Who do you believe?

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What a confusing and sad week it was last week. Our nation is butting heads on the basis of conflicting stories and bringing us all to the question, “Who do we really believe?” This scenario is nothing new in life. Parents find themselves trying to piece together the truth when their two darling children tell two very different tales. Spouses dispute over, “He said; she said.” A co-worker makes a claim about another co-worker, leaving doubts in everyone’s mind.

How do we discern the truth? Is it possible to know which story to believe? As I look at what is happening in Washington, I want to draw a few principles we can apply to our lives in general, as well as the situation at hand.

  • Make decisions based on the facts, not feelings or what we want the outcome to be.
  • Listen carefully to both sides. We must learn to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
  • Pray for discernment and wisdom. Pray for the truth to come to light. Pray for conviction in the hearts of those who are telling lies.
  • Don’t be afraid of the truth.
  • Don’t scream and shout, especially when you don’t know the whole truth.
  • Don’t ignore a person’s pain. Listen, comfort and help.
  • Never ruin another person’s honor or reputation based on gossip, hearsay or half-truths.
  • If you are a victim, seek help and talk to someone. Walk through the grief with the help of another. You are never alone. God sees your pain and heartache, and there are people who can help you heal.
  • Be careful to never falsely accuse another person. Fabricated accusations not only damage the accused, but harm those people who are true victims. Crying wolf with deceitful allegations does a disservice to women in general, as people will tend to distrust future sexual assault victims.

Finally, trust God’s justice. Even if we think truth did not win out – God knows the truth. His justice is better than man’s faulty decisions. Don’t let anger take over your attitude. Listen to David’s words in Psalm 37 and allow them to calm our heart no matter what life brings.

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

 Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

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Building Connections Through Engaging Conversations

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When it comes to making a connection with other people, a stimulating question can be our most effective tool. Whether in business, relationships or family life, bridges are often built through asking and listening rather than instructing or demanding. Engaging in meaningful and kind interaction is especially important when we are with people who have opposing points of view or see life differently than we do.

It’s not a bad idea to keep a few thoughtful questions at hand to open up dialogue and ignite positive conversations. Here are a few of my favorite questions:

What do you think about ________________? This opens up the door for you to discover another person’s point of view and where they stand on an issue or situation. This is an opportunity to listen, not to vent your opinion or stand up for your point of view or ideas. Simply listen and ask more questions.

What makes you feel that way?  With this simple question you are able to dig a little deeper than surface level and find out some of the reasons behind a persons words, actions or opinions. Everyone has a story, but few people take the time to listen.

What do you want?  Most people have hopes, desires and dreams but rarely verbalize them. This question is full of potential and allows the other person to identify what they are really after, both short term and in the big picture of life.

In what ways do you need help? You may not be able to solve all their problems, but you may be able to do something or point them to someone who can.  In many cases, they just need is a listening ear and to know someone cares enough to ask.

Let’s have the courage and strength to listen with love and understanding. We will learn and grow as we open up the door of conversation and ask questions that lead to truth and discovery. Use questions as your tools and wisdom as your guide in building bridges, rather than burning them.

 

Invite Karol to share with your group on the topic of ”Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.”  Email Tammy at: positivelifeprinciples@gmail.com

 

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Developing Grit

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Would you consider yourself mentally tough? In other words, are you able to push forward despite setbacks, disappointments and mistakes? I believe the potential is within us to strengthen our mental resolve and develop a mindset that allows us to take positive steps forward, especially when the going gets tough.

When the tragedy of 911 occurred in this nation, the US Military needed to train additional Navy SEALS, but they had one problem. Although many recruits began the grueling program, only a small percentage actually made it all the way through, as many quit before completion. Of course the Navy did not want to change the challenging standards to become a SEAL, so they explored what they needed to do to help more recruits complete the strenuous program.

They began to examine the common denominators of those who have grit – the quality to be able push through obstacles even when they felt like giving up. One of the basic factors they found was mental toughness and positive self-talk. Telling yourself, I can do this, rather than thinking, I’m not cut out for this, is one of the keys to getting through the most demanding circumstances. As the Navy began to apply this research, equipping their recruits with mental tools to help them rise up to their obstacles, their passing rates increased by ten percent.*

Negative and defeating thoughts can easily pop into our minds, especially when things don’t go as planned. One way we can turn our self-talk in a positive direction is to memorize certain phrases to repeat to ourselves, especially when we feel like throwing in the towel and quitting.

As a successful businessman, my dad kept a 3 by 5 card in his pocket to pull out at times when he needed an encouraging reminder. Here’s what was written on his card:

  • I can do this!
  • If it is to be, it is up to me.
  • Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.
  • God is the strength of my life.
  • The harder I work, the better I get.

Whether you choose a famous quote, a scripture or an encouraging phrase, fill your mind with what is true, noble and admirable. We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose our focus. Know what is important to you and where you want to go in life. Remember you are not alone. Be willing to invest the time, strength and mental grit to overcome obstacles and reach toward your dreams.

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Check out Karol’s book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women for more inspiration and encouragement.

Photo by Alex Guillaume on Unsplash

*Eric Barker, Barking Up the Wrong Tree (New York, NY: Harper One, 2017) p. 63.

