The Face That Changed Everything

Today is my first post in the 31 day series of Moments That Changed Everything.

One morning in November of 2009, I was getting dressed for work, just like any other morning. I was standing in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear, while Good Morning America was play on the television. I wasn’t really paying much attention to the news segments but words like “missing” “little girl” “Fayetteville, NC” and “sex slave” floated in the air. My ears perked up a bit because it’s always sad to hear about little children being kidnapped but this one was a bit more heart stirring because it was in Fayetteville, NC, near the military base my sister lived at. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a picture of the little girl that was missing.

Then I stopped breathing.

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Shaniya Davis

I was staring into the face of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. But for a few seconds, I thought I was staring at my niece Kameron.

Kameron

Kameron

In those moments before I came back to reality and realized that the girl in the photo on the screen was not my beautiful niece, I literally could not breathe. I had heard enough of the report to know that little Shaniya had been reported missing on November 10, 2009. After 2 days of questioning, her mother admitting selling her daughter to a man for $200.

“He was only supposed to have sex with her” was her mother’s defense.

I wanted to vomit.

All I could think about was the fact that this little girl bore a striking resemblance to my niece who lived near her. I kept trying to imagine what kind of man would buy a 5-year-old child for sex. What kind of mother would intentionally sell her baby for $200 for sex?

Shaniya Davis was my first introduction in the world of sex trafficking.

For the next two days, I followed Shaniya’s story as local police combed the city looking for the man in surveillance footage with the little girl.

Shaniya Davis 2

I prayed and pleaded with God for her safe return. I read every news report I could find about her. I learned that sex trafficking was not this foreign issue that I had only vaguely seen portrayed in movies. It was happening in the US, right in my city, not just in Fayetteville, NC. I learned that Atlanta, GA was considered one of the top cities in the nation for child sex trafficking. Men were actually paying money to have sex with children in the city I lived in. How had I lived here for almost a decade and not even know it?

Shaniya’s body was found on November 16, 2009. I will never forget sitting in my cubicle crying at the news. I didn’t know this little girl but my heart ached like I had carried her in my own womb. Her death changed something in me. Maybe it was because she reminded me of my niece and the thought of something like that happening to Kameron was too hard to fathom. Maybe it was because she was an innocent little girl whose last few days on Earth were riddled with pain and abuse. Maybe it was God opening my eyes to a global injustice that far too many people turned a deaf ear and blind eye too, including myself.

I am thankful that I caught that glance of Shaniya Davis that morning and that God arrested my heart for her. He knew every little detail of her life and loved her far more than I could ever fathom so I can only imagine how His heart ached for her as well. Out of her death, God birthed in me a desire to advocate for women and children caught in sex trafficking. For everyone woman that I get to pray with and help get off the street, it makes the sting of Shaniya’s death a little less painful. My life has been forever changed in the wake of this tragedy and I call it an honor to fight for other little girls, teenagers and women whose lives are on the brink of being snatched away for a few dollars.

 

31 Days Of Moments That Changed Everything

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I’ve been wrestling back and forth for a few weeks now about whether or not I would attempt The Nester’s 31 day writing challenge. Doing blog challenges are kind of tough since you have to been diligent and intentional and in all honesty, I am not the best when it comes to being a disciplined blogger. I have plenty excuses why I shouldn’t try this and I am sure I’ve talked myself out of it plenty of time. Oddly enough, I came up with the idea of writing about various instances in my life that pretty much shaped who I am today. Single moments or occurrences in time that stacked upon themselves brought me to where I am. I found myself scribbling out a couple dozen items a few weeks ago while listening to Christine Caine preach at Passion City Church. She is one of my favorite speakers yet my mind was drawn back to my journal page filling up with ideas.

During Haley Morgan’s keynote message at The Influence Conference last week, she asked “What is the story that God is working in your life? What are those 10-15 moments in your life that changed you.” That question poked at my heart because it was like confirmation that it was time to start take those scribbled ideas from my journal and blog about them. Who knows. It may even turn into a book at some point.

