The List: The Cornerstone of My Speaking Ministry

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Spreading our wings to fly!

The cornerstone of my blog posts comes from a list I created early in my speaking career.  This list helped me tell about my life in a candid and straightforward manner. My story isn’t fun or pretty, but in the midst of life’s messes, I found faith and salvation. So, I’ve tried to use what God has given me in a way to inspire and motivate others to stretch their potential and reach for the pinnacle of success.

The handout I created and nicknamed “The List” is patterned after a stress assessment I used while teaching stress and anger management workshops to corporate clients. During speaking events, I gave the list to each member of the audience and told them it was a stress assessment. After they finished checking off the items they’d experienced, I’d ask each person to tell me how many they checked. The average answer was 10. There are fifty items on the list.

Then, I would say:

What if I told you every one of these things has happened to me? This is my list.

Responses to this question vary, but it opens the door for me to speak to people about the grace of God and His ever-enduring love. I created this list because I felt prompted by God to share my story, to show people that you can come out on the winning side even with so many trials in your past.

Fast forward to a few years ago, and The List became the launching pad for my blog posts. I have not addressed all of the items on the list at this point, but many of them do appear in some shape or form  under a The Journey tag (see Tags on the right).

I still speak about these topics and many others. I pull from a diverse background in training, development, and communications in order to customize a special experience for your retreat needs. Please check out my One Sheet if you’re interested.

When we reach beyond ourselves, we’re closest to spreading our wings to fly!

Stressed or Blessed? Which Are You?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What if a long, lost relative came to you today and told you that he would deposit $86,400 in your bank account at midnight? That sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it?

But there is a catch.  You must spend the entire $86,400 within a twenty-four hour period.  Any money not spent will be taken back.  Oh, and one last point, you can NOT invest it.  You must spend all of it.

So, how would you spend it?

We’re asked this question each and every day.  There are 86,400 seconds in a day.  If we don’t use them wisely, they’re still gone.  We can’t invest them.  We can’t grow time.

 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  Mark 3:20

Jesus faced this problem every day of his ministry.  How many passages show the crowds finding him, no matter where he went?  He finds time to slip away and pray, but Jesus never turns the people away. Passover is coming and with it, his time as a man on this earth is over.

If you’re like me, you find yourself running and never quite getting it all done.  We have overflowing schedules.  We’re out of breath, eating in our car, not sleeping enough, forgetting things, and feeling a bit haggard.

The thing is, no matter how much we try, we can’t create more time.  We must plan to use it well.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

How are you using our time?  Do your activities fit into these familiar verses or are you running around never quite getting anywhere?

How would you have spent $86,400?

Did you use it to the glory of God or to your own comfort?  Did you use it for something that will allow you to spend your time wisely or foolishly?  It’s fun to dream about what we might do with so much money, but we have that much given to us free of charge every single day. Maybe it’s time to sit back and look at our overflowing schedules and ask how Jesus would have spent the time if he were in our shoes.

NOTE:  I wrote this post a few months ago for our church women’s retreat.  This week, these words resonate with me, though, because I’m trying to get back on track after a few weeks of family “relaxation.” I know when I feel rushed, everyone around me begins to feel my stress. It’s not pretty, so this is as much for me as it is for you.

How are you doing with your 86,400 seconds?

Walking Away From Abuse

My father took this picture three years after I walked away from domestic violence.

How much of my life with domestic violence do my readers need to know?

As I mentioned last week, dragging these events out of my past  hurts.  To write them, I must revisit a time when life suffocated me, when hope disappeared, when I gave up on my dreams.  Unlike many of the women I’ve met with similar circumstances , I’ve healed.  I don’t dwell in these dark memories.

I moved on and returned to the person I was before him.

No.  That’s wrong.  I never regained that person.  I became someone different.  Someone new.  Someone independent and determined to get back the life once promised her by her parents.  Someone determined to prove to him I wasn’t the weakling he tried to make me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Cor. 5:17

 

It didn’t happen fast, but through my faith and the love of my family, I found healing.  I don’t live or crouch in the shadow.  I became a new creation.

People tell me my story helps others, so rather than recount every occurrence of abuse, I’ll share a few episodes to give you an idea of what I lived through and found the faith and strength to walk away from.

If any of these strike a note of familiarity within you, I pray you re-read the Bible verse and the paragraph above it in this post.  If I can step out of that life and walk with God to create a new one, you can, too.

My domestic violence highlight reel:

  • He refused to take a call from his employer.  When I hung up the phone, I hurried back to the kitchen because I didn’t want to burn dinner.  He asked what his boss said. I didn’t answer fast enough.  He backed me into a corner, screaming at me, and … that’s where my memory dies.  Everything else from that day is scrambled.  I eventually figured out that when he hit me, my head slammed into some overhanging cabinets.  The doctor called it temporary amnesia.

 

  • He got angry at our daughter when she was about nine months old and picked her up and popped her bottom.  His mother and I told him to stop, that a baby doesn’t understand.  Every time we said stop, he popped the baby’s bottom again claiming the diaper padded her, so she didn’t feel pain.  Neither of us could get near him to take the baby away. His mother kept fussing at him.  Each time she fussed, he popped the baby. While she begged him to stop, I begged her to stop.

 

  • My mother invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.  We accepted, but on the morning of Thanksgiving he said we weren’t going.  I pointed out we wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving meal if we didn’t go.  He got angry because I had not planned to cook a turkey that day. We went, but he made us return home once we finished our meal.

 

  • He got angry and banged his fist on the wall so hard that a clock fell off the wall and shattered around our six month old daughter who was laying on the floor.  Somehow, she wasn’t hurt.

 

  • I came home from the grocery store.  He decided to help (shocker) put the groceries away, but he wanted to stand at the table and THROW the canned food at me.  Our children–by then we had two toddlers–sat in the floor of our small kitchen.  I worried they might get hit by a can and asked him to not throw them.  He hurled each can at me, shouting because I’d told him what to do. I grabbed the kids and rushed around the corner to hide until he had thrown everything across the room.

 

  • We went for a ride in the car.  At one point, I leaned into the back seat to check on them and realized the radio was too loud.  I asked him to turn it down.  He started yelling and hitting me for telling him what to do.  My children clung to my hands, crying.  Should I yank free from them or hold their hands and stay in his line of fire?  I stayed in his line of fire because my children screamed louder when I tried to pull away.  He drove down a deserted, dirt road and told me he was going to kill me and leave my body to rot in the woods.

So, there you have it: a highlight reel of my four years of marriage to an abuser.

Don’t ask why I stayed.  Be glad I left.  Most women never leave.  They fear their abuser more when they can’t see what he’s doing.

Have you ever tried to help an abuse victim and failed?  Share your story here, and let’s find a way to help the victim.