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Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Stop, Listen & Go

I LOVE to travel. I mean I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. I love being introduced to the new. I love the change of scenery.  I love the instant gratification of arriving at a destination. When it’s long-form travel, I love being able to sit back and allow myself to be carried forward into the next experience and moment. I love the movement of travel and I love the stillness.

But travel doesn’t just speak to a physical sensory awakening, travel speaks to my spirit.

There’s something about the physical act of going from one destination to another that always causes me to sit back and think about where I’m headed in life. My dreams and decisions are birthed in the forced stillness of an airplane covering long distances and crossing timelines…as if I am being carried forward towards dreams that are within reach and closer than I’d imagined…

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Proverbs 4:25 (NLT)

Sometimes the days are so busy, it’s easy to get caught up in the constant activity and forget to take the time to dream or check-in on my dreams. The daily grind becomes more about reacting to a full schedule or workload. Staying at work late trying to finish projects given around the closing bell (sigh), fitting in time at the gym, coming home late hungry, making dinner, social media socializing, Netflix unwinding, going to sleep late, snoozing 3-4 times the next day and rushing to start another cycle of just trying to make it to the weekend.

And yet God is reminding us in Proverbs to Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Asking you to believe they are within reach and closer than you imagine because His plans for you are greater than your day-to-day and He wants to birth Hope in you to believe and imagine again.

Now, as you know, last year I traveled to Paris and “backpacked” through France & Italy mainly, with some Belgium and Spain thrown in, so I spent lots of time travelling between geographical destinations. Journal in hand, I had hours to sit and listen to God and reflect on next steps as the train rushed by lush landscapes and I saw how accessible the next destination could be. I would dream of lushness in every area of my life and actually see and hear how easy it could be.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

I’ve decided and I hope you join me too, to bear MUCH fruit EACH day. I’ve decided to bear the fruit that I’m meant to. Yes, God’s Grace and the Fruit of the Holy Spirit allows me to be kind, loving, gentle, peaceful and patient each day, bearing fruit each day, but I also want to fulfill His purpose for me and in that way yield the most of my talents and abilities. So, this is what I’ve done since my sabbatical and what I’m purposing to do as I step into the Greater Unique Calling for which I was created. (Watch this sermon series by Jeremy Pearsons‘ on getting Fit for the Master’s Use, HERE.)

First: Take time daily to STOP.

STOP and DREAM. STOP and ASSESS where I’m at in the dreams God has placed for my life. STOP and PRAY over those dreams and project. STOP and DECLARE God’s Goodness over every part of my life and the glorious future that He’s prepared for me. STOP and write down what He’s showed me and what goals I’m pressing forward to.

Second: LISTEN for His Voice and His Direction. John 15:5 is SUPER IMPORTANT. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

What does remaining in Jesus, practically look like? It’s saying, “Jesus, Help! Holy Spirit, Help!” throughout the day. It’s finding His promises about that situation in the Bible and writing them down to carry with on your person, as a lifeline. It’s spending time in His presence throughout the day, EACH day.

I set apart daily quality time and stay connected during the day as I’m working, eating, commuting, working out…by saying things like, “God, I love you. You are so awesome. You love me so much. I think you’re so kind, so great, so amazing to me. I see how you care for everyone in my family. I see what you’ve done in my life. I trust you. Thank you for your help. Thanks for making me smart. Thanks for making me beautiful. Thanks for setting up this opportunity for me.” (In “thought-seconds”- time spent is like speed of light status)

Third: I GO. I get moving. I take action. I write the blog post. I apply for the job. I make the decision. I go to the gym. I make the coffee date. I take the class. I research the idea. I look up cost-of-living in the new city. I practice the skills I feel I’m losing. I set the money aside for the dream. I read the book. I quit the time-draining activity. Whatever Holy Spirit has told me the Father and Son want me to do, I endeavor to do.

