Participate, Don’t Anticipate!

Participate, Don’t Anticipate!

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully.”  ~ Maya Angelou

As human beings, we all tend to forget about the present moment, because we are too busy trying to control everything. And why do we do this? Some of us do it because we have stored away fears from things that happened in the past. Others constantly try to anticipate what the future holds, and we believe that if we control and plan everything, then what lies ahead will be better that what we left behind.

In truth, this kind of thinking is not all our fault. We have been conditioned from early childhood to anticipate – We look forward to our birthdays. We anticipate Santa Claus coming for months as kids. We can’t wait to get our driver’s licenses as teens. We want to hurry up and graduate from high school. We can’t wait to be all grown up. We are so engaged with thinking about what comes next that we don’t participate in the “NOW.”

As wives and mothers, we are driven to look ahead. We don’t want our children to make the same mistakes we made. We want our husbands to succeed. We dream about the future our kids will have. We ignore the blessings of the present. We dwell on the bad things that can or did happen. We have expectations of how we perceive things ought to be and when they’re not, we are disappointed.

If we are always unavailable to the present moment, then we will most definitely miss out on all of the opportunities offered to us today. Of course, living in the moment is easier said than done. Our human frailties cause us to want to plan! We want to control the whole kit and caboodle that we call life! We think we can anticipate the good, the bad and the ugly. We are by nature, organizers!

However, in reality, God is the one true controller of our lives. No amount of worry, planning, organizing, wishing or hoping will change what God has planned for us. Our walk toward Heaven should be the only focus of anticipation that we have. His miracle for us in the here and now is to live in the moment. To enjoy our children and grandchildren. To love to the fullest. To eat that cake! To dance in the rain! To laugh out loud!

A million missed moments can never be reclaimed. Give yourself permission to be grateful for the harmony and splendor that surrounds you today and every day. These are God’s gifts. He brings us hope in the dark, and He grants us a new opportunity to become a happier version of ourselves each morning.

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” ~ Earl Nightingale

To discover more about how to participate in life, tune in to Warrior Divas Episode 18 now available at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

Pumpkin Torte Cake

Pumpkin Torte Cake

We all love fall and we love all things PUMPKIN! So this is a recipe a friend gave to me many years ago, and it’s easy and delicious.

PUMPKIN TORTE CAKE
1 can pumpkin                                                                
1 can evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ tsp Pumpkin Spice  
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon                                                       
1 cup walnuts                                                 
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter

Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spices together. Pour into 9×13 pan sprayed with non-stick veg. oil. Sprinkle cake mix over top and crumble walnuts over top. Melt butter and pour over top. Bake at 325 for about one hour. Check with toothpick or knife. If it comes out clean, it is done. If not, cook about 15 more minutes or so. Serve with whipped cream. Delicious!

What Are You Hiding?

What Are You Hiding?

Most of us have “stuff” in our past that we keep tucked away, because we are afraid of what others will think of us. We create different masks for different situations in order to hide things from people that we don’t want them to know about us. Why do we do this? For protection. For acceptance. To avoid being judged.

We all have those past memories that need to be expunged and healed. In short, we need to learn how to deal with and forgive whatever or whoever hurt us. Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “I will forgive, but I will not forget” is just another way of saying, “I don’t want to forgive”. Ask yourself if this is what you have been doing? Distasteful and troubling memories can take hold of your soul and hamper your ability to move forward to become your best self.

How many times have you said “I’m fine or it’s fine” when someone asks you what’s wrong? I’ve done it a million times over the years. But that is a mask – a lie really. A mask to cover up my real feelings, because in truth, I don’t like conflict. I think this is something I started doing as a kid. My brother was always getting into to trouble and in my mind, making my dad sad. I decided I needed to be the “Good Kid” and just do everything right. I had his teachers after him, so I had to prove to them that I wasn’t like my brother, because they always pre-judged me since I was his sister. That was a heavy load to carry for a little kid, and it carried on through high school.

Looking back now, I understand that a great deal of my brother’s behavior stemmed from the fact that my mother left my father when I was just three and he was barely five. I imagine both of us never forgave her for that, and we sure didn’t understand why she left. And through the years, our dad never said a bad word about her. It wasn’t until my dad’s death, and my grandmother’s death that I found letters that explained why they divorced. And it made it even harder for me to forgive her.

