t care that I didn’t either. The day we got married I knew that this was not the relationship I was meant to be in. He passed out from too much alcohol that night and I went to my mom’s grave in tears because I knew that I shouldn’t have done it. I told her (my mom) that I would try and make it work because I knew that God disliked divorce and I didn’t want to be adulterous if it didn’t. I tried for 2 years to make it work and it just didn’t. He wasn’t abusive or anything – it just wasn’t where I was meant to be and I knew it from the start. So I filed for divorce. I didn’t want to waste any more of his time or mine. We had no kids or possessions to split. I left. I took all of our debt with me because I thought it would be easier and I just wanted out. I worked my butt off for years to pay-off that debt and save money for my first month’s rent and deposit for an apartment. I slept on friend’s couches until I saved enough money for that first apartment. His family sued me…..the divorce was so much harder than the actual married part – but it was the right thing to do.

I started going back to church with some friends of mine and was really enjoying the experience, but it was different. It wasn’t home for me. I reached out to an old boyfriend of mine from college who left a deep mark on my life and we connected again. Years passed. That rekindled romance turned into marrying the love of my life. My husband has read the Bible cover-to-cover (something I still haven’t done), and studied the Bible often, but he hadn’t found a church that would foster his desire to study the Bible. Praying and reading the Bible together aren’t part of our norm, but the desire to find a church was growing in our relationship now that we had 2 adorable kids ages 4 and almost 3 at the time.

When my daughter was born I had this desire to go to church, but didn’t want to push my husband into an environment where he wasn’t comfortable. He’s an introvert and isn’t comfortable in attending church for the sake of community. He wants to attend church for the Bible study. My daughter’s birth also made really internalize the example I set. My mom had been such a great example for my sister and I. She never told us what to do or what to say, but acted and spoke how she wanted us to so that we could see the example. Her actions spoke louder than words. I was in my early 20’s when my mom passed away – far too soon for anyone to lose their mom. My dad wasn’t really involved in my upbringing as I recall – so with a new daughter of my own I had no one to ask “Did I do this?, “Is this normal?” I desired the community that a church would provide, and I prayed that God would help us raise Madison knowing Him while we figured out how we would incorporate faith into our family.

When my son was born the desire to find a church grew for both my husband and I, and we started talking about it conversationally from time-to-time. About a year ago we committed to visiting churches around Charlotte to see if we could find one, and we did! We’ve been going to Forest Hill Church (Southpark location) for nearly a year. I have found community in my women’s group of course, but also in neighbors that attend the same church and friends at work who I’ve learned attend the same church at different locations. When my son was 2 we had a really tough season. He wasn’t talking and used his hands and mouth to communicate (pinch, push, bite). My son at 2 was heads and shoulders taller and much stronger than many kids in his same daycare class. Now at nearly 4 his favorite character is the Hulk – go figure. But I say all of that to say that a neighbor who we ran into at church reached out to me and welcomed me into her home, allowed me to cry and share my frustrations with the system and desires for my son – she shared information about a similar situation with one of her sons, prayed with me and still checks on me from time-to-time and now we’re on the other side. I mean, we still have to talk about how Hulk can’t smash every thing, every where, but he’s talking and can at least respond and tell us that he understands what we’re saying. I love the community that we’ve found in our church and I’m excited to watch my kids grow in this environment. My son talks about Jesus every day. Every. Day. My daughter got to thank a guy who leads worship at our church for making a song that she sang to herself one day when the bus let her off without a parent at the bus stop and she tried to cross a busy road by herself. She said I just kept singing “I won’t be afraid, the Lord is with me.”

I’m really excited about this faithful life we’re fostering. We’re not perfect by any means – far from it, but I know that I have a God that I can lean on when things are hard or when I don’t understand. I can ask him to reveal things to me. He wants me to lean in on him. Quick short story. As we were looking for a quick daycare change for my son a couple of years ago now – I was in a dark, dark place. Daycare waiting lists in our area are years long in most cases. I work full time which includes some travel. I’m a type A perfectionist at work and this whole abrupt daycare shift was big and for weeks I had felt like I was failing at being a mom and at work…it was too much. On the night after my son’s last day of school at his former daycare I cried out to God in the middle of the night after my family went to sleep. My heart was so heavy with fear and uncertainty of what Monday would bring that I couldn’t take it any more. I got out of bed and went into my son’s room and cried out loud go God.