So here I am. On the bridge of bearing some more personal and intimate details of my life. Some that are previous obvious. Others not so much. I am sure this challenge is less about me being consistent with my blogging and more about realizing that my story matters. The details of who I am and how I got here matter.

Here’s to 31 days of writing.

Currently {Vol 3} Influence Conference Recap

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Each week, A Mama Collective, does a link up where bloggers share what they are currently up to. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and build community.

 

Thinking About:  The amazing weekend of The Influence Conference. It’s  been a few days since the conference ended and I am still at loss for words to describe all that took place. So much was jam-packed into those days but every minute was purposeful. People keep asking me how I enjoyed the conference and all I can really say is I went in expecting to learn about blogging and maybe publishing but I left loving Jesus more than before. This wasn’t just a blogging conference. It was a soul refreshing, heart filling community of women who are crazy about using their influence and creativity to glorify God. A few of my favorite takeaways from some of the speakers:

Haley Morgan: “Every single day, I have influence because I am in Christ and Christ is in me.”

Jamie Ivey: “You don’t feel forgiven so you wonder if you ARE forgiven. Don’t put trust in feelings. Put trust in the Word of God.”

Jen Lula: “Start small. Dream big.”

Lara Casey: “Choose purpose over perfect.” “Do whatever you can everyday to connect with God.”

Jessi Connolly: “I’m a girl who wants to build a kingdom of my own, but God said no. ” “Many times we are FOR God, but not WITH God.”

Sammy Rhodes: “Approval is a lover that always breaks your heart.” “Jesus didn’t die for the masked you, He died for the real you.” “Constantly remind yourself that you are worth more than your number of followers.”

Ellen Parker: “Fear drives us to a place where our circumstances define who God is.” “Love drives us to a place where our circumstances are defined by God.”

What I’m Loving: Internet Friends. Whoever said internet friends aren’t real friends are in the wrong social media circle. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting some the most amazing women at the conference that I had gotten to know over social media. These ladies are legit. They love Jesus and love like Jesus. We laughed, shed some tears, shared some heart stuff, encouraged each other and just had a great weekend together. My returned flight got cancelled twice which meant I was stuck in Indianapolis until Monday evening. Immediately, these ladies were rallying around me to see what they could do to help. Thanks to Maggie for hosting me for the weekend and driving me to the airport. imageimage

Check out some of their blogs and shops:

Kristen: When At Home

Jenna: A Mama Collective

Holly: Cartwheels Down the Hall

Kristel: Glowing Light

Aligna: The Stamped Studio

Emily: Hey Emily Thomas

Megan: Deployed Heart

Lauren: Down to Earthy

What I’m Listening To: You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music and Amanda Cook

Being brave seems to be the theme around Christian circles this year but honesty, it fits my life in more ways than one. Attending the conference, opening myself up to meeting new people, embracing this writing thing and using my words to speak God’s truth takes so much bravery on my part. It doesn’t come easy and everyday, I have to be intentional about not letting fear steal what God has for me and others around me.

Thankful For:  Colossians 2:6-7 MSG. The theme for the Influence Conference centered around this verse and the notion that #ItsTimeToBuild. Every woman at the conference was equipped with the Gospel of Jesus and we were challenged to use our influence, our talents, our businesses, our words, our position as mothers and wives to build God’s kingdom. We have heard The Good News, quieted the lies of fear and comparison and now the time has come to live it out. Jessi Connolly reminded us that God hates our kingdoms but loves when we build His. My heart is filled to the brim with gratitude for this experience and the opportunity to take what I have learned to build up the kingdom of God with my words.

 

 

Currently {Vol. 2}

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Each week, The Mama Collective, does a link up where bloggers share what they are currently up to. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and build community.

