Category Archives: Trust

My Reading List – Spring 2017


I got excited about so many books in the spring months, that I ended up starting way too many, causing me to only finish a few. I’ve shared the rating and summary for the ones that I finished, but I look forward to sharing a much longer summer list in early October. You can also look back at my Fall/Winter list that had some of the best books that I’ve read in over a year.

My Rating Scale
5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with most of the content and found some fantastic nuggets throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

4-Star Reads
And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick
One of the most honest books I’ve ever read on grief is by Sonali Deraniyagala who lost her husband, two sons, and mother and father, while vacationing on the coast of Sri Lanka when the 2004 tsunami hit. Kate shares her own story of suffering, with the 3-year journey through childhood cancer and subsequent loss of her daughter. What I love about Kate’s book is that she didn’t shy away from showing her moments of despair, just as Sonali did, but Kate brought it back to finding hope and turning her suffering into joy. Kate’s book is a must-read for anyone who has ever experienced grief and loss.

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
The profoundness of Ann’s book is found in a challenge to change our perspective about our “thorn in the flesh”. She shows us the benefits of embracing it, rather than looking at it as a curse, “we can be brokers of healing exactly where we have known the most brokenness.” This book needs to be read slowly, and in small bites, because her words hit deep. It is intense and beautiful. Her previous book, One Thousand Gifts, is definitely one of my top 10 favorite books.

2-Star Reads
The Harvey Girls by Lesley Poling-Kempes
This is an interesting historical read about the life of the women who worked at the restaurants and hotels along the first railroad lines in the western U.S. If you’ve ever been to Gallup or Raton, New Mexico, and wondered how or why in the world a town wound up there, this book will provide you with the answer. The testimonials were great, but the historical aspects were pretty dry. When it comes to looking at different women in history who have influenced how we work and live, The Girls of Atomic City, is one of my favorites.

My Next Review
Below are the books on my current reading list; my October review will include as many of them as possible, and maybe a few others:
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Learning to Lead by Fred Smith
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
Business Boutique by Christy Wright
On the Clock by Tim Enochs
Mastering Leadership by Robert Anderson and Williams Adams
The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry
Do Over by Jon Acuff
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

What was one of your 5-star books over the past few months?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Spring 2016

5982837164_aa57b8bd61

Reading List – Spring 2016

I didn’t have any 5-star reads over the spring months (my bar is pretty high to be rated a 5), but there were a couple of really great books that I would highly recommend.

Below are my ratings for them, as well as a brief summary of how each might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

4-Star Reads

The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud
In many senses, Dr. Cloud tells us what we already know, relationships have the power to help us be healthier and more successful. Where he goes beyond this common knowledge is by breaking it down as far as how power is created through specific kinds of connection. I particularly like his perspective on competition and peak performance. He included a great quote from Larry Page that my clients will hear me quote regularly, “Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting.” This is a must-read for business owners and executives, and is one that most everyone can learn something from.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
I am a firm believer that we are our own worst enemy, and that we often do not reach our potential because we are holding ourselves back in some way for some reason. Holiday believes that outcomes such as these are the result of our ego getting the better of us. In his new book he teaches us how to not let this happen, but instead be “humble in our aspirations”, “gracious in our success”, and “resilient in our failures”. There is something in this book for everyone. You can also read my review of his book The Obstacle is the Way here.

Becoming an Agile Leader by Victoria Swisher
Great book that I will recommend to all of my clients who are managing/leading people. Swisher covers topics that are applicable to every leader: self-awareness, mental agility, people agility, change agility, and results agility. She provides a fantastic overview of what each of those mean, and then provides very tactical ideas of how to sharpen our skills in each of those areas and how to apply them in our business and personal lives.