My prayer was something like: God, I have no idea where Cole will go to school next week, how can I work from home with a 2 year old needing my constant attention? Please God – make a way for us. Take this burden from me because it’s too much. I need to know that my son has a place waiting for him where he’ll thrive, not just survive the day; and Lord, if my day needs to look different than it does today please give me sight to see how I can make it work. Lord, please make this whole situation better.

On Monday of that next week I had calls from 3 (THREE) daycares that had immediate openings for Cole. They were all part-time daycares which would mean that my day would look different, but there were 3 places for my son. I took the day off work and toured all three. I enrolled him in one across town that same day and he is THRIVING. In less than a year he is talking so much, knows his shapes and colors, is starting to write and he’s not even 4 yet. God made a way. I’m not saying that my side of the equation was easy. I had to have some very real conversations with my boss about how daycare was across town and didn’t open until 8:15am and how I would need to take a later lunch to pick him up and I still needed to find a part-time nanny to watch him in the afternoons, but it’s all worked out and I’m learning to not feel the need to take on 100% of the burden, but to ask God to help me – and he does 100% of the time. I’m learning a lot about myself and changes that I need to make in my life in the process too.

God is so good. That’s my story to date. Keep checking back for more.

Posted in Planning

My Top 5 Podcasts Right Now

I’ve fallen in love with podcasts in the past few years and I’m going to share with you some of those podcasts that I tune into regularly. Before I list them I want to tell you that I don’t listen to podcasts for the entertainment value, but rather for the education. So, if you’re looking for a dramatic or theatrical podcast suggestion this isn’t going to be valuable information. I tune-in to listen to people smarter than me or steps ahead of me in something I’m interested in so that I learn from them. My time listening to any content is often limited to the 20 minutes or so of commute to drop kids off at school or when I workout. I’ll confess that sometimes I’ll slip out of the house for a walk or drive an extra block on my way home for a little more uninterrupted podcast listening time. We do what we’ve gotta do, am I right? Well without further delay here are the top 5 podcasts that I’m listening to today and why.

  1. Rise podcast by Rachel Hollis – When I learned about Rachel Hollis I was immediately obsessed and drank all the kool-aid in one gulp. I read Girl Wash Your Face, started Last 90 days, I write in my Start Today Journal, listen to the podcasts, have tickets for Rise in 2019….all the things. Rachel is that mom next door that you can actually relate to. She’s not trying to be better than you and isn’t trying to impress you. She’s living her best life and will push you to live yours. You will not be disappointed if you check out Rise or Rise Together which is the podcast she does with her husband Dave – they are gold together.
  2. The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher – I learned about Jenna a few months ago and when one of her titles is “professional napper” I knew we are part of the same tribe. I want to be a professional napper so bad. Oh, and the website for her podcast is all notebooks and planners and pens and that’s so me. She is a queen at teaching others about branding and creating social spaces that invite interaction. While I’ve never met her personally (yet), she’s sold me on her being genuinely in this industry to serve others and I love that. She has this coastal vibe that invites you in and has this calming effect on your soul. I could listen to her for hours. I hope you’ll take the time to check her out.
  3. Ed Mylett Podcast – I learned about Ed in a recent Rise podcast (see #1 above) and was instantly drawn to his supportive nature and enthusiasm. Since having listened to Rachel’s appearance on his podcast I’ve been binge listening in my pockets of time. He has been giving 1,000% of himself to life and business and it has paid off 10,000%+. Ed brings you powerful motivation from so many angles; baseball, bullying, entrepreneurial spirit, boxing – he uses his platform to give others a voice and fan the flame of what ignites change in us – ALL OF US. Ladies, his website is masculine and a lot (not all) of his guests are men, but the messages are for ALL OF US, and P.S. I can actually share stories about guy-stuff with my husband and his friends and they are impressed I even know some of these names…just putting that out there.
  4. Tony Robbins Podcast – I mean, how could I have a list of educational, motivational, inspirational podcasts that doesn’t include Tony? Finding your why, breaking free from stress, understanding different personality types, ending harmful relationships, how to innovate….Tony is no-non-sense and pushes the right buttons to get us beyond the superficial excuses we tell ourselves to not dig deep and make progress. Progress is the goal, right?
  5. School of Greatness by Lewis Howes – Lewis Howes I had heard was a professional athlete turned podcaster, but boy was that a bad descriptor. He lives to serve others not use his history has a professional athlete as his platform. Check him out. He believes a life well lived is more important than any money or possessions you may accumulate. He brings names you’ve heard of with stories you didn’t know they had to the table and I find it captivating. Alicia Silverstone talks about self-worth, Tony Hawk talks about creating legacies. With more than 700 episodes, there is SO MUCH CONTENT for you to listen to on topics relating to health, relationships, business, inspiration and more. Guaranteed there’s more than one thing in this podcast library you’ll find fascinating.

