Beauty in Diversity


What comes to mind when you hear the term “refugee”? If you’re like most people, you probably picture the poor and outcast of society. Today, we are speaking with Chelsey Howden, who has learned through experience that this is not usually the case. Chelsey shares with us her beautiful story of meeting Ganga, a refugee from Nepal, and the friendship that has ensued.

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4word:  How did you meet Ganga?

Chelsey: Ganga and I met in 2012 at a sewing group called Vickery Threads, held weekly in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood of Dallas. For those who aren’t familiar with Vickery Meadow, it is one of the most overlooked and ethnically-diverse neighborhoods in Dallas. It is home to immigrants and refugees from over 31 different language groups.

The Vickery Threads sewing group was created by a woman named Amy Kahn, who had a vision of reaching out to refugee women by teaching them how to sew. The hope was that the refugee women could use these sewing skills to make some extra income for their families, while creating an atmosphere where lasting friendships could be formed and the love of Christ could be shared.

The night I met Ganga almost two years ago, I actually had other plans with a girlfriend. My friend asked if I would be willing to come with her to Vickery Threads and then grab dinner afterwards. I decided to tag along. Ironically, my friend was only able to come to Vickery Threads one more time, but I kept coming!

4word: What was that first meeting like?

Chelsey: At that first meeting with Ganga and some of the other refugee women, I was intimidated. I didn’t know what to talk about or how to pronounce their names. I wondered what they thought about me. But the more I got to know these girls, the more I came to respect them and the way that they survive in a land where everything is foreign. I marvel at the incredible stories they have to tell. They have generous hearts, incredible potential, and beautiful dreams.

4word: What was Ganga’s greatest need when you met her and how have you helped her assimilate to life in the U.S.?

Chelsey: When I met Ganga, she was a senior in high school and had only been in the U.S. for two years. Having spent the first 16 years of her life in a refugee camp in Nepal, Ganga faced all kinds of challenges in her new life in Dallas.

She knows the value of education and was attending high school, while also learning a new language, running a household, and caring for a husband and a six month old son. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around the many obstacles this young woman faced, but when Ganga asked me to edit her scholarship essays for college I agreed at once.  I thought, “This is something I can do.”

From there, our friendship bloomed and God continues to provide unique ways for me to be a friend to Ganga on an almost weekly basis. Sometimes it’s a ride to the grocery store or an invitation to hang out. Other times, it’s interpreting a legal document or bringing her a donated couch or bag of children’s clothes. Every Sunday, I swing by Vickery Meadow and pick up Ganga and her now 2 year old son and bring them to church with me.

Ganga returns the friendship 10-fold by inviting me into her life. She often cooks something delicious for me or invites me to a Nepali birthday party or wedding. She has blessed me with her trust and has shared her story with me. My faith is encouraged as I witness God’s beautiful provision for her through the body of Christ.

4word: What has building a relationship with someone society considers an outcast taught you?

Chelsey: I would describe this experience as incredibly rewarding and also as an adventure in faith. I am just a regular person and often feel ill equipped to help with some of the obstacles that refugees face.

Many times I am tempted to stay safely planted in my comfort zone, but through my relationship with Ganga, I am learning to say yes to God and to be desperately dependent on Christ for the wisdom and courage I lack. My faith grows deeper as I watch God prove His faithfulness and sufficiency time and time again.

God is teaching me that faithful investments over time yield amazing results. Though I am not specially qualified to reach out to refugees, He is showing me that “long obedience in the same direction” is far more valuable than always knowing the right thing to say or do.

4word: Diversity is a beautiful thing, yet there are obvious challenges when ministering to someone from another culture. What challenges did you and Ganga encounter and how did you overcome them?

Chelsey: The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is the language barrier. Even though Ganga’s English is pretty good, especially compared to her parents’ generation, miscommunication still happens all the time. Just making simple plans to meet up can involve many layers of communication. I wouldn’t say that we have overcome this obstacle, but I am learning to be flexible and to keep my expectations in check. I am also learning to over communicate everything. I’ll send a message on Facebook, then later follow up with a text or a call. I ask lots of questions to confirm that we are on the same page. Face to face in-person communication is always best – all in order to communicate as effectively as possible.

