Equality. What’s all the FIGHT about?

I feel like my Facebook stream exploded this week with posts about “equality.”  I’m noticing a few things over and over.

I see a lot of people arguing for love and tolerance but spewing hate and intolerance.  I see a lot of people professing the love of Christ and damning others.

Both make me sick.  I think there are extremists on both sides of any debate that make their “respective group” look awful, and I’m smart enough to know that they likely don’t represent how the majority of that group feels.  At least I hope so.  I tend to be an optimist.


It’s interesting to me that people are arguing from such different viewpoints.  Could they ever be on the exact same page?  Do they really even want the exact same thing?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Let’s explore, shall we?

Before I go any further, I should probably state two important facts: I am a Christ-follower.  I have family members and friends who are gay, AND I love them.

From what I have read and watched, the main issue at hand is an issue of “rights.”  It’s a legal issue.  Any two people in a long-term, committed relationship want to have the same legal rights that are currently available to men and women who are “married.”  These include both tax and legal benefits that today certainly put same-sex relationships at a disadvantage.

I’ve heard really compelling and often-times sad stories of gay couples who can’t be side-by-side while one is on a deathbed, or those that have paid huge tax bills that wouldn’t apply if they were “married.”  I’ve read about the difficulty sharing medical benefits, and I’ve seen first-hand how gay people are viewed as “different” and often times “wrong.”  It’s all sad to me, really.

On the flip side, I’m seeing Christians reference the biblical definition of “marriage.”  In every reference I can find, the Bible does talk about a man and a woman.  The Biblical definition is clear.

Here’s what I find interesting: I don’t think people are looking to re-define the Bible.  I think they’re looking to re-define the law.

Many Christians are so scared.  They’re afraid their whole belief system is being challenged.  I, personally don’t think so.

I am a Christ-following, Bible-believing person.  The Bible is my go-to source for how I lead my life, and I can very passionately and honestly say that I believe it provides me great direction and hope for the best possible life on earth.

I’ve been slow to learn this, but over time, I have found this to be completely true.  God wants the very best life for us.  He wants us to be happy.  He wants us to prosper and experience joy.  He wants us to enjoy companionship and community.  And He promises us that if we trust Him, follow Him and have a personal relationship with Him that He will give us a fullness of life that will extend beyond our time on Earth.  I believe all of this.

AND, I haven’t heard a single gay person ask me to renounce this, either.  I’ve heard more Christians use the Bible as a weapon, and I don’t think that’s what Christ would do.  (He spoke truth with LOVE!)

I’ve also seen people twist the Bible to try to fit their needs.  I don’t think anything taken out of context is fully accurate either.   I want to be fair, reasonable and a truth-teller.

I do know for certain that the Bible does clearly provide direction for both man and woman in the context of marriage.  And, I don’t see any other reference outside of that.  Equally as important, I also see that the Bible clearly and passionately states that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

Is anyone asking that the Bible be re-defined?  I don’t think so.  I believe the passionate request is for the LAW to be redefined.

What are Christians so afraid of?  I can’t answer every question of faith, but one thing I know for certain is that I serve a big God.  One that is more than capable of handling everything.  One that is both loving and just.  One that sent His son to die for us.  Yes, He loves us that much.  ALL of us.  NOBODY is excluded from this love.

I do think the laws in our country are written as they are because the Bible used to be so much more a part of our daily lives than it is today.  Our country was founded on these principles, and they are evident through the inscriptions of government buildings, in our founding documents and on our dollar.

“In God We Trust.”  I know I do….even though our world looks so much different than He intended.  He created it perfectly, in the beginning.  That was His desire.  But man…man chose differently, and He allowed us that free will.  So life isn’t going to be perfect or all-together explainable.  But God is still God, and in God I trust.

For me personally, I look to the Bible for direction in my marriage.  I refer to it often, and when I follow what God directs, I find that my marriage improves.  This has been my experience.

I don’t know how to direct people in a same-sex marriage to this same comfort and direction I find.  He doesn’t provide directions for anyone other than a “husband” and “wife.”  He provides clarity to these roles and how each should behave.

How can people in a gay marriage find this same direction?  I don’t know.  Perhaps through prayer and relationship with Christ, if they so choose.  I know it’s not written in the Bible, but I believe all things are possible through Christ, so perhaps there’s another way to seek His guidance for this specific situation.  He is God, after all, and His greatest desire is for relationship with us.  If anyone seeks Him fully, I believe they will see His love in return.

The world is a funny place these days.  There’s a lot I don’t understand.  There’s a lot that scares me.  There’s a lot that I don’t agree with.

But allowing two people to be “married” by a legal definition, to get tax deductions, health and death benefits doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

Will things be “equal” then?

Is that even possible???

It would be great if our loved ones in nursing homes or with special needs were cared for as much as those in jail.  It would be reasonable for everyone – all citizens –  to pay an equal percentage of taxes.  It would be ideal if unborn babies were as protected as those that are born.  I’d love to see stronger laws against sex trafficking, and I wish people with mental health issues could get better care and attention before they could even consider taking another person’s life.  These are just some of the major issues in our country that currently cause much inequality and unfairness.

People, we have a LONG way to go on equality….let’s try to work together to solve all of these important issues.  In the meantime, let’s let stop the vitriol and show some respect along the way.

Real Christians are not “haters.” 

So, if you are one, please show the love of Christ.