Listening To: Johnnyswim

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I must be honest. I rarely buy music. I love music but in its current state, I doesn’t exactly run out looking for new albums to purchase on Tuesdays. I am lucky if I buy an album or two a year and that’s a stretch. A few months ago, a friend told me about this up and coming musical husband and wife duo she heard perform at the Catalyst East conference last October and had been anticipating their first full length album ever since. I listened to the title track from Johnnyswim’s album Diamonds and was immediately a fan. It’s safe to say their album Diamonds and EP Heartbeat are in constant rotation. It’s been a long time since I have heard some really good music. You can check out their NPR Tiny Desk Concert which showcases their AMAZING vocal skills, passion for music and fun they have performing together.

Reading: Bird by Bird:Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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I bought this book several weeks ago at the recommendation of my friend/community group leader/awesome blogger Kristen from When At Home.  I got a few pages in with every intention of finishing it but somehow life happened and it went untouched on my bookshelf until now. I’ve heard such great things about the author Anne Lamott and true to form, she delivers some timeless wisdom on writing and just life in general. Highly recommend this for any writer who is trying to get out of their own head and write.

Thinking About: Ferguson, Missouri and Mike Brown

It’s been several weeks since the death of 18 year old Mike Brown. The rioting and protests have turned to strategic measures to heal the hurting city of Ferguson. However, I have yet to figure out how to put my thoughts and feelings into words. No arrests have been made, a young man is gone and city has been torn into pieces.  The sad reality is the fact that what happened to Mike Brown is the same fate that my three black brothers and two black sons could experience on any given day simply because of their skin.  I am thankful for the healthy dialogue on race and discrimination that has taken place between blacks and whites on social media but it’s beyond heartbreaking see the blatant racial division and hatred flooding every corner of the media.  My heart is still so raw about all of this but I will share my thought, fears and hopes soon.

Thankful For: Jesus the Redeemer

I wrote a post that gave a small glance into my life as a former teenage mother.  I don’t really think much about my teenage years since they are so far behind me. Yet since that post, I have been reflecting on that stage of life, the hurt, the labels I allowed others to give me that I accepted as truth for so many years and the scars that I realize I still try to hide. Despite all that, I am thankful that Jesus is the Redeemer who gave me a new identity when I said yes to Him. He striped away my labels and shame and gave me His righteousness. To this day, He is still rebuilding my ancient ruins so that I can wear my crown of joy proudly.

 

Dear Teenage Mom: I Support You

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Me at 17 with my son Gavin

A Facebook friend posted a status about her heartbreak over the number of her high school classmates that are teenage mothers and rightly so. She wondered if all the congratulations from other teenagers was even an appropriate gesture. The status generated some healthy conversation from both sides of the fence. As I sat read through the comments with no real desire to weigh in one way or the other, I started to think about how I felt when I found I was going to be mom at the ripe old age of 16, many moons ago. I was lucky in a way since there was no social media then. The thoughts and opinions of others were not so easily accessible, yet still implied because teenage pregnancy at anytime is still heartbreaking. I started to think about how different my life would have been had I not had the support of friends and family who wouldn’t let me fail. Where would my son and I be if I didn’t have family who sacrificed so that I could finish both high school (on time, with honors) and college? What would my life look like if I hadn’t made a decision to use the judgement and criticisms of others as motivation to keep going? If I could share some thoughts with a teenager staring at motherhood well before her intended time, it would probably go something like this:

Dear Teenage Mom:

I know it must have come as a shock when you found out you were expecting a baby. No teenager really thinks about becoming a mom while they are still in high school, trying to figure out life. Yet, for one reason or another, here you are. I am sure a thousand thoughts and questions ran through your head when you found out.

What will I tell my parents? What will I tell my boyfriend? Will he stick around? What about college, my future? What will people think? Should I keep my baby?