4word: How would you encourage women wanting to reach out to those from other cultures, but feel that they don’t have the skills or the knowledge to do so?

Chelsey: Kindness, a warm smile, and respect transcend all cultures. Educate yourself by asking sincere and thoughtful questions. Don’t get discouraged, but give yourself credit for trying! It really means so much that you care enough to try. View each interaction as a chance to learn. You may not know much about a culture now, but just think of how much more you’ll know in a month or even a year.

Your greatest gifts are your time and your friendship. Don’t feel like you are only there to meet physical or financial needs. Hold your plans in an open hand and be open to how God might redirect.

For women that feel called to love and serve the refugees right here in Dallas, I would recommend getting involved with one of the amazing groups already at work in Vickery Meadow.  Below is a list of several ministries and organizations doing great things in this neighborhood:

Northwest Bible Church

Vickery Kids Club

Perspectives

Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow

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Have you ever reached out to someone of another culture? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments!

Chelsey Howden is a native Texan and a resident of Dallas, TX. She is currently the Senior Real Estate Analyst at UCR Asset Services and offices at The Shops at Park Lane, a short walk from Vickery Meadow. Chelsey is a member at Northwest Bible Church and is excited about her church’s desire to serve the refugee community in Dallas and transform Vickery Meadow with the Gospel. Chelsey volunteers as a budget counselor with New Friends New Life, a local organization that helps restore and empower sexually exploited women, and she is also an active member of Bible Study Fellowship.

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Running Broken

boston-marathon-running-brokenLike many of you, I watched closely last year, as a deadly bombing at the finish of the Boston Marathon and an ensuing manhunt seemed to turn the entire city of Boston inside out. I was in Boston at the time, and had many hours in unanticipated hotel lock-down to think and pray about the impact that the bomb and bombers would have. The pain and fear in the city were palpable and weighty.

Today, one year later, there are over thirty-five thousand runners participating in the Boston Marathon. Together they comprise the second largest field in the race’s 118-year history. In case you’re wondering, it’s about 9,000 more runners than last year.

For too many people, the Boston Marathon bombing was a devastating and life-altering experience. But something happened in the days and weeks and months that followed. From that devastation a story began to emerge and to take hold: it was a story not of tragedy and weakness, but of strength.  A story of resiliency and of slow triumph. It is very-much a continuing story, as people from all over the world persist towards recovery and healing and growth.

It brings to mind Hebrews 12:1: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

And maybe it’s just the way that the whole “Boston Strong” angle is playing out in the media, but it seems to me that many of those impacted are making strength and healing, and even joy a conscious choice. Rather than dwell on the evil that touched their lives,they are “running with endurance” the path that has been laid out before them. Survivors have banded together to build diverse support communities. Teams of doctors and nurses who treated victims last year are running the race themselves today.

To me, it presents an incredible reminder of the redemptive power of God’s love.

From brokenness, God builds strength.

We just celebrated Easter, and if you think about it, that’s pretty much what this holiday is all about. What greater image of strength in brokenness is there than that of Christ on the cross? But it doesn’t stop there.

This truth is reflected over and over throughout God’s creation, even down to the way our own bodies work. Have you ever wondered why you get sore after a particularly tough work out? It’s because when you exercise, you are actually damaging your muscles. Tiny, cellular-level damage, but damage nonetheless. And as your body works to heal that damage, it builds muscles that are stronger and more resilient than before.

It works that way with relationships too. When we want someone to think well of us, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to present our best selves. But it’s the people who’ve seen you and loved you through your weakest, ugliest times that you feel closest to. Out of weakness and vulnerability, strong relationships grow.

I’ve seen the same pattern reflected in my own life. Over the brokenness of a failed marriage and a rebellious teenage son, through the fear of losing my daughter to illness and the grief of losing both my parents, God has built bridges of trust, and grace, and love.

Not one of us is in perfect form; we are all running broken, in some way. As the runners hit the pavement today in Boston, I encourage you to consider the areas of brokenness in your life, not with shame or regret, but with hope. Know, as the runners do, that great brokenness leaves room for powerful redemption.

