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Don't Hide. The World Needs You.


Many changes have come to my family over the last several months. The changes have brought new opportunities and awakened old fears. 

Surely there is no way to accomplish all that this current season of life demands of me. I will fail someone. I will miss some important detail. I will make mistakes. This truth makes me afraid and echos the voices that say "You are not enough." 

With this, I have found myself seeking a hiding spot. Somewhere I can go and be unnoticed. A place to blend with my surroundings. And from there, I will quietly do my tasks. 

Have you found yourself here before?  Then let's hear this together:


"Don't hide. The world needs YOU!"

Dear One of a Kind:

We, the world, need you. We aren't seeking perfection. We are seeking authenticity. We need your story. We need your talents. We need you to shine. 

Signed,
The World

Go ahead.  Let this current season of life strip away all that shadows the inner beauty that you've been trying to hide. 

Need some encouragement to start? 
Check out this post to motivate you. 
Then enjoy this powerful song from Mercy Me.    




Use the comments section below to share how you will shine. 




I Took A Step Towards Freedom, Will You?

Here it is.

The first video blog of my blogging history. Another step in my freedom journey, but more importantly it is an invitation for you to step out and experience freedom for yourself.



Comment below and let me know what step towards freedom you will take this week!

Why Being Overlooked Might Not Be So Bad


Have you ever been overlooked?

If you have, maybe you have felt that it isn't fair especially if someone undeserving received what you were after.  You can’t understand it.

Recently I heard a story about this very thing. The story was about a man named Zacchaeus. I have heard the story many times before, but this time it made a different impression.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Back in his day that meant he was basically the scum of the earth in the eyes of the common people. He cheated them out of money and caused oppression to their families.

Then one day a well-known man walked into town. Everyone was trying to get an audience with him. Zacchaeus being vertically challenged climbed up into a tree to get a sight of this man who was being swarmed by the crowds. The man looks up above the crowd and sees Zacchaeus in the tree. He calls for him to come down and says “Zacchaeus, I will be dining at your house tonight.”

The crowd was taken back. Shock entered their hearts and mind. Displeasure over the decision was made known. How could this man, whose name was Jesus, in all his righteousness eat with the sinner of all sinners!

Ever felt like this? Your righteousness overlooked. Oh come on admit it! We all get a case of the “It’s not fair!”

I can imagine the crowd’s heartbreak! But something amazing happened that evening at dinner. Because of his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus had a heart change. He even vowed to repay the people he had cheated 4 times what he had taken from them! Not impressed?

Let this speak to you: Maybe when you feel overlooked God is actually working something much greater to your good.

You see not only did Jesus, by His grace, change the heart of Zacchaeus, but He also provided justice to those Zacchaeus had cheated.


Think about it, maybe God is working out a blessing for you by showing grace to someone else! 

Jeremiah 29:11(NLT)

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Ever Been Questioned? Let It Make You Better Not Bitter.


You are wrong! The three words everyone longs to hear.

No? You don’t actually like those words. Whew! Me either nor does the majority of our society.  The evidence is everywhere. It is called the status quo. You do what the leader says and don’t ask questions.

We instill this in our children from an early age with the words “because I said so.” Then send them off to a place of learning where, if you are lucky, the routine agenda continues and everyone wants to be like everyone else.  

Then there is adulthood where most of us are stuck. Day in and day out the routine continues. The goal? To be on top. The problem? You have no idea what the top means and where it is for you. It’s when the status quo empties you that you start to question:  Who am I? Is there more to this life? Did I choose the right path? What do I believe and why?  

And yes questions mean that someone (quite possibly me) will be offended. It’s because your questioning is easily mistaken for those three little words used in the opening. You are wrong.

Don’t believe me? Parents, let your child question a decision you made or an instruction you gave. Employees, let your boss question your performance on your latest project. Leaders, let your team question your vision (ouch!). Wives, let your husbands ask what you did today.  Husbands, let your wife question the process of that DIY project that you’re doing.

