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Something in the Struggle

Why does a woman who desires children more than anything struggle to get pregnant, while another conceives from a one-night-stand? Why does the most giving man, who is loved by everyone he meets get prostate cancer, and the most evil, abusive, and lecherous individuals live free and clear?

oranges

My theory? It must be something in the struggle. It’s just my theory, but I wonder if I would’ve reached, or even seen, my full potential had I not experienced the “rough patches” of life. I am not saying that I am an angel in any way, or that I have achieved all that I was created to achieve, but most people who truly know me will say that I am a “good” person, who wants to see others achieve their best. Maybe you are that kind of person—one who always thinks of others but still seems to get the “short end of the stick” from time to time. My new belief is that maybe there is something—a lesson, a blessing :), some depth of character, or even strength in a way or on a level that you never knew existed that provides a reason for why we “go through.”

I remember one of my mentors, Rev. Leroy Mitchell, preached this life-changing sermon many years ago. He spoke of how sometimes, “God presses on us to get the good stuff out.” He went on to use the examples of how you must press grapes to get wine and squeeze oranges to get orange juice. He explained that the pressure is necessary.

Maybe the struggle brings more out of you than you ever knew was there. Maybe the struggle helps you define what is and is not important to you. Maybe the struggle helps you weed out who your good friends are and who is just hanging around taking up space. Maybe the struggle helps you decided what your goals are and how important it is to you to achieve them. Or maybe the struggle simply helps you to see that you are “going against the flow” of life, and provides redirection.

As I stand in faith with a friend who desires so desperately to have a child, I remain unshaken in my belief that our Creator does not find joy in making our lives difficult. The pain and disappointments she has experienced on this journey seem so pointless to me, when “God” could simply “hear her cry” and answer her prayer. And maybe you too are currently feeling squeezed by life, or have experienced situations that seem to have “cut” you to your core. I know how that feels, even without living your specific situation. Ultimately, pain is pain, regardless of the details. But one thing I also know is that when I look over my own life, I see how much richer I am for what I’ve been through and I think to myself, “it must be something in the struggle.”

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UPDATE 05/06/15 

Last Mother’s Day (2014) the friend in this story was frustrated and wondering if she would ever be able to conceive. Late last night, less than a week from Mother’s Day 2015, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. You never know how close you may be to your breakthrough. Don’t give up on your dreams. Miracles happen every day. Continue to see it coming true. It is possible.

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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sweet Spot

Special thanks to Getty Images & awesome photographer Colin Cooke for use of this image.

I am the last person on earth who would ever do a post on watermelon. Honestly, the history alone makes it difficult for me to even eat it in public. However, it is the best fruit for describing what I am calling, “rinsing the sweetness out of life.”

A very dear loved one of mine has done this thing, that I personally think is really odd, but to each his/her/it’s own (whatever the phrase is, lol). I’ve known her since childhood and every single time she eats watermelon, she stands at the kitchen sink and holds each slice under the cold running water.  I have watched her standing there for what seemed to be at least a half hour, rinsing piece after piece before eating them. The whole time shaking my head, looking on with utter disbelief. In my opinion, watermelon’s sweetness is its gift, but for her, it’s just “too sweet.”

This morning, I had a huge epiphany. I’ve come to realize that in some aspects, particularly in regard to my career path, this is exactly what I’ve done with my life. I have been gifted with the most amazing creative abilities—most of which I don’t use because I’ve felt they are too sweet for me. I have watered myself down, with limiting beliefs like that’s something other people do. People who are more talented than me, more passionate than me, more confident than me, or simply born into a different environment than mine are the only ones who can pursue something like that. I could never be a fashion designer. I could never make and sell my own jewelry. Who would ever take me seriously as a songwriter? and so on.

