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Archive for October, 2016

Dear Friends,

Have you ever felt inspired? How often do you feel the inspiration within you? Today is one of those days I feel inspired to write, and write, and write… I have so many ideas in my head coming from my heart that I feel I’m going to explode if I don’t get them out. So to start today, I decided to look up the word “inspire” and it means several things: “to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence; to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.); to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.; to influence or impel; to animate, as an influence, feeling, thought, or the like, does; to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence; to guide or control by divine influence” (Dictionary.com). There are some key words here: “to fill,” “animating,” “feeling,” and “influence.” I picked those words because when I feel inspired, is because I was influenced by something I did or read, or by someone I heard that triggered feelings and thoughts that animated me. Words were sown into my heart that produced a fire within me that I could not contain.

Today I simply want to inspire you and motivate you to get inspired! I find there are certain circumstances, some activities that produce strong moments that trigger inspiration in my life. I think a lot before I start a new project, have a new idea, or respond to a complex problem to solve. During that brainstorming time, I create different scenarios in my mind that could be possible solutions to the problem at hand. Or I brainstorm about brand new ideas. For example, ideas for a new book include questions such as: Why do I want to write this book? Who will it help? Who would my audience be? Can I speak about that subject to encourage people to read the book? If I have answers to all these questions, I write down the idea/concept for the new book and put it aside until I get to do it.

Maybe my early training on computer programming helped me to think a lot first, then organize my thoughts in a logical way, and ask a million questions before starting something. That process causes me to create an organized, well thought out product (or project) in the end. But overall, I find I need time to think, and from thinking comes the inspiration. Therefore, I need to ensure I have the time allocated to think.

Our lives these days are filled with business instead of inspiration. No time to think. That’s why I believe inspiration has become a rare treasure that can rekindle our lives.

So if you want to get inspired in your life, here are a few things that work for me that may help you too:

  • Find those circumstances – a place, certain music, specific scenery – that takes you to a place of inspiration.
  • Make the time to simply think. Examples of how you can make that time could be going for a walk, while you drive instead of being on the phone, or allocating time once a week just to think.
  • Write your thoughts immediately when you feel inspired. Otherwise, you will lose the thoughts and ideas if you wait until later. Keep a pad of paper and pen in your car, next to your bed, in the bathroom, etc. that is accessible on a moment’s notice. Keep a recorder in the car or record your thoughts in your smartphone as they come.
  • Volunteer to do a project you’ve never done at work. This will get your juices of inspiration going when thinking about how to do something new. The project could be something as simple as volunteering to create the PowerPoint file for a group presentation. If you don’t know how to use this software, it will be a great opportunity to learn. Be careful to not overcommit though and be strategic about the type of projects you choose to do.
  • Take a class at the community center on something you’ve always wanted to do (i.e. dancing, swimming, computers, writing, pottery, carpentry, etc.).
  • Redecorate your house or a room in your house. Doing so will make you think of new ways to arrange the furniture, paint the walls in a new color, and find ways to be creative to do it inexpensively.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising clears your mind, gets rid of stress hormones, helps you sleep better, and all of those things in turn help you become inspired easier.
  • Attend conferences in your industry so you can listen to inspirational and motivational speakers. Their job is to inspire you, precisely! Also attending conferences makes you feel you are part of something bigger than yourself and helps you to not feel alone.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to ask God for inspiration. Sometimes we need “divine inspiration” to get through a special time in our lives or to get something done. Read the Bible as it is filled with inspirational thoughts and promises (i.e. Proverbs and Psalms are my favorite books.).

I hope my blog today inspires you to find your inspirational sources so you can possess this rare treasure – inspiration – and live a fulfilling life.

 

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Dear Friends,

Yesterday I spoke to a group of professors at an annual conference in Scottsdale, AZ. The event planner, who is also the owner of the organization, wanted me to give an inspirational talk on the topics of leadership and talents, so we picked one of my presentations called “Leading by Maximizing Talents.” Many of the participants were also going to present a workshop at the conference on various topics. In fact, there were 72 presenters and I was their keynote speaker. When I first received the list of all the attendees describing their topics, I was intimidated after reading that they all had the initials “Ph. D” after their names. I felt inadequate and not worthy of this audience knowing that I just finished my college degree in 2011! I felt I didn’t have enough education to be addressing this highly educated and smart group of people. So I prayed and gave my fears and feelings of inadequacy to the Lord.

