The Labyrinth

Labyrinth

Today I spent some time in a labyrinth behind a Methodist church in my hometown. Debra, a pastor, has been a faithful confidante, mentor, and friend since I found my best friend and partner, Laura dead in our home January 18, 2018. I had never visited a labyrinth before, and Debra wanted to offer me a time of reflection and solitude as she guided me in how to walk the labyrinth as a way to purposely meditate and listen for God’s voice.

Since I found Laura, the only words I’ve been able to pray to God are “Please help me,” and I haven’t had words to ask or say anything else beyond that. I’m still trying to process what has happened, and how my life fits into both the old and new spaces I find myself in.

As I entered the Labyrinth, I paused and read the suggested prayer. As I began slowly walking, I was overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude. I thanked God for everything I could think of that was good in my life. It was like a water faucet had been turned on inside me, which allowed me to finally pray something besides “help.”

Once the thankful prayers began to subside, I felt God inviting me to bring all of my fears and anxiety to Him. I named them one by one and didn’t hold back even what I would consider to be the silliest of fears.

Then as those prayers subsided, scripture flooded my heart and mind, scriptures about God being my Provider and Protector and the plans He had for me which were for my good, not harm. He was my strength, and He was going before me and behind me and on either side of me. He loved me with an everlasting love and He would be faithful to complete the work He had begun in me. And the list continued…

I met Debra in the center and felt compelled to share my experience thus far. We both stood to begin the exit walk, and as I slowly made my way back around, getting closer and closer to the exit, I began to see the Labyrinth a bit clearer. The pathway was beaten and worn, and even though it was narrow, there was enough room to comfortably stay within the lines.

It reminded me of the narrow path we are all called to walk if we are to enter into an eternal relationship with our Creator. He has provided the boundaries of His path with us in mind. He wants to care for us and give us abundant life. I noticed there were patches of beauty along the tattered path, and I realized much of life brings it’s own heartache and pain, but we can still find the moments of joy and love and beauty if we will only slow down and look and participate.

I couldn’t help but think how much Laura would have loved being in the labyrinth, listening to the birds calling and the rustling of leaves, and the solitude of feeling safe and at peace within that place.

Thank you, Debra for being there with me and for sharing your own experiences of labyrinths you’ve walked. And thank you Lord for meeting me where I was.

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2018: Past Reflections and Future Possibilities

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Debilitating betrayal and trauma in 2010 was the springboard of a 7-year spiral of anger, fear, resentment, self-preservation, education, self-discovery, boundaries, and permission to heal and truly live again.

The betrayal was very personal, the kind that knocks the breath out of you, leaves you reeling in shock – the kind of shock that makes you think you will wake up only to realize it was all a very sick nightmare. But you don’t and you’re left making irrational decisions as an act of avoidance and self-preservation that others will likely judge. But you’re at a point in your life where frankly, you no longer give a damn what others think or say about you.

I learned…don’t respond to other people’s judgment of you, and certainly don’t let their condescension define you and your future. People will think what they want to think about you. You’ll do better to remind yourself they’ve never walked in your shoes and no one has the right to judge what they don’t personally experience or understand. Let them judge. Let them talk. There will come a day when they too will desire a little compassion in their life. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up being that compassionate voice.

Education seemed to be the most logical next step to find some normalcy and rhyme and reason to a life disoriented. So I pursued an MBA and earned it within 5 years.
I learned…I can do what I set my mind to; I’m a good critical thinker; I’m a passionate creative force to be reckoned with; I’m a connector; I’m worth far more than I ever gave myself credit for.

But education doesn’t fix betrayal and trauma, so let’s get married!

I learned…marriage doesn’t fix it either, so I got divorced. Suffice it to say I picked the wrong man. His demons are his own and I hope he finds his own healing and way in life. I have my own junk to fix, and I learned quickly it’s not my job to fix his too. If I could have a redo, I’d say no to his proposal.

Let’s go back to work halfway through school. But betrayal exists in business too. And sometimes it exists in lifelong friendships and even in families.

