Category Archives: Faith and Inspiration

Mother Of An Angel

The celebration of Mother’s day is usually a wonderful occasion. This year, it happens to fall on the day after my wedding anniversary, just like it did on my actual wedding day. At our wedding reception in 2005, we honored my mom, my mother-in-law and also the first lady of our church, who we affectionately referred to as our “first mother” kinda like the first lady with a twist. Almost two years after our wedding, I also became a mother, making this time of year even more special and memorable for me. The following year was the last year that I was able to celebrate mother’s day with my mom. She died in December of 2008.

Mom and wed dayCollage

Since then, Mother’s Day has never been quite the same. In fact, this time of year has been very bitter sweet. I feel so blessed that I have a wonderful husband who I’ve grown to love more and more with each passing year. Celebrating our anniversary during this time definitely helps to ease the longing I feel for her. Having our amazingly loving children shower me with Mother’s Day wishes, love and kind deeds make my heart swell with joy. But while I celebrate and cherish the wonderful memories of my mother, sometimes a part of me is burdened with a feeling of emptiness and a yearning desire for her.

Yesterday was one of those days. I sat almost in tears feeling sad because I missed her. Right in the middle of my despair, my mind recalled a conversation I had just a week ago with a friend who lost her daughter. I see her from time to time and have heard her story about losing her daughter to cancer. But this particular day was a very difficult one for her. She was sobbing.  As I listened to her, I felt such sorrow and compassion and remembered a few other friends who’ve lost a child.  Then she said through her tears “I don’t even know what to call myself. People ask me do I have children and I don’t know what to say. Am I even a mother anymore?” I couldn’t begin to imaging the pain that she was feeling, but  I remembered a term that I’ve heard another mom who lost her child use and I said to her ” Of course you’re  still a mother, you’re now a mother of an angel”. She paused for a second as she wiped her tears and looked up at me. She said (somberly) ” Hmm…I’ve never thought of it like that… Thank you…thank you so much.”

Recalling this interaction in the middle of me feeling down actually comforted me also. It shifted my thoughts on the mother’s out there who won’t get a call, a card or a facebook shout out this weekend. I pray that they will also find comfort and peace during this season.

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the mothers, soon to be mothers, mothers in memory and MOTHERS OF AN ANGEL.

When are you at your best?

I love the beginning of the New Year. Despite my short lived post Christmas blues, the new year typically brings about a renewed sense of purpose and passion. For me, it’s a time to reflect on the goals and plans made last year and evaluate whether or not they were accomplished. More important than the progress made is the process involved.

For example, one of my goals last year was to take our business to the next level. Although we experienced record growth (progress), the process involved left me extremely fatigue and weary. As the demand for my time increased, I began sacrificing more and more of my personal “me” time. Soon I was depleted. The result was a stress-induced health scare which set me back a few months.

give best.be best

With the stress of running a business, caring for children and meeting everyday demands, it was sometimes easy to give so much more than I received. But this experience is a constant reminder that in order to GIVE my best, I have to BE my best.

I am my best when:

  • I spend time in prayer and devotion
  • I run with my running group weekly/exercise
  • I eat relatively clean
  • I get biweekly alone time (to get a massage/pedi-mani/ shopping/ bookstore etc.)

When I am CONSISTENTLY my best, I able to be a better employer, wife, mother, sister and friend. No doubt it takes commitment and hard work to achieve goals, but as you make plans and set goals this year, please remember that it’s important to always invest in yourself first. Invest the time needed to make sure that you are functioning at your best. It’s just not worth the sacrifice to your spiritual, physical, emotional or mental well being.

  1. Have you ever put yourself last in order to achieve your goals?
  2. How do you invest in yourself? When are you at your best?

Action Expresses Priorities …blogging break

Last week I took an unplanned bogging break; not because I was jaded or tired of blogging, but because life happened. Every now and then while going through our daily routine, our highs and lows, ins and outs of living, something out of the ordinary comes along and forces us to rethink and re-evaluate our priorities.

