December 30, 2009

Old Year Gratitude & New Year Resolution

New Year's Greetings, Dear Friends!
I want to thank you for all your kind words and encouraging notes over these past six months. I knew there was a reason I needed to send these messages, but I never imagined how God would use them to make a difference in your lives. I am so blessed to call you my friends and am grateful for your continued support. Thank you for reading my emails and and I ask you to continue providing me with your feedback...good, bad or indifferent. I appreciate your comments and enjoy hearing how these articles are helping give you a new perspective on life.

As we look forward to a new year, many of us resolve to do something different. Most people want to quit drinking, quit smoking, exercise more, lose weight, get out of debt and so on. At some level, we all want to become better people in the new year because it's a momentus occasion to start fresh and start over. I urge you to walk with me and consider becoming a person of integrity this year. I guarantee it will be harder than the majority of your other resolutions because it affects all the decisions you make on a daily basis. However, I assure you it will be the most rewarding resolution because you will not only feel good about the person you are becoming, but also you will feel good about the example you are setting for your family, friends and peers at work. So, are you with me? I will be right there alongside you and will continue providing weekly encouragement messages as we strive to become the people God intended...people of integrity!

Blessings for an amazing 2010,

Lead By Example

Ready8 "Travel the path of integrity without looking back; for there is never a wrong time to do the right thing." ~ Author Unknown

Aim8 Whether you are a parent or a friend of a child, you want what's best for the children you know. You want them to grow up to become good children, good citizens and eventually adults with good moral character. As an involved adult, there is a huge responsibility on our shoulders to help our children become people of excellence. So where do we start?

The best way to begin teaching integrity is to model good behavior; to demonstrate the results you expect from your children. If you haven't figured it out yet, you are the best example children can witness. where do you think kids hear to say "those words" you'd prefer they didn't repeat? Either they heard "those words" from someone else or, worse yet, they heard them from you. OUCH!

Take an inventory of your daily decisions. Do you spend time at work checking your Facebook account or shopping online? At the amusement park, do you fabricate your child's age to pay the lower rate? Have you ever used a copy of a software program instead of purchasing the registered product? Do you gossip about people you know, make poor movie and music choices or use credit cards excessively? Sure makes you stop and think, doesn't it?

Aside from the inappropriateness of your actions, what life message are you sending to the children around you? What does it actually cost you if you make that improper decision? The choice to be excellent and have personal integrity is always priceless and pays forward for years to come.

Fire!8 Practice what you preach this year. The next time you think about behaving in a questionable manner, STOP! Think about how it could affect your future, and the future of the children around you. Choose to behave in a positive manner. Our children are counting on you.

Be Excellent in 2010!

December 22, 2009

The Magic of Christmas

READY8 “The best Christmas of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up with one another.” ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 I get such a giddy feeling every December. I love the season of Christmas and everything that surrounds it. I love the decorations, the delicious sweets and the decidedly different demeanor of the people you encounter on a day to day basis. I love shopping for the perfect present that will make my gift recipient’s heart smile. I love baking cookies with my children and making sure the snowman cookie has just the right amount of sprinkles on his hat. I love listening to Christmas music and often times find myself pulling out my cds in the middle of July, far before the season begins. I love going to church on Christmas Eve with my family and sharing the renewed joy that comes with the blessings of celebrating the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I told you, I love everything about Christmas and could go on and on with reasons why I love it all.

Most of all, however, I love the magic of Christmas. Do you remember, when you were a child? You’d go to bed Christmas eve wound up with anticipation of what exciting surprises the next morning would bring? As kids, we’d be so stirred up that sleeping felt like it was going to be an impossible feat. Eventually, exhaustion and the threats of no surprises won out, and we drifted off to dreamland. Ahhh, peace and quiet at last. It’s during those quiet moments my parents would reflect on the blessings of their lives and prepare to share their blessings with us, their precious children. In the wee hours of the morning, we’d leap out of bed and hurry to wake our parents so we could race down the stairs to see what surprises awaited us. Our living room was soon filled with squeals of delight and childhood joy. The mystery and magic of Christmas morning filled the air as we tore through pretty papers and perfectly curled ribbons. My parents just watched, mesmerized by the merriment of their children and the marvelous glow on our faces as we opened the gifts we had longed for that year. It was in those moments, my parents wished they could capture the wonder, the excitement, and the love that encompassed the chaos of their Christmas morning.