Do you hear it yet? You are wrong! You are wrong! You are wrong!

And you thought this was a blog for encouragement.

Well here goes. The encouraging conversation I had with myself:
Stop hearing the questions as an attack, even if they are. Instead, be kind to listen. Be generous to explain. Be teachable, knowing you don’t have all the answers. Be brave enough to stand in the storm, and bold enough to fail. Be wise and choose your battles.  Be patient so that in time you may realize success. Be humble to admit fault and praise others often.

And then there was this last thing:
Stop hindering your children from questioning. Instead, take time to hear their heart and to share yours. Allow them room to discover the wonders of this life because coloring inside the lines is overrated. Allow them freedom to question and confirm their beliefs about themselves and God.  Then create a better story with your family. A story that tells of faith, adventure, and above all love.

A thought for you:
Jesus was questioned a lot. Many times with ill intention, but with every answer He was able to reveal more of Himself.  What a concept!

Will you join me in this challenge: When you’re questioned start hearing will you tell me a little more about yourself and your idea and stop hearing you are wrong!  


Comment below to let me know your joining! 

Child of God, Get Up!


We all fall down. It is a part of life. Sometimes we’re pushed, sometimes we trip, and other times we seem to throw ourselves to the ground. Regardless of the cause, there is an opportunity to get back up!

Get up and move forward. Use the time of struggle to teach you and strengthen you.  Don’t be defined by failure. Without failure we would never know success.

Reject the negative thoughts that tell you that you will never overcome this time. Or the ones that tell you to just give up. Or even the ones that torment you with what will everyone think.

Instead fill your mind with powerful truth: I can do all things through Christ. I am not condemned. I am more than a conquer.  

Is there a time that you have gotten up from failure? I would love to hear from you and let your story inspire others. 

The godly may fall seven times, but they will get up again.
    But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. 
                                                               Proverbs 24:16 


Feeling knocked down? 
Check out this video. Let the words sink deep into your soul: 

This is love calling out to the brokenness. 
One day you are going to shine again. 
You may be knocked down but not out forever.  
We lose our way, we get back up again. 
It never too late to get back up again.


"But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and 
when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.Luke 22:32 

It's time for somebody to get up and shine!


A Review of Seth Godin's book, Tribes – Top Ideas Any Leader Can Use

Recently I read the book Tribes by Seth Godin. I am convinced that Seth is a genius. He empowers all who will to lead. He has created a culture, a tribe if you will, to effected change whenever and wherever it’s needed. He celebrates rebel rousers with a cause, and inspires a good multitude of people to think differently about marketing their idea. As simple as some of the ideas in the book are, I am amazed at the profound roots they have.

Tribes is small book that should be a quick read, but if you’re like me, you will need time to absorb it and re-read sections. All this being said, I highly recommend anyone looking to gain influence to spread an idea read this. 

Here is a list of my SEVEN favorite ideas and quotes from the book:

“What most people want in a leader is something that’s very difficult to find: we want someone who listens.”

“Every leader is different. The very nature of leadership is that you’re not doing what’s been done before. If you were, you’d be following, not leading.”

Leaders don’t care about getting credit, they care about their mission, spreading the faith, seeing something happen.

“If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either.”

“It’s the world’s job to get you to be quiet and follow. The status quo is the status quo for a reason.”

“Caring is the key emotion at the center of the tribe.”

“Leaders make a ruckus”
___________________________________________________________

Now that you see the great stuff that awaits are you ready to read it? If so, leave a comment telling what you hope to gain from the book.

Have you read Tribes? If so, leave me a comment sharing its impact on you.

I’ll go first: I read the book because I want to be a difference maker, to crush the status quo, and leave things better than I found them.  Reading Tribes has given me great insight into how I can do that through my blog and Cool Table Ministries, a non-profit my husband and I started.


Can’t wait to hear from you! 

The Ugly Mark That Healed The Soul.