That same day, I received an e-newsletter from my friends at Time to Revive ministry and as the writer shared her feelings of inadequacy when she had her third baby girl, I felt as if these words were directly from the Lord to me. She wrote:

“He’s (God) taught me that I don’t have to be in control or feel able, but that I am adequate and able in HIM. In my weakness, HE IS STRONG.

This week I read through Moses’ life. As the Lord calls Moses to lead the Israelites, Moses says, “Who am I, that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And the Lord says, “Surely, I WILL BE WITH YOU.” (Exodus 3:11-12)

It’s such a strong promise. Moses told the Lord, “I have never been eloquent…for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” And the Lord said, “Who has made man’s mouth?…Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even, WILL BE WITH your mouth and teach you what you are to say.” (Exodus 3:10-12).

The LORD is WITH US. Even with our mouths. He cares that much for us!”… “We are ready to walk through whatever lies ahead on the calendar. And we believe that GOD IS WITH US, in all of our inabilities and inadequacies!”

Even though she was referring to her particular situation, I felt as if this message was just for me and it applied to my particular situation. That’s how the Lord works in my life sometimes and I recognize it. At the same time, I shared my feelings of inadequacy with one of my brothers in Christ and asked him to pray for me. He then sent me this note:

“You are adequate with the Lord. When you stand up to speak, you are the authority there. You are speaking to this group because you have a unique story to tell. I will be praying for you. God is with you and you are so powerful because of Him and because of your unique journey and talent.”

Wow! Those words really touched me and helped me. I am so grateful for these brothers and sisters who pray for me and push me to believe and trust God in every circumstance. I went to speak to this conference with renewed confidence knowing that God was with me and that I was prepared. I did my part, now it was time for God to do His part. The presentation went perfect and the professors all received me with open arms. They loved it and the feedback I received was excellent. You see, I had forgotten that teachers, although they are highly educated individuals, they are also warm, welcoming, and loving people who love to teach and who love people. I reminded them that teaching is both a gift and a calling. They reminded me that teachers are warm, loving people at heart. And God reminded me that He is always in control. He reminded me that I must go wherever He sends me because He knows better. He knows where people need to hear my message.

So I walked away with a happy heart knowing I had done my part in delivering an inspiring and encouraging message. The professors walked away inspired and refreshed knowing they are following their calling and that we need them to educate their students.

Thank you to all my friends who pray for me. And thank you God for reminding me of who you are—a loving Father who guides every step of my path.

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Dear Friends,

Today I want to start by sharing one of my favorite scriptures:

Isaiah 55: 8-9 (NLT)

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Two years ago my daughter got married to a wonderful man. And they moved away to Iowa, five hours away from home. I’ve always had a great relationship with my daughter. In fact, she’s one of my best friends. We used to meet weekly for our coffee or dinner at the Mall of America. Sometimes we just talked the entire night, other times we shopped, and yet other times, we only walked the mall while chatting. We both looked forward to our mom-daughter time together. Then she moved. She got a very demanding job in Iowa and she was not able to talk on the phone during business hours. And because she was on the phone most of the day, she didn’t want to talk at night either. She would put her phone away. I was ready to let her go and was so happy that she got married. But I wasn’t ready to “disconnect.”

While that was happening and after all the excitement of the wedding wore off, I was also leaving my job of ten years and my banking career of twenty three years to start my own business, Malzahn Strategic. Those were two major life events that I was not prepared to handle at the same time. I found myself alone at home, very busy starting the business, yet lonely with no one to talk to during the day. I was missing my daughter and I was missing my employees so much. Those who have worked for me before know that I truly cared about each one of them and treated them almost as if they were my own children. I got to know them as individuals and formed life-long friendships with them.

I found myself missing being in charge, being the decision maker—the one people depended on to run all the divisions that were under my oversight. As CFO and COO of the bank, I oversaw everything except the lending and sales of the bank. Even though it was exciting to start my own business and also focus on my speaking career and writing more books, I missed being an executive, leading others, and having that huge responsibility. I felt like I was thrown off the treadmill without notice—even though I had planned my exit for the entire previous year. I delegated all the tasks I could, I trained all my employees, I gave authority where appropriate, and I promoted all my employees to the highest level I could before I left. My mission at this bank was complete. It was time to move on. I had so many mixed feelings and emotions and it was hard to deal with it all.