3-Star Reads

Teach Me to Pray by Andrew Murray
I’ve actually been reading this book for nearly a year and finally finished it. Murray’s words are rich and can only be taken a bite at a time. I started it with the desire to be a more prayerful person and he helped me on that journey, beginning with the beautiful admonition to dwell alone with God, “Let the place of secret prayer become to me the most beloved place on earth.”

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
Personal finances are an area that I lack the depth of knowledge and understanding that I desire for myself, so I am constantly trying to learn from those who have seemingly mastered it, rather than allowing it master to them. My favorite section in the book provides ten ways to save, beginning with these: 1) Stop trying to impress people. 2) Don’t go shopping. 3) Live within your means. Overall, I would say that this book has several very helpful areas, but may be a bit too cumbersome for the average person (though worthwhile if you are disciplined to work through the recommended steps).

2-Star Reads

Follow Me by David Platt
I’ve been wanting to read something by Platt for a few years, and I think I either picked the wrong book to start with, or maybe I just don’t resonate with overall his style and philosophy. There were a few ideas and insights that I really appreciated, like his perspective about financial giving and his reminders about God’s desire to be in relationship with us, and I do love this quote, “Our souls long for the presence of God.” I should note that his Amazon rating is a 4.7 with nearly 450 reviews, so I am in the minority on not loving this book.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that I am currently reading. I will post a blog in October that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Under New Management by David Burkus
Do Over by Jon Acuff
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick

What was one of your 5-star books this Spring?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Winter 2016

book-691407_1280

Reading is my happy place, and the books I read during the first few months of this year packed a punch; some of my all-time favorite reads.

Below are my ratings for them, as well as a brief summary of how each might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Ann’s poetic way of writing, which is the complete opposite of what I usually read, had me hooked from page one. I am awed and inspired by the way she views life. I actually read this book twice, back to back, and am currently re-reading it again. You cannot read this book without being deeply compelled to become a more grateful person.

Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt
You may be tempted to think that I only listed this as a 5-star read because it is written by the owner of the company I work for, but in all reality, I chose to join Building Champions because I am in complete agreement with Daniel’s philosophy: our lives are more full and rich when we live intentionally. Daniel and Michael’s book walks us through how to proactively live life on purpose so that every area of our lives is as meaningful as we desire it to be. Learn a little more through this interview with Forbes magazine, or through this podcast with Dale Partridge.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Wow! Talk about teamwork and perseverance. This is an incredible story that will not only get your adrenaline pumping, but will remind you that teams that work together are able to truly move mountains, and that victories are sweeter when someone else is victorious with you.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Louis Zamperini’s story is truly the epitome of resilience. My own personal courage was bolstered every time Louis encountered a new, and often more horrifying, situation. When you’re tempted to think that you can’t overcome a certain challenge or obstacle, look to Louis’s example to give you confidence to carry on.

4-Star Reads

Scary Close by Donald Miller
This life is a waste if we’re not going to live it as the person who we were created us to be. Donald’s book talks about his journey of becoming real, of pulling off the mask. His story is an encouragement to all of us to become more self-aware, and to not let fear, shame, guilt, or any other feelings keep us from living life as we were intended to.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Of all of the characters in this epic story, it is the life of Tom Smith that intrigues me most. Tom’s ability to help Seabiscuit actualize the potential that only Tom saw in him is a thing of beauty; nothing less than art in motion. It is a reminder that each of us have a gift that we are meant to share.

3-Star Reads

Deep Change by Robert Quinn
Not an easy read, but some good wisdom for those of us who have areas in our lives that we are working on and expecting transformational change. He also has a field guide with introspective exercises that are intended to help facilitate the desired change.

2-Star Reads

The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley
“Choosing the wrong path in life will cost you precious years.” Andy’s book identifies why it is important to follow Daniel Harkavy’s outlined method in Living Forward for how to live a life of intention and purpose.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that I am currently reading. I will post a blog in July that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Do Over by Jon Acuff
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Under New Management by David Burkus
Becoming an Agile Leader by Victoria Swisher

What was one of your 5-star books this Winter?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

Why I Failed To Meet The 31-Day 500-Word Challenge

Last month I joined with a group of over 1,500 people who sought to meet a challenge, issued by author and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins, to write at least 500 words each of the 31 days of January. The first 22 days were a success, and then the 23rd of January arrived, and I didn’t write again for the rest of the month.

