No matter where we are in our lives, if we have any type of goal (spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, financial, etc), we all want a helping hand to help us rise up to the next level. Maybe we just want encouraging words to give us confidence. Or perhaps we want a mentor or colleagues to help guide our steps. Or maybe and quite literally, we want a hand reaching down to pull us up to the next level.
But if you’ve ever striven for something, you know that very few people are at the top, and most of us are climbing, evolving, hurdling towards our end goal. While this is very natural, it leaves an incredible gap in the process. If everyone wants to rise up, who is really left to provide that level of assistance?
So what’s the solution?
We are. And it’s quite simple because we can each provide the hand to the next person and pull them up beside us. We can all encourage others – even those along the same path.
Where we trip up is in our human frailty. Perhaps it’s fear of lack, a shortage of faith or simply put, greed. And maybe, it is an intense focus on the self and our own goals, causing us to miss what is needed by those around us. Whatever it may be for you, lean into it. Ask God to help you discern the choices you are making and the people you are investing in.
Are you only investing 100% in yourself and those that will advance your desires (i.e. self-serving)? Or are you spending some of that time investing in and encouraging others without expectation of return? If you only focus on yourself and what you are building, in the short-term, you’ll likely see positive results. In the long-term, you may even be successful. But with success taken without consideration of others, you will, with all certainty, come up empty.
So the questions to ponder (physically write down your answers to ensure you truly give this thought): Who do you want to be for others? With your goals, what are your desired outcomes? If you believe helping others rise up and success in your own goals cannot co-exist, lean into faith and God’s plan for you. If you believe there isn’t enough time, customers, [fill in the blank] for you to lift up others as you rise up, lean into faith and God’s plan for you. And, if you just want it all without concern for others along your path, lean into faith and God’s plan for you. There is more than enough for everyone to rise up together.
Who can you help along their path this week?
Meditation:Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. – Luke 16:10
Meditation:Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Change starts with all of us. When we change ourselves, we change our lives and essentially, change the world. What we do, who we are and the intention behind our actions ripples across our families, communities and planet. If you are sick and tired of the world as it is, it’s time to look within and fine-tune the marvelous creature God created you to be.
This is one very connected world, now more than ever before in our human history. We are all called to show up and get to work, not just for ourselves and our family line, but for each other. We are NOT products of our circumstances; we get to choose the outcome. God created us to be POWERFUL. So let’s show 2021 what’s up and start making change TODAY.
Think it’s impossible? Wrong. Here are 12 everyday people, just like you, sharing their stories of how they made small shifts in 2020 that created big results.
1 – Create DIRECTION.
My struggle against busyness is the very center of my pursuit to spend more time and create more space for God in my life. About two years ago I started actively working against busyness in my life. Saying no to activities, events, people, and sometimes even extra business to try and keep myself in a state of balance that opens up space for God. But this year it took a surprising turn. As COVID life descended on us in March and helped clear the schedule on its own, I continued to find myself much busier than I would like. After praying about this never-ending busyness that I was immersed in, God helped show me that it was self-inflicted.
My own perception of who I am or thought I should be in several circles of my life was creating expectations that kept me busy. How good of a financial advisor I was, how good I am at golf, how good of a family member I am, how good of a friend I am. Each one of those identities held separate expectations that required constant activity to maintain those perceptions.
What a crazy realization it was to find out that “I”am keeping myself from God because of my pride and self-worth in things outside of Him. As I meditate on this and continue to pray over this in my life, space for God becomes more of a natural state as my self-worth in other things erodes.
Pro tip: By creating space and time for God, we can more easily hear His voice and create clarity around our goals and direction. How can you create more space in your life for God’s guidance?
2 – Create MEANINGFUL RESULTS.
I tend to resist change for so long that God usually has to swoop in and make it happen for me. (I thrive on security.)
After having my first child at the end of 2019, I knew it was time to focus on my dream of writing as a profession. When you have a baby, your availability for anything else goes down by about 75%. My free time became infinitely more valuable, and I felt a strong pull to double-down on growing the acorn of a gift God gave me with writing.
