It’s NOT Dead!

Whatever that “it” is in your life, isn’t over and done with as long as you give it roots.

My new home has beautiful landscaping. Someone took great care to arrange the plants, bushes and flower planters just so. It stands out amongst the other houses on the street, but I never fully appreciated it because my focus had been on the eyesore right in the middle of it all – a dead space that ceased to grow. I couldn’t tell what kind of plant had been there prior, but it had shriveled up and while the rest of the yard was brimming with foliage, lilac, roses and creeping green vines, it remained grey and dry all summer and into the fall. All winter I have been contemplating the cost of having the plant ripped up and replaced with something better. I had already decided what needed to be done in order to restore the garden to its glory.

Today, as I walked between the evergreens and the dry bushes that will soon be teaming with life again, I noticed something … the one I presumed a lost cause, wasn’t dead at all! Two new, strong and vibrant branches had somehow pushed through the dead wood and were reaching out to the sunlight. These branches even had leaves on them! I missed it. I walked right past that plant time and time again and assumed it had nothing to offer and there was no need to look its way and I wrote it off.

I guess I needed this revelation today because as I settled back inside, I began to praise God. My heart was full of promise and expectation. I’ve been looking for some things in my life. I had assumed some of them were empty and a waste of my time. Have you ever felt that way?

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Well, It’s NOT dead. Whatever that “it” is in your life, isn’t over and done with as long as you give it roots. Roots come in all forms in our lives – prayer, expectancy, faith, work, service, dedication, promise, etc. Whatever it is you’ve cast away needs your attention and encouragement so that it can push through and LIVE! The work of your hands will bear fruit. The creations of your heart will change lives. Your “it” will bloom again!

Be encouraged today as you look forward to spring and all it has to offer. May your springtime be eternal and not just a season.

For insight on surviving “Dry Places,” read on!

 

 

Tools for Making it Through

Whether you’ve found yourself there because you’ve lost something or someone, felt the pinch of financial uncertainty, have been challenged by physical limitations or any combination of things, there is still hope for better days.

How to stay focused and productive

“The Dry Place” isn’t at all a desired destination. It isn’t a place you expect to be, and you can’t haphazardly wander into it. The dry place is a season of lack and wanting that seems to have a sudden start, yet no end in sight. It can’t be fixed with human hands and its nature ensures that you feel isolated. Once you’ve arrived there, you know it! You feel it in your bones. It chews away at your peace and challenges your sanity. The dry place hovers like thick fog, making it difficult to see the things and people you love.

The good news is that you will survive it … if you want to. Whether you’ve found yourself there because you’ve lost something or someone, felt the pinch of financial uncertainty, have been challenged by physical limitations or any combination of things, there is still hope for better days. But anyone who wants to survive it needs to get their survival gear in order.

You Need:

  • Your faith – hold on to what you believe in and don’t waver because of the circumstances. If you believe that God is bigger than what you are going through, hold fast to that and act in victory as you pass through this season.
  • Encouragers – Find positivity wherever you can within your circle of friends, family and co-workers. Spend time with and glean from those who lift you up and remind you of the good. If you’re not finding the inspiration you need, seek it out through social media, bloggers, uplifting music and/or motivational reading. Read Psalms!
  • A record – On your worst days, write down how you feel. When things start to get better, document what is happening and how it came about. When you are in doubt, take note and when you feel like no one understands and you find yourself crying out to God, journal it out. Make detailed notes of your prayers during this time. The worst thing one can do when going through this type of journey is to fail to document the progress and blessings along the way. You’ll be grateful for this record once you make it to the other side.
  • Quiet time & rest – This season requires a lot of your time, mental energy, strength and emotion. Trying to power through it without proper rest, meditation and time being still is a recipe for disaster. Take care of your body and feed your mind.
  • A trusted partner – whether it be a close friend, sister, spouse or church elder, you need someone in your life to understand what you are going through – all of it! This is the person who you would trust to check in on you and care about your well-being. This is a person who can pray for you and celebrate with you when the storm calms.

These are all valuable tools that can be of use in many phases of our lives, but in a season of waiting and uncertainty, they are key to survival. You’re not doing growing and stretching yet. These mountains will move, the sun will again shine and you will again find footing in the green. Just don’t stop walking!

