Purpose is a Journey…Not a Destination

Hello friends!

It has been a little less than a year since my last post. In that time I have had my 5th child, repainted my kitchen and den, acquired a new client, and kept my Grave’s disease in remission (so far so good!). Of course there has been much more in between centered around my family including chorus concerts, dance competitions, preparing for preschool, inconsistent potty training, breastfeeding, supporting my husband coaching Fil-Am youth basketball, and supporting my husband and his new side business hustle. A mom’s work is never done, but it is one of the most significant roles in our society. I do feel, and have felt for a very long time even before I had kids, that being a mother is my primary vocation. I’m sure many of my fellow mothers feel the same way.  However, let’s also remember that part of this vocation is to show our children the entirety of our purpose. It’s to serve in multiple ways with all of our God-given talents.

Especially as moms, we sometimes struggle with the question “What am I going to do with my life?”. Some of us haven’t had a chance to get started on a career outside of the home because of starting a family. Some of us have had pitstops from our careers to tend to family. Still for some of you life has thrown several surprises your way to start or continue a career. Whatever your path, it’s important to recognize that your ultimate goal in life is to develop your purpose. This purpose is not a destination. It isn’t a single job, a single career, or a single field. It’s the gift that God has designed for you to be and to give in service to the world. This gift will have multiple forms in your life.

Are you struggling with this idea of finding your purpose? I want to tell you what I am constantly telling myself every day–It’s ok. I’m not an expert at feeling self-assured on all measures, but I do want to offer some advice that helps me to keep going with the satisfaction that what I’m doing is amazing. It’s easy, if you are like me and at home with the kids, to sometimes feel like you may be underestimated, tired, and overwhelmed. Here are some thoughts I want you to remember:

 

Don’t compare yourself to what you think others expect of you.

First off, own your decisions and choices.  There are reasons why you are doing what you are doing. Never live your life according to what you think others think you should be doing. You are the only one who knows where you should be. You are the only one who hears what God whispers to your heart.

Carve out something for yourself.

This can be a career. It can be volunteer work. It can be acting as a supportive friend. It can be reading a book. It can be a hobby. Make sure you don’t fall into the rut of having your day only full of household duties such as cooking, cleaning, carpooling, and grocery shopping. Do a little something each day that is just for you. You will be the best role model for your kids if they see that you have individual talents, skills, and interests that fall outside of household duties. And I want to differentiate household duties from mom duties. Household duties are things that anyone besides you can do. Mom duties are those things that only YOU can provide: providing love and caring; offering advice and counsel; building character and confidence in your kids; laughing together, etc. These things are irreplacable and are the ultimate model of honor to your kids!

Don’t forget to dream.

No matter what your age, don’t forget to reach for something new and more. This can be anything–from owning your own own business to learning how to bake chocolate cookies (yup…that has been my mission this summer!). Your aspirations are God’s way of hinting to you of new challenges that are part of your purpose. If it feels right pursuing, you are on the right track with what He’s trying to convey to you. Life is too short to not listen!

 

So I am completely a work in progress, and I’m cool with that. My journey is going to make multiple twists and turns…and even get surprisingly rerouted. However, this is the journey that I know God is putting me on. I’m putting my faith in it. I know he is making a way for me even when I don’t see a way. He’s doing the same for all of us!

Can I get an Amen?

 

 

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10 Easy Ways to #ShareYourCare

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September 9th is National Care Bears™ #ShareYourCare Day!  With your help on that day, the Care Bears are encouraging fans to spread caring, sharing, love, friendship, acceptance, fun and happiness to those around them that day, and each and every day of the year! That day, Care Bears is participating in an event helping 10 year old Zach Kaplan of #ZachKapCares and his mission to gift children in need with a soft bear to hug at night by donating 400 Care Bears plush to Leake & Watts, a  head start program serving 8,000 in New York City and Westchester County!

This is a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about caring for others and benevolence as they kick off the beginning of the school year!

