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Saturday, February 27, 2016

How to Overcome the Perfectionism Disease

Perfectionism prevents us from trying new things. We believe, in order to start, that we need to be a pro at the task. The problem, however, is that we can’t be an expert at everything. We learn by doing. Therefore, we can’t learn if we are too afraid to try. As we learn and do, we will develop the necessary skills and eventually become better. The first step is always the hardest. 

Three things that always help me:

  1. Read books and learn about the new task. 
  2. Step out of your comfort zone and just do it. 
  3. Believe that you are good enough to do the task.

For years, I wrote daily. I poured my heart and soul into the pages. Every spare minute was spent reading and studying books on writing. But the fear of sharing my heart and soul, prevented me from getting published. For years, I stood in my own way because I failed to believe in myself. We can have tons of knowledge, but if we fail to overcome our fears we will never accomplish anything. It took me a long time to understand that the fear of failure is worse than actually failing. 

Don’t allow fear to prevent you from following your dreams. When we are creating something of value, we will have struggles. Others will criticize our efforts and ideas. We will have doubts and fears. But, if we take a leap of faith and trust God to help us, the possibilities are endless. 

Dream! Believe! Create!

Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

How to Overcome the Fear of Judgement

Five years ago, one small, terrifying act of courage changed my life. 

Until then, fear had consumed me. During one of the darkest times of my life, God had given me a beacon of light—the gift to write and capture my feelings. Instead of being pleased with my gift, I was terrified. I will never be able to express my fear, with exactly the right words, because it seemed so horrific to me. 

My body trembled. In some ways I felt as if I was fighting for my life. Like a strong force was trying to push me under the current. I paced the floor with tears in my eyes. Every so often, I would attempt to pray or more accurately plead with God. 

Are you sure? I don’t even know what I’m doing. No one will even read my blog. I don’t have any followers. How will this make a difference? 

But that day I could feel Him in my heart. Regardless of my protest or plea, the nudge to publish my blog remained. So did the fear. I didn’t want to share my heart with the world. Really, I didn’t. I was so incredibly vulnerable that day. But that moment of obedience changed my life. Because God gave me a true glimpse of my purpose. 

Soon people all over the world discovered me. They read my blog posts and sent me messages. But the beautiful part was that they shared their stories with me; the fears, struggles, and deep heartaches. As the comments poured in via my blog, private messages, and social media I discovered something amazing. We all struggle. We all have heartaches. And we all have fears. No one is immune to these vices.

When I shared my weaknesses with the world, God was strengthened. My vulnerability showed that yes I am weak, but my God is strong. Yes, I have all of these struggles but my God helps me to overcome them all. At that time my spirit was broken. My body was so physically challenged that I was unable to work. But every week as I sat down to write a blog post, my spirit awakened and hope bloomed in my soul. I will never be able to express how that tiny spark of hope helped me. 

So often we think that sharing our struggles, heartaches, and fears makes us weak. But, it doesn’t. My friends that it what makes you strong. 

Through my struggles, heartaches, and fears I have a deeper level of compassion and understanding for others. I have cried with strangers, hugged them, and felt their pain. Because I’ve been there, too.

When I started this blog, I thought that each word and aspect of it needed to be perfect. But what I have since discovered is that none of that truly matters. What people want and need is the connection. I have read beautifully written words that never touched me.  And I have written beautiful pieces that never touched anyone. When I am wiping away the tears, however, and pouring my heart and soul into the words, people feel that from me. It’s all about the beautiful way God blesses us to connect.  

For so many years of my life, I have felt that I am not good enough. Those thoughts and feelings stem from years and years of stares and harsh words from others. I’ve had people tell me that I am not good enough. And for so long, I believed the lies. 

Not only did I believe the lies, but I took them inside my heart and nurtured them.

Even though that sounds crazy, that is exactly what I did. I allowed the fear of judgement to dictate my life. Until I followed the voice of my Lord. He helped me break free. Since that day, He has blessed me to share my message of hope all over the world. Now I have 9 published books—some of them translated into different languages. I have spoken at over 100 events, and my newest book (Despite Your Circumstances) has been nominated for an award.

I’m not sharing all of this because I want to brag about me. But because I want you to know that God can take you, as He did me, with all of your imperfections (like me) and turn them into a beautiful gift. Don’t be afraid of all the things that could go wrong, but focus on the glory of God. He thought the world needed you. Use your gift to glorify Him. 

And when our ways please our Lord, He opens the windows of Heaven and pours out His blessings on us. His approval is all that we should seek. 

If you would like to vote for me, I would be honored. Regardless of the outcome, being nominated and loved by so many is enough for me. Every time I read a testimony of how my story touched another heart, my cup runs over, and I know my gift is making a difference. 

May God bless you, 

Monday, February 8, 2016

5 Steps to Change Your Mind-set
Everyone struggles. Why is that so hard for us to understand? We are so quick to judge others based on our feelings, without any known truths, facts, or even compassion. But we all have scars. Some of them are deep and painful, and we spend most of our time living in that place of pain. 

However, how often do we try to understand the person (ourselves as well as others) underneath the scars?

Situations and people are rarely what they seem. We tend to live one dimensional lives. As soon as something happens we develop an opinion of the situation, and never analyze it further to see if we can understand it better. Normally, we file it away in our brain as a truth when it is really a lie. 