I hope this was valuable and maybe you learned about someone new or will learn something new from the podcasts these folks are putting out for you. The listening is easy, the work is the hard part. Enjoy the listening (and learning)!

Thankful for you

In this season of Thanksgiving I want to thank you, the readers of my blog. While this blog is still so new, you take the time to read it and give your thoughts and feedback on the content. More content will be coming in 2019 as we start rolling out series of content with a common theme and I hope you’ll stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I hope that you take the time to count all your many blessings and tell those near and far how thankful you are for their contributions to your life. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Posted in Planning

Owning Feedback

Emily, you are such a great speaker, but your content today missed the mark.

Oh my gosh. She thinks I’m ignorant. I worked so hard on this content and I’m not sure how she missed my point. Was she even listening? She never says these things to anyone else. Why does she pick on me so much?

Hold on!!!! Maybe I over thought the assignment. Maybe I made assumptions rather than seeking clarification before creating my content. Maybe just maybe she’s not picking on me but has me in her sights for promotion, and wants to see me step up my game. Maybe she knows I can do better – heck, maybe I know I can do better, but I was traveling this week, my kids are sick, and I had these other things put on my plate so this didn’t get the attention I had anticipated.

It is what it is, right? I gave a speech or a talk and the feedback I received was less than glowing.

Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you aren’t a speaker, but you received feedback on a body of work you created. When you hear the word “feedback” does it make you shutter a little? It makes me shutter a lot. I have worked for YEARS to create a reputation for myself in the program and project management space. I want my customers to know that if my name is attached to it that it will be done right and on time. If I agree to something or someone entrusts something to me to complete then I show up. Hell will freeze over before it’s not done or worse – done wrong.

There is a flip side to receiving feedback and one that I hope you will try to embrace. If you can, look at feedback as a gift rather than a direct assault on your character. Feedback or rather a response to any intellectual property you create and share with others – is just that – someone’s opinion. It doesn’t validate you as a person. It doesn’t reflect anyone else’s opinion of your work. It doesn’t have power unless you allow it to.

Next time someone wants to give you their opinion of something you shared with them I want you to fight the instinctual response to take defense. Don’t immediately respond with all of the reasons why you did it the way you did it. Don’t start talking about the other people that you consulted or had review your content before you shared it. Don’t make excuses for why you didn’t have the time to polish your content. None of that matters to your audience.

(Note: I have to make an assumption here that you aren’t on a performance improvement plan or that this feedback doesn’t come after the 4th iteration of you trying to get this right.) The person providing you feedback took their time to listen to your talk or review your content. They had a laundry list of other things they could have been doing instead, but they showed up for you. Their feedback or ideas for changes are a gift. This person is providing you with the opportunity to make your work even better. Thank them for taking the time to hear you out or review your work. Ask questions. Provide them with how you are going to use their feedback to make changes; or not. Let me repeat – OR NOT.

If the person providing you feedback is your supervisor, project manger, or the person who assigned you the work – then their insights are absolutely valuable and should be considered and incorporated. Maybe the person providing feedback has limited knowledge of your role or the project and they are offering you an unbiased opinion as a completely independent third party. Maybe they’re your friend. Maybe they don’t know the details of the assignment (style requirements, assignment details). Thank them for their time and respectfully consider their comments. They may have ideas that you nor your team would have thought of that could take your work to the next level. If not and if their feedback isn’t applicable then don’t dwell on it. Move on.