Those are some pretty tough questions with not so easy answers. Honestly, these will be the first of many large decisions you will have to make as a mom. The journey from being a pregnant teenager to a teenage mother will be rough. There is no getting around that. There will be people who will look down on you. There will be people who will judge you. There will be people who will make assumptions about you, never knowing your circumstances. There will be people who will make you think you are simply a statistic, a burden on society, a failure to your parents. There will be people who will write you and your little baby off before either of you even have a chance to thrive. There will be parents who will no longer want you to be friends with their daughters because they see you as a bad influence. There will be times when you will be excluded simply because you are a teenage mother.

But I support you.

Though the position you are in is not ideal, I celebrate the fact that you chose life over abortion. So many teenage girls choose abortion out of fear, pressure from their boyfriends, or because of parents who don’t want the stigma of having a teenage daughter with a baby out of wedlock. Yes, those girls made the same choice to have sex as you, but they took the route that would never expose the evidence of their choice. Though I wish you had chosen purity over pre-martial sex, I celebrate the fact that out of this, you will learn the beauty in God’s grace, mercy, redemption and forgiveness.

I support you as you put on the brave face and announce to friends and family that you will be bringing a life into the world earlier than intended. I support you as you walk down the halls of your school under the gaze of disappointment and judgment from teachers, administrators and classmates. I support you as your friends and family push through the negative reactions of planning a baby shower because many will think it’s celebrating teenage pregnancies. In honesty, it’s an event to show how much you and your baby are loved and supported during this tough time. I support you as you stay up late to finish homework in between feedings because you are one step closer to a better life for you and your baby. I support you as you choose working an extra shift at your part time job instead of going out with friends because you understand the pride in being able to provide whatever you can for your baby. I support you as you share hundreds of pictures of your baby on social media because you choose to find the joy in parenting instead of being paralyzed with shame. I support you as you navigate through the rough patches of co-parenting because you want both families to be apart of the life of your baby. I support you as you walk across the stage during graduation while your baby sits on grandma’s lap in the audience because you reached a milestone so many others didn’t think you would. I support you as you adjust, but not throw away, your dreams for your future.

Despite what the world will tell you and despite how you may feel some days, you are worth celebrating. Please understand that I am not celebrating or glorifying teenage pregnancy at all because it’s not a position I would wish any teenage girl to be in. Yet, because we live in a broken world, it will happen more often than we want it. However, instead of joining in with the masses who will condemn and shame you more than you probably already do yourself, I choose to show you that this one decision does not define who you are. This one decision does not have to dictate whether you succeed or fail in life. Instead of joining in on the never ending discussion of how bad the teenage pregnancy rates are or how disappointing this plight is, I choose to acknowledge the fact that you are not just a topic of discussion but living, breathing young girl who desperately needs to know someone will hold her hand through this. You are worth hugging and wiping away tears when being a parent seems like it is too much to bear. Every mom on earth feels that way at one point or another.  You are worth supporting. You are worth encouraging. You are worth cheering on. You are worth the time and sacrifice of those who love you so that you and your baby can succeed. You are worth loving. You are worth being looked in the eye and being told that you matter, that you are not just a statistic and that your baby is a blessing worth treasuring.

There will be no shortage of teenage mothers who live up to the stereotypes and low expectations of society because of their actions. They will never rise up to the challenge and responsibility of being a parent leaving the burden to fall on others. They will be selfish and put their own needs and desires ahead of what is in the best interest of their child. That does not have to be you. Your baby is depending on you to make the right choices so that both of you have a shot at life. Don’t let anyone tell you won’t succeed, that you wont measure up, that you are less than or that your life is over. You and your baby are loved by the Creator of the Universe. He rejoices over you, He fights for you and He will cheer louder for you than any one else around. Keep your ears open so you can hear Him above all else.

Sincerely,

A Former Teenage Mom Who Kept Her Ears Open

Currently {Vol 1}

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Each week, The Mama Collective, does a link up where bloggers share what they are currently up to. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and build community.

