Out of the Cave and Back on the Winding Road That Leads Home

Out of the Cave and Back on the Winding Road That Leads Home

I love summer, but not so much when it gets outrageously hot. That’s why the cool Autumn mornings and evenings with its delightful fresh air is so welcome right now. Heat can make me grumpy, discouraged, and depressed. The hot months mean it’s cave time, and it’s easy for me to hide inside in the air conditioning and try not to let my thoughts and emotions take over. Like Elijah, who was running and hid in a cave (I Kings 19:3-18), I know there is only one way out. I must choose to walk out of my cave and move forward.

What causes our discouragement that can lead to depression?

Many different things can cause discouragement and depression. We often hear how health issues or chemical and food imbalances cause it. I found myself in a depressed state many years ago and couldn’t figure out why until I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue that was causing it. Sometimes depression is just the weather, but hiding can also be a choice we make when fear takes over.

What we focus on matters? When Elijah ran for the cave, he left his servant behind. Discouragement and depression make you want to isolate yourself, and that’s the biggest mistake we can make. Many people are still trying to get out of their cave from the isolation they went through during the pandemic. Some live in a cave because they spend too much time on social media comparing their life to others who seem to be living the high life. Sometimes we stay in our cave and hide because of the stigma of being labeled as a failure if we’ve been let go from a job, been caught in an unforeseen economic situation, or perhaps been caught in a challenging family issue. If we hide, maybe it will all just go away. In our “all about me and my influence and success” social media culture today, people back away and don’t want to be associated with someone deemed a loser. It might damage their reputation.

Is the solution spiritual?

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The Interview: Let Your Light Shine that They Might See Jesus

The Interview: Let Your Light Shine that They Might See Jesus

I am often interviewed on podcasts, TV shows, and radio about my work. Sometimes it is about Hollywood issues or production questions. Sometimes it may be about my passion to see Christians use media effectively to tell their stories or ways in which Christian professionals can stay aligned and engaged with God. But whenever I approach an interview, I try to remember that it’s not about me. It’s about engaging the listener. How can I share the wisdom and knowledge that God’s taught me so that those listening might be empowered, enlightened, and flourish? How can I share God’s heart so that His Kingdom purposes might be done? I want those listening to see God living in me. It’s about Him.

Here are a few tips I have learned in sharing the mission and vision of Influence Women and that of The Influence Lab. As others put a mic in front of you because of your creative work or passion, be ready and confident to not only share your artistic project or production but share God’s hope and love and how His life living within you makes all the difference.

  1. Research the Interviewer

Familiarize yourself with the interviewer’s audience, format, and style. What is the length of the interview? If it’s 15 minutes, make your answers short and to the point. If it’s 45 minutes, you will have more time to expound or go into detail. Most importantly, research their audience. What are their listeners focused on, and what will they find valuable from your work, insight, and comments? Your goal is to connect and unite the listener. (more…)

How Do Leaders Lead When Strikes, Lay Offs, or Disruptions Happen?

How Do Leaders Lead When Strikes, Lay Offs, or Disruptions Happen?

Strikes and layoffs are never planned. No one is exempt. The recent pandemic showed us how fast life can change. I live in the hills of Los Angeles, and our home was in jeopardy a few years ago when what was then the largest fire in LA history, the LaTuna Canyon fire, came up out of nowhere and raged one block from my home. Uncertainty due to disasters, health issues, and constant disruptions seem to have become everyday occurrences. The recent devastation in Maui, HI, is one recent unimaginable tragedy. As leaders, we constantly hold our breath, wondering what will be next. But disruptions force us to pause and reflect on how to lead and help others find God’s peace and restoration when chaos happens.

As we begin to reflect on what we are most thankful for, let’s look at those disruptive occurrences and look for the opportunities in them. Here are three leadership qualities I’ve found to be helpful to bring light and hope.

First, leaders need to be ready, and being ready means spiritually prepared.

Matthew 6:19, 20 tells us not to store up earthly treasures. So don’t pile up the unneeded.  This scripture speaks of physical things that can be eaten by moths or stolen, but what about fear, stress, and depressive thoughts? They can steal more from you than physical things. Remember to store up heavenly treasures. Eternal wealth and security start with a prepared soul and a relationship that is fortified with prayer and God’s Word. So hide it in your heart where it can’t be stolen. (more…)

The Physical Touch of God and Why Your Touch Matters

The Physical Touch of God and Why Your Touch Matters

“I just wanted someone to hug me.” This was the comment I had from one of our Influence Women members on a Zoom webinar as the pandemic was coming to an end. We had been discussing why relationships matter and why Influence Women is essential. She was single and, during the pandemic, had been left for weeks without much outside conversation or actual physical touch – a hug. “It was one of the most difficult times I have ever had to experience in her life,” she said.