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How have you seen God work in brokenness?

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Boston Marathon Survivors, 4 Organization Apps for Your Life, You Can’t Argue Your Way To a Better Relationship

Happy Easter, 4word women! Before you head into this festive weekend, take a moment to browse our favorites from the week. We’ve even got a last-minute egg dye tip!

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Frans Hofmeester shares the 14-year transformation of his daughter from birth to present in a three and a half minute time lapse, after recording her every week of her life.

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A Pinterest Find

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Can’t seem to find your Easter egg dye kit? No problem! Just grab some packets of Kool-Aid and dunk your eggs in a delicious-smelling bath of color! (Resist the urge to take a sip!)

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One Woman’s Tale of “Having it All”

having-it-allWe are thrilled to introduce you to May Oh. Now the owner of her own law firm in Singapore, May formerly held the position of the first woman director of Mobile Oil. We couldn’t wait to hear how she has managed to balance her vibrant faith, with her successful career, while she also cared for her family. Her son and daughter are now adults, but May recalls the challenges of balancing work, faith, and family and she shares her insights with us today.

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4word: Can you share with us your career path? What led you to owning your own law firm?

May: I studied law in London. When I came back to Singapore from England, I was required to be attached to a senior lawyer and pass a local exam before I could be called to the Singapore Bar. My pupil-master, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, was a brilliant lawyer who attained first class honors from Cambridge University. She was a wonderful teacher and taught me so much in conveyancing and corporate law. With my interest in corporate law, I decided after I was called to the Singapore Bar, to apply for a job in Mobil Oil Singapore.

I was hired as a legal assistant. At that time, Mobil Oil Singapore represented the largest US investment in Singapore. Mobil Oil Singapore’s refinery rapidly expanded over the next five years, causing me to work late every night.

At the age of 31, I was appointed to the Board of Mobil Oil Singapore. I was the first Asian and the first woman director of the company. Besides Singapore, I also had legal responsibilities for Thailand and Malaysia.

I was honored to have been recognized for my work. The new position meant a lot of travel for me.  I traveled often to New York and areas of Southeast Asia. After doing this for awhile, I decided to start my own law firm, which was something that I had always wanted.

I was 42 years old, and decided that it was time to fulfill my dream of being independent and having my own firm. I have never regretted it. I enjoyed my time with Mobile Oil, but I love the flexibility I have owning my own firm. I like the independence I have. My partner in the law firm (Miss Wee Eng Hwa, daughter of the late Dr. Wee Kim Wee, former president of Singapore) is also a devout Christian. We decided that small is beautiful, so we have purposefully kept our firm small to maintain our independence. We’re happy doing God’s work in the market place. We run a Bible class every week in our office. I could not do that in a large firm.

4word: What is the greatest need you see in the business world today?

May: I think integrity and knowing Christ are the greatest needs. If we can follow Christ’s example of love, integrity, and humility, I think it will be a much better place.

4word: What are your secrets for balancing your career and family?

May: I have two children and six grandchildren whom I am very close to. When I first joined Mobil, it was a difficult time as I needed to travel a good deal for meetings and conferences.

I made it a point to spend my evenings that I was not working late, and my weekends with my family.

I think the main thing is not so much the quantity of time spent, but the quality of time spent with family. Because I was working full time, I cherished my time with the family at home.

4word: How has your upbringing influenced you in your career? In raising your family?

May: My mother is the greatest influence in my life. Her father was a pastor in China. He passed on the Christian values and faith and she grew up fearing the Lord. My parents married young- ages 21 and 22. By the time they were 32 they had seven children. I was the youngest.

During the colonial days in Singapore, my dad was the Chief Inspector of School. He passed his love of education on to me and I now sit on the board of my old school, the Methodist Girls School.

When I was 16, I fell very ill. During that time, the doctors told my mother they didn’t know what was wrong and a cure would be very difficult. My mother had great faith during that time and prayed daily for my recovery.

Praise the Lord for His goodness; I did recover and after two years of studying at home, I left for England to study law. My mother passed her deep faith in the Lord to me, and that helped a lot in my career, especially in difficult situations. London was my first time overseas, and when I felt homesick I prayed to Jesus and He was always there to comfort and guide me.