Thinking about:  The Influence Conference

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I honestly can’t believe that in a few weeks, I will be in Indianapolis at a conference with some Jesus loving creative women from all over the country. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some of the most interesting, thoughtful, honest and amazing wives, single ladies, moms, bloggers, authors and small business owners around. These women challenge me to make my online life and real life mean something.  Even with all the excitement, my nerves are getting the best of me. Traveling to a city I have never been to before to met people I only know online isn’t exactly something an introvert like myself does. I still sometimes wonder if this single mama will fit in but I will never know if I don’t step out on faith and go. Despite my own trepidation, I know this will be an experience I will never forget. I am fundraising to help with the cost of the conference. I would love for you to consider making a donation and learning about my heart behind wanting to attend the conference here.

Listening to:  The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger

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If you have never experience the beautifully anointed worship that flows from Steffany Gretzinger, you have been missing out. The Undoing is her first full length album from Bethel Music (one of my favorite worship collectives). I’ve been a fan of hers since I first heard her on the Bethel Music’s album The Loft Sessions. The whole album is amazing but the song Out of Hiding has been speaking to my heart like none other.

Reading: Writing to Find Yourself by Allison Vesterfelt

imageI’ve read several books about writing/blogging and I must say Allison’s latest e-book is a breath of fresh air for my weary blogging spirit. One of my biggest struggles is figuring out my voice and building confidence as a writer. There are so many other bloggers and authors out there and often times, I feel like my little space on the internet gets lost among all the other noise. It’s comforting to know that one of the bloggers I admire has been in my shoes before.

Thankful for: REST

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Last week was a tough week. Work was overwhelming and I am pretty sure I thought about quitting about 17 times in one day. My seven-year old Aiden has had a different health issue almost everyday. Asthma issues, tummy troubles and now we are dealing with a strep infection on his legs (who knew that could even happen). I feel like I have barely slept in a week but my heart and mind are at ease. My body is exhausted but I am thankful that God has quieted my anxious heart and reminded me that He is still a healer and that the Holy Spirit is still a comforter. Thankful for a long weekend with no plans and a couple days off work (while the kids are in school) so I can rest and be refreshed.

A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self

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Last month, I turned 33 and just a few days ago, my oldest child turned 16. With each passing birthday comes growing pains, even for adults.  I am trying to find a healthy balance between cool, yet firm parent. I never want my boys to think that they can’t come to me with issues. However,  I also want them have that healthy fear of knowing that I am not so far removed from pop culture that I am clueless about what’s going on in their worlds.  

As my teen and I continue to figure out this song and dance, I realize that  a lot of my conversations with my him have hovered around this simple truth:

“I’ve been your age before. I know better. Trust me.”

There are so many things I wish I had known at 16.  I wish the truths that I try to impart into my boys had been imparted to me when I was their ages, especially 16-year-old me. My mom did the best she could with my four siblings and myself but may things I learned were the result of good old ignorance and insecurity. I’ve learned a lot since I was 16 and decided to reflect on some of the highlights in a letter to my 16-year-old self.

Here goes. Brace yourself.

Dear Frances,

Right now you are 16 and think that you have this whole life thing figured out. You have some awesome friends, freedom to do as you please, and the admiration of quite a few boys. Life is good.

But you don’t know everything. Actually, the amount of things you know about life are pretty small in comparison to how big this world is. When you are 33, you are going to look back at you life and realize that many of the things you thought you knew, you really don’t.

The friends you have now are just that. Friends for now. Unfortunately, by the time you graduate high school and go off college, that will signify the end of many friendships you thought would last forever. There is nothing wrong with that. As you grow, your attitude and perspective on life will change and you will have to adjust your circle of influence accordingly. You will end up meeting some of the most amazing people ever. They will love you, dirty secrets, flaws and all. They will laugh and cry with you.  They will let you have your pity parties when you need to but will call you out when you have been there too long. Those friends will be lifers.