Touch is essential to humans.

Many studies have been done on the effects of babies left and never touched or picked up, of people who were left untouched in nursing or care homes, or even for long periods on deserted islands. The result is often irreversible trauma emotionally, physically, and sadly even spiritually. God created us to be in relationships. Jesus touched the people He healed. Thomas required Jesus to show him his hands and feet after He had been resurrected. Jesus said to him, “… “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27 (NIV). The reason God sent Jesus to our broken, sinful world was so that we could touch, see, and hear God physically through the flesh of Jesus. In today’s 24/7 access to information and emerging AI technology, physical touch is becoming more important than ever to knowing and experiencing real truth and love.

I’ve been blessed to be married for many years (more than I was ever single) to a loving husband who likes to touch things. I do too. He sometimes laughs at me when I shop because I touch things. But I have had to stop him from time to time when he talks to someone he doesn’t know because he, with his caring manner, will lightly touch their elbow or back when he stops to talk to them. People today don’t like to be touched because they aren’t touched anymore. It can unfortunately feel offensive instead of caring. My children and grandchildren don’t live near me, and I miss their physical touch, and not being able to squeeze them regularly makes my heart ache. “Facetime” is great, but it’s just not the same as hugging their necks.

We can still feel God’s touch on us today.

God wants us to touch Him and longs for our engagement with knowing Him intimately. He doesn’t require anything of us but to love Him and spend time with Him. He is love – perfect love. We feel His touch through our personal encounters. It’s a mystery to me still, but I feel God in my prayers and meditations when I read the Bible. I feel Him through the arms and hugs of other believers. Sometimes it is just the squeeze of a hand in a prayer circle or a pat on the shoulder, or a high five. Sometimes I feel God in a crisp Autumn breeze or in the sound of ocean waves pounding. Sometimes it is the aroma of flowers or pine trees or the smell of a baby’s cheek. I sense God’s joy in the sound of children giggling, a dog’s wet nose-nudges, or in the expressions of praise, song, music, and worship as believers gather together.

God touches you when you touch each other.

My heart leaps for joy at Influence Women’s gatherings when you come together at events, and I see you touch others’ lives. When you hug each other, the room explodes in a deafening noise of love. It’s why the Influence Women community of women touching each other needs to grow more. We need to gather others so that we can touch the world with our stories, projects, music and art, and ultimately share God’s loving touch with a depressed and lonely world. Our culture needs to touch each other through our artistic and creative work. When we collaborate and intimately connect, the darkness in our world is changed by the Light of the World.

I hope you will make an effort to schedule the Influence Women event dates in your calendars when they are announced and show up to touch others. Join the relationship-building INspire gatherings and bring a friend to the larger professional events. Register for the online Bible study or a mentorship series. Come and volunteer. Your touch matters to someone, even if it’s just a smile on a screen, a caring prayer you give, or an encouraging word about something you’ve learned. We grow stronger and more powerful when we touch each other. You have touched me, and I am forever grateful. Keep touching others – they need you. We need you.

Register for the in-person Hollywood Chapter Professional Brunch, and bring a friend – We want to see you there and hug your neck!

Busyness and the Walking Dead

Busyness and the Walking Dead

“Busy” doesn’t mean “productive.” In our desire to get more, be more, and do more, are we becoming the walking dead? Are we seeing life as meaningless and irrelevant?

Each day becomes a blur as we wake up worn out and trying to pack something more into our already over-loaded schedules. It reminds me of Bob Fosse’s classic scenes that repeat over and over in the movie, All That Jazz. The frazzled, overworked, and depressed choreographer looks in the mirror each morning, pumping himself up and saying, “It’s showtime!” Sadly, many feel the same today as they’re running on empty, looking for a way out and reaching for their pocket “crack” –their cell phone– to find answers and hope.

Are you one of the “walking dead,” trying to balance it all?

When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, it not only took convincing the Pharoah, but the Jewish people themselves. We read in the Bible about the plagues God sent, but have you ever pondered the amount of convincing Moses needed to do to get the Jews to pack up and leave? How fed up did they really feel with where they lived and what they endured? Similarly, what’s our reaction when life’s muck hits us between the eyes? Are we ready to get off the treadmill and trust the ever-present and living God and let Him move us to a better place?

