For My Friend Being Stretched

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Dear Friend,

All too often, the stretching leaves you sore and aching.

You wonder why you’re doing all this stretching and if the ones asking you to move so far out beyond your limits even know why they are asking or if they have an achievable goal in mind.

I don’t know why you are being constantly pushed and pulled in this season.  I do know how hard it is.  Because I’ve been in that season too.

And a part of you really just wants to throw in the towel.  To stop working so hard only to be told your best wasn’t good enough.

You want to lead well, and up until recently, you thought you were.  Then this season hit and you aren’t sure of anything anymore.

I don’t know the specifics of your situation or if you are being guided by strong or weak leaders or if this path you’re on is even the right one.

I only know one thing in this leadership push and pull – keep your compass pointed at true north.

If you hold fast to your faith and your values and your core beliefs, the stretching will only test and approve that core.  These challenges will refine you, they will not define you.   {===>Click To Tweet}

I cling to these promises when battling through a season testing my limits and capabilities:

I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Phil 1:6).

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will (Rom 12:2).

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

Believing this, and more, for you today.  Keep stretching.  Hold fast.  Hang on.

We’re in this together.

Fashion Fridays: Cleaning Out Your Closet

I try to seriously organize and clean my closet out once a year.  Truth be told, I should follow my friend’s advice and give something away every time I acquire something new (but I don’t do that!).

So here’s a few tips that I use when I try to clean out my closet.

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I’ll tell you right now that I don’t follow the “haven’t worn in a year” rule.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I am working to get back into some clothes that don’t fit right now and they will certainly be modern and work appropriate if (when!) I get back into them.

These rules disregard the time wearing rule and the size of the label and focus on a few key issues that plague every closet.

1.  The fabric should go.  There’s a few reasons the fabric in a piece of clothing requires you to eliminate it.

If it’s worn or faded looking it should go into the trash or a second-hand shop.

If the fabric is poor quality (see this black and white shirt) and detracts from the overall sophistication of the outfit by cheapening it.  (This doesn’t have to do with cost but some fabric, regardless of cost, looks cheap and you missed that fact when making an impulse buy.)

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Finally, if the fabric doesn’t wear well you should let go of the clothing.  These pants pictured are a great example.  They were super crumply linen khaki trousers and I always looked disheveled when I wore them so they needed to go.

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2.  The top, bottom, or outfit has a pesky quirk.

You may pass over an otherwise lovely wardrobe item because of a weird tick it has – it lays crooked on your neckline, it always folds in an awkward place, or as in the case of this gorgeous pink blouse (y’all, I loved this fabric so much) the buttons will not stay buttoned no matter what I tried.  If the outfit won’t work well no matter how much you love the color or fabric, you’re not going to wear it or you will fidget while you wear it and undercut your confidence, so release it to the land of secondhand clothing.

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3.  It’s seen its fashion peak and is now beyond its prime.

I don’t know if you get sentimental about clothes, I mean they do have a story to tell, but it may be time to rely on the photos and let it go.  An old sorority enemy sweet friend posted a #TBT picture yesterday featuring a lovely yellow and black shorts/vest/tie ensemble I was wearing in my early ’90s college days, and it was glaringly dated and donated many a moons ago.  But some items are a little less obvious.  These are two suits I donated because the pinstripe was too visibly prominent making it look super matchy-matchy.  The days of the uber matchy suit has gone and while a subtle navy pinstripe suit will always be a classic, these are past their prime.

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It may help to bring a third person in to give you some perspective – make sure it’s a friend who will be brutally honest with them and give them yummy snacks or wine for their service in the name of fashion.  Everyone needs a friend who will give you honest opinions.  You don’t have to take all their recommendations, but at least then you’ll more objectively consider what should go.

Where should you donate those things that can be repurposed like these items I cleaned out?  In Houston (and many metropolitan regions) you have so many good options.  For work clothes, I generally bypass Goodwill and donate to Dress for Success or The Women’s Home.  So do a little good and make some space in your wardrobe – you know it’s time!

The Dream Giver

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Sometimes we have to be willing to give something up to God in order to get it back from God…God will test us to make sure the gift isn’t more important than the Gift Giver, the dream isn’t more important to us than the Dream Giver. He’ll test us to make sure it’s not an idol.  If it is, that dream, gift, or desire might need to die so that it can be resurrected. But God often takes things away to give them back so that we know they are gifts to be stewarded for his glory.

Mark Batterson, Draw The Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge

It finally arrived.  The professionally edited video of a 25 minute keynote address I gave to a large women’s conference in May.  I was so excited.  I’d been visiting with an executive coach who speaks nationally, and she shared that was the piece missing from my website.  At long last, the missing piece.

