Do you know that you are Loved?

There are a few words that have become attached to me over the past years. I cling to them, exhume them, and force them to come alive in my own life until they become a part of me. “Intentional” is definitely one of those words. Far too often people have good intentions. We all want to live our best life now. We want to lose a few pounds. We want to go back to school one day. We want to get our finances in order. We want to live and pursue our dreams. We all want to love and be loved by someone.

Yet we go through life completing the same routines every day. We eat the same stuff, read the same material, watch the same shows, and listen to the same voices (in our head and outside of it). We watch the days go by and let life happen to us. That’s a passive way of living, and it does not get us the results that we desire. If we truly want to live free, then we must intentionally make choices that put us on another life course. Spiritual retreats are great opportunities to pause and reflect, and then hit the reset button on life.

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Announcing My Next Book Deal

Imagine two neighbors, one white and one black sitting down for a cup of coffee. The white neighbor has history in the small town—her family runs the local restaurant, her uncle is the community pastor, her mom is a career teacher at the only primary school, and her great uncle is the mayor. The story of the white neighbor is well known by everyone and it is considered normal. The black neighbor is new to town, so her story is virtually unknown. It is either distorted, rarely heard, or told in small snippets.

This is what it sometimes feels like to be black in America. We are treated as outsiders in a town where those in the majority group know and trust each other because of a known and shared history; but because of limited personal interactions, lack of familiarity, or cultural awareness, it is easy for Americans who identify as white to perpetuate lies and myths about their black and brown neighbors.

Some may ask: Why are we so divided across racial/ethnic and socioeconomic lines in America? I believe people desperately want an accessible way to answer this question, to confront their concerns, and to better understand themselves and their neighbors. People of good will may long to shed their fears of the unknown, reject false assumptions, and enter into relationships with their neighbor, but for this to happen, we must trade in the shallow break room chatter for more informed dinner conversations and long talks on the front porch.

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Letter to Your Younger Self

A portion of the Greatest Commandment is for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If we read the statement again, we will see that the assumption Jesus is making is that we already love ourselves. On some level that is most certainly true for each of us. On another level, however, we can observe when people don’t love themselves well. This is evident when a person can’t cultivate or maintain healthy or long-lasting relationships, or if they struggle with honesty. It may be observed by a person who is a gossiper, or someone who constantly compares themselves to others. If we canvas the world of entertainment and celebrity, this self-loathing is apparent when people are constantly changing, monitoring their appearance, or getting surgeries to make themselves be something they are not. And there we observe. We cannot love what we don’t see, and we must learn to see beyond the physical or what is only evident on the outside.

If we really want to love ourselves, we must regularly take inventory of our inner person—what is happening in the innermost parts of our minds and hearts, and how God is shaping and changing us through time and space. Self-reflection is an important leadership practice. It is also a means of monitoring our course—whether or not we maintain focus and continue in the pursuit of our lives’ purpose. Personal reflection is a discipline to cultivate because it also brings us to a place of thanksgiving and causes us to glorify God.

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