And, if you’re not one, please don’t accuse all Christians of being judgmental and hateful of any people.

NONE of us is perfect, and Christ loves us anyway.  He loves us and calls us to Him.  Everyone.


New Year’s Perspective

It’s a cold and rainy day here in Dallas today; not too typical of Dallas weather, and kind of a downer on the last day of 2012.  It’s somewhat reflective of my mood, though.

I dropped my mom and brother off at the airport last night, after a thoroughly enjoyable stay with us.  They headed back to Cincinnati, where I’m from, and where I’ve spent most of my life and career.  I still miss so many friends, the mid-western warmth and simplicity, and mostly, having family close to enough to share life with regularly.  I hated saying goodbye, knowing it will be awhile before I see them in person again.  I’m able to gain perspective, though, because a dear friend of mine sadly lost her mother to cancer this week.  Her goodbye was exponentially harder, I’m certain.  For me, clear perspective.

I don’t take that for granted, and my heart grieves for my friend, who enjoyed a very close relationship with her beautiful mom.  I can only begin to understand, as I met her mother several times.  The first of those times, she optimistically and graciously offered to pray for my transition to Dallas, knowing how homesick I was.  She was a “put others first” kind of person; the kind you always feel good being around.  I imagine that Jesus is enjoying her company and beautiful spirit.  I believe he spoke to her the words she would’ve most wanted to hear, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Comforting perspective.

Today, as many people do, I reflect on the year.  Tomorrow is a new beginning, so it’s wise to consider what we want more of and what needs to change.


2012 wasn’t my greatest year for a variety of reasons, but today that chapter comes to close.  Another dear friend and fellow coach went through the exercise of creating a “Top 13” list of her year’s highlights.  (I love how the thirteen flows right into 2013, don’t you?!)  I followed her lead, and suddenly the year seems to have been much better than my somber mood reflects.  Happy perspective.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary still feels like an open wound for me and lots of other parents and people in general, most especially the families directly affected.  Although it’s one of the most horrific tragedies of my lifetime, I’ve been lifted by the stories of various heroes, the generosity of people who care and the catalyst for positive change this event seems to be initiating.  Through the awful darkness, light is finding a way.  Healing perspective.

I’m frustrated by our elected officials.  I’m angry that “fiscal cliff” is even a term, never mind a terrible consequence our country faces.  I hate that greed, power and self all seem to come before people, country and God.  I was reminded recently that our country has shown a pattern since its existence.  That pattern shows an ebb and flow of what I would call our citizens’ arrogance and self-centeredness, versus faith, service and responsibility.  If history repeats itself, we’re due as a country to reel things in.  Hopeful perspective.

On this cold last day of the year, I watch the rain fall.  I can recall as a child imagining that rain was really the angels in heaven crying.  As an adult, I wonder if sometimes that could be true.  A good cry can help us all.  It’s a major release and often a necessary cleansing.  “Fitting,” I now think, as this year comes to a close.  Healthy perspective.

Cleanse and refresh.  Wash and renew.

For tomorrow is not only a new day, it’s a new year.

Rebirth.  Life anew.

Fresh, new perspective.

Santa: Generous, Joyful and Just

** This is only a portion of an entire blog post that was published over on the MOAT blog, a wonderful blog about parenting and instilling your kids with responsibility, service and gratitude.  I highly recommend the blog, as well as Kay Wyma’s book, Cleaning House.  It’s an honor for me to post on her blog.  Be sure to subscribe to it too! **


I love this time of year.  There’s so much joy and celebration.  There’s so much to be grateful for.  There’s beauty and twinkling lights all around.

And, there’s something BIG we can hold over our kids’ heads to keep them in line: Santa!  Like most kids, ours are anticipating the best gifts of the year from Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick.

I get it.  They’re kids.  They’re excited.  But, should they automatically expect gifts?

My kids are generally pretty good…when they want to be.  They know how to be thoughtful, kind, well-mannered, respectful and encouraging to others.  That doesn’t mean they always do it, though…especially when it comes to the way they treat each other.

They’ve been warned, though…

Click here to continue reading…

The Clock is Ticking…Make Each Second Worth It

It’s not often that I read fiction.  I have an almost unquenchable thirst for knowledge and growth, so when I have time to read, it’s almost always a non-fictional read.  There are, however, a few authors who can invariably entice me to stray from my normal course.  Mitch Albom is one of them.

I just started reading his latest book, The Time Keeper, and he’s got me thoroughly intrigued in the first few pages.  This story is about “Father Time;” not only who he is and how he came about, but also how he began to measure and value time.

I’ve not thought about this before.  Until now.


Now, this book has me pondering the concept of time.  I’m thinking about it a lot.

See if you track with me…

I often feel as though there’s not enough time.  Have you ever wanted just another hour, or even a few more minutes in a day, or at least a slower passage of time?

  • My “to-do” list is never-ending, and I don’t always complete it each day…and some things never even make it to my list, even though I might fantasize about them getting done!
  • My kids are growing up too fast.  They’re gaining more independence, bigger vocabularies and understanding of how the world works…which also means they’re losing their innocence and their desire to always be with mom and dad.  Before becoming a parent, I had heard other parents speak of their kids growing up “in a blink.”  It’s true.  Mine are…or so it seems.
  • The world is changing quickly and technology is keeping pace (that’s so 20 seconds ago!)  Communication is always on.  Always demanding our attention.  Never allowing us to just sit.  And relax.  And be still.