I was so happy at the same time, that my son was still living at home for the next two years. That really helped me, more than he’ll ever know, to not feel completely on my own. We had our little routine each morning that he had to say goodbye and give mama a hug before he left to work. Each day I was left alone working at home on my own. Many people like that but I didn’t. As an “extreme extrovert,” as I call myself, it was very hard to be by myself. Even when I had a lot of work, after several hours from focused, intense consulting work, I like to lift up my head and talk to a human. That’s just the way I am. Many days I cried at home, alone, not really feeling sorry for myself, but simply because I was missing being with people and being part of a team.

One day, I was in my kitchen and I finally realized what God was doing in my life. I remembered that for so many years I had been asking God for rest. I was exhausted. I was burnt out from working so hard and so intense, having so much responsibility for so long. And now that I had the chance to rest, slow down, spend more time with Him, I wasn’t recognizing the opportunity. So that day, I thanked God for giving me this amazing opportunity to do my own business, to follow my heart, and pursue my true calling in life. I changed my attitude to being thankful each day for the benefits of being an entrepreneur, owning my schedule, and not being responsible for anyone else but me (at least for now).

In the last two years (exactly as of today, October 1st) I started my bank consulting company, Malzahn Strategic. I started my own publishing company, Malzahn Publishing, finished and published two more books, The Fire Within and The Friendship Book, under my own publishing company. The Fire Within book got published in the Philippines by the largest Christian publisher there. I started my speaking business, became a member of the National Speakers Association and have had 55 speaking engagements! I also traveled to Rwanda, Africa in my first mission trip where I taught six times at a pastors’ conference and women’s conference, and I’m now writing three other books. I’m volunteering on three nonprofit boards. And went on vacation to Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. Wow! I guess that’s why I’ve been so busy. But during that time, God has also worked in my heart in amazing ways. He has narrowed my focus and I’m truly connecting my gifts with my calling. I’m using all my gifts for the Kingdom of God. Now my purpose is clearer than ever in my life.

This summer, my daughter and son-in-law announced that they were moving back. I thought they were going to be away for at least five years but God answered my prayers and surprised me with the gift. They are now moved back to Minnesota and have both found excellent jobs at great companies. Looking back, God knew they needed to be away to gain invaluable experience in their fields so they could get the jobs they now have, but also to solidify and strengthen their own marriage. It was a time they used to connect, get to know each other better, and truly enjoy each other’s friendship and love. I am confident they will enjoy a happy marriage with a strong foundation based on God’s love.

My son moved out this past May and even though I cried for a few days, he only moved twenty miles away and I see him often. I knew this time it was the right time for him to go on his own. He was ready and I was ready to let him go. He also just got a new job and loves it. I don’t know why parents in America can’t wait to send their kids off. They push them away and out of their home too soon. Some kids need the extra time and just knowing that they are not being pushed out until they’re ready, gives them the desire to be close to their parents. I have an amazing, healthy relationship with my two children and thank God for that each day.

During these two years, the Lord also worked on my marriage. Because we had our kids so young and so soon after we got married, we never had enough time for us. These past two years I feel God worked on our marriage in amazing ways and instead of growing apart, we are now closer to each other than ever before. We love each other more than ever and enjoy each other’s company and friendship like never before. We are truly enjoying being empty nesters for the first time. We now go on impromptu trips, go on a date just because, go for long walks, bike rides, and watch TV uninterruptedly. We’re enjoying our time as a couple as if we just got married and we just celebrated 28 years in July!

So that’s my story from the past two years. God has answered all my prayers. I can finally say, “I’m off the treadmill of corporate life” and I love my new life following the calling in my life—fully. My ultimate dream is to be an “international bilingual inspirational public speaker” and share about God wherever I go… and I’m there. Am I rich? No. Am I famous? No. Am I happy? Absolutely yes!

Today I encourage you to pray. Ask God for your heart’s desires to come true. Ask God for others. Ask God to help you wait until His timing comes true in your life. His ways are definitely higher than our ways and His thoughts are for sure higher than our thoughts. Keep praying, believing, and thanking God!

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