This is a post that I wrote earlier this year after a baseball incident left me with an unsightly mark. A mark that eventually helped cleanse and heal a part of my soul:

Life is full of surprises and sometimes you get a black eye. Literally. Like me, for example. I was sitting at my son’s baseball game chatting with other parents. The first batter stepped up. Foul ball right over the fence. It was headed to a group of moms to my right. I turned and yelled “heads up!” The ball never fell. What! Where had it gone?

Smack! It smashed into my right cheekbone. Instead of taking the course it was on, the ball hit a light post, ricocheted off, and found me.  It all happened so fast. Never did I see that playing out in such a way.

The next day, I was one colorful mess. There was an obvious fail written all over my face.  I would have to leave the house and be seen in public. Everyone would see this blemish. Embarrassment set in. What would people think? Should I tell everyone I meet what happened just so there were no assumptions?

I went about my day. There were some stares, odd looks, and a few moments of discomfort. Then at the end of it, I realized I still did life. I overcome the need to explain my blemish to everyone. I settled into the day not concerned with what others may think. After all, I held the truth. If they were really concerned, they could easily ask.

This experience got me thinking about the moments in life that give us a black eye figuratively. A broken relationship, a lost opportunity, a dream that didn't come to pass. Many times these things blindside us. They leave their planned course and crash into un-expecting souls like us.

When we come out of the daze caused by impact, we feel the sting of pain. There is a blemish left on the heart. And many times as with a literal black eye; fail is written on the face.  

The questions are the same. Will anyone notice? Should I just tell everyone so there are no assumptions?

There may be a temptation to hide away, but here is truth. We are more self-conscious about our blemishes (fails) than most of the world. And those who are concerned and choose to make assumptions rather than asking for truth, well that is drama that you didn't need in your life away!  

In life there will be black eyes, but you get to choose how you will respond. Will you get up and live or will you run and hide?


Let me hear your stories! 

When It Doesn’t Go As Planned, What Do You Do?

Has this happened to you? You find a topic, program, company, business idea or something that excites you. I mean, not only do you do a double take; you stop and gawk.

Passion rises up. You get filled with amazing confidence so you head out to share this awesome thing with others.  With all this passion and excitement you are assured of great victory.  There is no way you can fail. People everywhere will be on board. This is simply amazing!

Then, you show up, share,  and realize nobody gets it.  Some people in fact are passionate about something completely opposite.


What do you?


Really I am asking what you do. I want to hear your stories. 

Comment below.


Free From Condemnation


(Picture via Pinterest & Proverbs 31 Ministries ) 

If you have been condemned or felt unworthy to live out your life’s purpose, then you need to read this.

Let me start by saying that I understand.

Several years ago, I felt the sting of condemnation. It was a very dark time in life that I never planned for. In the midst of the darkness, I choked. I made some decisions that weren't God honoring. In my honest spirit, I made strives to own my mistakes and find resolve. Instead, Satan worked overtime. A bigger mess was made of the situation and my heart. 

It was at this time that words were spoken to me that said I would never be allowed to minister in my called capacity again.  I conceited. This person whom I respected, followed, and fought for was right. God would never use me.

I quickly stopped caring. I didn't have the energy or desire to fight the battle. And I certainly didn't care how others perceived me which, for a season, spawned a reckless and bitter woman.

Although the words and thoughts of condemnation often repeated in my mind, there was one thing that I couldn't escape. That was God’s love.

Don’t get me wrong I fought it. I have told Him how horrible I was. I recalled all my life’s failures one by one and often have gone back to the list to add more.

I cried out, “I’m unworthy.” 

He responded, “But I am perfect. I died for you. In your weakness, I am strong.”

Hear me when I say, the journey has been long. Not because God wasn't ready, but because I wasn't ready to believe Him. I chose to listen to condemnation. Thoughts that told me that although my God could conquer the grave, there was no way He could restore me.

Then I was reminded of two men. Moses and Peter.

Moses was a murderer. Yet God restored him, used him, and let glory shine through him.