I’ve been brainstorming what I plan on doing for #ShareYourCare Day.  Since my older kids will be in school, I plan on doing a few activities with my littles that hopefully they will understand.  My son is 2, so I know there are some concrete things we can do that he’ll understand.  At the end of the summer, I thought it would be a good idea for my kids and I to put together meals for my father once a week.  He lives on his own and I know it is not too easy for him to go grocery shopping often.  He also voiced to me that he is getting tired of his limited cooking skills.  So tomorrow I plan on cooking some food for him with my kids and on Wednesday me and the littles will deliver it to him!  I’ll post our efforts in a recap!

If you don’t have time to plan or do something elaborate to #ShareYourCare, I thought I’d share some quick and spontaneous ideas for you to spread some cheer and care towards others this Wednesday!

10 Easy Ways to #ShareYourCare

  1. Hold the door open for someone.
  2. Offer to help carry things for someone.
  3. Pay it forward:  If you are out at a food establishment, surprise someone by paying for their coffee, drink, or meal.   I’ve always wanted to do this for a military servicemenber or senior citizen who is dining out.
  4. Leave someone a quick note (even on a Post-It!) with a cheerful greeting.
  5. Pick up a pot of fall flowers, garden mums, etc. and leave it on the neighbors front door (You can get them as cheap as $1 right now!)
  6. Fill up a loved ones car with gas.
  7. Pick up a loved ones favorite treat to share when they get home.
  8. Do a task that a loved one has needed to do, but hasn’t found the time to do (Ex. organize their things, return their libary books, clean out their car, buy the shampoo they are running out of,etc.).  The possibilities are endless!
  9. Share a meal with someone. Invite someone new to join you for breakfast/lunch/dinner.
  10. Call up an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or at least send them a letter!

These things are so easy, I think I’ll start doing some tomorrow!  I hope you take some time to participate in this worthwhile campaign.  It’s a beautiful way to remind yourself and others to be kind to one another.  You can sign up as part of the official
#ShareYouCareCrew via www.CareBearsShare.com where all of the amazing #ShareYourCare testimonials will be collected and later shared!

What do you want to do to #ShareYourCare?  I’d love to hear your ideas so we can learn more creative ideas to care for one another!

~Lani

 

 

 

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Empowering Experiences at the Girl Up Leadership Summit 2015

Last week my oldest daughter had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Girl Up Leadership Summit  2015 in Washington, DC.  Girl Up is a campaign organization from the United Nations Foundation that advocates for adolescent girls around the world.   The Summit included over 225 young female leaders from middle school to college (representing various countries) meeting together to participate in leadership training and workshops, to discuss global concerns for women and girls, and to lobby for these issues on Capitol Hill!  The theme for this year’s Summit was “Stand Up. Speak Up. Rise Up.” and was a motivating and inspiring experience.

 

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My daughter had been looking for something to inspire her as she is about to start high school in the fall.  We had talked at length about some of the opportunities she may be interested in pursuing in high school and it was evident she wanted something more than what she already knew of.  Last year I had been following the 2030 Global Goals for Sustainability from the United Nations Foundation, and came across the Girl Up organization.  I showed it to my daughter and she was elated to see it was right in line with what she wanted to devote her energies to!

The format for the Summit is very impressive.  I had read about last year’s Summit and saw the attendees had an incredible lineup of extraordinary speakers.  This year was definitely stellar as speakers included executives from the United Nations Foundation, AOL, Inc., UNICEF, Caterpillar, Inc., NBCUniversal, Yellowberry, and more.  Attendees also had the chance to hear first hand experiences, challenges, and hopes from rights activists from around the world.  Even more fortunate, the First Lady herself, Michelle Obama, was present to speak on her global education campaign Let Girls Learn.

Upon arriving in Washington, DC, I told my daughter that this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to think about her potential role in making the world a better place for all.  She was going to have the rare opportunity to spend 3 days among a cohort of fellow female leaders in getting advice and inspiration from speakers who are exceling in their own pursuits for social good.

