God does not require a spectacular individual to complete his work. He only asks that the willing heart answer the call. You, my friend, are worthy enough to find your purpose. You were meant for extraordinary things. This, I believe for you. <3
The sun is up and the birds are chirping. As a new morning arises, I listen to the sounds of the earth waking up. A bus passes by, down shifting to make a turn, a car close behind. Serene and familiar are the light sounds of traffic flowing by the open window. Yet, it dawns on me that something is missing. I do not hear the rev of single-stroke engines mounted to motor bikes, nor their patterned honking as they pass one another with flurried ambition. Yes, they are most assuredly missing from this morning scenario. Ah, it is too quiet. Realization dawns that I have left my heart in other places. Most recently, this was Nepal.
We spent a week among the beautiful Nepalese people. From high in the mountains, sometimes even above the clouds, to down low in the valley, surrounded by the brightest green mountains. Our team of six ladies, eager to answer the call, three translators full of beauty and grace, and one pastor with a willing heart, traveled the city of Kathmandu and it’s surrounding villages. Three hours up to the peak, or even more hours south towards India, we ministered and preached, shared lunch, tears, joy, hugs and worship with women of all ages. Meeting in community centers and on the porches of local homes, we distributed water filters, brought the gospel and desired to demonstrate the love of Jesus to each and every soul.
An experience like no other is to hold the hand and pray with a stranger who is seeking to start their own ministry to their local friends and neighbors, or to embrace one woman out of the entire crowd who braved hecklers and opposition to declare faith and claim her seat at the father’s table.
This is the call of missions. The desire to meet and walk with strangers, to be welcomed as friends, to invite them into the Father’s house, no matter if nationality, tongue or culture is vastly different. Recognizing that we are all children of the almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, the call of missions is to bring and share the good news to the far corners of the earth.
Humbled, I am, to think that God would even consider to use my hands, feet or voice. Submitting my heart and full-self to his will, I too grow in innumerable measure by his love.
Although my time abroad was brief and I feel the demands of daily life once again upon me, I have realized one thing…my heart is still there, still beating on the missions field. A longing churns inside realizing my true home is in the midst of kingdom work, in the middle of a circle of prayer for a stranger, or in the holding of hands with a woman whose name I do not know, yet our spirits realize each other as sisters. It is there, in the presence of God, where I find my true home.
Nothing else can satisfy like working in something that fulfills purpose. If you are seeking this in your life, or in a period of searching, then I understand you, friend. You are not alone on this journey. Feel free to share how you feel purpose in your life and what you are doing to fulfill it. I would love to share in this adventure with you.
She is as lovely as the first time I met her 5 years ago when asked to interview her for a transfer from one business location to another. Long, strawberry blond hair and a smile that lights up the air around her. She speaks softly and laughs readily. She is a gem of compassion, love and mothering…she just has that way about her. Meet Cathy Engen, Strong:Her Woman of the Month – June 2019.
Cathy hails from the Dakotas. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, her family headed west when Cathy was 10 years old. Their 800+ acre farm literally straddles across the North and South Dakota lines. “I think the state line ran right through the middle of the house,” she says. She attended high school in both states, as well. From the time she was little Cathy was always singing. Singing and running. Even in her crib, the baby noise she chose was a song. Her passion for both would weave its way into the story of her life.
In high school Cathy longed to be on the track team, but there was no such thing as a women’s track team for her small town. Maybe in the bigger cities, sure. For this tiny farm-girl, however, she was only allowed to train and run with the boys, but not compete. This soon changed as she and a group of girls advocated for equality and were eventually allowed to form a track team to compete against other girls. They did not have funding to be very official and certainly lacked equipment. Passion fueled solutions, however, and the girls would wear the boy’s football cleats and stuff socks in the toes. They would then take to the track and run their hearts out. They soon found themselves allowed to compete in local competitions and like the freedom a bird must feel in flight, Cathy ran.