My love and faith in the Lord and love for education have certainly helped me in my career and in raising my children.

4word: What advice do you have for women who are trying to “do it all”- have a flourishing career, grow their faith, and build their family?

May: I think mainly to trust in the Lord- have faith in Him. The Lord has a plan for each of our lives. Follow Him and look to Him for guidance. Don’t try to do everything on our own strength, but with the Lord’s strength and guidance.

Whatever the difficulties are, if we trust Him and seek His help, He will always be there for us.

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How does your faith affect your career? Are you trusting in God’s plan, or trying to do it all on your own?

May Oh

May Oh has been practicing law for 28 years. Before starting her own law firm, she was an Executive Director and Director of Legal/Government Affairs for Mobil Oil Singapore, directing the legal affairs of a US$100 million enterprise capable of processing 175,000 barrels of oil daily in its Singapore facility. She also held legal responsibility for Malaysia and Thailand.

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The “Bad” Little Word You Need To Say More

bad-word-say-more-noNo.

There, I said it! It feels good to practice; maybe you should give it a try. Repeat after me:

“No, I cannot attend this event.”

“No, I cannot serve as room mom for little Johnny’s class.”

“No, I cannot take on a new project.”

“No, I cannot join [insert laudable professional or civic organization here].”

No. No. No!

I’m making light of it here, but I’ll be the first to acknowledge that saying “no” is hard. It can be really really hard. It feels bad, or at the very least uncomfortable. In fact, research shows that people struggle with saying “no,” even when they absolutely, objectively should say it.

In one study last year at the University of Waterloo, college students approached strangers and asked them to vandalize a library book by writing the word “pickle” across one of the pages. Would you do it? It’s a silly request, right? Objectively, it’s wrong to deface library books. Not illegal maybe, but wrong. You don’t know the person asking, you don’t have history with them and you don’t have to worry about preserving your relationship. You should say no. And many people did. But a full 50% said yes!

Why did they do it?

Because saying “no” is hard!

Professionally, many of us are simply wired to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes our way. I’m competitive by nature, and I really love a challenge. Plus, I know a lot of professional women who feel like they need to be working and networking and serving extra hard all the time in order to get anywhere. On a personal level, we worry about hurting people’s feelings, threatening relationships, or disappointing people.

And “no” almost always does disappoint. It is a rejection of something, flat out. Ouch.

Nevertheless, you should probably be saying it more.

The most productive, creative, successful people in the world are saying no all the time. People like Warren Buffett, Peter Drucker, Steve Jobs, even the novelist Charles Dickens extoll the virtues of limiting their commitments.

These people are not mean or selfish. They simply understand that time and energy are finite resources. If you say yes to too many things, you cripple your ability to give anything your best effort. In order to steward the resources God has given you, you must say “no” a lot.

Like most of you, no can be hard for me, but I’ve gotten much better at it over time. It helps me to keep my “no’s” in perspective. Sometimes it’s no, not ever, flat out, period. When I was working at ProLogis—doing what, at that time, I considered to be my “dream job”—and the CEO asked me to move my family to Denver, I knew that saying “no” would mean it was time to find a new job. I was closing a door in order to protect my family priorities.

Sometimes, though, no simply means, “not now, but maybe later.” A few years ago I was approached by a friend at the Bush Institute and asked to be part of their Women’s Initiative Fellowship, an international mentoring program for women. It sounded like an incredible opportunity, and mentoring is right in line with my passions and my talents. But when I looked at what I had on my plate, it was clear to me that I couldn’t handle a commitment like this one. I said no. But I also said, “please ask me again in a few years.” They did. And this year I’m serving as an enthusiastic mentor to a bright Tunisian woman.

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To use it effectively, you need to mentally reframe what “no” means for you: it is so much more than a rejection! Every time you turn away an opportunity or a new commitment, you are protecting or nurturing something else. God has given me (and you!) unique gifts, and He has called us to excellence. The simple truth is that doing anything well requires time, and time is a limited resource.

Okay, all of this “no means yes!” positivity sounds great from a distance. What actually happens when you get that call? You know the one I’m talking about.