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I had the opportunity to step in and listen to some of the sessions, with topics from how to “be you” and empowering yourself and others, to gender-based violence and human trafficking.  I was able to listen to Dr. Anju Malhotra, Principal Adviser for Gender and Development for UNICEF (which is the arm of the United Nations that works for rights of children around the world).  Her job is to ensure that the billions of dollars being alotted for sustainable goals take into account the rights of girls.  One of key points that Dr. Malhotra made that resonated with me was her focus on how generations need to move faster in promoting equality for females.

It is important for the world to have ambition for girls and not just girls to have ambition for themselves.-Dr. Anju Malhotra

We cannot wait 15, 30, 60 years and so forth to experience progress and change.  Otherwise, generations of talented women and their contributions to society will be lost.

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On day 2 of the conference, First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama came to speak about Let Girls Learn, a campaign to provide more opportunities for girls around the world to an education.  Educating girls will not only empower them to contribute to the world and their families, but also build stronger and thriving communities around the world.  As an opener to the First Lady, they showed a TEDx Women talk from Shabana Basij-Rasikh, President and Co-founder of the School of Leadership of Afghanistan.  She spoke about the need for the world to understand the value of an educated daughter.  Her discussion of her upbringing in Kabul and her challenges for education showed how much a mindset is important in creating change for the future.

What spoke to my heart during Michelle Obama’s address was that she opened with the point that each and every one of the attendees was present at the Summit because they had someone, at least one person, in their lives that believed in them.  That they were there because people believe they can do something good from this.  It is disheartening to know that there are girls in this world who not only lack the support from others to pursue their passions, but they are living in societies where barriers are specifically set in place against them.  You can view her speech and other videos from this year’s Summit here.

Every night when my daughter returned from the Summit, I asked her about what she learned or what spoke to her heart.  The theme of appreciating and making the most of her education seemed to be at the forefront of the greatest takeaways from the Summit.  To shed even more light on her thoughts, I asked her to answer a few questions for this blog post.  Here are her reflections:

What was your biggest takeaway from the Summit?

My biggest takeaway from the summit was the importance of education. A girl’s education can get her a job and stabilize her future. In developing countries, girls cannot get an education for various reasons and that will cause her family to fall into extreme poverty. Education is something that many of us take for granted but we should really be appreciative of.

What speaker had the biggest impact on you and why?

Kula V. Fofana, a Liberian Adolescent Rights Activist, had the biggest impact on me. She spoke about her personal experience with gender inequality and how she ignored all of the unwritten rules in her community. It was very inspiring to hear that she persisted in her actions regardless of what other people might have said.

What did you learn from others at the summit?

Many girls at the summit had their own encounters with gender inequality and have seen the obstacles that young girls face in developing countries. I have never come across gender inequality or these problems in developing countries so hearing from other people’s experiences was very eye opening.

What did you learn most about yourself from the summit?

I learned that the only person getting in my way from making a change is myself. No one is stopping me from achieving my goals.

What words of advice would you give to someone who hasn’t attended a Girl Up summit?

Appreciate all of the opportunities that you are given like education and equality and use them to help create change for others that don’t have the same privileges as you do.

How do you hope to continue your motivation after the summit?

I hope to start my own Girl Up club at school so that I can get others involved in advocating for girls in developing countries.

 

I hope this Summit was just the beginning of her journey in contributing her talents to the world.  I imagine it is a catalyst for a call to action for her and many others.  To follow the dialogue and take action, check out Girl Up, United Nations Foundation, and follow #GirlsLead15, #2030Now, and #LetGirlsLearn.

 

Disclosure:  I am not affiliated with Girl Up or the United Nations Foundation.  The thoughts and opinions here are my own.  I would like to thank Melissa Hillebrenner, Director of Girl Up and Jonelle Kelly, Communications Officer of Girl Up for allowing me press credentials to sit in on some of Summit sessions.

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