AN EASY ROAD IS A CROWDED ROAD

7C

I saw a quote today that read: 

"Do the things that come easy for you, those are your true strengths." 

And that couldn't be further from the truth! You see, things that come easy, don't last.

A woman who is easy isn't worthy. She's short-lived and as quickly as you get her, you let her go. How easy is it to sleep in because you don't feel like going to work? To tell a lie because it makes you feel better. Or eat that cheeseburger when no one is watching.

EASY doesn't define TRUE STRENGTH. 

Strength is measured by the things that challenge you. The things that make your heart pulse, your face sweat, and your adrenaline pump. Dedication to the struggle, now that's strength.

Do you want to lose weight? Don't just workout, EAT HEALTHIER. Anyone can do 1 hour at the gym but it's what you put on your plate, the next 23 hours, that's hard.

If you want to find the love of your life? Stop picking the easy ones. A good woman—if you find it difficult to get her attention—is a great challenge.

If you're in a marriage, where love exists, but nothing seems to go right, don't quit. Divorce is easy. 50 years of marriage, now that's hard work.  

The bigger the challenge, the harder you fall. The harder you fall the more you learn. True strength is defined, not by what comes easy, but rather by that—which makes you work.

"Chop your own wood & it will warm you twice." You get it, I know you do...

YOU DON'T STOP LIVING UNTIL YOU STOP BREATHING.

7C

Every single day, God teaches me.

One of the greatest things He has graciously allowed me to overcome is fear. FEAR is of the devil and if you keep [from doing things] because you're scared, you unknowingly allow evil to intervene by holding you back.

Failure is inevitable and none of us are exempt from it. And rather than viewing failure as a loss, view it as a lesson. A lesson, because although it may not have worked out, you tried it and you will never have to wonder what if. 

I cannot tell you how many times, in life, I have failed. As I sit here writing these words, flashbacks of my past attempts are swirling through my head and I’m thinking “Wow, I am so glad I never gave up.” 

You see, I have received more no’s, in life, than yes’. And through it all, it didn’t make me a failure, it actually gave me push.

When you fail at something, you're left with two options: you either fall into self-pity or you get up and keep moving.

Life isn’t going to wait for you. You either lead, follow or get out of the way because it continues, with or without you.

As I get older, I’ve also come to the realization that I am living a "Millennial time-warp" and if you're not in your 20's, with a college degree, you're frowned upon in Corporate America.

When I first moved to Dallas, I applied for a job I was extremely qualified for. After several email conversations and an amazing phone interview, it was pretty much a done-deal; I just knew I had cinched the job. At that point, the only thing left to do would be to meet with this lady, in person, and sign on the dotted line. But during our phone conversation, somehow my age came up. “Mid-forties?” she asked.

I will never forget those words and her subtle disappointed tone. But even that, as discouraging as it was, is one thing I have mastered in my own beliefs. I didn't let that stop me. I persevered because I knew God had a greater plan.

AGE is just a number and as soon as you convince yourself of that, you can proceed. Sometimes people, in this rat-race world, lack compassion and you cannot take it personal. In my defense, it was her loss. 

And I may sound a bit cliche´ but if I can convince you of one thing, men and women, no matter the age, it is this: it is never too late to be what you passionately desire to be. It is never too late to change your career. It is never too late to find love. It is never too late to get fit. It is never too late to be happy. It is never too late to take that trip. It is never too late to send that email. It is never too late to make that phone call. It is never too late to change [your] life.

Your only obstacle is convincing yourself. YOU DON'T STOP LIVING UNTIL YOU STOP BREATHING, and until then, life is what you make it. 

I hope you enjoyed this talk because it's only the beginning. "Fear In Your 40's" will be my first podcast. Stay tuned...

GOD CAN USE A CHICKEN

7C

Every morning I wake up and I read my Bible. I drink my coffee with half n' half, no sugar, two slices of raisin toast, slathered with creamy Land O'Lakes butter. It has truly become my morning ritual.

At night, as I get ready for bed, I always prepare my coffeemaker for the next morning. I can't tell you how giddy I get at the mere thought of coffee and toast the next day. It's the little things, you know?

And if you're anything like me, by now you probably have your typical morning routine. 

I don't use an alarm, my internal clock runs on repeat and by 5 a.m., Monday-Sunday, it auto-wakes my brain. I open my eyes, I pray and I talk to God.

