What if it’s Not too Late?

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We’ve all seen them. People who knew what they wanted to be from the time they were little ones. A teacher inspired them to pick up a piece of chalk and make a difference.

Or maybe the lack of a good doctor when their family needed one, lit a fire in them to become a good doctor in someone else’s life.

We have greenly looked at those who knew, whose certainty dripped from their every movement. And we kept looking at our own lives, wondering what could have been.

It’s never too late to pursue your calling.

Because we weren’t made with cookie cutters, we think differently, act differently and accomplish goals differently. And that’s okay. Maybe more of us would pursue our callings if we better understood the process.

And then I read The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins. A book that not only acknowledges our differences, but also gives us the right to pursue our callings, no matter how our maps differ. This is not a marathon where only one winner is crowned. And the time it takes to get there doesn’t matter, just that we do finish.

For years, I was frustrated, watching others pursue their crystal clear calling and cross their individual finish lines.

While I outwardly congratulated them, inside these questions burned, “Will I ever reach mine? What is wrong with me? Why do I keep getting delayed?”

What about me?

At times, I wondered if I had misunderstood what my calling was. My uncertainty gave me more time to figure it out. The only problem with that was I could hear the clock ticking loudly.

The Art of Work has changed my thinking, even some of my cemented thoughts. Goins not only paints a clear picture of what a calling looked like, he shows us getting there looks different for each person. With each story I could feel myself relax. And that gave me hope.

A calling is not some carefully crafted plan. It’s what’s left when the plan goes horribly wrong,

It all matters

Maybe we all have the power to turn our lives into significant stories if we start to see our difficulties as opportunities.

He had my full attention. After all, I thought I had missed what others had achieved. Hadn’t I? Page after page, I let the words soak in, untangling misunderstood concepts which held me back.

All along, her life was teaching her something, even in the pain. And if she hadn’t paid attention, she just might have missed it.

He may as well have been talking to me. Pain had been a constant companion. One I thought was preventing me from pursuing my calling. One I tried to avoid, though unsuccessful. It had gotten to the point I was afraid of pain. Fear had slipped in again.

Fear needs to be recognized

Some people, though, let fear run their lives. They avoid risk, hoping to minimize the chances of failure, and in effect move in the opposite direction of a calling.

Fear used to stop me cold. I had recently heard Larry Crabb speak. “Sometimes we avoid the very things in our lives God wants to use to teach us something. We do this out of fear.”

Often my stubbornness requires repeat lessons. Two people saying basically the same thing. I needed to respond accordingly, instead of shrinking back.

And now I sit with confirmation of my calling. It doesn’t matter what the date is, or how long my journey has been. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is that I reach my destination.  Circumstances I mistook for intruders, were necessary steps. Part of the whole picture.

One step at a time

With renewed confidence I acknowledge my scrambled journey.  I will stop condemning the calendar, but instead celebrate every step which brings me closer.  One more statement that speaks volumes to me and causes me to face my fears.

Yes, you could fail, but we all know what happens when you don’t try—nothing.

And so I move forward. I will not be paralyzed any longer.

And now you have an opportunity to change your thinking. Maybe you’ll realize you’re not too late.  You may be right on time.

Click here to find out how you can get the Art of Work for only the price of postage. Reading this might be the one thing you need to get you started, or maybe like me, it will restart you. Isn’t it worth finding out?book@2x

What if Every Piece Does Fit?

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So often in life we start down a road, with our dreams in the GPS of our minds. But we don’t seem to meet the destination as we expected.

And after a while we wonder if perhaps we’re on the right road to our calling. Did we miss something? Is this thing even working?

Jeff Goins says, “A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”

Reading that line was liberating.

Sometimes you’ll read a good book, loaded with tools for navigating your journey. Helpful tools.

In another book by Jeff, The In Between, I learned the value in the waiting part of my life. That the in between part is to be enjoyed, not just tolerated.

In his new book, The Art of Work, Jeff gives me other tools. This one helps us look at the experiences of our lives in a new light. All those times we thought we were being delayed.

For the longest time I have felt I was called to speak and write. And while I’ve been thankful that my poetry has been in stores, I couldn’t see how one road would lead me to the one of speaking.

Was I wrong?

Nothing seemed to lead me to my desire. Had I been mistaken?

Then I began getting Bible studies I had written published, and published articles followed. Each one fulfilling, but not in the area of speaking.

I enrolled in writing courses and improved my craft. I had to write. For me it was like breathing.

In the meantime, I lived life. Then I wrote about it. I learned what helps others is vulnerability. I wrote my memoir, and then put it out there.

Still these experiences were not moving me in the direction I thought they would. They seemed disconnected. And a frustration grew within me.

In The Art of Work, Jeff Goins addresses the whole picture. Telling real-life stories, we learn what it looks like for someone to fulfill their calling. What surprised me was that it sometimes looked very different than the person expected.

There’s the story Jeff tells of Jody Mayberry, whose dream was to be a park ranger. Whatever obstacles Jody saw he overcame. Becoming a park ranger was his deep desire.

But by the time his story was told we learned being a park ranger was only part of what he was called to do. His calling would consist not only being a park ranger, but influencing park rangers everywhere. He had to remain open to the possibilities.

But what if he hadn’t been open to that?

I believe The Art of Work is a must-read for anyone who is trying to figure out his/her calling.

Story after story, we see people with passions. Some who aren’t sure of their callings, some who needed to just live life and then they saw them revealed.

I look at the extraneous experiences in my life right now. Like puzzle pieces, I have been unsure of where they fit, and it they fit at all. But this book has given me a different perspective. One that makes me grateful for each of these odd-shaped pieces.

A fresh look

Instead of looking at these pieces as hindrances, or at best delays, to what my heart longs for, I see them all as necessary to the bigger picture. Now I am welcoming them instead of resenting them.

Instead of seeing our experiences as setbacks, we can start seeing them as they really are.

You don’t know how much time I have wasted regretting what I thought was lost. Goins says, “Life is full of surprises, and it doesn’t help us to fixate on regrets or trying to recover what was lost.”

So if you want to better understand the whole concept of calling, if you want to recognize how each part of your life may work together for the whole, you need to read this book. And after you’re done, you might want to mark it up and read it again. That’s what I’m doing.

And for those of you who seem to be stopped by the difficulties, Jeff encourages us, “Maybe we all have the power to turn our lives into significant stories if we start to see our difficulties as opportunities.”

Thank you Jeff, for casting a light on an area I struggled with. I have renewed hope that I will fulfill my calling. And I’m not as concerned with the timetable, for I see each experience as a valuable step in the right direction.

To get your own copy of The Art of Work, Jeff is offering it free. All you pay for is shipping. This is an offer you won’t want to miss.book@2x

Finally, I can see value in a lot of extraneous experiences. And it further confirms something I truly believe. That God doesn’t waste anything.

It’s Almost Time

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It’s almost time.

Mom just woke us up so we could bring in the new year. It’s 11:50 pm.

We come downstairs and she places pot lids in our young hands, along with wooden spoons.

“Just a few minutes to go. Get ready, get ready!”

Mom shows us the box of noisemakers we can choose. Brightly colored and made of tin, they have little handles you hold onto. Spinning them around they make the best sound, only allowed on this day.

Still, we’d rather have the pots, they are louder.

In a matter of a minutes we will move through time. From one year into the next, out with the old, in with the new.

Our hearts start beating faster with each tick of the clock. It’s thrilling being up around midnight.

And before long, we’ll be tasting the greek tradition of Loukoumades. Pastries mom just made by dropping batter into hot oil. The honey she drizzled over the puffed balls is sticky, but we don’t mind. This memory is one that will last forever.

And finally she yells, “It’s time. Go ahead, go ahead!”

“Happy New Year!” we yell, banging our little hearts out.

We hear the sound of fireworks by those who brave this cold Chicago night. We stand outside yelling and screaming for a whopping five minutes.

And now we walk in with our coats buttoned over our pajamas, wearing big smiles. We did it.

Tomorrow we will have a special meal. Uncle Steve and Pattie will be over. They always celebrate special times with us.

The day has come. We watch as mom cuts the round loaf of greek bread she made. It smelled so good in the oven.

All of us hope our piece has the quarter in it. The one she took down from the chandelier and placed in the dough.

Whoever gets the quarter is supposed to have good fortune for the year. But first, she cuts a piece for “the house,” and if that piece has the quarter the good fortune is for the whole family.

I quickly search my slice to find no quarter. I glance at my siblings. This year my brother gets it. A smile covers his young face.

Quietly I wonder if I’ll ever be the one to get that special piece.

It’s decades later.

I look around. There is no handing out of pots and pans.  There are no Loukoumades glazed with honey. And I’m not sure if there will be fireworks since I rarely stay up that late.

But it’s still New Year’s Eve and there will still be the passage of time.

Each year we sit and reflect on the year gone by. If it’s been a bad year we welcome the new year with open arms. And if the year has been good to us, we hope for the same.

It’s quiet, but that’s okay. The memories of other years gone by still parade through my mind.

And if I pause for just a moment, I can still see a little girl hitting a pot with a wooden spoon. A girl with a big smile on her face.

Happy New Year everyone.

3 Reasons You Should NOT Join TribeWriters

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I heard TribeWriters is starting up again. It’s an online course by Jeff Goins, that promises to give you skills for writing that will move you forward.

And while that is true. I’m here to tell you three reasons you should NOT become a TribeWriter.

1) It’s scary

Now hear me out on this one. Do you know Jeff expects people to not only write things that are inside of them, but to also share them? I am not kidding.

It’s one thing to write in a journal. Many of us have spiral notebooks stored in all corners of our homes. But to open ourselves up before people? WHAT?

If you open up, you might discover others share the same feelings. That you’re not that unique. You might find out others CAN relate. You might even free others up to share their feelings because you took a risk.

But that’s not your responsibility. No. Better to just leave your feelings stuffed inside, nice and cozy. It’s more exciting that way, not knowing when they’ll burst out of you.

2) You will be part of a community

Now this is really important. Why would we want to know more people when we have at least 683  friends on Facebook already? Not to mention our 1032 followers on Twitter. People who follow us even though we’re not going anywhere.

And with Facebook friends, we only show them what we want to show them and they LIKE us. They made us a friend, didn’t they? We get to lol all over the place. And if there is a problem in our friendship, well, we can unfriend them. Now that’s a community we can feel good about.

Although Jeff didn’t realize how important the Tribe Writers community would become, he went too far with that one.

Why would I want to interact with those who might encourage me. And why on earth would I want honest feedback? That might hurt. Sure, it might help me grow in my writing, but did you hear me when I said, it might hurt? I do not gravitate toward things that might hurt.

And as far as fans. I’ve got family members that tell me how good my writing is and how they don’t know why a publisher hasn’t discovered me yet. Family.

And let’s not forget my friends. So what, they sometimes change the subject when I talk about another writing project. While it’s true they don’t return my umpteen text messages, they COULD be in the bathroom, you don’t know.

3) You can get published

Okay this is the real biggie. If you take this course, you just may get your book out there. The one that’s burning inside of you.

You may get the tools you need and the confidence you lack, so one day when you go on Amazon, your book is there. No longer is it just an idea in your head.

And not only is it there, but it’s rising up the ranking. People are buying it, people are reading it. And dare I say, people are liking it. Real people who don’t share your name.

But, who needs to be published, anyway? I mean then you might get a big head. You might even think you have more inside of you to share. And you might actually start feeling good about yourself. That would be a change.

Change

Status quo is comfortable. Change is hard. And you’ve fought it this long. Just hang on.

It’s better to just keep talking and dreaming about writing. Setting goals you might not reach? That’s just crazy talk.

Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you why you should NOT become a Tribe Writer.

Still, I think it’s only fair to disclose that I am a Tribe Writer. In fact, I joined the first group Jeff Goins started. He has even started different groups, like My 500 Words. Yes, I’m part of that one too.

I’ve learned I can do scary things. In fact, it gave me confidence to try other scary things as well.

And yes, I did become part of a community which helped me grow in my writing and as a person. People I’m proud to call my friends.

And finally, yes, I am published. Five books are out there with my name on them, since joining Tribe Writers. One that was really hard to write, called Broken. And three children’s books you can see here, here and here.

I don’t know, it is your decision. For me, it was one of the best ones I’ve ever made.

In case you feel like checking out Tribe Writers, click HERE. (You need to know it’s an affiliate link.)

Whatever you decide, it’s your decision.  Maybe you’d like to hear an interview I did with Jeff Goins.

One thing you need to realize is that you are unique. No one can tell your story because no one has lived it but you. The world needs to hear what you have to say.

Either way, I wanted to share my story. I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

I’m Gonna Pray, Olivia

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I know the doctors are not giving you
much of a chance, but I’m gonna pray.
They hold test results in their hands,
my hands are empty.

God tells me to cast all my cares on Him.
And I care about you.
So I’m gonna pray.

I know God knit you together in your mommy’s womb.
He chose each and every part.
Every single cell.

I don’t presume to know what God’s doing.
He told me his ways are not my ways.
His thoughts are not my thoughts.
I believe that.

But God is the author of life.
He’s the lover of children.
So I’m gonna pray.

And then I’ll know I did what I could.
The only thing —the best thing.
I brought you up to the Father.
The one who loves you more than I ever could.

So Olivia, I just want you to know,
I’m praying for you.
It’s what Grandmas do.

I love you.