In college she reignited her love for music and majored in vocals. She became a music teacher for the next few years and spent her time teaching, mentoring, coaching, singing and sharing her love for music. It was harder in those days, the early to mid-80’s, to find good paying jobs for women in music in small mid-western towns. So, Cathy moved into the business sector and became one of the first female managers for the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce. She is proud of that position, even when finding opposition from other women in the workforce. She overcame resistance by determining herself to be an example to other women around her and to show them that they could be strong and successful, as well. “We need each other,” she advises. “We just don’t do enough (as women) to support each other. It doesn’t take anything out of me to help you get ahead! If I pour out of myself into you, God will just come along and pour back into me. One act of kindness can spread further than only I can reach. I help you and you help the next person and it just keeps going. Why wouldn’t I want to help someone else?”
That philosophy has carried her throughout much of her life. Cathy has also found that her faith has been the central-most grounding force in her life. “Life is going to hold challenges,” she wisely admits. “You will face dark times, trouble will find you. You have to be grounded. The most important thing is faith. You must have that foundation and nurture it. You can feel like you give away so many pieces of yourself as a woman, a wife, a mother, or at work. Take time for yourself. Set healthy boundaries for yourself. I have found that it is in the valleys of life that I have experienced the most learning. There are seasons of growth to be experienced in the middle of those trials of life.”
Cathy puts her own philosophies into
action. A few years ago she took time to
pause and take an evaluation of this season of her life. She and her husband have been married for three
decades and their baby daughter is now grown.
She has seen success in life in business leadership and fostering
relationships around her. With this
reflection, Cathy decided it was time to exit working and give time to focus
again on what truly brings her joy. “I
wanted to hold music again!” she gushes.
“There’s just something about holding it in your hands.” So, she joined the choir at the Fourth Baptist
Church in Plymouth, MN. She also started
“I wanted to be an example to my
daughter and I wanted to be mindful of my health.” She continues, “Life is a
gift and I took control of what I could manage and change for myself. It’s important that we mind the things that sustain
us like eating good food, getting enough sleep, resting and paying attention to
our emotional health.”
She admits that working towards her
personal fitness goals takes a little longer in this season. “Just start by walking,” she says. The pace is
not the most important part, it’s the act of doing, being, striving, engaging,
participating, setting a goal and working towards it. “Sometimes I think, could I be better, yeah,
but I’m using my talents, my gifts and living the best in my body. There’s only one of me, I’m one-of-a-kind and
I’m worth taking care of!”
She built a regimen for herself that she could stick with and embraces the trail as an adventure that brings her joy. “I’m an athlete and I run almost every day, even in the winter,” she says. Cathy wants to make the most of what God gave her and she loves to meet people on the trail. Like a magnet, she attracts others to her warm, caring and genuine nature. She strikes up conversations with other runners and enjoys pouring love into those whom she meets along the way.
It’s only been a few years and now she has a whole shelf of medals. She has run races in multiple seasons, including sunshine, snow, warmth and cold. One of her biggest dreams was to run a race with her daughter, which they recently did together. They since have enjoyed several races together, including celebrating their fourth annual run of that first race, the Minnesota Hot Dash.
“I just want to make the most of what God gave me.” Cathy proclaims. “It’s never too late to start or try something new – or to go back to something you love – every day is a chance for a new beginning. I hope to make the most of everything I’ve had in my life – my marriage, friends, family, work.” She states, “I am not a human being, I’m a human ‘be-coming.’ Until I draw my last breath, I am still a work in progress. I want to be everything God wants me to be. I may not achieve that in every moment, but I am trying.”
We think Cathy has achieved that and so much more. Her passion and faith is evident all around her from the dedication to her training for the next race, to the voice that carries out hymns and praise on a Sunday morning, to the very words she chooses to speak to a mere stranger. Cathy is a StrongHer Woman and she’s striving to fulfill her purpose. “I’m still a kid,” she laughs. “Still goofy! This body is housing me, but the me inside is ageless, timeless.” Her greatest accomplishment? “I joy in having a part in the good for others,” she exclaims. “At the end I just want to be able to say that it was a good run.”
Where does the power of success reside? In the ability to adapt, recover and respond. In the ability to show up again and again while maintaining character, attitude and self-control. When we are successful at perseverance, we are successful in much.
We came around the corner at the same time and both stopped abruptly. In the middle of the aisle, near the small toys and candy boxes, a puppy had left us a little puppy-type gift. The type that rules like, “No Pets Allowed” tries to avoid. Marley and I look at each other and she sighed. “I’ll get this one,” she said. “You had that kid with the mac and cheese incident.”