Sometimes, I’m on the other side of the spectrum.  There are times when it seems like things are just taking too much time…and I desperately want it to go faster!

  • I moved a little more than a year ago, and it takes time to build relationships – both personal and professional.  I miss the depth and ease that comes with sharing years together.  There’s no shortcut, though.  You simply have to experience things together to build that bond and trust.
  • I need to lose about ten pounds.  Why does it always seem to add up so quickly and easily, but it takes twice as long to lose?!?!
  • I’d love to speak fluent Spanish.  Being in Texas, it’s almost a necessity.  I want to convey appreciation, express needs or engage in simple, friendly communication.  It’s hard to learn quickly, and I often use wrong words, poor pronunciation or dreadful grammar.  I don’t want to offend anyone, but I can see that this is going to be a process.  It won’t happen overnight.

Then, there are the things that require perfect timing.

  • ‘Tis the season, and our Elf on the Shelf needs to “visit the North Pole” each night…which essentially means, I can’t forget to move him after my kids go to sleep.  It’s the first thing they look for in the morning, and they’re SO excited to see if he moved.  I’ve forgotten a few times and awoken early morning, fully panicked and sweating from head-to-toe, racing downstairs to find a creative new hiding space before my kids wake up.  (I’ve learned my lesson and now have a recurring alarm set for late-night to remind me!)
  • I’ve been part of new initiatives with clients; things that involved change or something completely new.  The timing needed to be just right – after the need is established, understood and accepted, and along with the input of others, and intertwined with thoughtful and frequent communication that continues after the change is launched.
  • I can recall a time years ago when my husband and I had the first serious discussion about starting a family.  We had all the right things in place: careers, happy marriage, house, even a dog who had given us some “practice” taking care of another life (aside from a plant!)  Yet, it took us a while.  Perhaps it was the timing for the right biological things to take place, perhaps it was God’s perfect timing for our family.  Either way, there was precision involved.

It’s all reminiscent of Goldilocks, isn’t it?  Except with time, it’s too much, too little or just right.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that we’re not going to change time and how it works.  A day isn’t going to get longer.  We can’t make seconds pass faster, either.  And, really – how often is it actually the “perfect” time for something?

So what are we to do?

Cherish the time we have.

Be present in the moment.

Live every second fully.

Create memories today that last for years.

Do the right thing now and always.

Make good choices today, because they impact every tomorrow.

Plan ahead with hope and faith.

Don’t look back with regret, but with knowledge and strength.

Trust that you were meant to be right here, at this time, for your purpose… 

So, live it with intention.

I don’t know how The Time Keeper ends.  I’m still reading it.  And I’m going to savor every word, delight in every page turn, imagine with each chapter.

Like I said earlier, I don’t read fiction very often, so I’m going to take this opportunity to enjoy my experience.  I’m going to enjoy every. single. second.

And, I’m going to think more about where I need to slow down, where I need to pick up the pace, and how I can truly value every moment of all that makes up my life.

Every second is a blessing and an opportunity.  Shouldn’t we treat it that way?

Do you need to do anything differently to value your time?  What would make time “just right” for you?

Father’s Love. Lasting Legacy.

Every little girl looks up to her father like a super-hero.  Fathers seemingly know almost everything.  They can do almost anything.  They can make their daughters believe they are special.  Extra special.  And, that makes fathers extra important.

There’s something about that father-daughter bond that builds into girls in a different way than mothers can.  While the best mothers can nurture and love the heck out of their girls, a father has a unique way of building their esteem and establishing “rules” for how they should be treated and loved.  Perhaps it’s the opposite sex and their “other” perspective. Perhaps it’s their example that teaches us about receiving love and being in relationship.

We know fathers make a significant difference.  How they impact their daughters leaves a legacy; a meaningful imprint on their lives.

I, personally, have not had the best luck in the dad category.  It started with my biological father, who abandoned us to search for the ways and means to a better socioeconomic status.  I was very young when that happened, and I’ve never seen him again.  As of late, it’s my adoptive father (truly, my “dad”), who has grown angry and cold to me after moving away from our hometown.

I remember, as a young child, finally realizing that my father was never going to come back.  It was a tough reality for a little girl who used to dance on the tops of his feet.  It could have been devastating and life-ruining, but it turned out not to be.

I always felt as if God was with me and helped me through.  Somehow, I just knew things would work out ok in the end.  My faith in my Heavenly Father saved me, literally.  Though, I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I can look back in hindsight now and see how God’s hand protected us and guided us to new beginnings.

I also believed that when my mother re-married, it was divine timing.  I was just entering high school, and like most teenage girls, I was butting heads with my mom.  Then she got married, and her new husband wanted us to be a family.  He wanted to adopt me.  He didn’t want to be a stepfather; he wanted to be “Dad.”  It couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.

We all make silly, immature mistakes as teenagers, but I’m convinced that mine would have been far worse than they were had it not been for an amazing relationship with my dad.  I can recall thanking God over and over for sending my dad into our lives.

Today, my dad is mad and hurt, and he’s making me pay a price for it.  Or at least that’s what I’ve thought for the past year since we moved from Cincinnati to Dallas.

Just this past week, though, I had an epiphany.  God is again using my dad for His work.

