Follow Your Dreams

Follow Your Dreams

As humans, we all have dreams. We dream of all the things we want to accomplish; we dream about the men we will marry and the perfect lives we’ll build together. The perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect dog, the perfect job … and on and on. And we have a nagging dream of something we really want to accomplish.

But we don’t always have the same idea or plan that God has for us. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT says, “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.” So what does that mean for you? It means that along the way, you think you have all the answers, but you really don’t. The twists and turns of your life are really in God’s hands.

As wives and mothers, we tend to put our lives on hold for our husband’s career and our children. We forget about our own hopes and dreams. I remember when I first got married, and I was just going to be the “Little woman in an apron,” and then become a stay-at-home mom. But that became old really quick, because as much as I loved my husband and my kids, I needed something more to really fulfill my life.

How could I be an inspiration to myself, my husband or my children? So my husband joined the Jaycees, and I joined the Jaycee Wives. And before I knew it, I became the President of the Jaycee Wives and the head of the Rose Arts Queen’s Pageant in our town of Norwich, Connecticut. We got involved with our community. I got involved with the school system and set up programs for kids with special needs. We got involved with Head Start for disadvantaged children. I was happy! I felt like I was making a difference.

But, as we all know, God has different ideas than we do. We had to move for my husband’s job. Wow! Everything I had accomplished just went out the window. I’d like to think that some of the programs I set up there continued on, but I really have no idea. So now, it was time for me to get back into the moment of family first. But, I knew there were still more dreams, more wants, another comeback for me somewhere down the road.

I’m sure many of you have been in that place. In a season of needing to take care of your family first, but still feeling like you needed to accomplish something more. You know the saying, “Patience is a virtue?” And trust me, it is! But this is the time when we have to trust in God’s plan, take baby steps toward what we want to accomplish and have faith that one day, we will walk in our purpose.

Ask yourself today what is your purpose? What comeback is God walking you toward? Do you have a true mission for your life? Are you running on knee jerk reactions or actually working with uniform, planned out strategies for where you want to go?

For me, I ended up owning and operating an advertising agency in Dallas doing what I loved. I had a plan, I found a way to make it happen, and I had many years of loving what I was purposed to do. I showed my kids that their dreams could come true too. I took a leap of faith, I listened to God’s plan, and I had my comeback.

But, as life and luck would have it, that would not be the end of my story. And it isn’t the end to your story either. To understand more about making your comeback and living your dreams, tune into Warrior Divas, Real Talk for Real Women, Episode 15 at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

Glorified Onion Pork Chops

Glorified Onion Pork Chops

Everybody who knows me, knows I love to cook. I also love to take recipes and put my own spin on them. Sometimes they turn out great and sometimes not, but the ones that do, I keep and share.

So for a quick and easy week night dinner, try these Glorified Onion Pork Chops. Prep time is about 10 minutes, cooking time is about 25 to 30 minutes and it serves six.

Ingredients (original):
1 tbs. veg. oil
6 bone-in pork chops, ½ thick
½ cup chopped onion
1 can condensed cream of celery soup (I use fat-free)
½ cup water

Ingredients (I added):
A splash of red cooking wine or any red wine you have
Garlic powder
Pepper to taste
Celery Salt

Directions: Sprinkle Garlic powder, pepper and celery salt onto chops. Heat oil in 12” pan and brown on both sides. Remove and then cook onion until tender. Return chops, stir in soup, water and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until chops are done.

These pair well with a green vegetable and mashed potatoes. To save time on a busy week night, I buy store-bought mashed potatoes.

Enjoy my friends!

Anatomy of a Stronghold

Anatomy of a Stronghold

According to the dictionary, a stronghold is defined as a well-fortified place or fortress. It is also defined as a place of survival or refuge. It can also be defined as a hide-out or a prison. Think about that for a moment, ladies.

For most of us, our strongholds tend to be those things that are holding us back. Things that are constant sources of our unhealthy habits or thoughts that have embedded themselves deeply into our hearts. They are the slings and arrows of Satan.

These slings and arrows manifest themselves in prideful thoughts or self-deprecating feelings. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all said I’m not worthy. I’m not pretty enough, skinny enough, you seek negative attention just for the sake of getting attention. Maybe you have anger issues or a bad temper. These are symptomatic of strongholds that are holding you in prison.

Many of you over compensate with drink or food or sinful activity. Often times, we are judgmental or unforgiving and hostile to those who may have wronged us, and by doing so, we keep ourselves locked in the past. Maybe you have an overly critical attitude toward those around you … your spouse, your kids, your co-workers and even your friends. These are all mechanisms we use to hide from the struggles and pain we are actually feeling.

The truth is, these bad behaviors and evil thoughts are all indications of strongholds that have happened in your past. Maybe you have trust issues because of someone whom you trusted and they hurt you. Maybe your parents were divorced so you have relationship issues. Maybe you experienced some trauma or were physically assaulted. These are all strongholds that you need to face, deal with and annihilate.

To be sure, it is not easy to break free from these strongholds. Ask yourself if these are recurring patterns? What lies have you believed? What messages are replaying over and over in your mind? Are you listening to them and do you believe them? Are you guilty of passing these strongholds down to your children?

Often times, strongholds are not even bad things. They can be fixations such as religion, food or over protectiveness of those around you. But if you are overly obsessed, then these are also toxic. Over-indulgence in anything, whether good or bad, is destructive.