Ah, I had indeed. A customer was in shopping with her four-year old when he suddenly didn’t feel well. Unable to hold down his lunch, he got sick on the sales floor in the middle of the bike aisle. A look of pure horror washed over his mom’s face and like a military-trained emergency rescue mission, she scooped him up in her arms and proceeded to make a run for the exit. The restrooms were far closer, but unfamiliar with the layout and obviously wanting to hide her very existence, she headed for the car. He was sick all the way to the front doors. Being the manager on duty, I responded immediately and commenced mopping and sanitizing as quickly as I could.
The puppy however, was a different story. Our customer had come in to shop with her pet in tow on a random Tuesday afternoon, but from the looks of it had abandoned the need to clean up after Fido when he was less than potty trained. Let me interject that we are not a pet store. We love your furry friend, but we have polite rules and requests in place in order to avoid situations like we found this day. A mop wasn’t going to cut it.
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Retail management involves a variety of skills I have acquired through experience…ones that education alone cannot prepare you for. I have been called on as a maintenance mechanic, plumber, electrician, counselor, relationship expert, mediator, HVAC inspector, groundskeeper, safety patrol and service agent. I have worked to free a bird who flew in through open doors and subsequently panicked when he could not find his way back out. I have observed customers who chased other customers out of the store for suspected stealing (while screaming “thief!!!” as loudly as possible), where ultimately a car chase also ensued and laws were probably broken. Then there was the time that security proceeded to fire a taser at an individual and drop him at the checkout lane in the entrance of the store. Customers thought someone had been shot and proceeded to take shelter in areas of the store. We worked to quickly assure each one of their safety and a lot of phone calls with corporate happened that day.
I have sandbagged entrances while staying open in a hurricane; dumped plastic toy boxes full of water from one to another from 20’ in the air, while trying to keep the backroom from flooding in a torrential rainstorm; and responded to a customer who was threatening bodily harm to everyone in her path if we did not pull her order faster. There was the homeless guy living in his car in the parking lot, the shipments that arrived all hours of the day and night, and the associate who ran off crying in the middle of a transaction, leaving the customer at the checkout looking bewildered.
Today, however, I have cheese in my pocket. It has hardened overnight and has a glossy sheen that I feel is keenly unnatural for a dairy product. Chatting in my team for our morning routine, I reach in and discover its presence. It is unwrapped and appears to have been slightly enjoyed and then rejected as the edges were nibbled. The evening before at closing, my associate and I discovered the remnants of a foot-long sandwich which had been partially consumed on a $1,000 pair of living room chairs near the front of the store. Also left behind were leaves of lettuce and open packets of mustard. Worth noting is that we do not serve food at our location. We have home goods and décor, pillows and canvas art. You cannot purchase lunch here, or dinner for that matter.
After washing down the discovery and restoring our product to its former glory, we exit to find the rest of the meal smashed on the ground in front of the entryway as we exited the building. Sigh. I continue to clean and toss the bread in the bushes for the squirrels. It is already past my bedtime and I’m 10 years into this venture of management, so I’m feeling a little weary today.
So, why continue? Why continue putting my effort to business
everyday when the glory of business management seems so elusive? I get up every morning, dress up, put on my
makeup, tame this wild mane of curls into something presentable and proceed to stock
shelves, welcome customers, be a counselor, teacher, friend, advocate, coach
and business acumen aficionado.
So, why? It is because of passion. It is because I
love my team, my customers and I’m proud of my product. I am thrilled to see customers excited about
styling a particular space in their home and leaving with ideas that they are
simply giddy to implement. They feel
enlightened, engaged and invigorated to make their homes exactly into the space
they love to live in. Your immediate space
around you is a reflection of your personal taste, style and expression. It is a
chance to express exactly who you are.
My home is my sanctuary and I love every little piece of it.
What can we do when we feel the
challenges at work are insurmountable or we feel overwhelmed? What happens when we face a situation that
may not even be in our job description or even on our radar of apparent
skills? We persevere. We are amazing creatures with the ability to
adapt, recover and respond. We strive to
maintain respect of those around us, even when another human has made a less-than-amazing
choice that leaves you dealing with the aftermath.