During this transitional time in my life, where I have (geographically) left behind family, great friends, a church that we loved, school where my kids thrived and a supportive and fun neighborhood, I would have loved additional support from my dad.  It would have been great to depend on him to help make me feel better, to remind me that I’m strong and smart and capable, to tell me that he loves me now more than ever, and to be proud of me and my family.

But you know what? My dad is human, and he’s hurting…and he’s human, so he will never be perfect.  Instead of mourning my dad’s reaction and feeling hurt, alone and unwanted, I should have been clinging to my Heavenly Father, who is perfect and unfailing in His love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are! (1 John 3)

What I see now is that God may possibly be using my dad to show me how to make the most of this “year of change.”  He’s taking this situation to gently nudge and remind me to rely on Him.  Come closer to Him.  Take direction from Him.  Feel His unending love and support, because He has never left me.  Ever.  And, He never will.  And, His love is the only love that will always be perfect.  And enough.  Forever and ever.  I am His child, and He is my Father. And, I am enough too – worthy of His love.

Isn’t it funny how God speaks to us sometimes; how he uses people in our lives?  It can be easy to miss  if we’re not looking for it.  Sometimes it doesn’t smack us in the face; sometimes it’s just a whisper.

What I’ve learned, though, is that if we’re not seeking Him, we could miss what He has to say to us.

I’ve wasted so much time feeling sorry for myself; feeling like a victim; being angry back at my dad.  I could have used all this energy on something so much more positive.

And, so this week, with this epiphany and with God my Father, I’m able to move forward and free myself from the pain of the last year.  I’m able to fully experience the benefit and joy of God’s love, and I’m able to forgive my dad for his humanness.

In the end, my Father’s love will be my legacy.  Because I am his child, I can fully accept this gift, and it empowers me.  I am no longer a victim.  I am again a leader, and I will lead with love.  I believe it can change the world.  I believe it’s the greatest legacy we can leave behind in life, and I believe our Father wants this for us all — to know that we are fully, completely and consistently loved.

We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

What a profound ripple effect.  What an amazing legacy.

What an awesome Father we have!  Quite the superhero.  Quite the example of love.  Perfect in every way.

Speaking and Living Truth

How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

~Abraham Lincoln

This “joke” has me laughing, but it’s really no joke.  It’s actually speaking truth, isn’t it?

How often do we try to fake the truth, calling something that which it really isn’t?  How often do we stretch the truth, bend it just a bit, or leave out particular details?  How often do we portray a much prettier front than what is our true reality?

Here’s the kicker.  Lincoln was right.  Changing a name doesn’t change what it really is.  In other words, what you see is what you really get.  And, actions DO speak louder than words.

I get that we all want to be great people.  I know we want others to be proud of us and our accomplishments.  Humans want to be loved, adored, appreciated and honored.  That’s okay.  It’s in all of us.

What’s most important, though, is what we DO every day.  Consistently. Not what we say….but what others will be saying about us years after we are gone.

Your heart can be in the right place, but your truth is in your actions.

  • Do you love unconditionally? Or do others need to feed your needs first?
  • Are you generous? Or are you fearful to give too much?
  • Do you do what you say you’ll do? Or do you allow other things to get in the way?
  • Do you do what you ask of others? Do you go there first? or is your own comfort more important than others’?
  • Do you prioritize what’s most important to you? Or do your schedule and spending demonstrate what really has you in a stronghold?
  • Are you truly kind?  Or only when it’s convenient or public?
  • Are you thoughtful?  Or does that take too much work?
  • Are you a good listener?  Or do you only pause long enough to think of the next thing to say?
  • Do you give your best to what you do?  Or do you simply do what’s required?

And here’s the biggest question: Do you want to leave a legacy?  Or do you just want to get through life?

Challenge yourself with these tough questions.  Don’t fool yourself or others.  You can call a tail a leg…but when you depend on it to walk, you’ll find that it was really meant for wagging.  The truth is always revealed.

Leadership, Controversy and Chicken

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a while.  I didn’t want to write it.  I really didn’t.  I wanted to sit back, listen to the conversation, watch the controversy and just be quiet.  It’s so much easier that way.  And nobody would yell at me, either.

I think the time has come, though.  I feel compelled to write about my observations, and I hope you won’t yell.  You can disagree, but I hope you won’t become mean and nasty, because I won’t.  And you shouldn’t either.  There’s simply no reason, nor does anger ever solve anything.

There sure has been a lot of anger and emotion in the headlines recently, though, hasn’t there?  Name-calling, accusations, hatred.  It’s a tough world out there, and the media is adding plenty of fuel to this wildfire.  It’s strange to me that they don’t ever try to use their visibility and position to bring people together, but instead create more discord and drama.  Wouldn’t it be cool if the media tried to bring solutions and better understanding?  Sadly, they might not think that’s as good of a story.

Anyway, you’ve probably guessed by now that I’m alluding to the comments made by the President and COO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, and the media storm that swiftly followed.

Just in case you’re one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t yet heard, Cathy was recently interviewed by a Christian newspaper.  When asked specifically about his support of traditional marriage, here is how he commented:

“Well, guilty as charged.”

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Almost immediately, headlines surfaced across the newswires, blogosphere, television news and virtually every social media platform.  I repeatedly saw use of the words “discrimination,” “hater” and “bigot.”

I’m now watching as people are boycotting the quick-service restaurant, vowing never to eat there again and discouraging their companies from doing business or maintaining association with them.  The cities of Boston and Chicago have also made public statements strongly discouraging (if not outright trying to prevent) Chic-fil-A from doing business in their markets.  Heck, The Muppets even removed themselves from the kids’ meals.

