Susan Call Encourager, Speaker, Author Wed, 18 Oct 2017 22:40:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 40079160 My Secret to Becoming Fiercely Focused, Confident, and Victorious Wed, 18 Oct 2017 22:31:23 +0000 This wasn’t the first time I’d tried. I’d say it’s been an on-again-off-again battle for more years than I can remember. But, this time was different. Can I be completely honest with you? Transparent even? Can you lean a little bit closer? I’m not sure I want to say this too loudly. Or, on second thought, maybe I do. Now that I think about it, I want to shout this from the mountain tops, because it’s worth sharing.

For the past few months, I’ve experienced a major personal victory. After years of fighting a losing a battle with my weight, I’ve finally discovered the secret to success. It’s been so elusive and it’s been maddening. It’s left me feeling defeated, less than, unable, and insufficient more times than I can count. But now that has all changed! Now I’m fiercely focused, confident, and victorious. Don’t you want that too? Before I go any further, I have to tell you that this is not just a post about weight loss. It’s about so much more.

Today I finally realized why I stopped short time after time. And, while I’m being completely honest, I didn’t just stop short, I pretty much started short.  Each time I quit almost as fast as I had started. Sure I’d make changes. I’d say ‘this was the time’ I’d succeed. But, the moment progress wasn’t noticeable, I gave up. Done. End of discussion. It became my dance. I took one step forward and two steps back – more defeated with each failed attempt. My starting point further back with each set back.

Today’s aha came after hearing a snippet of a message on Joshua and the wall of Jericho. God told Joshua that his people needed to march around the city of Jericho for 7 days. They marched for 6 days and NOTHING happened! Nothing! Still, they came back day after day after day. If they had given up because they couldn’t see progress, they would have missed out on what God had for them.

Imagine marching around a city wanting the walls to fall. Each day you look for even the smallest change – but not even a small crack in the wall showed, not so much as a pebble fell from the wall. The wall was STILL there, fully intact night after night. They didn’t wake each day and simply stare at the wall, they marched. They didn’t moan about how impossible the wall seemed. They marched. Despite not seeing progress, despite not seeing God moving, they marched.

How many times do we sell our future short because we don’t follow their example? We allow ourselves to get stuck staring at the wall. We wake up and notice it’s still there, completely unchanged, so we choose to feed our discouragement.

  • It’ll never change.
  • It’ll never move.
  • It’s impossible.

Maybe God’s put on our hearts to write a book. Instead of following through, we feed our internal dialog with how daunting the task is and remind ourselves how difficult it is to publish. We get stuck staring at the wall instead of writing one word after another.

Maybe God’s nudged us to take care of our physical health. We feed our internal chatter with how many times we’ve tried and failed. We remind ourselves of the time we lived on salads and the scale didn’t budge. We sit down and stare at the wall.

We feel God’s nudging us to learn a new skill or pursue additional education. We question our ability, the cost, the time, and every other aspect around the decision. With every ounce of doubt we conjure up, we put another brick in the wall of our doubt and stare at how impossibly high it seems.

What wall are you staring at? What bricks are you adding to it with your doubt or self-chatter?

What if today you decided to take a step and begin your march with anticipation that your wall will crumble?

Every single change is empowered by the choices we make. When we choose to continue to take one step after another, we may find ourselves feeling a bit like the people marching around Jericho. Progress may appear evasive. We may not see so much as the smallest crack in the wall. March on. Take the next step.

  • Choices add up.
  • Choices solidify our direction.
  • Making the right choice, decision after decision, causes walls to crumble.

How do I know it works? Because as of today, I’m down 33 pounds. I cannot remember the last time I weighed what I weigh today. I’ve unleased a more confident me that knows I can face the other walls in my life one choice at a time.

My weight loss success has been anchored in my decisions. I’ve empowered myself at each opportunity for a decision – I can eat something from the candy jar at work, or I can bring a piece of fruit. I can drink more water, or I can choose not to. I’m not on a diet that is limiting me. Instead, I look at each crossroads as an opportunity to continue in the right direction or add a brick to the wall that’s holding me back. The choice is mine. For the first time, I’ve sincerely asked God for His strength in crumbling my wall. I’m not to my goal yet, and I’m ok with that. I will get there one decision at a time.

