December 31, 2011

Out With The Old, In With The New

READY… “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the Old Year leaves.” ~ Bill Vaughan

AIM… Yep, I’m guilty. I got caught up in the Christmas chaos and craziness and then the Christmas let down and reality check. However, I’m giddy with anticipation about what the new year will bring.

As you look back at 2011, don’t dwell on the things you didn’t accomplish or the negative bummers you experienced. Instead, feel blessed by all the amazing things you were able to do and the positive steps forward you were able to take. 2011 is simply going to be a springboard of momentum into an incredible 2012. Happy New Year, Friends!

FIRE!   Tonight or tomorrow, jot down a few of the blessings you experienced in 2011. Yay you! Then, flip the page over and make a list of a few of the things you’d like to see happen in 2012. What a fun way to anticipate the fresh start of a new year!

Be Excellent!

December 14, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

READY… Cousin Eddie: “You surprised to see us, Clark?” Clark Griswold: “Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.” ~ National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

AIM… Relatives…you can’t live with ‘em, you can’t live without ‘em. The holidays seem to bring out the best in all of us, including our families, making it truly the most wonderful time of the year. (Yes, sarcasm is detected in that sentence.) Could it be the lack of sunshine? Or is it the stress of shopping for the perfect gift? Nope. I believe it’s simply personality genetics and the fact that most people become a product of their environment. Therefore, when you attempt to gather a variety of different people, especially those who don’t normally spend time together, in the same room for any length of time, there’s bound to be drama, activities, and conversations that will leave you scratching your head for days. Why not? It’s the holidays!

I know my family has always gotten along pretty well during the holidays. Yes, we have our share of interesting characters, just like every other family does. However, I’ve heard lots of horror stories in recent weeks about the complete and utter dysfunction that rears its ugly head when families gather for the holidays. I think the best depiction of holidays gone wild is the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Even if you don’t have a cousin Eddie or an Aunt Bethany in the family, you KNOW you can relate to a hilarious and often uncomfortable situation you’ve encountered with another relative during the holidays one year or another.

This year, despite the dysfunction we will all experience celebrating our holidays, make an attempt to see through the outer shell of your cousin Eddie. Perhaps, he or she just needs to feel loved! If you want to give the best gifts of all this year, be generous with the gifts of patience, tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love. Perfect holidays really don’t happen, but imperfect holidays often times make some of the most wonderful memories.

FIRE! In order to prepare your heart and mind to accept the dysfunction of family gatherings this holiday season, watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with your family. You’ll all enjoy some great laughs, realize that your family might actually be somewhat normal compared to the Griswolds and soon those uncomfortable moments will be forgotten.

Be Excellent!

November 23, 2011

Grateful Me

READY… “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward

AIM… I have been participating in a Facebook challenge to post something you are thankful for every day in the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving. Each day I wait until bedtime to review my day and recognize what I was most thankful for that day. I must admit, this week, I am SUPER grateful for my friend Mike who geniusly brought my computer back to life. After a week without my technology, I felt vastly deprived. Such is the way of our world these days, my friends. Computers…you can’t live with ‘em; you can’t live without ‘em! THAT is why you missed out on an Arrows message last week. I desperately tried to send it from my iphone, but alas, my AOI distribution list was on my beloved hard drive. Needless to say, we are back in action and I am most appreciative and thankful for modern technology that allows me to continue to inspire excellence and integrity into the lives of us all.

So…what are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? The most common answers (as well they should be) are usually God, family, good friends, warm houses, food, clean water, etc. Beyond that list, what invokes your true feelings of gratitude? As you ponder, I will share a few of my favorite thankful things.

* I am thankful for coffee chats with my girlfriends. Nothing fills my soul more than a good cup of warmth and a healthy dose of uninterrupted, quality time connecting.

* I am thankful that my children still want to snuggle with me on the couch and ask for extra hugs at bedtime…even after the lights are out and I’ve left their rooms.

* I am thankful for the days I don’t have to cook at home, and we can enjoy a meal in a restaurant where the servers love what they do and offer excellent service as a result…and with a smile.

* I am thankful to live in a small city where there isn’t much traffic; the downtown is always decorated beautifully for the holidays, and the gals at my bank know me by name…even before they see it on my checks.

* Truly, I am thankful for all my loyal Arrows of Integrity readers. Your words of encouragement and support never go unnoticed, and, in fact, keep me motivated to continue writing each week. No matter what I write about, these divinely inspired messages always seem to touch at least one person with the message you needed to hear. Thank you for your continued love and desire to keep the Arrows coming.

May you all enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving with hearts full of gratitude.

FIRE! There are 86,400 seconds in every day. Use at least ONE of them to share your gratitude this week of Thanksgiving. Surely, you can find someone with whom you are grateful!!

Be Excellent!

November 8, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

READY… “Life is not fair; get used to it.” ~ Bill Gates

AIM… I hear this complaint come up in conversation over and over again; “People in today’s society think they are entitled to _____________.” You may fill in the blank with whatever applies to your situation. Some folks think it’s a generational problem. Some people think it’s a parenting issue. I don’t know the answer or the solution to the problem, but perhaps we can shed some light on a few theories and help retrain those young, impressionable minds around us.

One theory I’ve heard about entitlement is that young adults think they should just get what they want because their parents GAVE them everything they wanted. It’s a parenting thing. Parents want their kids to have a better life than they had. This causes them to give their kids anything and everything they say they want. I think in another life that would be called “spoiling.” Needless to say, those kids are growing up not knowing how to work hard in order to receive their rewards. Sadly, they expect to make loads of money in order to support their outrageous lifestyle right out of school. Reality check: hard work + good attitude + responsible attendance = a pay check!

Another theory is that at some point, everyone felt badly for the child who lost the party game. Suddenly, we are ALL winners, right!? I think there is a place and time for this theory; however, it has created a bunch of sore losers who don’t know how to deal with rejection and encourage their peers. Again, because they were always dubbed a winner, when the reality sets in and they lose out on a job interview and get passed up for a better candidate, they don’t know how to cope or keep their eyes on the prize. Ultimately, this all falls back into the faces of the families and everyone else receives the backlash of the disappointed, entitled person….because we all know, “Life isn’t fair.”

I’m not really sure how to change an entire generation or population of entitled people. However, I do know that by taking a special interest, in one or two close people, perhaps you can be a good influence, demonstrate what a good work ethic looks like and teach how to deal with life’s disappointments. It’s tough, but hey, “Life isn’t fair.”

FIRE!   Is there a younger person in your life who you can agree to be a good role model and mentor? Take the time to get to know him, develop a relationship and begin teaching and leading by your example of excellence. You will receive intangible rewards of satisfaction while watching this young person grow and blossom.

Be Excellent!

November 2, 2011

Setting Boundaries

READY… “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” ~ John C. Maxwell

AIM… October must have been a weird month. It seemed that nearly everyone I talked to was feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just plain out-of-sorts because their lives were so crazy busy. The strange thing is that people could not even put their fingers on one particular area of stress. It appeared that we were all simply busy with busyness!