I won’t belabor this point, but it’s natural for us to take a defensive stance when we feel that we have let others down or that other’s perceptions of our work is less than exceptional. Accept feedback in all forms with an attitude of gratitude. Believe that the comments come with the commenter having the best interests of you, your team, and your project in mind. Fix/augment/revise content as needed to make it the best it can be, but when feedback isn’t valid, don’t take it to heart. Don’t give it power.

*Featured image by Comic House.

Posted in Planning

Reasons for Inaction

The single fastest and best way to build a reputation is to take action; to do something. Not doing something is in fact doing something. Have you ever wanted to do something, but shied away because you didn’t feel you had the prior experience, know-how, or reputation? Let me tell you a little secret – you can do anything with NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE. Guaranteed. Your reputation for being organized, a doer, risk-taker, problem solver can pave the path and open doors for you that you never imagined. I’d also add that your actions need to align with what you want to be doing. If your mission in life is to have a blog and you have no time on your calendar to blog,  then you aren’t ever going to be a blogger. Maybe you’ve filled your days, weeks, years up with work that is helping someone else achieve their goals – the company you work for, your kids, your church, your community. It’s wonderful that you are so generous with your time, but you need to make time to fulfill YOUR dreams. This world will be a lot better place with your contributions.

Take out your calendar right now. If your work and life calendars are separate put them both up side-by-side with a view of the entire month. Same month folks. Take a gander. Look across the days and weeks – those 4-5 short weeks of each month. Does your calendar align with your dreams, plans and priorities? Do you see time blocked for actualizing YOUR dreams or are you making time to fulfill someone else’s dream? Are you on a diet or trying to save money, but have lunch or dinner plans with friends 3+ days per week? If you were to bucket your calendar invitations and reminders into categories would those categories align with creating the life you wan to live?

Life is passing us by so fast! It’s November. When did that happen?!?!? If you’re a New Year resolution type of person are you on track for having achieved those bold goals you set for yourself as the clock struck midnight on January 1? Say you’re not a resolution type of person, but you created a vision board. Maybe you created a bullet journal spread with a grid of thousands of blocks to color this year for new habits you were cultivating. Maybe your dreams are stuck to a Pinterest board. Wherever they are – they are out there. Are you honoring those dreams? Drink more water, make it to the gym more, pay-off your car, read the entire Bible, run a marathon. So many big things had the potential to happen this year. Did you turn that potential into reality? If not, let’s dive into some reasons why. Why don’t people take action on their dreams?

Reason 1: You’re too busy. Visualize all of those calendar invites on your calendar as sand. Weekly “stand-up meeting” with the team to discuss work that needs to be done. Touch base with your supervisor on performance. Mac n’ Cheese competition and draft beer festival. Parent/Teacher conference. Annual mammogram. Women’s group. Reminder to buy Metallica tickets. Gym. Time blocks for blogging. These are just a few gems from my very own calendar over the past few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, some of these calendar holds are important. Some are time blocks set aside for me to show up for someone else, some of them making time to show up for YOU (you’re reading the blog post, thank you). Some of these calendar holds are not value-add and are not the best use of my time. If you poured all of your sand (calendar invites) into a vessel, would you have enough space to add those bigger milestones that need to happen as you work toward your dreams? Do your little grains of sand make a sand castle when they are all together? Or are they so scattered that they really don’t make any impact on anything? Stop making yourself busy with work that doesn’t contribute to the greater good.

Reason 2: You don’t know how. This is an excuse and a crappy one at that. You’re reading this blog which means you have access to the internet. You can Google, Bing, Ask Jeeves anything under the sun and get FREE information on how to turn your dream into reality. Want a tutorial on how to create a plan in Microsoft Project? Free on YouTube. Want a printable for making a cute, action-oriented calendar? Free on Pinterest. Want a training program for running a marathon with no previous running experience? Free on Runner’s World magazine’s website. Want a real good recipe for apple butter? Free on this here very blog (Food tab). As my girl Rachel Hollis says, in a world with so much free information your ignorance is a choice.