Take a deep breath, friend. Take a step away, if necessary. Reach out for help and expertise of those above
and around you who can lend wisdom and advice.
Remember that work is work and it does not define your life story. When I managed a coffee shop my superior
manager would just say something to the effect of, “It’s just water over beans,
guys! We can handle it!” Work has given
me stressful days, hilarious antics, and challenged my character, at
times. I have laughed over my job, cried
over my job, obsessed over my job, and quit 1,000 times in my mind. I know, however, that getting to work with
the people around me has also shaped me into a better version of myself. I have met amazing individuals whom have
impacted my life journey in so many ways.
I’m thankful for the friendships and opportunities my career has
afforded me. I’m thankful that several
companies have entrusted me in my role with decision-making processes that
impacts millions of dollars in revenue each year.
When I’m in the trenches and
working through the daily grind, I’m still thankful. Success can be defined in different
ways. Sometimes it is hitting big goals
and celebrating achievements, sometimes it is helping a colleague or employee
through a tough decision, and sometimes it is climbing up on the roof, investigating
odd smells, and receiving freight trucks in the middle of the night. However we define success, it is usually one
step at a time. The power lies in
sticking through the tough times and shining bright in the more celebratory moments. It’s putting the best version of myself
forward in every circumstance, living through the moment, and rising in the
morning to do it all again.
Rachel Asks: What
tough situations are you facing in your work day and what would best help you
to overcome the challenge? How can you
leverage others around you to assist you in achieving your goals for
success? What would help you feel amazing
I have this glorious idea of how I will spend my time when such day arrives that I fulfill a life-long dream and vacation to the city of lights, the city of pastries, romance and love. The one and only splendor of Paris. Oh, I plan to drink in all her beauty with child-like wonder and amazement. With wide eyes I will walk the streets and behold the old charm of her architecture. I long to delve deep into her museums to learn her history, enjoy her artisans and be intoxicated by her lure.
I can imagine the succulence of fresh baked croissants, warm
and almost melting with every bite. The
aroma of bread, baking in the café. I
even know what I’m going to wear.
I have envisioned this outfit for as long as I can
remember. I want red heels. I mean bright, crunchy candy apple, light-catching,
deliciously tempting red heels. A blue,
polka-dot ruffled skirt and a crisp white blouse. A string of pearls will adorn my neck and I
will be a full-on Parisian girl.
Polka dots in Paris.
Someday I will wear polka dots in Paris.
Would I still enjoy my trip in stripes or paisley? More than likely. However, there is something about polka dots
that just makes me feel like I’m part
of the culture, the scene, and that I belong.
That’s the funny thing about being a girl, what we wear has the ability to let our true selves shine a little brighter. It’s a form of expression, a way to speak to the world without saying a word. It’s not about a particular brand or style, or owning who’s-who and keeping up with “fashions” and “trends.” It’s about how you feel in what you wear.
Clothing can have significant influence over us. We want to feel like modern, dominating women. We want to say, “I dictate how I feel! I wear my clothes, they don’t wear me!” Honestly, how you express yourself to the
world has the ability to change your own mood, inspire confidence and promote
feelings of motivation and success.
Want to feel like you’re conquering the world? Put on what makes you feel most confident. Want to feel warm and connected to the people around you? Toss on your husband’s sweatshirt or pin that paper flower in your hair that your kid made you in school yesterday. These things have the ability to affect how we feel about ourselves and others.
You may be thinking nonsense,
I feel like my fabulous self no matter what I wear. Girlfriend, good for you! You have unlocked a confidence achievement
level that some of us are still out here striving for! You take that confidence and promote it
brightly! For the rest of us, what we
wear can boost our mental and emotional processes in how we take on the world.
According to BrainFodder.com, “Research says the quickest little fix for a bad day is to wear brightly colored clothes. Cheerful colors work as a mini pick-me-up; and thus boosting our mood and energy. Also, we associate bright colors with happiness, sunny days, and carefree times (like the summer vacations when we were kids).” Check out the rest of the article here.