It wasn’t until I was older that I really started appreciating Christmas. One Christmas afternoon, my mother and I were reflecting on the events of the crazy morning and recounting memories of Christmases past. It was then she spoke her motherly words of wisdom… “I hope someday you have children just like you.” Now, she might have meant, I hope they get into all your cupboards and pull out all your pots and pans. She could have meant, I hope they throw temper tantrums in the middle of the mall and you have to drag them off kicking and screaming. However, on that day, she meant I hope someday you have children who believe in Jesus and the magic that comes with the spirit of giving so your Christmas mornings will be filled with glorious memories…just like mine.

Thanks, Mom, for blessing me with your words of hope. Yes, we’ve had our share of temper tantrums and kitchen chaos over the years. Luckily for me, we do have children who are “just like me” on Christmas morning and fill our home with glorious wonder and squeals of delight so I can cherish the memories for years to come.

FIRE!8 On Christmas Day, take lots of pictures or even videotape the chaos! Later when things quiet down, take a moment to write down the funny things everyone said, the most memorable reaction to a gift and your reflections about the day’s events. Tuck your note away in a special place so you can read it again next year and enjoy the memories of this Christmas all over again.

Have an Excellent Christmas!

December 18, 2009

My Grown Up Christmas List

Today as I listened to Christmas music on the radio in my car, I heard Amy Grant singing "Grown Up Christmas List." It's such a beautiful song and I truly love the inspiring message of the things on her Christmas list of wishes.

This year, I have been recognizing how truly blessed my life really is. There's really nothing I absolutely have to have for Christmas (although we HAD to buy a new refrigerator last weekend - Merry Christmas, Honey!) Anyway, I must admit that I do enjoy opening a surprise gift or two on Christmas day. However, for me, my grown up Christmas list truly lives in my heart. The things I really desire aren't necessarily tangible gifts. My Christmas list consists of ways I can become a better wife, mother and friend, to love other people more deeply and to be an example of excellence for others to follow.

What's on YOUR grown up Christmas list? A new sweater, a better job, world peace? Perhaps you feel that you also want to help inspire others to greatness. If you can relate, please send those who may need a nudge the link to my blog. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our peers, one message at a time. In the meantime, make excellent choices for yourself this holiday season. Pause to reflect on the spirit of Christmas, the humble birth of Jesus, and enjoy being enveloped by the love of your family and your friends.

Have an Excellent Christmas!

If you or someone you know would like to receive the weekly Arrows of Integrity messages, send an email to and I'll add them to the distribution list.

December 16, 2009

Be The Blessing

READY8 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~ Acts 20:35 NIV

AIM8 I’ve been making some observations and thinking lately. That could be scary, I know! Everywhere I go I am faced with the huge amount of need in our world. I pass the Salvation Army red buckets on my way into several stores. Cashiers ask me if I want to donate extra money to buy Toys For Tots, coffee for the Military or groceries for the Food Bank. At the mall, there are donation boxes for Coats for Kids, ornament tags for the Angel Tree and gift wrapping services for various nonprofit organizations and churches. It is frighteningly overwhelming.

The thing that really gets me is that this ‘need’ in our world lives right in our very own communities. All you have to do is just look behind you in the grocery line, in the cubicle beside you at work, across the pump at the gas station or in the pew behind you at church. Just because there are organizations working to help provide necessities to those who are less fortunate on a larger scale via the public eye, does not mean that those who are closest to you don’t have needs too. Maybe they have houses and clothes and jobs…but are they dealing with addictions, living paycheck to paycheck or coping with relationship issues?

So what, Lori? What does that mean to me? What it means is that each one of us can help make a difference in our world, right in the community of people we know. Helping fulfill the ‘need’ doesn’t have to be overwhelming. All you have to do is make a choice each day to “Be The Blessing” to someone. Dear friends of mine adopted “Be The Blessing” as their family mission statement in order to help teach their children how to make a difference in the lives of others and how to become better people themselves. Being the blessing can be something as simple as taking a sick friend some chicken noodle soup or leaving an extra bag of groceries at the home of a working mother. You could offer to babysit free for your married friends so they can have a date night together. Maybe this year instead of buying another sweater for someone who has everything, you decide to donate that money to a special charity in that person’s name. The options to “Be The Blessing” are endless. I encourage you to get your family involved too. Ask your children or your relatives how you can all “Be The Blessing” together. I can assure you, you’ll feel amazing, you’ll teach an incredible lesson and you’ll be helping change the outlook in someone else’s life.

Remember, it’s not the size of the blessing that matters. Every small effort to help someone else makes a BIG difference. Just do it!

