Finishing Strong

2015 Finishing Strong Workshop presented by Denise Kelly
2015 Finishing Strong Workshop presented by Denise Kelly

We’ve entered the third quarter of 2015. Do you remember waaaaaay back when, calculating how ooooooold you’d be in the year 2000? I was going to be 28–that was ancient back then! Now we’re a decade and a half into the 21st century. I really like this century, for myself and the world in general. Creativity and education are right at our fingertips. Music, science and initiatives to help the underprivileged abound with the best influences of the past and the freshness of the present. Cultures are collaborating more as companies expand around the world and the internet ties us together. Sure, there’s always a dark side (it’s campaign season again), but I feel pretty good.

How are you doing on your 2015 goals? Are you living in wisdom? We spent time in Proverbs this March. Check it out if you need a refresher. I ask about your goals because I care, and because we have no more perfect time than today to get ahead of the rush. The end of the year brings more work for many, more sports for some, and more get-togethers for most. Before more becomes too much, take time to realign with who you want to be. First, let’s pray.

Lord, thank You for loving us and always working in us to accomplish really neat things. Please forgive us for any neglect or sin that is in our lives. Cleanse us and focus us on Your desires. Motivate us, but don’t let us wait for a fire to get moving. Teach us to be diligent when we feel like despairing and always ready for the connections and opportunities You bring us. Thanks, Lord! We love you!

Below is a list based on my own 2015 goals:

1. Become a corporate trainer – Done, and it is the most fun I have ever been paid for!

2. Speak at conferences – Joined Toastmasters to hone skills and keep meeting successful speakers. Discovered that it’s a wonderful place to be mentored and a fun place to experiment with proven techniques without fear of failure. Click here to see a silly speech I did. You’d be amazed at how many successful people have been Toastmasters. Check out this list.

3. Write a book – Just finished a photo book which will be released this month on Blurb and working on a “normal” book.

4. Start a blog – Done! So glad you’re here!

5. Practice guitar – err…hmm…

6. Eat healthier – Still trying.

7. Exercise – Need consistency.

8. Invest – Working on that right now.

9. Become fluent in Spanish – Need more practice.

Write down your own list, and be honest with yourself but not hateful. Like me, you’ll see that some things took priority and others might have been neglected. Were the neglected things less important? Did the real priorities take off and soar? Do you think it’s time to drop a few things from your list, or are you seeing some areas where you truly need to reprioritize, in order to get balance in your life?

I am grateful to have a terrific ability to focus on something—if I can start it and go, go, GO until it’s finished. I can stay up all night and day to see a project completed, but I’m not as good at things that require consistent practice. Guitar, Spanish, and a body that keeps up with my lives can’t be attained by working 14 hour days and drinking lots of coffee. Argh. I miss my guitar, and I will pick her up again before the year is out. Spanish may have to wait until next year. But I bet you and I have one goal in common. I’ll get exercise 3 times each week through October, November and December. You do it, too, okay? Let’s make at least one of those a prayer walk. God can show us what He thinks is so great about winter, and we can enjoy His company with no distractions.

If you need help setting or attaining your goals—or just making them more realistic and doable—check out my friend Denise Kelly’s coaching service. This lady is a powerhouse! Her new book, Steps Toward Success, was nominated by Jabez Books to be part of the Reader’s Choice Awards at the Book and Business Expo in Dallas October 17. Denise believes in stating your goals in past tense, completely visualizing the goal as accomplished, such as “I am an award-winning writer…I have regular speaking engagements…” I think that’s a great idea, so here’s a song that will have you bobbing your head while you goal-get-it!


photo by Ivan Alvarez
photo by Ivan Alvarez

Our grocery budget has doubled in the past five years or so, and it’s not because we’re eating gourmet. Gas prices, wage increases and other factors have an impact, and I see that impact on my weekly receipt. $38 isn’t much, but if you’re feeling stretched financially, I’d like to help.

1st rule: Anything you give to God can be multiplied in God’s hands. After all, He’s the Creator. Instead of continuously making things from scratch, He chooses to use our contributions, so that we can enjoy the process. Give Him a try, and I bet your income will miraculously be enough for all your needs. I can say that, because I’ve put Him to the test myself.

Where do you shop?

Walmart – Have you heard of the Savings Catcher app? When you leave the store, just open the app. It takes a picture of your receipt and checks competitors in your area for lower prices. Then it credits you the difference. Savings Catcher credit can be turned into a Walmart gift card whenever you like.