Peter walked with Jesus. He saw the miracles. Listened to the teachings. Yet in a time of darkness, Peter denied Christ. Not once, but three times. 

What happened? After the resurrection, Jesus came to Peter, restored him, and told him to minister to the people (if you love me, feed my sheep). The result? In one day about 3,000 people believed in Christ because of Peter’s obedience to minister.

I am tired of living without purpose, aren't you? I mean we certainly have it. We have just chosen to believe that we can’t fulfill it.  We have chosen to believe that our shortcomings are stronger than God’s glory.  

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 
Romans 8:1 (NLT)

It’s time to hear truth. Allow Jesus to pursue you, restore you, and use you to fulfill His calling on your life.


In a New Season of Life? This May Help.

(Pic via Pinterest)


Relational development isn't my strength, but I’m working on it.

Most commonly, I am a person driven by accomplishment.  I love to do lists and checking off tasks as I go. It empowers me. It excites me. It energizes me.  I am not afraid of hard work and most of the time choose the hands-on tasks. I don’t mind getting dirty or trying to figure out the best route.

Figuring out friendships is a challenge.  Although I don’t have an agenda to selfishly gain, I still feel the need to accomplish something tangible. Thoughts and desires such as: What can we team up and do together? What can we learn from each other?  How can I serve you and make a difference? Is my time being well spent? What value is this adding to my family?

The balance between measurable accomplishment and relational development has left me in an unfamiliar place.  The rules have changed. For the time being, it is isn't about charting my progress on a to do list.  It is about what is happening on a level that isn't as easily measured. It’s about personal growth and development. Changes that can’t always been seen in the moment and can’t always be shared with the world.  It’s nothing that I can boast about or display a metal of accomplishment for. It is a quite change that requires confidence and trust in something much higher than myself.

And for me that confidence and trust hasn't come easily. It has been a battle. I want to be in control. I want to plan the route and watch it lead me into the promise. I want to say because of my hard work and wisdom, I have an abundant life. I want to be found worthy of success.

Here’s the problem: I have been more wrapped up in how people view me rather than how God can be famous through me. I have been striving to prove my worth rather than being confident in Christ. I had decided that work profits more than obedience to God.  Basically it boils down to a heart issue. The issue is that I would rather have self-glory than giving God glory.

As I have shifted from the comforts of an accomplishment driven life to learning more about relational development, I have felt lost. Each day I show up and put in work. A different type of work. Methods that I don’t understand and don’t seem to payoff. Yet I try to be obedient to Lord. Sometimes grudgingly obedient, not completely trusting His way. And yet it has happened. God has poured out encouragement, support, and finances from the most unlikely places.  He has made sense of the senselessness. He has shown evidence that my help truly comes from the Him, and it is better than anything that I could create in and of myself. I am learning to trust His ways rather than the voices that tell me to keep striving because I am not enough.

The revelation isn't complete. There is still so much work to be done in me, but it’s not about me. This is why I am sharing. It’s about the glory of God. He should be lifted high.

If you are constantly striving trying to find purpose in and of yourself, it’s time to stop. Seek the Lord, He will guide you. He will be your refuge and strength. He is the creator and giver of the heart’s desires. Lift up your eyes and find your help!


I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

We Need You. Will You Do Something?

In a post about comparisons I referred to a tipped scale. It is where we measure ourselves against others and it results in inaccurate conclusions. Today let’s further that and talk about why we have strengths. It’s a simple concept and will only take a moment. Our gifts and talents are there so that we can help others!

Did you catch that? Help others!

So in reality if we truly focused our strengths on helping others then comparisons could fade away. We would find unity. A community in which we all pooled our strengths to make things and people better. And our weaknesses? Oh yeah, those. They wouldn't scream so loudly because we would be focused on using our strengths. Plus the weaknesses we have would covered by the strengths around us.

How can you help someone today? How can you get out and do something to make a difference? 




A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 1 Corinthians 12:7


Have a Case of the Blahs? Show Up Anyway!

