One evening, I was out taking my daily walk. I enjoy walking, not just for the exercise but because God speaks to me through nature. I can sense Him through certain smells, the fresh air, the wind, the sun, the trees and the ocean. Nature is a wonderful way to connect with God.
There is a neighborhood I usually walk through and a particular street that I enjoy walking along. While on my walk, I was praying about a certain situation and asking God for direction. It was about 7:00 in the evening. The sun had lowered, but was still shining brightly. As I turned down my favorite street, the sun was blinding, and I was suddenly unable to see in front of me. I continued to walk down the street, and I realized I was relying totally on faith that there would not be any cars coming down the street. All of a sudden, the thought of ‘blind faith’ came to me. I smiled and thanked God.
Faith is being sure of the things we hope for and being certain of things we don’t see. (Hebrews 11:1) Just as I was certain God was going to protect me when I was walking blindly down the street, I am certain that God is going to answer my prayer.
We live in such a world of ‘seeing is believing’ that exercising faith is a day to day struggle for many of us. I can think of numerous occasions where I absolutely had no idea of how to respond to a situation I was experiencing. That is when my faith walk became real. I had no other option but to trust Him and His promise to love me and carry me through the storm. While I prefer not to go through some of life’s trials, fortunately they have become opportunities for God to show me how much He loves me. While the journey may be painful, He delivers results in a way no one can. No problem is too big or too small for God. He wants to be involved in every detail of our life. So let Him!
Don’t fret over things. Turn it over to Him…immediately. It may sound glib, but ‘He’ll work it out”. He always has for me!
I’m amused by the amount of people who find validation in the number of online followers they have. That bears importance only for business purposes. For those who boast of having thousands of followers, ask yourself how many of those followers will be there when you need help paying your mortgage or to keep you from getting your car repossessed?
From the time I was in grade school, I had four best friends. We went through high school together. A few of us attended college together, while the others attended college out of state. Despite the distance, we always made a point to get together a few times each year and especially during the holidays. While I’ve developed other close and special friendships over the course of my life, fifty years later, these four ladies remain my best friends. They’ve shared some of my happiest moments and some of the saddest. We’ve always been there for one another, the mark of true friendship.
So don’t worry if you only have a few hundred friends on social media. Find two or three loyal, die-hard friends and forget about the other 997 followers.
‘Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.’ ~ Proverbs 18:24
I recently returned from a fun filled family vacation, which included a cruise throughout the Caribbean. While we experienced sun and relaxation, my granddaughter was experiencing her own fun in the cruise ship’s kid’s program. She loved going to ‘play with the kids’ as she called it, and spent the majority of each day there.
Since most of the passengers were Latino, it came as no surprise that the kids in the children’s program were Latino as well. What also became apparent was that while the teachers in the kids program were bilingual, my granddaughter was the only child in the kid’s program that spoke English. I wondered how this was going to impact my granddaughter’s experience in the program. I was hoping that by the end of the week, she would perhaps have learned some Spanish words or phrases. That was not the case.
In lieu of learning Spanish, my granddaughter experienced the universal language of love. While the children in the program couldn’t speak English, they communicated through the language of touch. They hugged and held hands with one another, laughing and smiling as they played. It was so touching to witness how they accepted one another, playing together and enjoying one another’s company without speaking to one another. Children have the uncanny ability to accept total strangers the way they are, expecting nothing in return. Whatever differences exist aren’t important, because they live in a world of love and acceptance.
As I left the kid’s program, I was saddened by the thought of how, as adults, we’ve lost that ability to accept differences. When adults encounter someone with differences to which we are unwilling to relate or accept, we put up a wall of tolerance. Tolerance is a way to place people on a temporary hold, until they’ve earned our approval. It provides us the flexibility to resist or flee situations when our level of discomfort increases or our values begin to feel threatened. The idea of holding hands, hugging or spending the day with a total stranger with whom we cannot verbally communicate would scare the dickens out of most adults.
As I stepped onto the elevator taking me back down to the lower decks, it hit me. What I had just witnessed in the kid’s program was what I would experience in Heaven. Then I smiled.
One of Maya Angelou’s greatest quotes is “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” I try to keep this in mind when I interact with someone, personally or professionally.