I’ve noticed that as I continued to add more and more to my “to do” list, some of the things that are most important to me were getting less of my attention…for example, the amount of time I spent in my daily devotion (a major priority) decreased as the time I engaged in reading, commenting and blogging increased. Also the time I spent studying and researching in order to stay on the cutting edge of my profession also diminished as the fatigue from doing so much and spreading myself so thinly was amplified.

action-expresses-priorities

It’s sometimes difficult to find the right balance because the thing(s) we spend the most time doing or thinking about becomes our priority. Recently, an “out of the ordinary” occurrence came along in the form of a business opportunity. An opportunity that with laser focus, exponential hard work and even greater sacrifice, will be able to take our business to a whole new level (something that will definitely be high on our priority list).

While my husband and I were making plans, formulating and preparing our mindset to take on this potentially life changing endeavor, yet another event occurred, this time in the form of a car accident. It served as a conspicuous reminder that my priorities had shifted and it was time to properly reorder them. Although the shock and soreness of the accident is to wearing off, the subtleties of what’s most important to me in life remain very present. Having a successful business is important, but my top priority is to seek God first…(I believe everything else will fall into place). But for the Grace of God, that accident could have ended or altered our lives in such a drastic way where nothing else mattered.

blogging break

Blogging remains such a wonderful outlet for me. I love sharing, reading, commenting and connecting with so many of you. I enjoy learning about (or from) your experiences. But as much as I enjoy blogging, at this juncture in my life, it cannot be a priority. I’m not ready to give up on it though, but my posting schedule will be significantly abbreviated. I’ll be working on my life’s vision and will check in from time to time. I will continue to read your blogs and engage as much as I can. I’ll also be hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to follow and keep in touch with me there. It’s time for my actions to express my priorities.

  • Are you spending most of your time on what is truly most important to you?
  • Have your priorities shifted
  • Do your actions express your priorities?

 

Birthday vlog

Surprise!!! Today I’m Defining Happiness with my fist vlog! Whaaat? Yep. It’s my birthday and I’m trying something new. It’s been on my “to accomplish” list since Joi hosted her first blog challenge, so now I can cross it off.

Not only is it NOT my regular posting day, it was NOT an easy task. The most difficult part for was finding the proper lighting and keeping my eyes from appearing closed -_- . I had to do quite a few takes…I think my voice may actually be an octave lower from talking so much :) .

Once I got the lighting and position down though, it was kinda fun. Check it out. It’s a short 1:22 long clip.

I  encourage you to Define Happiness by visualizing the future you want. Regardless of your current circumstance, envision your dream and write them down.I believe that through Faith and with God’s Grace, He will fulfill your dreams even from seemingly impossible life scenes.

  • Do I look or sound different from what you imagined?
  • Are you where you envisioned you’d be in life?
  • What do you like most/least about vlogging?

DON’T FORGET I’ll be at running Ragnar Keys this weekend. Please send your prayers and positive vibes for our team. This quote sums up what we’re in for.

Ragnar summed up

Last thing. Please forgive me. I’m behind showing comment love on some of my fav blogs…but I read when every tiny chance I get :)

Testify!

The word testify means to provide evidence of or to make a statement of truth. I read  the poem “TESTIFY” for the first time 12 years ago. I was so impacted by the words that I immediately committed it to memory. I don’t remember where I saw it, nor do I remember the author. But I decided that by memorizing it, it would be a constant reminder to me that my choices, decisions and my actions would testify louder that any words I could possibly utter. I want my life to speak for me.

I’m far from perfect, but I definitely try to allow my Faith to govern my actions…and this poem most certainly sums it up.

testify poem

I hope that those words will also inspire you. Even if you’re not religious, our life’s action makes a statement of truth.

On another note:

Like many of you, this month has been extremely busy. We’ve been traveling almost every weekend and between the classroom activities and holiday events, in addition to my normal day to day… I can barely keep up. Despite my best effort, my blog posting, reading, commenting and responding have been irregular at best. Having said that, I’ve decided to go on an official blogging vacation for the rest of the year. I do, however plan on posting on December 23rd for the Holly Bloggy Christmas Party sponsored by Joi and maybe a quick Merry Christmas/Happy New Year post.