You know what? He knows about your wall too. Are you staring at it, or ready for it to crumble. Take a step. And another. Do not stop marching in the direction of overcoming it. The victory will be sweet! March on, even when you don’t see the progress, God is moving. Your wall will crumble!

Being transparent doesn’t always come easy. But, I want you to know I’m in this with you, no matter what your wall is. If you’ve been encouraged to take you next step, I invite you to comment to join the conversation. And, why not share it with your friends. Maybe you could help them start on their journey to crumble the walls they face.

]]> 0 1443
How a Pop Quiz Can Change Your Perspective on Self-Talk Wed, 11 Oct 2017 01:09:45 +0000 “Pull out a blank piece of paper,” the professor said as the class’s lively chatter suddenly fell to a hush.  They were the unenthusiastic recipients of a pop quiz. This particular professor was known for pushing students harder, demanding more, and giving tough tests. The rush of anxiety that swept over the room was palpable.

As you read this, you’re likely not in a classroom faced with a dreaded pop quiz, but doesn’t the thought of one still make you cringe?

What if I told you I was about to give you one right now? Would that change your opinion? What if I told you without even studying, you might get 100% and have fun while doing it?

Here goes…

I’m going to give you a phrase and you tell me what it’s connected to. Ready?

  • Melts in your mouth not in your hands.
  • The quicker picker upper.
  • Bet you can’t eat just one.
  • Just do it!
  • Can you hear me now?
  • There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s…

How’d you do?

If you weren’t sure of any, the answers will be at the bottom. (No skipping ahead to check.)

What’s the point?

The point is unlike a tough college class, you didn’t have to study to remember a single one of those yet you probably still got them all right. You didn’t read a text book or write a research paper. Still you remembered them. Why?

Because words are sticky. We connect words to things, emotions, or situations without even trying. Here’s the catch… the same internal magic that caused you to remember those phrases, even if you haven’t heard them for years, is at work making other connections.

How so? If for example you make a mistake and without missing a beat say or think “I’m so stupid”  or “I’m dumb.” You’ve just made a connection between a situation and a statement about your self-worth. If you try something and it doesn’t quite work out and you say “I’ll never figure this out.” Or, after trying to lose weight the scale won’t budge so you tell yourself “I’ll never be able to lose weight.” You’re making connections that you’ll remember long into the future.

When we associate our mistakes with negative self-talk, we’re short changing ourselves and diminishing our potential. In the future as soon as we encounter a similar situation, we’re quick to remember the phrase we associated with it. Just as fast as we remembered the advertising slogans, we’re beating ourselves up saying we’ll never do better, we’ll always be alone, we’re not worth it, or we’re stupid.

If negative self-talk creeps into your thoughts, replace the phrases with positive, motivating phrases. Instead of saying “I’ll never …” say “My past missteps don’t determine my current of future success.” Catch your negative thoughts. Replace them with encouraging thoughts that help you and don’t tear you down. You words have power! Don’t talk to yourself in a way you’d never let someone else talk to someone you love. Negative self-talk disrespects you, and you deserve better!

The answers for the slogans: Melts in your mouth not in your hands – M&M, The quicker picker upper – Bounty.  Bet you can’t eat just one – Lays Potato Chips. Just do it! – Nike. Can you hear me now – Verizon. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mastercard.

How’d you do?

The next time negative self-talk tries to creep into your thoughts, remember the slogan pop-quiz. Capture the negative thought and replace it.

As always, I welcome your comments. Join the conversation and tell me what you think.

]]> 0 1438
Danger! What You Need to Know Before It’s Too Late! Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:26:37 +0000

I only looked away for a second. What could possibly go wrong?

But I didn’t notice the dish towel on the counter, the one that must have caught on my arm when I turned pulling it across the hot stove.

Woosh… a flash of heat, a wall of flames seemingly out of nowhere. From comfortable to crisis in the blink of an eye.

Had you been standing near me you would have screamed Fire! Most definitely, you’d have come to my rescue without even thinking. Your response would have been as instantaneous as the fire itself.

If the fire flared, you would have yelled Get out! You would have called for help. You’d have made sure I was ok. When problems in life flare up so suddenly, they grab our attention. They propel us to immediate action. We wouldn’t think of delaying even for a moment to help a friend get to safety.

Yet I want to share with you a danger that is equally gripping – so dangerous it threatens 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men. Just like fire, it destroys, it scars, and it kills. But unlike the fictitious fire I shared at the beginning of this blog, it’s a very real danger. Very real. Yet all too often, friends stay silent. Completely silent.