We are surrounded by people of different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, attitudes and values. That’s what makes this world fascinating. When we meet people, we expect them to conform to our beliefs and values. While this is convenient, it’s not the case nor should it be.
I tend to have high expectations of people, just as I have for myself. In all of my relationships – personal and professional, I value honesty, professionalism and courtesy. I try to build a circle of people around me that share those same values. When I do, those relationships purr, like a well oiled machine. Trust comes easy, as I rarely have to question their motives.
There are occasions when I have relationships with individuals whose values are not aligned with mine. Those relationships are rocky and not as productive. I still, however, place a value on those relationships and learn what I can from them. I also manage my expectations of that person. When our differences are magnified, I respect and accept them for who they are and decide if the relationship is worth me compromising. In most cases, it is not. I walk away with no guilt, disappointment or hurt. That’s called wisdom.
As a member of a Human Resources team, I am surprised by the attire worn by the young adults coming in for an interview. Schools used to provide tips on ‘dressing for success’ as part of the curriculum. Clearly, that course must have been cut, along with art and physical education.
It‘s not that we expect all applicants to come in wearing a three piece suit. However, turquoise hair, leggings and miniskirts have never been appropriate attire for the workplace and especially not an interview. I would suggest leaving the 5” stiletto heels at home as well, as few can walk in them comfortably. I’ve seen young ladies wearing miniskirts bend over to pick up a magazine to read, unknowingly revealing their nice white lacy panties! Ladies have worn white sheer blouses with pink and even a red bra underneath. I’ve seen it all!
The high-low tunics are quite popular these days. I’m a fan of them as well. If worn with slacks and heels, it can create a stylish and professional look. On the other hand, don’t wear these tunics without slacks or a skirt underneath. When high-low tunics are worn alone, the whole outfit becomes ‘x’ rated.
Some women get excited about ‘dressing up’ and think that whatever dressy outfit they wear will be appropriate for all dress up events. Wrong! There are different categories of ‘dressing up’ and it’s important that women learn the differences. Dressing up for the club is not the same as dressing up for work or business.
Another thing to keep in mind is whenever you go to an office to fill out an application or drop off paperwork, you need to dress appropriately. Don’t wear sweatpants or shorts. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you are only going to be there for a few minutes, there is no need to dress professional. The receptionist greeting you and accepting your application at the front desk is also part of the hiring process. Their feedback to the hiring manager about you is crucial to you securing an interview. Women need to take the time to dress appropriately by putting on a dress, slacks or skirt with a nice blouse or top.
Regardless of how well you perform in your interview, inappropriate attire can kill the deal before you start. You want to be remembered for your solid performance during the interview, not for the jaw dropping outfit you wore.
Coco Chanel, the famous fashion designer said that “If a woman is poorly dressed, you notice her dress. If a woman is impeccably dressed, you notice the woman.”
Here are a few safe, easy tips for women to remember when preparing for an interview:
- Wear slacks or a knee length skirt or dress. Do the ‘bend over’ test to make sure undergarments don’t show.
- Wearing darker shades will prevent undergarments from peaking through.
- If you’ve worn the outfit to a club or party, it is NOT business appropriate and should not be worn on an interview or to work.
- Purchase a few business appropriate outfits to keep available when needed.
- Hair should be a natural shade (blonde, brown, black, auburn, grey etc.)
- and well groomed.
- Women should wear shoes with a modest heel (3” or less); Flats can be worn as well.
- Avoid wearing fragrances, as many people have allergies.
Following the above tips will set the right tone for the interview and provide you with a fair chance of being considered for the opportunity. These tips can also be followed by those currently working in a professional environment. Even if your work environment is casual, you should still dress in a professional manner. Your dress conveys the attitude you share about your work. Be careful not to send the wrong message.
I’m surprised by the number of young women that do themselves a disservice by being involved in unhealthy relationships. They remain in these relationships for years, hoping and thinking that things will change. These relationships often include verbal, mental or physical abuse, extreme jealousy or irresponsibility. Other symptoms found in unhealthy relationships include lack of engagement, intimacy and incompatibility. Granted, no relationship is perfect, but any one of these issues could be a deal breaker if you’re seeking a healthy, long term relationship.