The boys that you will meet will say everything you want and need to hear. Because your father was never there to affirm your beauty and your worth as a child, you may feel the natural desire to seek out that affirmation in other men. Learn and understand just how beautiful, smart, funny, and valuable you are right now so that you don’t have to crave that same validation from a young man who is looking for his own method of validation. You are worth more than sex and butterflies feelings. You really are. One day, you will look up and realize you actually want to get married and you will. It may take a while in your mind but someone will tell you that you wont be single a day longer than God intends for you to be (thanks Charity). And you wont so don’t rush it.

Before you graduate high school, apply for every scholarship under the sun so that you don’t have to take out loans in when in college. It’s not worth it to spend the next 30 years paying off loans for a degree you probably wont use. When it comes to picking a major, be brave and go after what you think is scary and not just what is safe. You really like science and want to work for the CDC. Go for it and don’t look back. Psychology sounds interesting and it is but unless you plan to go get your masters degree and get licensed to practice, a psych degree is pretty worthless. Oh and when you get to Ole Miss, stay out of Kincannon Hall. Sneaking out of the boys dorm is never sexy.

Never take your siblings for granted. Right now, they get on your last nerve, but eventually you will all leave home and it will take years to get you all back in the same place at the same time again. You will need each other more than you realize as you get older.

Never stop writing. Writing for you just seems like something that comes kinda easy and nothing to take too seriously. Just know that your writing really is a gift. Everyone can put one word in front of another, but not everyone can create sentences and paragraphs that will pierce hearts. You can. Write everyday, even when you don’t want to. That discipline will come in handy in the future.

Develop a relationship with God. A real one. Not just the one you are used to which is confined to a couple of hours on Sunday. Read your bible (there are other versions easier to read that your King James version). Learn about prayer, God’s heart, and ask for signs and wonders. God is real. Realer than your mind can understand right now but He is. He will always chase after you, even when you don’t want Him to. You will get yourself into some sticky situations but He will be there to get you out because you mean that much to Him. There will come a day where you will ask God to show you that He is real and He will. Get ready because it will take your breath away. 

Lastly, life won’t always go as you have it planned out but it will work out as it should. Right now, you are 16 with dreams of escaping the projects to conquer the world. Yet, by the time you are 17, you will be a mom of the most awesome little boy ever. You will feel a mix of emotions and want to give up sometimes, but you wont. You will still graduate high school (with honors), you will still graduate from college. Your have a desire to succeed despite what happens along with God’s grace will carry through many dark days. That little boy will teach you about love, sacrifice and the truth that every mom will feel like a failure at some point. But you aren’t.  You will makes LOTS of mistakes but you will be okay.

Sincerely,

33 year old you.

If you could write a letter to your 16-year-old self, what would you tell yourself?

I Can’t Fix A Broken Man

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Last night, I was chatting with a dear friend about two of my favorite subjects: God and relationships. I always love to hear from fellow single women about how they are navigating through life, waiting for their time to come when they can say so long to their single days. Everyone’s journey from single to married is different but we can all relate to “the struggle” because not all days are filled with joy and contentment.

The main take away from my conversation last night was the unsettling reminder that sometimes impatience and fear gets the best of women.  Before I finally decided to relinquish control of my love life over to the Author of Love, I was that girl who was impatient and fearful. I moved from one relationship to the next, never really giving myself breathing room in between. It sucked being single and I was going to do anything in my power to make sure that didn’t happen.  Even when the glaring red flags were there, my impatience and fear ALWAYS whispered this familiar lie:

“You can fix him. Stick with him because he will eventually change. Why put in so much work for the next woman to come along and reap the benefits. Stick with him.”

I’m sure I am not the only woman to fall for that one.

The truth of the matter is a woman can’t fix a broken man. Period. Stop falling for the lie.

No matter how good our intentions are or how well we think it worked for someone we know, a woman can’t fix a man whose heart and spirit are broken. It’s not our job nor are we even equipped to do it. We can be his biggest support, his loudest cheerleader and point out the potential for greatness that we see, but we can’t fix wounds from past hurts or offenses. We can’t fix his prideful nature. We can’t fix his insecurities. We can’t fix his unforgiveness. We can point him to Jesus, but we can’t make him love Him.

