hope

When you don’t have the answers, but your mind is flooding with thoughts, the best thing to do is just write.  That’s where I find myself today.

Yesterday marked the 8th school shooting since 2018 began – only 45 days ago. First thing’s first – I do not have all of the answers.  I have thoughts…  opinions…  ideas…  hopes…  and of course, fears…

I dropped my 3 children off at school, kissed their little faces before they went in and prayed for their day, as I do every day.  That sounded perfect, didn’t it?  Ok so actually, the ride to elementary school this morning was filled with some yelling, as my little one was a bit peeved that I threw away the ‘Air Heads’ and ‘Fun Dip’ that he got yesterday during the Valentine exchange (that has now turned into another version of Halloween…  but I digress).  But hey, taffy is bad for your teeth and pure sugar is just evil and that’s just how I feel about those candies. So yes, our ride to elementary school at 7:15am contained some yelling, some frustration, and then some apologies, as I sat thinking about letting my kids out of the van without them knowing that I love them.  Some kids yesterday maybe got out of their cars after arguing with their mom and didn’t hear those words before they entered the school – and the didn’t come out alive.  SO….  Here we are.  This is what we think of now when we drop our kids off at school.  Do they know I love them in case they don’t make it home today?

This is not normal.

This is painful.

This is just nonsense, if you ask me.  Maybe you aren’t asking me, and if so, you don’t have to read anything else.  Because like I said, I do not have all of the answers.  Just some thoughts.

Our view of the world comes from within the four walls of our home.  The things we are taught begin with our parents and grandparents and from those teachings come the core of our being – our values, morals, character.  Next, come our own life experiences. This is the window in which we see the world.  With so many different ways of being taught and so many different life experiences, we all see things in a little bit of a different way.  You know the funny thing is – if we are open to learning from others and understanding WHY they see things the way they do – even if we don’t quite see it the same way – we practice empathy and understanding.  We grow this way.  Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, it’s rather difficult for our society to believe that someone else’s belief may be the right one.  We are so driven by the need to be right that we are blinded to learning and to hearing.  Do you feel it’s possible that two people can actually be right?  That there could be a middle ground?  That one person’s perspective could actually shift your own?  We aren’t listening to one another.  We’re just spouting.  Sometimes we are spouting blame.  And sometimes we are just spouting our stuff.  But we are spouting and not listening – and that is Issue #1.

Next, we come to the sad state of mental health in our country, which honestly, I do not feel educated enough about to even begin a deep discussion – except to say – it is as real as high blood pressure or diabetes.  I know it’s real because I live it.  I know it’s real because I also have a child that lives it.  I have other family members that live it.  Likely, you probably do as well.  Here’s what I see when it comes to conversations of mental health – fear and shame.  Shame from others, stigma from the community, fear of being judged.  All of it.  Personally, I allowed my own fear of being judged to alter how I was treating my own mental illness.  It took two doctors and a counselor to talk me out of the mindset that medication was the wrong path and a cop out.  It took some therapy for me to get the voice out of my head that said, ‘people that take anti-depressants just can’t cope with motherhood.’  GARBAGE.  But I bought into the lie and sacrificed my own quality of life and my family’s quality of life.  I put that fear, or my own ego, before taking care of them.  All this to say, if you have mental illness in your home, you are not alone.  You shouldn’t ever feel alone.  If you have a child suffering from it, even the mildest form of anxiety, it is as real as that broken bone they may have gotten last week.  And it’s up to us, in the four walls of our homes, to take care of it, to take care of them.  It is not shameful.  In the instances of the millions out there that perhaps don’t have a safe four walls they call home, that don’t have a confidant, a mentor, a teacher to help them…  It’s our duty to recognize these individuals and reach out.  Show them love.  Be a friend. We can’t stay silent.

Another topic I don’t know enough about to talk in an educated fashion is gun reform.  Except to say that it is possible to believe in a right to bear arms and gun ownership and NOT believe that we should be able to access assault rifles.  I know there’s big money and a lot of other stuff I don’t understand that is leading the lack of regulation.  And we are all suffering because of it.  It’s a middle road way of thinking and I don’t care, it’s just how I see it.  At the highest levels of this country, people were elected to protect our citizens.  They are paid to do this job.  And with it, seems a huge responsibility.  Please act on your responsibility, whoever you are out there that is not.  This is not blame.  I am not saying that this sole issue lies in lawmakers hands alone.  But I am saying that they can choose to be part of a solution because they have a responsibility to be part of it.  They represent us all.