Check out for more information about this incredible movement. Thank you to the Figaretti family for their inspiration and determination to change our world one blessing at a time!

FIRE!8 Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant or the check out in the grocery store. Enjoy the giddy feeling of knowing you just blessed someone’s day!

Be Excellent!

December 9, 2009

Be There

READY8 “From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another… The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other." ~Emily Matthews

AIM8 It’s December, ‘tis the season for office parties and holiday celebrations. Most of us will be attending a social gathering or hosting an event of our own at some point this month. As the hostess, our nature is to make sure all the appropriate foods and decorations are ready and just the right number of guests will be invited to attend. It is so easy to get caught up in making sure we have the best appetizers, the best beverages and the best atmosphere. We spend so much time fussing over all the details of the party that we can actually forget to pay attention to our guests.

Life is too short to worry about fancy decorations or gourmet snacks. We need to slow down, evaluate what’s really important and just ‘be there’ for our guests and give them our attention. We need to sit and listen to them talk, laugh at their jokes and love their warm company. Who knows what kind of long-lasting impression you will make on an unsuspecting guest.

So this year, as you plan and prepare for your holiday get-togethers, forget about being the ‘Hostess With The Mostess.’ Order pizzas to be delivered, eat potato chips and pretzels out of bags and simply enjoy good conversation and quality time with your friends. Very likely, you will have the most memorable party of the year!

FIRE!8 Send an email invitation to a few friends for an impromptu holiday gathering. Have each person bring his or her favorite snack and a beverage to share. Look at old pictures, laugh about the good ol’ days and enjoy each other’s company.

Be Excellent!

December 2, 2009

Holiday Humor

READY8 “I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.” ~ Bernard Manning

AIM8 Every once in awhile we need to have a good laugh or two. This time of year can be stressful or depressing for some folks. So today, I thought it would be appropriate to break out a little humor to lighten up your mood. Enjoy this parody of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. Even if you don’t have children of your own, this ought to make you chuckle.

*(Disclaimer - My apologies for the lack of spacing in the poem. The blog doesn't seem to like extra spaces in this centered style. Read it anyway, it's funny!)*

A Parent’s Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house
I searched for the tools
to hand to my spouse
Instructions were studied
and we were inspired,
in hopes we could manage
"Some Assembly Required."
The children were quiet (not asleep) in their beds,
while Dad and I faced the evening with dread:
a kitchen, two bikes, Barbie's town house to boot!
And, thanks to Grandpa, a train with a toot!
We opened the boxes,
my heart skipped a beat-
let no parts be missing
or parts incomplete!"
Too late for last-minute returns or replacement;
if we can't get it right, it goes in the basement!
When what to my worrying eyes should appear
but 50 sheets of directions, concise, but not clear.
With each part numbered and every slot named,
so if we failed, only we could be blamed.
More rapid than eagles the parts then fell out,
all over the carpet they were scattered about.
"Now bolt it! Now twist it! Attach it right there!
Slide on the seats, and staple the stair!
Hammer the shelves, and nail to the stand."
"Honey," said hubby, "you just glued my hand."
And then in a twinkling, I knew for a fact
that all the toy dealers had indeed made a pact
to keep parents busy all Christmas Eve night
with "assembly required" till morning's first light
We spoke not a word, but kept bent at our work,
till our eyes, they went bleary; our fingers all hurt.
The coffee went cold and the night, it wore thin
before we attached the last rod and last pin.
Then laying the tools away in the chest,
we fell into bed for a well-deserved rest.
But I said to my husband just before I passed out,
"This will be the best Christmas, without any doubt.
Tomorrow we'll cheer, let the holiday ring,
and not have to run to the store for a thing!
We did it! We did it! The toys are all set
for the perfect, most perfect, Christmas, I bet!"
Then off to dreamland and sweet repose
I gratefully went, though I suppose
there's something to say for those self-deluded-
I'd forgotten that BATTERIES are never included!
~ Author Unknown

FIRE!8 Laughter positively affects many aspects of your life, including your physical health, mental well-being and energy. Read a joke today or listen to someone recount a funny story and give yourself permission to laugh out loud!

Be Excellent!

November 24, 2009


READY8 “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

AIM8… While on a recent ‘holiday’ to England, I made some observations about the United States. Sure, there were the obvious language accents and different use of words in England, however, I had many more insightful revelations about us Americans.