You know, this morning I woke up early with a vision of the most outstanding shoe design. It was for a bridal shoe that has the most amazing button closures going down the back—a high stiletto that would make the average shoe fiend go bananas, and what was my first thought? You’re never gonna make that. What’s the point of getting up to sketch it. So many times—more than I could ever count—I have listened to that voice, which I call my inner critic. She has been standing at the “sink” probably all my life, trying to rinse all the sweetness out. Without even realizing it, I have been sitting by watching her do it. But now that I am aware of it, I won’t let any more sweetness go down the drain… 

So my question to you is, what is your sweet spot? What area of your life are you ignoring because it just doesn’t fit with who your sweet thief says you are? An ever better question is how long are you going to stand by and be robbed of your sweetness? Take a step today and share your hidden sweetness below. I’d love to hear about it. (Just FYI, I nearly didn’t get up to type this blog. The sweet thief strikes again.) 

 

Check out my promo video for my children’s book below. Thank you for your support!

 
 

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You Can Do It!

You Can Do It!

I stood staring off into the distance, smiling like a fool, as I waited for the washing machine to fill. I was in a daze, reminiscing about this amazing little boy I met, whose determination has forever changed my life. 

Imagine for a second, the most adorable little boy, standing at a child-size sink, stretching with all his might to reach the cold water handle. He barely meets you at your waist—although he is four years old—and is now standing on his tip toes determined to turn the water off by himself.

This may not sound as remarkable in print as it was in person, but Hector has a medical condition that has stunted his growth and his fingers cannot bend. Can you imagine the determination of this little boy that he never asked for help, although it took him at least a minute and a half to do what takes most of us less than 2 seconds? I was standing within a foot of him the whole time and he never once looked back at me in hopes that I’d intervene. He remained focused on his goal, never quit stretching his whole body to get that extra eighth of an inch he needed to do it by himself. I fought the urge to help him because I knew that if I showed that I did not have confidence in him, he would lose confidence in himself. I stood by and waited for him to ask for help. He never did. When it seemed he could not possibly reach it, he repositioned himself and somehow managed to stretch that extra eighth of an inch, and his fingers touched that handle! When the last drip of water fell from the faucet and his feet were back on the floor, I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry. I was so proud of him, so inspired by him, and so glad that I did not help him.

I learned two valuable lessons in that moment. The first is that we can accomplish amazing things—things that seem so far outside our reach—if we don’t stop believing. The second, is that in times when we are struggling with a challenge, wondering why God won’t intervene, He is often standing close by proudly mouthing the words, “You can do it.”

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Epiphanies, Inspirational, Motivational

 

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Always Expect More

Last night, as we were heading to bed, my little one said to me, “I’ve got fifteen dollars.” I smiled, knowing that the pennies, nickles, and dimes in her coffee can probably did not equal fifteen dollars, then replied, “No. You’re gonna get three million dollars.”

So let’s fast forward to today—a few minutes ago, actually. I was sitting at my computer typing a blog that once again sounded great in my mind (but was just awful onscreen), while listening to the encouraging stories of teenaged entrepreneurs on the tv show Biz Kids. My daughter was sitting on the floor behind me going through one of my purses. She was fully entertained because I had smaller handbags inside the big purse she was investigating. After a while, she discovered some change in one of the pockets and began saying, “Fifteen dollars, fifty-six….” I thought it was adorable. I smiled at her and continued typing away at the computer. Then, she began to bring me various items she discovered and place them on the table before me. “Here, Momma”—she placed an old Mary Kay make-up sample in front of me—”fifteen dollars.” Then she ran back to find something else. She came again, shoved an old receipt at me, “fifteen dollars,” then ran away. Finally, she came back and handed me an envelope, “fifteen dollars,” she said, and ran off, again. I flipped it over, wondering if this time she really had discovered some money. I quickly opened it to see what was inside. To my surprise, it contained three million dollars!

Million Dollar Bill

Let me explain. A few years ago, I was watching The Secret—a video about utilizing the Law of Attraction to create a better life—and doing various things to apply its principles. In an attempt to keep reminding myself that resources could come to me unexpectedly, I copied and printed several fake million dollar bills, put them in envelopes, and mailed them to myself. The envelope my daughter found was one of these, and it ironically contained three million dollars, the exact amount I told her last night that she would receive!