Even though I was uncharacteristically decisive in that final meeting with my boss (who was very supportive), I realized my confidence came from small but carefully-laid bricks I had been putting down for years, paving the way to that particular moment with my boss where I could say goodbye to a steady paycheck and bet on God and myself.
Pro tip: God always wants the best for us and He knows which goals and choices will bring us joy, meaning and fulfillment. What change have you been resisting? It’s the surest path to creating joy in your life.
3 – Create ACCOMPLISHMENT.
Accomplishment this year was really a result of community building. By God’s grace, any accomplishment this year was truly based on the belief that it takes a village and that we are here for each other. At a time when we had to remain distant, I was fortunate to build more relationships virtually than it may have ever been possible in-person and because of that, was able to make strides with Mission: Motherhood to move programming forward for our community.
Pro tip: Often times, we come up with several goals to accomplish each year which diverts our focus; it can become very overwhelming which may cause us to quit. Choose 1 goal and do it well.
4- Create ACTION.
This year, I decided to take a big step in my business and launch it. However, I’m a full-time mom, homeschooling my two kiddos, with a husband working a full time job, in graduate school and working towards his commercial pilot certificate. Needless to say, time isn’t something I have an abundance of. Although I had limitations, I took consistent action towards my goal, whether it was attending a networking event, finding and purchasing a domain name, or working on my business, even if just for a half hour at a time. Consistency and action (no matter how big or small) allowed me to propel forward in my business.
Pro tip: Pick 2 actionable items this week and choose 2 more the week after that and so on. I love the quote by St. Francis of Assisi “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
5 – Create MOMENTUM.
What I’ve found this past year is that my greatest distractions revolved around being too focused on things in my environment that I had literally no control over. For me, there were many times when it felt to me like I was skidding off the road and heading straight for a concrete wall. Eventually I realized that if I continued to focus on the part of the road I was wanting my “car” to go, the wheels eventually caught and my car got out of the skid! The lesson for me is to focus on what I most want, not on fearful distractions
Pro tip: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Message Alerts. Need I say more? The mediums that interrupt you are what break your focus and drive towards your goals. What can you remove from your life?
6 – Create RESILIENCY.
I’m an artist and mom of three. Life is beautiful and chaotic at the same time. To say that this year has been challenging is an understatement. In order to stay in a positive mindset on a daily basis, I started implementing a little mind trick.
If something disappointing happens, I think of the inverse of the situation and why it could be a positive. For example, if I lose out on a commission opportunity because what I quoted was out of their budget. Instead of painting that one item for them, I now have more time on my hands to start a new project. I can use that time to make a new collection of paintings, which adds more robust listings to my website. I make timelapse videos of everything I paint which makes for fun social media content. The more people see me creating, the more ideas they have for requesting a painting of their own. Boom! My custom request list fills back up!
Pro tip: Our flow in life is all about how we respond. Many things that happen to you are out of your control, but you get to decide how it impacts you. How can you respond to maintain a gentle flow towards success?
7 – Create JOY.
The secret of my joy is grounded in my relationship with Christ. Joy does not come from outward circumstances but inward strength. It’s confident assurance of God’s love and work in our lives… even in hardships.
Pro tip: Joy is just as (if not more) important as our goals. How can you create joy in your life? What will keep you light and airy, and thus in consistent contribution to yourself and others?
8 – Create SELF-LOVE.
2020 has been a challenging year for a lot of us in terms of our relationship with food. Being stuck at home a lot more than usual, gyms closing for months, and our normal routine being turned upside down triggered a lot of us to either binge on quarantine snacks (normal) or face our obsession with body image and food. For many of us, 2020 was marked by bingeing, restricting and then guilt and shame that we couldn’t maintain the restrictions.