I’ll hopefully be seeing you all around the social media scene.

  • What does your actions say about you?
  • Is your blogging schedule being affected by the “busyness” of the holiday season?

 

 

Christmas year round

You may  or may not know that this is my absolute favorite time of year. I previously listed 8 reasons why it is. I enjoy the cooler weather and the fact that we literally decorate our world. I love that we’ve chosen this time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s something about this season that, even amidst the commercialism (which for me is the downside), exemplifies the love of Christ. People are generally happier and eager to spread joy. They seem nicer and more generous. They give of their time, resources and themselves. They are actually enthused about helping those in need. This feeling of humanity is one of the reason I wish Christmas could last all year.

christmas year round

I have many non-Christian friends and colleague who also celebrate and participate in various Christmas traditions along with their own religious traditions. There’s no denying the effect and influence of this season regardless of your faith. It’s no wonder that every year on December 26th, I’m diagnosed with ACB, the “After Christmas Blues”.

Instead of taking offense when someone says Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays or vice versa, a simple SMILE :) , “Same to you” or “Thank you” will suffice.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would continue the spirit of Christmas year round through kindness, compassion and generosity? Instead of limiting our volunteerism to this time of year, why not give of ourselves during all seasons. Here are 3 ways to get started:

  1. In addition to this month, dedicate another month or occasion to generosity. Every year on my daughter’s birthday, instead of buying her gifts, we buy food or toys to donate to a local charity (we typically celebrate her birthday on the weekend). It’s one of the ways I teach her to help those less fortunate.
  2. If you want to get in shape but need motivation, why not join a run, walk or bike “a-thon” to raise money for an organization close to your heart.
  3. Take some time to stop by a retirement home, sit with an elderly person and listen to their life’s story while engaging them in a fun activity like playing cards.

These are some of the things I’ve done, but there are so many more ways to get creative.

  • What’s your favorite thing about this season?
  • What are ways you continue the Christmas spirit throughout the year?
  • Do you get ACB :) ?

“Just call me Coach.”

Husband, Father, Brother, Son…with all of the roles my husband play, he recently added one more…COACH.

About two months ago, just two weeks before the start of the basketball season at our local YMCA, my husband agreed to coach the youth team, ages 5/6. My 3 yo son was placed on a team, but there were about 10 kids on the 5/6 year old waiting list (including my daughter) with no one available to coach them.

(I wanted to coach the team myself, but feared that my half marathon long run training would interfere with me attending the games on time. )

Knowing that my hubs had minimal knowledge of the sport, no playing or coaching experience, I wanted to make sure that he would qualify as a couch. I asked the YMCA’s sports director for the coaching requirements prior to asking my husband to commit. Once I was told that no playing or coaching experience necessary, I asked if he would do it. Needless to say, he was very reluctant and not interested. He was worried about disappointing the parents and children because of his lack of knowledge and skills. With a lot of little convincing, and not wanting to let down his daughter and all the other children who wanted to play, he said yes.

pic Raim and dad coach

Coach (father) and daughter headed to the science museum after the game

To get the ball rolling, I did the organizing and communicating. I contacted all the parents, unilaterally named the team…The Trail Blazers, emailed game schedules, rules and solicited the help of parents who have knowledge of the game and was willing to be assistant coaches.

For the first game, I skipped my Saturday long run in order to help and support my husband. Two parents agreed to be assistant coaches. Together with my hubby, they ran drills, taught passing, dribbling and shooting.(I quickly realized that I wasn’t willing to miss any of my kids games for a run. So I reshuffled my training schedule.)

Each week, I’ve seen tremendous improvement in the team. My heart swells with joy as I watch my husband leading a team in a sport that he knew very little about. He encourages everyone and he’s a positive role model. He cheers on the team, giving high fives, making substitutions in the game and showing gratitude to the parents who are supporting the kids. These children really look up to him. He’s developed a wonderful bond with them. With only two more games left, I’d call this a successful first season.

