Friday, May 13, 2011

Chasing A Dream and Hearing Voices

It's been a whole year since a new dream hit me upside the head.

One night last May, I was overcome with the need to write, which in itself isn't all that unusual for me. But the kind of writing I wanted to do surprised me. I suddenly found myself wanting to write fiction. Like, really wanting to write fiction.

I've always had a little seed of a dream of writing a book in the way back of my mind, but I always thought it would be nonfiction. For one thing, I don't consider myself a very creative person, so it never occurred to me that I could create engaging stories. But in that moment, I just knew I had to try.


1. I love fiction. I love to read and get lost in a story.

2. Stories change people. In my day job, we say we measure success by stories of transformation. I want to tell those kinds of stories.

One phrase kept running through my mind that night and has continued every day since. I want to tell a compelling Kingdom story.

So, I decided to learn how to do it. I went to the library, checked out a stack of writing craft books and started studying. Some concepts were easy for me to grasp, but for the most part I felt like I was in waaaaay over my head. And the voices of doubt began to whisper. Or shout.

Who do you think you are? 

You'll never be able to write a novel.

You're too old to start chasing this dream. You should've started 20 years ago.

There's already a writer in your family. You'll never be as good as her. (It's she! "You'll never be as good as she." See?! You're not even good at grammar!)

The voices kept talking, but I also began to hear whispers of encouragement that kept me going. I had to choose which voices to listen to and which to shut up, which, as it turns out, is a full-time job! The voices never stop.

Learning how to write fiction has unearthed a whole new set of insecurities and fears for me. I have a feeling I'll be posting about those a lot as I continue to battle them on this journey.

But I'm pressing on.

My dream is worth it because God put it in my heart. He intended for me to chase it -- why else would He put it there? When I fully believe that, chasing my dream becomes an act of worship, an offering to the Creator of the universe. And worship is never wasted.

Whether this dream turns out like I want it to or not.

Are you chasing your dream?

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Very Princess-y Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day has come and gone, and I'm happy to report that I survived with my dignity and self-esteem intact...mostly. (Check out last year's Mother's Day post for more info on that).  I did receive the ever unpredictable Mother's Day card/poem from school, but it painted me in a fairly positive light this year (if fairly positive light = not a total flake). So that was good.

I also got a very special gift.

About a week ago, my 7 year-old started talking about the gift she was making for me at school, ramping up the excitement and anticipation (aka anxiety) each day.  Her comments started on Monday with a little grin and twinkling eyes saying, "I can't wait to give you your Mother's Day present." And by Friday, we had progressed to squeals and clapping and jumping from the furniture with declarations of, "You are going to LOVE your Mother's Day present! It's going to make you feel just like a princess!"

Oh. snap.

Cue heart palpitations and scaly fingers of dread constricting my throat. (Dramatic much?)

What in the world could she have made at school that would make me feel just like a princess? I had no idea.  I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter and the general consensus among my friends was that...

1.) I should, in fact, be very nervous about this gift.

2.) There was a strong likelihood that at some point on Mother's Day, I would end up in an adult-sized tutu. A tiara was not completely out of the question, either.

The one ray of hope I clung to was that surely an adult-sized tutu couldn't fit in her little backpack. Right? It couldn't, could it?! Please, God, don't let it fit in her backpack.

Looking back, there were a couple of hints that should have clued me in on this princess-inducing gift, but my muddled mommy brain didn't put it all together until afterwards.  One was when she said, "Mom, have you ever had tea in a pouch?" 

"Uh, not that I recall.  Is that like a CapriSun or something?"

"Yeah, I guess. But I think you mix it with water first."

Hmmm. Tea in a pouch? That sounds as though it would make me feel like the exact opposite of a princess, but okay.

Well, Sunday finally arrived and I woke up to Corban's sweet, freckled face beaming with pride as she delivered this to my bedside table...

Breakfast in a Bag! And tea in a pouch! Turns out, I've completely failed Parenting 101 since my kid has never heard of a tea bag. My English friends are going to be so ashamed of me.