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” John 5:8 (NLT)

This isn’t always easy. I would say from looking at my life and the conversations I’ve had with friends the hardest part is to GO. Doubt likes to creep in at this step and tell you, you heard wrong. Passivity can saunter in and say, “Not yet, you have time. Status quo looks good.” Fear, (I hate it!), will show you every possible worst-case scenario of you taking action. So, what do I do? I do it anyway. I arm myself with the WORD and if I can’t shake off the what-if, as Joyce Meyer says to do, “I do it afraid,” but I do it.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” Exodus 14:15 NLT

Personally, I like the verse above and I use it as an exhortation to myself, when I know that the next step is contingent on me actually getting myself in gear and taking action. By this point I have Stopped to Listen and I know what I have to do but instead of doing it, I’m like God, You need to change my situation, and He’s like, “Ok, Raquel, you know what you have to do. I’m on your side. Your move. Get moving; I’m going with you. I’m going in front of you, I’m watching your back, I’m holding your hand, but you have to take the step, if you want to see all My promises come to pass in your life.”

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

What’s the result of Stop, Listen & Go? A life that promises the presence of Yahweh. Fullness of joy and Pleasures Forevermore.

Kairos Moment: Taking the time to dream with God, lets Him speak into your life the dreams He has for you and the direction you have to take. Staying connected daily means fullness of joy and rest and peace and hope; surely those are a taste of the pleasures and treasures He has set apart for His children who love Him and seek after Him.  

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Holy Spirit picks my nail color.

I was recently reminded of this, when for my sister’s birthday, we did joint spa mani-pedis. I woke up with a vision of my nails in pale lilac and as I walked into the nail salon later that day, I flash backed to that color. Now I’m not someone who thinks about shades of nail polish or the newest color palette, which is how I know this wasn’t my thought. Last year, Holy Spirit was sending me to the salon so much that I ended up asking Him to help me choose nail polish colors because there are just too many choices.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1Peter 5:7 (NLT)

Have you ever had a hard decision to make that took you months to make because you weren’t sure what the right choice was? Are there certain areas in your life that are so important to you, you fear taking the wrong step and dashing it all on the rocks? That’s me with decisions that pertain to my career because I worry about missing out on my destiny.

For He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 (NLT)

Going on sabbatical in 2015 was a decision that took me about 5 months to make and this is why:

Before I went back to a position I had already held 5 years before, as Director of Public Affairs for a TV station, I really thought the decision through. I prayed going back was the right decision. I wanted to make sure it was where I would make the most impact with my talents and ability and I wanted a place to stay at long term. The station manager had made a great case for why I should take the position, promising a comfortable environment, great office, less work and opportunities to network with her outside of the office. The title was nice, the salary decent and I got to work in a field I love and excel in, with full time stability.

Well, you know all those success books that say if you get to work early, leave late, work beyond your job responsibilities, take on more work, make your boss’ life easier and give 110% at the office that you will succeed and get promoted? NOT THIS TIME!

So after pulling out my faith arsenal of prayer, patience, praise, turning the other cheek, blessing my boss in prayer, praying over my work space, enlisting prayer help, refusing to give up, spiritual warfare, more praise and worship, surrendering it to God, partnering with God to do my part, trying my hardest not to complain or gossip or become bitter, not saying anything negative, humbling myself, standing up for myself in my identity but with respect, trying to endure and wait it out, memorizing scripture for the occasion and situation, I finally gave up and decided to walk away.

Even though I decided to walk away, I still gave  110% at work because I wanted it to be perfectly clear that what was happening was in no way my fault. I trained my replacements, simplified work processes, de-cluttered my office and all the forgotten spaces of the TV station/building. I doubled up on work so that when I left there would be taped programs and completed reports that would extend several months into the new year. Deep down I hoped that somehow my situation would turn around and I wouldn’t have to give notice but it didn’t, so I found myself on a Friday in October 2015 cutting into a Best Wishes cake, saying goodbye over pizza to the production crew members who had come in for a taping that day.

I didn’t even tell friends and family I was going to quit  or had quit because I kept thinking, “No one is going to believe that this is not my fault.”