After years of self-imposed and diet-culture imposed restrictions, I finally overcame my obsession with food perfection (orthorexia) and shrinking my body, which has been a many decade obsession, stemming from childhood insecurities. I can honestly say I will not give any more of my money to a diet program, detox, cleanse or sneaky “lifestyle” program that is actually a diet. Instead I am choosing to love and respect myself and my body as it is right now. For many of us, these programs we sign up for to transform our bodies actually take us away from self-love and disconnect us from our own intuition about what our body actually needs.
Pro tip: Often times, we forget to take care of ourselves during the busyness of our lives. If you find you experience burn out, how can you better take care of yourself on a consistent basis?
9 – Create FREEDOM.
This year has been an incredible transformation for me. I have encountered myself in all shapes and formats. The biggest challenge was that I felt I am not doing enough, I should be better and do more, which are very solid beliefs of mine generally, which took hold when I became a mom a few months ago.
I feel society pushes all of us constantly to be “doing” or “achieving” rather than just “being” present, aware, loving and happy.
My daily practice is to be present and kind, accepting that I am enough & doing what I can with my never ending to-do list (who hasn’t one of these!). This gives me an incredible sense of relief and I sincerely believe more of us should stop and observe all the good we do and have and try to be kinder to ourselves which makes us feel more whole and live purposefully.
Pro tip: Negative beliefs about ourselves or others creates deep inner turmoil and impedes our ability to live a joyful existence. Where do you find yourself upset with yourself or others? What is your belief or perspective in that area and how can you change it?
10 – Create LOVE.
Being there for those who need me means I have to have my daily affairs in order. If I am not organized, there is no way I will be able to give of myself the way I need to (especially with a level head).
For example, I wake up early in the morning. The house is quiet and I can be intentional about how to start my day. To me, success means showing up for people who love and need me with grace and poise, while checking off priority items. Organization, intentionality and time management are guiding musts.
With anything, having a plan is part of the key to success, but the ability to pull it through on a consistent basis, in order to build habits is another. Life showed up over and over in 2020, inevitably we got off track- but I am committed to being and doing my best and that means we re-route to get back on path to what we know will work, and the family is always the focus of that.
Pro tip: The people we care deeply for need us. How can you turn off the noise in your brain or temporarily set aside your work and interests so that you can give more of yourself to those around you?
11 – Create RELATIONSHIP.
Over the years I’ve been asked on multiple occasions how to walk through times of crisis, both personally and professionally while remaining intentional to respond in love. These three points provide a framework for creating meaningful relationships and will honor God and bless your family by leaving a legacy they can be proud of.
1 – Humility: It is important to always be mindful of ways I can be value-able. I must be able to humbly add value to others as well as able to humbly allow others to add value to me.
2 – Wisdom: How I show up can differ depending on who I will be with. Wisely regulating the degree of how I show up has nothing to do with being real; it does though have everything to do with demonstrating love in wisdom to be transparent, vulnerable and genuine.
3 – Identity: For me to present myself in a manner that honors God, regardless of who I am with or what environment I am in, I must be confident in knowing whose I am. Having chosen to trust in Jesus Christ, I am more able to provide consistency in my relationships.
Pro tip: How do you want others to experience you? As confident? Loving? Generous? Kind? Challenge yourself to be this way regardless of the way others treat you.
12 – Create RELIEF.
I have had the great privilege to be part of Associated Churches over the past few years and have seen first hand how this organization provides extraordinary relief to the community. Whether it’s assisting expecting / new moms, those in food crisis, veterans or teens, Associated Churches summed up in one word is ‘relief’. Even though not-for-profits have suffered this year too, Associated Churches always has an open door to those in need. What an amazing and generous gift to give to others.
Pro tip: God has given you so many extraordinary talents and gifts. We all need to check in from time to time and ask ourselves if we are trying to be like others to fit in or be liked. God needs you to be YOU for others. What special gifts and talents make you unique and special?