It’s a danger that simmers. It masks itself as caring, generosity, and love but behind closed doors it destroys. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You may not be in an abusive relationship but 75% of all Americans know someone who is or has been. Please take a few moments and read on. The information I share may save the life of someone close to you.

Abuse doesn’t start with a flash. There’s no immediate “flame.” It rarely starts with something as obvious as physical contact such as a slap or punch. So then how does someone find themselves in the grips of abuse? They don’t recognize the traits of an abusive partner. What can you look for?

5 common traits of an abusive partner.

  1. They’re Intense. – They get serious quickly. They may talk about marriage unnaturally early in the relationship. They’re excessively generous, exude charm and charisma. They may shower you or others with elaborate gifts which are over the top or inappropriately expensive. They’re often well liked or popular and command the attention of others. They call or text with great frequency. If you don’t answer or respond immediately, they call repeatedly. Even if they know you’re busy, the barrage continues until you respond. In the beginning it seems like caring, but it’s obsessive in the name of “making sure you are ok.” They want to be your oxygen and want you to be theirs.
  2. They’re jealous. – In the beginning, they justify their jealousy as love. Once in the relationship, they repeatedly accuse you of being unfaithful without cause. They’re irrationally jealous of any time you spend with family, friends, and especially the opposite sex. They monitor your Facebook page, may demand your social media or email passwords. They check your phone activity monitoring who you speak to while questioning what you do or say with other people. And often they blame your behavior for their jealousy. If you didn’t … they wouldn’t be so jealous.
  3. They’re critical. – The same individual who is over the top generous with their words and actions also insults you and tears you down. You’re stupid, useless, a bad parent. No one could ever love you the way they do. If you have children, they assure you that the court would never allow you to raise your children should you separate. They attempt to convince you that you’ve been successful because of them. They’ve made you who you are and you couldn’t survive on your own.
  4. They control. – They influence most aspects of your life – how you spend your time, who you spend it with, what you wear, how you wear your hair etc. In the beginning they position it as “caring about you.”They show up at your work or home when you’re not expecting them. If you’re out with friends, they may show up uninvited. They may say it’s just because they missed you but in reality, they’re monitoring you. They may ask or tell you to unfriend friends on social media, or worse they’ll log into your account and unfriend them for you. They may force you to do things you do not want to do, sexually or otherwise to prove you love them.
  5. They isolate. – Your circle of friends and family dwindles, eventually shrinking to nearly non-existent. They become your constant. They insist you spend as much time together as possible. In the beginning, it may almost seem appealing. You translate the exclusivity of time as “true love.” But instead of a healthy nurturing love, it’s a suffocating, isolating, dependency building behavior. Has your circle of friends declined sharply since beginning the relationship? If so assess why. The isolation typically involved with abuse makes breaking free harder. Harder but not impossible. Getting free is possible if you get help.

Abuse may start with traits like these, initially perhaps subtly and then growing in intensity. A partner does not need to exhibit all of these to be abusive. Even one can be a symptom that something is very wrong. What should you do if you recognize these traits in your partner or in a friend’s relationship?

  • Take it seriously! Do not ignore that feeling that something isn’t right.
  • Speak up. If it’s a friend in danger, talk to them with genuine empathy. Just like you wouldn’t have allowed me to stand next to the stove with a flash fire, help your friend to see the real danger.
  • Share this blog and resources with your friends and family. Those affected by abuse need to know they are not alone!
  • Be aware that domestic violence escalates.
  • Help by sharing the National Domestic Violence contact information:
  • Check out my pinterest domestic violence awareness board. It’s full of resources and information.
  • Read and share A Search for Purple Cows. Maybe reading of my true story can encourage you or your friend to break free.
  • Visit my resources page for more resources.
  • Be a conversation starter. Share with your friends and family that the danger is real!
  • Share that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

As always I welcome you to join the conversation! How will you spread awareness this month?

]]> 5 1428
10 Tips for When a Friend Hurts – What to Do and Not Do Thu, 07 Sep 2017 11:23:12 +0000 Have you noticed that lately you don’t have to look far to find a friend struggling? Between natural disasters, illness, relationship difficulties, work stress and a number of other areas of life, there seems to be enough challenges to go around!