Are the present-day disasters, wars, terrorism, immigration issues, and political turmoil getting our attention?

Once the Jews were freed from Egypt’s control, it then took 40 years of wandering to root out their past habits and build up their trust in God again. He had to continually prove Himself to them. Did God consider those years necessary? In His grace and mercy, He willingly waited for them to mature. Unfortunately, we often don’t jump out of life’s disruptions instantly, either. Most of the time, we get sucked into our daily grind and can’t break out. We get used to the misery and instead of turning to God, we just whine. Perhaps we ignore the pain because, well… we’re busy, and making changes is just too time consuming. But God promises in His Word that when we’re ready, He’s ready with “a peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7.) But we have to choose. Are you courageous enough to do the often painful, but necessary work to get there? How badly do you want to get out?

Here are some suggestions of where to begin:

Use your smartphone and get smart. Schedule your personal time with Jesus at least four or more times a week and make it a priority. One to three times a week won’t cut it. Research has proven that four or more times will positively change your life. It’s why I wrote my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, based on a four-day format.

Get serious about how you spend your free time. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on black hole apps, games, and social media platforms that are sucking the air out of your life. Statistics reveal that the average global user is on TikTok 3.5 hours a day and 4.5 hours a day on Facebook. Get radical. Delete apps on your primary screen that are not essential. Smartphones also have a feature that monitors how much time you’re spending on them. Use it and stop falling into the vortex.

Focus on caring for others and not just collecting friends. Freeing your eyes from being face-planted on your digital device allows you more time to see those around you. Build real relationships and not just ones on social media platforms. Try volunteering for something you feel passionate about. You’d be surprised how it will reward personal growth and friendships that really matter.

Finally, reach out and share your story and the life-giving message of Jesus. Many are hurting today, are caught up in the tornadic whirlwind, and need help to get out. They’re looking for answers and solutions searching for happiness not realizing that it’s the joy of knowing Jesus that their soul is craving. He alone can resurrect the walking dead. He alone restores life.

It is “showtime.” It’s time to show the world that God is with them amid the chaos. He restores that which has been taken, even what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:23).

 Singleness or Marriage – Embracing Contentment

 Singleness or Marriage – Embracing Contentment

God’s plans for us are perfect. But somehow even though we know we can never fully accomplish perfection, knowing that we can’t attain it never stops us from trying. Most who are single want to be married. Yet most married couples, if they are truthful, often wish they could return to their days of singleness when life was less complicated and without the responsibility of a significant mate and added children.

Paul, the apostle, openly shares his thoughts on the cultural issues of his time, and what was best for him and his calling. In 1 Corinthians 7:25-38, Paul explains that he chose singleness as the most favorable choice for him because he believed marriage would divide his thoughts and responsibility. He made the argument that a single person only has to think about their engagement with God, but married couples must engage with God and also leave time for their spouse, thus requiring a division of focus.

We often hear that the opposite sex “completes” us. That isn’t true. God completes us. Our mates, if we have chosen well, complement us. The reality is that marital status is a label depicting a relationship. Couples in long and successful marriages must be secure in their relationship with God first and who they are in Him. They have learned that a spouse will never be able to fulfill perfect love and that only God can bring contentment and fulfill the desires of their hearts.

However, whether single or married, Paul reveals in Philippians 4:12 that we are to be contented in all circumstances. God’s purpose is for us to be in His will. He has a reason for you to be where you are at any given moment. His purpose and plans are perfect for you and will always be far superior. The world says we must follow a certain cultural agenda to be content. The truth is that lots of married people will become single again through various life issues. We are born as an individual into the world, and we will leave single.

Pew research reports that 30 percent of U.S. adults admitted that they are not married, aren’t living with a partner, or aren’t engaged in a committed relationship. It went on to reveal that 63% of men in their twenties are single compared to only 34% of women. Men in their twenties, in fact, aren’t pursuing women as they once did because of the massive consumption of media that is now available to them, which diverts their attention. They are consumed by social media, porn, playing video games, or engaging in online sports gaming.

We often get ourselves “into a dither,” as my granny used to say. When we seek what the world says, we must follow it to be happy. Remember that the world can only bring shallow happiness, but Kingdom choices bring joy. Joy is rooted in our souls and in eternal promises with lasting security and peace in our lives. We will stay depressed, fearful, and emotionally distraught when we unwillingly wallow in our selfish choices. Both singleness and marriage are gifts – but different gifts, each packaged with different challenges and benefits. They both allow us to accomplish the purposes God has for us, and that fact, not whether we are single or married, is what will bring our ultimate joy.