For most of us, we need to seek help from others in order to break the chains of our strongholds. Not an easy thing to do … to ask for help. Remember, the enemy lies and he wants you to mistrust God’s promises. The enemy seeks to confuse you and beat you up psychologically. He wants to discourage you. He wants to take away the goodness and truth that God has offered to you. The enemy wants you to turn over all control to him.

But deep down, we know we should remain dutiful to our Lord.  Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

To learn more about breaking the strongholds in your life, tune into Warrior Divas, Real Talk for Real Women, Episode 14 available at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

Be Present, Be Involved

Be Present, Be Involved

As women, we go through many seasons in our life journey. We are wives, mothers, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, entertainers, politicians. Whatever we are, we are all important. We are all charged with becoming life givers and not just life takers.

I remember an instance a few years back as I sat in line at the Starbucks drive through. As I pulled up to the window to pay for my drink, I was told that the car ahead of me had paid for my order. Astonishing!   I thought, “What a nice thing to do!” And because that stranger decided to bless me, I chose to bless the car behind me. A small gesture to be sure, but we have been taught to pay it forward, haven’t we?

Today, more than ever, we should embrace who we are, stay strong in our faith and pay it forward with kindness. As we go through our daily routines, you never know whose life you might touch with nothing more than a simple smile. I remember walking into the grocery store one day when someone I didn’t know came up to me and said, “I just wanted to tell you how nice you look today.” And that small gesture put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. One small gesture, but it touched my heart.

Micah 6:8 tells us to, “Do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly.” To be sure, with the political atmosphere today, the shootings and the protests it seems almost impossible to be kind. But we have the power to really show up and step up. We can all agree to disagree, and just get along. You can make a difference by just being present and by getting involved.

You don’t have to be a super hero to volunteer at your child’s school or help out the PTA. Maybe you know someone in a nursing home who would enjoy getting out for lunch sometime. Perhaps you could read to kids at your local library. Shake a policeman’s hand and thank him for protecting our community. Tell a soldier you appreciate his or her service. You have the power to create an atmosphere of loving kindness within your own homes and in doing so, your children will learn how to also be kind.

We all remember that song that said, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love.” And right now, we all have the ability to bring more love and caring into this world we live in. Trust in yourself, because you can be a community builder! Remember, great communities require remarkable leaders. But first you have to decide what that community is for you. Do you want to get involved with your City Council? Maybe you would like to host a weekly book club? With social media today, perhaps you want to start a meaningful blog. Bottom line, you just have to decide what kind of community you want to build and then set out to build it.

Ladies, we can all help people in small ways. We are all just ordinary people with the ability to do extraordinary things. Find your passion, be present and become involved. You never know whose life you might touch or who you will inspire. Explore different ways to connect with organizations or community groups where you can make an impact.

To discover more about how to move forward in your community, tune in to the Warrior Divas episode with Angie Leigh Monroe and guest host Trasa Coburn at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

Pure of Heart

Pure of Heart

In Matthew 5:8 it says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” But let’s be honest right now. As human beings, we do not always live up to that standard. I certainly don’t. Through everyday life, we often find it simpler to be judgmental of others rather than to be right. We jump to conclusions before we actually have all the facts. We unfairly judge others and more importantly, ourselves.

“If you want to be respected by others, it is important to respect yourself.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky How many of us forget to respect ourselves? I’d venture to say that most of us get lost in the day-to-day stresses that lead us down the path of self-condemnation, regret, and we become immersed in our own emotions. We listen to the lies of the enemy.

We forget about the gifts God has given to us.  We lose sight of our true calling. We hear that voice inside that says “I’m fat!” “I’m ugly!” “No one loves me!” “My boss hates me!” “I can’t do anything right!” “My kids don’t listen to me!” “My husband ignores me!” And on and on it goes until you become lost in your own persecution. And in doing so, we become women who are gossips, uncompromising and hypocritical. In short, we are unhealthy with no real sense of purpose or faith.

In truth, I have been lost in that place. I bet at one time or another, most of you have too. We turn our backs on one another. We don’t support one another. We don’t inspire one another. We forget to pray to our Father in heaven and in doing so, we forget to pray for others. We wallow in self-pity. We have forgotten how to forgive ourselves and how to love ourselves.

To be clear, none of us is without sin or unblemished. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” But we have the ability to turn to our Father in prayer to find peace and happiness … to live in holiness. We can seek out those women who inspire us, encourage us and speak truth to us. We can focus on all things positive in order to take those steps toward a pure heart.

Taking baby steps toward forgiving yourself first and seeking out those women who will lift you up in joy will work miracles in your life. Think of your heart as a water glass that needs to be filled. And then seek to fill it up with mercy, forgiveness, hope and love. Love for yourself and for those around you. In doing so, you will see the beauty that surrounds you as you seek to discover your destiny and what God’s purpose for you truly is.

I know that for most of us, this is not an easy task. The road to finding one’s self and a pure heart is long. There are many pot holes along the way to stumble into and sometimes, it becomes difficult to find a way out. It is often easier to just slip back into old patterns of self-recrimination and doubt. We’ve all done it! After all, bad habits are really hard to break, right? And sometimes, we are just too tired to want to break them.

But remember the goals you have set for yourselves and forge on. Climb out of that hole and start refilling that water glass (your heart). Seek to raise others up with your words of kindness and inspiration. In doing so, you will also lift up yourself. Do not become discouraged in the hard times, but rather seek to find the reasons behind them and the lessons they are meant to teach. As it says in 1 John 2:8, “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” Let us all strive for the light of day and the purity of our hearts.

To find out more about becoming Pure of Heart, tune in to Warrior Divas Episode 12 at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.