Finally I'm up. Coffee's brewing. I run each morning so I throw on my workout clothes, pull up my hair, brush my teeth, soap up my face and out the door I go to walk the dog.

A short while later, Zoey & I return to a quiet home, and it's at those exact moments that I'm reminded of my blessings; the smallest of the smallest are the biggest. 

I grab my first cup of coffee, butter my toast, and I sit. I sit and enjoy the moment, as the sun rises. I meditate and open my Bible.

But today for some reason, I took a routine-turn.

My coffee was super hot so I begin to look around for something to place my cup on. If you've been to my home, you know it's filled with books and books and more books—I love to decorate with books, what can I say.

I grabbed the nearest hardcover, placed it over the edge of the sofa and sat my coffee on it.

As I sat to enjoy the moment, I glanced over at the book I'd chosen and read the title: LIVING BEYOND THE LIMITS by Graham—and it intrigued me. Here was a book that had sat on my bookshelf for approx. 6, maybe 7, months and I'd never even noticed it.

You see, I love books and every chance I get to scour the shelves for my next read, or for books I find on sale that can be used as decor for my home, I take it.

Apparently this book caught my eye, as it now sits on my bookshelf. And since it blended well with the other books I had purchased, months prior, I didn't give it much thought other than it making a good conversation piece for my living room. But today—A HALF A YEAR LATER—this book caught my eye, yet again.

So I picked it up and opened it as my fingers randomly led me to Chapter 6, GOD CAN USE A CHICKEN.

It was a story about how God can do anything with His infinite powers, to get your attention, even with a chicken.

The author retold a story of a kind, generous man named Sami Dagher, who lived in Lebanon.

One day Sami was driving the streets of Beirut when he stumbled across a Syrian officer who was hitchhiking. As dangerous as it felt for Sami, he took a chance and gave the stranger a ride. As he drove away, he begin talking about God to this strange man. When it was time to drop him off, Sami felt he had so much more that he needed to share, so he invited the officer over for lunch. He wasn't able to give his wife enough notice so he stopped by the nearest store for chicken.

A Rotisserie Chicken lunch. 

The story went on to talk about how we as Christian's have a moral obligation to be kind, thoughtful and generous, just like Sami. And in the process of being good samaritans, we open the door to God's word.

So Sami continued to share the word of God with this strange man as they had lunch. But for some reason, the man didn't seem interested. He finished his food, said his thank you's and off he went, never to be seen again. 

Years later a young Christian dentist decided to open a practice in the area. And although he wasn't close friends with Sami, they knew each other because Sami had preached at his church.

Christianity was forbidden in most parts of Lebanon so word soon spread of this young Christian dentist and his beliefs. Unfortunately for him, he was soon taken into custody for interrogation on his love for God.

Here is the beauty of this story!

The head officer in charge of interrogating the young dentist was the same officer Sami had given a ride, and lunch to, several years prior.

You see, in life, it all comes full circle.

The officer asked the dentist if he knew a man in Beirut named Sami Dagher. 

When the officer found out the young dentist did indeed know who Sami was, he proceeded to tell him the story of his chicken lunch with Sami and how he had never forgotten his kind generosity. He then released the dentist and allowed him to continue his Christian dental practice. 

Without even thinking, I begin to read more and more, and the more I read, the more I wanted. Two-thirds of the way through Chapter 6, I realized I was reading a book written by Franklin Graham, one of my all-time favorite evangelists. And if you follow me on social media, you know how much I cherish Mr. Graham's wisdom because I'm always retweeting his quotes and sharing his message. 

My gosh how could I have missed it?

A treasured book, filled with Franklin Graham's knowledge and wisdom, in my possession, and I hadn't a clue. But God is ever so mighty and when He so chooses, He can and He will get your attention; any time, any place, any way.

Maybe with chicken, or just maybe...

WITH A BOOK!

God doesn't work on luck or coincidences. For some reason He chose today, to show me a book, that sat in my home, for over six months, and I didn't even know. Is there a message for me in this book? Maybe!

And although I thought I was very self-conscious of the little things in my life, hence the beginning of this post, maybe I still need work. Maybe the message is that I need to pay more attention to the things, or even the people, in my life. For it's the tiny, little things that turn out to be the biggest. 

MY SANCTUARY DECOR

(PART 1)

I am a firm believer—and I preach this often—when it comes to decor, it's not money, not even skill, that makes a beautiful home—it's effort, imagination, and creativity. 