Deep at the heart of all of this is the growing lack of faith in this country.  I’ve read numerous articles about Christians leaving the faith in ‘DROVES’.  It is my belief that without a relationship with Jesus, without following Him, we are becoming immune to love.  Care for each other, for humanity, is dwindling.  Truly knowing the call to love others as Jesus calls us to love would not result in these mass murders.  It just wouldn’t.  Andy Stanley says it best when he says, “Following Jesus will make your life better and make you better at life.”  I believe that with all of my being.

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Finally, we all have a voice. We all have a way to act and be heard.  And for each of us, our way is different.  But if you are one that is called to love others like Jesus did, let’s stop accepting this ‘problem’ and let’s focus on changing it.  I’m not 100% sure how this looks for me personally, but I know that God wants to use my gifts to bring about change.  As I pray for those, I ask you to do the same.  How can He use you?  It’s going to look different for us all.  Acceptance of this way of life is not the answer, so let’s stop accepting it.  This is not normal.  WE are better than this.

Examine what’s in your heart.  Examine what’s in your four walls.  Look deeply at your people.  Pray over them and pray WITH them.  Teach them to be difference makers.  Educate them on what this world looks like so they can be equipped to go out and make change themselves.  Recognize when things just don’t seem right and have the courage as a parent to step in the direction of help.  You are not powerless.  You mothers, you fathers, you sisters, you brothers.  YOU are not powerless.  And you are certainly not alone, regardless of how you may feel.

Let’s also realize that prayer is powerful.  The privilege of prayer is amazing.  God wants to hear your prayers. God also wants you to act in love.  To believe in Jesus is to believe in that call.  We are really really good at saying the words, but not following through on the action.

The child out there sitting alone, needs love, not shame.  The kids that cheat, they need love, not shame.  The kids that lie, they need love, not shame.  The kids that steal, they need love, not shame. The kids that have mental illness, they need love, not shame.

Oh how I wish we could snap our fingers and change our world.  Lord, can you please make all of this pain and suffering go away?  I believe the tears of Jesus are real today. He told us –

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We live in a broken world.  We have never been promised perfection.  We have never been promised fairness.  But we have been given hope.  So that is where I’ll rest today. The Air Heads and the Fun Dip are still staying in the garbage, but my boys just walked in safely from the bus stop, and gave me a kiss, so I’ll say ‘Thank you’ for this day.

 

Love FOR Self

This day, Valentine’s Day, has me thinking about love.  Not the romantic love that is conveyed in the ‘Hallmark Holiday’ creation, but love for self.

What does it look like to love who you are? Not only to look in the mirror and love what you see on the outside, but to know that the person on the inside is good?

What about loving the journey you’re on? Taking some time to stop over-thinking, over-reacting, judging, hoping, yearning and always expecting more or perhaps better?

This year, I’ve focused on the word contentment.  That word can mean many different things to many people, and perhaps it does for me as well.  More than anything, I knew that as 2018 began, I desired to find a level of contentment that I had not found in prior years. The contentment I was searching for had to begin within me – with loving who I am and loving the journey that I’m on.

First, I desired a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father.  The essence of that relationship is what is allowing me to begin to see and find some of the missing pieces.  It is my belief that He leads us all on the journeys that we find ourselves walking – the large jigsaw puzzle of life, the map of all the winding roads, mountains & valleys.  He directs us, nudges us, guides us and certainly sends people to cross our paths that guide, advise and carry us to the next stop.  Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes we really just think we know better (how dare we even say it) than what His plans may be.   That’s simply love OF self.  Selfishness.  Ego.  Pride.  We have our plans.  We know our walk.  We know which step to take to bring us to that next big ME moment.  LOVING the ME that other people SEE.  The ‘all important’ me.

I’m sure many of you can relate, but there have been times in my life that I wanted to be seen. When you get the taste of a stage, it’s hard to step off of it.  When you get a sniff of other’s envy, it can get a bit addicting.  Privilege & status (in big and large circles) and all of that crap just gets in your head in a bad way.  Luckily for me, God allowed me to see – He literally opened my eyes to some of these things growing in me and around me.  And He has helped me continue to walk the jagged road of love OF self to love FOR self.  Not easy, I’ll tell you!  But worth it on the other side.

As I thought about contentment and what that looks like for me, I thought about the things in my life that bring me joy today and have brought me joy in the past.  I thought about the things that stole my joy.  And somewhere in the middle of that, I’ve struggled with discernment of things that both brought me joy and also stole it.  Could it be possible that certain things in my life could do both?  And how did the Lord want me to move forward with those things?

