It’s been a great beginning to this series, with these incredible friends sharing their stories this week…

I hope you’ll share this series with your friends, and drink in every video as if it’s a Valentine sent to your inbox every morning during February.

And tell us what YOU have done for love!

 



Life is so full of tough decisions, decisions that carry huge ripple effects and bring stress as we make them.

difficluty-making-decisionsHow can we know the right thing to do? Is there a way to get rid of risks or fears that accompany such big and tough decisions?

I was pondering this in depth yesterday on my morning run, a run I did not want to do given the frigid cold temps and the attractive alternative of staying cozy inside.

But out I went, donned in warmest running gear, wondering if I was crazy. About 15 minutes into the run I felt toasty, motivated, and proud I was out there running.

Which reminded me of how making tough decisions is often similar, requiring the following key steps….

  1. Get Counsel — Do your research and talk to those who have made similar decisions. Ideally find a few who have also regretted decisions and find out what they’d do differently next time. Gathering information will lead your heart and mind in a general direction, so you can…
  2. Get Moving — Sometimes we just have to move toward one of the alternatives in order to know whether or not it’s right. Sure it would be nice if full assurance was present before moving, but rarely does this happen. So pick your choice and move toward it at which point you’ll…
  3. Look for Confirmation — From family members, close friends, others you trust who have walked similarly before you. Getting their thumbs up and green light about the decision is vital. If the majority disagree then it pays to pay attention. We’re all tempted to think “I’m unique and no one can really understand,” but rarely is this the case.
  4. Change Courses if Necessary — You may be down the road a ways, but if you realize you simply can’t continue, then STOP, turnaround or take another path. Better to have walked and rerouted, than to never have walked at all.

Decision-making is like a muscle, it gets stronger and more defined as life progresses. We learn from mistakes and learn to know ourselves better in the process. It’ll always require faith and guts to get out of complacency and into decision mode, but unique and exciting doors await those who get off center and go for it.

Some of my own life decisions that were super tough include…

  • Do I take a pay cut to take a new job I really want? (I did it.)
  • Should I go for a different role within my company, and risk negative changes (I did but didn’t get the job.)
  • Will a move to NYC after years of building my career in Tulsa be worth starting over? (I did it and loved it in spite of many sacrifices.)
  • Should I be open to date a guy who is divorced with four kids? (Yes and oh my has it been amazing albeit not without its challenges.)
  • Should I give up fertility treatments or keep trying? (Gave it up, tears and questions on what could possibly ever bring this dream to fruition.)
  • I’ve never wanted to adopt, but should I at least pay the $$ and get the paperwork done? (Did it and while it fell through initially, three years later our twins arrived!)

Whatever tough decisions you’re facing today, I’m cheering you on, confident that as you move forward, mountains will move on your behalf.


If you need encouragement this Thanksgiving then get ready…

A few months ago our dear friend, Asher Paul, who works at Good Housekeeping, asked if I thought Cady would be willing to share her story. Here is the beautiful outcome of their collaboration.

I learned details never heard before, with tears flowing, recalling this journey. We still ache with loss, but rejoice that this story is about God’s glory, a glory made brighter through faith and love.

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Ever feel that way? Like you’re being given a gift you want to give back, trade, or simply detest??

In the last several weeks I’ve heard from friends saying….

Help, my hope is forever and completely gone.

How can I get through this and not always feel like I got the consolation prize?

I have no control and my reaction is pitiful. I feel like a fraud and SO quickly am back in a place of anger, sitting here facing the fact that my ONE option is to embrace what God is doing, and all I want to do is scream.

Processes are tough, really tough. This making of ourselves into strong, resilient, teachable warriors is not for the faint of heart.

I shared with one of my discouraged friends how many years and years it took me to break thru, cross over, and finally experience a lasting sense of joy, waiting so long for marriage and children. Told her how our responsibility is to declare what’s true about God even when our own experience doesn’t validate it.

Our son Jordan died of cancer but I will never give up praying for sick people to receive their miracle, because miracles DO still happen every day.

This morning I wrote to a friend who has spent tens of thousands of dollars, tears, and years trying to get pregnant, to no avail:

Praying over all of this for you guys. My experience is as you take steps in certain directions the Lord leads and opens your heart to possibilities that you may not have even wanted or been open to before, it’s all part of how God directs His ultimate plan. IF there is a child who He wants to be parented by you then that child will come to you. We get to do our part but trust Him to open and shut the doors all the while working in us and for us. He is our advocate.  He is Good and Kind and a Generous Shepherd. He does not tempt or taunt or try us beyond our ability to bear it. He blesses and lavishes. Our joy eventually overflows. I love you and am weeping in prayer even now as I stand w you for the outcome of your faith!! Great joy awaits….