Reason 3: You’re dreams aren’t big enough. Stay with me for a minute. Let’s say that you dream of paying off your credit card(s). You actually look at your statement. You consolidate what you can to a lower interest rate, and you create a real life budget. Great job! The first month you pay all of your bills and what little is left over you put towards your debt. Month after month you chip away at it little by little. Over time maybe you start to reflect on the things you feel you’re missing out on. Maybe you feel like this is taking FOREVER…. It’s certainly not as much fun being fiscally frugal in the hopes of paying off a credit card or two as it was running up the debt on those cards buying stuff you can’t even remember.

Now, make that dream of paying off your credit cards bigger. Bigger than just not owing banks money. Bigger than feeling fiscally and emotionally drained at the end of the month when the money has run out. Take that dream and magnify it as big as you can. Say…..your dream is financial freedom. Financial freedom is not just not owing the banks money. Financial freedom is having actual dollars in your savings account. Having money saved for retirement. Having the money to travel when you need to or want to without feeling like you have to save for it or sacrifice something else. Having enough money to live comfortably and share your generosity with others. Having the freedom to be able to pivot and change course knowing that you’re okay. Now make a plan to make this bigger dream a reality and the pain associated with the sacrifices won’t sting quite so much. I believe that if you get beyond what you know needs to happen (paying off the credit card(s)) and get to true longing of your heart (the bigger dream) then you’ll have the fortitude to create a plan – and stick to it – that will get you to your ultimate goal faster. Those short term sacrifices that need to be made for you to reach your dream won’t be a drop in the bucket because you have your eyes on the bigger picture.

Reason 4: You’re embarrassed. Recently I saw an Instagram post by Brendon Burchard (@brendonburchard) that really struck a cord with me. It was something to the effect of it not being real fear that you’re feeling, but rather you’re embarrassed to have those around you see you start small. Does that ring true to you? Man, it sure did to me. I used to blog years ago and had created quite the following, but 2 kids and a different job later it had been more than 2 years since I had posted any content. I literally deleted the entire site one day in an episode of frustration and self-loathing. I can still hear the internal monologue today…”It’s been years since anyone’s seen anything from you, no one follows this blog any more, no one wants to hear from me. How many mom bloggers does the world need?” It was pathetic. All of the content that took me years to curate was gone with the click of a button. *Poof*

Fast forward nearly 3 years and I get this idea to re-create an outlet to put my voice out there. I ignore and push it away for nearly 8 months and then for 2 months I resign to not having time for it, but the thought won’t go away, and it starts showing up everywhere. That internal self-sabotaging voice crept back in. “You’re ridiculous. You’ll never have the followers that you did on your last blog. You have no content. When exactly are you planning to do this? Your friends and family have seen you try and quit this same thing before, they aren’t going to follow you down this path again.” (Sidebar: I really dislike this voice in my head.) I was embarrassed, not only at my having deleted my previous blog and all of it’s content, but at starting a blog/Instagram site/Facebook page with 1 post. I have some really successful friends and colleagues who follow me on social media. I can see them shaking their head or worse choosing to keep scrolling when they see this pop-up from me. Maybe I won’t share it on my social accounts, but let people find it organically. Emily, come on!

One night I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed this outlet in my life. That feeling was far stronger than the embarrassment holding me back from starting. I stayed up all night (no sleep) creating 1 logo, 1 Instagram post, 1 Facebook post, and 2 shares from my blog pages to my personal social media pages in hopes that some folks would be curious and click on the link. Oh, and that one link was me explaining my vision for the site and what I hope to offer you as the reader, it wasn’t actually value-added content. It’s been a few weeks since this site launched. It’s had 3 themes and while we don’t have 1 billion followers – we have more than 1. While this site isn’t yet exploding with content so rich that I need to add a search bar – it’s up and content is getting added all the time. 2 people even commented on different posts which means they actually read it. <insert audible gasp here>

Get this in your brain. Every new things starts from NONE. Every. New. Thing. Starts. From. None. When this was an idea in my head I had no content, no followers, nothing. Don’t be embarrassed to start small. Just start.