I learned…I trust way too many people way too quickly. I assume people will be who they present themselves to be and will act with integrity and honesty. They don’t. I gave way too much of my time, talent, knowledge, and energy to people who were only interested in what I could do to help them get ahead. There’s a difference between helping people get what they want and helping them use you. My advice: hold your cards close; if people don’t act with integrity, move on quickly – you don’t owe anyone anything. With lifelong friends and family, sometimes it’s just a matter of a gross lack of communication and the unwillingness to agree to disagree. If the elephant remains in the room after you’ve tried to confront issues and seek resolution, I say let the elephant stay there. Maybe they enjoy the circus – they can have my front row seats. I’m exiting left.

Anger, fear, and resentment set in. They are like deep ruts worn into your soul, and you realize you better find something to fill in those ruts or they’ll end up so deep, you’ll never be able to crawl out.

I learned…I have permission to seek healing and forgiveness and to embark on a journey of self-discovery so that I can fully live again. I started this in the last quarter of 2016, continued in 2017, and plan to still be on the journey with a new mentality of POSSIBILITIES in 2018. I created healthy boundaries by letting go of both personal and business relationships that were toxic. I began seeking out and nurturing positive people who not only celebrated my strengths and contributions to the world, but also who were and continue to make their own mark on the world. These people are better than me in at least one area. I learn from them. I admire them. I trust them. They are worth my time, energy, and effort and they are givers, not just takers.

Possibilities…It is Possible to:
Heal again
Live again
Trust again
Dance again
Forgive again
Be healthy again
Dream again
Connect again
Be joyful again
Create again

Pray…again

Isaiah 43:18-19 rang in my ears as I read it for the 1000th time, and I realized it is Possible to,

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.”

And it is possible to believe that

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

The God of my youth, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, had never left me – has never left me – will never leave me or forsake me. I’ve forsaken Him plenty of times in my anger and bitterness and despair and questioning regarding betrayal and loss and trauma. There’s pieces of your soul that get scattered and sometimes it takes a lifetime to find those pieces. I’m not sure every piece returns. I think some pieces stay gone and that final restoration won’t happen until we meet Him face-to-face.

I know some people don’t believe in the whole concept that Jesus is Lord, and hell and heaven, and absolute truth. And as I move in and out of different circles of people I find more people who believe in subjective truth. It’s all very personal and opinion-based, but as I observe the world around me, I’m not so sure that’s even possible. Entropy and thermodynamics speak to some pretty profound absolutes. So does gravity and one-way streets and birth and death. I’m not so sure truth bends and changes to fit our personal preferences. I think it’s up to us to discover truth and then learn how to either reject it and own up to that rejection or embrace it and live accordingly.

I learned…it’s not up to me to convince other people of truth or right and wrong or their choice of what political party or religion to embrace. It’s also not my right to take on an “us versus them” mentality and arrogantly assume I know more than the next person or have some inside secret knowledge that is not freely available to all who would pursue it. What IS my responsibility in line with my own religious beliefs is that I am to love God, love people, and make disciples of those who ask for that specific mentorship. If not, continue to love God and people. Period. I’ve also learned I’m not another person’s judge and jury. I’m just another human being on the planet trying her best to make sense of her own questions and limitations and mortality. It’s time for me to spend more time working within my own space and less time crossing into another person’s space.

Stay tuned for my next post regarding possibilities in the world of business.

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Beautycounter – Karyn Callari

As most of you know, I’m always pleased to refer people and their products and/or services when I have a stellar experience that is friendly, educational, and positive. Karyn Callari is one of those delightfully friendly souls that is a breath of fresh air, unpretentious, and truly interested to help people understand the importance of using products free of harmful chemicals.

I have the privilege to test the skin care line and am impressed with just how little you need to use with each cleansing, making it a truly cost-effective line. Even the sample kit itself was much more impressive than most samples of other skin care lines. The kit included mini-sized tube versions of each product (about the size of a slender pinky finger) with little screw-on caps. I predict the kit should last about a week when using a pea-sized amount of each product (although the eye cream requires only half that), and that includes usage twice daily. My skin feels clean and soft and there has been no sensitivities whatsoever.