What an impact that had on our lives! I missed having a “normal” family and often felt inferior because my parents were divorced. Still, the lesson I learned was that family is everything. My children and my grandchildren mean the world to me. But that doesn’t lessen the damage to my own self-worth. That doesn’t negate the fact that I have constructed masks to protect myself. I grew up feeling inferior because I did not have a complete family.

We all want to feel like we have value. We want to feel like we are important. We want people to pay attention to us. And, we want to help others. We have an innate desire for love and association with our peers. If you find yourself in the dark, look to the Lord for hope and inspiration. Shed your mask and be honest with yourself and others. You might discover that there are others who feel exactly like you Maybe they have had the same experiences as you. Maybe they are wearing the same mask as you!

To learn more about the masks you might be hiding behind, tune into Warrior Divas Episode 17 available at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

Summer is Over!

Summer is Over!

With the end of summer, comes the start of the school year. For most families, that means juggling work and school with sports and cheer and scouts and church, dental appointments and music lessons, along with all the extra-curricular activities that come with raising a family and maintaining a job. Gosh, I’m already tired after writing all of that!

My children are grown now with families of their own, but looking back, I sometimes wonder how I managed to get everything done, get everybody where they needed to be on time, maintain my house and my job, and still make time for my marriage and our friends. I listen to my kids now and wonder how they manage to balance all of the day to day demands on their busy lives. And it seems to me that they are much busier today than I ever was. They have play dates and STEM Camps and after-school activities and swimming and choir and on and on.

Don’t misunderstand, I am a firm believer in keeping kids busy. Busy, happy kids don’t have time to get into trouble. My kids were busy with after-school activities, year book, newspaper, dance team, football, and whatever else they decided to do. And once they had cars, they had to have jobs through the summer to pay for their own gas. I think we instilled the value of work and the value of a dollar into them, and I believe they felt good about themselves and their accomplishments.

Before my children were in school, I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. I felt it was important for me to be there for all of their firsts, to bond with them, to teach them, to love them. And I do not, for one second, regret giving up my job working at an airline. I knew I couldn’t devote my time to that job and to them. I knew my husband was busy trying to make it in the corporate world. I knew they needed a stable environment to learn and grow.

But, times change and there came a day when I needed to get back to work to help out with the family expenses. We wanted the kids to have “everything” they wanted, and we wanted to buy a home for them to grow up in and bring their friends to. And we did. We did it all, but it was not easy. Along the way, we made mistakes − we were too busy, too tired, too emotional, and sometimes, even resentful.

My husband and I had to learn how to manage that “OH NO” moment. We had to learn how to delegate responsibilities to the kids. In doing so, they learned how to do laundry, do dishes, and even clean their rooms! They learned to pick up after themselves and take pride in their home. My husband and I also needed to learn how to rely on one another. If he worked late, I took over. If I worked late, he took over.

Balancing work, school and family – it can be difficult. There are a myriad of moments when you just feel out of control. You feel like your life is running you instead of you running your life. Sometimes you just have to stop, take a deep breath and relax. Remember that you are more than a parent. You are also a wife and both of you need a social life together. Reward yourself and have some fun!

I always made sure that we had dinner together. That was steadfast and unbreakable. Boy if that table could talk! There were absolutely no subjects considered off-limits. That table was where we engaged, laughed, cried and loved one another. Those moments were priceless! And I wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world. Rule number one – the television was off so we could all talk about the day. This was a moment in time to relax, exhale and just enjoy one another. Balance if you will!

You don’t have to be perfect. You can and should ask for help if you need it. Learn how to say no when you need to. Make time for fun. And above all else, remember that you are only human and sometimes, we don’t always get it right. But even with all of our flaws, if we instill the right values and family traditions into our kids, they will be OKAY and so will you! And if you have handled the hustle and bustle of everyday living (the work, life, school balance) half way right, your children will likely carry those same traditions on with their own kids.

To learn more about Planning and Executing Work, School and Life Flow tune into Warrior Divas Episode 16 available Online at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

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.

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.