If you’ve been feeling like your life is getting out of control, like you are simply overextended or burning the candle at both ends, it’s time to set some boundaries and reevaluate your commitments. Your personal and family time is very important to your well-being. Setting healthy boundaries means sometimes just saying “no.”

Granted, saying “no” is not the easiest thing to do. However, when we respect our own “no” then others will too. God did not call us to be everything to everyone. We place that demand upon ourselves. I think John C. Maxwell says it best when he says, “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” If we are saying “yes” to everyone about everything, then we can’t determine what the best use of our time and talents is and we WILL get burnt out quickly. There is a real freedom and a strong confidence in saying “no.” I can’t wait for you to trust yourself and be free.

FIRE!   Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.” Create white space on your calendar this week by saying “no” to at least one request. Allow yourself time to feel the freedom and relief of establishing a healthy boundary. Yay, You!

Be Excellent!

October 25, 2011

Fear Not

READY… “Fear and faith cannot live in the same body.” ~ Judy Cokonougher

AIM… This past week, the Lord called home one very special lady, Mrs. Judy Cokonougher. Judy was like another mother to me. She was loving, encouraging, supportive, accepting, and interested in my life. She always had an opinion or advice to share with me.

Over the past five months, Judy battled stage four thyroid cancer and the attack it waged on her body. Fortunately, even though physically her body was weakening, her heart and mind were still focused. Judy loved Jesus as her Lord and Savior. As a result of her great love, she found comfort in the promises of heaven and wasn’t afraid of her inevitable death. She knew her faith was stronger and more powerful than any disease or physical ailment. Judy often said to people, “Fear and faith cannot live in the same body” and she is correct. If you have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, you can trust that God will be with you, work His plan in your favor and will unconditionally love you. Why in the world, if those are God’s promises, would any of us ever experience worry or fear?

Yes, Judy is now dancing in heaven without pain and suffering, and I’m sure she has an eternal smile on her face. We should all take Judy’s advice and apply it to whatever circumstances we may face in life. Fear and faith cannot live in the same body if you know Jesus is fighting the battles of this life with you and for you.

FIRE! Examine your life and pinpoint one area that causes you worry or anxiety. Take that specific situation and pray for God to take control and release you from fear. Then, have faith and believe God’s promises to replace your worry with peace.

Be Excellent!

October 18, 2011

This Side UP

READY… “Life is fragile, handle it with prayer.” ~ Arthur Christopher Benson

AIM… I’ve heard from many of my friends lately that they are finding it is very difficult to carve out time in their busy schedules to pray. I can relate because it seems I’ve been looking for that dedicated time in my crazy days, and I just can’t seem to be consistent or disciplined enough to pray at the same time every single day. Outside of mealtimes and bedtime with our children, anything and everything is vying for each moment we have to offer. It’s so easy to give in to all the other demands and opportunities we are presented with. So, what’s a busy gal or guy to do?

1Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing.” Seems simple enough, right? The best way I have found to deal with my dilemma is to literally pray without ceasing all day long; to steal short moments and send my thoughts UP to heaven. I do my best to try and find small moments to pray at different times during my day instead of feeling bad about not dedicating a half an hour to continuous prayer. For example, I pray in the shower; it’s my alone and quiet time. I pray in the car while driving because I can turn down the radio and be silent with my thoughts and concerns. I pray in thanksgiving when I am scrubbing toilets for running water inside a warm house. I pray when good things happen during the day and share my gratitude with God. We make something as simple as prayer so complicated when really God just wants to join us on this journey called life. So remember, life IS fragile, handle it with daily prayer.

FIRE!   Find a trigger during your day that will serve as a reminder to pray. Maybe it’s brushing your teeth, taking a shower, stopping at a red light or grabbing a cup of hot coffee. Whatever you choose, make an attempt to be consistent with your snippets of prayer time and watch your blessings overflow.

Be Excellent!

October 12, 2011

Hit The Mute Button

READY… “A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren't we like that wise old bird?” ~ Anonymous

AIM… A friend of mine recently had an experience where she was trying to explain a difficult situation to a gal on the phone from another company. The other gal kept interrupting her and simply wasn’t getting the gist of the scenario my friend was trying to help her understand. At that moment, when she was most frustrated and the lady on the other end of the line was starting to get belligerent, my friend wished she could just reach across the phone line and hit her mute button. Then the other woman couldn’t be heard anymore and would have no other choice but to listen to my friend’s instructions and truly hear the points she was missing.

Effective communication is SO important in our daily lives. We must remember that being a good communicator isn’t always being a good talker or being the chattiest; being a good listener is even more important. If only we would remember to be a good listener first, perhaps our conversations with our family, friends, co-workers and even those pesky bill collectors would be less volatile and kinder because we properly HEARD what they wanted to say, before we responded in defense. Next time you are having a heated discussion and wish you could hit the mute button, pause and just listen to the other person; then ask him to please listen to you completely before he makes any comments in return. More than likely, you will have both calmed down and effective communication will be achieved.

FIRE!   Be an excellent listener. The next time someone wants to tell you a story, stop and really listen to him; look him in the eyes and give him your full attention. Let him tell you all the details before you even make a remark. He will definitely feel your care and concern, and you will be amazed at how much of the world you have been missing.

Be Excellent!

October 5, 2011


READY… “A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is - full of surprises.” ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

AIM… I LOVE surprises! Good ones, of course. However, I know several people who absolutely hate being surprised. Truly, you just have to be relaxed enough to go with the flow and enjoy the happiness others are trying to demonstrate to you through their surprise.

Here’s a hilarious example of why some folks probably don’t like surprises. However, more than anything, it’s a great reason to enjoy a hearty belly laugh – out loud. I know I did!

“Why I Am Now Divorced”

Last week was my birthday and I didn't feel very well waking up on that morning.

I went downstairs for breakfast hoping my husband would be pleasant and say, 'Happy Birthday!', and possibly have a small present for me.

As it turned out, he barely said good morning, let alone ' Happy Birthday.'

I thought.... Well, that's marriage for you, but the kids.... They will remember.

My kids came bounding down stairs to breakfast and didn't say a word.

So when I left for the office, I felt pretty low and somewhat despondent.

As I walked into my office, my handsome boss Rick, said, 'Good Morning, lady..and by the way Happy Birthday! '

I felt a little better that at least someone had remembered.

I worked until about 12:30, when Rick knocked on my door and said, 'You know, it's such a beautiful day outside, and it IS your Birthday, what do you say we go out to lunch...Just you and me'

I said, 'Thanks, Rick, that's the greatest thing I've heard all day. Let's go!'

We went to lunch. But, we didn't go the place where the staff normally goes. He chose instead a quiet bistro with a private table. We had two martinis each and a lovely wine and I enjoyed the meal tremendously.

On the way back to the office, Rick said, 'You know, It's such a beautiful day... we don't need to go straight back to the office...Do We?'

I responded, 'I guess not. You're the boss'

He said, 'Let's drop by my place, it's right around the corner.'

After arriving at his house, Rick turned to me and said, if you don't mind, I'm going to step into the bedroom for just a moment. I'll be right back. Make yourself comfortable'

'Ummm...O.K.' I nervously replied.