Food portions in America are obscene. No matter where we ate our meals in England, the portions, while they appeared small because we are used to heaping plates of food, were perfectly sized. Strangely enough, we were quite satisfied after our meal and realized the food we were given was more than enough to fill our stomachs. Do Americans really believe more is always necessary?

Customary tipping rates in America start at 15% for obligatory service and 20% or more for truly excellent service. In England, tipping is not expected by each person who provides a service for you. In restaurants, if you want to tip your wait staff, 10% is customary and quite satisfactory. Why do we, Americans, always have our hands out?

Hotel rooms, hallways and living arrangements are quite modest and in some cases quite small in England. In America, it appears that bigger is better. People are building and buying mammoth houses that they can’t afford for the social “wow” instead of the practical use of space. Does more love exist in a 10,000 square foot mansion than in a modest 1200 square foot home?

Until we stepped away from our surroundings, we didn’t realize the importance Americans place on living a life of excess. There comes a time when you need to be satisfied with where you are in life. True happiness lies in your relationships with God, your family, and your friends. Guard your heart, dear friends, because there will be moments of weakness where the more you have, the more you’ll want, and eventually the more you’ll expect. I have never seen a U Haul following a hearse, right?!

As we enter the holiday season, be grateful for your circumstances and beware of the trap of living in excess.

FIRE!8 Choose to share your “excess” with someone less fortunate. During this Thanksgiving weekend, make a point to do one of the following: 1) while grocery shopping, buy extra food or a gift card for a family in need and leave it on their doorstep or in their mailbox, 2) help serve a Thanksgiving meal with your church or the local soup kitchen, 3) collect your extra change and drop some into each Salvation Army red bucket you pass when shopping on Friday, 4) use your excess down time to play games or read stories with the children in your family, 5) give God thanks for the blessing of excess in your life.

Be Excellent!

November 19, 2009

Just A Taste

READY8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good.” ~ Psalms 34:8 NIV

AIM8 As Americans, we have been taught over the years that vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. When I was a child, our family’s rule at dinner was that you had to eat one spoonful of each item on the table…including the vegetables. Even as a young kid, I knew that vegetables were good for me. But even a simple spoonful of peas was often times hard to swallow!
God gives us a bountiful table to feast upon His word in the Bible. There are times where we want to stuff ourselves with spirit-lifting scripture. There are also moments when even just one spoonful of God’s word is difficult to swallow, much less digest. As we journey through life, we encounter situations where we are faced with making life-altering decisions. It is during those teachable moments when the messages in the Bible remind us to make excellent choices in life. Some days, it’s easier to accept those words of guidance. Ultimately, however, God knows what is best for us and what will nourish our souls – just like those dinnertime vegetables.
So remember, if you haven’t been getting the proper amount of nourishment for your soul lately…a daily spoonful of the Bible might be all you need to begin feeling healthy again. Oh, and by the way, if you need to eat more vegetables, that simple spoonful of peas isn’t so bad when you mix it with your rice or potatoes!

FIRE!8 If you haven’t read a Bible in a few days, months or ever…make it your challenge to pick it up and simply read a few verses in the book of Proverbs. You will find God’s wisdom in those messages is truly the food for your soul.

Be Excellent!

November 10, 2009


READY8 "Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin’…into the future." ~ Steve Miller Band - “Fly Like An Eagle”

AIM8 We are given twenty-four new hours every single day. What do you do with your time?
For most of us, our careers absorb a large portion of that time; for some of us that may mean up to twelve hours are immediately spent at our job. Additionally, we should be getting our eight hours of sleep, or at the very least resting and hopefully recharging our body’s batteries. So…what are we doing with the remaining hours in our day? We can figure that some of our time is spent bathing, getting dressed and undressed, eating meals and driving to and from work. Alright, that’s probably another three to five hours total. Therefore, we are left with any where between one to six hours of unaccounted time.
It’s what we do in those unaccounted hours that speak to our priorities. In those few remaining hours, do you: play with your children? Exercise? Read the newspaper or books? Watch television? Shop? Enjoy hobbies? Pray? Surf the internet? Put in more hours at work? Spend time with your family and your friends? I know we barely scratched the surface of all of the millions of things we are obligated to do, asked to do or choose to do with our free time. What does your free time say about YOU?
Time is a precious commodity. Use it wisely!

FIRE!8 Set aside fifteen minutes to sit and just talk to your spouse, one of your children or one of your parents or siblings. Ask them what they are excited about in their life right now. The connection made during those invaluable fifteen minutes will be time well spent.

Be Excellent!

November 6, 2009

Exciting News!!