I’m not sure I have all of the answers yet, but I do know that I pray and I try to follow the Lord’s nudges.  There has been one little nudge in that ‘somewhere in the middle’ zone that has been pushing me to write again, despite knowing that my eagerness to spread my opinions and believe that I have the answers to all of the world’s problems puts love OF self before love FOR self.  But then again, does it?  Am I overthinking that? Does God want to use me to speak words that others need to hear?  It’s that in-between that I’m trying to figure out.

If you’re searching for contentment, maybe this can be your guide too.  Identifying your joy givers and your joy stealers is the first step towards contentment.

First – JOY Givers:

  • FAMILY – I’ve concluded that THESE people, these 4 others that I share this lovely home with, are my people.  Nothing else should get in the way of loving them and putting them first ALWAYS, but more particularly, at this very moment.
  • CHURCH/BIBLE STUDY – God wants to do good things in all of us, and finding Him, learning about Him, and leading others to Him is part of the plan. Woodstock City Church continues to bless us on that path.
  • BOOKS – I love to read.  In this push to greatness, I allowed lies like ‘there’s no time for books or TV on the journey to the top.  When you get there, you’ll have all the time in the world for that.’  OK LISTEN.  THAT IS TOTAL AND COMPLETE BS AND I AM PRAYING TO GET OVER THE ANGER FOR ALL OF THE PEOPLE OVER THE LAST 9 YEARS THAT PUT THAT IDEA INTO MY HEAD.  Without time for you, time to escape to the land of novels and amazing television shows like ‘This is Us’ or ‘The Crown’.  PLEASE PEOPLE.  Climbing to the top can surely allow you to miss some great stuff if you let it.  I was letting it.  So, back to books. I’m on my 15th for the year so far and I’m super proud of that one.
  • DOG – Have you seen my dog?  He’s the best.  He’s my favorite companion.  He lays next to me while I read and wraps his paws around my arm.  We will forget about all of the not so good things he does.  He loves me unconditionally.  And I love him.

Second – JOY Stealers:

  • FACEBOOK – Dearest Facebook, you stole my joy for at least the last 5 years.  You, like a drug, kept me on a News Feed repeat, always needing more, never seeing enough, saying enough, sharing enough, friending enough.  Although I love being connected to many of you and I really do miss that connection, what I find in the scrolling of Facebook is ENVY and COVETING.  Also a lot of eye rolling.  My eyes just honestly were hurting.  Some of us have a really really big LOVE OF SELF around these parts (not to exclude myself).
  • SHAMERS – I no longer have time in my life for people that shame others.  Until I read Brene Brown’s books, I didn’t recognize shame like I do today.  I’m grateful I see it now and I’m thankful when the little ‘ping’ goes off that allows me to recognize it.  There is no place for shamers in Sandora Land.
  • USERS – Dear ones that are great friends when they need you and when their kids love your kids, but quickly forget about you, in fact, even turn on you, when they no  longer need you, nor do their children.  Done, ok?  Just done with all of that.  The road to friendship along with giving my heart to someone, is going to be a lot more careful and cautious going forward.

Finally – JOY Givers and Stealers:

  • FOOD – Dearest Food, you are an addiction.  You are the greatest thing and also the worst.  You provide me so much joy, but the results of too much of you steal my joy.  So for the time being, I’m taking all of the knowledge on whole food nutrition that I have learned since 2009 and I’ve started eating plant based.  Mind you, it’s been 2 weeks.  But 2 weeks is something.  Is it forever?  This I do not know.  It’s for now.
  • WRITING – I am going to figure you out.

Just making these determinations has given me more contentment.  Acting on them, has brought even more.  I realize that the one who clears my paths, who opens and closes my doors, is also the one that calls me worthy.  He wants the best life for me.  I want to give my best to Him by paying attention, prayerfully and patiently.

Contentment can not be found in love OF self.  Never ever.  The only place true contentment can be found is in Christ.  Finding that relationship, strengthening it, brings you to love FOR self.

Psalm 34:10 Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

2 Cor. 12:9-10 “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Much love – and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

The Day She Said NO to Social Media

Teenagers of the 80’s, let’s go back.

Do you remember the days of stretching that phone cord as far as we could so we could talk quietly to our friend or boyfriend?  Hoping it could reach to the bathroom so you could close the door?  Remember the day you got your own phone in your room?  I clearly remember Sunday nights in my bed, having long conversations with my dear friend Laura – that phone attached to my ear, as we would talk about all of the crazy things that happened over the weekend.

My high school days were hard sometimes.  I’m sure all of ours were.  But life was simpler.  We passed our notes back and forth during the school day, trying not to get caught.  We had lots of laughs, lots of sleepovers, lots of late night talks.

That’s how we lived.  We talked.  We wrote.  We played. We were in community.  And my memories are good.