My daughter is so proud that her Daddy is her basketball coach. And my husband…well, he’s ecstatic. Every now and then when I call him, he says “Just call me coach” and I smile. He said he was so glad that he decided to coach and that if he hadn’t done it, he never would have realized the amount of help and support he would have had along the way.

There are times when we choose not to do something because we think we don’t have the skills or tools necessary. Sometimes, by stepping out on faith, you allow things to align so that the necessary help and support can come your way.

  • Have you ever stepped out on faith and things just fell into place?
  • Have you ever coached a sports team or coached a sport you never played?

My Top Three Christian Running Beats

One of the challenges I’ve had since I began running almost two years ago was finding energetic, up-beat Christian music to listen to during my runs. Until recently, Pandora internet radio was my source of music. But after choosing my favorite artist or song, I’d start out running to the perfect song with lots of energy, feeling motivated, then before I know it, the next song that comes on is a total snooze fest…which becomes both draining and distracting. I fumble around to skip the song, only to get another slow song, then another. Don’t get me wrong, I love slow Christian music…just not during my run. After reading what my girl listens to in order to get fired up before teaching her fitness class, I decided to share my top 3 running beats with you.

top 3 running beats

It seemed like the only high energetic songs with strong steady beats were non Christian songs. I asked a few friends to recommend some of their running tunes. Turns out that although they don’t normally listen to hard core, ratchet songs, during their runs, they do. Those songs generally have a steady beat and tempo that’s easy to establish a running rhythm. I explored running to a milder form of ratchetness, but while I enjoyed the beats, the lyrics for me was equally distracting. I enjoy lyrics that empowers and inspires…in the Gospel music genre, you typically don’t have to look too far to find those kinds of lyrics. My challenge was to find the right beats.

About six months ago, after a few weeks of searching, I was able to compile a…wait for it…15 song playlist. WootWoot!! As you can imagine though, with only 15 songs, after listening to the same music over and over, especially with all of my summer running, my songs are getting a bit dry. But there are 3 songs that never fails. They always seem to give me that extra umph to keep going. So withour further adoo…Here are my top three Christian running beats

1. Mary Mary: Something Bigger. This is hands down still my favorite running beat. The lyrics make me feel like I can run longer, stronger and faster. My favorite line: If God’s in me why I gotta think small. Now, you know that don’t make no sense at all.

2. Mary Mary: The Real Party. This song actually reminds me of Beyonce’s Single Ladies with the Oh Oh Oh’s. It is very energetic and fun. It definitely makes me feel like I’m in a Praise Party.

3.Trachead Family: Praise Party Anthem. This song is actually a Christian remix of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem.(side eye) But I love it! It instantly lift my spirits and gives me that much needed second wind.

When I run by myself, there are times that I prefer silence over music. But I love “loosing” myself in the music. I enjoy thanking God for His many blessings. Occasionally, I find my hand lifted and my eyes welling with tears. Usually a stumble on the sidewalk or a slap in the face by a branch quickly reminds me to focus on the run. If you have any up tempo, energetic and inspirational song suggestions you think I may like, please share.

  • What type of music (if any) do you prefer listening to while exercising?
  • Have you ever tried using Pandora?

Women of Faith Conference (a little recap plus The God Squad 29:11)

Last weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Women of Faith conference. It was, for me, a life enhancing, spiritually uplifting, live christian event. The theme was Believe God Can Do Anything. I was super excite to attend from the moment my sister-in-law called and asked me to save the date nearly 3 months earlier. There were nine of us that attended together… sisters, related in some way…either by blood, marriage or heart. It was essentially a girlfriends getaway that allowed us to get closer to each other as we got closer to God.