I am SO excited! I just had to share my good news with all my friends and loyal readers.

This week, Arrows of Integrity will be featured in a official publication! Recently, a dear friend of mine was reading her weekly Arrows of Integrity message and thought it was something that other people could benefit from reading. It turns out, she is the co-publisher for Cape Fear Parent magazine. She talked to her editor and they decided they wanted to include my message in their bi-monthly magazine. When asked about the opportunity, I was shocked and flattered all at the same time! Of course, I said YES! So this week, at newsstands all around North Carolina in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base and Cumberland County, people will be reading Arrows of Integrity!! Once the publication is distributed, you can access the articles online at

Thanks for being such amazing friends and Arrows readers. Maybe, just maybe, we'll be helping other people become excellent too!

Be Thoughtful Before You Speak

READY8 "A knife-wound heals, but a tongue wound festers." ~ Turkish Proverb

AIM8 “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." That famous childhood saying made us all believe that no matter what someone said about us, it shouldn’t hurt. Sadly, that childhood adage lied. Words DO hurt!
A stick or stone may hurt us physically, but those cuts, bruises and breaks heal, and we eventually forget the physical pain we endured. Words, however, echo in our hearts and minds for days, weeks, even lifetimes. Hurtful words can reverberate years down the road when we think we’ve long forgotten their impact. One simple reminder is all it takes for the pain to suddenly come rushing back.
Have you ever said something you wish you could have taken back? Deep down, you knew what you said may have hurt someone. Unfortunately, once those words left your lips, they could not be taken back. Yes, you can apologize and ask for forgiveness. However, it now depends on how easily the other person forgives you and how quickly she can forget what you said in order to determine the real damage.
Take time to really listen to yourself and the words you say to others. Be thoughtful before you speak! Use your words wisely to build people up, not to gossip and tear people down. Yes, “sticks and stones may break my bones,” but words will always hurt you AND me.

FIRE! 8 If you’ve hurt someone in the past with your words, send her a note of apology today. Better yet, send a note of encouragement to a friend who needs it.

Be Excellent!

October 27, 2009

The Difference

READY8 “No one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something.” ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 Have you ever realized that something you did, no matter how small, really made a difference in the life of someone else? How did it make you feel? Making a difference is so simple and, remarkably, super easy. Many times we place such a high emphasis on what we feel really makes a difference in a situation or in a person’s life, that we miss the simple blessings along the way.
Take a moment to watch this short video. It was originally sent by the president of my husband’s company to his managers. What a powerful message to share with his trusted employees. The video truly inspired me to look for simple ways to make a difference in my everyday life. I hope it inspires you too!

FIRE!8 Make a conscious effort to make a difference today. Smile at someone who needs a smile. Return a grocery cart for an elderly person in the parking lot. Offer to babysit for a friend to give her a much-needed break. Whatever you choose to do today, do it with a sincere heart and you will know you are making a difference.

Be Excellent!

October 20, 2009

Titles or Testimonies

READY8 “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” ~ Pericles

AIM8 There was a time in my life that my friends and I would tease each other that “The one who dies with the most titles wins!” We were constantly surrounded by people who were earning college degrees, becoming important professionals in society, winning awards within their organizations or serving on various committees at their churches. Some people were actually seeking titles to make themselves feel and appear more important…even though they would never admit it.
We all acquire titles as we journey through life. We can get titles from work, school, organizations, church and everyday life. Eventually each one of us will pass away. When your time arrives, what do you want the message on your tombstone to say? Do you want all those important titles listed because they defined who you were? Or would you rather have people simply remember you for what you did and how you personally affected them?
Life is short; too short for placing unnecessary value in the simple letters we list behind our names. What matters most is what you do while you are “the title.” If you are a professional, how do you treat your customers and clients? If you are a volunteer, how do you interact with the people you are helping? Even if you don’t have special letters behind your name…how will people remember you? What is your testimony?

FIRE!8 Take a personal inventory of your life. Do your titles really define who you want to be? Make a commitment today to live your life so that the conversations about you (even at your funeral) are positive and uplifting because you made a difference.

Be Excellent!

October 15, 2009

Seasons Change

READY8 “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

AIM8 It is autumn! The leaves are turning brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow, but they will soon be replaced with lifeless brown leaves and empty branches. Each new season brings changes in nature, changes in the weather and changes in the activities we plan.