There’s been a giant reaction, to say the least.

I keep re-reading Cathy’s quote.  Over and over.  I see where he talks about what he’s supportive of, what he’s proud of, and what he believes in.

Where does he say he hates gay people?  Where does he encourage anyone to do or say anything against them?  Where is there any rage in his comment that equals the rage being directed at him and his company?

Doesn’t he have the right to say what he believes in and supports?  Doesn’t he have a right to his faith?  This isn’t his opinion after all.  He even states that his belief is coming from the Bible, the most printed, most read book in the history of the world.  It’s a book, by the way, that is believed by many CEOs.  Should we start exploring who they all are, so we can spew hatred and boycott all of them too?

Now, before you get too deep in your opinion of me, my blog or what you think I’m about to say, let me share a few important facts about me.  I have several family members on both sides of my family who are gay, and I love them.  I don’t believe they chose to be gay.  It makes their lives harder in many ways, and I think they would have chosen the “easier route” if that felt natural to them.  But it doesn’t.  And, so they are who they are, and I love them, without condition.

I also have close friends who are gay.  I love them too.  I don’t judge them.  I don’t feel like it’s my place to do that.  They are wonderful people, and what they do behind closed doors is none of my business.  I don’t want to know what ANY of my friends are doing in their bedrooms, quite frankly.  Some things are meant to be private.

I, personally, am not gay.  I am also a Christian.  I don’t know how I could survive without the love and grace of Jesus Christ.  This world is too hard, and He saves me every day, over and over, and into eternity.  I’m grateful and undeserving.  (As much as I try with my Type A initiative, I am SO far from perfect!)

I don’t have all the answers from the Bible.  I don’t think anyone does.  I don’t think it’s meant to give all the answers, either.  If it did, it would be a science book.  Instead, this book asks us to rely on faith and what we believe about God and his love for us.  We are repeatedly assured that He is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us as his children.

If you analyze Cathy’s follow up comments on a radio show days later, he said this:

“I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Cathy believes fully and completely in the Word of God; the Bible.  He is following the guidelines that He believes God put in there for the best life possible; one filled with joy, adventure, hope and abundance.  It’s clear that he believes God defined marriage in the Bible as being between a man and a woman.  It’s also clear that He believes God truly is all-knowing, all-being, fully omniscient.

If anyone slows down to read what Cathy said, it’s important to note that his request is for God’s mercy.  His amazing grace (which I totally need.)  Although perhaps not worded in the most tender way, he is indeed asking for God’s love for those that may disagree with this biblical marriage definition.  It’s quite the opposite of the accusations that say Cathy is “condemning” gays to hell.  In fact, he’s coming to God on their behalf.

Dan Cathy was asked what he believed, and he answered honestly.  He responded according to his values, knowing it might not be a “popular” response.  That’s hard to do, but he acted as a leader.  (He’s not a political leader either, by the way, so he’s not creating any laws to prohibit or allow anything.)

I would also expect any other business owner who supports gay marriage to speak his mind truthfully when asked.  That’s his choice.  He’s free to speak, whether anyone agrees or not.  I would also hope he could speak without fearing harsh ramifications.

Do people really need to suffer for not agreeing with you?  That doesn’t seem right to me.

I’m not an employee of Chick-fil-A, nor am I a theologian, but here’s what I do believe with confidence:

  • God is a loving God.  So much so that he sent his only son to be sacrificed on our behalf.  We are his children and so He loves us unconditionally, always desiring a closer relationship with us.
  • Dan Cathy is a good man with solid integrity.  He runs a fair and valuable service-oriented restaurant business and he works to make a positive impact on people’s lives and in the communities where we live.
  • Gay people deserve God’s love and grace just as anyone else on the planet.
  • God is sad when we suffer or cause other people suffer.  He wants joy for our lives, just as any parent wants the best for their children.
  • Every person alive has a purpose and that purpose is important.  They should focus on how they can have a positive impact on the people around them by leading from who they are and creating action toward fulfilling their purpose.
  • Anger is human, but should be controlled.  Always.

Look, folks.  Here’s what I would encourage you to think about.  Every single day, people are killing and torturing other people.  Young girls are being sold into sexual slavery.  Men are beating their wives.  Spouses are cheating on each other.  Adults are sodomizing children.  Drug dealers are enticing not-yet-addicts.   Factories are enslaving children and immigrants.  (The list goes on…)

These things happen daily.  These need to be the headlines.  (Why aren’t they?) These issues need to be the ones that people are passionately protesting.  This is where we should channel our anger and turn it into positive action!! 

Shouldn’t we focus on stopping people who endanger lives?  Shouldn’t we protest businesses who worship profit over working conditions?  How about stepping up to protect those that are being physically or sexually abused on a regular basis?

Why not allow people to express their beliefs, because we simply want to have that same opportunity?  If you think those beliefs are ignorant, you have that right.  If you want to express an opposing opinion, go for it.   Let’s not slay each other for it, though.  There’s no need to make them pay a price for not believing what you do.

A chicken sandwich boycott will not change Dan Cathy’s beliefs or their policies (which, by the way, are not discriminatory.)  If we tried hard enough, we could find something we don’t agree with in almost any corporation.  Should we boycott everything?  Should we poll everyone about marriage, and if they don’t agree with our opinion, then we break all association?  What about all of our other strongly held beliefs?  Is that the best use of our time and energy?