In several recent conversations, far away friends shared how despite knowing what they’re going through, friends and family in their inner circle seemed to have all but disappeared. As a result, in addition to feeling overwhelmed, they now feel somewhat alone.

What can you do so that you don’t become a ghost when you’re needed most? Here are 10 suggestions on what you can do, and probably should resist doing to show your support.

  • Listen without giving advice. Sometimes we just need a shoulder or a safe place to vent. We need a friend to be present and listen without trying to solve our problem.
  • Send a card or note. A hand written note can be an appreciated touch of encouragement.
  • Follow up. When your friend shares that they’re going through a hard time, call or touch base again. Even if you send a text or email saying you thought of them today, being “there” helps. Too often friends don’t want to be a bother so they’re silent when you need them the most.
  • Invite your friend out. Take your friend out for dinner, a cup of coffee, a movie, mini golf, to a paint bar, a sporting event or other activity. Some low stress time away from routine can provide a welcomed escape.
  • Make it. Bake cookies or brownies, make a homemade card or something else. Make something for your friend to show them they matter and are on your mind.
  • Educate yourself. Learn more about what they’re facing so that you can be empathetic and supportive. Look for organizational websites that offer insights into what your friend is facing and see if they offer practical suggestions of support.
  • Don’t just say ‘let me know if you need anything.” Most people who could use encouragement or support won’t call you to tell you when they need something. Instead, make an offer. Ask if you can drop dinner. Ask if she’d like you to bring the kids home from soccer practice. Look for ways you can help and offer. Your friend is more likely to ask for assistance if you’re already present and they know you’re sincere.
  • Don’t minimize or be a one-upper. When you listen, don’t turn it back to being about you or someone else. It could be worse stories won’t help your friend process their situation. Let it be about them and be there for them.
  • Don’t only talk about their problem. Before they were facing whatever there facing, your conversations weren’t limited to just one topic. Now that they’re facing a big issue, know that all of your conversations don’t need to be just about that.
  • Don’t take it personally. If your friend doesn’t respond to your texts or doesn’t return your calls, give them grace. If they’re going through a hard time, their lack of response is less about you or your relationship than it is about where they are.

If a particular friend popped into your mind as you read this list, why not reach out to them today and let them know you’re thinking about them. Or, maybe you only have to look as far as the mirror to find someone struggling. If that’s the case, I encourage you to reach out to a friend today and let them know that you could use their support. None of us need to face our tough seasons alone. Instead, we can get through together.

How have you shown support for a friend or family member? Or, how have your friends supported you that let you know you’re not alone? I’d love to add your ideas to the conversation. And, if this list has encouraged you to find new ways to be there for your friends, please click to comment and let me know.

]]> 0 1421
5 Symptoms You’re Overwhelmed (And What To Do About It) Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:34:14 +0000

Some mornings start with the best intentions. That was certainly the case for me earlier this week. I was up early hoping to make my son’s birthday special. I hung our family’s “Happy Birthday” banner above the kitchen island and put a note on a fresh baked loaf of banana bread before heading to work.

I was proud of all I had gotten accomplished until… a nagging thought grabbed hold of me. Did I turn off the oven?

I vividly remembered covering the bread with foil and putting the note on top but, I definitely didn’t remember turning the oven off. When I got to work, I sent off what you could say was a rather untraditional birthday text “Happy Birthday and good morning. I made you banana bread but I don’t think I turned the oven off. Can you check when you’re up? Thx”

You could say that it’s been busy as of late. Really busy. Between squeezing in every last bit of summer plans to navigating changes at work, my plate has been full. The banana bread episode left me thinking about what overwhelmed looks like and what to do about it. I thought I’d share just in case I’m not the only one whose ever felt this way.

5 symptoms of “overwhelmed” and what you can do about it:

  1. It’s easy to procrastinate more. When you find yourself putting off things need to get done more than normal, it’s a good time to reflect and ask if you’ve got too much on your plate.

What can you do? Shorten your to-do list. What are the highest priority items on your list? Quite simply, what must get done? Start with those items. And, give yourself permission to let lesser priority items wait for another day. Reschedule them so that you can do what matters most.

  1. We’re more likely to over react or be emotional. When we’re over extended, we can go from zero to sixty with tears, or anger in a split second. Our emotional fuses get much shorter when we’re overwhelmed. Recognize when your fuse is short and take action.