Reason 5: You’re the only one with this particular idea. That’s fantastic. Less competition. Please don’t tell me that you think because you are the only one with this particular idea that no one else will love it or appreciate it. Or <gasp> there won’t be a bunch of free information to follow on the internet (see Reason 2 above). This is a blessing. Having this idea that no one else has opens you up for creating more content and you’re the subject matter expert. Get the thing created and out to the people, then create the how-to, create the video demonstration, be the expert. This could be a new branding opportunity for you. This could be your way to monetize your hard work. This unique idea of your has a lot of potential and you need to take action on it. Come on.

Reason 6: Time is against you. Why start if you won’t have the time to dedicate to it? You know this better than anyone. You make time for the things you want to make time for. If you don’t want to do something you’ll find every excuse to not have to do it. On the other hand, if you have a true calling on your heart to make something happen then you will move heaven and earth to bring that body of work to life. Call a spade a spade. Time isn’t the issue. Your embarrassment of starting small, lack of focus or lack of initiative are what’s truly driving your inaction.

There are so many more reasons why people don’t take action. Most of them are excuses. Heck, even some of the reasons I have above are excuses. Bottom line if you have a calling on your heart to do something, you have every reason in the world to find out how to make that calling a reality. Let’s go! Get to work!

Follow me

I hope you’re having an awesome day! If you like what you see here, please follow Power in the Plan and tell your friends. I have lots of new exciting content coming soon. If you have ideas of things you want my thoughts on shoot me a message on my Contact page. Talk soon.

Posted in Planning

Save yourself. Get out of the fray.

I have been in a season of churn and burn for what feels like years. Managing a multi-million dollar contract, having 2 school-aged kids with schedules of their own (that no one coordinates with my schedule mind you)… I’m also over here trying to develop personally, professionally and spiritually….it seems too much sometimes. More often than not I have a tendency to feel like I’m failing at everything. Have you ever felt that way?

Over these past months I’ve learned so much and so much of what I’ve learned is that the “work” is always going to be there and *NEWS FLASH* I don’t have to do all of it! Read: YOU don’t have to do it all. Seems so simple, but when you’re in that chaotic surf, crashing into rocks and gulping water it’s hard to see the many lifelines rolling on top of the waves waiting for you to grab hold. Here are some of the life lines that I look for when it seems like I’m doing all I can to tread water:

  1. Ask for Help: People want to help. Your friends, family, co-workers. I believe they genuinely do, but you HAVE TO ASK FOR IT. Believe me, I’m giggling to myself as I type this out. It’s so hard for me to feel like I need to pull anyone into the fray with me if I can just work harder or faster or longer – what’s wrong with me – why is this so hard?!?!? Take inventory of what needs to be done, sort by due date and those things that don’t have to be done by you, ask someone to help you out – even if it’s just part of the overall job. I guarantee that the final product will be so much better by letting someone else provide a fresh perspective. Think about it. Will this body of work be better if someone helps you make this project the best it can be with a new and different perspective or you pushing through without 100% to give it. BONUS: That person that you ask for help may learn something along the way that they can add to their toolbox, OR BETTER YET they may find that they actually loved helping you with it and want to start focusing on it. Then you can start sharing more of that very thing with them.
  2. Let go of Control: This coincides with #1 above and similarly is so hard to do for those of us Type A, control freak personalities. Can I share with you that this work or whatever it is that has you feeling like you’re drowning won’t follow you into eternity. It was constructed as a temporary fix to a temporary problem in this life. Try your best to put this task or obstacle into perspective with the rest of the world and the rest of the things in your life that mean something to you. Give it the attention it needs, but don’t go crazy.
  3. Wrap it up: Do you have something on your to-do list that has been lingering longer than 72 hours? Just get it done already! The longer that thing sits on your list the more anxiety it collects around it. No one likes waking up everyday remembering something they didn’t get done the day before. Be like Nike and Just Do It!
  4. What’s not getting done? When you have 40+ hours of work to complete in a 40 hour work week (or whatever your ratio of work to available time is) then I suggest you take 30-45 minutes to write it all down. {Tip: When I do this exercise I literally write it all down. I take an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and mark it into 4 quadrants and each quadrant has a list. My quadrants are Home, Kids, Me, and Work.

    My home list may look like charge the doorbell, make vet appointment for the dog, take down Halloween decorations, pay bills.

    My kids list tends to look like don’t forget teacher workday on Monday, Parent/Teacher conference on this day, PTA meeting 11/6, schedule Cole’s 4 year old doctor’s appointment, purge toys.