Just as in nature, our life seasons change, too. Unfortunately, there isn’t a calendar to let us know when those seasons change, but we can sure feel it when they do! Are you feeling joy and excitement as the result of a positive experience? Are you feeling sad and depressed because you are dealing with a difficult situation? Are friends, work situations or living arrangements changing, or even shifting slightly? Or maybe you’re basking happily in the middle of a season - enjoy!

Like nature, our life seasons will change too. Whatever you are struggling with or rejoicing about, God is right there, ready to lift you up and give you strength or celebrate with you! At the right time, you will enter a new season a stronger, better person. Just as April showers bring May flowers, you, too, will see the rewards from enduring your season… in due time.

FIRE!8 Do you know someone who is experiencing a change in season right now? Stop! Pick up the phone and call them just to say you are thinking about them and you want to know how they are doing. Your phone call may be exactly what they need to keep pressing on. (And the few minutes’ sacrifice in your schedule will make a huge difference in their day.)

Be Excellent!

October 6, 2009

Appreciating Life

READY8 “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

AIM8 Being a parent is a rewarding job. However, it definitely comes with its daily challenges. It seems that everybody needs something, needs someone or needs to go somewhere. It is so easy to get lost or caught up in the craziness of keeping the family on track that it’s hard to find quiet time to spend alone in an attempt to retain your sanity.
The good news is that while your children are young and life is zooming by – you can truly find joy in every hectic moment. Pause for a second while you are taking your turn driving the car full of football players to practice in order to appreciate healthy kids who can run and jump and enjoy team sports. While you are dusting the furniture or sweeping up crumbs from under the kitchen table, again, be grateful for the blessing of a safe, warm home for your family and food for your nourishment. Your family responds to your words and actions. We need to show them that we recognize those moments of joy in our everyday, ordinary routines and activities.
So as you prepare to go to bed tonight, and every night, be thankful for the energy and strength to have survived one more crazy, joy-filled day!

FIRE8 Take 30 seconds to write down people or things you appreciate. During dinner (or breakfast), talk with your family about who or what they appreciate and share your list with them.

Be Excellent!

September 29, 2009

Just Say No

READY8 “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” ~ Josh Billings

AIM8 There you are once again, stewing in the familiar territory of deciding whether or not to volunteer for another committee. Is it for one of the many activities of your children, your church or your place of employment? You realize you can't possibly take on one more thing in your busy schedule. And yet, the people on this committee really NEED you. You desperately want to say yes, but that small quiet voice in your head is nudging you to say no. You take time to think it through, you may have even prayed for wisdom about making the right decision, yet your brain tries to convince you that you could really be an asset to the people who want your time commitment. Still, the twinge in your stomach raises another red flag that perhaps you really aren't meant to take on this additional responsibility. So, what do you do?
You just say no.

Truthfully, it's as simple as that. You've weighed all the options or prayed for God's leading and as much as we'd like the trumpets to blow and a billboard to be displayed with the correct answer, God doesn't often work that way. God is there in those quiet voices, those gentle nudges and those instinctual feelings of what's right or wrong. He uses those subtle nuances to see if you are truly paying attention to His direction. The good news is that when you learn to recognize those promptings and follow His leading, just saying no is absolutely liberating.
Oh, by the way, the people who needed you on their committee will most likely be understanding about your decision. Later they will discover that they actually needed a different person who was divinely appointed to help them. Guess what? It wasn’t supposed to be you this time around. Whew!

FIRE8 Stop and re-evaluate your priorities and commitments. If you are stretched too thin or have too many obligations, do yourself a favor and bow out gracefully before your lack of involvement creates stress and imbalance in your life and the lives of those who are counting on you.

Be Excellent!

September 22, 2009

Enjoying Life

READY8 "People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

AIM8 Thank you to my dear friend Melissa Z. for sending me this inspiring story a few years ago. It had an impact on me which is why I kept it. Today, I’m hoping it has an impact on you too.
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds NO quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups..... And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups . They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.

"God brews the coffee, not the cups........... Enjoy your coffee!"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God. ~ Author Unknown

FIRE8 Send an email or a personal note to a person who has made a difference in the way you look at life. Tell them “Thank You.”

Be Excellent!

September 15, 2009

Building Confidence In Others

READY8 "To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.” ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 As we go through our lives, day after day, it is difficult to be your own personal cheerleader. In fact, some people might actually think you are a little strange if they were to witness you patting yourself on the back or giving yourself a little pep talk in public. However, it is not difficult to be a cheerleader for other people. There are so many ways you can help encourage your friends and family members or boost the confidence of students, employees and other folks with whom you are associated.

