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Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Do you feel your heart burdened these days with everything going on? I do. Last night, I was praying to God in anguish to help us, to heal our nation, to forgive us, to protect us, to end the virus, to end this violence, to end the hatred… The list was endless, and my heart was heavy.

It is difficult to sit back and “watch the movie of life unfold” while not judging everyone’s acts. But the Bible also tells us clearly in Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 4:5 we read, “So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”

So these days as we observe others commit violent crimes, I encourage you to look inside your own heart and ask yourself: What am I doing in my life that is not pleasing to God? What can I do as an act of love to help others? Striving to live a holy life on a daily basis is easier said than done. But once again, the Word of God reminds us in Hebrews 12:14-15 to, “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

Based on the current events happening all around us, our human tendency is to immediately judge. But the Bible tells us to not do that. Instead, give ALL your burdens to the Lord so He can take care of everything. Every single act by every single person will be judged in due time but by God not by us. We will get our turn to be judged and that’s when everything we have done—good and bad—will be tried by fire to see what stands in the end.

I will leave you today with the message from John 3:18-21, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Today I encourage you to examine your own heart and not judge others. Let God do the judging and give all your burdens to God.

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Do you need to grow in wisdom? Today I was reading the Psalms and stopped to ponder on Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

During this quarantine time due to the global pandemic, most people have been given the gift of extra time. Personally, even though I have been busy with consulting work, all the in-person speaking engagements from April and May were rescheduled to the fall and that gave me some free time. I have saved a lot of days that I would have been traveling to go speak at conferences. Instead, I have been home.

My husband and I have spent a lot of quality time together and have enjoyed our grand baby Henry James. Because his daycare was closed in April, we have taken this opportunity to watch him several days and we have created amazing memories with him. Daycare is still closed in May so we look forward to spending more time with him again.

With the extra time, we have also watched a lot of movies lately and today when I read this verse, I stopped to think… What if we spent all that time “growing in wisdom” instead of watching movies? While watching movies is fun, I think we need to make more time to grow in wisdom. Even though I have spent quality time with God too in my daily prayer as well as the weekends, I can do better. I can read the Bible more. I can pray more for so many people in need in the world. I can reconnect with some old friends. I can spend more time reading books that will help me grow my relationship with the Lord and help me grow in wisdom.

So, do you need to grow in wisdom? Today I encourage you to join me in first seeking God to show you how to make the most of your time and then do activities where you can grow in wisdom. The Bible is always a source of wisdom and you can purpose to read it more often. The Proverbs and Psalms are full of wisdom nuggets to help you navigate each day of your life and every season throughout your entire life.

I also encourage you to read the entire Psalm 91 where God promises us to protect “those who love Him” from evil—and that includes this pandemic. Psalm 91:1 promises us that “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” When we spend our time in His presence and reading His Word, we are “living in the shelter of the Most High” and we may also “grow in wisdom.”

 

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God Will Provide

Dear Friends,

Today I was reading the story of Abraham’s great faith in Genesis 22:1-18. God asked Abraham, “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you.” Wow! What a request for God to ask of any of us. The next day Abraham obeyed God and went off on the journey. As Abraham was walking up the mountain, “Isaac said, “Father?” “Yes, my son,” Abraham replied. “We have the wood and the fire,” said the boy, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” “God will provide a lamb, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both went on together…” (verses 7-8).

Do you imagine what Abraham, as a loving father, was thinking? And how his heart must have been in such agony? Would God come through for him? What if God didn’t provide a lamb? Could he go through with the sacrifice? Honestly, I personally don’t think I could…

But then, at the very last minute, just when Abraham was ready to kill his own son, an angel stopped him and said, “Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me.”

Do you feel sometimes that God waits until the very last minute to provide for you? I have experienced that feeling too throughout my life. I remember after the war in Nicaragua when we were refugees in Dominican Republic that some days we had no food left. I can imagine the worry my parents felt when they didn’t know how they would feed their six children ages 14 down to 1 ½ years old. So we prayed as a family, together. And many times, later that day, my mom would open the front door of our small apartment and there were bags and bags of groceries full of food for our family. My parents never knew who were the angels that fed us, but I learned at an early age that God Will Provide! My parents have great faith and they passed on that gift to me.

Now, during this pandemic we’re all living through, when there are no speaking events to go speak at, God is providing in other ways and the bank consulting has picked up. This year my husband and I took a leap of faith and he joined Malzahn Strategic. And then the pandemic came, just a few weeks into our new adventure. But to this day, four months into the year, God has provided each month, one day at a time.

Today, I want to encourage you to have the faith of Abraham. Do not get weary in your faith as God WILL provide for you and your family! Trust that God will find ways you have not thought about. Maybe you’ll need to use talents you haven’t used in a long time but now will produce an income for your family. Now is the time to experience God in a new, deeper way than ever before. Don’t give up believing that God is your provider and He is your source of life!