People are drawn to others that are similar in nature, like the saying, “birds of a feather flock together”. So if one party suffers from extreme issues, i.e. jealousy, low self esteem, etc., they are likely drawn to a partner that experiences similar unhealthy issues. So you have two unhealthy people trying to build a relationship without having the proper foundation. It’s like two people with a cold in a relationship. They continue passing the cold back and forth, unable to recover to a healthy state.
An unhealthy relationship isn’t going to change unless the parties in the relationship change and the only party you have the power to change is you. So fix you!
You need to step out of the relationship and examine your own feelings. How do you feel when you’re not with your partner compared to your feelings when you are with him? Why are you attracted to him? If you remain in an unhealthy relationship out of fear of loneliness, you’ll find that the feelings of loneliness will also be present when you’re in an unfulfilled or unhealthy relationship.
Another lie women tell themselves is that they’ll stay in this relationship until they meet someone better. Newsflash! You’ll never meet anyone better, because you haven’t taken the time to determine what makes someone better. How will you know if someone is better or just more of the same if you don’t take time to analyze the qualities you’re seeking in a mate? Also, men generally aren’t interested in investing a lot of time and energy into someone who is physically and emotionally involved with someone else.
To free yourself from an unhealthy relationship, you need to do the following:
- First, you have to learn to love yourself. Some women may need professional counseling to help them get to the point of loving themselves. Do whatever work is required because you can’t love anyone until you love yourself.
- Learn to place your needs first. Think about what makes you happy, what you want in life now and what you want in the future. Then take the steps that will make those desires a reality.
- Most importantly, surround yourself by those who can help and support those dreams.
If your current partner doesn’t fit the assessment you’ve made for yourself, then you need to make some tough decisions. Be fair to yourself, and to him, if you know the relationship isn’t going anywhere. Then use the same measure of standard for anyone else you meet. If someone doesn’t share your values and aren’t able to support you in your current or future goals, then you’re wasting time – yours and his. Women who don’t take the time to assess and make necessary adjustments find themselves in the same place, year after year, still complaining. Maybe with a different person, but still involved in another unfulfilled or unhealthy relationship.
So make the decision to get off the merry-go-round and make some positive, healthy decisions for yourself. Learn to assess and adjust. Stop compromising and start treating yourself as the Queen you were created to be.
Every experience in life is valuable, whether painful or joyful. God has the power to prevent us from experiencing life’s hurts and disappointments. However, if He did, we’d never learn from our actions or learn to make better decisions. We would also miss out on some important character building opportunities. That’s why the positive outcome of hurt is wisdom.
Out of the nine virtues of God, not enough can be said about the greatest virtue being love.
- Galatians 5:22 describes the nine fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Note that love is listed first and is the foundation for the other eight fruits to manifest.
- In addition to the word love being mentioned over 500 times in the NIV version of the Bible, in I Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter, the apostle Paul spends the entire chapter describing the characteristics of love.
- Jesus said the greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second commandment is Love your neighbor as yourself.
So with all that is written in the Bible about the importance of love, why is it so difficult to love those closest to us?
Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun who won the Nobel Peace Prize and dedicated her life to working with the poor, wrote the following:
“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”
This was a painful lesson for me to learn. A few years ago, we were going through a difficult time with my daughter. When teens or young adults go through rebellion, it can be a very stressful and painful time for the whole family. It was no different for my family. I sought the advice of my spiritual mentor, who counseled me to just ‘love her’ and make our home a safe and welcoming environment. My mentor shared with me a copy of Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son. Modeling the father’s behavior in the story of the prodigal son, I was to forget the hurt and pain, and instead, forgive and welcome her with open arms. It took some time, but eventually trust was restored between the two of us, which was necessary for the healing to occur in all of us.
People try to hide their hurt and pain with busyness at work, church or other activities. Some of the busiest people in churches are some of the most pained and unhappiest. I know because I’ve been one of them. Once we begin to peel back the facade and confront the pain and its’ source, only then can the healing and forgiveness begin. Forgiveness opens the door for love to manifest itself once again.
So the story of the prodigal son is very near and dear to my heart. The story is not about the son, but the father. May we all have the capacity to love and forgive as the Father.