I have never felt closer to being royalty in all my life. I've also never been more relieved to receive a brown paper bag as a gift.

I love that little girl. She's just one of my three amazing reasons to celebrate being a mom.

If you're a mom, I hope you had a beautiful Mother's Day and were treated like a princess, too.

What's your favorite (or most shameful) Mother's Day gift story? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Foundational Success Factor

I ended yesterday's post with a cliff hanger (I'm surprised any of you were able to sleep last night from the suspense of it) and a question: What is the biggest factor of success?

I think there are a few key factors, but I believe there is one that is absolutely foundational. I'm convinced that we could have 47 other success factors nailed and still fail because we lack this one thing.

What is it?


It doesn't matter what job we're doing, if we display strength and depth of character, we will set ourselves apart from everyone else because good character is rare.  

Here are three ways to exhibit the kind of character that's necessary for success:
  • Be Reliable -- We need to do what we say we'll do, be where we say we'll be, and be there on time.  I see the impact of this characteristic (or lack thereof) in my business when I talk to people who are looking for a new cleaning service. The most common reason they give for wanting to find someone new is that their previous service was unreliable. The cleaning lady was supposed to be there every other Tuesday at 9:00am, but they never knew if she'd really show up.  Customers won't put up with that kind of performance for long. Neither will employers. If we prove our reliability, we'll quickly find ourselves gaining favor with the people who matter in our business.
  • Do Every Task With Excellence -- Excellence is accomplished in the details, so we can't cut corners or take short-cuts. No job is insignificant. Every little thing counts, so it's necessary to give our best to every task, no matter how small or unimportant it seems. A guy named John W. Gardner said, "Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well." (I'll bet he had all kinds of excellent accomplishments). When we give the extra effort to do things well, we set a standard for excellence that shows in everything we do. 
  • Be Faithful in the Little Things -- At Bloom, when we interview new people, we always tell them that we're looking for people who are faithful in the little things. We want people who are willing to work hard and prove themselves over time. People who are humble, have a willingness to learn, and can be trusted with really big things because they've shown themselves to be consistently trustworthy with really small things. (Jesus tells a pretty good story about this in Matthew 25).
These are just a few ways we can show ourselves to be people of strong character in the workplace, but I really believe living these things will set us apart and help us move forward.  

Do you agree that character is foundational to success? 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's the Biggest Factor in Success?

Last weekend, I had the privilege of speaking to an amazing group of women at a conference hosted by the Bethel Foundation, which is an organization that provides lots of fantastic resources to single mothers in OKC.  I was asked to speak about career opportunities, a topic that sounded relatively easy to me at first, but proved to be more difficult the more I researched and prepared.

Naturally, I shared the vision of my own company (Bloom Home Cleaning) and our heart for providing a business opportunity for women and a community to help them succeed in every area of life (physical, emotional, spiritual). But the truth is, there aren't a lot of realistic opportunities for women who have little money for a start-up venture and/or lack a high level of education or specialized skills. I love that Bloom is a realistic opportunity--there's no start-up cost and anyone who's willing to work hard can do it--but it's not for everyone.

I did come up with a page full of career resources, but the more I thought and prayed about what to say to these women, the more my heart screamed, "Give them hope!" Being a single mom is more difficult than I can even imagine, so I wanted them to know that they can succeed and that someone believes in them.

So, instead of going over a list of potential careers and jobs (they got that as a hand-out), I spent the time talking about three things that I believe directly affect a person's level of success in their job, no matter if they work at McDonald's or they're a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or they're a starving artist.

I want to share those thoughts with you, too, and see what you think. But I'm going to break it up into a few separate posts so it's not so long. You're welcome.

Tomorrow, I'll give you the first thing on my list. In my experience, it's the single biggest factor when it comes to succeeding at any job. It's the Big Mama. It's why some people get promoted and others get fired. And in my business, it's how we keep customers.

Any guesses as to what it is? What's the first thing you would tell people if you were asked to speak about career opportunities? hmmm. maybe I should've asked that question before I gave my little talk. :-)