He went into the bedroom and, after five minutes, he came out carrying a huge birthday cake with lit candles... followed by my husband, my kids & a dozen of my friends and co-workers, all singing 'Happy Birthday'.

And I just sat there....

On the couch....


FIRE!   Choose someone to surprise this week. Send flowers, drop off a dessert, pay for their lunch; do whatever you think would simply surprise her and make her day.

Be Excellent!

September 29, 2011

Dirty Laundry

READY “Sometimes you have to help a person change the sheets on the bed they made for themselves.” ~ Bob Bodkin

AIM… For those of you who know my husband Bob, you know that he’s a funny guy, very sarcastic and can easily be the life of the party. He doesn’t pull any punches; he doesn’t mince words and is very straightforward; sometimes to my dismay. Most folks don’t get to see or hear the very insightful and often perceptive observations Bob makes about life situations. When he’s not joking around, Bob truly has lots of practical wisdom and great advice to share.

Like many of you, we have encountered many situations in life where people have let us down or our expectations of situations just didn’t turn out as we planned. When those disappointments come along, how do you handle the outcome? It’s very easy to get upset, angry, frustrated and have a temper tantrum of epic proportions that results in grudge-holding, bitterness, resentment and relationship turmoil. However, do any of those reactions make a difference to the other party? Usually not! Normally, those negative emotions simply make things more complicated and difficult for you. It’s at times like these when Bob would say,“You simply have to help a person change the sheets on the bed they made for themselves.” While we may not agree with or approve of the decisions other people make in life, that doesn’t mean we have to shut them out or ignore them completely. Perhaps the kindness of reaching out to them with caring words and actions will demonstrate God’s love in such a practical way that even if you want to stay mad and upset, you cannot. The bonus will be that they will feel more relaxed and perhaps will feel peace about your relationship rather than tension and nervousness. After all, we are supposed to follow the Golden Rule and “treat others as we would want to be treated.”

FIRE! Have you been disappointed or let down by the people in your life? This week, re-evaluate your relationship with them and reach out with a few kind words or a small act of generosity, just because you want to demonstrate God’s great love to them. Maybe your step of maturity will be the first step toward healing and restoration in your relationships.
Be Excellent!

September 21, 2011

Mental Vacation

READY  The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.”  ~Author Unknown

AIM…  I have to apologize.  I missed last week’s message because I simply needed a mental vacation.  Yep, I literally checked out last week and just tried to focus on life and my family obligations.  I am so blessed and life is so good right now that I needed to enjoy the moments as they happened; despite the nagging reminders that I neglected my loyal readers.  But you know what?  Sometimes we just need to listen to our bodies and minds and allow ourselves to check-out of a few of our over-scheduled obligations and enjoy life as we know it. 

I missed you, my friends and Arrows followers.  I reassure you that I’m refreshed, back on track and ready to tackle more topics, truths and treasured moments with you.  Oh, and if you’re feeling like life is catching up with you, check-out for a bit.  You have my permission!

FIRE!  I’m putting you in a time-out today!  You must take five minutes to let yourself check-out from the stress, the pressure and the demands of life. Take some deep breaths and just clear your mind.  Yep, mental vacations are nice, aren’t they?

Be Excellent!

September 7, 2011

Wandering In The Wilderness

READY  “Patience is waiting.  Not passively waiting.  That is laziness.  But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.”  ~ Anonymous

AIM…  Ok, so I’m in a season of life where I’m just waiting for the next big thing to happen.  I feel like I’m listening to God’s promptings and being obedient by doing what I feel I’m being called to do.  However, it doesn’t seem like there’s really anything happening. Even the little things going on don’t seem to be coming together for a means to an end.  It’s hard to be patient when you feel like you’ve been waiting and wandering in the wilderness without even a bread crumb trail to lead you into the promised land.  Truth be told, there are days I probably wouldn’t even recognize a bread crumb trail if the entire loaf of bread was waved in front of my face!

Despite my personal frustration, I know many of you have been in a similar place in life at some point where waiting and being patient is difficult at best.  We’re all such a bunch of control freaks that it’s hard to let go of our lives long enough to let God lead us in the direction in which He wants us to go.  However, when we do finally feel like we’ve let go, we expect Him to lead us directly to the end of the path for the answers we’ve been waiting to see or hear.  I know you’ve heard this expression before: “Getting there is half the fun.”  Sometimes I don’t know if I totally agree with that phrase, but I do agree we need to step outside of ourselves long enough to realize that there is much more going on behind the scenes of our lives than we can even fathom.  So for now, I’ll simply work on my patience and try to find the joy along this journey called life.  Won’t you join me?

FIRE!  Romans 8:24-25 says “If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”  Make a list of the things you are impatient about today.  Then pray for the strength to patiently await the results you are hoping to receive. 

Be Excellent!

August 31, 2011

What IS Normal?

READY… “Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine.” ~ Whoopi Goldberg

AIM… Do you ever feel like you’re not normal? Truthfully, I’m not really sure what normal looks or feels like anymore. As a parent, I have high expectations of the manners, morals and behaviors I want to see displayed by my children. My husband and I have rules we expect our children to follow. We also have limitations on some of the conveniences and freedoms we allow our children to enjoy. However, after talking to our children and listening and observing their peers, I often feel like we are not normal. Perhaps we are the minority: setting limits, commanding respect and not saying yes all the time. There are days that I feel guilty about our parenting decisions. Then there are days when my children are complimented for their politeness and good behavior and I know our “abnormal” choices are paying off.

I think in our ever-changing world, normal simply has to be defined by what’s expected and comfortable for YOUR family and your environment. Being normal doesn’t mean being the SAME as everyone else. Being normal is doing what is best for your family, whether in your home or out in public, as well as staying within your financial means and your personal limits. What’s best for your children isn’t always what’s best for their friends and vice versa. Embrace the responsibility of parenting and enjoy knowing that whatever decisions you make for your family is what normal looks like.

FIRE! Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks is normal and do what you feel is best for yourself and your family. Choose to set yourself apart by stepping up to stand firm in one area of importance for your family this week.

Be Excellent!

August 23, 2011

School Rocks

READY… “Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” ~ John W. Gardner

AIM… How many of you remember the School House Rocks jingles that were played on Saturday mornings in-between our favorite cartoons? You know the ones like “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?” How about “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly get your adverbs here” or “I’m just a bill.” I have to be honest; I loved those little jingles and can still sing most of the choruses to them. Even though, at the time, I probably had no idea I was learning valuable lessons, I realize now what a brilliant idea it was to show those School House Rocks commercials during kid TV time because I really DID learn something.

Too bad our children’s TV time doesn’t have those great little songs or educational commercials. Now during commercial time, our kids get to learn about the best dating websites, finding their perfect soul mate, what type of medications to take for depression and the glories of male enhancement drugs. Wow, aren’t they lucky! Wonder if they’ll grow to be thankful that they really learned something during those commercial breaks? Even if we are diligent about the shows are children watch, it’s hard to censor family television time due to all the questionable advertising attacks.

