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.

What Are You Craving?

What Are You Craving?

We all know women who are fanatical runners or joggers. We know ladies who are dedicated to working out every single day. Zumba class, Pilates, jazzercise, yoga! Some of them eat organic, some are vegetarian, vegans or they are on forever diets. Fad diets, Atkins, South beach, Keto, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean Diets, Paleo Diets! These women, of course, are attempting to address their physical well-being.

But we all know fitness goes far beyond the physical, and some of us are simply not wired for the gym. And even if we were, there are so many other factors that affect how we feel about ourselves. Putting the physical aside, think for a moment about your spiritual and mental sides, because these components greatly affect how we feel about our outward physical selves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Though we travel the world in our search for beauty and nobility, we will not find it unless we carry it in ourselves.”  To be well-rounded women, we must be willing to become introspective. We have to be willing to take a reflective look inward to scrutinize our own views and emotional states. However, self-questioning and scrutiny can be stressful, painful and fearful.

Each of us have elements starting from childhood that form how we feel about ourselves. Maybe you were a bit over weight as a youngster and someone called you fat. Maybe your parents were divorced, and you yearned for a complete family like everybody else. Maybe you felt alone, afraid, abandoned. Maybe you felt over looked and insignificant. I can remember someone making a nasty comment about my acne and to this day, I am self-conscientious about my face.

Tragically, we push these things down deep inside because we don’t want to face our fears. In truth, we are in pain, and we are afraid to ask the tough questions. We forget that God made each of us in His image. He intended for us to succeed, to thrive and to be happy. We choose self-condemnation, and we put up emotional walls to protect ourselves. Some of us beat ourselves up at the gym while others become emotional eaters. Food brings them comfort. Some women pretend to be happy on the outside when in truth, they are dejected and lack spirit.

My grandma used to say, “Stop making mountains out of mole hills.” We all tend to do that from time to time. We turn the smallest things into absolute tragedies. We forget to have faith, and we choose negativity. We self-judge ourselves … we lose our peace.

For me personally, having been married for so many years, I am starting to realize that I have become complacent; I have lost my own identity and my own voice. I have forgotten that I am responsible for myself and my own happiness. I cannot change someone who does not want to change. I have, in ways I didn’t even recognize, lost my own voice and my own identity. And somewhere along the way, I lost my purpose. And in truth, my body is rebelling.

I imagine there are many women who have lost their purpose. We spend so many years being wives and mothers, and we take care of everyone around us and one day, it hits us that we didn’t take care of ourselves. We didn’t nurture our own bodies, minds and spirits. We have become so emotionally deficient that we have forgotten that love and the Faith of our Father has to be the one guiding light toward our spiritual understanding.

Self-examination isn’t easy. Neither is learning how to stop suppressing your own feelings and needs. Ask God to come into your life and ask Him to help you control your fears and show you the path to peace. Psalms 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Our inward tempests are far more perilous to our souls than the external ones. It is up to each of us to put one foot in front of the other and figure out where we want to go.

To find out more about what you are craving and how to get fit both inside and out, tune into Warrior Divas, Episode 11 at www.divasimpact.com/podcast.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Setting Yourself Up for Success

You know, as women we often get side-tracked with our everyday lives. Raising children, helping our husbands climb their own corporate ladders and working at our own jobs. Taking care of our parents, helping out the PTA, volunteering at church. Supporting your child’s sports activities, cooking, cleaning, and going to Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and piano lessons. We are like those squirrels in our yards that never seem to have a real plan or direction.

Ladies, you know what I’m talking about here. We tend to put our own hopes and dreams on the back burner for those we love and care for. We are busy. We are so immersed in everyday life that we forget about the things that really motivate us. We forget about our own goals and what our own purpose is. We stagnate.

In short, we are not in alignment with what our true purposes in life may be. We have forgotten what truly motivates us. This is the point where you can ask yourself what really motivates you. Ask yourself if you are the person holding yourself back from your goals. Do you surround yourself with friends who hold you back or push you forward toward positive growth?

Maybe you have a yearning deep inside to start your own business or write a book or sell crafts. Years ago, I wanted to start my own advertising agency, but I was scared and doubted myself. But along the way, I discovered that my goal had value. It was important to me. It was a powerful goal, and it motivated me to find a way to make it happen.

In truth, it became a high priority for me. It was worthwhile to me. It was something that became an “I must do this,” or I will feel like a failure situation. It was a dream that became my major desire and goal. I was focused on accomplishing my goal. And I focused on my own talents, the talents of those I wanted to join me in this venture, and created a plan to obtain the resources I needed to make this happen.