I feel confident I could recommend this for those who have sensitivities as well as those who are looking for alternatives to brands that are not regulated by the government. Unfortunately, because there is no USA regulation in the skin care industry, companies are still able to use harmful ingredients and chemicals in many products we use everyday. This is where Beautycounter is different as they ban over 1500 chemicals and will NEVER use them in their products!

If you are interested to learn more about Beautycounter’s skin care line with no obligation, visit Karyn’s website. Her mission is to spread Beautycounter’s mission of providing the public access to safer products.

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I Am In Mourning For Lost Auld Lang Syne

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne (old times sake, or days gone by)….love, love, love this version. As I was listening to this song, it struck me…not only am I in mourning for the shocking personal betrayals I have experienced, I am in mourning for the absence of auld lang syne.

They say 2016 was a turning year in American history (and even our world) and life as we knew it will no longer be. Civil rights battles, terrorism, technology super hacks (among other things)…are our reality now…it is no longer happening “over there” or to “those people.” These things no longer surprise and shock us…it fact, we expect them.

Life has become a game of Russian Roulette. We are not safe in our malls or sports arenas or nightclubs or churches or schools or small towns or quiet neighborhoods. It matters not the venue. People can no longer point a finger to judge a group of people for being “there,” because the “there” might just be where the pointed finger is.

Life has also become a challenge to know and be known. We no longer see each other face to face but through small 3″x5″ screens (sometimes larger if you FaceTime on a laptop). There is a certain fascination with this, however, as entire nations have been brought together in one community via the Internet. Viral challenges seek to bring all of humanity together. Airtime is no longer reserved for the “elite” Hollywood and music icons. A YouTube video of an unknown person from an unknown town can go viral within a matter of minutes and reach millions of viewers and end up on Good morning America or Ellen or The Tonight Show or Oprah or Saturday Night Live. This too reminds me of Russian Roulette in that you never know which antic will make you an instant celebrity overnight.

There is no longer mystery or awe or wonder or shock or surprise. It is slowly being drowned out by all the chaos and the noise and the chatter.

Stop.

Be still…and know that I am God. This verse resonates with me as I mourn for auld lang syne.

Elijah did not find God in the wind, earthquake, or fire…but in the still, small voice. This verse reminds me God wants me to come away to a quiet place to commune with Him.

I will never leave you or forsake you. I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. These verses remind me that no matter how noisy my world gets, no matter who betrays me, no matter how lost I may get in the present state of my life, no matter if I am rejoicing or in mourning, Jesus Christ will never leave me because I am His. And HE IS my Auld Lang Syne, my Ancient of Days. And no matter where I find myself in this life of Russian Roulette, HE knows my destiny and my appointment to meet Him face to face.

This old world can pull the trigger over and over and over again, but I am safe because my security and my peace and my hope and my salvation all lie within Christ, the One who has forgiven all my sins and made me His forever child. HE decides when the final round is fired, and I have nothing to fear because when it is, I will be with Him and will no longer mourn or be in pain or see death.

So during this intermission we call “time,” between “forever past” and “forever future,” I will give and take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne.

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So, You’re the Networking Queen (or King). Show Me Your Treasure.

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Business networking is all the rage and has been for quite some time. Various networking buzz words abound such as referral networking, social networking, professional networking and so on. Technically speaking, I’ve been in the “referral industry” since my elementary school days when I made my first connection to my schoolmate Ginger Lumpkin who had just discovered Barry Manilow. My mom had an album of all his greatest hits and I was able to “connect and refer.” As a result my mom gave Ginger that album (which sparked a lifelong musical love affair for her). Ginger caught up with me a few months ago while she was visiting Chattanooga and what old album was in the AirBnB? You guessed it.

Ginger Lumpkin 2017

30+ Years later, she’s still a fan of Barry.