If 2020 has shown us anything, it has revealed who we rely on, who we trust and as a result, who we serve. When we rely on, trust and serve someone (or thing), it impacts the course of our lives. But what happens when we don’t like the results or the feelings it evokes within us, like fear? How to change your life has a lot do with Proverbs 4:23 which warns that who you give your heart to determines the choices you make and the direction of your life. We often think about this scripture in terms of a romantic relationship. Don’t give your heart away to just anyone. But this short passage can apply to all relationships: our relationship with God, media/news, money, health, leaders, really anything we entrust enough to guide our choices and direction.
Let’s go through a couple of examples. Let’s say you rely on, trust and as a result, serve those in positions of power. All that you do flows from their voice and into your decisions and thus, impacts the direction of your life. Your hope is set in them and their ability to support you (i.e. rely on), to work in your best interest (i.e. trust) and therefore, you serve them as there really is no other reason to seek support from someone or something else.
The issue here is that humans, are well, humans. We are all fallible. We are all prey to weakness. And we can all make selfish choices. So when we put our full hope in those in positions of power, we place it in someone fallible, and in all reality, doesn’t truly know the best course of action for each one of us.
The same goes for the news (established or self-made on social media). This becomes our master when it takes our time, focus and energy away from the things that matter. How much time are you spending in these areas? How much are you allowing them to dictate your choices? Do they really cause hope and joy? Or are they causing fear, and thus creating choices birthed in fear? How does that flow through you? What does that create in your life?
Now, let’s talk about God. Do you truly rely on, trust and as a result, serve Him? To know if you really do, you will see the results in your life – hope, joy, peace and connection. And not just for you, but for those around you. When we are joy-filled, we are patient with others, we forgive others, we respond with love even when offended. We are able to maintain strong and fulfilling relationships.
Do you have this in your life? Are you able to create joy in your little corner of the world? Or are you essentially giving away the beautiful gift of you by relying on, trusting and as a result, serving a different master? God always knows how to change your life and which personal transformations will create joy. He knows the direction you should take and the choices you should make. No one else – not even you (Sorry, not sorry. I had to say it! I was once there too, and after you start relying on God, you realize how dreadful it really was trying to control everything on your own).
So if you’re tired of the results in your life, if you are tired of serving false gods and you are ready to learn how to change your life, RUN to the true God. Ask Him to show you the way, even if it’s just the next step. He will always guide you to hope, joy and love.
Meditation:Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23
The coronavirus year of 2020 has taken its toll on many. Some have lost their lives, others their jobs and for most everyone – our general way of life because nothing is normal about this year. People have become tired. And with another looming winter upon us, some (or most) of us just want to throw in the towel and be done with this. Done with the social distancing, the masks, working and learning from home, all of it; it’s exhausting. But the reality is that covid isn’t quite done with us. And as we see cases on the rise again, it’s easy to feel defeated. But this is what I love about all of it: God created us to be resilient. Yes! You, me, everyone and every thing. Wewill get through this.
Think about a weed. A measly, insignificant weed. Every time that weed is cut down, it comes back. Every time that weed is pulled out, guess what? Its root is so deep, that weed pops out of the ground again. And when a weed does establish itself, it is almost impossible to get rid of. Now if God created a weed and gave it that level of resiliency, then he definitely gave it to us too.
Of all the years this planet has been around, we have survived, endured and in most cases, flourished. Covid will be a blip on the radar in the long run. It may feel unending at this time, but remember – you are resilient, powerful and strong. And you are more important to God than any weed. He created you in a way so that you won’t only survive or endure, you will with all certainty, flourish.
Resiliency is a muscle. The more adversity you face, the stronger you become. Know that the crisis in front of you will only build you out into a more dynamic, bold and powerful individual. Hold on to hope and embrace the pain because that struggle is exactly what fine tunes the magnificent person God created you to be.
Meditation:Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 3:3-4
Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Ergo, hope is essentially a belief that what we want to happen will actually occur. Hopelessness steps in when our beliefs change – when we start believing that what we wanted to happen will never ever happen and that something unpleasant will, in fact, transpire. That feels heavy just typing it. Take a moment and imagine what hopelessness does to our momentum, our choices and our impact on one another. It’s not pretty. So it’s important during these times to challenge the beliefs of impossibility and our thoughts around it.