    My me list includes things like sign-up for Chili cook-off at church, write new blog post, order Rise ticket, make workout plan for the week.

    My work list includes submitting my time sheet, booking rooms for meetings, drafting contracts to get out for review, proofing edits of proposals, finish my development plan, finish quarterly review for my team.

    Maybe you need more than 4 lists or maybe you need a legal-sized sheet of paper. You do you! Get whatever materials you need and get it out of your brain and into the world. In each list highlight those things that are a priority in whatever color draws your attention to it. Beside those highlighted things write down when it needs to be done by and who owns it. Remember friend it doesn’t have to be you. You may not know who needs to own it, but it’s not you. For those things put a big “?” beside it. Tada! You now have a more concrete idea of what’s on your plate that you need to tackle and what you don’t need to give any more power to.

    For those things that you don’t need to do or own – have some conversations with the folks whose names you wrote down and let them know that this was on your list but you think it really belongs to them or that they are better suited and pass those things off. For those things that had the “?” beside them, talk to your supervisor, your significant other, or your kids and ask them for help in determining who can take those things from you. Be honest and genuine in what you do and don’t have the bandwidth to do and let them help. Communicate. Be the team you know you know how to be!

    For everything that’s left on your list un-highlighted and un-assigned…ask yourself: Do these things need to be done at all? Chances are if it made it to your list – someone put it out in the universe. If you put it out there is it still a priority if you didn’t highlight it? If you didn’t put it out there circle back to the person that did and get some clarity on their vision, who needs to own execution of it and the timeline.

  5. Seriously, make some “you time”: It may sound cliche’ and you are probably thinking to yourself “I’m reading this because I already don’t have enough time. How am I going to find extra “me time?” It is so important that you do. I recently heard a story that I want to share with you. Go with me on this visualization exercise for a moment. Pretend that you’re a glass vase. You are being filled up with water. In this analogy water = love. You are being filled up with love by those around you. As you start to feel your thirst for love quenched you start to tip yourself to the side to pour some love out on those around you who have been thirsting for your attention. You tip and tip and tip until you fall over and break. You can’t keep making yourself uncomfortable and pouring out on those around you while risking your own safety or you will break. Now, let’s look at this another way. You’re the same glass vase being filled up by love (aka water). You let yourself stand tall being filled with love and resist the urge to tip over. Collect as much as you can until your vase will hold no more. Do you know what happens when your vase becomes too full? That love starts to overflow. It naturally pours out of you to those around without you needing to do any extra work at all. You’re still just standing there; tall, strong and beautiful – oh and by the way, not a hazard for those that could fall into your broken glass. Let this sink in. Take time for you. Be intentional about it. Let those who support and care for you love on you, help you grow, and build you up. You stand tall and LET THEM! Soon enough you will be so full of love and energy that it will naturally pour out of you and onto those people and things surrounding you and work won’t seem like work any more. You’ll have watered the seeds that promote teamwork, business continuity and new life (read: innovation).

    You’re awesome and I want you to make the best decisions about how you spend your time and energy. Do great things!

Posted in Food

Apple Butter

Apples with scarecrowThere are few things in this world that say “fall” like apple butter. It’s one of my favorite spreads for toast. It’s great on pork tenderloin. I use it in butternut squash soup sometimes. It’s versatile and also makes excellent gifts for friends, family, teachers, bus drivers, etc.

For this recipe I used 6 lbs of apples (3 lbs of gala and 3 lbs of red delicious). Because both of these apple types are really sweet, I used a fraction of the sugar you’d normally use if you were using more tart apples like granny smith. I also canned some of my apple butter using the water bath method so that I can gift some this holiday season.