It isn’t always simple to get started on the right path for your own success. It can be stressful. It can be overwhelming. It can make you want to just go to bed and cover up your head. But, it is a journey worth taking, because life is too short for us to ignore our hopes and dreams. You can align yourself with those who will help you and push you forward when you just want to give up.

Ladies, we have the ability to think beyond where we are and achieve our highest dreams. We can and should think big. Think beyond today. Look to the future. What does that look like to you? Are you truly inspired and focused? Do you have people in your life who push you toward greatness? Do you have the assets you need to actually achieve your goals or start your own business? Do you have the correct strategy to achieve your professional, financial and spiritual goals?

Goal setting and getting on the right path to success is so much more than just wishing something would happen. You actually have to stand up, dust off your boots, put on your big girl pants and make something happen. You have to set attainable goals. You have to write down your plan and stick to it. You have to surround yourself with friends who will see your potential and help you get there.

Ask yourself today if your dreams, your goals are worthwhile? Are they motivating? Does it spiritually move you? Are you actually setting goals that have the highest importance in your life? Will it be important to everyone? Are your goals smart and will they benefit others?

It is important to align yourself within all the areas of your life. Find a way to move along a path that sets you up for the accomplishments you are seeking. Figure out what it is you are truly called to do. Find your purpose. Go where you really want to go. Set yourself up for success. The biggest danger you face is falling into lethargy and doubt. Believe in your dreams! Believe in yourself! Do not be lukewarm when it comes to your goals! Aspire to those things that motivate you and give you purpose. Let your heart sing!

Today and everyday have a plan to move forward and lift up yourself with self-confidence. And rely on your faith to move you forward to do what you are truly called to do.

To learn more about how to set yourself up for success, tune into Warrior Divas, Podcast 10, Align, Activate and Calibrate.

Recognize What is Within You

Recognize What is Within You

Ladies, we have all been in situations that can define us, label us, transform us, break us, humble us and even lift us up. Life is such that it loves to throw us curve balls. And as women, we have to not only recognize our place in the universe, but we have to learn to understand it.

As children, we learn how to please others … our parents, our grandparents, our teachers, our coaches. We believe in fairytales and unicorns. We grow up looking for prince charming and the wonderful castle he lives in. But alas, along the way, we find out that life is not perfect. We learn that our homes are not perfect. There is no perfect job, no perfect child, no perfect family and no perfect parents. And to be sure, we are all far from perfect.

Unfortunately, life never seems to turn out the way we think it should. We tend to get overwhelmed with insignificant things. We become judgmental and self-centered. We can become smug and irrespective of our spouses. We begin to feel superior, and we forget that there are times when we should walk away without speaking.

The truth is, however; we often let pride get in the way and we attack. As women, we frequently put up with mental abuse, and then we turn around and throw it right back. What many of us forget is that in order for peace to exist, it is often more prudent to make no noise at all. As women, we all have a dynamic power within us to use our voices when prudent and then to do what we are called to do.

We all have gifts inside that the world is waiting to see. These gifts, your callings are preordained. You just need to dig deep inside and find out what is really inside of you. Understand that you can do better; you can be better. You can set your boundaries, lift yourself up and in doing so lift up those around you.

Ask yourself what you think your greatest gift is. What are you genuinely passionate about? Do you want to paint? Do you want to teach? Do you want to write? Do you want to be a nurse?  Do you like to cook? Whatever you are yearning for, do not dismiss it. Do not stop growing and evolving into the strong, independent woman you are destined to be.

As strong women, we have everything we need inside and out to become awesome mothers and passionate partners to those we have married. We can care for ourselves and for all things around us. We have all been tired, worn out, damaged and sickened. But the great thing is, we have the ability to slow down and seek the change we need to make a lasting impression on this life we live.

Today, you have the ability to put yourself on the path you were destined to follow. In truth, once you reach down inside to find your true calling, you will realize that the things in your world will never be the same again. You will never be the same again. In truth, your gifts belong to the world. To be sure, the task before you is great, but the benefits you gain will be even greater.

You have a choice to live in a trapped existence or to thrive in glory. You can choose to live in passion, live with purpose and live in love. Recognize that where you are must change. Seek out the ever-changing world and live in joy. Choose to dig deep inside yourself and bring light where there has been darkness. Surround yourself with peace. Remember that everything you do is infinitely important.

As women, we can recognize our own problems and troubled attitudes. We can learn to accept our problems as assets. Because through adversity, we can find opportunities. We can seek God’s guidance to bring us through our darkest hours. We can persevere, learn to give grace to those around us and achieve victory for all of the tomorrows ahead of us. What we give to the world will inspire and encourage those whom we work with, live with, and love.

To learn more about recognizing what’s within you, tune into Warrior Divas, Podcast 9.