He Opens Doors

Summit Sq Laura Pedersen

When Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts was published in January 2016, I looked back on the two years it took to get to that place, and was in awe of the doors God opened.

Now, in 2018, I am still in awe of the doors God has been opening. I told you about the Choose Conferences that speaker, singer, and songwriter, Jill Miller and I have been blessed to facilitate…well, now I have another exciting opportunity to say yes to!

I received a request from Mimika Cooney, a video marketing expert who was named one of the top 50 must follow entrepreneurs in 2017. Mimika asked if I would be one of the featured speakers at an online conference she is putting together called the Purpose Power Summit.

The summit is about discovering your purpose and pursuing your passion. Each of us has been blessed with unique gifts, and God calls us to use those gifts for His glory. The summit is geared toward guiding others to uncover their unique gifts and using those gifts to impact the world around them.

The Purpose Power Summit is a virtual summit and is free!

Please take a moment to click on the link provided to learn more about the summit and register…you have nothing to lose! You will be inspired and motivated by 23 experts, of which I am honored to be a part of!

You can register at: www.mimikaconney/purposepowersummit.com

 

 

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Choose Conference

What a blessed week-end!

I had the honor and privilege over the weekend to be a disciple to over 80 beautiful women! Speaker, singer and songwriter, Jill Miller and I put on a half-day conference called Choose: Life is about Choices.

Choose Conference

It was truly an inspiring and blessed event, filled with time for worship, learning, and networking with my sisters in Christ. I feel so blessed to be able to continue my sister’s Sara’s Legacy and adding to that legacy using God’s word.

Are you making Godly choices or worldly choices? Remember that it is only with Him that you will find joy on your journey!

You can learn more about the Choose Conference by visiting: the choose joy foundation website.

Have a blessed week, friends!

Servant Leadership

I was asked to speak at the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce in December. A friend of mine shared Choose Joy with the chamber and thought it would be a great topic for their chamber members. I was so excited that I, of course, said yes. Then realized that I needed to figure out how this topic would be helpful to businesses.

I have been in Human Resources, talent and leadership development for 30 years and wanted to have the opportunity to use this ministry in the business world. Through prayer, God put on my heart to talk about Sara as a leader. The title became… “Leadership Lessons from a Homebound Girl.”

Sara was a global leader! She touched the lives of thousands of people not only in the United States but in other countries as well. They followed her blog. They sent her care packages. They reached out to my family after Sara passed away, expressing their condolences. We skyped her funeral so they could be a part of saying goodbye. People that never met her except through her words. Through her leadership.

I was reading Jenni Catron’s book, Extraordinary Leadership, and I believe it is a perfect description of the leadership characteristics Sara possessed and I believe all leaders should possess.

Leadership is influencing. Jenni challenges us to look at leadership as sacred work because you are influencing and shaping human lives.

In Luke 10:27, we are told to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love our neighbor as ourself. This is where Jenni saw the true characteristics of extraordinary leaders. Those that lead with all their Heart (Relationships), Soul (Centered), Mind (Strategic) and Strength (Visionary) — all of you.

Sara was a servant leader. Every relationship she developed across the globe she cherished. Sara was aware and present in every moment, making people her top priority. She was centered and humble, reminding us that this life is not about us. Sara was visionary and saw the big picture, reminding us of our purpose — to fulfill God’s plan by living the best life we can with what we are given. This means we must not be a victim of our circumstances. Sara showed strength. Living with a debilitating disease, loss, and pain, she showed us that we still have the ability to choose. Choose joy.

We are all leaders in some capacity. Remember to lead with all of you…your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Lead as Jesus calls us to…through servant leadership.

YES!

Happy New Year, dear friends!

2018…

Are you someone who sets new year’s resolutions?  Do you feel like the turning of another year is like starting with a clean and new slate?

When Sara was alive, she was involved in a group called One Word 365. After losing dad in 2010 and then Sara in 2011, I was filled with loss, confusion, questions, anger, and pain. I wanted to feel peace. It was in 2013 that I first started the One Word 365 journey and Peace was the one word I focused on. It changed my life.

I was amazed at what a difference focusing on one word made in my life. Whether I was reading scripture, devotions, or praying, the Holy Spirit and God’s word taught me peace. Each year since I have focused on a new word until last year.