I wish someone would have asked Cathy if he believes that God loves people.  All people.  Everyone who has committed any kind of sin at any time in their life.  (This includes every single one of us, people.  Regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or anything else you can think of.)

I think he would have said “yes.”  God might not always love what we do, but He does always love us.  It’s a shame that wasn’t an interview question.  It’s a shame we live in a world of sound bytes.

Love, I believe, is stronger than anything.  Love, I believe, wins.  The Bible even tells us “love never fails.”  In the end, I believe we will all find this to be truth.

Please stop the vengeful behavior.  Lead with love for your cause.

Making Jewelry. Making a Difference.

 Last weekend, along with approximately three thousand other women, I traveled to San Francisco for the annual national conference of Stella & Dot.  I’ve been a consumer of their beautiful baubles for some time, but with a move to Dallas about a year ago, I decided that becoming a Stylist would help me meet people and create community in a new city.

While timeliness is so important in blogging, I purposely waited to write this particular post.  I wanted to be sure that any “emotional buzz” would have time to wear off, leaving only the true substance and reality of my experience.  It was my first attendance at “Hoopla,” and it was an amazing and inspiring experience…but would the inspiration “stick,” or would it wane as many motivational-type buzzes do?

Now, a week later, I wanted to share my top three observations about the company and why I think Stella & Dot is on the fast-track to even greater success.

Stella & Dot’s leadership is phenomenal.

I spend a lot of time speaking, coaching and training companies and executives on various leadership topics that engage and value employees and clients, inspire vision and innovation, and leverage people’s strengths.  Many times, I have to first convince organizations of the value of these concepts before I help them learn how to apply them.  However, the Stella & Dot leadership team, led by CEO, Jessica Herrin, not only gets it, they fully embody great leadership.  Here is Jessica’s favorite quote:

“Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the Ordinary.” ­ ~ Cecil Beaton

Herrin is not afraid to be different; in fact, she thrives on breaking the status quo, taking calculated risks and pushing beyond the self-limiting boundaries so many women have falsely created for themselves.  She consistently challenges women to create a vision; defining success their own way, whatever that looks like for them; whatever will achieve their happiness and fulfillment.  It’s not about her or her jewelry.  She’s creating confidence in women, inspiring dreams and teaching women to strategically work toward them.

Stella & Dot founder & CEO, Jessica Herrin (and she’s only 39!)

The whole leadership team is inspiring and creates a sense of hope. The theme of this year’s Hoopla event was “Wonderland” and included much focus on words such as wonder, believe and possibility, culminating in Herrin’s keynote speech where she redefined the word “impossible” to become I’m possible.

Herrin and her team listen.  They hear the voices of their thousands of Stylists.  They’re in tune with consumer feedback.  They feed off style trends and beautiful craftsmanship from artisans around the world. They are incredibly smart, but clearly demonstrate that they are always eager to learn more and serve customers and employees.

They are strategic, yet creative.  Savvy, yet heartfelt. Profitable, yet generous and philanthropic too.  The company now produces more than $100 million in sales and is a multi-award winning Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Company that gets results…and, although privately held, they even rang the NASDAQ bell this year for their notable results in creating jobs and empowering women.  Herrin leads by example, and she passionately builds into and creates leader after leader within the Stella & Dot world.  It’s truly a company of “we” not “me” and she is adored for her leadership.

Stella & Dot leaders are authentic and truly caring.

If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times over the weekend.  “I am a mother first.”  This was stated, embraced and celebrated at every level of the company.  Every general session presentation included family photos, top-level leaders cried when gushing about their children, and conversations about “balance” included Herrin authentically sharing how she didn’t push the company hard until she finished breast-feeding. That was most important to her.

Session after session encouraged women to prioritize, balance, pursue dreams, but not forsake special time with family or necessary time to manage health and well-being.  Herrin even shared her personal goals and time management strategies, encouraging women that “there really is enough time, if you just make the time for the things that matter to you most.”  Lots of giggles ensued when she suggested it might mean giving up things like Facebook, American Idol or the Kardashians.

Over and over, attendees were pushed to get out of their own way.  “Comparison is the thief of joy,” Herrin quoted Theodore Rooselvet. “Perspective and gratitude ARE joy,” she added, noting that we all have much to be thankful for.  She shared that she often thinks about the girls’ schools in Nicaragua that the Stella & Dot Foundation funded.  “If you have a floor to stand on, you have more than a lot of people in this world,” she passionately spoke.

Then, as success story after success story was personally shared on stage by Stylists – attorneys leaving partnership, teachers making the most of their flexible hours, stay-at-home moms taking their families on extravagant vacations – nobody cheered louder than the leadership of this company. They gave gifts, danced on stage, hugged, high-fived and genuinely celebrated each woman for her accomplishments.  Even the Chairman of the Board, Mike Lohner, joined the celebration by delivering a heartfelt speech, playing his saxophone and singing “What Makes You Beautiful” to all the attendees. (The crowd went wild with appreciation!)

They care.  They really care. (And the Gallup organization knows the importance of leaders showing they care!)  Stella & Dot wants women to succeed.  They want wild, passionate, thorough success the way YOU define it.  They want to help you get there, and they’re just dying to celebrate you accomplishing it.  Indeed, it was beautiful to cheer everything from huge financial gains to one husband who wrote that he was grateful to Stella & Dot for helping his wife get her “mojo” back.