Fast forward to life as a teenager in 2017…

Although my daughter doesn’t start high school until next year, I have watched something over these last few years that startles me more and more every day.  It’s so foreign to the world we grew up in.  We’re all living in it now, from young to old – me ABSOLUTELY included.  This virtual world of instant ‘gratification’ communication. A life in pictures. A running story, or stream.  Life on video, at all times, for some.  Is anyone else but me curious as to who is watching a child that is constantly videoing on Snapchat?

As my daughter begged for Instagram a couple of years ago, we finally allowed it at the age of 12.  We were strict about the rules – what could and could not be shared.  We had constant conversation.  We talked to her about how her images could make other people feel.  She, in turn, had much respect for the process.  She asked before posting anything.  But along with that, she began sharing with me all that she was seeing.  The secondary Instagram, or spam accounts that the kids started creating.  The pictures they were posting on both feeds.  The focus on self, that even she was startled by.  Her goal was always to share fun pictures about her life – our vacation to the beach, our trip to New York, our super awesome puppy.  But what she began to become overtaken with is a word that many of us know well – ANXIETY.  I believe that Instagram was a catalyst to a 13th year filled with anxiety, which eventually turned severe.

In the summer of 2017, she came to me and said, “Mom, after our vacation, I want to delete Instagram.”  “OK,” was my response, “Tell me more.”  She explained how other’s pictures and posts were making her feel – left out, sad and frustrated.  She said that in turn, she realized she didn’t want to make anyone feel this same way by the things she posted.

Well of course, YES.

Although Instagram was her only social media app, it still provided a window and a connection to the world.  The window is now closed, completely her doing, which I’m grateful.  But I also feel it’s important to share the other side.

Sadness has overtaken me here because what I see is a double-edged sword.  A sweet mind that was flooded with anxious thoughts – is improved by the removal.  But a life of connection to friends has absolutely suffered.  She has seen that although her friendships remain, her inclusion does not.  And I absolutely believe that even if it is just a small percentage, it has something to do with her removal of social media. Her exclusion from a virtual life has carried over to real life.  The way she must remain connected to friends is much different than the way most of them are staying connected.  The late night phone calls to catch up on the events of the weekend – do they happen?  Not the way they used to.  If you missed the stream, you just miss it.

My daughter will absolutely find her way and it will be beautiful.  This I know.

As a parent, I urge you to have important conversations with your teenagers about their social media accounts.  Monitor them.  Talk to them about empathetic posting, thinking about others before self.  And are they working to maintain relationships outside of a virtual world?

I long for the days of long phone cords stretched into the bathrooms; for conversations around a table; for sleepovers without Snapchat; for board games and barbies (I will definitely admit that Lisa and I were likely still playing Barbies at 13).

I am sad for the child that doesn’t know how to live without recording to their Snapchat stream.  And I’m sad for the people that feel they need to watch.

“In a world where everyone is overexposed, the coolest thing you can do is remain a mystery.”

Our world has changed.  Our children are suffering.  For it to stay healthy, we have to continue healthy conversations and put up healthy boundaries.  They appear to be fading, fast.

Let’s help our kids.

 

 

 

 

Lost

LOST is the one word I can use to describe where I feel we are as a society.

I’ve spent time reflecting on the events of the past weekend. The behaviors of our President.  The reactions and the greater reactions from those watching.  Confused?  I am.  This tweet of an image by Aaron Niequist summed it up for me:

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Our current reality is that this weekend, our President called a protestor a ‘son of a bitch’ during a speech.  I can not even fathom that this is our world, first and foremost, or how that name calling made those men feel.

My father is a United States Marine.  So is my cousin.  My cousin Craig fought in multiple wars and is a hero in his own right (with a Purple Heart to prove it).  To think I wouldn’t stand for them?  Would I?  Of course. Would you?  Most likely, yes!

What those men fought for was our freedom.  Our freedom to live, love, share, care, speak, be AND protest – non-violently. Do I believe the NFL players are protesting in the right way, in the right forum, for the issues at hand?

Does it really matter what I think?

We all have the right. We don’t have to like how other people that have the same right, exercise it – as long as it is peaceful.

We do not know the hearts of men.  We have no place to judge the decisions they make because we do not know their reality.  We don’t know their pain.  We don’t know their upbringing.  We don’t know their experiences. We don’t know the depths of their beliefs.  What it means to to them to stand for a flag, for an anthem.  What it means to come together as a team and make a decision as one. WE DO NOT KNOW.

Do we know what we would do?  Yes.  Why can’t we stick to that?  Why can’t we focus on our own hearts?  Why do we choose to continue to tear down people, organizations & groups of people for the choices they make?