The truth of the matter is, regardless what your children watch on TV, it’s up to you, their parents, to really teach your children what they need to know. Yes, they are required to go to school to learn the basics of education. However, the schools are not required to teach your children common sense, or about making good decisions and how to grow up with morals. It is not the teacher’s job to instruct your children in the ways of good manners, how to treat other boys and girls, and sexual responsibility. It’s time that we, their parents, realize that the best teachers in the world are the ones our children look at every single day when they wake up and right before they go to sleep. It’s time to take responsibility for making sure our children know how to behave in public, how to treat other people with respect and how to become responsible young people. If WE aren’t setting a good example, then how can we expect them to grow up and be any different? Remember, school does rock, but great parents blow the socks off school any day!

FIRE! Take time to talk to your child this week. Don’t just ask him about his day, ask direct questions about how he gets along with the other students and what he’s most excited about or what he’s most afraid of this year. Be encouraging and use your time together as a teachable moment for both of you to learn something new.

Be Excellent!

August 17, 2011

Be Generous

READY… “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:40 NIV

AIM… I was given an opportunity to serve in an incredible way last week. My friend is the assistant program director for the United Way in our area. One of its most successful and meaningful programs is called Lace Up For Kids. It’s possible because the United Way receives donations from Wendy’s, a local TV station, and other private donors; in turn, they use the money to purchase new shoes for children who need them and whose families cannot afford them. What better way to give children a positive self-image than to start them off with brand new, fancy shoes?

I must admit, I had never been to the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center, where they were doing the shoe fitting and distribution. As I approached the center, wearing my clean clothes and fresh deodorant, I started sensing the defensive posture of the people hanging around outside the door. I simply smiled and said “Good Morning” to a few of them who probably wondered why I was even speaking to them. My motive…to be positive and make one of them feel better about herself that day.

Once inside, I realized I came while folks were finishing up breakfast. It was a sight I was not prepared for. I didn’t know that this location offered a hot breakfast to anyone everyday; no questions asked. As I looked around the dining room, I saw a few elderly men cleaning up plates and heading toward the dish return; I saw a young, single man eating the rest of his breakfast alone; I saw a mother feeding her baby in a highchair. It saddened my heart to see the reality of our world in so many generations at one location. However, I was quickly overjoyed with the realization that these people DO have a place to come where they can get a hot meal twice a day and are given the other necessities they need to get by day to day. The assistant director at Catholic Charities Center gave my friend and me a tour of their facility and I was overwhelmed by the wonderful way they continue to serve our brothers and sisters in need.

After I composed myself, I was able to assist several families with fitting their children with new shoes. What joy and smiles I got to see on the faces of the little girls who tried on the sparkly new pink Sketchers or the confidence in the boys’ attitudes as they felt cool in their new Nike high tops. We were able to empathize with the grateful parents who have a hard time keeping their growing children in shoes that fit properly. No matter our economic situation, we can all relate to our kids growing feet.

I walked away feeling so good about helping my brothers and sisters. I was able to be the hands and heart of Jesus that day. I know I was moved and changed in ways that will benefit my life for years to come. I am truly blessed beyond measure and am eternally grateful for the favor I have been granted. Yes, even the small things, such as sparkly new shoes and fresh deoderant make me thankful.

FIRE! Do something to help others in need this week. Maybe you can purchase extra school supplies while they are on sale to help a family get their kids started off on the right track, or anonymously leave a bag of groceries on the front step of a family who needs an extra meal. As Jesus told us, helping those in need is indeed helping Him.

Be Excellent!

August 9, 2011

In Sickness and In Health

READY… “Love is a medicine for the sickness of the world; a prescription often given, too rarely taken.” ~ Anonymous

AIM… When you got married and were taking your vows at the altar, most people repeated and agreed to watch over their betrothed “in sickness and in health.” However, I seriously doubt any of us ever considered that we might actually be wiping vomit from the mouths of our soul mates. True? Those moments of true love come when you really aren’t planning for them. So often we are blessed with good health that we take our health for granted; not only do we need to consider our physical health, but also the health of our relationships. However, when sickness strikes, in whatever its form, we are catapulted to a new level of love. It’s in those critical hours of waiting for a fever to break, or for those lab results to return, or for the doctor to walk out of the operating room when you truly realize how deeply you care for your loved one. It’s a moment when we freely sacrifice our priorities and make our spouses the center of our attention because they need us and can’t do everything for themselves. Sometimes it’s temporary, or sadly, sometimes it’s permanent. These moments remind us that marriage is a partnership.

I encourage you to evaluate your physical health and the health of your relationship. Are you in a state of sickness that needs some attention or healing advice? Perhaps a simple appointment with your loved one will allow you to address any potential issues you may be dealing with, physical or emotional, and allow each of you the opportunity to take care of each other whether you are “in sickness, or in health.”

FIRE! Make a decision to do something nice for your spouse or a loved one, just because you care about him or her. Your kindness investment will be worth every penny of effort, guaranteed!

Be Excellent!

August 3, 2011

God's Detours

READY… “A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.” ~ Anonymous

AIM… So, I’ve encountered a few detours in life lately. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about; those days or weeks when your plans are sidelined by other events that have to take precedence over your previous schedule. Sometimes when we run into a life detour, it’s frustrating, disappointing and down-right unfair. Yes, pity parties are allowed but only for about five minutes. We need to have the personal strength to look at the circumstances of the detour and realize that it is what we are supposed to do; that everything really DOES happen for a reason. Sure, when we don’t see or know the reason for the detour, it’s tough to accept the changes. However, if we embrace the opportunity to recognize God’s hand in changing our course, we WILL experience great blessings and favor. Think back to the wonderful things that have happened or disasters that were avoided because God put up a detour sign. So, this week, I’m living with great expectations of what is to come!!

FIRE! Don’t waste your time pouting about the changes God places in your life. Stop, look and listen for the rewards He’s sending your way as a result of that detour!

Be Excellent!

July 26, 2011

You've Got To Be Joking

READY...  “Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.” ~Jack Handey, "Deep Thoughts," Saturday Night Live

AIM… Some days you just need to laugh and release some stress! A friend of mine sent this email recently and even though my husband is quite sarcastic, I still found these messages to be quite humorous. Take a quick breather and enjoy a good laugh!

I had to look up "paraprosdokian". Here is the definition: "Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation."

"Where there's a will, I want to be in it," is a paraprosdokian. Ok, so now enjoy!

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. (Ha – loved that one!!)

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. (or Arrows of Integrity!!)

FIRE! Do you have a funny joke or story to share? Send it to me (and a few of your friends.) God gave us that funny bone for a reason. He knew that there would be times in our lives that would hurt, but at that very same time He gave us the ability to laugh. You never know who needs a good laugh at just this moment!

Be Excellent!

July 19, 2011

Hitting The Bullseye: 100th Arrow!

READY  “You can’t hit a target you don’t see and you can’t see a target you don’t have.”  ~ Zig Ziglar

AIM…  WOW!  It’s our 100th Arrows of Integrity message.  I can hardly believe it!  Little did I expect that two years later, I would still be writing messages of inspiration and encouragement via this email and blog…and loving every minute of it!  I have enjoyed hearing your feedback about how these messages have helped you through a tough time or inspired you to seize the day.  I have appreciated your comments and suggestions for future topics and ideas.  Most of all, I am grateful for your love, continued support and your constant encouragement to press on and keep Arrows of Integrity coming to your inbox each week. 