What can you do? Refill. Consciously set aside time to reset. Use that time to pursue things that allow you to refill. Maybe that means curling up with a good book, going for a long walk, sitting on a beach listening to the waves, or kayaking out into the middle of a lake. Find time for the activities that allow you to recover from your state of “busy.”

  1. We can be overly tired. You’ve had your second cup of coffee and neither one seems to have kicked in yet. Or, it’s only 1pm but you feel like you could go to bed and sleep until tomorrow. Exhaustion can be a telltale sign of being overwhelmed.

What can you do? Reestablish your routine. Staying up late to get more done can back fire. Find and stick to a consistent routine so that your body clock can have a rhythm. A routine can help you make sure you’re getting enough sleep, which is essential when your plate is full.

  1. We’re more likely to withdraw. Emails, calls, and texts are far more likely to go unanswered when we’re overwhelmed. We can feel like we’re the only one who feels that way.

What can you do? Connect. It’s ok to tell friends that we’re not ok or that we’re struggling. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had times when we’ve had more on our plate than we knew what to do with. When we’re feeling frazzled by life, reaching out to a friend can be just the thing we need to remind us that we’re not alone.

  1. It’s harder to focus. With our minds trying to track several things that we’d like to do, we can find ourselves more scattered and unable to focus.

What can you do? Focus in bursts. Choose what you need to work on next. Set a timer for 15, 20, or 25 minutes and only work on the task at hand during that time. Anything that tries to distract you other than an emergency during that time will need to wait. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done when you’re focusing to beat the clock.

With the crazy schedule I’ve kept the past few weeks, I’ve needed to consciously work on keeping a balance and doing each of these. Recognizing my pace and the need for margin has kept me adjusting to keep me from becoming overwhelmed. I may have forgotten if I turned the oven off, but I did manage to make it through a busy week with less stress as a result.

What about the oven you ask? Sometime later that morning I got my reply. “It was off! Thank you for the banana bread!”

What do you do to help keep your balance when you’re overwhelmed? Does one of these tips sound like it would work for you? I’d love to hear from you. Comment and join the conversation.

]]> 4 1408
Can One Minute Really Be Significant? Tue, 15 Aug 2017 23:20:08 +0000

I had just settled in to my seat at gate B4 for my layover when drama broke out in front of me. It started unassumingly enough but, that was all about to change. The gate attendant glanced down the hall of busy travelers. Then, without any ceremony or fuss she walked over and shut the door to the jetway. No sooner had she returned to her counter and began clicking on her computer when a harried traveler rushed the scene. “I’m here!” she exclaimed in quite a panic.

Her arrival to the gate was so soon after the attendant closed the gate that I couldn’t help but think she probably saw the door close as she rushed to the gate. After a pause that must have felt like an eternity for the weary woman, the attendant stopped typing and looked up to engage in a dialog that took only moments to become intense.

Right there, at the B4 counter, it saw first-hand the value of one minute. To the desperate traveler with plans to be hundreds, or thousands of miles away, that one minute was remarkably significant. Instead of being onboard with her roller bag safely tucked in an overhead bin, she stood at the gate desperate.

I’ve heard it said:

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

A great amount of significance can be found in smallest of time. On that day in the airport, the fleetingly brief minute between the latch of the door and the arrival of the stressed traveler was significant. But, on a daily basis we easily cast aside 15, 20, or 30 minutes as though it’s nothing.

I was tempted to do just that the other day. I had hoped to dedicate a full hour to writing on my next book project. Unexpected issues popped up whittling my available time down to a mere 20 minutes. It felt too short to get done what I had hoped. Temptation shouted ‘don’t bother.’ Surely the time left isn’t enough to make meaningful progress.

But that’s when I caught myself. If I’m working on something important, something I feel called to do, even the smallest amount of time, even the smallest action, or the smallest step forward IS significant.

Don’t let the enemy convince you that small amounts of time, small efforts, or first steps are insignificant. The cost is too great!

So what can you do?

  • Remind yourself that even the smallest thing God nudges you to do is significant. Say it out loud if it helps you remember – simply say “This is significant.”
  • Reclaim your productivity by using small blocks of time to make progress. Over time, it will add up.
  • Use a tool like the Pomodoro Method. It’s a 25 minute “focus” timer. I’ve started using one at Or, you can find an app for your phone.

Resist the urge to discount small steps in the right direction. And the next time you find yourself thinking the amount of time you have to make progress is insignificant, remember the woman from gate B4. Even a minute can be significant!