The phone rings, and it’s your friend Sally, who starts almost immediately into her pitch. She is launching a new project to aid disadvantaged women in the community. She wants you to serve on her board. You like Sally. You like what she is doing. Moreover you have been Sally, calling friends and asking them to give their time to something. Maybe you have even called Sally. Maybe (gulp) she said yes the last time you asked her for something. On the phone, Sally is passionate and enthusiastic and “won’t take no for an answer.” Your heart beats a little faster, your thoughts race as you consider your current slate of commitments. You grip the phone tight and blink slowly. Deep breaths.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step back. Buy yourself some thinking and praying time. When it comes to big commitments or decisions especially, I try to never answer on the spot. You can say simply, “I need to take some time to think this over. Can I let you know tomorrow?” If the person presses you for an immediate answer, it’s most likely because they know that the odds are in their favor in the heat of the moment. Don’t be bullied. Stand up for yourself if you have to, and make it clear that you are careful about your commitments. You can do it in a very nice way: “This sounds important, it deserves the best efforts of your Board members, and I need some time to think through whether or not I’m able to give it my best efforts.”

Run the strengths and priorities test. In order to make good decisions about your commitments, you need to have a clear idea of what your priorities and strengths are. For me, big picture priorities are faith first, then family, then career. When new opportunities come up, I run through a mental test:

  1. How does this fit with the gifts God gave me?
  2. How does this help or hurt my faith, family, career?
  3. How much time will it realistically take away from something else?
  4. Is there something I’m doing now that I should give up in order to pursue this?

Be firm, and kind, and firm. If you’re answer is no, say so plainly. There is certainly room for kindness; you’re rejecting the thing here, not the person who wants you to do it. You can invite Sally to keep you updated on her progress, offer to pray for her efforts or offer a monetary donation to her cause if it feels right. But don’t get so wrapped up in being nice that you start sending mixed messages. Don’t apologize for your decision unless you really have something to apologize for (you probably don’t). Don’t invite them to ask you again another time unless you really do want them to (because they will). Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself if necessary (sometimes, it is).

Even with lots of practice, saying no is not easy, but it’s a huge part of leading a balanced life and accomplishing your goals. You can do it!

Now, while I have you here, there’s this great opportunity I’ve been wanting to talk to you about…

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Should you be saying “no” more? What your best tip for avoiding over-commitment?

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3 Reasons Business Cards Are Vital, The Best Summer Interns, Are Love and Respect The Same Thing?

For those who have been on Spring Break the past week, we hope you’ve had a chance to relax and regroup. For those who are going into Spring Break next week, have fun! Here are 4word’s favorites from the past week! Enjoy your weekend!

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After the announcement for the launch of The Lion King Broadway show in Brisbane, passengers on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney were treated to an impromptu performance by the Lion King cast.

 

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A Pinterest Find

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If you find yourself hosting an Easter party or two in the next couple of weeks, here are 10 easy Easter food ideas that will keep the kiddos happy!

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When God Says “Not Yet”

Jennifer Howell

Unmet desires can be heartbreaking. So how do you handle it? Today, we are speaking to Jennifer Howell, who lived with a deep unmet desire for a life partner for many years. Jennifer’s story is one of faith and courage. We hope that you will not only be inspired, but will also find some practical truth for your life’s situation.

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4word: Can you start by sharing with us about your journey through singleness and to becoming engaged?

Jennifer: This past summer I celebrated my 40th birthday with a great sense of joy. Work was going well, I felt blessed for the friends and family in my life, and I knew I was spending my birthday with my future husband. All that was certainly wonderful. However, I felt most proud to be celebrating another year of truly loving myself and for finding joy as a single woman.

Just a couple years prior, I could not have said that. I was lamenting that I was single and not where I thought I should be in my personal life. For context, I broke off an engagement when I was 29 and was hopeful that my future husband was right around the corner. Little did I know, I would be single for another 10 years. Most of those 10 years were filled with a mixture of dating and tears, lots of learning, and searching for purpose in my life.