Women of Faith Collage

The entire weekend was fantastic, but the highlight for me was the Saturday conference. There were so many amazing speakers. Lisa Harper and Holly Wagner shared amazing, tearful stories of strength, courage and faith. Sheila Walsh, singer, songwriter and author also inspired and encouraged us to have a closer relationship with God. Although we missed CeCe Winans and Mark Lowry at the Friday night session, we were encouraged by Max Lucado and lead into praise and worship by Third Day.

My sister-in-law had shirts made with one of my favorite scriptures.

For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you…Plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

WOF tshirt 2

We nick-named ourselves: The God Squad 29:11 (using the scriptural reference).

After our spiritual cup was filled, we headed to the local outlet mall. Yep. We went from praising to purchasing :)  I didn’t actually buy anything at the outlet but it was fun window shopping. After breaking bread together at a local restaurant, we headed back to the “hotel” for a super fun, wild, crazy and hilarious game of Taboo. We had to pause the game quite frequently for potty breaks to avoid peeing our pants from laughing so hard. If you’ve never played a game of Taboo with friends, you’ve gotta do it.

It was a fantastic weekend. Although we were all sleep deprived, it was so worth it. There were times when we were truly saints, enjoying the presence of God and learning to utilize the tools He blessed us with…

WOF Group pic saints

I blurred all but me and my sister Carol’s face. Some of these ladies aren’t on any social network sites so I didn’t want to offend.

And then there were other times when, (as you can tell by the look on my face), lets just say...I was shame (in an OMG! kind of way)…

WOF group pic sinners

  • Have you ever attended a Women of Faith Conference?
  • Have you gone from saint to sinner in a matter of seconds? Care to share?
  • Have you played Taboo?
  • Do you get my reply to your comments in your email? (blog house-keeping :)  )

Using the wrong tools or the right tools the wrong way…

Have you ever used a shoe to drive a nail or a broom to beat a beetle to a pulp? I know I have. And by the time I was finished, I was exhausted. It would have been much more efficient using a hammer or bug spray. I think there’s little distinction between using the wrong tool altogether and using the right tool the wrong way. In both instances, you may be able to achieve your desired outcome, but you ultimately sacrifice efficiency and effectiveness… in other words, it’s gonna take more time and effort and the end product may not be all that great.

wrong tools2

Take my beloved hubs for instant. He love tools and he knows how to use them. If he doesn’t have the right tool, he can make the wrong one work to get the job done. In the kitchen, however, it’s another story…

My husband, calls himself the “juice man” because he loves to juice and loves to enjoy the fruit of his labor. I, on the other hand, am not too particular about the act of juicing, but I too love to enjoy the fruit of his labor.

One day, I decided to help him out by juicing. I picked up the fruit peeler to scrap the carrots and noticed that the blade still had the protective plastic covering on it. As I started to peel the covering off I noticed that the blade had never been used. It puzzled me because I saw my husband using the peeler many times before. I decided to not remove the covering and use a knife to scrape the carrots instead. 

A few weeks later after grocery shopping, I decided to prep the carrots in advanced. When I picked up the fruit peeler, again I noticed that the protective film had not been removed. I thought that maybe he removed it when peeling and replaced it when finished. Sounds weird, but I couldn’t rationalize why the blade would still be covered. Out of curiosity, I called my hubs and asked him how he used the peeler.

carrot peeler22

He said, “Oh, it’s easy, all you do is use this part to scrape. As he demonstrated, I realized that he was using the blunt edge of the peeler… as indicated by the arrow in the picture. I said to him that he was using it incorrectly and showed him how easy and effortlessly is was to use the blade – the way the peeler is meant to be used. He said ‘Oh my Goodness, I was wandering why it was so hard, no different from using a dull knife!” He hugged me with appreciation. Btw, he said he thought that the blue plastic covering was for aesthetic purposes.

Think about the tools that God has given us. Maybe it’s your artistic talents, your ability to connect with others, your gift of writing and relaying… How are you using your tool? Does it seem difficult to use? How effective is it? Is it fulfilling it’s purpose?

Today, I’m reassessing my tools. I’m making sure that I’m not only using the correct tools, but using them the right way. I hope you’ll join me.