Guest Post: Singing Happy Birthday to YOU

On January 17th not so long ago the world was changed. It might not have been noticed right away but the world definitely became a kinder place. A sweet little girl was born.

A little girl was born in Nebraska to a dairy farmer and his wife and to four awesome sisters.

little c copyThis pure bundle of joy would go on to help disadvantage kids at school and later become one of the top nonprofit Executive Directors in south Atlanta.

139Thank you Cathy for all you do and for all you have done to make this world a better place. We are so proud of you. We are proud to call you friend. Thank you for your heart of gold, your smile and laughter that lights up every room, and for being there to help so many through such hard times. Thank you for having such a huge heart of compassion.

Today on this very special birthday your friends wish you tons of blessings but more importantly we pray God will use you in even grater ways:

That He will stir up the fire of passion within you to accomplish even greater things for Him

That the dreams He gave you so long ago will be fulfilled this year

That you would have even more of God’s anointing to fulfill His call on your life

That He would bring you out to even deeper waters of knowing who He really is and His love

That you would feel loved. Loved like you have never felt before

Happy Birthday to you!

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Every Day Leader: ‘Tis the Season

The lights are twinkling, the tree is decorated, presents are wrapped…all the things we do at Christmas. There are parties and gatherings, all with a twinge in the back of our minds wondering where did the year go?

For may of us, this is a very busy time. Our days are spent trying to get everything done in anticipation of the holiday and the end of the year. We somehow mean to take time to reflect on what Christmas is about and about the year …. but somehow those intentions get crowded out with a long to-do list.

Tis the season…

I went to a barn the other night and watched the Christmas story acted out with live animals. Somehow in the midst of the smells: the sheep, donkeys and the manager, all the other things like the cookies and the sights of twinkling lights and presents did not seem to be so important. I was reminded to be still and know that I am God.

Be still.

Why is it so hard to do? Our minds continue to race even when our bodies stop to rest.

Every day leaders know that taking time to be still, to listen, to pray, and to reflect are all part of becoming better people. It is during that time each day where we not only quiet our souls, but we seek to know God, to really know him… not just a “30 second toss-up a prayer and be about our business” know him. We see His hand in our lives and we seek to hear His voice.

Be still and know that I am God.

Where are you? Are you frantically trying to get it all done? All the things that seem so important?

Take time today. Be still. Get to know God. Quiet your soul. Embrace the moments that you have been given. Be reminded of why we celebrate Christmas each year.

Every day leaders are intentional in how we spend our time. Knowing that the times of being still and seeking God equips us to make a difference in the life of another!

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The Every Day Leader: Weathering the Storms

The Midwest is known for its flat lands with hardly any trees in sight.  So when I moved to the South I was in awe of how many  trees lined the landscapes.  You could not turn from one side to the other without seeing trees!

When a tree has a strong root system, the deep roots provide nourishment and allow it to survive heat, wind, and storms.  It will even stay green, exhibiting life and vitality because of the strong root system that provides the moisture and nutrients it needs from deep within the ground.  In contrast, the trees that grow in clusters often have their roots close to the surface; their trunks are thin as they compete for vital nutrients. They are often the first to fall in a storm.

Intentional leaders will never know their strength as a leader until they have weathered the storms. They will never know what they are made of and how far their roots go down until adversity strikes and they are put through the test.  How are you when the unexpected happens? When someone attacks your character?  When you have lost what is most important to you?  How do you respond?  How we react is based on how strong our foundation is.   How we respond reflects the very character of who we are.

Character comes in being rooted firmly in who you are and knowing what you can and cannot do.  If it is your integrity that has been attacked, are you quick to set the record straight or can you rest, knowing that truth is all that matters?  If the unexpected happens, do you accept it with grace, knowing that God is in control or do you fall apart?

Maybe you haven’t thought about the foundation of your life, because you have never had to.  Living as an intentional leader means living everyday using all that has been given to us to the fullest.  It means thinking ahead.  It means being ready for the storms.   It means being strong.  It means knowing who you are.  It is living everyday a life of intention, a life that makes a difference.

Live intentionally.

Build a strong foundation and withstand the storms of life.