A friend of mine is a high school teacher. She has many students who walk through her doors year after year. What makes her special is that she looks for ways to make a difference in the lives of her students. She takes the time to ask them about their lives, their interests and their aspirations. She makes it a priority to remember when her students have important sports or extra-curricular activities and voices her support to each one individually and collectively. There have been times when she has actually gone out of her way to show up at their events just so they know that someone out there really cares and truly wants them to succeed in life.

Down the road, when those students are grown and have families of their own, who do you think they will remember as someone who had an impact on their life? You see, it’s the little things that count. Kind words, compliments and supportive actions do not take much effort on your part. You just have to decide that you want to help encourage someone else and make a difference in his or her life.

FIRE8 Give someone a sincere compliment today. Tell someone you are excited about what she is accomplishing. Take the time to be present to show support at a special event or activity for someone who needs her own personal cheerleader.

Be Excellent!

September 8, 2009

Little White Lies

READY8 " Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” ~ Spencer Johnson

AIM8 Have you ever told a white lie? After reading this story, you may want to rethink your options before stretching the truth.
Alice Grayson was to bake a cake for the Baptist Church Ladies Group in Tuscaloosa, but forgot to do it until the last minute. She remembered the morning of the bake sale and after rummaging through cabinets, found an angel food cake mix and quickly made it while drying her hair, dressing, and helping her son pack for Scout camp.

When Alice took the cake from the oven, the center had dropped flat and the cake was horribly disfigured. She thought, 'Oh dear, there is no time to bake another cake.' This cake was important to Alice because she wanted to fit in at her new church and in her new community of friends. So, being inventive, she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake. Alice found it in the bathroom - a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in and covered it with icing. Not only did the finished product look beautiful, it looked perfect.

Before she left the house to drop the cake by the church and head for work, Alice woke her daughter Amanda and gave her some money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the moment it opened at 9:30AM and to buy the cake and bring it home.

When Amanda arrived at the sale, she found the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold. She grabbed her cell phone and called her mom. Alice was horrified - she was beside herself. Everyone would know! What would they think? She would be ostracized, talked about, and ridiculed! All night, Alice lay awake in bed thinking about people pointing fingers at her and talking about her behind her back.

The next day, Alice promised herself she would try not to think about the cake and would attend the fancy luncheon/bridal shower at the home of a fellow church member and try to have a good time. Alice did not want to attend because the hostess was a snob who more than once had looked down her nose at Alice because she was a single parent and not from the founding families of Tuscaloosa but, having already RSVP'd, she couldn't think of a believable excuse to stay home.

The meal was elegant, the company was definitely upper crust old South and, to Alice 's horror, the cake in question was presented for dessert! Alice felt the blood drain from her body when she saw the cake! She started out of her chair to tell the hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, the Mayor's wife said, 'What a beautiful cake!' Alice still stunned, sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess (who was a prominent church member) say, 'Thank you, I baked it myself.' Alice smiled and thought to herself, 'God is good.'

FIRE8 There is no such thing as an innocent white lie. All lies hurt someone, including the person telling the lie. Today, choose to be honest with everyone, choose to be sincere in your conversations, and choose to be a person of integrity in all your actions. I promise that tomorrow it will be easier to make those excellent choices again.

Be Excellent!

September 1, 2009

When I Grow Up

READY8 "For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NLT

AIM8 Have you ever thought back to your childhood days and remembered what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did that dream actually come true for you? Why or why not?

Many of us go through life and simply give up on our childhood dreams. For some reason, we think that those ideas or aspirations are out of reach. Friends, God gives you the desires of your heart. If there is something you have always dreamed of doing, don’t put it off another day. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. Whether it’s a baby step or a huge leap, God is waiting to make your dreams a reality.

FIRE8 Do something for your future today. Sign up for a college class, send your resume to your dream employer, pray for wisdom and guidance or simply take a break and rest. God is waiting to help you take a step in the right direction.

Be Excellent!

August 25, 2009

Movie Manners

FIRE8 "Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.” ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 My husband and I went to the movies recently. After enjoying the show and our over-priced but delicious buttery popcorn and refreshing soda, we picked up our belongings and trash and headed for the exit. As we shuffled to the end of our aisle, we noticed that there were several drink cups left in the cup holders and various sized popcorn bags left in seats or on the floor between the seats. By our simple observations, I’m sure there were empty boxes from candy treats and lots of leftover popcorn and candies littering the floor and hiding under the seats. It made us both stop and wonder “What kind of person just leaves their trash for someone else to pick up?”