Here is a special post that was meant just for my writing journal; however after completing it I felt the need to share. Here it is. Me uncut and unpolished! 

It is another one of those days when I am writing just simply to check off the fact that I have written for my blog. Writing needs to be a daily discipline, but some days I have nothing awe inspiring, funny, or pointed to say. Some days I feel empty, and I wouldn't want to bore you with the details of the blahs. I am the helper. I don’t like to be the burden. I hope there is something one day to be said for showing up and putting in the work even when I don’t want to; when the road isn't exciting and the progress isn't rapid.

It is challenging to write something great when you don’t feel great. Seth Godin, however, made a powerful statement that I recently read. He said that to him, writing was like talking. He went on to say that he never woke up and forgot how to talk so he couldn't see how he would get “writer’s block”. He just writes. I guess to a point that is what I am trying to do. Just write and not worry about the profoundness of the writing. And just maybe there will come a point where the writing is productive. Where my thoughts turn to living a life of freedom. Where I could inspire you to push through even when you don’t feel like it.


So what is one thing that you should show up for even when you don’t feel like it? 

Do You Have What It Takes to Forgive?

The Issue of Forgiveness –

There has been a long lived confusion on the issue of forgiveness (well at least in myself). Some believe that we are not required to “forgive” until the offender turns from the offense and asks. Others believe that we forgive regardless the circumstances.

As a Christian, here is where I have landed on this issue:
I think more often than not it’s our idea of the meaning of forgiveness that causes the problem. 
Let’s look a little deeper.

Take Luke 17:3 for example: If a brother offends you, talk to him about it, if he repents then forgive him.

Ah ha, you say! I don’t have to forgive unless the person who offends me stops the offense and asks for forgiveness.

How about this statement found in Colossians 3:13: Forgive even as Christ forgave you.

Oh yeah! I hear the debate brewing. One side protesting “Christ didn’t forgive me until I asked for it!” The other side stammering back “He died for you before you even committed the first sin. So He really did forgive you before you asked.”

Oh man! I have wrestled with these verses too. 

Here is the definition of the word forgive from the Greek Lexicon: to let go; to free a debt (or your right to collect on that debt); to restore a relationship.

Now let’s wrap up!

In Romans 12:19, which reads, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God,” we are told to let go of our right to repay a hurt. Sounds like an act of forgiveness, right?

In Ephesians 4:31, we are told to check our own hearts, attitudes, and actions. It states:  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Ephesians 4:32 goes on: Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

This is a command on what our lives should look like, and we still can’t escape this idea of forgiveness.

The conclusion:
The ‘restoring a relationship’ type of forgiveness takes two people (the example I believe that is given in Luke 17:3) One willing to let an offense go and the other willing to ask that it be let go. Then there is the ‘release my right to collect on a debt or right a wrong’ type of forgiveness. It’s usually a one sided process. It starts with Romans 12:19 and us surrendering our desire for revenge. Then, it continues in Ephesians 4:31 with a personal appraisal and cleaning of ourselves. Finally, it is completed in Ephesians 4:32. This is where we are “as Christ”. Where we make a way.  A way for the offender to freely come and find a restored relationship.


Where are you with forgiveness? Have you been carrying the wrong responsibility? 

Spartan Up! A Day I Will Never Forget.

Have you ever set out on one objective seeking to accomplish a specific goal and find when you're finished you actually accomplished something even greater.

Here's a quick example: 

Recently, I ran a Spartan Race with my husband and a couple friends.

For my husband and I, the objective of the race was to have a fun day hanging out doing something different. Plus we thought it could only strengthen our relationships with those who joined us. Personal growth and relationship building. Score one for Team Kiefer! 

I had my fears. There would be hundreds of people. What if I failed an obstacle or just fell. How would I look? Would those with me see me differently? Would I lose respect? Did I have respect? Would I just leave my friends and seek my own agenda? It didn't matter I had to go. Thanks to John C. Maxwell, I have learned a thing or two about personal growth and this had to happen. 