The Every Day Leader: The Suitcase

There is something about old suitcases that just draw us in. They could be on display at an antique store or being used, no matter what, they always seem to get our attention.  So often we want to know the stories of their travels through the generations. It was not that long ago that trips took great planning, and the mode of transportation was on rough dirt roads as the horse-drawn buggies pulled both passengers and luggage to their destination.

Today we have it much easier.  A trip can be planned on the spur of the moment and still be enjoyable. We can check destinations, weather, activities, and so much more on our smart phones. Everything we need is  instantly at our fingertips.

As I write this I gaze at the old suitcases decorating my hallway.  These old suitcases moved my family long ago.  Yet, I am reminded that suitcases  can also symbolize much more than just travel, they represent the change in our lives.   For many of us change is difficult, we would rather hold on tight then let go and take the risk.

Today our lives are constantly in motion.  Yet when it comes time for a change do we know it is time to move on? Often times we remain where we are in our lives simply because it is comfortable.  Does it feel safer to avoid risk? Perhaps we have a new idea but fear it may not work, so we stay quiet.  We wonder how much of an impact we alone can have.  So we remain just as we are.  The road of change feels different.  Being safe feels better.  Less risk is easier.  So we do nothing. 

I love the story of Moses.  A man who stuttered, yet led the people out of Egypt.  An everyday man who was willing to be obedient.  He traveled. He led.  It meant big change and it was risky.   He was willing to step out, accept the risk and see what happened.  Our history books are filled with everyday people who have been willing to do the same. 

How about you?   The suitcase is just the reminder.  You  may already know if it is time for a change.  Deep down you know.  A career change?  Finding purpose in your life?  A relationship?  Reaching out to another?  Perhaps, you have found it easier to stay put. To keep the suitcases all stacked up nice and neat just like I have in my hallway.  They look good, but are serving no real purpose.

What will you do?  Living a life with intention is a life that searches and asks the question, what should I be doing differently?  How can my life count?  I like the reminder of the suitcases.

I want to be that everyday leader that is:

Willing to pick up and go

To move when necessary

To make a difference

The Every Day Leader: The old typewriter

I remember the old typewriter in the attic of the old home I grew up in.    Our home was filled with stories, memories and great things. As I grew up, I expected to write my own story, just as I used to write things out on that old typewriter.  I had grand ideas that life would be filled with all great things, just like life was like in the our old home.

As children we always think that life will  be good, that somehow hard times don’t really happen. Wasn’t the American dream  for everyone and anyone who would work for it?  To obtain this dream all one had to do was work hard, treat others right,  always do good and one would be rewarded  This was the script I knew.

Yet somehow life didn’t turn out quite like that.   There have been messy and unexpected things happen that certainly didn’t follow the script I wrote.  Instead life holds things like death, divorce, cancer, prodigal children, job loss, shattered dreams, broken promises, depression and burnout.  What do we do then?   It seems the script needs to be rewritten, so we jump in to make that happen the best way we know how.

I set out to rewrite my script to make a happier ending.  Somewhere along the way in the midst of the hard times of my life, I realized that God was doing great things in the middle of the messes.  He was showing me something different.

I learned that each day is a gift given to me. I can choose to influence others or I can choose to isolate. I can choose to love even when it hurts or I can choose to build walls because of the hurt. I can choose to use the gifts and skills God gave me to change the world or I can choose to build a life of materialism with things that I cannot take with me when I leave this earth. I can choose to make a difference in one life each day or I can choose not to invest in anyone – leaving no legacy behind me.

I choose to believe that the Lord orders my steps. That He alone is the author of my story and the ending is yet to be written. Life is like the back of a tapestry, threads going every which way entangled with one another, but at the end when you turn the tapestry over an amazing picture has been woven. The hardships of life and all those things that seem like they should NEVER be a part of the script actually shape us, build us, and develop deep character in us. Without those times we would not see life the same.  Those  experiences are powerful in our lives, even if we can’t see it at the moment.  It is all these things, the good and the bad shape us and allow us to see others in a different light. Often, our stories are the encouragement for others.

I no longer look at that old typewriter the same way. I no longer rush to rewrite my ending to the script.  Instead it serves as a reminder that life is about surrendering to the One True Author of our lives.  For it is He alone who is writing the greatest story of all and using us for His glory.

How will you live your life?

I choose this day to live a life with intention, to embrace every day, to let go of my script and pick up His.