After I found peace and joy in singleness, it seemed like a very short time before I met Evan, my future husband. I joke that I didn’t realize I would meet Evan so quickly! I honestly thought it might be another 10 years before I met the man God planned for me, and I was happy with that notion. I was happy, because I knew God had great things in store for me!

4word: The desire for a life partner is a strong one that many women feel, but easily goes unmet. What were some ways that you coped with this unmet desire?

Jennifer: I can relate to girlfriends who have a strong desire to get married, but seem to never meet that right guy. It is a struggle to stay positive, put yourself out there to meet someone, and then get disappointed – sometimes over and over.

For me, I took a leap of faith from a trusted advisor and tried something different. I was advised by my counselor at church to take a break from dating when I was 36. It was a crazy idea to take time off from dating when I “needed to be out there more than ever,” I thought.

The counselor explained that when you are in a relationship, you are less likely to work on yourself. People tend to focus on the “we” in the relationship instead of the “you,” slowing individual growth.

During my 9 month dating break (yes, 9 months!), I assessed choices I had made, spent time with my emotions, healed some pain in my life, and worked on my struggle to trust God and His plan for me. I also took other actions that I reference in my blog that was posted by 4word, A Path to Joy in Singleness.

Giving up dating for 9 months isn’t for everyone, so I don’t expect others to jump on the bandwagon. However, I do recommend taking advantage of the gift of singleness and focusing on your growth opportunities. That 9-month period was life-changing. In fact, I attribute my relationship with my fiancé to that period of time.

4word: Through your experience, what is the healthiest way a single woman can manage her desire for a life partner?

Jennifer: Everyone has different life experiences, so I can best share what has been helpful to me. Managing my desire for a life partner was a struggle, because I thought I was doing a lot of right things to prepare myself for my future partner. I was addressing growth areas, I prayed a lot, I surrounded myself with great people, and put myself in situations to meet new people. However, my guy still wasn’t showing up. He wasn’t showing up after 15 years of searching!

I realized I wasn’t fully letting go and trusting God. I was so used to relying on my skills to make things happen in my professional life, that I wasn’t relying on God to take over my personal life. In fact, I was frustrated with His timing. After this realization, I began to repeat, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.” It’s a hybrid of Proverbs 3:5-6 and Matthew 22:37. Over time, my faith in God deepened, as did my sense of joy.

4word: You mentioned having faith and trusting God. What does that mean and how does it apply to the search for a partner?

Jennifer: Trusting God’s timing and plan for our lives allows us to focus more on our purpose for being and less on what we don’t have. This shift enables us to see how truly blessed we are.

Perhaps we are blessed with singleness to accomplish things we could not accomplish while married. Perhaps we are learning lessons that will make us healthier and stronger so we meet a healthier, stronger mate.

Living our life purpose brings us joy and confidence. Don’t we all want to be around joyful, confident people? When we live our purpose, we become a lightning rod for great people and great gifts. We are also better equipped to serve and help others

4word: What does it mean to be content in your current status?

Jennifer: I think contentment in our current life stage is directly related to self-love, the love of others, and the love of God. I don’t believe contentment is wrapped up in romantic love. I came to this realization from personal experience.

Most of us are familiar with God’s commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31. Well, this requires us to do just that – love ourselves. We all know great women who demonstrate their love of neighbors by volunteering, taking care of others’ needs, and making themselves available to serve. However, we  also know women who overcommit, put their friends and families first before their own needs, and are pretty harsh on themselves.

I have to admit I was a woman in the latter category and didn’t realize it. I was not showing myself the same care and love I showed others. My daily voice inside my head was often so unloving, extremely self-judging, and out-right mean. No wonder I was miserable and discontent!

I became conscious of that mean voice inside my head and began to counter it with sweet, loving phrases. I also learned to say no to overcommitting and used that time to practice self-care. As the negative voice subsided in my head, so did my discontentment.

4word:  Any other thoughts you’d like to add?

Jennifer: We all desire a sense of community with like-minded people. This was especially true for me when most of my friends were married and I felt like the only one who was alone. I began seeking women who were forging a path in the single world, and frankly, succeeding at it more than me.