I know this truth – when you lead with love and grace and respect, you gain the love, grace and respect of your followers.  When you lead with anger, hurtful words, finger pointing & blame, you lose your followers.

Today I spoke to a member of my team, an African American woman, whose husband proudly represents our US military at a high level. She is hurt & scared.  Do we know her heart or her pain?  Do we have the right to even think we know how she feels in this current society? We can not even imagine it. Her husband is a HERO.  Yet she stands against the adversity of this divided nation, wanting to remain united under one GOD.

God has pulled on my heart to share this.  I want to dive into what he’s placing there.  I realize you may not like it.  But it’s not your approval I’m after.  To me, being a Christian means that I love as Jesus loved.  He pulled up a chair with the lowest of the low.  He searched their hearts. He asked hard questions. Maybe we would learn a little something if we tried the same.

I’m braving the wilderness by writing this.  I DO #standfortheanthem, but I also #takeTWOknees (in prayer).  Because there is middle ground.  This is not an ‘all or nothing’ world we live in.  That is a false dichotomy.  I can stand for and believe in the American flag with my whole heart and believe in the freedom of peaceful protest. They can absolutely co-exist.

Let’s get out there and ask some hard questions and break down these walls, one person at a time.

 

For the Believers of Jobs and the Skeptics of Opportunity

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JOB – job /jäb/ – noun – a paid position of regular employment
OPPORTUNITY – op·por·tu·ni·ty, /äpərˈt(y)o͞onədē/ – noun – a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success
SKEPTIC – skep·tic, /ˈskeptik/ – noun – a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual

 

We all have different life experiences that help shape us into the adults we become and the career paths we take.  I believe that most people in America (and possibly elsewhere in the world) are taught to look for jobs, not opportunities.  Most adults today were raised by loving, well-meaning parents, that showed them the example that hard work = a steady paycheck, food on the table, and maybe a vacation every summer.

A typical day in the life of a working mom (and dad) in America today looks somewhat like this. The alarm goes off at 5am. You literally run out the door by 6:30 with your three kids in tow, pancake syrup stuck in their hair or dried up Cheerios stuck to their clothing. Maybe you buckled the carseats correctly?  Drop your beautiful sweethearts at daycare, teacher prying the screaming, sick baby off of your chest.  Fight bumper to bumper traffic all the way into work.  Arrive 10 minutes late for a meeting with your boss, because of that 3 car pile up on the interstate (at this point, your stress level and blood pressure are at it’s maximum).  By noon, your head is pounding, and you’re pounding the coffee, because of that late night you had with your baby that has a respiratory infection that he caught in said daycare.  You pray it doesn’t spread to the others.  Especially not you.  Too many deadlines.  In the 15 minutes you have to eat your lunch, you stare at the 4 walls of your cubicle.  It really is a cute cube.  The pictures of the babies are just the cutest.  Wow, that vacation you took last summer was awesome.  You wonder how many more days until you have the PTO to take another week off?  And you pray that you will meet your projections so that the bonus amount you receive can pay for your vacation that you’ve already charged.  On top of that, you need that bonus to pay taxes.  What are you going to do if it doesn’t come?  Well you force yourself to just forget about that, it will.  Time for your 1pm meeting.  Before you know it, it’s 5:30pm.  Most of your co-workers have left already, but you are pushing towards this deadline.  Someone has to go the extra mile here.  THEY surely aren’t working for that promotion – but YOU are!  When was your last promotion?  Two years ago.  Ouch.  You’re finally in the car, bumper to bumper the whole way home.  Pick up those babies, almost throw up at the smell inside the daycare and at the snot that’s dried up all over your sweet, sick baby’s face.  You cry the whole way home.  No time to cook dinner tonight, so you run through Chick-Fil-A drive through – chicken nuggets for all.  You know it’s not healthy, but what can you do?  Less tears by your babies at this point is best – you have enough of them to wipe off of your own face.  It’s 7:30pm – bath time, story time and bed.  You’ve spent 2 hours with your children today.  Maybe tomorrow that can be 3?  You cry yourself to sleep.  At least Friday is payday.

Can someone in their right mind tell me why this is normal?

Most believe it’s normal because they don’t know another way.  They have only been taught to look for jobs and respect that process.  Jobs give you steady work, a steady paycheck, a 3-5% raise each year, maybe a bonus, and peace of mind.  What else could you need?

In my opinion – opportunity.

Why is opportunity so much different?  Doesn’t it still involve work, possibly much more than your job would require?  Possibly, yes.  The world of Entrepreneurship is an amazing one, but does often come with high start up costs, loans & investment.  The risk is often too high the average American.

