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?).

Fashion Fridays: Steal This Look

I am SOOOOOO happy to be back!  I have loved learning all these cool tips and tricks from my guest posters but boy am I ready to be writing about fashion again!

I had a post already written about tips on cleaning out your closet as I just did some purging again, but then I saw this outfit, and fall is moving into Houston, so I had to post a steal this look instead (closet tips next week!).

Here’s my inspiration:

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I love this outfit for October except I’d darken the jeans a bit, ditch the bracelets, and opt for a little funkier shoe.  Here’s where you can land a few key pieces to pull together your own crimson and charcoal ensemble for fall.

For your accessories, this is a great all-purpose houndstooth scarf for $20 from KerriBren via Etsy.

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And you can either spend money on a pricey handbag like this red tote from Coach or go for low cost (under $30) trendy red tote from Charming Charlie’s.

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The topper is key in my mind, and you can go lighter or darker on the gray (stay away from dove gray) and still hit a home run.  If you live in a warmer climate and don’t have a chilly fall, you could pick up this lightweight draped cardigan from Macy’s which is on sale for around $50.

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Or, for cooler climates, you can don this heavier, and pricier, luxurious drapy cardigan from Nordstrom’s by Vince (and there are several good sweater options by Vince if you want to browse):

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As footwear, you can either go for the dark loafer or even an ankle bootie to modernize this ensemble more.  This Nine West wedge bootie comes in an assortment of colors from DSW at $79 or add some additional texture in black with these loafers by Anne Klein also at DSW (if you like the exact shoe pictured above, its identical twin is by Adrienne Vittadini at DSW).

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As for the other items, look for a straight leg solid dark rinse pair of blue jeans, and top it with a bright red long-sleeved crew shirt. (You can pick one up in a dozen different shades anywhere from Target to Land’s End.)  Then add a simple black stud earring or small gold or silver hoops and waa-laa, you’re ready for the fall!

What piece have you fallen in love with in a store’s fall collection?  Let us in on the scoop!

A Fifth Birthday Thank You

For several years now I’ve been writing love letters to my trio on their birthday.

I get so nostalgic every year – I start looking at their fourth year pictures and notes, the third year, and the second year (which was the first year I had a blog on their birthday!) and am both excited and totally sad that the trio is turning FIVE.

I still want each one to know how madly in love I am with each of them, but I also want to take a moment to say thank you to all of the people who got us to this day – this day where we celebrate five years with these bright, funny, crazy little humans.  So from the bottom of my heart, let me express my thanks in the best way I can cobble together with words – even though they will never be enough:

To the five weeks of NICU nurses, or angels as the case was for us, especially Nurse Melissa who saved our little man on the Monday morning after he was born on Friday afternoon;

To the ten weeks of the most gracious night nurse, Jenny, who saved me and soothed and loved at 2 am and teed each baby up for healthy eating and sleeping habits that remained with us;

To the five years of the most loving and steadfast nanny, Maria, who enabled me to go back to work knowing that the children were loved and cared for and entertained and all the while kept our house in the middle of the melee;

To the now-going-on four years of teachers from MDUMC to Holy Spirit that have taught our children about letters and numbers but more importantly about kindness and faith;

To the fun aunts and uncles (both blood related and otherwise) that have been a constant presence in their lives, from Aunt Catherine taking little bit on innumerable horseback rides, to Uncle Caleb diving in the pool with the boys with his jeans still on, to Aunt Mary coming with zoo memberships and lunches to keep us all sane;

To the grandparents who have loved each child with abandon, from surprise packages from Gaby and Papa, to unlimited swings and tractor rides at the farm with Grandmother and Grandfather, and a Mimi on call 24/7 for five years for everything from middle of the night ER runs to date nights for mommy and daddy;

To the best partner that I can imagine walking this crazy triplet path with, I love you more today than I did the day we got married over eight years ago;

To all the hundreds of people who prayed tirelessly, brought food, did laundry, sent presents, came to parties and baptisms, and all the things I can’t even remember now because I had kids;

And to a God, a Heavenly Father that gives more than we could ever ask or imagine, that heard my cries night after night for years as I begged to be a mommy – that you would give me these three precious gifts moves me to tears maybe more now, now that I know who they are and who they could be, than it did that day in March when we saw those two pink lines on those three pregnancy tests (not even realizing the irony at the time).  There still are no words to express how this was the best singular gift I have ever been given and I only pray every day that I might grow worthy of those with whom You have entrusted me.

S – You keep moving at your own pace my love.  It sets you apart.  It makes you intentional.  Differences are good.  And in a world of increasing attempts to be the same as others, I love how you march to the beat of your own drummer.  You are such a love and I am going to work to be more patient as we learn what God has in store for you.

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L – Don’t ever stop dancing precious one.  Keep your paints out, the music up, and the wind in your hair.  You are bold and brave and will dance through life if you refuse to let people stop you.  Be kind.  Let’s love others well together as we seek God’s confidence in your heart tempered by His compassion.

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W – Allow all of those emotions to grow and mature so that you can keep everyone laughing or care for those in need.  It is rare to see such emotional depth in a young boy, and they will allow you empathy and understanding as you mature.  Let your strong work ethic and discipline also govern the harder emotions to manage as we pray that God will use what you learn and feel to help others.

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Happy Fifth Birthday - You Are The Gifts!