Never Underestimate Your Influence

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Henrietta Mears saw the best in the people God placed in her life. Although at an early age her physical eyesight began to deteriorate leading to eventual blindness, her insight into God’s word and talent of seeing the potential in others grew in strength throughout her life.  Born in 1890, Henrietta loved God’s word from an early age.  She constantly begged her parents to let her go to the adult Sunday School classes at her church, so she could learn deeper truths about the Bible. She taught her first Sunday school class at eleven years old.  When Henrietta graduated from high school her eye doctor warned her that she should not seek further education as it would strain what little eyesight she had left.

Henrietta didn’t let the doctor’s orders stop her as she was determined to use her eyesight until it went out. She did her best to listen in class in order to reduce her need for reading. When she graduated from college she went on to teach high school chemistry, but her first love was teaching the Bible at her church.  Her classes grew and grew in size as she taught God’s word with creativity and accuracy.  Eventually she was invited to be the Christian Education Director at a Presbyterian church in Hollywood, California. She accepted the position and immediately began to write new curriculum to replace the old dull lesson she was provided.  She wrote Sunday School lessons for first through twelfth grades which led her to eventually start a publishing company called Gospel Light Publishers.

College students were her first love and she faithfully taught their class every year. The students loved her because she taught such fun, quirky and creative lessons. Henrietta sincerely loved her students and helped them dream big dreams and catch the vision of what God could do in their lives. Hundreds of her students went on to full time Christian ministry including Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade ministries. Henrietta planted many seeds which God watered and grew into great and fruitful trees. She started a youth camp in California which is now known as Forest Home Conference Center.

One year Henrietta invited a young evangelist to preach to the kids at Forest Home camp.  This young preacher was struggling with what he believed about the inerrancy of the Bible.  Henrietta talked with him and prayed with him. Most importantly she didn’t give up on him, recognizing that God was doing a great work in this young man’s life, knowing God would carry it out to completion. The preacher took a long walk in the forest and then got down on his knees declaring to God that he would stand on the Bible as God’s truth even if it didn’t all make sense to him. Young Billy came back that evening to preach one of the most powerful sermons Henrietta had ever heard.  Many kids came to trust Christ that very night. Billy Graham went on to preach his first crusade soon after his experience at Forest Home.

Billy Graham said that Henrietta Mears was one of the most influential women in his life besides his own mother and his wife.  Aren’t you glad that Henrietta saw her students as works in progress? She didn’t give up on them. She didn’t focus on their faults, rather she poured into them and nurtured them in the Lord.  She reminds me of Paul. Henrietta wasn’t imprisoned by being chained to a guard, but she was imprisoned by her physical blindness. Yet just like Paul, she didn’t let her challenges keep her from building up others and encouraging them to be all that God wanted them to be.  She looked for the potential and not the problems.

 

This is an excerpt from A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God.  Click Here for More Info.

Five Steps to a Happier You

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We all tend to define happiness in different terms. For some, it’s a euphoric feeling when circumstances are ultra-fantastic. For others, happiness may be on the scale somewhere between joy and delight when we are with people we love or in a job for which we are passionate. Still others, may define happiness as a clean bill of health or a pain-free day. Whatever your definition of happiness is, you don’t need to wait for the right set of circumstances to experience it. Here are five positive steps to help you create your own happiness right where you are.

 

Gratitude Journal – Begin a daily routine of writing down at least five things for which you are grateful.  Be specific and think about the people you met or the small joys you experienced over the last 24 hours. Go one step further and consider the blessings you can find in the challenges you are currently facing. Your mindset and perspective will begin to change as you choose to focus on what is good in your life, rather than what is frustrating to you.

 

Kind Actions – If you want to do a happy dance, do something to make another person happy. When you elevate others through your words or actions, you can’t help but experience a sense of delight. Whether it is a smile, or holding the door open or helping a co-worker or neighbor with a project, when you give kindness it will be returned to you in heaping doses of happiness.

 

Regular Exercise – Get up and get moving. Whether you go for a walk in the park, grab a short jog on the treadmill or stretch and do Pilates on your bedroom floor, exercise has a proven track record of releasing endorphins (the happy hormone in your brain) and providing a release from stress. As you form a habit of exercising at least five days a week, you will not only feel better physically, but you will experience emotional benefits as well.

 

Alone Time – In our overconnected culture, we rarely have time alone to relax, think and pray. We must take deliberate measures to disconnect from technology and have some time to communicate with God and listen for His direction. Stillness rejuvenates our soul. Set aside at least ten minutes a day to put away your phone and devices and spend some alone time with the Lord. Praise Him for His greatness, listen for His direction and cast your cares at His feet.

 

Forgiving Heart – In my opinion, one of the greatest robbers of joy and happiness is a bitter heart, filled with unforgiveness. Every day we have new opportunities to forgive others because every person we encounter has a few flaws or shortcomings. As followers of Christ, we reflect His forgiving nature as we forgive others. Release your resentments into the hands of a just and understanding God. He will heal your wounds and set you on a new path of freedom.

 

Start this week with a new mindset! Fear, anger, self-doubt or a critical spirit are just a few mental attitudes that diminish our joy in life. Identify the negative attitudes that you are allowing to dominate your thinking and make a deliberate effort to change your focus. Begin to live with a mindset filled with victory and hope, rather than defeat and negativity. Apply these five steps to your daily life. You don’t need to sit around and wait for happiness to happen – you can begin the journey on the road to happiness now.

 

This is the last week to order A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living DVD for $5 only available on her website. Click Here for more details.

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