I was upset with myself and actually cried about not completing the challenge, which is an unusual response for me. My pride was wounded as I thought about not wanting to be labeled as a quitter or as someone who didn’t finish something she started. I thought about the excuses that I could give for why I didn’t finish and then I thought about ignoring it altogether and not even drawing attention to the fact that I had failed to meet the challenge. But, over the last two weeks I have come face to face with the real reason why I failed and realized that if I don’t share it, that I will not just be failing myself but I will be failing you as well.

In the Old Testament of the Bible we are introduced to Samson, who rules as a judge over Israel for over twenty years. We are told, even before he is conceived, that Samson will be used by God, that his life is committed unto God. Judges 13:24-25 tell us that Samson is blessed by God and that the Spirit of the Lord is moving on his life. Throughout his early adulthood years, we are shown several instances where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson. It becomes clear, at least to us as the reader, that Samson’s strength comes from the Lord, that it is a gift from God to him. It is not until Samson tells Delilah his secret about his hair never having been cut, and she deceives him and has his hair cut and hands him over to the Philistines, that he too learns that his strength was really from the Lord and was not his own.

In not completing the 31-day writing challenge, I was brought face to face with my own strength and its source, just as Samson was. I’m in no way claiming that I have been blessed by God in the way that Samson was, but I have realized that when I tried to write through my own strength, through my own power, that I failed miserably.

During the writing challenge I started by committing each writing session to God and really seeking His direction and guidance as to what to write about. Then, somewhere in the process I started to try and write through my own strength based on my own thoughts, ideas, and observations, and on January 23rd I fell flat on my face. It took about a week for me to even be able to recognize that this was the real reason for my failure. I moved from a place of depending on God for strength and for the words to write, to depending on my own strength and writing based on what I felt like I wanted to write, and that is how I failed. I allowed pride and arrogance to drive me and failed to acknowledge God as my source.

I imagine (and hope) that I’m not the only one who has ever been the cause of her failure; how have you done so in your life?

How Is Your Footing?

A friend of mine made the decision to leave the company she works for, but she was struggling with the timing of giving her notice because she still had a number of commitments that she had made to the organization and didn’t know if she needed to wait to give her notice until she had completed the work for those commitments. Though she was ready to move on, she felt in her heart that the testimony and witness she would leave without completing those commitments would be a bad one and that it would likely damage or un-do any seeds that had been successfully planted during her tenure with the company. She felt that completing the commitments would prove her integrity and credibility and thus strengthen her witness of the love of God and the faithfulness of God’s people. She was fearful about the potential effects of the decision; she didn’t want the delay in giving her notice to interfere with interviews and other opportunities that might present themselves in the coming days. She knew that her fears had some legitimacy but she also knew that since it was a God-led decision to leave her company that she could trust God to orchestrate the timing perfectly with what He had as the next step for her.

Psalm 37:23 tells us that God is not only walking with us in our decisions but that we can trust Him to order and establish our footholds, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (NIV).

The words from this scripture come from King David, who knew all too well a situation similar to my friend’s. When King David was just an adolescent, somewhere between 11-15 years old, he learned that he was to become king, but immediately after receiving that information he went back to being a shepherd for his father’s flock, and then he spent years in the king’s palace and was hunted by King Saul because Saul wanted to bring death upon the one who was to take over his throne. It was not until David was about 30 years old that he actually became king and fulfilled the anointing that was spoken of him at least 15 years prior.