Referrals: Challenging questions

But I digress. Professionally speaking, I’ve been in the referral industry for over 10 years. It’s in my blood. It’s the connection that excites me most – who do I know that can help you be more successful and move you towards your best future? However, this industry comes with its own challenges. Big questions exist like, “How well do I know the person I’m referring?” “What happens if my referral ends up being a disaster?” “What happens when I’m the one doing most of the referring to the detriment of my own financial well-being?” “How often do I need to network to keep my referral pipeline full?”

Networking: Which format is best?

And then there’s the actual task of networking to get those referrals. A Google search of the term “business networking” today produced 9.5 million results, while the term “referral networking” produced just over 414,000 results. “Referrals” produced a whopping 53.3 million results! One may ask why that’s relevant, and the answer is because there is an art to networking, and if we don’t understand how to network, we will forever be running from one networking event to the next with no hard data to show the success we’ve experienced in doing so. And may I be so bold to say that just because a well known face appears at every networking event over and over again, does not necessarily mean they are successfully living out a true referral networking model. A name is just that – the question is how is the name benefiting people in a positive manner? A person could probably spend all day every day at the number of networking events that exist, but without a clear vision and purpose, we might as well stay home.

Networking: I love you. I hate you.

Frankly, I have a love/hate relationship with networking because there are so many different belief systems as to how we should go about it. Some would say we should go to as many events and get as many connections as we can because it’s a numbers game. Others prefer to be members of exclusive referral groups where only one person from each professional category is granted membership. Still others prefer to do most of their networking online via LinkedIn or Alignable.  My opinion? It’s not about the venue or the method – it’s about why and how. Once we discover and learn those two essential keys, the business of networking will transform you both professionally and personally.

Networking Trolls

As most reading this already know, I prefer the exclusive referral group method in conjunction with utilizing the online sites I mentioned above. I detest attending various “events” for the sake of “being seen.” If you see me at an event, there’s probably a really good reason for it, not because I’m “trolling.” Networking “trolls” are what give networking a bad rap. We’ve all likely experienced them. We see them at every event. They make it a point to get their business cards in everyone’s hand and may even go around the room placing their flyers and business cards at everyone’s seat. And my all time favorite – when we enter into conversation with them, they monopolize it by ensuring we know that they know all the “important” people and have an insane need to impress us. Can anyone relate? (And if you are one – stop it! Eat a slice of humble pie and drop the act and just be authentic and transparent!)

Networking: Why and How?

No matter which networking method we choose to embrace, we must know why we are networking. Obviously we all need to take care of our financial obligations, but if there’s not a bigger purpose behind our wallet, perhaps we need to take a good look in the mirror and consider there might be some spiritual and personal development we need to pursue.

Why

We spend the majority of our lives working and we have an impact on the people we cross paths with even if we don’t realize it. The very first question I ask a business client or a student when I consult with them is “Why did you choose this line of work or field of study?” Most of the time I either receive an “I don’t know” answer or “Because I want to help people.” I continue asking why until we hit the heart of who that person is at the core. For example, I do what I do because I am all to familiar with personal tragedy and loss, and I know what it takes to rise up out of shattered dreams and innocence and get back in the game with confidence and new sense of purpose. There are many people I need to connect with to inspire them to keep moving forward. My personal why statement is, “I exist to elevate the lives of others through C.E.I.R.S. (Connect. Engage. Inspire. Refer. Succeed).” Every choice I make, every event I attend, every connection I make must align with my why statement, otherwise I’m doing myself and others a disservice.

How

The second key to successful networking is the how. There is no sugar coating this one – be a person of integrity and follow up. We need to say what we mean, do what we say, and follow up to ensure expectations were met, and if not fix it if it is within our control to do so. I have taught people over the years the how behind networking, and for me the best way to learn that is in an exclusive referral group format such as The Referrals Group. Being laser-focused on building our skills as master networkers is the secret to our own success, because Zig Ziglar was right when he said, “You will get all you want in life when you help others get all they want in life.” It’s the oxymoron of our lives – give to get.

Treasure

In conclusion, as the title indicated, if we claim to be networking queens or kings, we must have “treasure” to show for it. How many lives are we positively impacting? How many clients wouldn’t know what to do if they didn’t have our expertise and help? How many people refer us to others? How many people are following our lead? How much of our true self do our family and friends get? How do we help the poor and the needy? How do we invest in the next generation? The answers to these questions and more will show us what state our treasure boxes are in. What are we filling them with?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Grace Really True?