I felt when I started these messages that God had something big in mind.  I still believe there is something big on the horizon for Arrows of Integrity and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.  Perhaps a book?  I love knowing that I have a larger-than-life goal ahead of me; a target for my future success.  I couldn’t imagine just going through the motions every day without a dream to reach for.  Granted, some days, it’s all we can do to get through the day so we just get by and go through the motions.  However, I challenge you to think about your dreams so you too have a target to aim for every day.  I encourage you, if you’re willing, to share your targets with me so I can cheer you on to victory.  We’re all playing this game called life together so we might as well strategize with each other, right?  Here’s to celebrating another 100 wonderful Arrows of Integrities with YOU!

FIRE!  What is YOUR target?  Surely there is one thing in life you really want to accomplish.  Try this: Write your goal down and place it on something you see every day. Under it, paste these words of encouragement: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  Matthew 7:7 NIV.

Set your sights on that goal, aim your actions and watch yourself hit the bullseye of success!

Be Excellent!

July 12, 2011

What If?

READY… “What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it--would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.”
~ Ralph Marston

AIM… Let me ask you something. “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Whoa, talk about an eye-opening question! My friend sent me that as an inspiration for an Arrows of Integrity message. I must admit, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was horrified to think about what I would open my eyes to see tomorrow because I often neglect to give God thanks for the things I enjoyed or experienced earlier that day. My how we take our lives and all our comforts for granted.

As I pondered this message, it really got me thinking about what I needed to thank God for every day; things that I totally expect every day. I am thankful for my good health. I am thankful for clean water to drink and hot water for stress-relieving showers…daily. I am thankful for air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. I am thankful for a sturdy house with a strong roof, windows and bathrooms with locks. (Hey, I have children and occasionally need an escape!) I am thankful for my husband’s secure job and more-than-enough paychecks so I can stay home with our children and buy clothing and shoes along with plenty of groceries to feed our family. I am thankful for a loving family and supportive friends. I could go on and on about what I am truly thankful for but we’d literally be here all day.

It became overwhelmingly obvious to me that I simply need to thank God daily for the simple conveniences and blessings He grants us every day simply because He loves us. That’s all it takes is just an honest “thank you” to show gratitude to the one who gives us life so we can live it to the fullest.

FIRE! Don’t wait for a special moment; stop and express your gratitude to God today! Rest assured that He will hear you and will grant you even more tomorrow than you enjoyed today.

Be Excellent!

July 7, 2011

Free To Be Me

READY… “Freedom is for honest people. No man who is not himself honest can be free – he is his own trap.” ~ L. Ron Hubbard

AIM… Being Americans means we are free to live the lives we choose. Being Americans means we are free to say whatever we want to say. Being Americans means we are free to wear whatever type of clothing we want to wear. Being Americans means we are free to listen to any kind of music we choose. Being Americans means we are free to chase our dreams and make them come true.

However, because we are Americans and are free to live as we please, some Americans turn blind eyes to the consequences that come with those choices. Some Americans lie, cheat, or steal, while others kill, destroy, disobey, overindulge, ruin and take advantage of their favorable circumstances. Why? Could they really be that disillusioned to believe that the freedoms they have been granted allow for their actions? While we may have the freedom to do what we would like, we must always be cognizant of the consequences of those actions. We must also consider those consequences before we exercise those freedoms in our everyday lives! Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and cause us to make decisions outside of what our normal lives would allow. Agreed? That is certainly no excuse for poor behavior, but it does make sense of the times we fall short of being an excellent person. Let’s all agree to be better Americans and exercise an appreciation of our freedoms by making good choices as we journey through life.

FIRE! Be proud to be an American of integrity this week! Choose one area of your freedom and make a responsible choice in your behavior or decisions. God bless America and God bless you!

Be Excellent!

June 29, 2011

Lazy Days Of Summer

READY… “Today I don’t feel like doing anything. I just wanna lay in my bed. Don’t feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at the tone. ‘Cause today I swear I’m not doing anything, nothing at all.” ~ Bruno Mars “The Lazy Song”

AIM… It’s summer. Yes, I realized that I did not send an Arrows of Integrity message last week. My excuse? I don’t have one…other than the simple fact that I was being lazy. The week before I was on vacation and had prepared an extra AOI message just so I could keep you in the loop while I was away. However, when I returned home, I hadn’t checked back in yet and so I just extended my relaxed schedule and remained uninspired and on lazy time.

You know, most of us really don’t know how to check out, relax and just be lazy. We’re so keyed up and stressed out that when we actually get an opportunity to rest or take a vacation, we don’t know how. Life demands so much from us from work stresses, activity schedules and home responsibilities that it’s no wonder we don’t know how to flip the off switch in our brains. It literally took me two days to unwind while we were on vacation. That’s nuts! However, once I achieved my state of relaxation, it was smooth sailing the rest of the week…and into the next. I’m happy to report that while I’m going to enjoy the low-key schedule of summer with my children, I’m back on track keeping you, my avid Arrows readers, encouraged and inspired. In the meantime, I hope you too will embrace summer and just relax your routine.

FIRE! Choose one day (or a ½ day) this week to “check out” and just enjoy some lazy time. You deserve a break, so rest already!!

Be Excellent!

June 7, 2011

On Purpose

READY… “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 NLT

AIM… I decided a few months ago that I was going to do something amazing for my 40th birthday. Yes, I enjoyed a few modest celebrations with close friends and family members. However, instead of focusing on receiving birthday wishes, I decided to bless someone ON PURPOSE for the forty days leading up to my 40th birthday. I sat down and wrote a list (because I can’t operate without my list) of forty different ideas on how I could bless others and make them feel extra special. Little did I know how incredibly blessed I would feel and what wonderful things would happen to me as a result of my blessings on purpose.

Many of you have inquired about what kind of things I was doing to bless others so you too could have different ideas to incorporate into your lives. The following is a sampling of the things I did throughout those forty days: I mailed several cards with encouraging messages, bought Starbucks coffee treats and breakfast or lunch for friends, counseled and prayed with troubled friends, made chocolate covered pretzels for my neighbors and cupcakes for my husband’s employees, paid for coffee for the person in the car behind me, took a bubble bath with my daughter, had a date night with my husband, took my son out to lunch, sent flowers to a friend, French braided hair for two young girls’ dance recital, sent a pizza dinner to a friend, gave away a few inspiring gifts and books, took lunch to my mom and dad, gave away a gazillion hugs, sang at church, gave appreciation baskets to my bank tellers, school secretaries and my AOI editor, paid for the grocery order of the lady behind me who forgot her wallet...and many other amazing things. As you can tell, some of these opportunities were planned and some were created by God. In return, I have felt so full of life and haven't been happier in ages. God has truly blessed me and my family so we can bless others. I dare you to try it, even for one day. You will be amazed at how great you feel and how wonderful you make others feel in the process.