A similar situation can be found in the life of Mary. Mary, a teenage young woman who had never known a man, accepted God’s call upon her life that she was to be the one woman chosen from all of womankind to give birth to, and raise, the Messiah. Certainly she accepted the charge as any of us hope that we would have, but think about all that she didn’t know at the time of her affirmative response. She didn’t know that her own family and community would not believe that Christ was who He claimed to be and would turn against Him. She didn’t know that He would be mocked and spat upon and that she would watch Him die a criminal’s death. Though scripture doesn’t say specifically, we can safely assume that during the 40 days that Jesus spent on earth between the resurrection and the ascension that Mary actually spent time with Jesus. When she told Gabriel, “May it be as you have said”, she probably never thought she would walk and talk with her son as the Risen and Living Son of God.

Just as Mary and David did, my friend chose to believe that God has a firm hold on her future, even if she can’t see the end result quite yet.

If you believed the words of Psalm 37:23 to be true for your own life, how might you live differently?

I Have Something Even Better In Mind For You

2013 was a year of changes and transition for me. The owners of the healthcare company I worked for decided it was time to change out the executive leadership team and let go of the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the CFO. And, since I worked directly for the CEO as his Chief of Staff, I was given the option of taking another position in the company or leaving altogether.

It was a difficult decision to make. There were loyalties to consider. There were bills to be paid. There were friendships that I knew would end; people I would never see again. There were projects still to be finished and work still to be done. There was a doctoral dissertation waiting to be worked on.

It took about a week to muster up the courage to make the decision, to do what I knew in my heart God was calling me to do, to move on.

I thought I had it all planned out, as to what would happen next, the timeline of when I would get my dissertation proposal finished and start working on actively seeking a new job, and keep everything moving forward.

The time came and multiple fantastic opportunities came my way, but with each one there just was something about them that wasn’t quite right, that despite my eagerness and my desperation, didn’t settle right in my spirit. In some situations the decision ended up being made for me and in other situations I’m the one who drew things to a close.

There were moments of panic. In one such moment a dear pastor friend of mine sent me a note that said, “Remember, you are on the potter’s wheel, and as you are turned on the wheel, the Master Potter is molding and shaping you into the image that He created you to be before the foundation of the world. There are people that your life is destined to help. A purpose your life has yet to fulfill. Though the direction you are to go right now may not be clear, trust that as one door closes that another better and more useful door will open. It is when we are boxed into a corner that we operate at the height of our creativity.”

His words really helped me to “turn a corner” in how I was viewing my situation. I was able to move into a place of greater peace, really believing that God could be trusted with my life, my whole life, every aspect of my life. I began to look at things through God’s eyes, with bigger vision and a deepened perspective.

Author Kristen Strong says that God looks at us in moments, like what I was going through last year and says, “You’re so important to me, I have something even better in mind for you.”

I am still on the potter’s wheel, but now I look upon that position through eyes of humble gratitude rather than eyes of fear.

I wonder…what has the potter’s wheel done to your heart?

Patient Endurance

We’ve all been there. That place of having a vision, having something that we feel compelled to do, called to do, and feeling like it all needs to come to fruition now, that there shouldn’t be any delay. There are certain things that we know have a timeline attached to them that we can’t really speed up no matter how hard we try, like getting a degree or having a baby. But then there are other things that we feel like we can make happen in our own prescribed and desired time, like finding our dream job or getting a promotion or starting our own company or building our clientele.

Sarah Young reminds us that sometimes we create more work and more stress for ourselves when we try to “make things happen before their times have come.” She says that one way we learn of God’s sovereignty is through the timing of events in our lives and that we are better off if we ask for God’s guidance in our lives on a moment-by-moment basis. There is a surrender involved in this that can be described as anything but easy.

Let’s think about the life of Joseph, from the Old Testament.