Race day was like this: The weather was horrible. It was cold and rainy. The course was more muddy than ever expected. We couldn't get our footing to run because of the depth of mud and tracks from previous participants. The course was longer than expected. Then there was the barefoot walk back to the car where I could't feel my toes. 

Needless to say this wasn't our ideal day. That would have been more like sunny, 75 degrees, less mud, and the ability to actually run and/or feel our extremities.

Yet something amazing happened in me. I didn't care how I looked or how I finished. Our team was just that, a team. We were pushed to limits that we didn't know we had. We helped each other. Encouraged each other. Pulled, pushed, and lifted each other. At the end, my accomplishment wasn't merely some fun relationship building experience. It was actually a lesson in authentic relationships! 

Here was my takeaway: 

You don't have to be famous, perfect, or have all the answers to have great friendships because great friendships are less about how you perform and more about how much you care! 



Undeserved Kindness

One simple act of undeserved kindness could transform a life.

During a very dark and confusing time in my life I learned the value of kindness.  My life was chaos. The perfect picture of brokenness, and there it was, undeserved kindness.  An acquaintance reached out to me, took me to lunch, listened to my heart, and let me know she understood.  There was a sweet release in knowing my story wasn't finished. There were chapters to be written. Hope remained. And today as I walk in restoration and healing, I still remember her kindness.

Then there is the story of Zacchaeus. It was an act of undeserved kindness that changed him from a wealthy thief to a giver to the poor.

Kindness, especially the undeserved, softens the heart and lowers defenses. Practice it today. Smile big, speak kindly, and chose not condemn. You may just change a life while setting a part of your heart free in the process.

Have you experienced undeserved kindness? What did it do for your life?


Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.    Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Parenting Fail 101

“Saint Patrick’s Day.  All things Irish, gold, and green. Green! Did you say green?”

Yes that was me as I sat in the car line to drop my children off for school on Monday, March 17, 2014 (complete date just so we can always pinpoint the exact day this epic fail occurred). Not one stitch of green between the two of them. Oh, the pinching and mischievous little Leprechauns that would be chasing them all through the day.

I had to prepare them for the worst. I confessed that I had forgotten until that moment about Saint Patrick’s Day. Furthermore, neither of them had chosen an outfit with even the tiniest spec of green.

When my son realized the mistake he was a little disappointed. He then asked, “Why did we need to wear green anyway?”

Great question! I mean it is Saint Patrick’s Day. Come on! Everybody wears green on Saint Patrick’s Day. We don’t ask questions. We just do it!

My answer as smooth as butter (all natural, organic, unsalted butter that it), “I don’t really know. I know that Saint Patrick is credited with telling the people of Ireland about Jesus, but I don’t know about the green.” 

I’m not saying that green isn't significant. I am just saying that I truly and completely don’t have an answer.

So let’s recap: I forgot about Saint Patrick’s Day, sent my children to school with no green, and couldn't answer a simple question about the color green. And they were almost late even though they were up and ready early!


There you have it my friend - Parenting Fail 101!  

Smile and have a great day because together we are learning to live free even through the mistakes! 

My Husband is a Jerk and My Dog is Dumb

My husband is a jerk, and my dog is dumb. Catch you off guard?

Yeah me too. As I was thinking of the great things in my life those are two very strange things that popped into my head. Obviously no one wants to be married to a jerk or have a dumb dog. At our house however these two phrases have become words of endearment. 

Clearly this is not a family counseling blog. Please do not take this technique and try it at home.

My husband and I have a very humorous relationship. I do not really believe that he is a jerk.  It is normally in the times he makes the most sense or is the sweetest that the word jerk comes into play. It is our special way that says your right, you have out done yourself. Now of course that is not the only way we communicate. That would just be weird. We use it at random moments to keep things a little less sappy.  Or when we prefer not to say “You’re right. I’m less right.”