My year was turned upside down with my breast cancer diagnosis, and that was my focus. Even though I didn’t formally pick a word in 2017, the word I focused on the most was Still. It took everything I had this past year to just be still and remember that He is God.

There were a lot of things I had to put on hold in 2017 as I was focused on my health, so I am very excited for 2018 and what it has in store. I have chosen Yes for this year’s word. I want to say Yes to Him. I want to trust Him and the journey He has laid out for me in 2018.

I anticipate that there may be some twists and turns in the road, but I am going to remember to let Him take the wheel and simply say yes…with peace.

Spreading Joy and saying Yes.

Although this year had its challenges, it has also had its many blessings. The blessings these last couple of months have more than made up for the challenges my family and I faced this year.

As I wrote in my last post, I enjoyed the opportunity to spread God’s message of Joy with my friend Jill Miller through a 1/2 day Choose Conference. Jill and I have also been blessed with the opportunity to continue spreading His message with additional conferences in January, February, and March!

I also had the opportunity to speak at the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce this past week. It was a joy to share Sara’s global leadership legacy to businesses in the area, and encourage leaders to be intentional in seeking out their mission and purpose including why they are in leadership.  Jenni Catron says, “Leadership shapes human lives, therefore it is sacred work.”

I am looking forward to 2018 and what God has in store. My word for 2018 is “YES.”

As Sara tells us… “We’re supposed to wake up today and say YES. Yes to the attitude we must clothe ourselves in before our feet hit the floor. Yes to the kindness and the welcoming smile. Yes to graciousness and gratitude in our words and actions. Yes to the prompting in our spirits to be the essence to Him to every single person we encounter.”

In 2018 I am focusing on saying yes to Him.

Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas, my friends!

 

Reflecting on the Year

I hope you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving!

My husband Jeff and I were having a conversation a couple of weeks ago and I asked him…”When you think back on this year, what do you think? How do you feel?” He proceeded to tell me that the year has felt like a whirlwind. After learning of my breast cancer diagnosis, he went from thinking I can’t lose her…to maybe we will only need surgery…to having not only surgery but a treatment plan of Chemotherapy and radiation.

I shared that I was having a hard time looking back on the year and processing it. My head knows how much we went through, but I also focused hard on making sure he and the kids didn’t worry. This focus kept me from letting myself really process what was in front of us…what it really all means. I didn’t think of myself as a breast cancer survivor…I wasn’t putting myself in that category.

Right before the Thanksgiving Holiday, I traveled to my hometown for the funeral of a high school classmate who lost his battle with cancer. Seeing Dan and his family made me think once again about how very unpredictable and short life can be. It also made me think about the importance of being in tune with our health.

I was blessed that I scheduled my mammogram when I did. If I would have waited a few months, my family and I could be looking at a whole different life right now! Family history plays a role, but please don’t make it an excuse to wait. I am an example that cancer does not just affect you if there is a family history.

Life is precious, my friends! We all have a mission and a purpose in this life.  It is up to us to make sure we are living the life God has intended for us to live. Choose to wake up each morning asking Him to show you the journey He has planned for you. Don’t let the busy activities of life put off until tomorrow what God is asking from you today. Tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us.

I feel so much gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for…including the support and love from each of you.

Peace.

grateful

 

 

Community Blessings

Matthew 18:20  “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

My dear friend Jill Miller and I had the privilege of leading a half-day conference titled Choose: Life is about Choices. We gathered as a community of 45-50 women and the time was filled with worship, inspiration, reflection and new beginnings.

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As I reflect on the day and as I shared the Gitz ‘n Jo story of two sisters journey to Joy, I am reminded how important it is that we Choose to be in community with others.

But I don’t have to be without community. I don’t have to choose longing instead of living. Because we are gathered in His name, because we love and believe with hearts that love God more than ourselves, we are a community. A living, breathing community who has learned how to share our lives over any distance.

Jesus told us to do this life together, as a community. And because of Him, there are no boundaries.

There is only the common bond of belief and love.     ~Sara Gitz Frankl

When we are hurting, it is easy to hide and be alone. The answer to finding Peace and Joy is through our Heavenly Father and we find Him in the presence of others.