Yes, I know the movie theater has employees who clean up the theater area inbetween shows so it’s clean and presentable for the next wave of guests. However, you don’t need to leave your trash or purposely throw napkins and your leftovers on the floor to create extra work for those people. The garbage cans are strategically placed near the exits so you can easily deposit your trash on the way out of the theater. It really doesn’t take much effort and it helps the employees work faster and more efficiently; not to mention it speaks volumes about your character. If you do those things in public, what would you do for your boss at work? How would you feel if people left messes for you to clean up or handle all the time – physical messes or even emotional messes? It makes you stop and realize that the two seconds it takes to grab your empty cups and bags in the theater really does make a big difference after all. Next time I bet you’ll appreciate the clean movie theater, clean restaurant or tidy parking lot even more. Don’t even get me started on shopping carts!

FIRE8 Be an example of good character to those around you: Take your shopping cart to the cart corral in the parking lot, throw away your movie trash and pick up after yourself at home and at the office. It will be appreciated, even if you don’t hear the verbal approval.

Be Excellent!

August 17, 2009

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

READY8 "Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.” ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 Oops, there you go again. You jumped to conclusions and said something you wish you hadn’t. Was your verbal mishap with a
friend, a customer, your spouse, or worse yet, your boss? Your momentary lapse of control has left you feeling embarrassed, upset or even frightened of their response. Now what?

At some point in life, we have all said something we wish we could take back. However, we must never underestimate the power of the spoken word. Words can build people up or tear them down in an instant. Unfortunately, once we’ve said something out loud, we can only try to mend the damage that may have been done as a result of our mistake.

Recovering from a spoken slip-up can be simple if you act quickly. First of all, be sincere! If you are insincere, it will be apparent and will only make matters worse. Next, and most importantly, apologize. If you were wrong or insensitive and admit your error, most people are willing to forgive you. Lastly, offer a hug or handshake as a gesture of trust. These small signs of acceptance will help bridge the gap between you and the offended party.

Should you choose to avoid acknowledging your blunder, you risk the consequences of losing your friends, valuable customers, trust with your spouse and potentially your job. (Not to mention how foolish you will look to those around you.) Be smart, gather your facts, be informed and use your feet for walking.

FIRE8 Don’t jump to conclusions! Take time to get to know someone or
his or her circumstances before you make judgments about situations or personalities.

Be Excellent!

August 11, 2009

Patience, Faith, Reward

READY8 "7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2Timothy 4:7-8 NLT

AIM8 Life comes at you fast. If you’re not careful, you’ll get blindsided by the next problem or the latest crisis. It’s easy to get caught up in the middle of all the petty details and crazy nuances that drive us matter how serious the situation. We have to remember that God does allow us to experience those problems to strengthen us, build our patience and draw us closer to Him.

It’s in the midst of these life trials that He also develops our faith. Some days, having faith in God’s plan for our lives and the patience to trust His will is difficult. That’s why, at the end of the day when our problems are resolved and the situations are over, God offers rewards. His rewards aren’t given just here on earth, but in heaven too. It’s His promise that keeps us going, pressing on through the tough times, knowing there will be better times and good results in the end.

So have patience, be faithful, and it’s true, you too will get your rewards from God at the end of this race called life.

FIRE8 Take time to breathe today. Step back, look at your circumstances and realize that all it takes is a few moments of patience and a little extra faith to keep your eyes on the prize.

Be Excellent!

August 4, 2009

Arrows of Integrity

READY8 "Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence." ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 I encountered a situation recently that really shook me. It was a situation where I felt my personal integrity and motives for life were being questioned. I wasn’t sure how to approach it as I was angry on one end of the emotional spectrum and hurt and upset on the other end.

When you are personally attacked in life, you have two choices: surrender or fight back. In this case, I wasn’t sure which choice to make. I had a very hard time deciding which avenue would make a difference for me and the others around me.

Needless to say, my passion for life started burning and lit a fire inside me to fight back. However, you must be very careful when choosing to fight back. For me, I have a strong desire to prove that my integrity is something that speaks for itself. My actions of defense will be examples of excellence and my impact will be one that defeats any attack against my personal motives to make a difference.

Have you ever encountered a situation in life like mine? How did you respond…verbal outrage, silent stewing or the choice to do something positive?

FIRE8 Make it your personal decision every day to always choose the high road when faced with difficult choices in life. While your opponent may choose the low road, you will both eventually end up at your destination and YOU will always come out on top!

Be Excellent!