Our dog? Well you see the picture. He is a small fluffy white Maltese. I have never been an animal lover. My husband didn't want a lap dog. Somehow this little guy has made his way into our family. He doesn't understand the value of personal space. Most of the time he is curled up on one of us. If we aren't available, he has his head propped up on a pillow somewhere looking well “dumb”. Okay, so that’s just the word we have chosen to keep cute from slipping out of our mouths. It wouldn't be acceptable because I am not an animal lover and my husband prefers big manly dogs.

Now before you get offended, the truth is we care very well for this little guy. And yes we love him. We just have a strange way of expressing it.

Here’s the point: Thinking about these two different scenarios made me realize that sometimes we take life way too seriously. I’m not suggesting we abandon responsibility and head for Vegas. We could learn to loosen up a little. Laugh more. Find a safe place to express humor that the rest of the world doesn't get.  Doing this will be a great help on the freedom journey.


Where could your life use a little laughter right now? 

Live For Fame

       
          (pic via foxnews.com)


Do you want to famous?

Jon Acuff, author and speaker, shared a story about his desire for fame. He said that he once found himself praying, “God make me famous.”

The prayer was answered like this. “The Creator of the universe knows your name. How much more famous can you get.”

This story has stuck with me for a while. I use it often to remind myself of who I am. I tell others the story to remind them of who they are. This idea will even be used as my husband and I kickoff our 2014 season of Cool Table Ministries.

Then there is this idea which is a lyric from Hillsong United’s song, “Go”: We offer our lives to bring You fame.

As I sang this during worship on Sunday, the first thought that came to mind was ‘Your life has so many failures, flaws, and falls. You will never bring God fame. You are miserable. Not good enough. People won’t listen.’

Then I was remind that I am free in Christ. It was time to practice living in that freedom.

The thought process changed: ‘In myself and left to my own devices, I will never bring God fame. That’s why I need Him so desperately. His fame isn't dependent on what I have done apart from Him. It is the amazing work that He has done. Redemption, restoration, forgiveness, healing, grace, mercy, loving kindness. That is how God is famous through my life!  He has never left my side. He is a rock and refuge. A present help in a time of need. He is trustworthy. His works should be proclaimed from generation to generation. I am free. I will chose to live free.’

Where are you? Have you heard the same voices that tell you that you are unlovable, not good enough. Will you make a choice to start (or continue) the process of learning to live free?

How has God been in famous in your life?

You Can't Be Compared


 (via Pinterest)

Have you ever found yourself caught in a trap of comparisons?  The one that has you measuring yourself against everyone. If so, you know that it can be a complete battle field. Sometimes you leave feeling like a winner. Other times you feel so badly beaten that it may take weeks even months to recover.

Win or lose the battle, I want to pitch this idea: the comparison war is not worth fighting.

Here’s why:
When we measure ourselves against others the system is flawed.  There are too many variables to have a control. Often times we compare our strengths to another’s weakness and vice versa.  It leaves us with a tipped scale.  Sometimes we use it to our advantage. Other times we use it to torture ourselves. Either way this sort of comparison never shows the entire picture.

This quote sums up the “tipped scale” idea of comparison: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  - Albert Einstein

If there is no comparison how will I chart growth? Great question. Glad you asked!

Seek personal growth initiatives. Do a self-evaluation rather than a self to peer comparison. Set personal goals and measure yourself against yourself. This gives you a controlled variable.  The data is now reliable and true confidence can begin.

As you leave be encouraged by these words:

Your life work is important and it needs your whole attention. You are too precious to be side railed by inapt comparisons.  Live your journey well and embolden others to live theirs. In this there will be fulfillment and unity which is a catalyst to many great works.


Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT 

Your Story Makes You Who You Are - Use It Well

                                             
I think a lot about the words I share in this blog. My desire is to share thoughts to inspire, encourage, and challenge you to live a life free from whatever entangles you.

The "live free" result that we are working for is an exciting thing. The path to it however, is sometimes a challenge.

Each one of us have a story. We have a past that has sculpted who we are today. We have a future that is filled with hope of who will can become.