Effort because like everything in life, you have to want it bad enough. Imagination because, well, we're all born with it. And Creativity sums it up!

Creativity is born when effort & imagination are brought to life.

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And when it comes to my bedroom, creatively simple is my motto and it's very personal.

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My work desk, for example, was purchased from IKEA for $19. It's a heavy-duty white top, which I love, because it's clean and simple. My chair, too, is from IKEA and I believe it retailed for less than $15. (it's been a while)

My giant glass jar of goodies (top right) was purchased at H-E-B for $7—yup, and for you non-Texans, H-E-B is a grocery store. What was meant to hold cookies, now houses my nail polishes.

Always think outside the box!

My white sheer curtains also IKEA $5.

My gold and white pot (bottom left) also from IKEA $5—which originally came white. I added the gold to brighten up this five-dollar beaut.

My picture frame(top right) was from the dollar store and at $2 how you can say no? And the quote "Stop and smell the Roses" was printed off my computer.

Simple, huh?  

My books are all from Half-Price Books or Amazon.com where I always find a great amount of gorgeous hardcovers from $2-$10 each.

But the one thing that stands out most, that's not your typical bedroom decor... is my wall decor.

I've taken upon myself to accessorize my walls with the clothes I own, hence the ruffled LBD (little black dress) & the pretty lace top. While some people buy art for their walls, I use clothes for mine. I also stack denim on denim with heels—on shelves that hang on my walls with other shoes and handbags.

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If you walk into my bedroom, at first glance you may think it looks fancy—but it's not dollars you see, it's imagination. 

Crazy what you can do when you set your mind to it.

Imagination and creativity will take you far, you simply have to put in the effort. I hope I've inspired you to dig deep into your imagination. Go into your closet and create some fun; because beautiful things weren't meant to be hidden.

TEDDY BEAR

7C

He's rugged you know, the kind of man that (seems) tough; a little rough around the edges and maybe even a bit intimidating.

...and yet somehow he's caught your attention.

He's not your typical pretty boy or the business man you find behind a desk, in a fancy office. He's not walking the streets of Wall Street in fancy suits and high-priced shoes. He doesn't care what society thinks about his fashion sense; and you either like him or you don't, either way he's ok with himself.

Yes, he's caught your attention but you watch from a distance and at first glance, you find no attraction, no connection. But there's something about him that keeps you intrigued. And although you can't quite put your finger on it—you just know—so you quietly keep watching.

Then one day, out of nowhere, he connects with you. You find yourself asking questions and second-guessing if it's right. You take a big gulp and begin to overthink things. A part of you tells you to stay away, he may not be suitable for you, after all, you come from different worlds; and both of you so different.

He carries that bad boy image, you know the one that says don't do it—while you—well—you're the girl next door. You're the one with the pretty lipstick, freshly ironed skirt and the handbag that speaks ever so eloquent.

But you find a way to quiet that inner voice and you take a chance. He intrigues you and you've never been one to shy away from piqued curiosity.

In time, you get to know him. He makes you laugh, he makes you think, he makes you see the world in a different realm—he makes you feel seventeen again. And it's at those very moments when you realize stereotypes are wildly misleading.

You see, life has a way of reminding us that a book should never be judged by its cover. And you soon realize his facade, his look, his demeanor, they were all a perception. For what the eyes see isn't always the reality—as he proves to be quite the opposite of what your society-infused imagination perceived. 

He defines the word gentleman to a T. He's the epitome of what you've prayed for, and you ask yourself, could this be real?

You've encountered a man whose cares aren't about your beauty. He isn't concerned about your outward appearance—which sadly most men look for in a woman these days. He wants to get to know you, the woman, which is something you've rarely experienced in other men.

Is he for real?

And oh the irony...

So rugged, yet so soft.

But he is... he's a teddy bear. And proof that we, myself included, need to be more open-minded to meeting new peopleWhen someone so wonderful walks into your life, what a blessing you have been given...

Next page. New chapter. The future.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT A CELL PHONE?

7C

I do my best thinking while running a treadmill, sitting inside a gym sauna, or at 2 AM, staring at a picture of a sitting bunny, when I should be sleeping.

Funny, it isn't until I reach these pivotal moments—at the gym or early in the morning—when I can remember every single detail, of every little thing I need to do the next day, but in my gut, I know there isn't a chance I will remember it all.

But today's treadmill run got me thinking about the common denominator to all of this madness.

No cell phone. No laptop. No iPad.