We can ask ourselves a few questions to help us when we feel hopeless:
Where do my beliefs come from?
What makes them true?
What proof do I have to support my beliefs and is it helpful?
I’m willing to bet that your answer to the last question is that you actually don’t have any real proof. And that is because often times, our hope comes from the environment around us, not a pure source. Some examples of that environment may be words spoken to us by friends and family, the news / social media or past experiences. The problem with developing hope and beliefs from these areas is that they are of this world.
Now don’t get me started on the news, but the news thrives when we are captivated in fear. They tell the version of the story that will suck us in and lock the door behind us. Let’s please not base our hope from there because the news is mostly in the business of creating hopelessness. Our friends and family are people and people are fallible. Even if they have the best of intentions, their opinions on our possibilities may not be accurate and instead based on their own experiences or insecurities. And past experiences – just because something happened once or even several times, does not mean it will happen again.
So where should we find our hope? Where is a pure source of belief? The answer is always simple to life’s big mysteries. And to this one, the answer is God. It’s in developing a relationship with Him and going to Him with our anxieties. We can ask Him what to hope for. Only He knows the plans for each of our lives. Our family and friends, as much as they may try to help, do not know. Past experiences certainly do not and neither does the news. Even when everything may appear to be falling apart, it still does not mean that the future is bleak. Take it to God. Take everything to Him. Only He knows what the future holds for you.
But perhaps you are praying, and not finding the answer right away. While we wait, we can all do as Jesus taught and simply love one another. We can strive to focus on today and let the worries of tomorrow go. We can show up for others in a kind, patient and loving way. And we can help our brothers and sisters in need even if it just means listening, truly listening. Who do you want to be? What do you want to create? How do you want to show up for your friends, family, children and co-workers?
So will you join me and challenge your beliefs when you feel hopelessness? Will you lean on God, create a relationship with Him and focus on others? It’s a simple formula that won’t just create greater joy in your life, but for everyone around you.
Meditation 1: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Meditation 2:Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance. But our current environment has been anything but! Coronavirus, financial uncertainty, protests. Some necessary, some we could do without. But here we are. And we will find a way through it. But as we navigate these times, will we restore peace in our lives and in the lives of those we touch? Or will we create more divisiveness? The choice is ours.
Step 1: Give grace abundantly away.
Right now, throw that grace around. Sprinkle it on your dinner and dish it out to everyone you know. The majority of us are under stress and that makes us reactive. And reactions are usually misaligned with how we would like to respond. No one is perfect and remember that fact next time you get upset with someone or their opinions. We all learn and grow every day – you, me, everybody. Give out some grace. Restore peace.
Step 2: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey
So I deactivated my facebook account a few weeks ago and recently hopped onto my husband’s account to checkout Marketplace. And then it happened: I hit the newsfeed and was sucked in. Once I pulled myself away, I realized that there was a huge lack of understanding. No one and I mean NO ONE sought to understand someone else’s opinion before demanding that everyone believe and follow what they said. Talk about chaos and divisiveness! I encourage everyone (myself included) to simmer down, and to remember to seek understanding of another’s thoughts, feelings and perspectives before responding. In doing so, we will all benefit and our communication will flow much more generously and peacefully.
Step 3: Live by Example.
Our impact literally never ends, but our opinions do. And while those opinions are at it, they create disagreement and can destroy peace. Have you ever noticed that when someone states an opinion on social media, they get a bunch of ‘likes’ from those that agree and comments from those who don’t? Opinions just rally people who already agree with you around you. It doesn’t create any real change. If you want to change your community, live by example. Do something. Be something. Create change through action and inspire change by example.
Step 4: Limit Your Intake.
The news sells fear to crank up their ratings. And social media is saturated with opinions and reposts of the news. Take a breather from it all. See what life is like without all of the extra noise. Create peace of mind and let your impact flow from there.