The bottom line, biggest-takeaway that continues to resonate is this: Stella & Dot is purpose-driven.

More than anything, Stella & Dots want to make a difference in the lives of women, whether you are part of the company as an employee or Stylist, or part of the three non-profits served by the Stella & Dot Foundation (or the additional fundraisers for breast cancer, autism and more.)  These women are incredibly passionate and show no signs of slowing down until they see more of this:

We have a vision of the world where STRONG WOMEN LIVE BOLD and joyful lives. They know what they want and they work for it. They inspire each other. Passion and joy are their best accessories.

What I learned, above all, is that this company is all about instilling confidence, creating more independence and impacting women’s lives for the better.  Jewelry is simply the vehicle to accomplish these things … and of course, in Stella and Dot fashion, the jewelry is pretty amazing too!

** IMPORTANT NOTE ** Although I am a Stylist for Stella & Dot, I was neither paid nor asked to write this blog post.  My long-time passion, focus and full-time business is Sagestone Partners, a leadership development company providing coaching, training and professional speaking services.  Because my time is spent in this arena, these leadership observations were notable, meaningful and authentically apparent within Stella & Dot.  This piece was writing as an illustration of success, as well as a personal pride to be associated with such an amazing organization and its leaders. I’m thrilled to be doing my small part to make a difference in the lives of other women!  

Is it Time to Do Some Pruning?

I was pruning my rosebushes this weekend, trying to promote some new flower growth.  This is an important thing for most flowering plants, because they’ll continue to send energy and nutrients to all parts of the plant – even the diseased and already-bloomed parts.  The plant doesn’t know it’s wasting fuel and energy.

When you prune properly, you help your flowering plants to use their energy wisely.  The plant can no longer waste, so it only flows nutrients to areas that can really flourish.  As a result you see the fruits and blooms of energy well spent!

This same concept applies well to leadership.

As I’ve witnessed and worked with newer leaders and leaders with increasing responsibility, this seems to be one of their greatest challenges: knowing where and how to spend their time; understanding where they can be most effective.  One of the biggest barriers to their success is that everyone wants a piece of their time.  Everyone.

A great leader knows where to prune.  They’re able to assess what needs to be off-loaded or delegated, and when they should just plain say “no!”  They know where to target their energy instead; where they can make the greatest impact.

Here are four categories of “disease” that require pruning for the health of your leadership, team and organization.  Leaders should explore these carefully to determine what makes the cut!

  • Time-Wasters – anything that makes you busy but can’t be traced to productivity. And don’t think for a second that building necessary relationships falls into this category! That very much factors into your success and productivity as a leader!
  • Energy Vampires – the people who bring you down every time.  They make you feel “less than” on a regular basis.  Instead, surround yourself with positive people, as well as those that will challenge and support your growth and learning.  Oh, and make sure you eat and drink to support healthy energy levels too…and I’m not talking about pounding Red Bull, either, by the way!  (Caffeine SO dehydrates you!)
  • Bottom Feeders – those low performing, never going to get out of your bottom 10%, but takes up so much of your time and energy employees.  Sorry, it’s the hard truth.  They’re probably not in the right job, and frankly, you’d be doing them a favor by letting them go, so they can perform well (and feel better about themselves) in the right position!  Then, you can invest your time more wisely with your superstars and up-and-comers who bring results and energize those around them.
  • Culture Killers – any people or practices that do not align with what you preach about your culture.  People whose actions don’t support the culture only contaminate others – and this disease spreads.  You can’t let them infect others.  And, you must look closely at your policies and practices too. Many times they don’t encourage behaviors that would help the culture to flourish.  If they don’t, they’re not needed anymore.

If leaders can pinpoint these and carefully prune them, they can focus their energy on vision, positive momentum and growth, building teams, culture and leadership.

It’s widely known that you can identify a tree by its fruit.  Only with careful attention, proper pruning and focused energy on the right things can the fruits of success grow.

Is it time for you to do some pruning?  What other signs do you look for?

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 



Just as the Sun Rises, so Truth Remains.

Since my move to Dallas about nine months ago, I’ve had much time to think about leadership, life and legacy.  As I knew would happen, I’ve been challenged, stretched and have grown.  I’ve had more time to reflect and ponder my life, my past and my future.  I’ve had to strengthen and rely more on faith, and I’ve gained perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten had I remained in my hometown of Cincinnati.

Although I miss my family, friends and all Cincinnati has to offer, I’m grateful for “lessons learned.”  That’s the payoff for change and discomfort – life lessons.  As an avid learner, these lessons are meaningful to me.  And…(and it’s a big one)…these lessons help me to be a better person.

To me, this is what life is all about: being a better person…becoming the best person you can be…and having the most positive impact you can on the people and happenings around you.

Possibly the greatest point I’ve learned through this life change is that although Cincinnati and Dallas are very different, there are truths in life that always remain constant.  These are the truths we can all hold on to and know that as life changes, these don’t.  These are the truths that have provided comfort, ah-hah moments and grounding when I needed it.  These are the truths that will continue to stretch me and always keep me growing in the right direction…to be my best, and to give my best.

What other truths have you learned in your life and career?  What would you add to the list?