John Maxwell indicates that Joseph’s life is an illustration of the Law of Process, where time and experience were necessary, but ultimately led to the place where Joseph grew into “the leader God desired him to be.” But that process involved Joseph being put into a pit by his brothers, then being sold to traders, who then sold him to Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. We learn that Joseph found favor with Potiphar and was put as overseer of Potiphar’s house and belongings. But while in this role, Potiphar’s wife made sexual advances toward Joseph and when he refused her she publicly accused him of trying to sleep with her. Potiphar believed his wife’s lie and had Joseph put in prison. While in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two other prisoners, the Pharaoh’s Chief Butler and Chief Baker. As Joseph said would come to pass, the Chief Butler was let out of prison but the Chief Baker was executed. The Chief Butler forgot all about Joseph until the Pharaoh had a dream and needed an interpreter; the Chief Butler then remembered Joseph and his ability to accurately interpret dreams. The Pharaoh called for Joseph and Joseph told him the meaning of his dream and advised the Pharaoh concerning his dream. The Pharaoh saw Joseph’s advice as being good and brought Joseph in to be governor of the land of Egypt, to bring his kingdom through the seven years of famine that Joseph saw from the Pharaoh’s dream. During the famine, Egypt was the only area to have bread and it just so happened that Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt seeking bread. They came before Joseph, not knowing it was their brother, and Joseph tested them until he saw humility in them. He then revealed himself to them and vowed to care for them through the remainder of the famine and thereafter, because God had brought him to the place in the process where he was the leader that God desired for him to become.

If we think back to when Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers, he was surely thinking it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to him and that he would have given anything for the circumstances to be different.

Just as with Joseph, we usually don’t know where God is sending us or what the timing is for certain things in our lives, but as Hebrews 10:36 states, we are called to have patient endurance.

Where might God be calling you to have patient endurance?

Trust – The Competitive Advantage of 2014 ??

While working on my Ph.D., one of the research studies I did was about organizational trust and the impact of trust on an employee’s commitment to their organization and their desire to remain with the organization. Ninety-six people from one nationwide healthcare provider participated in my study with the results confirming what seems to be common sense: trust between an employee and their leader/manager does have a positive impact on the employee’s commitment to the organization and their desire to remain with the organization.

I haven’t done any other studies pertaining to trust, but I am always curious to hear peoples’ thoughts on organizational trust and it’s actually come up in conversation a couple of times in the last few weeks.

In one conversation I had with a friend in software development, he shared with me about how he loves his job, and the organization that he works for, but that one colleague of his, with whom he has to work very closely, is someone he simply cannot trust. He said that what started as the other person not following through on his word in one instance has now become a repeated pattern, so much so that my friend now documents conversations so that he has a paper trail to fall back on, if necessary. Though my friend is still committed to the organization and to his job, his inability to trust his co-worker has definitely soured his overall perspective about the organization.

Another conversation I had was with a woman who was with the juvenile justice system for over 30 years. She talked about how she and her two co-workers trusted and respected one another very much. She said that they were capable of having very heated discussions that could go on for hours but that they would always reach the resolution that was best for the organization. They each knew that the welfare of the organization, and its people, came before anything else and they trusted each other to get to that outcome, even if it meant that they had to really hash things out in order to get there.

In a recent post on LinkedIn, a friend of mine wrote that trust is the competitive advantage for 2014. He indicated that the equation for trust is: Credibility + Competence + Character = Trust. As I’ve thought about my friend’s assertion, I know in my heart of hearts that he is right. Trust, in our leaders and in our organization, is something that can truly propel an organization better, faster, and further than anything else can, but the pessimist in me, the one who worked for a company owned by the 2nd largest P.E. firm in the U.S. says, “but will it?” It seems to me that only the values-driven organizations will believe in my friend’s assertion enough to work to make it a reality, while everyone else leaves trust as that common sense thing that doesn’t actually get a seat at the table.

I wonder, what do you think?

Setting Goals For God

Haggai 2:19 says that we can count on a blessing from God even before a seed has been sown. This means the blessing is unconditional and not contingent upon any action or behavior from us. This means the blessing is not transactional. This means the blessing is free.