FIRE! Choose to bless two people ON PURPOSE this week: someone you know and a random stranger. Use one of the ideas above or create something on your own. Honestly, you will feel fantastic and so will the person receiving your blessing.

Be Excellent!

May 31, 2011

Embracing Forty

READY… “Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had, and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.” ~ Anonymous

AIM… Hooray, today is my 40th birthday! In my 40 years of life, I have crossed paths with many interesting people. At times I have been angry, sad, misinformed, scared, depressed, backed into a corner, intimidated, taken advantage of, hurt, challenged, lied to, taken for granted, intimidated and let down. However, more often than not, I have been happy, encouraged, supported, humored, trusted, hugged, kept in the loop, filled with joy, lead, followed, appreciated, inspired, strengthened, celebrated and loved. Most of all, over the past 40 years, I have been BLESSED. I have a God who loves me unconditionally, a wonderful family, an amazing husband, two incredible children and an enormous amount of fantastic friends. What more could I possibly ever want?? Truthfully…40 more years to do it all again and then some! Cheers to YOU and my future of being FABULOUS and 40!!

FIRE! Celebrate something special today! Did you accomplish something amazing at work? Did you save money at a fantastic sale? Did you simply get out of bed on time? Whatever smallish or largish event you choose to celebrate today, do it with exuberance and flair!

Be Excellent!

May 25, 2011

Live Like You Were Dying

READY… "Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives that we are
dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” ~ Pope Paul VI

AIM… I couldn’t help but notice that the Rapture didn’t occur this past weekend as predicted by some. Either that or I’ve been WAY worse of a person in life than I remember and all the good folks are already gone!! Seriously, we are in the midst of the end times; however, no one will really know when it will truly happen. We could all wait for years and years or it could happen tomorrow.

What if, however, we really DID know when the end of the world as we know it was going to occur? What would you do differently? Would you continue working, going to school, raising your family and socializing exactly as you are today? Or would you choose to live your life differently? What would you do differently? Some people when given a terminal diagnosis suddenly decide to do all the things in life they’ve always wanted to do because they realize their lives are now limited and have a deadline. Why in the world didn’t they make that decision years before?

I know there are days when I don’t feel like I’m living like I would if I knew I was dying; however, there are days I know I wouldn’t change a thing. So…what are you going to do to live like you were dying today?

*Note – My daughter and I were in a bad car accident last evening. Thankfully, by the grace of God, we are ok with lots of scrapes and big bruises (p.s. It wasn’t my fault.) I wrote this message earlier having no idea what would occur later in my day. I am grateful this morning that I can live another day to send this to you and encourage you to LIVE EACH DAY TO THE FULLEST!!

FIRE! Choose to do something different in your routine today that will make you feel totally happy and fulfilled. Live and embrace life like there’s no tomorrow!

Be Excellent!

May 18, 2011

Clutter Chaos

READY… "The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are." ~ Mother Teresa

AIM… There it is…the looming pile of mail, papers, magazines and STUFF on your dining room table or kitchen counter. What is it that makes those areas such clutter magnets? Sure, there are other places where clutter piles up, but because the kitchen is normally the central hub for us, that’s also the location where we drop our junk. Why do you think every house has a junk drawer in the kitchen? Because that’s the place for items that don’t seem to have a place anywhere else in the house! Typically, we endure the mountain of clutter because once it starts to accumulate it becomes an overwhelming task to tackle. You simply have to pick a starting point, give yourself a time limit, and start sorting through it a little at a time. Trust me, inch by inch it becomes a cinch!

Professional organizers will tell you there are simple steps to decluttering your home. Check out this link for a few truly helpful ideas:

Just like our homes, we let our minds and souls get cluttered with too many thoughts, crazy gossip and unnecessary worries. We need to take time and declutter ourselves as much as our kitchen counters. What things are you storing up inside yourself that you can let go? Most days, this is easier said than done. I realize that. However, as the musical group En Vogue sang “Free your mind, and the rest will follow.” It’s true. When your brain isn’t overcrowded with junk, you feel better, you act better and you smile more often. Evaluate what you’re personally holding onto and start letting it go. Your life depends on it.

I’m excited for you and can’t wait to see and hear about your decluttering stories. Don’t wait another day; free yourself from being imprisoned by STUFF!

FIRE! Set a timer for 15 minutes today. Clear out as many things from your office, computer desk, or kitchen counter as possible. Make 3 piles: keep, throw away and donate. I just know you can do this and believe me, you’ll feel GREAT!

Be Excellent!

May 10, 2011

Living In The Fast Lane

READY… “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” ~Will Rogers, Autobiography, 1949

AIM… Zoooooommm! Recognize that sound? It’s the sound of your life rushing past you. Before you know it, it’s midnight and you’re still plugging away on that project for work, typing a report for a new class or attempting to clean the dirty dishes from the past few days. We fill our days with so many obligations and activities that we don’t allow for any down time. We have become so accustomed to shifting our lives into overdrive that when our bodies give us that uncomfortable check engine light signal, we choose to ignore that warning and continue operating on cruise control, or just shift into a higher gear. Sooner or later, if we don’t heed those warning signals, our bodies will literally shut down and stall out. Surely you’ve been in this situation before: You are coasting along at high speed and you just KNOW you need to slow down and shift into a lower gear, but you simply don’t know how to make it happen.

Friends, if we do not re-evaluate our life schedules and our commitments, our over-drive lifestyles will drive us right into an early grave. Heed the warnings. SLOW DOWN!! A speeding ticket is an expensive reminder to back off the throttle. A hospital or doctor’s bill is an expensive reminder to shift your life into low gear and reprioritize your commitments. If you don’t start taking time to slow down, rest and enjoy life, your body will come to a screeching halt whether you want it to or not. Look at your schedule and pencil in a 15 minute break to breathe today. You deserve to put your life in neutral for a few moments. As important as it is to schedule time for others, it is equally as important to schedule time for yourself. In a short while, life will be zooming past you again. Make time to back off the throttle and coast.

FIRE! Start carving out time each day, or initially each week, to rest. Your mind, body and spirit need to recharge their batteries to perform at their maximum potential. You car requires regular tune ups and maintenance, doesn’t your body deserve the same attention?

Be Excellent!

May 3, 2011


READY… “Reverend Mother always says when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." ~ Maria speaking to Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music

AIM… Life doesn’t always go in our expected direction. If you’ve seen the movie or the musical The Sound of Music, Maria doesn’t recognize God’s true calling on her life until well into her assignment with the Von Trapp family and she tries to change directions by making decisions herself. Of course, the movie has a happy ending, but when life throws YOU a curve ball, how do you handle the disappointment?

When we run after the desires of our heart and a metaphorical door gets slammed in our face, it is hard to muster up the strength to stay on that course. Our human nature is to run and hide and feel sorry for ourselves because the situation didn’t turn out the way we expected. However, did you realize that how you handle your disappointment is a direct reflection of your character? Yes, we are going to be disappointed. Yes, there are going to be times of sadness or anger. The true test of your personal integrity is whether you allow yourself to wallow in self-pity over your disappointments or if you choose to get back on your feet and take another step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, we cannot choose how other people act or some of the circumstances we’ll be faced with in life. However, we CAN choose how we REact to our situations and the folks who are involved. Remember, others are always watching our behavior. If we pause long enough to take a breath, and look for perspective, perhaps we’ll actually feel the breeze from the window God is opening around the bend of opportunity. Consider how many times you have had an opportunity pass you by only to be thankful when a better one arrived later.