Choose to reach out and build community. You and only you can make the choice.

Remember you are loved!

CHOOSE!

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“I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn’t forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn’t joy… it’s CHOOSE. It’s looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it.”       ~Sara Frankl

I am so happy to be done with chemo and radiation! I am ready to move forward and continue the legacy that Sara began here.

The first nine months of 2017 were difficult and I had the opportunity to live in the space of Sara’s legacy a lot! The above quote from Sara is one that I focused on a number of times.

You see, it’s easy to thank God when He does what we want, but God doesn’t always do what we want. If we are expecting to be given a fair shake in life, we aren’t going to get it. God doesn’t “owe” us anything. God is God, so He knows what He is doing…we must trust His heart…always.

Even though we aren’t promised a “fair” life, God does promise us that we can get through the difficult times if we prepare our hearts. We prepare our hearts by spending time with Him and His word.

We must choose to live through the struggles by listening to God as He shows us how to use the difficulties to teach others. We must be open to what He is calling us to do with what we have learned.

Then we must express gratitude. Thank Him for all the beauty in life that far outweighs the difficulty.

This Saturday, November 11th, myself and speaker/singer/songwriter, Jill Miller will be hosting a CHOOSE Conference. I feel so blessed that God has opened the door for Jill and I to reach out and be a disciple to others. To share what God can do in our lives, if we choose to walk every journey with Him.

If you live in the Carroll, IA area, we would love to have you join us. If you don’t, we would love to have your support through prayer. My constant prayer is for an open mind, a humble heart and faithful feet to walk where He leads.

Remember…the butterfly is beautiful because of the struggle…

Choose Conference

 

 

Day 18 Be Intentional – The Present

I was reading an article by Helen Mallicent that said the following…

“I was regretting the past and fearing the future.  Suddenly my Lord was speaking. My name is I AM. He paused, I waited. He continued. When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets it is hard. I AM not there. My name is not I was. When you live in the future with its problems and fears, it is hard. I AM not there. My name is not I will be. When you live in this moment it is not hard. I AM here. My name is—I AM.”

I think about how often my thoughts are either in the past or the future and it makes me realize how much time and energy I waste. I need to be intentional in living in the present moment.
“Even though we think of our goals as some future state to achieve, the real goal is always the life of this moment, this moment, this moment.”  ~ Charlotte Beck
Living in the moment is living in today, and not allowing yesterday or tomorrow to rob us of today’s joys. So often we are living in yesterday or tomorrow. That is exactly what Jesus taught us not to do.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When you are feeling anxious, be intentional in bringing your mind back to the present, it is there that you will find God. It is there that you will find His peace.
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Day 17 Be Intentional — Say Yes

One thing I have learned the last several years is that when I start asking God “why,” I begin to feel lost, uncertain, and distant from Him.

  • Why did dad lose his life from a bee sting?
  • Why did Sara have to live a life of so much pain?
  • Why did I get cancer?
  • Why….

The question why keeps us stuck, dwelling on the difficulty we are going through. It keeps us in a place of being a victim rather than a place of accountability.

I remember Sara saying that for all she knew, when she was a spirit in heaven before she was born, God showed her the life He had planned for her. She imagined looking at the good, the bad, and how both affected the people around her. She wanted to think that she saw it all and said yes.  Yes, she would take all of the bad with all of the good and serve a purpose.

When she saw it that way,  the question of why things happen was irrelevant. If she said “yes,” it was because God saw a purpose in her life and how it would unfold in a greater plan. What more of a reason do we need than that?

So, instead of asking why, we can be accountable for living the life that God has planned for us if we ask what and how. What needs to be done? How can I contribute?

When I was diagnosed with cancer, the automatic first question that came to my mind was, why? Why is this happening? Why me? Why… I was stuck and feeling like a victim of circumstance. I had to be intentional in asking what God needs me to do? How can I serve? When I asked those questions, I also began seeking His will. I felt more empowered. I had a purpose to fulfill.

I challenge you when you are feeling stuck, or like a victim of circumstance, be intentional in asking what God needs from you? How can you serve?

Be intentional in saying yes to Him.

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