Opportunities that exist outside of starting your own brick & mortar business are out there, amazing ones at that, but most people scoff at them because they exist under the platform of Network Marketing.

Do an internet search of Network Marketing and you are likely to find a myriad of articles on the subject of MLM (or Multi Level Marketing), the majority of them casting a negative light on the business model.  Do an internet search of some of the products that Network Marketers sell and you are likely to find just as many negative articles, excerpts or videos, written or recorded most likely by frustrated individuals that have likely failed in their business attempts.

Why is this?

I believe there are a multitude of reasons, but in my opinion, the number one reason a negative light is cast on this business model is that there is a lack of understanding, and therefore a lack of respect of it.  The second reason, which directly relates to the first, is that culturally, we have been led to believe that there is only one way to become successful.  Success is the result of a debt-incurring four-year (or up to eight-year) college degree, an entry level position and a rise through a Company to the top.  If you get there. For those that don’t head to college after they receive their diploma, they enter a trade or hourly work, often striving for more, but without knowledge that they can have it.

Lack of understanding of this business model exists because most people assume and do not research.  Most have seen failure in the industry, not success, modeled.  Many have had negative experiences & negative pressures. Passing assumptions and judgements to the next person and to the next person creates a cycle of negativity, doubt, and on-going lack of respect.

So what actually IS Network Marketing?

A direct selling method in which independent-agents serve as distributors of goods and services, and are encouraged to build and manage their own sales force by recruiting and training other independent agents. In this method, commission is earned on the agent’s own sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the sales-force recruited by the agent and his or her recruits.

I’ve been in the Network Marketing arena for the past eight years.  I’ve learned and grown in this industry and I’m here today to tell you that it’s REAL, it’s ALIVE and it IS the way of the future.

Remember that typical day I described above?  Did it cause your stress level to rise?  It caused mine to.  The reason is because I’ve been there.  I earned my four-year degree and graduated with one of the best jobs in my field.  I bought my first brand-new car and got my own apartment.  And then I went to work and cried.  This was even before I got married and started a family.  I knew the high-pressure career world was not for this precious and very insecure 22 year old.  I gave it all I had at the time, through lots of tears & a massive panic attack that landed me in the ER one Thursday night, ironically after watching an episode of ER.  I was diagnosed over the coming months with Panic Disorder and I knew that aside from medication and counseling, I had to make some changes.  I found my way into a more steady-houred, possible future flex-time opportunity in that next year.  At this time in my life, I didn’t know another way. As my children were born, that flex-time opportunity came to life and I began scaling down my work days.  I knew that I would love to be a full time stay-at-home mom, but I wasn’t sure how we could ever afford it.  We had the expenses of a double income family, so making that drastic cut was a cause for much concern.  Remember the school loans?

Nine years after we graduated from college, and two children later, my husband and I made a brave decision and found ourselves in a new city.  Never in my life did I think I would leave my home and my family.  But the thought of becoming a stay-at-home mom and walking away from the cubicle was enough to make me agree to do it.  I was free!

One year later, we had our third child.  We lived in a lovely community and met wonderful people.  But somehow, it didn’t appear that all of those people around me were struggling on one income as much as we were.  It was really easy to attend boutique clothing parties and monogram my newly purchased jon-jon’s, but as I did this, trying just to be accepted and ‘keep up’, our debt rose.

On a play date with a group of friends about two years after our move, I was searching for a specific type of product and soon learned of an excellent one that I was so excited about.  I was excited about sharing it.  And all of a sudden, I saw an ‘OPPORTUNITY‘!

Despite my excitement, this decision was not very welcomed by those that knew and loved me.  They were certain that I was involved in a scheme, that I would lose money and in no way could I earn an income.

Eight years ago…  I’ve seen so much, learned so much, grown so much.  I may not have it all together, but I believe I have it so much more together than I did in my first description.  Normal for me now looks a bit like this.

My alarm wakes me at 6am and I wake my kids and get them ready for school.  By 7:15, two of them are already starting their day – I’ve driven them to school in my pajamas with my dog in the front seat.  My middle-schooler is dropped off (same scenario) by 8:30am and then it’s time for me to begin my day.  I have the entire day to do as I wish.  I work.  I walk the dog.  I work a bit more.  I do some social media.  I write.  I take some calls.  Do some Zoom conferencing.  Two kids are home by 2:30 and the other by 4:30.  I get them off of the bus.  I help them with their homework.  I cook them dinner and I drive them to their activities.  Once a month, because of the work I put in, I earn a paycheck that has grown over the past eight years and never once gone away –  due to the power of residual income.  Every month, I have the ability to determine my schedule, my work hours & my commitment levels.  I don’t request vacation time.  I take it.  I have even explored other passions and gone back to work full-time for a period, while still maintaining my business.  I have freedom to do that – all while maintaining and growing that residual income.