Now, I had just finished the book, “Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning your World through God’s Creative Flow” by Bill Johnson so I was excited about this time off where I would figure out what my next steps would look like and I was telling myself, “This is good, Raquel. You were made for more. That place was stifling! Go where you are celebrated and appreciated!” But I was carrying shame about giving up and fear of how I was going to tell my family I let the boss beat me and I left work without unemployment benefits. I was also worried and trying not to be anxious about whether I had made the right choice.

I didn’t have long to worry. That first Monday morning of my sabbatical as I set out on an itinerary of cultural activities that included signing up for museum passes, finding a foreign language meetup, a cafe to sit and journal at, my first weekday care-free lunch, signing up for a NYC Parks free exercise class, etc and all the other activities I had built a weekly sabbatical schedule of so that I could convince myself this sabbatical was just what I needed…Holy Spirit stepped in with a request.

He said, “Go and get your nails done.”  I was like..”What???  I don’t have that in my budget right now! I’m about to step into 3 months of NO salary. I can take a break and all but my activities can’t be luxury activities. I have nail polish at home and getting my nails done is not relaxing to me! It’s a waste of my time and money. I’m not that type of girl-this is going to stress me out!”

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ Isaiah 45:9 (NLT)

I was wrong. I went in and for the first time in my life getting my nails done actually relaxed me. It felt like REST. Holy Spirit began to speak words of Love and Restoration over me. I heard God tell me He would care for me during this time and He would supply financial provision. I heard Him tell me not to fear and not to feel shame or guilt. I heard Him tell me to trust Him. I heard Him tell me He liked that I was taking the time to care for myself and that He loved pampering me. I heard Him tell me that I was getting my nails done because during this time I would rest and not labor. He would work while I would rest and trust Him.

If you think about it that totally makes sense that He would tie that message of rest to getting a manicure because every woman who has paid for a non-gel manicure knows that if you want that manicure to last out the week you can’t do a single thing because you can literally chip a nail with a strong breeze.

“The LORD will complete what His purpose is for me. LORD, your gracious love is eternal; do not abandon your personal work in me.” Psalm 138:8 (ISV)

From October 2015 through January 2016, right before my Europe trip, every time I stressed out about wasting time or feared making the wrong decision He sent me to the nail salon and we met by the nail polish wall where He assured me that if I could trust Him to make the time to help me choose a nail polish color, I could trust Him to help me make every other decision I needed to make.

Kairos Moment: Holy Spirit reaching out to remind me He has a personal work in me and for me. God can be trusted to complete His purpose in me and guide my steps.  I don’t have to worry about missing out if I take the time to listen to Him and respond to Him. 

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Being Concise

Sophomore year of high school English class I was paired with another student whose writing was so different than mine. I was the queen of clause-filled sentences and passive language that was flowery and elegant. She was direct and to the point. We were tasked with co-writing an essay and while I learned lots from her style, I still preferred mine. She went on to be a lawyer while I have spent most of my life in television, a field where saying nothing in lots of words might be second only to diplomacy, the other career I have seriously considered.

Proverbs 10:14 TLB states, “A wise man holds his tongue. Only a fool blurts out everything he knows; that only leads to sorrow and trouble.” Television is a fast-paced field that is dominated by men and short attention spans. Therefore, while a high school English class may not have convinced me of the need to be concise, a career where I worked with and led men, as a young Latina, has. The less you say, the more knowledge and authority it is perceived you possess. And we all know, just how important perception is.

Being concise takes preparation. It does not mean not saying anything at all or limiting the times you speak. It means owning your content knowledge. It means studying your audience. Know what the learning styles and the communication styles of your team are. Know the manner in which your information is received by its intended recipients and then tailor your sentences or your ASK to provide as much punch as possible in as few words as possible. Why? Because you want people to listen when you speak and they are more apt to listen if they know what you have to say holds substance.

In the days of short attention spans no one is working on their listening skills. When leading, the clearer your message, the less confusion there is in carrying out your directive.

Kairos Moment: Finally learning this lesson after a lifetime of too many words.

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