For example: 

I lived most of my life believing I was a burden to my family and that my scars were a punishment from God. Even typing that sentence now makes me cringe. But it was my truth because I believed it wholeheartedly. However, once I developed a new perspective and was able to see my situation differently, I have never been able to view it as a burden again. God didn't punish me with scars, He blessed me with life. 

So often we believe every thought that enters our mind. Even though the majority of them are lies. 

The enemy lives in our mind. It is our negative voice. How many times has  your mind caused you to believe a lie? Actually, it happens more often than not. 

We worry about situations and events that have never happened, nor have any evidence that they will ever happen. But yet we give certain lies total control of our thoughts. So how can we stop the lies and change our mind-set?

  • Counteract the lie with a truth. 
When we counteract the lie with a truth, we take away the power of the lie. The next time it enters our mind, and it will, we are able dismiss it quickly.  This also helps us to stop self inflicted bullying. 
  • Be kind and seek understanding—with ourselves and others.
It is only natural for us to get angry with people or certain situations. But what might happen if we actually tried to understand the person or situation? 
  • Realize that our feelings are not always the truth   
Just because we feel a certain emotion does not make it true. We may feel scared, when there is no danger. Situations may seem impossible before we are able to overcome them. 
  • Use fear as an asset not a stumbling block.
Fear can stop us or help us. Learning to use it as a tool will help us to stay focused. Whenever I speak, I use the fear to humble me and help me to stay focused on my mission. 
  • Seek help. Either through books or others. 
We never get to a place in our lives where we know it all. We should always strive to make our lives more enjoyable and to understand our enemy. The more we learn of his ways, the less power he will have over us.

Final thoughts…
So often we focus on the few things in our life that are challenging. We overthink them and magnify them until they seem so much bigger than they actually are. If we learned, however, to focus our energy on gratitude, and the promises of our Lord, we could change our thoughts and, in turn, live a happier life. 

Some of my favorites promises in the Bible.

Philippians 4:19 (KJV)
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 8:28 (KJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:37 (KJV)
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

1 John 4:4 (KJV)
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

James 4:7 (KJV)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Psalm 29:11 (KJV)
11 The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Isaiah 46:4 (KJV)
And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

Psalm 37:4 (KJV)
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

John 14:27 (KJV)

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Monday, February 1, 2016

How to Shift Your Focus

For a few years now, the perpetual feeling of despair has plagued me. Every time I try new treatments, and don’t get the results I was hoping for, I feel the nudge of fear. When my condition worsens and I go through a time of difficult hardship, I feel my hope diminishing. And that terrifies me. 

Sometimes I allow myself to go to those really scary places, when I think about my future, and the picture I paint for myself isn’t pretty. The image I have seen lately frightens me. Because when I become so focused on my disabilities and struggles I lose sight of my abilities. 

When I overdo it and work beyond my limits, I pay for it. For the past few years, I have ignored the pain. I have put my whole heart into my books, speaking engagements, emails from supporters, and helping others—in any way possible. 

Somewhere along the journey, I got distracted from my goals and lost the love and passion for what I was doing. And I started seeing it as a burden, instead of blessing. 

Not too long ago, I sat in the bathroom floor with tears pouring from eyes and a broken heart. I was exhausted, in pain, and overwhelmed. And when I looked over my schedule, for the next few weeks, my sobs intensified. 

How had this happened again? Why did I say yes, when I should have said no?

Because I love to help people and I really hate to turn anyone away. But sometimes, and this one is really hard for me to admit, when I say yes to everyone else I am saying no to my husband and kids—and even to myself. When I overcommit, something else in my life doesn’t get the attention it deserves. In turn, this creates the perfect storm of overwhelm for me. Constantly giving to others depletes me. Working 12 hours or more a day doesn't give me the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. Therefore, my body hurts worse than it should and my mind becomes overwhelmed. 

The devil uses distractions to derail us. He wants us to fail, so he tries to discourage us, in hopes that we will just give up. And label our situation as hopeless.

When I overuse my hands and shoulders, the constant pain makes me focus on more pain. Suddenly, all I can think about is becoming totally disabled. When those thoughts creep in, it breaks my spirit. In turn, I try to work harder to escape the inevitable, and achieve my goals, before time runs out for me. 

All we need to do, however, is learn to shift our focus. 

One day I felt as if the walls were closing in on me. Broken and hurting, God understood my tears, my fears, and my heartaches. He didn’t change my situation, but he helped me to shift my mind-set and view my situation with a new perspective. When I realized that I just need to learn to work smarter, every thing changed.

So maybe I can’t travel for hours to speak at an event or do school visits, but I can still write books and blogs to reach an unlimited number of people. Perhaps I can’t do everything the world asks of me, but I can do whatever God places on my heart. 

My focus needs to always be on Him. He knows my limitations, my challenges, and my ability to overcome. My God knows how to share my story in a way that glorifies Him. 

If I’m patient, my God will show me how to work smarter not harder and achieve more in a few minutes, with Him directing my path, than I could ever do on my own. 

All He wants me to do is show up every day and ask Him one simple question. “What would you have me to do today?” And then do whatever He places on my heart, with my whole heart. 

Serving God and doing His work is simple. We are the ones who make it hard. 

May God bless you, 

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra