choiceThe most powerful human quality is “CHOICE”! I believe that “choice” is actually more powerful than Love because we get to CHOOSE to BE LOVE and GIVE LOVE. Love is not a state of happiness all the time.

As we’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Love is a verb and we get to choose TO Love. The word “love” is thrown around a lot as a term of affection for everything from shoes to music, but real love demands action and commitment. Love is dedication . . . not just a chemical high in the early stages of a romance.

This brings me to the most powerful human quality we have, which is choice. Many teachings will tell you that you are 100% responsible for your circumstances. Now – I’m not totally on board with that assessment because it’s hard to think about starving children and believe that they chose that, or that someone would “choose” to be violated or taken advantage of or worse. I think life is a combination of events, outside of our control, happening, plus our taking independent action to change the events, or the meaning of the events, to empower us.

I’m not going to say that we are 100% responsible for the events of our lives, but I will say that we are at least 80% responsible for the circumstances of our lives, and that boils down to choice. Sure, crazy things happen, sometimes even “evil” things happen; but once they happen, how WE deal with them will determine the outcome. And every moment we are choosing our way into the next moment, and in every moment, as things happen we are giving those events a meaning. And when we become aware of the fact that we are choosing ourselves into every moment and that our minds are the meaning makers of our lives, we get to see the MAJOR role we play in how our lives turn out.

Sure, tragedies happen. But some people thrive afterwards and some don’t. Why? It’s because each person gave the event a different meaning. Some people have abusive parents and then become abusive parents. Some people have abusive parents and then never abuse their children because they don’t want them to go through the same torment.

Throughout our lives, many of us will face circumstances that are unfair, painful and traumatic. And, in the moment, that is true. But as we grow, we get to see that once we accept what happened, we now have the power of choice to be able to redefine the meaning of the event. Was it GRACE, or was it a disaster? Was it the worst thing that happened to you or was it an amazing lesson? Was it a tragedy or an opportunity for you to be able to see how loving you can be? Was it a dark chapter in your life or was it that the events had to happen in order for you to discover your light?

When we realize we are the meaning makers of our lives, it doesn’t mean that everything was/is or will be hunky dory. But it does mean that we can accept and eventually rise above our circumstances because we realize at our essence we are a child of God and that we have the power to CHOOSE how we are going to respond, interpret and live our lives.

I’m reminded of the story of Ruth. When I re-read the first chapter of Ruth, I see that Ruth CHOSE to love Naomi, even when the consequences looked bleak and hopeless. If Ruth turned back and left Naomi, she would have had an easier time remarrying, which was crucial to a woman’s worth in those times. She was still young. She could have really done something with her life if she had just stayed with her own people … and that is what Naomi urged her to do. But Ruth responded:

Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me. Ruth 1:16-17

In verse 18, I read that Naomi finally realized that Ruth was “determined”. Any lesser love would not have been enough. It took a deliberate, almost stubborn love to prove to Naomi that Ruth was serious about her commitment. Naomi was almost all the family that Ruth had left. Maybe she was not the family member that Ruth would have chosen to love, but Ruth chose to love her anyway.

We have all been put on earth together for a reason, and the difficulty of love is exactly what enables it to be so powerful. When we have no choice about who to love, love becomes harder. Perhaps we need to stop waiting for a feeling of love. The fact is, when we can’t choose the people we love, we choose to love the people we have, and that is a far richer experience. And in doing so, we reflect the love of God, who chose to love us before any of us loved Him.

1 Peter 1:22 says, “. . . love one another deeply.” This kind of love is not a noun, not an adjective, it’s a verb. It’s a very deliberate action.

The truth is, we live in a broken world full of broken people and we get to CHOOSE how we respond to every person and every event in our lives. So, if you are the meaning maker of your life, and if choice is the most important quality of human behavior, what meanings are you giving the events of your life and what are you choosing to create? If it’s not what you want, ask yourself if you would you like to change that?



thanksIt has become a time-honored and treasured tradition of mine at Thanksgiving, to simply stop and purposely reflect on the events and people who have influenced my life. 

That means you . . . Yes, you. The person reading this. Because if you found your way here, then that is a blessing for which I am truly thankful.  And I’m here to remind you how truly special you are.  I am thankful for every connection I have because each and every one of you brings something wonderful to my life. You bring you.

I have met so many amazing people this year.  People who have accepted me into their lives with warm and welcoming arms.  People who have believed in me and who have been there with me as my life continues to change.  People who have been beacons lighting my way.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Scweitzer

There are some of you who have been there for me when I’ve  needed a friend. Whether in times of sadness or of celebration, I am grateful for your presence in my life.

It is the unfeigned friendship, the harmony and the unmistakable happiness and joy that marks our get togethers and makes our time together so very special. You have each earned a special place in my heart.  And even when I cannot manage to tear myself away to join you, just knowing that you’re all out there warms my heart and puts a smile on my face.

Wherever I find myself on Thanksgiving Day, I like to bring my own tradition and go around the dinner table and take turns expressing that for which we are all thankful.  This year, I can honestly say, I am thankful for everything.  The good, the bad, and the ugly, because it is what continues to shape me into the person you know today.

There are so many very special people who have touched my life deeply this  year, and those closest to me know who you are. 

I am not sure I can express with mere words, the gratitude I feel for having you in my life.  All of you saw something in me that I didn’t know was there (oh so many years ago), and you believed in me until I learned to believe in myself.  My heart is full and overflowing with love and gratitude.  My soul is bright with light and grace.  You have not only been my closest friends and allies, but also an inspiration. I believe in your faith, your courage, your compassion, your integrity and your strength.  I believe in your goodness. You live your life by leading with your heart and making a difference to others every day.  I am so grateful  to count myself amongst them.  You amaze me with all that you are, and all that you do. You have touched my life and I am forever changed.  I love you, my dear friends.  I always have. I always will.

There are so many others who have made a difference to me this year, family and friends. People who matter to me.  People who inspire me. People whose blogs I read.  People who have reached out to me. And people I have been honored to reach out to.  I have a long list of individual thank you notes to send out because I believe it’s important to let people know how much they mean to you.

I am so blessed to have so many people amazing people in my life who love me.  People who I too love dearly.

I am truly thankful to have happened upon each of you along this adventure through life. 

This has truly been the best year of my life despite its challenges and the changes looming on the horizon.  It’s all in the way you choose to look at things.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. “ ~ Melody Beattie

My life is so very blessed.  I feel the magic. And I can now throw my head back and laugh at how perfect it all is.

I think most of all, I am thankful for today and every day that I have the opportunity to make a difference.

I choose to live my life with purpose and with passion, and I intend to make the most of every moment.  I choose to honor my calling and I choose to help as many people as I can along the way.

My heart is full of love, and when I share it, it replenishes itself anew. My gratitude is boundless.

Within every one of us is a wellspring of love and abundance.  We all have beautiful gifts to share.

Wishing each of you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving – with a special thank you for being who you are. You matter to me.  And you DO make a difference.

With Much Love & Gratitude for you in my life!


Keeping an Open Mind

200260581-001Keeping an open mind is one of the true keys to happiness and success.

I heard a saying yesterday that everyone is a “beginner” when they get to the next step and I actually had an “aha” moment! It reminded me of what we’re told in Matthew 18:3 NIV “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, start thinking like a child. Let me explain.

When you are new, like a baby, you are flexible and open. Being stiff is a sign of old age and death.

This has nothing to do with age. Flexibility and openness are a choice. You can be stiff in a young body or flexible in an old body.

But, if we are to engage life and learn, grow, give, share and rip away the layers and beliefs that hold us back from being simply ourselves, newness is the key.

Matthew 9:17 NIV tells us “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

How do you be new? If you ever hear the voice that says, “I know this already” – you are being stiff (aka dead). If you ever hear the voice that says, “All men or women are (fill in the blank)” you are being stiff (aka dead). If you hear the voice that says, “I’ll never be, do, or have (fill in the blank) – you are being dead. This list goes on and on.

The goal is to renew our mind: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV) When we do this, we become open and available to life and its changes.

In this state of openness and receptivity, we actually allow ourselves to be transformed. We are transformed out of the death of the thoughts that held us back. We are transformed to be able to be in a new, healthier body, job, relationship, career or business.

I love what Jesus says in Revelation 21:4-5 KJV, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…” If we’re supposed to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2) and God says “Behold, I make all things new (Rev. 21:5), then we must do our part and leave behind that which is still, inflexible and dead. These are the beliefs and patterns that prevent us from feeling or experiencing newness.

My life continues to change as I remain open to listening to new ideas and, more importantly, when God speaks to me. Instead of focusing on “why it can’t work”, I strive to focus on “I know it doesn’t seem possible, but if it did, what would I think?” My job is not to know how. My job is to be open, and receptive.

Do you ever ask yourself “Why must I change?” Because if you don’t, you will miss out on beauty, love, success, excitement, family, friends, success, connecting to God, being of service and truly being able to share the gifts you have with others.

There’s an old saying that says: “If nothing changes, nothing changes!” Or how about the definition of “Insanity” . . . doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

Question is: Do you want to change? Do you believe change is possible? If so, what would change look like to you?

If You Want to Give Up . . . . DON’T!

DON'T GIVE UP 1I am part of and speaking at an upcoming conference this Saturday, April 20th, 2013 being done by Elevated to Excellence, a ministry started by Christina Williams, which speaks value into the life of every person.  The theme for this conference is “VICTORIOUS” . . . and right now, many of us on the team do not “feel” that way as has been evidenced by the flood of emails the “team” has been sending back and forth over the last two weeks!  I know all of us, me included, have been feeling the onslaught of the enemy these past few weeks in every area of life imaginable!  What I know to be true is this . . . EXTRAordinary obedience unleashes EXTRAordinary favor from our Lord which is why there has been EXTRAordinary backlash from the enemy!

And so . . . after three months of silence and not writing anything for my blog, “Fresh Start 007”, I felt led to put this together to encourage and uplift all of us who are in the trenches!

DON’T GIVE UP!!! Many times I have stood on my balcony at home which overlooks green hills and I can’t help but be fascinated with the idea that we, all of us, find the evidence that we go looking for.

For example, these hills, are they a barrier or a challenge?  Are they too tall to hike over or a wonderful journey to climb?

Whatever we go looking for, we will find.  When we believe that we are not enough, we will find evidence in the world to support that belief.  Not because it’s true, but because our minds tend to find what we go looking for . . . even if it isn’t always there.

In my old house, I had an unobstructed view of the Saddleback Mountains.  Thinking of a mountain, or even a hill, is a great example for the challenges in our lives.  What if it were true that the obstacle, mountain or hill was the path we were supposed to be on?

A few years ago I can remember talking with a man who asked if he should take the MCAT (“Medical College Admission Test”).  He was a couple years out of college and instead of becoming a doctor he was working for a limo company, driving for a living.  He went on and told me a wonderful story about how after college he traveled to China and taught.  It helped him to realize that he wanted to work overseas.

When he came back, he tried to look for a job for about six months, but then gave up.  Even though he had found that he wanted to work overseas, he still wondered if the journey he had taken to China had actually changed his life.

I remember asking him what he learned.  He told me that he had learned that he wanted to work overseas and that he must be patient.  Yet, when he got back home, he started hanging out with all of his old friends who had a different mind-set and standard than what he had acquired while he was overseas.  Slowly and surely he began to sink back into his old mind-set and set of standards and, before he knew it, he had re-adopted his old habits.

Scripture tells us:  “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.   The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.  Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.” Proverbs 12:25-27 NLT

In other words . . . we need to be careful about the friends we choose to spend time with.  Why?  Because, for better or worse, our friends will “rub-off “on us!

This young man looked for a job for six months and then gave up.  The story he made up was that it was just too hard to find a job, so he might as well not even try.  Ends up he took the same approach with taking the MCAT tests.  I asked him what his biggest challenge was in taking the MCAT.  He said it was the money.

Not knowing anything about the cost of an MCAT exam, I was thinking that it was going to cost him about $2,000 to take this test.  When this young man told me the cost was $150, I knew something was up.  So I chose to go a little deeper with him.

He mentioned that he did not feel academically ready to take the test and that if he took the test and failed, it would be hard to face that kind of failure.

Let’s take a look at this person’s psychology.  That is to say, his state of mind.  He was basically looking for evidence to support why he was not “good enough.”  He was looking at that “MCAT Mountain” as a setback and a stopping point instead of as a challenge and a journey.

I suggested that he could take the MCAT many times and each time get better and better because he would know what areas to study.  I also suggested that he hadn’t looked for jobs in EVERY country he wanted to work in (which was a list of about ten countries outside the US).  And, I also mentioned that he had adopted the mindset and standards of his current group of friends, and most of them had either resigned or given up on the future in some way.

You see, it’s very rarely the conditions of our lives that stop us, but what we MAKE UP about the conditions of our lives.  After our chat, he decided to go look for more jobs AND apply to take the MCAT.  I never saw this young man again.  It was a one-time divine appointment.  Only God knows what happened.  All I know is that it was amazing how a brief conversation with a stranger could change a life.

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are there any places in your life where you’ve given up? 
  • Are you surrounded with people who push you to the next level? 
  • Do you have people in your life who encourage you to believe in yourself? 
  • Do you have cheerleaders in your life? 
  • Can you decide to see the mountains in front of you as a wonderful challenge and journey instead of a stopping point?

Let me know.

Romans 8:31, 35-39 NIV

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you using your addiction to escape your calling?

When I woke up on January 1st, I started to wonder what 2013 was going to look like! Then, out of the clear blue, the Lord gave me this scripture:beautiful-dust-girl-Favim_com-284702

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

I love it when I see God doing new things . . . in me, in my daughter, in my friends, in my relationships, in my life, in my job, etc., etc.

I just finished listening to the song “BEAUTIFUL THINGS” by Gungor. It’s a masterpiece! Many times I’ve looked back at my life and have often wondered how God pulled me through.

I grew up in an alcoholic, dysfunctional, angry, controlling, manipulative and bitter household. I never heard “I love you” growing up. I was one of 7 children and felt I was unwanted, tolerated and, what’s worse, I felt “all alone in the crowd”! I was married to a man with an addictive personality who did many dishonorable things. Question is: How does God make that look beautiful?

Having had my own addictions with food and weight gain/loss and having been married for 20 years to a man with an addictive personality, here is what God just now impressed upon my heart.

The song BEAUTGungor - Beautiful Things CoverIFUL THINGS is about the difference between the addict and the artist. They are basically inverses of each other. The addict hides from the pain of life; the artist uses the pain of life to make something beautiful.

It’s such a wonderful distinction . . . the addict vs. the artist. All of us have a God-sized hole inside of us. It’s what we choose to do with that God-sized hole that counts.

I used to fill my “hole” with emotional eating, but lately (over the last two years), I’ve been able to fill it up with something else.

It’s interesting how life works. One of my intentions, as it is in January each year, is to conquer the mountain of fitness . . . again. In doing so I hired a personal trainer to work out with me three times every week. Month 1 has been paid for! Instead of saying I’ll just go to the gym and then finding an excuse not to go, my trainer helps keep me accountable . . . not only for my fitness, but my eating, as well! It’s already started to work wonders!

I feel SO focused. And I feel amazing. That “good feeling” I have been chasing for so long with emotional eating, sugar and salt has gone away and I feel it naturally. I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of willpower can overcome my addictions. I need help!

All my life I tried to fix the problems that I had growing up with will power. I tried to do it on my own without having a role model to follow. No wonder it had never worked before. There I was beating myself up, thinking that people like me can’t lose weight, I’m a bad person for having little or no willpower, and hating myself for not being able to stop the roller coaster of emotional overeating. When I turned to “comfort food”, all I was doing was self-medicating to get a temporary high to fill-up whatever emotion I was either struggling with or trying to fill!

Scripture tell us to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

We are all body-mind-soul people. I was already spending a lot of time with God in prayer (focusing on my soul and mind), but the body was lacking . . . hence, hiring the personal trainer!

And it makes sense because up until now I had not put my attention of intention to this part of my life. It was an “AH-HA” moment and my former addictive behavior came into light.

It was a breakthrough. This awareness allowed me to have more compassion for myself. Why? Because before, I applied a MEANING to my addictive behavior (I was “a weak person” or I was “wrong” or “incapable”). But now I see I was simply yearning for The Divine, yearning for self-acceptance, yearning for relationship, yearning to be of service and yearning for a balanced biochemistry!

In the midst of getting my mind, body and soul in alignment with God, I hear Him calling me to spend time with Him! Why? Because He continues to fill me to make my life beautiful! When I hear Him calling me, I stand with my arms raised and even dance before an audience of One! He fills my soul and gives me an awareness of what He has in store for me. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

I yearn for so many things in my life . . . What do you yearn for? Where do you want to turn?

Are you struggling with an addiction of any kind? Ask yourself this question: Do you want to continue to hide from the pain of life, or are you ready to be the artist and allow God to use the pain in your life to make something beautiful?

I’d love to hear back from you!

EXCUSES are just that . . . EXCUSES!

Excuses 2Imagine what life would be like if you lived a day, a week or a month without believing or promoting ONE excuse. What would your life look like?

We have some pretty ingrained excuses – many of them that seem real to us. There is a difference between an EXCUSE and a description of your current circumstance. We confuse the two. Usually your current circumstances BECOME an excuse and it’s easy to hide behind it because no one can argue with your circumstance. I happen to believe you are MORE than your circumstances and that you can, through trial, effort and faith, rise above your circumstances. Why?

Because you are NOT your circumstance. You are SO much more than that!

You are a one-of-a-kind individual created by God and connected to Him for the short while you are in this body that you inhabit. When you identify with God (and not your circumstances) you take the first step in rising above your limitations.

Here are some circumstances that become ingrained excuses:
• I don’t have enough (time, money, connections, creativity, etc.)
• I’m too (old, fat, young, out of date, tired)
• I’m not (smart enough, tall enough, wise enough, brave enough, etc.)

There are MANY more, but this is a short list. It might be true that this is your circumstance, but you are NOT your circumstance. The more you affirm and identify with your circumstance, the more you will create it. Why? Because what we focus on is what expands and becomes real in our lives.

So what if you began to see your excuses, not as excuses – but as circumstances? And what if you believed that you are more and could overcome your circumstance? What would life be like a day, a week or a month from now? What if you suspended belief and took a risk?

What if you trusted the subtle whispering within you beckoning you out into the unknown realm of your dreams and potential? What if you decided to no longer make your excuses your identity, but instead your circumstance – and then get about the business of changing your circumstance? Not through painstaking effort, but through prayer, meditation, service, solving other people’s problems, personal growth and making Love the bottom line.

What if taking steps out in Faith became the new norm? What if you took total responsibility for your life, right now, as it is? You may not have been fully responsible for what happened to you, but you are now responsible for how you engage with and meet your life circumstances.

You are so much more than you are giving yourself credit to be and you have so much more help and assistance that is yearning to come to your aid, if you but allow it to. Be still.

Jeremiah 33:2-3 NIV says, “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Listen. Identify with everything God has for you. Make this a new lifelong practice and then get out of your own way.

Can you? What would your life look like if you did?


I heard my  old friend, Jeff Blugrind, passed away unexpectedly this week.  He was a good man, an integrous man, a family man, a wonderful husband, father and friend!  There will be a hole in the lives of all who knew him!

After hearing of his unexpected passing, my thoughts kept going to something I had written back in 2009 which I wanted to share with all of you!  I hope this blesses you!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

As we all continue to struggle our way along with what is going on in the economy, this one word would not leave my heart . . . “NEVERTHELESS”!

“NEVERTHELESS” . . . An adverb which indicates the opportunity to change, yet maintaining the same direction or course of action.

This one word serves as a major turning point throughout the Word of God. This one word has stood center stage throughout the course of human history. Allow me to explain.
In March of this year, our dear sister, Kelly Goldsmith, lost a fellow employee of the Southern California Edison Company–his name was Paul Miller.  This man, Kelly’s fellow employee, had battled colon cancer for three years.  Many times Kelly would send out prayer requests for Paul and his family, but what amazed me is that this man exhibited tremendous courage in the face of cancer.  As we learned more about him from Kelly, it became very evident that he used his illness as an opportunity to minister to others.  When others shared words of encouragement with him, he in turn, took that same moment to encourage them!  This note, written to his son, shows you what kind of a man he was:


It was clear to me that he faced and conquered what I call a “nevertheless moment”.

In Mark 14:36, we find Jesus at one of the most crushing moments in His life. Temptation was pulling on Him, causing His flesh to war against His spirit. The agony that Jesus went through at that moment in the Garden of Gethsemane caused Him to cry out to His Father for help.

“And He said, “Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me…” – Mark 14:36 NKJV.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if God (the Father) would have answered that prayer? What if Jesus yielded to His own desire that night?

Satan would have certainly won. The virgin birth, the baptism, the miracles, the teachings, everything would have been for nothing!
But praise be unto God for this one small word: “nevertheless”.
“…Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” – Mark 14:36 NKJV.
Precisely at this moment in time, Jesus stood at the crossroads of eternity and held humanity in His hands. Jesus through prayer completely yielded His will, His desires, His flesh, and His plans to the Will of His Father.

If Jesus turned His back at that moment, we would not be reading what is written here today.  We would not have a moral compass to guide our thoughts, nor an ethical path to lead us to correct decisions.
Today we all face, at times, “nevertheless” moments. The decisions we make and the prayers we pray can change the very course of our lives or that of another person.
Let’s be sure that our prayers do not enable us to take the easy way out. Let’s look and take the example of our Savior.

Today, let us walk in His footsteps.