Now, I don’t know how deeply you feel me on this—and, no, the money is not real—but, to me the message is clear that there is some kind of power in our words, especially when we believe. When I told her last night that she would receive that money, I meant it. I expect great things to come from her in her future so I believe that one day millions will be minor money to her. I didn’t, however, expect it to “happen” so soon! 🙂 Of course, when this happened I had to tell somebody who I knew would “feel me “on how powerful (and weird) this all was. So I instantly called my dear friend, and fellow blogger, Danielle Navonne. As I was telling her this amazing story, I noticed that there was something written on the inside of the envelope, and I will leave you with this powerful thought,

"Always expect more."

"Always expect more."

 

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Better Than the Lottery

Better Than the Lottery

About two months ago, I had a major epiphany while doing one of my typical late nights at the computer. Usually, I’m up working on new designs for my t-shirts or coffee mugs, or I’m sitting on Facebook liking people’s status updates. But this night, was different. I was just up for no good reason. Then, it happened. Suddenly, I remembered that I had a pocket full of game tickets! While I was in line at the grocery store earlier that night, a lady in front of me asked if I was playing the store’s sweepstakes, and when I said, “yes” she handed me ten game tickets! How did I forget those ten little pieces of possibility were still sitting in my coat pocket, waiting to be opened? 

So, not wanting to wake my little one, I tiptoed over to my coat and quietly sifted through my pockets to find those extra game tickets. When I found them, I pulled out my game board and sat down to see if I had any matches. One by one, I kept matching game tickets on my board. I was having so much fun! (Yes, for a stay-at-home mom, this counts as fun.) Then, I realized that I was one game ticket away from winning the $100 Gift Card Prize! I got excited. I flipped my board over and saw that I was just two tickets away from a $50,000 car of my choice! I looked at the clock, 2:45 am, looked over at my bed and thought, “It’s late, maybe I should go to bed.” Then, I had a second thought, “what if I have that last game ticket?!” My mind was made up. Even though the store was closed, I was gonna stay up and go through all my game tickets to see if I had won!

So with all the glee and excitement of a child searching the house for hidden Christmas gifts, I tore through my purses and pockets looking for every game ticket I had stowed away over the past few months. I gathered all my findings into a pile on the table and sat down resolved that I would check all of them before I went to bed. I was so excited, matching ticket after ticket. Then, I started to find duplicates. Slowly my stack of possibilities turned into the pile of tickets I had already matched. As that pile grew, my hope for winning dwindled. By the time I got down to the last ticket, I realized that I was a sucker. Each prize section on my board was missing one or two game pieces. I had figured out the game. The store had printed out millions of the random ones, but the one or two tickets everybody needed to complete each section were a rare find. Dang! I was crushed—still a little hopeful, but mostly crushed.

I had stayed up all night, way into the wee hours of the morning, pursuing a one in a million chance. That’s like playing the lottery! And with that realization, it hit me. Epiphanies come to me like this all the time. Right at the moment when I should feel down, or discouraged, I get the lesson. And the lesson of this moment was that I should not be pursuing a one in a million chance more aggressively than I’m pursuing my “sure thing.” My gifts, my calling, my purpose, the things I know God invested in me are my sure things. Inspiring others energizes me; I know that is my sure thing. Designing everything from business cards to wedding gowns, excites me; I know designing is my sure thing. Writing books to empower and entertain children, brings joy to my heart; I know writing is my sure thing. God has placed gifts, interests, and passions in you as well, those are your sure things.

When I sat there holding that last game ticket, I felt a combination of inspiration and sheer stupidity. I just have to be honest, I was a little embarrassed. I mean, I shamelessly begged for game tickets in my Facebook status, and I won’t say what I did when I saw some in the trash, lol. Where is that same hunger to stay up all night working on my dream? Where is that same shameless assertiveness for promoting my new children’s book? I should not be more willing to aggressively pursue a one in a million chance, than I am to perfect who God created me to be. And neither should you. As I held that last game ticket, shaking my head at the loss, I really felt as if God was saying, “Why don’t you put that same energy into your sure thing?” And that’s my challenge to you.