Have you ever been tempted to discount your efforts or the amount of time you have as not enough to matter? Have you had to overcome self-talk that a small impact is too small to make a difference? Join the conversation, I’d love to hear from you!

]]> 6 1404
5 Surprising Habits that Made My Summer Wed, 09 Aug 2017 23:32:16 +0000


Maybe you’ve heard of Christmas in July, but have you ever heard of New Year’s in August? When I reflect on where I am right now, that’s exactly what it feels like. No, I’m not getting ahead of the seasons despite seeing snow blowers out at Home Depot this week.  My sense of New Year’s comes from the momentum I’m gaining from establishing five new habits.

Each habit started from a single small step in the right direction. I didn’t come up with some elaborate scheme to attack all of them at once, rather I made small changes and allowed the momentum to build. With time it has become easier to continue each habit. Now, they’re becoming far more a part of the fabric of my life rather than a distant goal. The great thing about attacking goals at this time of year is imagine how much progress can be made before January! So what did I do? I’ve sent out to adopt these five habits:

  1. Writing more physical cards and letters. Handwritten notes are a treasure in our social media and mobile phone world. Several months ago I bought an old school address book and I’ve been working to add addresses of friends and family. I’ve bought a few sets of notecards that are on the ready. Randomly when people come to mind, I jot them a note and send it off with my well wishes. They’ve been received well and make me feel like I’m doing something to spread a little joy.
  2. Reading more, watching less. This summer I’ve gone from one book to the next, to the next. I often use my commute and morning prep time to listen to audible books. I’ve also enjoyed catching some quiet time out on the deck in the morning or evening with my current read. The books have fostered growth in a variety areas of my life. A few books I’ve read this summer include Crash the Chatterbox – Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others, Goliath Must Fall, Communicating for a Change, Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer, Sun Stand Still – What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible, and How People Grow. What we feed our minds and spirits with matters.
  3. Decluttering more, storing less. I’ll be honest, this one is a work in progress. But, after years of holding on to too many sizes in my closet, I’m getting rid of what I don’t wear. Enough already! I plan to continue working through the closets, drawers, and storage areas in my home. The boxes tucked in the garage from my last move can’t be that important if they’ve remained untouched. It’s time to move them on. With each bag I donate, I can feel my house getting lighter. It’s an amazing feeling!
  4. Practicing mindful eating. A warm gooey brownie really doesn’t make a bad day better. Trust me, I’ve tested that theory for years! I’ve stopped using food to celebrate or to provide comfort. It’s taken a very conscious choice to make this change. I’m likely to connect with a friend over a cup of tea or coffee rather than a big dinner. I get just as much connect time without the extra calories or cost. I’ve been using an app to track what I eat each day to help me stay on point. Is it working? You bet,  so far I’ve lost 17 pounds and a stack of clothes that no longer fit.
  5. Writing down goals. I’ve returned to writing down my goals each month. The difference is noticeable. I pick three priorities for the month and schedule time each week so that each is achievable during the month. I’ve made traction in areas that previously I just couldn’t find time for. Did you know you’re 42% more likely to achieve a goal if it’s written down? Looking for a good way to track your goals? Subscribe to my blog and get my free downloadable goal calendar. Don’t forget to check your email for the confirmation to subscribe. You’ll get new encouragement delivered to your mailbox each week.

Where are you in your journey? Do you feel farther ahead than you were a few months ago? Or, are you wishing for change but haven’t yet made traction? The great news is that habits start with small choices. When we set out to be victorious one decision at a time, we gain new habits that help us grow.

What habits do you have or wish you had? Have any of my new habits hit home? I’d love to hear from you. Click to join the conversation.

]]> 4 1398
My Shooting Star Experience TOO Good to Not Share! Sun, 23 Jul 2017 18:36:14 +0000

I laid back on the blanket and focused my eyes on the star-filled sky above.

“There! Did you see that?” my Mom exclaimed pointing above us to the left. My eyes re-focused, now on that patch of the night sky.

“There’s another one!” My sister squealed pointing in an entirely different direction. Nope, I thought. I didn’t see either one or, the next half dozen they tried to point out.

I laid there quietly, my eyes still fixed on the vast expanse above us. I so desperately wanted to see what they had. But then, after feeling left out, shooting star after shooting star, it happened.