It was nice to know I was in great company with women I admire. These women became mentors in my life and I learned nuggets of wisdom from each of them. Plus, it was just great to call them up and go see a movie on a Saturday night or grab a glass of wine. I recommend everyone seek girlfriends you admire that are walking in similar shoes as yourself. To me, I call these women luminaries, and I will forever seek them out.

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Are you living with any unmet desires? How can you apply the principles Jennifer mentioned to your situation?

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5 Ways to Build Your Faith at Work

5-ways-build-faith-workThis week’s Monday Blog comes from Sharla Langston. Sharla is one of the founders of Women Doing Well and the non-profit, Inspiring Generous Joy. Through these organizations, Sharla lives out her passion of helping Christian women discover their purpose, ignite their passion and make a plan for living and giving in God’s image. Sharla is also a director part time with the National Christian Foundation of North Texas, helping givers maximize their resources for the Kingdom. I love Sharla’s take on building the power of your faith at work, and I hope you do too! -Diane

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Recently, Daily Worth published a blog on “5 Ways to Build Your Power at Work.”

How impactful this could be for Christian women if the power was transferred to God’s power and expressed through faith. The DW article covered five areas: (1) Be Open to Others’ Influence; (2) Control Your Internal Resources; (3) Channel Your Popularity Into Power; (4) Focus on Quality; and (5) Be Trustworthy.

For the Christian, harnessing true power comes with obedience and humility, not exactly the power nouns found in corporate America. This principle of power, lived out in Jesus’ life time and time again and exhibited as he stated the last will be first and the first will be last.  True power is often defined as influence. For a man who lived on earth only 33 years, his influence has lived on thousands of years.  That impact translates to considerable power.

1. Two-way Influence. The influence of others on your life is as important as your influence on those around you and is often expressed as mentoring and accountability. By being mentored and held accountable in a trusted faith relationship, you can pour into others around you. As a Christian, biblical truth is your guide and can be applied in the workplace without quoting scripture. Again, humility allows you to listen to colleagues, while obedience to God’s truth keeps you on track. This give and take dynamic impacts your leadership capacity in the workplace and demonstrates God’s power lived out through you. Your co-workers and people you lead will notice. Who is influencing you? Who are you influencing?

2. Get Grounded. What has more power, your inner life or external life? Your ability to live as God has designed depends on trusting the source more than yourself or others. As God’s unique creation, no job, boss, or market competition can take away your character and value. But the world eats away at biblical truth and your desire to protect your mind and heart needs consistent investment. Think about how much corporate training on hard and soft skills you receive and try to balance out your inner disciplines. Seeking God daily, trusting his Word, and putting yourself in the community of other tarnished saints will build your inner core.

3. Know The Power of Love. Loving God, yourself and others creates irresistible influence. Jesus chose the sinners to spend time with and to love. I bet there are a few sinners in your workplace. Keep your efforts vertical – not expecting to be loved in return, in fact you might not even be liked. This is not the doormat approach, but tough love where it is needed and mercy on those whose lives are miserable without a savior. Deep down, people will respond. Your transparency will build influence over time.

4. Go Deep Over Going Wide. You can’t be everything to everybody. Jesus started with twelve and you too can be a significant influence on a handful of those working for you and to whom you report. Over time, the handfuls change, but your influence sticks. Who is in your hand? Identify them and focus your efforts to live out your influence in multiple ways suited to your unique qualities.

5. Trust. It is likely that at least once in your career you have experienced being stabbed in the back, thrown under the bus, or had the carpet pulled out from under you. Over time, you lose trust in others, the process, or the company. But have they lost trust in you? You would be ill-advised to blindly accept what is on the surface of every deal, program, or conversation. In spite of the caution you carry to steer clear of pitfalls, remain steadfast in your pursuit of speaking the truth, acting honorably, and choosing wisely. All this is easily said, but how do you repeatedly speak, act and choose well in a political environment with ungodly players? Your influence depends on the reputation, or influence, you have built as a trusted source of fairness and authenticity. The closer you trust the Lord to provide for your employment, income, and favor, the more peace you will have the next time you are under the bus.

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What’s your take on building the power of your faith at work?

If you’re interested in contacting Sharla directly, you can reach her at sharla@womendoingwell.org, or slangston@nationalchristian.com.