For more information about Stephanie Godwin-Chu or to request a speaking engagement, visit www.StephanieGodwinChu.com

Leadership 101: How She Becomes a Force Without Being Forecful

Learning who you are requires work, growing pains, as well as accomplishment and setbacks. Identifying who you are as a woman in the workplace can be one of the most challenging parts of the journey. Whether you are in a female-dominated vocation or the opposite, you’ve likely experienced how lonely the path to leadership can be. In fact, the higher you rise in your field, the less likely you are to feel that you can relate to those around you. The more successful you are, it’s likely that you’ll begin to see fewer and fewer female faces.

Popular culture dictates that to be a successful female worker, entrepreneur, business owner, boss, executive, etc., you need to be rigid. These narratives tell us that women who lead value their careers above family, romantic relationships or other pursuits; that to be taken seriously, she must be aggressive, mean, dismissive of other’s feelings and interested in her own accomplishments above all else. Ruling with an iron fist has been widely celebrated, but does it really have to be that way?

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Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

Strength has nothing to do with gender! Receiving recognition, being respected and valued has more to do with character, consistency and drive than we often realize. There five simple things women can do to gain leadership momentum in whatever career phase they are in:

  • Say what you mean and mean what you say: The woman whose word means something, becomes a woman whose word is everything. What comes out of your mouth should be accepted as tried and true gold, firm and decisive. If you mess it up, admit it, apologize and move on. Never back track.
  • Master the face-to-face: Insecure people hide behind technology when it comes to addressing conflict. A confident woman ditches the email, hangs up the phone, walks across the hall and addresses things head on. Her attitude is, “Let’s take a few minutes to talk about this and come up with a plan.”
  • Stop trying to keep up with Sheila: The woman who is okay being uniquely herself, has an idea of her strengths and weaknesses and knows how she prefers to lead. She isn’t looking at what the next person is doing to make herself a carbon copy of them. Even if she doesn’t get it right every time, she knows that she’ll gain more respect by being authentic.
  • Step out of the shadows: Leadership is not anonymous. It can’t be developed from the back room or operate exclusively behind a closed office door. Leadership walks, talks, has feelings and opinions. Leadership says hello in the morning and participates openly. The woman who desires to be taken seriously as a leader is not afraid to advocate for positive change.
  • Be the master of your field: All leadership journeys are marathons, not sprints. She may take necessary breaks along the way, but a woman destined to lead, knows that she will forever be a student. She is researching, learning and training to be better at what she does with an aim to be the best. She is knowledgeable, but never closes herself off to the possibility that there is still more to learn. She is also willing to mentor and teach.

What’s on Your Calendar May Be Hindering Your Focus

If we aren’t careful, we’ll look up and realize we’ve missed it.

What’s on my calendar for next Tuesday at 1p.m.? In the next 14 days, have you left any gaps for the unplanned? If you know the answer to the first, but not the second, you may have a problem.

Living every minute of every hour and every hour of every day guided by the blocks on the calendar and the clock on the wall can be stifling. However, it can also be strangely comforting – everything in its place and a place for everything. Going from one appointment to the next and back again, taking this one to ballet, this one to robotics and this one to soccer practice, meetings, followed by debriefs about the previous meetings and planning meetings for the next one. You may squeeze in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Hulu or Netflix in between and then crash before dragging yourself up to start all over again.

 

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Where’s the focus? Where is the slow down? When does the actual living take place? What’s the purpose of it all?

The truth is that life doesn’t happen between keyboards and HD displays. Life happens through, around and over what we tend to focus on. If we aren’t careful, we’ll look up and realize we’ve missed it.

Planning is necessary and technology can be helpful, but meaningful connections, relationship building, dream chasing and vision cannot be placed on a timer. They suffocate in those spaces where they are forced to comply with the limitations that keep them from being organic and authentic.

Allow a free space – schedule it if you have to! Take that time to unwind and unfocus and it will actually help you find a great deal of focus! Block it off and protect it as if your life depends on it.

Then… go and dance, cook with someone you love, listen to music that makes your whole body move, sing, walk in the park, color with your kid or lay in the grass. Take an unplanned day trip to nowhere in particular, paint, write poetry, play the guitar or call your grandmother and listen to her tell you that story you’ve heard about twenty times. You don’t need to hear it again, but she needs to tell it and one day you’ll long for the sound of her voice.