Do you have other strategies to restore peace? Share with others in the comment section below.
Part of the difficulty during this period of time is that we can’t do much. We are literally confined to our homes and told to distance ourselves. On top of that, our financial stability may feel uncertain as we face new challenges many of us have never seen in our lifetimes. So what do we even have left to give? What could we possibly do to help right now?
How you can give back is simple: Be exactly the extraordinary person God created you to be.
God created each of us with many gifts and talents and each one of these contributions are unique, yet dependent on one another (Check out 1 Corinthians 12 – It’s one of my favorites!!). You are the gift and the gift of you is necessary to this planet, right now, today. This is a time we can all rise up and truly come together as a community – regardless of our differing beliefs, thoughts and opinions – to support each other. What we do for one, no matter how big or small, creates an impact on the others life. So what I do impacts you and what you do impacts me. And together, through small and large gestures alike, we create community.
You may be wondering how you can give back, or what gifts and talents you can to bring to the table. I love our humanness because we are so much more than what we ‘do’; we are more than laborers, professionals or stay at home parents. While these occupations are important and we learn a substantial amount of skills through them, we are dynamic and our humanness adds to the amazing abilities we’ve already acquired through those experiences.
So what could these other skills be? Some examples of the gifts and talents that can be shared with others include:
Being a good listener
Providing wisdom, emotional support, spiritual support or encouragement
Teaching or offering a service from one of your hobbies: Gardening, woodworking, sewing, baking, etc.
Praying for others and for our leaders to make sound decisions (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Being light-hearted, humorous or gregarious (thank you to those with these special talents!!)
Offering personal financial analysis or budgeting help
Providing resume review and job search advice
Being good with children (while you may be unable to interact with kids, you can provide tips and activity ideas to grateful parents)
Artistic abilities such as providing craft ideas or creating and gifting your work to uplift another
Musical talents – Could you imagine life without music right now?? That would be unsurvivable!!
Not sure what you can do? Everyone can do a random act of kindness, lend a hand, write a thoughtful note or simply give a smile.
The gifts and talents God has given each of us are truly unlimited when we are united together. I look around at those in my life and I see these gifts spring up right in front of me. My neighbor is a teacher and is excellent with children. I could learn SO much from her. My mom is always upbeat and encouraging. What an amazing gift to offer others right now. My husband is physically strong – imagine what he could do to help neighbors and elderly around their yards! All of my siblings and friends are gifted in their own ways: hilarious, wise, creative, patient, gentle, peaceful, resilient, supportive and optimistic. They each are a gift in just sharing that part of themselves with others.
So what are your God-given gifts and talents you can share during this time? What can you give freely and generously with no expectation of return? How can God use you? Don’t ask permission to be generous. Share you gifts and talents today. Hear me!! YOU ARE NEEDED.
Meditation: Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. – 1 Corinthians 12:12
Who are you right now? Who are you being? Are you truth? Are you love? What about peace and hope? Or are you fear? Are you anger? Are you distrust and discouragement? What are you giving to others? And what is that creating in your home, within your friendships or even on social media?
The current landscape of this world is a sea of chaos, fear, hopelessness, anxiety, anger and hysteria. And it’s easy to be swept away into its dark and ominous waves. But if we allow it, we won’t just keep our heads above water, we will be swallowed whole and unified with its wrath. Fear and chaos then become our new narrative that controls the focus of our minds, and thus dictates our entire lives. We are no longer free, but now slaves to its blows and an extension of its fear-inducing tentacles.
We can all look at fear and understand what it creates: hopelessness, greed, anger, discouragement, war, hatred, broken relationships, depression and unfortunately, the list goes on. One may argue that fear and anger create passion for change. We may believe that our outrage or anger can sway hearts. But the ultimate truth is that feeding the storm doesn’t create the change we seek. It creates more of what’s already there, not just in the community, but in your own life and in the lives of those you care for most. If we speak anger, we anger others. If we speak frustration, we frustrate others. We create what we give.