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Dear Friends,

Why is it that when we sin we move away from God instead of running to Him? I think it’s because we feel shame—just like Adam and Eve felt when they saw that they were naked in the garden of Eve. We feel ashamed of going to God because we don’t feel pure in our hearts. But that’s precisely when we need to run to Him and put our sins at His feet.

Jesus died on the cross for us and He forgave all our sins—past, present and future—and we cannot forget that. We need to come to the cross along with the big baggage made up of our sorrows, our sins, and our hurts. Jesus will take our burdens and make them light. He will walk the road with us and get us out of the sinful life or behavior we’re in at the time.

We all have sin in our hearts. Nobody is sin free. Jesus was the only human who ever lived on this earth who was sin free. But also because He was a human, He understands the struggles we go through and He wants to help us be free of sin by granting us forgiveness. God the Father loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus for that purpose—to forgive our sins, to save us from hell, to give us everlasting life, to restore our relationship with God.

So today friends, I encourage you to run to Jesus and bring all your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t matter how big or small your sin may be. We are to live holy lives and the only way we can do that is one day at a time, asking God to forgive us as we sin.

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Dear Friends,

It’s the New Year and most of you are planning your year and writing goals. Most of you have heard of creating goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) and I’m sure you’re striving to write goals that meet that criteria.

I categorize goals in four main areas: 1) Personal (health, fitness, finances, relationships, family), 2) Intellectual (learning, education, acquire new skills), 3) Career/Business (new job and/or business opportunities, growth goals, improvement goals, networking), and 4) Spiritual (my relationship with God – time spent in prayer, reading the Bible, working for the Kingdom – doing work that has eternal value, fulfilling the call in my life). I write these goals with the SMART concept in mind but when it comes to the Spiritual goals, it gets a little more challenging. How do you measure the impact you have in someone’s life after a deep conversation about God’s love? Is it realistic to think that every person you touch will be changed by the power of God’s love? Can you time every interaction with people that God may put in your path so you can help them? Can you put an attainable number of people you want to minister to each day or week or year? And how specific do you get with the concepts of God explained in His Word? The answer is yes to all of these questions. You just have to plan and set a goal and then let the Holy Spirit guide you each day, each moment, and each interaction with others.

There are some things of course we cannot measure in natural terms like the impact of God’s love in someone’s life but that’s when we trust God that His Word and His love will always produce results. We do our part, which is to share and God does His. We may never see the results while we’re here on earth but we will see them when we get to heaven.

After writing all my goals in all the various categories, I stopped and thought for a while about this key question: Which goal (or goals) will get me closer to fulfilling the call of God in my life? Those are the most important goals that I should focus on because when I am doing what I’m called to do first, then everything else falls into place.

This year, I want to challenge you to write your goals and then prioritize them based on that key question – which goals will get you closer to fulfilling the call of God in your life? If you don’t know what your calling is, it’s time to find out. Seek God with all your heart and ask Him to reveal it to you. He will.

 

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Dear Friends,

These past three weeks have been very busy working on my new business. I’ve met with many people but mostly with leaders of non-profit organizations and especially Christian brothers and sisters who devote their lives to serve God by serving people. One day this week, as I was going from one meeting to the next, I said to God, “You know Lord, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Christian leaders and non-profits. Although these meetings are awesome and I feel re-energized spiritually, they are not ‘income producing’ meetings, per say.” The Lord immediately put in my heart this thought: “You are building the spiritual foundation of your business and that comes first.” Wow! I was speechless when I heard those words in my heart.

How do you build a spiritual foundation for a business? It is by associating yourself with like-minded believers who will hold you and your business up in prayer all the time with no self-interest or hidden agenda. It is by sharing your dreams with people who will be your spiritual “pillars” so you can feel supported and loved no matter how your business is doing. You build a spiritual foundation for your business when you base your business beliefs on Scripture. The two Scriptures that come to mind are:

Matthew 7:24-29 (NLT)

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

I will build my company on the Solid Foundation, which is Jesus Christ, the Rock. He will give me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to do the right thing, to do what is right, and to do things right the first time. These are not only Biblical concepts, these are business concepts that create efficiencies throughout the organization and a strong work ethic, which in turn increases shareholder value.

The other Scripture that came to my heart is:

Romans 12: 6-11 (NLT)

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

This Scripture reminds us that God gave each one of us certain gifts and talents. When we operate within those gifts everything seems easier because we’re not going against our nature. Even though we will encounter challenges, God will be there for us to get through them but the work itself is easier when we do what we’re good at. God gives us the “ability to do certain things well.” One key to our individual success in business is to know ourselves well so we can recognize what our gifts are and utilize them in business.