FIRE! Don’t put a period where God places a comma! Give yourself about 60 seconds to have a little pity party and then stand up, pull your shoulders back, hold your head up and confidently go forward in pursuit of your dreams.

Be Excellent!

April 26, 2011

April Showers

READY… “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” ~ Helen Keller

AIM… Ugh! “Rain, rain, go away. Come again, another day!” When we sing that simple preschool song, the rain listens; it comes again another day…tomorrow!! Yes, we’re all a little tired of the rain. However, it’s normal for April weather and is going to be part of our forecast here in Ohio for the next 8 to 10 days. What if you lived in Seattle, Washington where it rains most of the days of the year? I imagine you might get used to it. Nah, not me! So what’s a person to do about it? You look for the silver lining in those rain clouds.

My children and I were discussing all the rain lately because they have only had one spring soccer practice in the past three weeks. Instead of being depressed about our situation, we started noticing all the good things that are happening because of the rain. The grass in our yard is now greener, the leaves are opening on the trees and the flowers are starting to bloom in beautiful colors at our neighbor’s house. Even though they desperately want to be outside, the rain has allowed us to spend time with each other indoors enjoying family movie nights or playing board games together. We know that the rain will eventually go away and we’ll get to enjoy the sunshine and resume our outside activities again very soon.

Does the rain have you feeling down in the dumps? Are you experiencing some personal rain in your life? Every cloud has a silver lining and if you focus on the bright side of things, usually you can at least alter your thinking and change your attitude. Sometimes all it takes is to start looking at our situations from a different perspective in order to recharge our batteries and get a fresh approach. Truly, even if the rain does go away…it always comes back another day. However, next time we’ll be ready!

FIRE! April showers bring May flowers. What positive rewards will you receive after your rain goes away? Focus on eliminating the negative storm clouds this week and see that sunbeam shine on those new opportunities.

Be Excellent!

April 20, 2011

The Minority

READY8 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NLT

AIM8 Ever feel like you’re in the minority? That the decisions you’re making in life to be a person of integrity, to keep your kids and your family on the path of truth make you feel like you’re the only one standing up for what’s right in this world?

Do not feel alone. Jesus was a minority too. When he preached the truth about God’s love, hope and healing, he was believed by some and doubted by many. When he faced the unfair trials and was wrongly accused, he stood firm and never wavered from his mission. When he was hung on a cross between two thieves, he STILL asked God to forgive the people around him because he knew he was right and they just didn’t understand.

Friends, as you make decisions in your lives that affect you, your children and your family - stand firm. Do not waver from the path of integrity and truth. Even though people around you may not understand what you’re doing or why you’re choosing the things you choose, you can rest assured that YOU are choosing what’s right and God is well-pleased with your decisions. Really, in the end, nothing else matters.

FIRE! Embrace the path of righteousness this week. Be consciously aware of your choices and decisions. Understand that the decisions you make are your decisions and you are free to choose to be a person of integrity in all you do. Be thankful to Jesus that you may live in freedom from all condemnation...if you choose.

Be Excellent!

April 13, 2011


READY8 “Quotes are nothing but inspiration for the uninspired.” ~ Richard Kemph

AIM8 Today, I must admit, I am rather uninspired. It’s rare for me to feel this way because I look at everything in life as a source of inspiration. Perhaps it was the icky weather yesterday, or my mile-long list of things to do that is blocking my muse. Either way, I’m struggling to bring my words to life for you this week. In light of this impasse, I have decided to share a source of inspiration that I received from a friend. It’s loaded with great quotes about life and seizing the day kind of stuff. Take a moment to read it. Perhaps we’ll both be inspired to do something amazing. (Caution: There are a few strongly worded quotes in the list.)

FIRE!8 This week, find a favorite picture, a sentimental knick knack or an item that has special meaning to you and put it in a place of prominence where you will see it regularly. Hopefully, this small change will motivate you every time you see a source of your inspiration. However, sometimes those days we lack inspiration might just be God’s gift to us. He is giving us a day to just be lazy!

Be Excellent!

April 5, 2011

Victories In Mothering

READY8“I looked on child-rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring it.” ~ Rose Kennedy AIM8 Being a mom is rewarding, but it is a tough job too. Getting paid in hugs and kisses some days just isn’t the salary you expected. Even our best intentions can be completely twisted and turned around in an instant. Are you good at going with the flow and rolling with the punches? Better buckle up and get ready! If you haven’t experienced the thrill of the adventure yet, you’re in for a wild ride! :) Because being a mom requires so much of our treasured time, our talents and personal space often get pushed into the Twilight Zone. If you have felt like you’re stuck in another dimension, you are NOT alone. Many of us moms are stuck in that same dimension of chaos! So, how do we check ourselves back into reality? For starters, we need to stop focusing on all the WRONGS we are doing and start recognizing all the RIGHTS. Negative self-talk does so much damage to our well-being and our self confidence. God created you in His image to be loved and to give love away. Let’s start speaking truth into our lives and regain that inborn God-confidence He designed just for us. If you need some help discovering your victories as a mom, here are some great ways to rethink your day to day actions and conversations with yourself: You are using your body to…grow a miracle; feed and nurture your infants; snuggle with and comfort your older children. You are using your hands to… play fun games; teach and educate with puzzles; bathe and dress your children, offer hugs of approval and applause for major accomplishments. You are using your creativity and talents to…make healthy and interesting meals for your family; bring home additional money to contribute to the budget; entertain your children when you’re stuck in the house for a snowy or rainy day. You are using your brain to…outwit toddler temper tantrums; encourage successful potty training transitions; find ways to instill good morals and values in the minds of your children and encourage and support life-changing decisions. You are using your personality to…find humor in everyday events; meet new moms and form meaningful friendships; continue to attract your spouse to the woman he has loved since you dated. You are using your heart to…boldly LOVE like you’ve never loved before…yes, it’s possible. You are using your spirit to…invite God’s presence, plan, purpose and protection over yourself, your marriage and your children’s lives. Galatians 6:9 says “So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.” Mom-friends, don’t lose yourself in the negativity of the Twilight Zone. Lift yourself up by reminding yourself of all the VICTORIOUS things you are accomplishing every single day. Down the road, you WILL reap a harvest of blessings as you witness the successes of your children and all their accomplishments. And what a huge victory dance you will do that day! FIRE!8 Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and grab a photo album or scrapbook. Enjoy a quiet walk down memory lane reminiscing about your children. For a moment, forget the piles of laundry that need washed and folded and remind yourself what a GREAT job you are doing as a mom. Yay, you! Be Excellent! Lori