Let life happen and don’t choke the beauty out of it by giving it a time allowance or by rushing off to the next thing. Don’t allow BUSY to become the nemesis of your FOCUS.

 

 

 

Three Reasons Why You’re Not Done Growing

Let me tell you the honest truth about people who have nothing but negative things to say about your dreams and aspirations…

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It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 65, who says you’re done with life? If someone has already opened their big mouth to form the words and allowed them to pass their lips, they lied to you!

Let me tell you the honest truth about people who have nothing but negative things to say about your dreams and aspirations – THEY ARE SCARED!!

You are about to do something that would keep them up at night and give them the sweats. You have a dream and vision outside of their small corner of the world and they feel as if you are leaving them for the wilderness and will soon be eaten by wolves. They are so consumed by their perception of the worst-case-scenario for you that they can’t even pretend to be happy for you. They don’t know how.

But that isn’t your problem. The first rule of airline safety is that you need to apply your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. Live and breathe your purpose because it’s in you and needs to be fulfilled. You can bring all of the naysayers and “see it to believe it” types up to speed later, if you choose.

You’re not done growing:

  • You’ve Got Fertile Soil: Because you have a dream that’s bigger than where you are now. For some of you it may literally be a dream that reoccurs when you sleep and reminds you that there is more for you to do.
  • Just Add Water: You have muscles that need to be worked! There are gifts and talents inside of you that you haven’t begun to fully explore. You know they’re there, but you need to spend time on them and nurture them to bring them to the forefront. Drink plenty (get some good books to read, take a class, attend a conference, local fellowship or workshop).
  • Open The Window and Let the Sunlight In: Surround yourself with healthy relationships that will stretch you. Connect with people who model your vision of balance and success. Glean from them and give them the space to tell you the truth in love, which will allow you to flourish.

 

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Career Life: Are You In The 30 or 70 Percent?

It’s estimated that as many as 70 percent of people end up working at a job unrelated to their field of study. Are you one of those people who feels you have an unused degree or desire to do something completely different than what you are doing now? Hate your job? You’re not alone.

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Depending on which source you reference, experts believe only 27 to 49 percent of people in the US workforce are in their field of study. That leaves 50 to 70 percent of people working somewhere that is not reflective of what they went to school for (if you round out the numbers).

Are you one of them?

I regret to say that I used to be one of them. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

If I knew in high school what I know now, I believe I would have taken a different path. I wouldn’t have gone to college for something that was encouraged and pressed upon me as “the right thing to do.” I would have taken more risk and focused on studying something that would fulfill me, not just fill my bank account. I wouldn’t have played it so safe.

I am, however, grateful. I take the good and the bad together as valuable pieces of my experience. I could easily look back at the hours and hours of classes, thousands of hours spent in cubicles and behind desks and kick myself, but I won’t. Regret is a choice I’ve chosen not to make. I learned a lot and I gained so much through the interactions and relationships along the way. I’ve woven so many of those things into the complex fabric of who I am.

It’s a blessing to be in my early thirties and wake up every day with purpose on my mind. I eat it and breathe it. It has become necessary for my survival. But, if I can motivate just one person to ask themselves the hard questions and go after the things they dream of, I feel that I’m sharing the wealth of a fulfilled life. I still have time to course correct and make choices that will leave a legacy for my children and my children’s children. I believe that you do too.

It starts today, one choice at a time. Start small if you have to, and put some oil on those training wheels until you get the courage to make a shift. Read a book or subscribe to an email list that will fill your inbox with motivation and “you can do it!” encouragement. Volunteer on the weekends serving others to remind you that life doesn’t happen behind computer screens, but rather all around us. Invest in yourself and take a class that you really want to take or attend a weekend conference.

Before you know it, you’ll be imagining a life where you can’t see yourself doing anything but that one thing that brings you so much joy, but scares you senseless at the same time. Purpose is your gift. Chasing after it will cause you to stretch and grow. It may even keep you up at night. Before long, you’ll be eager to fit your purpose into everything you do. Seeking after it is the road trip of a lifetime.

Not sure where to start? Ask yourself:

  • What do I love?
  • What am I naturally good at (gifts)?
  • What are my talents (things I’ve trained for/learned)?
  • What would I do every day for free if I could be financially stable while doing it?

Your purpose is tied into the answers above. That is where your work begins.