Each one of us is responsible for who we are in this storm and its ripple effects. Over the last few weeks, I’ve both seen and taken part in its violence. Personally, and at different times and varying levels, it created stress, fear, darkness, anxiety, anger, self-righteousness, arrogance and hopelessness. When I allowed it to flow out of me to my family or on social media, I created more of it. And not just for me – for others too.
But, that’s not who I want to be for others; I want to be different. I don’t want to be the one that incites anger, fear, dread, drama and anxiety. I want my ripple effect to create hope, love, joy, generosity and peace. Each one of us has a choice in how we respond to what’s going on around us. Each one of us can create real and lasting change that results from the clarity of living and giving peace, hope and love. How will you respond to this storm and as a result, what will you create in your life and in the lives of those you touch? You can change it all in an instant.
Meditation: “Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” – Psalm 43:3
We have entered Spring, a season of physical growth. Trees
are budding, perennials are emerging and chicks, ducklings and all sorts of
animals are entering this world to begin their own journeys. Planet Earth is in
full swing of its annual rebirth.
As creatures of this planet, we are also experiencing this growth. Daunted with the task of navigating COVID-19, our spring awakening is different this year than those of the past. It is asking more of us and calling us to grow and evolve to deal with these challenging times.
We often think we are in control, that life is secure. And when events like COVID-19 occur, we feel we no longer have that control. That loss of control can cause us to feel worry, fear, frustration, depression, desperation and anxiety. That mental warfare then floods into the other areas of our life. Our concentration at work suffers, our ability to lovingly connect with family and friends disintegrates, and our capacity to access peace of mind dissipates at a rapid-fire pace. Sit for a moment and think about how that impacts your life, how fear shapes your choices and the results those choices create.
There is so much uncertainty about the upcoming weeks and months. But the truth of the matter is that we never had control to begin with. God has the ultimate control. We could have the best economy and suddenly lose our job. We could have a healthy family and unfortunately lose a loved one. At any time and in any moment, we could experience an unexpected hardship. We are never fully in control and the moment we embrace the truth that God holds all the cards, we can then access emotional and spiritual peace to help us transition any period of life – no matter what our perceived level of control may be.
When we face a crisis but have faith as an ally, our response and experience is vastly different. We are able to grow the fruits of faith which are, but not limited to: Peace, grace and CERTAINTY (Yes! Certainty that God will lead us through whatever is thrown our way). Think about how that impacts your emotional and spiritual well-being. With peace of mind, we are then able to create joy, meaningful experiences, clarity, motivation and love – all things that positively impact every area of our lives and the lives of those we touch.
In Hebrews 11:1, faith is defined as “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is trusting in an outcome without knowledge of the who, what, when, where, how and why. When we place this faith in man (whether that is ourselves, another or an organization), we may be let down. Man is fallible and can only see limited possibilities. But when we place this faith in God, the one who is all-knowing, all-loving and infinite in possibility, we set ourselves up for greater outcomes.
There are three tenets of faith to truly live it: patience, courage and trust. Patience in God’s timing, courage to act (or not depending on what He is calling you to in a given moment) and trust in His guidance. Right now, and without a doubt, we are challenged this Springtime to grow our trust – trust in God, trust in His plan and trust in His guidance. We are to trust that we will emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially survive the weeks that lie ahead and if we don’t survive it in the way we anticipated, that we trust God will lead us to our next chapter and provide new blessings in our lives, perhaps even bringing greater joy than we previously knew possible.
My hope is that you experience a growth in faith this Spring. Should you allow trust to infiltrate your heart, you will see the fruits of faith develop right in front of your eyes. Peace, clarity, joy, loving impact, a new way of life, a new way to create growth that reaches out and positively impacts everyone you love.
I haven’t written an interview in quite awhile but I was so inspired to do so because the person within it is so inspiring to me. It’s not so much what she says but what she actually does. This woman reaches others with her big heart, graceful words and kind spirit to create real change in our community. And we are so lucky to have her. I’d like you to please join me in learning about the fascinating Jennifer Hale and her experience as Community Leader and Advocate.