This is MY normal.

Does anyone in their right mind see anything wrong with that?

So let me ask you…

  • What would you be willing to try if you knew you might not fail?
  • What is time freedom worth to you?
  • What would controlling your own paycheck mean to you?
  • What would it mean to know you have the same opportunity as every single one of your peers to hold the same top position, if you so desire?
  • What would it look like to be a part of a team of future thinking, happy, positive, excited entrepreneurs that are like-minded like you?

Do those negative assumptions that I mentioned above stop you from any of these?  What I’ve seen over the years is that there is such deep rooted fear inside most of our souls.  Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of what other people think.  I believe this keeps people away from our business model and it drops people out of the model before they even give themselves a chance to try.  One negative word from a family member – OUT. One ugly comment on Facebook – OUT.  That saddens me.

I remember one specific conversation with a neighbor, probably about six years ago.  He sarcastically asked me, ‘How’s that business going?’  I will always remember the look on his face when I told him, ‘Well, it’s paying my mortgage.  How’s yours?’

We make choices in this business model.  We allow all of the negative voices to take us out, or we allow them to move us forward.  Sadly, I believe your negative assumptions about Network Marketing are also likely a result of seeing so many people you know enter a business like this and quickly step out, or move on to the next.  What you don’t understand is that is often because of their own belief and confidence issues, not a result of the business model itself.

Over the years, I have become a believer of people.  Because someone believed in me when I first began (more than one person, actually), I know the power when someone says – YOU right there – YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES.  Most of us can not see what we are capable of.  But others can see it in us.  I have grown into Leadership and Love in this business.  Each day, month or even year in Network Marketing is not perfect, but I have had more wonderful days than bad ones, more laughter than tears, more hope for the future than I have ever had in my life.  I’ve stayed passionate about the product that I share, but have grown passionate about leading others with love and grace.  There is so much good here, my friends.  If only you allow your eyes to see it.

If you would so consider a future in this amazing business model, I want to leave you with these questions to ponder and research.  I advise you not to join a company without learning about it.

  1. Is the start-up investment a large one?
  2. Do you have to maintain an inventory?
  3. Do you have to maintain a quota?
  4. If you miss your quota over a certain period, are you at risk of losing your customers and team?
  5. Do you get paid to recruit people?
  6. Are the products that you represent affordable or do they require that people join your business to be able to afford them?
  7. Are their numerous products or a simple few?
  8. Do you believe in the products?
  9. What is the history and longevity of the company you are considering joining? Are they well established, forward thinking and do they give and serve others?

I find these questions to be of the utmost importance.  In my opinion, your investment in the company should NOT be large and you should not have to maintain inventory.  You should not have to maintain quota or EVER be at risk of losing your people or downline.  You absolutely should not be paid to recruit.  Your products should be simple, yet affordable, and your company should be amazing.  Most importantly, you MUST believe in what you represent with such a fire in your soul that you would share it whether you got paid a dime or not.

And there you will find an amazing future of OPPORTUNITY.  It truly does await you if you will learn to look for it and be willing to put in the work in between experiencing the freedom of a Network Marketing lifestyle.

BLESSINGS!

Childhood Cancer Awareness – How You Can Help

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Although I have never personally experienced the pain that goes along with Childhood Cancer, I know others that have.

A couple of years ago, Andy Stanley gave a message where he asked, “What breaks your heart?”  Whatever the answer to that question is for you, I recommend you go towards it.  God’s calling you.

For me, cancer breaks my heart.  More specifically, childhood cancer.  I was transformed back in 2012 when I ran the St. Jude Marathon (ok, it was only the 5k) that was sponsored by Juice Plus+.  I toured that hospital and weeped.  On the day of the race, we ran through the campus, watching the children and families cheer for the runners.  I will never forget that entire weekend and what it meant to me.

 

s4k-kylie-right

I have followed journeys of children who have since passed from this disease.  I want to share two with you and if you are so compelled with what they stand for, please consider donating to help this cause.  One that impacted me greatly was Kylie Myers, a beautiful 12 year old girl that lost her battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of aggressive bone cancer. Kylie was known for her smile, that radiated so much joy, even through her painful journey. Kylie had a dream that there would be more funding for childhood cancer, and a cure.  Her family continues this mission today.  To learn more about Kiley’s journey and to donate, you can visit Smiley for Kiley.