  • Be courageous enough to lead authentically.  You’ll naturally attract like-minded people who will enthusiastically join your mission.
  • Care about your people first, results second. Do the first, and they’ll work to bring you the second.
  • Be prepared and knowledgeable as a leader.  Charisma and like-ability will only get you so far.
  • Strengths matter. Know yours and leverage them.  Help others to enhance their strengths and empower them to fill in the gaps of your own weaknesses.  Team up to help everyone succeed more.
  • Great leaders are also servants to their people.  It’s NOT about you, so kick your ego to the curb!


  • Faith matters and is worth the investment to strengthen it.  It can hold you up when nothing and nobody else can.
  • Family is forever, even when you no longer live together, but love should be a forever constant.
  • Friends are “chosen family” – a true gift that should be treasured.
  • You can have lots of acquaintances, but be discerning with your “inner circle” of friends, who should share your same values and lovingly hold you accountable to them.
  • Grudges are never worth it, nor is the negative energy you waste on them.
  • Money is needed for survival, but it’s not a requirement for happiness, nor does it guarantee happiness.  Never allow the pursuit of money to trump important relationships in your life – it’s too high of a cost, and money can’t buy them back.
  • Maturity and logic need to trump emotion sometimes.  Your heart may not always be as smart as your brain. There’s a healthy balance to be found, and it’s called Emotional Intelligence. Get smart about it.
  • Sleep, diet and exercise matter.



  • With every meeting and every conversation, you have an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.
  • Optimism and positivity are contagious.  So is a smile.
  • Kids learn from everything you say and do.  Be a role model for them.
  • If you’re fortunate in any way, share your blessing with others.  Be generous. Volunteer.  Give back.  You’ll be glad you did.
  • Your greatest investment will always be in people.  Spend more time on this investment strategy than any other.
  • Be kind, thoughtful and encouraging.  Always.  There’s never a reason to be anything else to another human.

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

Unless You Lead…

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

This weekend, I took my kids to see the new Dr. Seuss movie, The Lorax.  The show is colorful, musical and intentional with its message of preserving Earth’s resources (and not allowing greed to get the best of us.)

Since seeing it, I keep thinking about the Lorax’s use of a single, powerful word: UNLESS.

Most of us typically think about what –if…  We can let our imagination and dreams run wild with what-if scenarios.  These times can fuel our creativity and help us to innovate, challenge ourselves and even better prepare for what may lie ahead.

What-if thinking can help us ponder so many possibilities.

It’s interesting, though, to consider a different perspective.  The Lorax’s challenge: unless.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s just not.” ~ The Lorax

In addition to dreaming about the what-if we do scenarios, should we also be thinking about the consequences of what if we don’t?

What if we don’t do what’s right?  What if we don’t do our best?  What if we don’t help others?  What if we don’t care?  What if we don’t stand up and lead?

What if nothing gets better UNLESS you do something?  What if YOU are the catalyst for positive change?  What price does your company, your co-workers or your family pay until you do something?

Is it worth it?

I want to challenge you today to fill in this blank with a situation or relationship that you want to see improved…

Unless I care…unless I lead…unless I take that first step, (fill in the blank) may not change for the better.

I may not be The Lorax, and I may not speak for the trees, but I’ll speak for the leaders of this world, and I believe you are one of them.

Will you care a whole awful lot?  … Because I think you can make things better.  I think you can hit the spot!

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life. 

Don’t Let Your Strength Be Stolen

Something happened this week that I naively thought wasn’t very likely.  During the middle of the night, while my family and I slept, someone entered our home and robbed us.

I feel violated.

I’ve had so many emotions running through me this week.  I suppose that’s natural, and I should give myself a little grace.  I’m definitely a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of person, but this was shocking and scary… and downright creepy.

A stranger was in our home.  Uninvited.  Unwanted.

As I’ve had a few days to process this, I’ve decided that although I feel somewhat helpless and powerless, in reality, I do still have a choice and some control in how I react to these events.

This is life, right?  Granted, it’s an ugly part of life in our world today, but bad and unexpected things happen sometimes.  And we just can’t let them keep us down.  We can’t let them change us forever; not in a way that detracts from enjoying the fullness of life, anyway.  Life was meant to be enjoyed, after all.  I believe that’s how it’s supposed to be.  It’s how God intended.

So, I have a choice to make.

I can live in fear.  I can lose sleep.  I can become paranoid.  I can continue to take my safety for granted….or…

I can celebrate that my family is safe and unharmed.  I can expand my faith and be grateful to God for keeping us under His watchful eye.  I can be proactive – and much smarter – about protecting my home, my family and our safety in the future.  I can communicate to our local friends and create a more robust neighborhood watch.

I can, and I have.  I have already done all of these things.  I’m determined to make changes, and I’m ready to make a difference in my community too.  I will persevere, and I will be stronger because of this.

That’s one thing I refuse to let this robber take. He may be able to get away with taking some of my things, but I will not let him take part of me.  I am still me, and I’m no less passionate, creative or driven to make a difference because of what happened.  I am the same leader today that I was earlier in the week.

If I let him take part of me, then he wins.  Evil prevails.  And that’s just not the way I like stories to end.

I’m a sucker for a happy ending…and guess what?  This is MY life, so I get to write the story.  I get to determine how this ends.

And in my story, love wins.  Faith wins.  Community wins.  Strength wins.

Enjoy my electronics, thief, that’s all you’re getting from me!

What about for you?  Has anything totally unexpected or shocking ever happened to you?  How did you persevere?  How did you keep your strength?

Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life.