This week, Nov. 9th, was World Adoption Day, a day I never thought would have been relevant to my life, but adoption has been God’s surprise and lavish gift, one I would not have chosen and would not trade.

IMG_6725These two darlings came to our family in a season of great trial and loss. They’re not blonde like I always imagined, but look so much like their daddy and brothers. Every day we lavish them with big fat kisses, reminded that God’s different is better…better and bigger…bigger heart, bigger faith, bigger story leading to bigger glory.

It took big faith on the part of their precious birth mom too, big boldness to believe that the end of one story means the beginning of another.

You and your story are becoming bigger even now, and yes indeed, great joy awaits.
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12029803_10206884529704341_6938433215171951098_o 12017655_10206886968565311_3528021908007718413_oYesterday I had the privilege of attending the Global Women’s Summit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. My dear friend Charity Wallace was the visionary behind this event, and my own work with the Bush Center Women’s Initiative afforded the invitation.

First Ladies from around the globe were there, along with leaders representing some of the most innovative solutions impacting women and children around the globe.

The sessions were engaging, stimulating, and challenging. I continue to marvel at how much President and Mrs. Bush do to change lives all over Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. President Bush described their motivation several times, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Several recurring themes emerged and my own observations include the following…

Small is Big – Virtually every speaker, be it a First Lady or a young entrepreneur, described themselves as small or insignificant, not out of insecurity or false humility, but in comparison to the issues they face and the needs to be met.

It struck me how often we all feel like this….small, lacking what it takes, insecure, even fearful. But this is where some do and some don’t. In other words, those who do simply do, they pick up the baton, run however they can run, and by doing so make an impact, typically far surpassing their expectations.

Collaboration is Everything – Everyone spoke of partnerships, of joining forces, learning from one another, building on others’ successes and failures, and how important it is to find others who say YES.

A highlight was when Michelle Obama joined via the web (she would’ve come but was hosting the Pope in D.C.), and she and Laura Bush described how much they admire one another and work together to build upon each other’s work. It was proof that women agree on far more things than they disagree on. “And it’s not just us it’s also our teams….our teams collaborate all the time,” they both said.

Stats Prove the Opportunity – These stats from various speakers were interesting and challenging..

  • The median age in the world is 29 (younger in many developing nations)
  • 3 billion people live on about $2 a day, and most are dependent on rural agriculture
  • In just 12 years, 7 million people have received AIDS medicines in Africa, changing the pandemic tide, one that was taking out women of child-bearing age in particular
  • Cervical cancer and breast cancer accompany the AIDS issues. 85% of cervical cancer is in developing nations. Mothers die, children are abandoned, society suffers. But the HPV vaccination is being widely distributed and screenings are expanding, Household vinegar is being used to treat cervical cancer at just 4 cents a treatment!
  • When you give a woman a development dollar 90% of it goes directly to her family.

There was so much more but these are summary highlights. I left deeply challenged and hopeful, committed anew to use every resource of time and talent to invest and make a difference, at home and around the world.

Parting thought…What a wonderful time to be alive and be a woman!


Ron and I spoke for a couples conference last weekend in Jersey City, right next door to where my Deloitte office was for six years, overlooking downtown Manhattan.

I shared a point with the crowd that was a reminder of a nugget that set me free years ago when I first woke up to it. It is simply this…

JOY IS NOW

Not later when I’m married. Not in the future when I’m paid more and work less. It won’t be when the boys are raised or I finally get pregnant. It also won’t be when my boss finally sees me. No, joy is NOW.

The subtle yet ever-pervasive thought of being more joyful later when such and such happens is a constant enemy of contentment and happiness. It seems to plague us all, in some seasons more than others. Really though, I promise you, joy is now.

Our job is to pause and recognize it, call it out from the monotonous and mundane.

Gratitude uncovers it. Smiling extends it. Encouraging someone else multiplies it.

I was reminded of this afresh as Ron and I walked after the couples conference, by my old office, then took the ferry I used to take daily on my commute. Those were years that felt long on work and short on pleasures, but now a part of me wishes I could return to those moments for just a day.

Memories of routine workdays include a fondness now, grateful for lessons learned, projects I now miss and people I treasure but never see.

Yes joy is now, and later too, not because life is perfect or without tears, but because joy is like a good medicine that permeates darkness with promise that this too shall pass, and this too is precious.

Will you join me? Let’s drink it in, the here and now, through the transformational lens of joy.