20150955edff84ef724Another was Mary Elizabeth Paris, a local 12 year old that lost her battle with AML, an aggressive form of leukemia.  You can learn more about Mary Elizabeth’s story and donate to CURE Childhood Cancer via this link, Mary Elizabeth’s Story.

The fact is – cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children.

  • 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer
  • 2500 children will die annually from cancer

These are statistics that I do not take lightly.  God ‘broke my heart’ with this, and if it breaks yours too, we can come together and do something good.

There are two organization that I want to point you to, both near to my heart.  A dear friend of mine, Ginny Starr, works alongside Chantel Adams with ForeverWe.  Chantel & Ginny have an amazing mission with the company they have created.  Knowing that kids use toys to tell a story, Chantel & Ginny created a unique doll for kids going through a cancer journey.  This doll not only helps the child going through the journey, but also helps kids who care about them, helping them to have an understanding of what they are going through.  Please please check them out, as they are doing such beautiful work and have the biggest hearts.  You can purchase a doll for someone in need or donate one as well. Their Jewel doll is $39.99.

 

 

5702648df75dc73be7fa3bb35236d8f2Our family has been involved with Happy Caps for the past 2 years. Happy Caps’ mission is to gift cheerful handmade hats to people suffering hair loss due to cancer treatment – or any medical condition – to keep their head warm, to remind them each time they wear it that there are people who care and to make sure that when people stare, it’s because they have on such a cool hat!  Julia Miller, one of the Directors of the organization, shared the mission with my husband Jeff, who then shared it with our daughter, Abbie.  Abbie felt compelled to learn how to crochet so she could begin donating caps.  She has been doing this now for over a year and has loved it!  Happy Caps seeks volunteers to make hats, but also seeks donations to help with the process.

I believe that we can come together for the good of these families and children.  These organizations mentioned above are only a couple out of many many good ones that are doing good work.

As for me, my request for each of you – focus on prevention.  Feed your children well.  It matters.  I share this with you in the hopes that you will take the time to look into how a diet rich in fruits & vegetables can help you on your journey to wellness, and how Juice Plus+ can play a huge part in that.

God bless all those that suffer and all those that give their hearts to this cause.

In good health & healing,

Jackie

Becoming New

September 1…  The beginning of a new month is a huge blessing.  It’s my favorite season of the year.  I love feeling the cooler temps, watching the leaves begin to change, shedding themselves in the hopes of becoming new again in the Spring.  Fall brings with it some simple, but powerful life lessons.

We all have the power to become new again.  Parts of us may crumble and shed, but we can re-emerge better than ever in the Spring.

I’ve thought a lot about this process recently, as the puzzle pieces of my life are coming back together.  Two years ago I decided to explore some different passions in my heart and to let some of the dead leaves fall.  It was a tough time for me at the beginning, and it required a lot of prayer, stillness and hope.  Hope for Spring to come again.  Hope for the Lord to continue to place His call and His hand on my heart and on my life.

I felt so much shame at the beginning of that period. I realized that the shame that was circling in my heart, I was pushing down to others.  I was part of the cycle. What an ugly way to live.  I’ve dug deeply into Dr. Brene Brown’s work on shame over these months. She describes shame this way,

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough.  Shame is basically the fear of being unloveable.”

Well, I had just about had enough of that.

I watched the transformation – from hurt, sadness and confusion – to peace, acceptance, love – to excitement and joy.  These past couple of years, I was able to find me again.  The me that was lost in all of the other stuff – the drive to move forward, the comparisons, the acceptance…  I found my way back to love.  God placed me right where He wanted me in this last year, and despite the fact that I was not meant to permanently put my foot in the cement, the love I was shown and the growth I experienced, I would not trade for the world.

It’s been so neat to see how every step in this journey has been for good in our lives.  Every day was not easy, but most of the days were fun and joyful.  There are days that I feel sadness over some things that were lost during my transition, specifically friendships, but then I rejoice at the God-loving individuals that He placed in my path to show me what truth in friendship really is.  Lord, you always know better than we do!

So September…  Here we are again…  Waiting for those crisp evenings, sweatshirts, pumpkins and fires…  Waiting to rake the leaves into big piles in the yard & jump in.

I’m throwing up the leaves of old at the same time I’m watching the buds form into something new.  I’m anxious to have freedom in my days and more time with my kids.  I’m ready to be fully present into the passion that God placed on my heart over 8 years ago.  Spreading the message of prevention is a huge deal to me and I don’t take the call lightly.

I’ve also picked this blog back up – to share and spread hope with you.

I hope you can find wisdom where you question what to let fall with the leaves this September.  I hope you can find hope in Jesus, knowing that His plans for you are great. The journey is not perfect.  The days can be hard.

You have to search for the joy and let the leaves fall.