I know God gave me the gift of leadership and I feel the incredible sense of responsibility when leading others. I also know God gave me the gift of teaching, which is why I train others and pass along all the knowledge I acquire through the years. Lastly, I know God gave me the gift of encouragement and I use that gift every day. Sometimes I’m not sure if what I just told someone will have an effect in their lives but I do it anyway. A word, one word of encouragement can change someone’s life when said at the right time.

I also believe strongly in working hard and effectively and I sincerely care about people. I stay away from those who are not genuine. Those who say they love you but their actions don’t reflect their words. Working hard and loving others are strong beliefs that will be foundational for my new business.

So friends, today I wanted to share with you the Scriptures and beliefs upon I will build the foundation of my new business venture. I have a ton of ideas on how to give to the community and support my brothers and sisters who are doing the “eternal” work out there, bringing the Good News of the Gospel to the world and helping people. I will do my part in the mission field that God called me to be—Corporate America.

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Dear Friends,

“The End of this Road” –that is the title of the last chapter I wrote to finish my second book titled Your Gifts. Your Calling. How to Connect the Two.

September 30th, 2014 was the last day at my job at the bank I help start 10 years ago. September 7, 2004, my ex-boss and I decided to start a bank. It was his dream and I was purposed to help him fulfill his dream—that was my mission. I told him, “I’m ready to go back to banking but this time I want to be the CFO and learn to run a bank as a business.” He said, “Deal.” I had been in banking for thirteen years when I decided to leave and moved to the non-profit arena in the technology field as the Y2K Project Manager for a church. I changed careers and industries! I did that mainly for family reasons because I wanted to spend more time with my kids.

Ten years have gone by and now it was time to make the next move again. I told the staff when I announced it at the staff meeting, “My kids at home grew up and my kids at work grew up. I hired the right people. I fired the right people. I built teams. I trained you all. I promoted you several times and helped you get where you are now as leaders of your own departments. All my ducks are in a row. I leave you with a well-oiled machine. My mission here is complete.” I was the first employee of this bank and created the infrastructure of the bank but I didn’t do it alone. I never work alone. I did it with a great team of people and with God’s grace and wisdom. It took 9 months to start the bank back in 2005 and it grew from zero to $300 million in assets in the past 9 years and 3 months. It’s a successful bank.

I was reminiscing yesterday on these past 10 years and realized that so much has happened in my life. My husband and I finished raising our two kids. They graduated from high school. They graduated from college. Our daughter just got married this past July. I finished my college degree in 2011 and graduated from the Graduate School of Banking this past August. My husband and I also started two businesses. One was closed and one got merged with the company he currently works with. I wrote and published my first book while starting the bank… Wow! No wonder I was feeling a little exhausted. Those who know me know that I don’t even drink caffeine because I don’t need it as a source of energy. But after looking back, I realized maybe I needed to stop, take a rest, and start the next chapter in my life.

So now, here I am. The Lord is clearly directing my steps to start a bank consulting practice and also to pursue my public speaking career. I will also finish my second book and hope to finally publish it next year. I will continue serving on both non-profit and for-profit Boards and will help non-profits in any way I can. You see, I am purposed to pursue my dreams—ALL of them!

I live with an awareness and sense of urgency because I simply don’t know how much time I have in this life. The time period that we’re here on earth is so short and I feel the responsibility to use all my gifts and talents to help others be successful. I want to love on people and make them feel important. I want to encourage people every day and inspire those who I come in contact with. Right now, at this time in my life, I have an opportunity to pursue my dreams. God is opening new doors that were not there for me before. I just needed to take the step of faith and jump. The thing is, no one has told me that I’m crazy for doing this. People believe in me. All the seeds of encouragement I have planted in others through the years are coming back to me multiplied. People want to help me and want me to succeed. Wow! I’m overwhelmed with the support I have received from all my friends, family and colleagues. Thank you!

My family, of course, has given me unconditional love and support. They believe in me, pray for me, and love me just the way I am, with my faults and weaknesses. They don’t care what titles I hold or who I am in the business community. They know me from the start and they love me just as I am. Thank you!

I will be busy starting the business but those of you who know me also know that I do stay in touch. I take the time to nurture my relationships because each person that God puts in my path is a treasure to me. Each friend that I make is a gift from heaven. I can never have enough friends!

Let my new adventure begin!

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Dear Friends,

Once again, I have not written for three weeks. This time I was attending the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, WI. I graduated on August 15. Even though it feels great to have completed the program, I’m sad that I won’t see my friends again… some of them, I may never see again. Those who know me well know that I do keep in touch with everyone. I try to stay connected via email, lunch or coffee meetings, or a phone call when I can. I don’t let busyness keep me from nurturing my relationships and it has paid off through my life. I have developed deep relationships with many wonderful people and God has blessed me with their friendships.