A magnificent brilliant light darted across the summer sky right in front of me, “there goes one!” I shrieked, claiming victory. I saw my first shooting star.

As I remembered that sweet moment from my childhood, I thought of the expectation, the excitement, and the sense of wonder it left us with. It’s a life experience that seems to beg to be shared.

This past week, I had a shooting star experience. It was fleeting brilliance that left me in wonder, impacted, and changed. It was the type of “moment” that I can’t help but share. Where did this happen you ask? At Carol Kent’s  Speak Up Conference  in Grand Rapids.  It’s an amazing, equipping conference for speakers and writers that has been one of the highlights of my summer for the past five years.

If you were at Speak Up or not, I think you’ll appreciate my favorite takeaways:

    1. Failure is a powerful teacher. What do you do when you wake up in a rain-soaked tent, frazzled, only to then miscalculate the time difference between two states? You show up for your video critique only to deliver your message with such speed that professional auctioneers would shrink with envy. But, if you’re a professional communicator, you’d want to pack your bags and call it quits. That could have been Bruce Martin’s fate last year. While he may have wanted to forget last year’s fiasco, this year he boldly shared it from the main platform. “Sometimes failures create some unexpected opportunities,” Bruce shared. His presence on stage, a testimony to his quote after last year’s debacle. What failure do you want to run from, or forget? Is there a lesson or opportunity tucked in it that you’d not otherwise receive? Failure can be an incredible stepping stone! Embrace it.
    2. We’re on the same team! When we compare and criticize others, we’re focused on tearing down, not building up. That misdirected energy prevents us from really being the light and love we’re called to be. We’re not called to agree on everything, but we can be respectful as we work together. Our growth will never come from tearing down another or from focusing on envy of what they have. Instead, we need to encourage and celebrate one another. (Thank you Cindy Bultema for this great teaching!)
    3. Resilience is an attitude. Resilient leaders don’t lead struggle-free lives but instead learn from their experiences and embrace the benefits of their challenges. They exercise humility and find the courage to shine despite life’s difficulties. Carol Kent’s message on fostering a resilient attitude left me with a valuable reminder that our attitude is a choice. Are we open to the lessons that come in our struggles? Are willing to say ‘yes’ to small opportunities as a result? And, are we humble in our situations? When life hands us difficult circumstances, we can choose despair or bitterness. Or, we can choose to adopt a resilient attitude and learn, grow, and persevere, becoming stronger than we once were.
    4. There’s power in prayer. Hearing the first hand story of Don Piper (90 Minutes in Heaven) brought new meaning to pray without ceasing. Don’s car, containing his lifeless body was covered with a tarp while they waited for a coroner to arrive. Multiple first responders confirmed, he had no pulse and passed away. Despite the appearance that it was too late, one pastor crawled into the mangled heap and began to pray. A full 90 minutes after Don’s life slipped away and his heart stopped, he began singing praise songs along with the pastor who refused to stop praying. What desperate situation are you facing that you have given up hope on? God is still very much in the miracle business. Pray without ceasing. Pray beyond what seems possible. It’s in our most desperate moments that God’s brilliance shines brightest.

Of course my days at Speak Up were filled with amazing connections with both new friends and old. I’ve learned that time and miles do not matter when it comes to sincere connection with great friends. I look forward to keeping in touch and watching where these dear friends go as a result of being part of this incredible conference.

In many ways, the Speak Up conference is like a shooting star. It left me changed. It left me in awe. Just like a shooting star, I can’t help but share the experience. And, I wouldn’t want you to miss the next one! Next year’s Speak Up Conference is June 28-30, 2018. I’d would love to see you there!

Where you there? What was your favorite part? Let’s keep in touch! Follow me on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll follow you back.

Or, if you weren’t, which one of my takeaways hit home with you the most? I’d love to hear from you and connect online.

To read more about this great conference, check out the other Blog Hop posts about it:

]]> 4 1302
A Powerful Proposition – Share Your Story Tue, 04 Jul 2017 15:14:50 +0000

My travel plans have been double checked. I’ve confirmed my accommodations. In just another two days I’m beginning a busy 10 day stretch that will take me from New England to Pennsylvania, back to New England, then off to Michigan. It’s easy to get tired just looking at my schedule for the next week and a half. Despite all that’s packed into the coming days, I’ve been looking forward to this for months. Why? Because I’m looking forward to sharing some of my story!