The great news? You do not have to be a fashionista to achieve
this feeling! Perhaps style is the furthest
thing from your mind or is one of those “skills-I-wish-I-had” kinda
things. That’s ok! You do
not have to feel less that absolutely
beautiful in your own skin or with what you wear. The idea is that you feel
like your best self in how you choose to express yourself to the world. Want some pointers?
Inspiring Self-Confidence in Your Wardrobe
Every morning I go through this routine where I select my outfit based on my mood. From my hairstyle all the way down to my intimates. I am soooooo far from making it on the pages of a fashion magazine, but I choose pieces that inspire what I want to accomplish on any given day. Today I wanted to feel bold and I had an agenda for the morning that would keep me busy. I wanted to feel motivated to not only start these tasks but to also finish them, so I chose a skirt with dominating stripes in bright green, black and gray. Green inspires growth and harmony and I desired to feel optimistic and hopeful throughout my day.
I did not have to go out and buy a new wardrobe to accomplish this feeling. I selected what I had on hand that would suit the mood I wanted to achieve.
Bright Colors as a Mood Booster The charming thing about color is absolutely the way it makes us feel! Yellow is for joy, optimism and the color of flowers you choose to convey friendship. Use this chart for great color reference:
Staying Classy and Sassy Let us remember that less isn’t always more! Sometimes more is more. Although we want to feel like the amazing, beautiful creatures that we are, we can also stay classy, sassy and sophisticated by leaving a little mystery to the eye. We absolutely do not need to drop our necklines down to solicit attention or hike those hemlines up and put ourselves on some kind of visual display. We are confident in the colors we choose to wear and the styles in which we choose to express ourselves. We wear denim with our dresses and boots when we feel like it suits our mood. A little modesty can go a long way! Enjoy a little lace, a little ruffle, a red-leather jacket to the movies. Go out and be your sassy, classy self!
Rachel Says: For more go check out Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashionby Professor Karen Pine. It’s a digital quick-read on a fresh perspective for reasons to re-vamp your wardrobe and feel like your best, beautiful self! Go grab a copy today!
How do I judge thee? Let me count the ways. I see wrinkles and some laugh lines. Wait, your style has gone astray. A little chub, a little drab, too many freckles dot your nose. Some grays are showing through that dye job. You are tired and it shows.
You are too busy and too scattered. When is the last time you worked out? Overworked, underappreciated. Oh, I wouldn’t eat that amount. You’re unkempt, trying too hard, maybe today is not your day. I’m sure there was a better outfit choice this morning. Um, you shouldn’t wear stripes that way.
I would have dressed up or dressed down. Painted my cheeks a different pink. I surely would have pulled my hair up. It would look better, don’t you think? Your face is too long, eyes too big and shoulders wide. Hide your ears, quiet your voice, stuff all your fears inside. Wear something different, that look is lame. Same favorite sweater? Lacking grace, what a shame.
Sigh. Maybe I have made myself feel better by criticizing who you are. But, it will be brief and very fleeting as selfish thoughts splinter my heart. It will take a bit of warming, a bit of letting down my guard, before I can look much deeper and see who you really are.
What I have not noticed is that you’re so unique. Creative and amazing, you are truly at your peak. I hadn’t seen it all before. But, by looking a little deeper, I can appreciate you so much more.
Girl, yes you
are too tired. Can I help you out with
that? I understand when days feel short and life’s demands have knocked you
Girl, you are
so busy. I can see you focused in. You’re climbing the ladder of success,
looking for a total win.
Girl, I commend your effort, giving life all you’ve got. You show tenacity and spirit. From you, I could learn a lot.
Girl, you could be more recognized, but it’s not approval that you seek. You’re happy if the kids are fed and you’ve kept up another week.
Girl, I do love that sweater, those boots and that smile. But what I have learned today is worth cannot be measured by a sense of style.
My friend, great job on all you’ve accomplished and for letting your light shine. I hope my passion can mimic yours and someday be just as fine.
Rachel Asks: Have we ever found ourselves on the receiving end of unkind words and criticism? It makes us feel as if life is a performance sport where we are judged constantly based on our ability to perform at someone else’s standard. Conversely, have we found ourselves on the the giving end of such harsh words and thoughts? Where we have deemed someone’s worth based off our personal opinion of them? We can do much better as women! We can do much better as moms, sisters and friends. How can you show love today? How can you reverse this trend?
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