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If you struggle with grace and believe you must “work” to earn and/or keep your salvation, consider what the author of Romans in the New Testament of the Holy Bible preached about the matter…

Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) was a master theologian and one of the most prolific epistoleans of the New Testament after his conversion. He was born a Diaspora Jew, doggedly adhering to Jewish tradition, but also held Roman citizenship, which made him uniquely qualified to intelligently speak with Jews and Greeks alike. This former Pharisee and persecutor of the church was the student of Gamaliel, one of the most notable teachers of Jewish laws and customs in the 1st century.

He had participated in the stoning of Stephen, and had relentlessly tried to destroy the church of God because they believed Jesus was the Messiah. By Paul’s admittance, he had been just as zealous for “the traditions of Judaism” as those who were followers of The Way. It wasn’t until his blinding (literally) personal encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road that he was forever changed.

Paul’s conversion from Judaism to Christianity was so profound that he spent the rest of his life explaining the difference between righteousness based on the law, which he had sought in his former life and righteousness based on the death of Christ, which had true power to transform a life and set one’s standing right with God. The persecutor became the persecuted. The Pharisee became a humble follower of Jesus.

In Galatians he confirms that the Gospel he now preaches was not taught to him by any human, but rather a direct revelation from Jesus Christ Himself.

If there was ever a person who understood forgiveness and righteousness imputed to someone based on grace and not works, it is Paul.

I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Romans 4. We are blessed if we are forgiven, with our sins covered, never to be counted against us.

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Press Release: The Referrals Group Introduces Ginger Terrell as Regional Director for the Southeast

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bart Giles
Phone: 502-777-6639
E-mail: bart@thereferralsgroup.com

The Referrals Group Introduces Ginger Terrell as Regional Director

Chattanooga, TN (May 3, 2017) The Referrals Group announced that Ginger Terrell will be the Regional Director for their new expansion into the Southeast. Terrell will serve as the main public contact and spokesperson for the Southeast division and will work closely with highly skilled, busy professionals to build dynamic, effective, efficient groups who are like-minded and focused on quality and results. Ginger has lived in Chattanooga since 1978 and has a vast and varied network in virtually every business sector and social circle both here and abroad. Her work experience spans several industries to include Business and Career Consulting, Marketing and Advertising, Food and Beverage, and Insurance. During her downtime she enjoys blogging, listening to music, reading, and cooking.

The Referrals Group Founder, Bart Giles stated, “I am more than thrilled to have her join the team. Ginger is a 10-year veteran of the business networking sector, she holds an MBA from Liberty University and is known as a great connector and team builder,” reports Giles. “I think she will do great things in this area.  We are thrilled to have her on board to move the business forward.”

The referral process is hands down the best way to develop new business and build long-lasting relationships,” says Terrell. “I have spent a significant amount of time during the last decade training business professionals how to be effective networkers who provide quality referrals, and I’m not even the best trainer in the world! Probably the biggest asset I bring to The Referrals Group is my ability to be a ‘Master Connector;’ I live to connect people and watch beautiful things happen.”

According to Giles, The Referrals Group was created to improve the reputation of referral network marketing and to provide an organized way to confidently provide legitimate referrals, which produce positive results. The first group started in January 2014 in Lexington KY, and as of today 32 groups are dispersed between Louisville and Lexington. “This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model,” says Giles. “We create a custom plan for each group based around their collective goals. The expansion will permit us to offer additional services and/or an alternative to other networking groups in the Southeast for busy, successful professionals who are either unable to be a part of other groups due to classification lockouts and/or cannot attend weekly meetings on a regular basis.”

For more information on The Referrals Group, check out the website at www.thereferralsgroup.com or contact Regional Director, Ginger Terrell at  423-355-1921 or ginger@TheReferralsGroup.com. You can also find the Southeast division’s Facebook page at facebook.com/TheReferralsGroupSE.

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