March 30, 2011

Our Cherished Gifts

READY8 “All children are a gift from God.” Psalm 127:3 AIM8 Oh, what joyous gifts children are in our lives. It is so true. God gives us the miracle of another human being to care for, teach, nurture and love. My kids are getting older and I’m recognizing that it’s getting harder for me to let them grow up. Being a good parent is finding the ability to walk the fine line of holding on and letting go. When your children are young, they need lots of attention and direct care from you, their parents. As your child grows older, he needs the space to grow and the age-appropriate freedom to exercise his independence. Our job, as parents, is simply to monitor our child’s progress and manage the consequences of his or her choices. How else will she really learn the relationship of cause and effect? It’s like the baby birds who try to fly for the first time, but instead, fall straight to the ground right out of the nest. The mother birds nudge them and help them get up and try to fly again. Eventually, the baby bird puts it all together, figures it out and goes soaring off on his next adventure in the great, wide open world. As you love, teach, correct and nurture your children, be sure to recognize that your time with them is limited. Relish in every moment, silly antic, crazy memory, awful accident and cherished hug and kiss. Our job is to be responsible to raise well-adjusted, mature and capable, young men and women who are able to leave their parents and handle life on their own. Don’t fret if your kids don’t “need” you as they get older. See their independence as a reward that you have taught them well and have prepared them for the chaotic adventure ahead. Oh, and in the meantime, thank God for the blessing of your most cherished gifts, your children, and enjoy this crazy ride called parenting. FIRE!8 Plan to do something special with your children this weekend. You can have a family game night, watch a movie together (complete with popcorn and snacks,) go for a bike ride, meet for coffee, read stories together or simply make a phone call to chat and catch up on life. The time you invest in your children will be a true gift to them. Be Excellent! Lori

March 22, 2011


READY8 “Being healthy is just letting life GROW through your garbage.” ~ Carl A. Hammerschlaq

AIM8 “Wow! This is garbage!” That is my family’s favorite quote these days. It’s from the movie Despicable Me and we use it when things aren’t they way we like them or simply to be silly about something we don’t agree with. It’s been a fun phrase to adapt and helps us keep a light-hearted attitude about life when it’s less than perfect.

When we take a step back and look at our lives, we are being fed garbage all day long. There are trashy shows on TV, internet sites and smart phone apps that waste our time, not to mention the stress and pressures we’re surrounded by that just pile up like mountains of landfill in our souls. Ahhhh, sometimes even though we see the trash piling up, we can’t seem to find a bag big enough to hold it all.

Needless to say, I came across an inspiring message forwarded from a friend awhile back and thought it was quite appropriate for today’s thoughts.

The Law of the Garbage Truck

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and
missed the other car just by inches!

The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy ~ I mean he was really friendly.

So I asked, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!"

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call "The Law of the Garbage Truck."

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run all around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointments. As the garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you.

Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, resentments, anger, and frustration; so...........

Love the people who treat you right, Pray for the ones who don't. Life is ten percent what you make it, and ninety percent how you take it.

Truer words couldn’t have been spoken. Have a garbage-free day!

FIRE!8 Happily wave at someone while you’re driving today, especially if he cuts you off or if she takes your parking space! It will make you smile and the other person will either wave back or it will make him wonder what you’re up to!

Be Excellent!

March 15, 2011

A Dose of Perspective

READY8 “Wisdom has the power to enrich our lives. It can change our hearts, our perspective, and our attitude toward things, toward life and toward others.” ~ Sasha Azevedo

AIM8 We are surrounded by so many changes in our world. Every day there is a new opportunity to gain perspective about life. Lately, I’ve heard people commenting and complaining about the price of gasoline. I must admit, I don’t like paying that much at the pump either! However, I received an email from a friend last week that puts our gas prices in perspective. Check it out…

Think a gallon of gas is expensive? All these examples do NOT imply that gasoline is cheap, but take a look at these comparisons:

Snapple 16 oz $1.29 ….. $10.32 per gallon

Lipton Ice Tea 16 oz $1.19 ..........$9.52 per gallon
Gatorade 20 oz $1.59 ..... $10.17 per gallon

Scope 1.5 oz $0.99 .........$84.48 per gallon
Brake Fluid 12 oz $3.15 ....... $33.60 per gallon

Vick's Nyquil 6 oz $8.35 ….. $178.13 per gallon
Pepto Bismol 4 oz $3.85 …. $123.20 per gallon

Whiteout 7 oz $1.39 ........ $25.42 per gallon

And this is the REAL KICKER...
Evian water 9 oz $1.49…...$21.19 per gallon! $21.19 for WATER and the buyers don't even know the source! (By the way, Evian spelled backwards is Naive. Coincidence? I think not!)

Ever wonder why printers are so cheap? So they can have you hooked for the ink purchases. Someone calculated the cost of the ink at...(you won't believe it...but it is true...) $5,200 per gallon!!

So, the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on water, Scope, Whiteout, Pepto Bismol, Nyquil or, heaven forbid, printer ink!

FIRE!8 Make your negative perspective positive this week! Instead of complaining about something, look for the positive instead. For example, be thankful you have a car to drive and a job that pays well enough for you to afford food, a home, clothes AND gasoline. Just look around you and you’ll realize life isn’t so bad after all.

Be Excellent!

March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Every Day?

READY8 “My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” ~ Errol Flynn

AIM8 Today is Fat Tuesday, the momentous day when people indulge because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the Lenten season when Catholics, and other religious folks practice fasting and the act of confession and typically give up something in respect for the forty days prior to Easter.

Most people look forward to Fat Tuesday as a day of partying, feasting and merriment in excess of their normal routines. However, if you take a hard look at our culture, it would seem that we were celebrating Fat Tuesday every day of the year. Most Americans overeat, drink a little too much and definitely spend beyond their means. Some forget that what we do today has consequences on our tomorrows. We give in to all our heart’s desires simply because we can. The availability of credit cards, loans and paycheck advances make it all too easy to give in and lack self-control and discipline with our spending habits.

I am the first one to say I am guilty of being undisciplined in various areas of my life. However, as we complain and get irritated about the rising gas prices, cost of groceries and additional expenses in our lives, we should honestly be thankful for the opportunity to re-evaluate. What? I know, you probably think I’m crazy for even saying that! Friends, it’s really time for everyone to stop living as if every day is Fat Tuesday. Living every day in excess only leaves us waking up each morning with a horrible reality hangover plagued with debts, poor decisions and eventual destruction. Right now, with the economical changes, we are being forced to wake up and rethink our financial disciplines and lifestyle choices. Let’s make a pact to start tomorrow by exercising self-restraint, responsible spending and mature actions and choices. None of us need to go through life feeling eternally punished because of all of our frivolous Fat Tuesday choices. We can enjoy a life of freedom and joy when we are no longer slaves to our debt, exhausted from stress and poor eating or too much partying.

All things in moderation, right? Why be fat and miserable any longer? Let’s be free together!

FIRE!8 Let’s commit together, for the next 40 days to make ONE financial change in our lives. Maybe you will agree to give up your gourmet coffee, your fast food cheeseburger or the automatic car wash. In return, put that money in a jar, a box or an envelope for each time you would have spent it. At the end of the 40 days, rejoice and celebrate your extra savings and then pay off a bill or do something fun for yourself or your family!

Be Excellent!