It’s an excitement that has only built in the past few days as I’ve been reading and studying the book of Exodus. It has reminded me of three important reasons we each should share our story:

  • It reminds us how far we’ve come. As a child, my family had a doorway where my parents would periodically mark how tall we were. It felt so good to see the small lines with my name inch up the wall over time. Even the smallest incremental growth showed that I wasn’t where I used to be. Sharing our stories does the same. It reminds ourselves that we’re not where we once were.


  • It reminds us of answers to prayer. Sharing our stories keeps answers to prayer that we’ve experienced fresh in our minds. We’ll need those reminders when life challenges us again. When we read Exodus, it can feel a bit like the Hebrews forgot answers they had received. God performed several miracles to break them free from slavery. Then, as they fled, He split the Red Sea so that they could walk through on dry ground. Safely on the other side, the complained and even said they’d have been better staying slaves. We need to resist the temptation to forget the answers to prayer we’ve had so that we do not get stuck when new challenges roll into our lives.


  • It shares hope with others. Have you ever been inspired by someone’s before and after picture? Seeing someone’s transformation inspires. Sharing our stories does the same. Our words paint a picture with the images of the struggles and challenges we’ve faced and the hurdles we’ve needed to overcome. By sharing, we’re allowing others to “see” our before and after pictures to share hope and inspiration to others for their journey. You may be surprised by how many times you hear “me too” as others respond letting you know that they’ve shared similar struggles.


When we share our stories, our audience may be to one friend over a cup of coffee, or it may be to an entire audience, or through a blog, video, or book. It may be informal or structured. How and what you share is individual.

If you want to learn how to write or speak about your story, there are many great conferences each year. A few that I’m looking forward to include:

I hope you’re encouraged to share your story! Have you ever shared your story? If you have, was it easier than you thought? And, if you haven’t, does this post make your reconsider? I’d love to hear from you!

]]> 0 1285
Why We Procrastinate and What to do About It Wed, 21 Jun 2017 00:15:14 +0000

I meant to start last month. That was the plan. Then I was going to make progress a few weeks ago. Definitely, I intended to make up for lost time this past weekend. But, I started yesterday morning. The funny thing is, I expected it to be hard but it was easy. Suddenly, I wish I really had started last month. I could be so much farther now if I had.

Procrastination. Recognize it? It disguises itself as motivation for everything else but that thing you want to do, need to do, or even feel called to do.

None of us are proud of it but, most of us deal with it at some time or another. So why do we do it? A few of the many reasons we struggle with procrastination include:

  • The task seems daunting or overwhelming.
  • You don’t know how to do it.
  • You’re worried about failing.
  • You’re distracted.
  • You don’t feel like you have time.
  • You just don’t want to.

Have you ever noticed that when you finally hit panic mode and you are done procrastinating, the task most often ends up being easier and quicker than you had imagined it would be?

This week as I pondered procrastination, I realized it comes at a cost.

  • Procrastination is like a credit card with your time. We “spend” or allocate our future time today. We pay interest by the stress and anxiety it costs  to carry around the unfulfilled task until it’s completed.
  • Procrastination can steal future opportunities. Because we defer until later something that should be done now, later we are not free to do what could have been doing then instead.
  • Procrastination can cost us financially. Waiting to set aside money for college or retirement robs us of interest our money can earn. Procrastinating a payment can come with penalties and fees.
  • Procrastination can make small issues bigger. Putting off addressing some tasks can make them grow to be bigger than they would have been if they’d been addressed when we intended.
  • Procrastination can impact our impact. If we put off working on an area of influence or something we feel nudged or even called to do, we’re robbing ourselves of valuable time necessary to develop or grow in that area.
  • Procrastination can show us areas where we lack discipline. When we put off healthy habits, desired patterns, or needed change in our lives, we reveal where we need to develop stronger discipline.

So what can you do? Ask yourself two key questions: Is it urgent? And, is it important? Prioritize your time to address the items that are both urgent and important first. Don’t let yourself be distracted by things that are neither urgent nor important. Re-prioritize as needed, but resist the temptation to allow distraction today to rob your tomorrow.

The next time you feel the urge to procrastinate, ask yourself what’s the real reason you’re procrastinating, what’s the cost, and is it urgent or important, then decide what to do next.

What kinds of things cause you to procrastinate? How do you over come it? I’d love to hear from you!

]]> 0 1277