The tree below has a story as well. It is a story that I had written a time ago. I want to share it again because it is still relevant for us today.

                                                 


Here is a small excerpt from that post:

Could it be when we become stripped from all that we think makes us safe it is actually the point when we have the greatest ability to standout and make a difference? Is it when the beauty of what is underneath becomes visible that we truly have a platform for success?

Read the entire post here. You'll understand why I no longer see just a tree but rather "the tree".

Embrace your journey and find the treasure along the way.

Ditch Perfectionism Choose Excellence Instead.

In a in previous post, I encouraged you to join me as we learn to let go of perfection and embrace progress.  It was a war cry for you and me to move forward in life and make an impact even as we are in process ourselves. There is one more point I would like to make. Being released from perfectionism isn't a buy out to be sloppy. Instead, it is a call for excellence. After all, I believe progress is excellence in motion.

Here are a few differences between excellence and perfectionism:

Excellence performs every task to the very best of its ability.
Perfectionism performs every task believing that no matter what, it is never good enough. 

Perfectionism lives in a constant comparison of external circumstances.
Excellence charts internal development. 

Excellence embodies growth and continual learning.
Perfectionism believes they are an indication of failure. After all, a perfect person lacks nothing.

Perfectionism leaves one discontent.
Excellence brings satisfaction.

You don’t have to be perfect. Be excellent instead.


Where can excellence provide balance in your life?

Progress Not Perfection

In my last post, A Leader in Chains, I shared with you a question that shook my world a little (okay a lot!). The part I left out was this: I didn't know until I heard those words that I was allowing my own chains to stop me.  

I just thought I was preparing for leadership. You know the “don’t share anything until you have it ALL right” mentality. Yeah that one that is also named fear! 

While waiting to figure out the key to life, I stopped writing. My desire to see people live a life of freedom never changed. I just didn't think that I could be a voice in that journey until I became “perfected”. Recognizing my own fault and knowing I too was fighting the battle for freedom, I laid down my passion and sulked. Yes I sulked! Don't act like you have never done it.

Although I practice what I write, it is just that – practice. Some days it’s beautiful.  Other days it’s sloppy. Then there are the days I think I lost the directions altogether. 

What I've realized is that I’ll never be perfect or complete in myself. That only happens through Christ. And the perfecting part is a process that takes a lifetime.

I can be better. I can be greater. And so can you.

Let’s agree to forget perfection. Let’s work on progress.

Progress propels you. Perfectionism stalls you. Perfectionism keeps you set on everything that will go wrong. It never boasts about what can go right. 

You can’t afford to be stalled. You have a story to tell. You have a life to change. You have a dream to realize.

What will you do this week to seek progress rather than perfection?

Be sure to check out what I share on striving for excellence.  

Send a friend here to be encouraged as well. 

A Leader in Chains

“How can you speak of freedom when you are still in chains?” – (question modified from a recent podcast at min 32:43-33:00.)

It was a question that riveted my soul.

I blog about living free yet I still have my own chains. Over time I have believed the lies that have said, “Just quit! You’ll never make a difference. You are filled with fears and inadequacies. No one will listen.”

I bet if you were honest, you have heard the same voices. I want to encourage you and me not to allow those voices to be the final word.

Let’s face it. We don’t have it all together. Chances are we never will. Don’t stop trying. Be great anyway.

So here is what I would say:
Understand that you CAN make a difference. There is someone somewhere in your life that you can speak encouragement to. There is someone that you can share your story with and spread hope.  I bet there is even someone that could use your leadership.

Focus on the small steps:
Live each day being better than the day before. Be a leader to those that are behind you. Be a student of those that are ahead of you. Make personal growth a priority. Learn to listen. Be gracious enough to share. 

I’ll leave you with this thought:
Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years of prison and led his country to freedom from decades of racial and moral injustice. Never doubt that even in his chains he was leading. He led who he could where he was. Then one day a country was changed!


How will you inspire someone this week from where you are?