Target – Target sends mobile coupons directly to your phone, and they also have a website called Cartwheel, where you can get coupons that may be used up to four times and can often be used on top of other sales and coupons. In addition, Target’s Red Card has a debit option. You don’t have to pay credit card interest rates or fees, and you still save 5% on every purchase.

I do much of my shopping at Aldi’s, where the produce is fresh and cheap, the store is small and I’m out in 20 minutes. They pay their employees well, and I spend less when my options are fewer.

Wherever you go, loyalty programs abound, so check into your grocery chain and see what savings you’ve been missing. Then share those savings with a child whose family rations their rice, and be thankful for the delicious options we have here. I certainly enjoy my kitchen!

I am participating in Compassion International’s “Release 3” project, and I am praying that the 6 children whose packets I have on my desk today will be sponsored by someone who reads my blogs this month. John Michael, Mathias, Deysi, Bryan, Erich and Mitiku need your friendship and $38 per month, to make it out of extreme, tummy-growling poverty and into adulthood with skills and opportunities instead of wishes. Let me know which child you’d like to sponsor, and I’ll send you the information. Share this with your friends, too.

In case you wonder, I will never take your money or your credit info. I will send you to the Compassion site and provide you with sign-up information for these children. I get nothing but the joy of knowing that I helped a few more children by spreading the word.

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Valentine Expectations

forehead kiss dandelion

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.

Proverbs 14:3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I pray that it turns out happy, even if there are bumps. I remember the Valentine’s night when my husband made me stop the car so he could walk. I was disillusioned and scared things might never change, but my attempts to control him were completely counterproductive. It took some learning, and God did most of the work, but I’m grateful for the love we have today.

We can choose to celebrate love any time we want—the arrival of February 15 doesn’t mean we missed out. Do you have a loved one who is working or far away? Is something physical holding you back from experiencing the evening you’d like? Are you just not on the same page—you fear that the fizz has left your champagne?

If you are going to spend years with someone special—and I believe you can—then today you can lay aside any sense of urgency. Urgency and expectation can make us demanding, passive-aggressive or manipulative. Sure, if your lover says “What would you like to do today?” Be direct. It’s annoying to hear, “I dunno, what do you want to do?” But other than that, remove the pressure. When you first met, you asked questions about each other. You talked about what interested you, not about bills and gripes. Perhaps you gave each other a chance to talk about struggles and you were sympathetic and impressed with the stamina and compassion you saw in each other. You were strangers, so you didn’t expect diamonds and roses, you just enjoyed hanging out.

Today, go back to that simpler time where you appreciated your mate as a person and not as a romance vending machine. In fact, do it tomorrow, too. Heck, there are only 2 weeks left of February—you can do anything for 2 weeks. Celebrate Valentine’s Day on March 1. The restaurants will be less packed. Meanwhile, this song might bring a smile.

Listen While You Run

Running shoes cropped

Gettin’ your workout on? It’s January, and the gyms are packed. How’s your jam list? Even though it’s all about that bass when you pedal, when you pedal, many pump-it-up songs get me lagging because the lyrics lack. I find that encouraging words and a switchup in the sound work like a shot of ginseng.

Phillipians 4:8 says 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

If your workout needs a pickup, try a few from my quirky playlist:

  1. Mandisa Remixed: Get Movin’ album — the entire album. It’s Mandisa’s totally encouraging music sped up and bouncin’. I replay “Shackles” at least 3 times every time.
  2. Johnny Cash: “Get Rhythm.” Another one I replay at least once, and then sing all day.
  3. Mercy Me: “Shake,” “Move,” “The Generous Mr. Lovewell.” Geez, pretty soon I’ll have a whole Mercy Me workout mix. These guys make me smile. At the gym. Red, sweaty and smilin’. Yes, people stare.
  4. Stray Cats: “Rock this Town,” “Rockinest Cat in the Galaxy,” and “Built for Speed.” Vroom!
  5. Goliath Down: “Beanbag Christian” and “Whitewater.” Yep, it’s my own band so I should be more modest, but my legs get a second wind every time Justin goes into a guitar solo.
  6. Gateway Worship: “Be Lifted Higher,” “Not Ashamed” and “As We Pray.” Who knew worship songs were good for running? Besides that guy who ran laps during worship at my old church…I miss that guy.

Listen this week—to God and also to your body. Have fun and don’t overdo it!Running red face