Because of this recent school experience, I have been reflecting on how much I care and love my friends. Why do I get so attached to people? I believe that family and friends are a gift from God. It’s easy to take for granted those who love us despite our imperfections and mistakes we make in life. Life is all about relationships—relationships we make since we are very young all the way until we die. All the people we touch along the way and throughout our journey here on earth are important and valuable. I think the reason I get so attached to my friends is because I had to flee Nicaragua back when I was 13 years old and had to leave all my friends behind. Then again, when I left Dominican Republic at 19 to move to the U.S. I had to leave all my friends all over again… Now, whenever I make new friends, I hang on to them for the rest of my life! I am thankful for technology these days that allows us to stay connected all the time and as much as we want to.

Today, I encourage you to connect with your friends. Reconnect with some of those friends you used to love to hand out with, the ones that made you laugh, the ones you cried with when you were sad, those who love you regardless of your mood. Reach out to people and spend time nurturing your relationships. It is all worth it. Like the president of my class said the night he received his diploma, “It’s about relationships.”

You can impact somebody else’s life just by a simple phone call or text at the right time in their lives. When you think of somebody, reach out to them. Tell that person how much you care about him or her. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t wait until they don’t even remember your name anymore because it’s been so long… Stay connected. People need to know that somebody cares about them—all the time. You have the power to do that for somebody today.

 

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Dear Friends,

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote the last time. With work and family I only have Saturday mornings to write. The last few weekends I have been away from home on Saturday mornings so I wasn’t able to connect with you. This takes me to the topic I wanted to share with you about today—time.

Time is a very hard concept to explain. We all have the same amount of time yet most of us wish we would have more of it. God created the days to have a certain number of hours, which is what we have decided to call the time intervals that occur during one day. How we choose to spend our time is the key question we each have to answer. Once time passes, we cannot regain it. We cannot reclaim it or reproduce it—ever.  When there are important events in the lives of our loved ones, if we don’t attend, it’s gone. We missed it. We were not there for that person we love.

I have been meditating a lot about the concept of time, how I personally choose to spend my time, and how I can regain some time. I am gaining time by stopping some activities and spending more time with God and the people I love. However, it’s not been easy. For example, I am often asked to serve on non-profit boards and to volunteer to do certain activities. Because of my passion to help non-profits and to help people be successful, I have had to establish a simple process to help me decide which activities to choose. If the non-profit does not align with my personal life’s mission, I gracefully decline the offer. If the non-profit or ministry falls under areas within my personal mission, then the decision is much harder. My next step is to prioritize and only choose one or two at a time. When a board term is over or the volunteer activity is done, then I choose another one.

I also struggle when I have family or friends over at our house. I want to keep up with the cleaning and picking up dishes and putting away food. Then I realize I’m not spending precious time with my family or friends that are at my home visiting. I have decided to set my urge to clean aside and leave it all behind to spend that time with my loved ones. The satisfaction I have experienced by doing this the last few gatherings far exceeds the satisfaction of seeing the house clean and picked up while our guests are still in the house.

I encourage you today to look for opportunities to stop some things you’re doing to regain time and spend it with your loved ones—doing the things that really matter. Make sure you include God in “the people you love and want to spend time with.” He is waiting and longing to spend that time with you too!

 

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Dear Friends,

I used to get offended when people would tell me that I was “religious.” I choose to not get offended anymore because I now know that most people don’t know the difference between being religious and simply being a Christian. The dictionary describes the word religious as someone that is concerned with religion, a person exhibiting religion, or someone associated with a religion. Jesus was not happy with the religious leaders because they were proud of knowing religion but in their hearts they didn’t love God. Paul says in Romans 2: 23 (NLT) “You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it.” Paul also says in Romans 5:9 (NLT) “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.”

I am not a religious person, I am simply a Christian. What does that mean? Simply that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. He is my friend and I have a personal relationship with Him. I LOVE Jesus and I will forever (literally – for eternity) be grateful to Him for dying on the cross for my sins so I could have eternal life with Him in heaven. There is nothing that I can do nor will ever be able to do to repay Him or to earn salvation. It is a gift. And we can only obtain it through faith by God’s grace.

Paul says in Romans 10:8-11 (NLT), “Salvation that comes from trusting Christ—which is the message we preach—is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, ‘The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”

So today I encourage you to take that step and invite Jesus into your heart. The letter from Paul to the Romans is one of the best books to understand the message of salvation so I encourage you to read it. Having Jesus as your friend will help you get through the struggles of life. I will leave you today with what Paul said to the Romans in Chapter 5:3 (NLT), “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” When bad things happen to you, remember that God did not cause them nor allowed them, but He will be there for you and help you get through them.

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