Doesn’t this just make you sigh with great relief and cause a feeling of lightness, like a great weight is being lifted from you?

Sadly, because many cultures, including our own business cultures, are centered on the “you must give in order to receive” mentality, we have automatically conditioned ourselves into believing that our relationships, including our relationship with God must also be one that is transaction based; that effort is required from us in order for a blessing from God to be given to us.

But again, let’s look at Haggai. He speaks to the Hebrews after they have returned to their homeland following the Babylonian exile and explicitly tells them, “Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yet yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.”

The Hebrews had grown weary, unfocused, tired, lacking in direction, and forgetful of the vision that God had given them before the exile. God wanted to reassure them, through Haggai, that despite these things they could still count on God to bless them, to be there for them, to provide for them with the resources they needed to be revived and restored.

The same is true for us today. In every aspect of our lives, whether it’s physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, emotionally, relationally, or vocationally, we can count on God to bless us.

In his New Year’s Eve message, Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, counted down to the New Year by declaring 52 things that he is counting on God to do in his life and in the lives of his church’s attendees in 2014. Some of the things that he listed were: to protect us, to direct us, to change us, to amaze us, to provide for us, to embolden us, to heal us, to pursue us, to forgive us, and to be with us.

Since I’m not one for resolutions, but I do set goals for myself, I started thinking about why not do something similar to what Pastor Steven is doing and set goals for God; things that I want to be able to count on God for this year.

So, I started a list of my goals for God. Some of them relate to my career aspirations, some of them to my husband and our marriage, some of them to my general well-being, and some of them to my calling in life.

So, how about you? If you believed what God told Haggai to tell the Hebrews, and you knew you could count on a blessing from God, what goal would you set for Him?

Letting God In On Your Goals

I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I guess it always felt phony, like I was trying to reform, conform, or transform myself; attempting to make myself someone new, someone different, someone who I naturally wasn’t. I also didn’t want to be labeled as part of the crowd who gives up on their resolutions within two weeks, since statistics show that is what happens to most people.

I have, however, always been a goal-oriented person, or maybe just a downright stubborn person. When I’ve set my mind on something, I’ve always gotten it done, made it happen. But, I’ve struggled with this because while I like the feeling of achieving my goals, I don’t want to be so ambitious, so driven, so focused, so type-A, that I put blinders on and close myself off from what God has for me.

Desiring to remain a goal-oriented person, but also be inside of God’s will in my goals and endeavors, last year (2013) I decided to try something new for the goals that I set for myself. I wrote down my goals, as have done for the past several years, using the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) format that many highly successful people attribute their success to, and recommend as the way that leads to the highest percentage of achievement. But, in setting my goals, I did something different that ended up bringing me more peace of mind and satisfaction than in years past; I set two goals for each goal, an attainable goal and a stretch goal. For example, I wanted to lose weight and I wanted to lose it in time for my 20th high school reunion. So, I set one number that I knew I would be excited to reach and that was definitely possible, and I set a second number that I knew I would be on cloud nine if I could reach, but wouldn’t be discouraged if I didn’t reach it. An additional example is that 2013 was the year of completing my doctorate degree; there was no way I was going to let the year come to a close without having defended my dissertation. In January when I started writing my dissertation I didn’t know all that God had in store for me for the year, so I set two timeframe goals, one that would bring me absolute delight if I could reach it, but that would definitely be a stretch, and one that was more easily attainable but would still have me reach my overall goal of completing my Ph.D. in 2013.

While I did not reach the stretch goal in either one, I did reach the attainable goal in both. I was victorious and could acknowledge and celebrate my successes in both goals, knowing that I had committed my goals to the Lord and released my hold on the reins, so that He could guide me through my goals from start to finish. The experiences allowed me to know that God cared about me and that He could be trusted to bring the desires of my heart to pass.