I enjoy listening to my wise husband share funny truths about our marriage

Listening to my wise husband share funny truths about our marriage & stories of getting through tough times.

About to board the ferry

About to board the ferry

 


Kozzi-vector_image_of_a_business_woman_climbing_ladder_by_dollar_sign-370x350-300x282That is the question isn’t it? At what point if ever, do we start charging for a talent or service we frequently give to others?

Women often uniquely struggle with the idea of putting a dollar value on their skills. Shouldn’t I be generous and giving? Why not lend to all and just trust God or the goodwill of others to compensate me appropriately?

I still recall the season when I started asking for funding for speaking events outside of my day job. It felt awkward, and even selfish, but after gathering wise counsel and input from other speakers I trusted, the time had come so I began.

In the early years my pricing was typically lower than market rates for comparable services, since getting the experience was not only essential, but valuable beyond the pay.

As years went on I continued to evaluate comparable speakers, and always (as I still do) took into account the organization itself. Were they a large corporation with significant budget, or a smaller church or non-profit with less ability to pay?

One event at a time, my experience and pricing grew, so did abilities and confidence. While something inside my heart still wishes I could speak everywhere for free, and many times I do, this IS my vocation worth a fair price comparable to value exchange.

So how can you know if it is your turn to get paid, and if so, how do you pull together all the specifics?

First, do your research online for comparable services and pricing. You’ll be amazed how much information is out there when you do a little digging.

Then talk to others who charge for, and those who hire for similar services, to get a sense of what the market is commanding.

Finally, put a stake in the ground and just GO! Act confident before you feel confident, and don’t apologize for charging for your talent, time, and services.

You may still feel a bit reluctant or awkward, but you’ll also feel GREAT knowing you delivered value and received value, all the way to the bank.

 

 

 

 


IMG_6140The day we wish was not about this. This day that reminds us of loss, heartache and tears. Yet a day that also commemorates more.

Still living that story we never wanted written, a tragic story to be sure, yet one also of grace, strength, and even surprise joy.

Ron and our beloved daughter-in-law, Jordan’s wife Cady, have both written poignant and powerful blogs in the last two weeks, about this year of grieving and growing. I’m linking their stories below because they capture my own heart and emotions as well.

I was texting with Cady the other night…

“…we so wanted a different story didn’t we? But at least the end of this story is still more glorious than the one we’ve yet known, because the end we know is not really the end, but just the beginning.”

Though the ache persists and is painful, I’m comforted knowing Jordan lives, alive and well, no longer by faith but by sight. A sight to behold and one that will never fade.

This is our hope and confidence every day. Days that still include a gaping hole, but a hole that reminds us of our one and only Jordan who holds a place that distance will never erase.  Distance that is actually less today than it was a year ago, because we’re now closer to seeing him again. And thankfully, closer to the One who sees it all.

All is well. It is well with my soul.

Cady’s Blog

Ron’s Blog


Absolutely_nothingWhy is it that so often things seem completely on hold and standing still?

It struck me today that just a year ago I was utterly exhausted and discouraged about how little sleep I was getting, and in the months that followed how little progress we seemed to be making on getting our baby twins to sleep.

I was reading every book on sleep training, applying all the techniques diligently, trying to be patient, not being patient, thinking for some reason our girls might never sleep through the night.

After six months, one Monday morning we were both at our wits end, so I googled “night nurse” and the next day the wonderful Lisa Bailey, a 16-yr registered nurse pro, spent the night.

She didn’t sleep but the babies did, with hardly a whimper or wake-up. She came two more nights and they slept both nights, all night!

Her awesome tricks-of-the-trade plus our own learning had finally yielded a breakthrough.  And ever since, our darlings sleep 12 hours a night, with few exceptions except for occasional colds, travel, or teething.

Isn’t life so often like this? The monotony of waiting, pain, worry, hopelessness, zero signs of change, zero evidence of breakthrough.

And then, THEN, everything is different.

It felt similar while waiting 10+ years for a dreamed-of move to NYC. Years of working, trying, investing, learning and zero apparent possibilities. One day after long meetings I called my Mom in tears, feeling completely wasted and out of hope that a move would EVER open up.

What I didn’t know was a dinner I’d just had that evening with someone I’d only just met, was THE open door. That man would make a call in the next few days and just two months later I’d be living in NYC.

So whatever it is that feels hopeless, forever on hold, or without any movement, really IS moving. Because YOU’RE moving, and so are a dozen other things you have no way of seeing or knowing are in motion. But they are. And so are you.

Be encouraged today while you wait. Your breakthrough is on the move toward you even now.