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13 Productive Wastes of Time, Women Leaders Can and Should Do Better, Gmail’s 10th Birthday

Welcome to April, 4word women! Spring has sprung in most of the country, so before you begin your weekend enjoying the fresh air and mild temperatures, take a few moments to catch our favorites from the past week!

Take Notice

 

Video of the Week
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To celebrate Gmail’s 10th birthday, Mashable created this illustrated explanation of what happens to that email after you press “Send”.

 

Top Three

A Pinterest Find

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Easter is coming, so get a head start on your egg decorating plans with these 21 creative ideas!

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Know Your Calling. Live with Purpose.

Brian Burchik

What’s the meaning of life? This age old questions has haunted mankind since, well, the beginning of life. As believers, we know the answer to that question can only be found in the One who created us. This week, we are speaking with Brian Burchik, pastor and author of #LiveFully. We introduced you to Brian in December, in our Gifts That Give Back Guide. Today, Brian is taking us deeper into his book, sharing his belief that it’s not enough to know God, but that we must discover His calling for our lives and live with purpose.

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4word: Where did the name #LiveFully come from?

Brian: In the Bible, we see Jesus offering “life to the full” to his followers (John 10:10). At the church where I was pastoring, we simplified this truth down to the statement “to follow Jesus is to live fully.” And in regards to the whole hashtag thing, I’m not sure why, but I’ve always seen that symbol as a part of the phrase. To this day, I’ve yet to see another book with the hashtag in the title, so that’s pretty cool I guess.

4word: The book is just the beginning of the #LiveFully project. Can you explain more about that?

Brian: The vision for #LiveFully has always been more than a book, although the book does provide the foundational perspectives that fuel the greater movement. Practically speaking, #LiveFully is a blog, a weekend retreat/conference experience, an accredited college course, and a semester-long high school curriculum currently in the making. With all these things, we view #LiveFully as one of many efforts working for a renaissance of sorts in the Christian community – empowering people of all ages to impact the world in the name of Jesus.

4word: What is the main concept that you want people to take away from #LiveFully?

Brian: The driving conviction of #LiveFully is that following Jesus truly is the greatest way to live – not just for some future benefit, but for the fullness of life to be experienced right now. We’re convinced that there’s not a more compelling or consistent vision for all of life than the vision unfolded in the Bible, and our hope is that #LiveFully resources and experiences clarify how you can take hold of the most full life and live out your God-given calling.

4word: To those whose professions are outside of the church world, what advice do you have for them about embracing their role and impacting their communities?

Brian: A major belief of #LiveFully is that followers of Jesus are called to impact every channel of cultural life. So whether it’s in government, education, business, entertainment, or raising kids, followers of Jesus are called to be salt and light in those places.

In terms of specific advice, I would start by encouraging people to tap into their God-given imagination. We need to look at our professions and ask the questions, “What does redemption look like here?” “How can my work contribute to a flourishing society?” Depending on your current job, it may feel like you can’t contribute much, but I’m convinced that God can use even the smallest of steps to advance His kingdom on the earth.

4word: What have you found to be the greatest barrier that keeps people from living God’s best for their lives?

Brian: There are obviously many barriers that hold people back from living fully. And there’s obviously the Sunday school answer for how to overcome those: Jesus. It does all start with making the vulnerable decision to look beyond ourselves and trust God with our lives. However, that decision is just the beginning.

Specifically for those in the Christian community, a major reason for not living fully is the lack of vision for what God is calling them to do with their lives. Many Christians are going through the motions without a lot of direction for how God wants to use their specific gifts and passions to advance his kingdom on the earth. Helping to clarify one’s God-given calling is a major goal of the #LiveFully book, and it’s been extremely exciting to see people awaken to how they can contribute to God’s greater work in the world.

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Do you view your profession as a calling? How are you living the full life that Jesus promised?

Brian Burchik is a speaker, writer and ministry coach with one simple goal: to empower people to live the most full life on the planet. The #LiveFully project was born in 2011with the purpose of helping people clarify why they are here. Brian is a devoted husband and father. #LiveFully is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook on Amazon. You can also find Brian on Twitter @BrianBurchik.

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