In my conversation with my friend, the God downloaded this little nugget of wisdom:

“I am the Creator of all things, including that man whose heart is far from me. I know everything about him, things you may never understand, but I do. What makes you think you can fix what you didn’t create? What makes you think you can fix my handiwork? Let Me do a perfect work in him.”

Single ladies, you cannot fix a man just like a man can not fix you in your broken state. Only God can. He created him and knows everything area of his heart, mind and spirit. God’s love and depth of understanding for than man is greater than we can ever imagine. Despite what we think, God doesn’t need help restoring a man made in His own image. Love him like a brother in Christ by pushing him towards Christ. Guard your heart in the process. Silence the lie that tells you to stay out of fear of “the next woman” reaping the benefits. Our desire should be for God to be glorified, not us.  God is the author and perfecter of all things and is more than able to restore what has been broken.

 

Because You Really Are Worth It…

Frances:

Sometimes women need to be reminded that they really are worth it.

Originally posted on The Living Letter Chronicles:

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 Sometimes I wonder what goes on inside the minds of women. Not just Christian women, but all women. Every where we turn, there is another book, radio discussion, panel discussion, magazine article, TV ad, music video or movie telling women what they need to do to get and keep a man.

“Don’t sleep with him on the first date because he wont respect you.”

“Sleep with him on the first date because women should embrace their sexual identity.”

“Ask him out because this is 2011 and women shouldn’t be afraid.”

“Wait until he asks you out and pretend to not really be interested (keep him guessing).” “Dress up to impress him and don’t talk to much about yourself (make him feel good about himself).”

“Be comfortable, don’t try so hard, be yourself.”

“Don’t pressure him for a commitment because it will scare him off (he will eventually come around).”

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Make A Difference Monday–Speak Life

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I’m excited to participate in my first Make A Difference Monday link up hosted by some pretty amazing bloggers ! It is a weekly link up designed to encourage and inspire us to live each day on purpose-making a meaningful difference in someone’s life in even the smallest of ways. Thanks Jen Weaver  for hosting!

 Here we go!

If you are like me, you kinda dread Mondays. The weekend is over and it’s back to the weekly work grind. For me, it’s not so much that I dread going back to work. I dread all the negative comments and attitudes associated with Mondays. Without fail, every Monday I end up on the elevator with someone complaining about how much they are going to hate the day and can’t wait for Friday.

I can freely admit that I am not at my dream job. I spend 8 hours in a cubicle, staring at a computer screen,  pushing files from one end of my desk to the other. Despite it not being my dream job, I know that my attitude, whether good or bad, will affect how I navigate throughout my day. I have a choice to walk in every Monday morning, jump on the bandwagon of complaints and set myself up to hate the rest of the week. Or I can choose to speak life and encouragement to those who decide to complain, including myself.

My desire to combat complaints and negative attitudes at work spills over into my regular life as well.  I know that  words carry a lot of weight and a simple word of encouragement can change the course of someone’s day. The words that I speak to my children, friends and even strangers can make such a huge impact. Though I am far from perfect, I try to always make a point to speak encouraging words, compliments or just simply say “Hi” to people I encounter. Whenever someone comes to mind, I take 10 seconds to send a quick text message just to say something nice. If I am standing in line getting coffee, I chat with the barista and wish them a good day.  A smile and a thank you goes a long way with the cashier who may have just had a rude customer. Who knows what kind of day people could be having and my few positive, life-giving words may have been just what they needed.

As you go through out your week, remember to speak life instead of death. Set yourself up for success by speaking in truth that you will choice joy over frustration every morning. Don’t entertain the grumbles and complaint that are sure to come on Mondays or anytime during the week. Become intentional about complimenting and encouraging people you encounter. Those very people may follow suit and pay it forward to others.

Matthew 12:36 states, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Make sure that your number of empty words pale in comparison to the words that were life-giving.

 

Speak Life

Speak Life

 

Photo Credit: The Influence Network