No electronics of any type or even social media to distract me when I take time away from it all to exercise or be alone.

Isn't it crazy?

We know the things we have to do, the things that bring peace and serenity into our mind, body and soul, like exercise and quiet time, and yet we're so consumed by worldly disruptions that we voluntarily choose the chaos and the noise instead. 

A few months back, my cell phone battery died during a text conversation at the mall. As I frantically reached into my handbag—where by the way I most always keep my charger—I realized I had forgotten it at home.

My instant reaction was that of an exaggerative 16 year old girl who wanted to die. My adrenaline begin to rise and my mind went into immediate withdrawal mode as if though my life depended on it. 

I wish I could tell you my day—that day—continued as normal and I went about my business, but I can't because that would be a lie. Something in me was chomping at the bit to do the unthinkable ...and the unthinkable I did.

I walked into an Apple store simply to purchase a new charger; a cable I didn't need because my home was filled with so many; but at that very moment, I did not care. I didn't care how much it cost or that I had a handful of chargers at home. And for a brief moment, I had even forgotten what I was doing at the mall.

In my mind, I couldn't fathom a few hours without a phone and that in itself is what makes this story (pathetically) sad.

My guilty conscious—however—could, as it derailed my motives.

I convinced myself that buying an unecessary, expensive charger was the stupidest thing I would do that day and graciously walked out; biting my lip as I told myself that everything would be ok. After all what's a few hours without a cell phone, right?

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THIS GENERATION?

Why are we so consumed by the things that are so irrelevant to our wellness. We've become so nonchalant to stupidity—somewhat robotic, if you ask me—and that is a scary thing.

Needless to say, I survived my mall fiasco. Mind over matter they say, and that is truly the God honest truth.

Hindsight, I feel stupid even writing about this mini meltdown; a meltdown over a dead cell phone. Imagine that!

Sometimes we need to reevaluate, reboot and possibly reconsider the importance of all things we preach, and I'm no exception. I'm a work in progress and although every day gets better, I have work to do. 

What would you do without a cell phone?  

NON-NEGOTIABLES

Non-Negotiable needs—or deal-breakers as some call it—are the foundation that drives your relationships. Whether it's your career, your family, a love interest; deal-breakers are the fishbowl to any successful relationship. 

Let me clarify.

When I use the term 'needs', I'm not referencing neediness or clinginess; that's a whole different story; and a sad one at that.

So cheers to strong women who aren't clingy.

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However, non-negotiable needs are the things you REQUIRE in life, for yourself, and from other people. After all, it's your life, you get to pick and choose how people treat you, and what you want and don't want. That's the way it works.

I am not a fan of dating, I've written about this a million times; in fact I cringe at even saying the word. Sometimes I wish I could snap my fingers, and the man God has in-store for me would magically fall from the sky—eliminating all dating woes and mishaps—but that's unrealistic.

One thing I do know for sure is this, the most important four-letter word in dating is:

NEXT!

Dating is overrated and sometimes taken too serious, too soon. Don't be afraid to say bye! Don't overlook what you want and need and require in a relationship. Quickly move on ALONE and get on with your life. Eventually someone will come along, someone who has the qualities you cannot live without—but you will never meet that person if you get stuck with the wrong one. 

Long haul, compromising on your non-negotiables will only make you unhappy, and sadly, it's also the reason many relationships fail. 

Throughout my dating life I've met a lot of wonderful men who were sweet, kind, smart, funny—some of the qualities I love in a man—but they were all missing one or two items on my non-negotiable list.

One guy I dated, in particular, was sexy and fun, witty and brilliant. He was financially stable, super sweet and treated me ever-so-gentlemanly—a great catch for many women—but one of the items on my non-negotiable list is a man who worships the Lord. When I realized he wasn't on board with God and Christian values, I knew I had to walk away. I said goodbye; I was done. 

Many women (and men too) sell out for someone who they believe is perfect. They blindly oversee their core values and beliefs. And I'm here to tell you, there isn't a single human worthy of your self-respect.

Knowing what you want, ahead of time, makes the transition of moving-on, an easy one. As much as I loved what he brought to the table, I was not going to compromise my love for God. 

DEAL-BREAKERS are an absolute necessity.

Make yourself a list of the 10 most valuable dating no-no's. Then take your list of 10 and condense it down to the 5 most crucial in your life.

Your top 5 are your non-negotiables—STICK TO THEM—otherwise, compromising yourself will only put you in a position to fail.