Maybe a sweepstakes isn’t your thing, but you turn your phone off so you can watch your favorite TV show, uninterrupted. Maybe you won’t stay up late sticking tickets to a game board, but you’ve painstakingly studied stats and game highlights to perfect your March Madness brackets. Where is that energy for your sure thing? Where is that same level of commitment for the gifts that are inside of you? Look, I’m not your judge. I outed myself first. We’re in this together. We all have something in us that we know we were created to do. Whatever your sure thing is, please know that your odds of succeeding are way better than winning the lottery. Give your purpose the attention, the energy, the hope, and the time that you would a perceived winning lottery ticket. Because with this one, the odds are in your favor. Be blessed.

By the way, If you‘re curious how close I got to winning, here are the pics of my game board. Enjoy!

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But Who Does God Say I Am?

Yet another day spending countless hours before the computer, only to realize that a new day has already begun and I still haven’t completed my to-do-list. Every night for the past three weeks, I have “burned the candle at both ends” (and in the middle) attempting to whittle down my huge laundry list of have to’s, forgot to’s, and I-didn’t-get to’s. So when I climbed into bed around 3:30 the other “night,” carrying all that anxiety, I got straight on my knees and with no “Our Father…,” I cut to the chase. “God I am so overwhelmed. I feel like I am constantly behind, like I’m failing You, like I’m failing at my purpose….” I paused in frustration, and just sighed and asked, “Is that how You see me?” It was such a vulnerable moment, but as that question flowed out of my mouth, I immediately heard my words parallel that Scripture I remember from growing up in church. It’s the one where Jesus asked his disciples, “who do men say that I am,” and the follow-up question “who do you say that I am?” And I immediately knew the answer. God does not see me the way I see myself. God believes in me. He placed all these gifts in me for a reason. He is confident that I will actualize my potential.

And that’s the message I want to share with you. Be confident in yourself, because God is confident in you. He proved it by placing talents, skills, passions, and interests in you. If He did not believe in you, He would not have invested in you. No one puts money on the horse that’s not expected to win. They invest in the one they believe will make it to the finish line.

God looked beyond our journey and invested in our arrival. He knows every step we will take: some forward, some backwards, and some completely off the path. But with all that knowledge, He still put His money on us. Be encouraged.

Confidence Mugs by MDillon Designs

"God is confident in you so be confident in yourself." –M. Dillon

 

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Marching Forward Into 2012

Today’s date (1-2-12 ) is indicative of what this year is about for me. I’m all about progress—almost to a fault. If I’m not making progress, I’m irritable, short with everyone, and generally not the best person to be around. Progress energizes me. It’s better to me than your best cup of coffee. Coming off of a year like 2011—where I experienced more heartache, loss, and transition than anyone should at one time—I believe that if I survived all that, I better march into this year like someone chased me out 2011!

I have no reason to be looking back and living in the past. So when I got up this morning and said today’s date to myself, I heard it differently. I didn’t hear “one, two, twenty-twelve”, I heard the rhythm of the individual numbers, “one, two, one, two.” And as I sat here journaling, I began to picture myself in a parade with a marching band behind me. You know, you never see people walking in a parade looking back at the float to see if it’s following too closely behind them. They just keep marching steadily forward, “one, two, one, two,” trusting that whoever is behind them is doing the same.

That’s how I want to approach this year, as if I am at the front of that parade, with the marching band behind me, “one, two, one, two.” I have to keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other.  I can’t look back. I’ve gotta keep my eyes in front of me, all the while hearing that gentle rhythm, “one, two, one….” Can you hear it? Can you hear that gentle rhythm pushing us forward into this amazing new year of possibilities? If so, then march with me. “One, two, one….”

If you like this post, maybe you’ll like some of my other work.

An empowering way to start this year off right is to set a reasonable resolution that you can keep, and post it somewhere that you will see it every day. This is why I created these customizable beverage mugs. 2012 Resolution MugI have a great example of a reasonable resolution printed on this mug. It states, “I resolve to do more of what energizes me and less of what drains me.” You can use this one or create your own and have it printed directly on your mug! It’s not too late to set your resolution and march steadily throughout 2012. Click the image to order yours today!

 

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