  • 3 lbs of gala apples
  • 3 lbs of red delicious apples
  • 2 c. white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 6 c. water

kitchen aid cutterI made light work of coring and peeling my apples by using the spiralizer adapter for my Kitchen Aid mixer. This tool is quite the handy helper when you’re staring at 6 lbs of apples. It also slices them really thin which helps speed up the amount of time it takes to boil the apples to tender.

apples cookingDirections: Add apples and all other ingredients to a large heavy pot. Boil until apples are tender; about 15-20 minutes. Once the apples are tender use an immersion blender to blend apple mixture to smooth texture. There may be some small apple lumps and that’s okay. Blend until it’s the texture you’re looking for. I personally like little chunks remaining. Continue simmering the apple mixture until it thickens up. If you spread a small amount of your apple butter on a chilled plate, it should hold and not run off the plate. That’s it! Your kitchen should smell amazing and you should have a healthy batch of apple butter ready for eating.

Above I provided a hyperlink for water bath canning. Can some to have apple butter available for gifts or throughout the rest of the year. I also usually put some in a fridge-safe container for immediate consumption.

final apple butter

Posted in Faith

My Jesus is Alive

Recently we had a visitor from Elam Ministries come to our church and talk about how Christianity is spreading like wildfire across Iran. Despite fear of arrest, persecution, and even death people are finding a God that is alive and actively working to grow His kingdom. I hope you’ll take some time to listen. It should be posted on my church’s On Demand section of the website.  The date was October 28, 2018 in the Power and Influence series.

In one example our speaker talked of a woman who had been arrested because she was spreading the message of Jesus. She had planted 6 churches with a 7th on the horizon. While jailed she was approached by someone (presumably a guard at the prison) who asked her about Jesus saying that his god was dead, but he had heard that her’s was alive. Let me say it again. He had heard that her God was alive. Isn’t that amazing?!?!

I don’t pretend to know about Islam or Muslim religions or customs, but the power and emotion that came of hearing that others are seeing our God – my God – actively working in the lives of people today struck me. In my women’s Bible study recently, one friend spoke of how it took her a long time to come to terms with the fact that the Bible is a story of real people and real events that happened. Isn’t it easy sometimes to minimize the power of an event because you weren’t there to witness it? A friend tells you how amazing a concert was and you totally believe them, but while you’re happy for their wonderful experience you can’t appreciate the power of that experience. In Luke 7 Jesus shows extreme compassion for a woman known in her community to be a sinner (aren’t we all?). While I know this story to be true because I believe the Bible to be true in it’s entirety, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around how this woman felt as she was kissing and anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume and Him and forgiving her sins because He could see how repentant she was through the love she was demonstrating. So much love and grace in a single room. It had to be emotional and powerful.

The people in Iran are hearing of this power and are seeking Jesus out. As our speaker noted, their hearts are hungry for truth. So much so that while illegal to meet at a church, or have a copy of the Bible, or follow Jesus – people are texting their friends and fellow followers of Christ and conducting church from cars while they drive around the city for 1-2 hours praising Jesus, reading the Bible and praying. For those that have homes they are inviting others to come in to have church. There are even stories of people accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and having parties to tell their families and friends about him. Can I repeat that this is dangerous for them? It’s illegal. But they know in their heart of hearts that they’ve found something that they have to share; illegal or not.

Here in the states, we often take for granted freedom of religion and the freedoms we have to congregate in mass to worship and celebrate a risen Savior. The miracles that Jesus is performing every day aren’t on Facebook or Instagram so we don’t see or hear about them. Hearing these stories of what is happening in Iran got me fired up. I have the opportunity everyday to sing His praises, to tell others about Him and yet I often only sing when I’m alone and I don’t share Him with others when the greatest gift I could ever give anyone is an eternal life in Heaven.

Honestly, even as I type that I shutter a little. What will my friends think if I start talking about Jesus and asking to pray for them? What will my family think if I start demonstrating actions that don’t align with how I’ve acted in the past? Truth is I am a different person then I was even yesterday. Each moment of each day provides us with the opportunity to do something new, something different. I’d encourage you to think long and hard about those people that don’t want you reaching for new, better versions of yourself and are happiest when you are the same person day-after-day.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

The people of Iran (and I’m sure there are other countries) are literally fighting to learn about Jesus, and here I am wondering what people will think of me if I even talk about Him. Let that soak in a little bit and think about what you can do today, this week, this month to celebrate the Jesus that died for you so that you can have everlasting life. The Jesus that took all of your sins on His shoulders so that you wouldn’t have to bear the weight of a lifetime separated from His perfect love. He loves you and me so much. What will we do or risk to share Him with others?