I love to speak at conferences.  I put on my game face (aka heavier make up than I’d wear out of the house) and my game uniform (which nearly always involves stockings – yuck!), and I head out with queasy stomach and rattling nerves.  But then I get up on stage to speak and I love it.  The endorphins kick in and the audience engages, and I’m on a high for hours afterwards.

Won’t you join me over at God-sized Dreams to read the rest of the story?

Leadership “Presence”

Recently I started looking through a book by Sylvia Ann Hewlett called Executive Presence : The Missing Link Between Merit and Success.  I loved one of the summary lines from the book: Know your values.  Bring strong talented people on your team.  Work with people who complement you.

Isn’t that the key to leadership?  Setting out, and holding fast to, your values, and then building a team that propel you further than you could go alone buoyed by the different strengths in the team.  So that drew me in.  Then Hewlett started outlining what executive presence is and how it enables you to bring strong people around you and serve in more and more complex leadership roles.

The book offers three key elements to having executive presence which set a leader apart:

  • Gravitas or how you act.  This means you don’t shy away from hard questions.  You exude confidence and competence – marrying the ability to be tough with the ability to have empathy.

 

  • Communication or how you share your message.  This is everything from your words to how you walk, shake hands, sit and stand, body language, expression, etc.  This affects what your audience (whether 1 or 1,000) hears and remembers.  Hewlett recommends you learn to read a room – talking longer than your audience can listen diminishes your ability.  Learn how to make small talk and watch for nervous ticks that detract from your presence.

 

  • Appearance or how you look.  Hewlett reminds us that people do judge a book by its cover, and recommends you assess your façade before assessing gravitas or communication.  This isn’t your attractiveness – it’s your grooming.  This is looking polished and professional.  Dress both for the job you have and the one you want.   Find someone you trust to provide honest feedback on your attire and the image you project.

I’m enjoying these reminders about the multi-faceted aspects of executive presence and am reminded once again that it is a critical component to achieve distinguished and distinctive leadership.

A Rootin’ Tootin’ Fifth Celebration!

This Saturday, we feted my newest five year olds.

Since we didn’t throw a birthday party last year, I wondered if we’d be able to settle on a theme that boys and girl could get behind equally, yet it came surprisingly easy:  They wanted to be cowboys and cowgirls and have a Western Birthday Bash!

I LOVE to entertain.  I was so excited to have a theme I could do so much with that I decided our best option was to host their fifth birthday party at our home.  One, I hadn’t created the guest list so I didn’t realize how packed it would be.  Two, I got tired of bouncy houses and parks pushing us out in a certain time that this gave me flexibility.  Three, I knew Bray could bring in barbeque from the restaurant and hay from the farm and we could really enhance our western backdrop.

I planned this party for over TWO months.  I really really love planning parties. It’s one of the dozen careers I’d have in a parallel life.  I found custom invitations from Etsy and she did an excellent job.  Then I pinned a bunch of ideas from Pinterest and I pulled ideas from past parties I had done like Lillie’s tea party.

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The day came and was GORGEOUS.  I was concerned for a while but the cold front blew through and God delivered one of the prettiest days of the year for the party.

I installed a balloon walkway in reds and blues which were the colors that I used throughout the house for decorations – both girl and boy appropriate and the leading colors of bandanas (another key decoration).  Bray brought home hay bales from the farm which we lined the front yard with and tied pretend barbed wire between the bales since I wanted to keep the kids safe in our front yard which faces a busy street.  By our shade trees we installed a red and blue horseshoe game for our would-be-cowboys to play (Station 1).  I found a door poster I could put their names on and lots of decals for the house along with these simple little faux wagon wheels that filled in the space.

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The front entry had bandanas for each child, a gift bag to fill with treats to come, and a flower-filled boot:

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Station No. 2 was a dress up station complete with ride on horses, cowboy hats, sheriff badges, and masks:

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Station No. 3 was a Cowboy Creates art station – there were three projects to chose from: design your own bandanas, create your own Western scene with cowboy stickers and backdrop, or color your own wanted poster (these were the adorable creation from a woman on Etsy as were the crayons in the shapes of cowboy hats, boots, and horses):

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We had a watering hole station for thirsty cowkids with tea and lemonade in dispensers as well as ice chests full of juice and water for kids and soda and water for adults, and then we set up our own chuck wagon buffet full of yummy barbeque (which was a bigger hit with the adults than with the kids).

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Since we ended up with over 50 people in attendance, I was glad that the fourth station was rented – a Big Tex cowboy bounce house that became the main attraction, although the boot piñata was certainly a close second in the line up:

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Tiara Cakes did a gorgeous job with the cake – I sent them all these images from Pinterest along with the invitation and said design something that works for triplets.  Not only was the cake beautiful, but it tasted super yummy.  I think the kids were shooting for fierce cowboys here, but it came off a little wonky:

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It was such fun for the kids, but I don’t know that momma is going to sign up for anything this big again (famous last words, right?).