Tell me about The Greater Good of Northeast Indiana (NEI).
The Greater Good of NEI concept started out of a need that I saw in the community to help bring more awareness to the activity in the nonprofits and to help engage our community at large. Over the past two years, it has grown from a Facebook page promoting various nonprofit events/needs, to presenting multiple community events and developing partnerships with Input Fort Wayne and Current Fort Wayne which help to spread the mission of supporting our nonprofits.
What drives you? What’s your ‘why’ behind your work?
If I have an idea that I can’t shake, I have to try to run with it. It might fail gloriously, exceed expectations, or land somewhere in between, but I’ve always believed in simply trying. When it comes to the Greater Good concept, the more I took time to listen to people active within nonprofits and in the community at large, it became more and more apparent that this was a ‘need’ to fill a gap. The task itself is daunting most days, because I want to run a marathon but can only get a mile done, but its growing and that’s what keeps me going. My ‘why’ is really just trying to leave this world a little better than when I found it. I have three kids who know how passionate I am about giving back and if I can pass on anything to them it is to be an active member of any community that they are a part of – not just for the benefit of themselves, but for the benefit of others.
How do you maintain your drive with life’s ups and downs?
I’ve learned that we can do all things with faith and grace! It is a really hard lesson to learn – REALLY hard. I often used to take situations in to my own hands to achieve the results that I thought that I wanted, but I have learned to be more open and have received countless more opportunities with a shift in heart and mind. And give myself plenty of grace. I am my hardest critic and have had my own share of depression and anxiety, so when I feel like I’m not enough or doing enough, I step back, take a breath and learn to be grateful for where I am at.
What all are you in involved in at this current moment?
This year I’m structuring the business side of the organization and formalizing as a Benefit Corporation in Indiana. It’s really exciting because this is a relatively new corporate structure in Indiana, but has been gaining really positive traction on a national arena.
We’re also working on community partnerships that will bring awareness and support to Postpartum Depression and maternal mental health both of which have astonishingly high rates with little to no positive action surrounding it. It should go without saying that maternal health is critical in any healthy societal structure, so again, the need for awareness is real and I’m working on bringing more conversations to the forefront in our own community.
With a new born, how do you make time to network, run The Greater Good and manage your family?
It’s amazing how open people are to meet with me and a baby! I try to use good judgement on when and where it is appropriate, but part of where I am in my life is being a mom first and foremost and so having to share that with people at times is part of this season of life. I am grateful to have support to watch the baby as needed and while the older kiddos are at school, but I really believe that as moms we become highly specialized at multi-tasking, so I rely a lot on that super power most days.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Martin Luther King and Princess Diana were big influences for me when I was growing up. I couldn’t read enough about their own missions to create critical change in the world during their own lives. Consistently though, my most direct inspiration is my own mom. She’s 75 years old and volunteers weekly with the homeless. As long as I can remember she cheers on the underdog and had a servant leader’s heart before the concept even existed. She is led by her faith and I’m really just a product of her passion for helping others in God’s image.
What has been your biggest challenge in your goals as a community game changer?
There’s so much that I want to do and it feels like there is so little time to accomplish it. That’s where I have to give myself some grace. Every step forward is a small success building towards the bigger picture.
For anyone aspiring to step into an active role within their community, what advice do you have for them? What should their first step be?
First find out what you are passionate about, for example – women’s issues / children’s causes / homelessness / animals etc. There are so many organizations in our community that fight daily for those who are under served, so first find out where your heart is and watch the rest unfold. You can follow organizations on Facebook or just ask me through The Greater Good page ( 🙂 ) Then, take a step! If you have time to volunteer but no funds to donate, give some of your time. If you have funds to donate but no time, give some of your funds. That’s always been my own baseline when it comes to giving back. What I have learned is that any little bit helps – do not hesitate by how much or how little you may be able to give – just always give first with love and see where it leads.