by Cornel Warren
Christy Wright was panicking. After years of preparation, she was about to take the stage at the first Business Boutique event, hosted in Nashville, as part of a new Dave Ramsey initiative to equip and encourage women entrepreneurs. There were 1200 registered attendees, and her mind was racing with doubt.
“I would have to be on stage for two days teaching all content I had written myself,” she remembers. “Those voices of fear in my head were saying, ‘who are you to do this? You’re not qualified! No one is going to show up.’” As is true of the enemy’s attacks, the accusations didn’t even make sense: “No one’s going to come, yet they are somehow all going to leave disappointed… I’m not even sure how that’s possible,” Christy now laughs. “I felt God saying: ‘Christy, you are freaking out because you think this is your event. But it’s not your event, it’s My event.’ The One who calls you is faithful. He will do it.”
Christy Wright started with the Dave Ramsey organization seven years ago. Almost immediately her talent and passion for public speaking was soon noticed, and she was selected to be a part of what would later become the Ramsey Personality Group, which consists of Rachel Cruze, Chris Hogan, Chris Brown and Anthony O’Neal. “Each of the speakers had a specific, targeted message they focused on. But I was sort of a catch-all. If we had a client call in requesting a speaker on work-life balance, I would write a talk on that, even though I had never spoken on the topic before.
“I spent several years preparing talks on a variety of different topics. I wrote a new talk for a new audience on a new topic every single time that I spoke,” she recalls. During those years, Christy was speaking over forty times per year! “It was this unbelievable training ground as a speaker, thought leader and trainer to learn how to communicate with different audiences, different age groups and different demographics,” she remembers.
As she wrote, her talks continued to involve different elements of work-life balance, and she found the talks to connect deeply with the concerns women faced: “I received a lot of affirmation in the form of women coming up to me and sharing how much my content had impacted them and how they would be able to take steps to improve their own lives and that of their families.”
As the team at the Ramsey Organization worked to put together the Personality Group, Dave Ramsey identified a need in the market: entrepreneurial women were not being served and equipped properly. “It was a total overlap with the work I had done on life balance because many women are involved in home-based business, lifestyle business or other types of flexible working structures to accommodate their other roles,” Christy shared with excitement.
“I felt like God was showing me: I have gifted you as a speaker. So it was really through God prompting me to do something and then receiving confirmation as I walked it out that I was able to find the path He had for me.” Although her work had prepared her well, the next step was to validate Dave Ramsey’s hypothesis. Christy and her team conducted two years of research and established that there was, indeed, a gap in leadership and business development for women.
“The research reaffirmed to me that things that were so obvious to me, as a business coach, about running a business were blowing women’s minds because they had never been taught those things,” she explains. Not only is her education and experience in business, but Christy was raised by entrepreneurs. “It was really my mom who started a cake shop when I was six months old to raise me and support me as a single mother, that inspired my love for business.
“Now I’m on a crusade to help women start businesses. There’s already a movement happening with the Etsy generation and Pinterest, and the 30 million ‘solopreneurs’. I just want to help women make money doing what they love, and that’s why I created Business Boutique. We started just over a year ago, and have since hosted four events and launched a podcast. We also have a book coming out in April.
“We have definitely hit a pain point in the market because there is a need for help in this area. Many women who are starting businesses are not knowledgeable in business, and they think that disqualifies them from having a business. But that simply isn’t true. I help women with the business side of things so they can spend more time doing what they love and less time on the things they don’t.”
The Business Boutique conference, now in its second year, has reached women where they are, offering guidance in five key areas, while allowing women to dive deeper into key topics of their own choosing through a series of breakout sessions. “I understand what it’s like to be a mom and run a business, wearing so many different hats so I try to be very encouraging, coming alongside them to inspire them but also give them the practical skills they need to run their businesses well.
“I am still relatable to them because I’m not this Sheryl Sandberg, cover of Forbes, high-power CEO. I’m a mom and I work and yet I have this depth of business knowledge,” Christy humbly explains. Her renown as a business thought leader is growing at a rapid, much deserved rate. In addition to speaking on life balance and time management, Christy and the other main stage speakers cover creating a proper business plan, marketing and selling, pricing and profit (and other financial topics) and high-level legal issues that surround entrepreneurship. Christy also coaches women on taking the entrepreneurial leap.
“I understand the vulnerability of putting yourself out there and starting a business. I’m a woman and a mom, and I have run several businesses of my own in the past. So I get it. I can relate to women’s unique struggles that they bring to the business world.” Although Christy has the coaching and mentoring of Dave Ramsey and other tremendously gifted leaders, she has found the strength for her journey in Christ: “There are several verses that I use over and over again. I always go back to 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ‘Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.’”
The other one is “let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” A lot of times women take a view of their talent that it is just ornamental, something they can pursue if they get around to it saying ‘if I have time to paint, or sew that’s fine. But if not it’s just a luxury anyway.’ But God created you with those gifts and when you neglect them you are missing out on a part of who God created you to be. But not only are you missing out, but others around you are missing out on the blessing of that gift.
When you let your light shine, people see God. When you are walking in your strengths, people see God through that. Your work is a ministry. You don’t have to work in a church to work in a ministry. Your calling from God is your ministry and it points people to God. “It has been cool to see how God has woven together the pieces of my story that I never knew were connected for a moment such as this,” she shares. “I have seen firsthand the life change that happens, so I am really excited about how proven the events are now. I am so confident that the women who show up are going to have their lives changed. Not just their businesses, but their lives.”
By Cornel Warren Originally featured in Fall 2016 of Live with Heart & Soul Magazine
All photos Copyright Pearl Communications 2016. All rights reserved.
As I descend the earthen steps into the wild woods of Old Man’s Cave a canopy of leaves and branches envelopes me and the sun is dimmed by a haze of green. Even in steamy July, the shade seems to block out the humidity and time’s hand slows. Such magnificence deserves a second glance. I bend down low to look closer at the mossy stones, covered in a delicate dusting of tiny green life. Those white speckles are actually tiny white flowers, blooming so small that it makes you wonder why they even bother. But someone sees. God sees. And He leaves little treasures like these all around us.
Every footprint I make leaves a footprint on my being: God has hidden precious treasures here for me.
We were by nature...
In an age where every part of our identity is being called into question, and where terms like “gender spectrum” leave us scratching our heads, the tranquility of nature grounds us. Here there are no questions of identity. Here it is all nature. Ephesians 2:3-5 comes to my mind.
We “were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.” (NIV)
Our nature was once wild; wild like the branches and vines tangled above me. Our hearts were once hard; hard like the moss-covered stone, carved and cut by hundreds of years of wind and water. We were once children of wrath, just like the world.
I look at the leafy brush growing out of the rock. Is that how we once lived, trying to sap strength and nourishment out of cold, dead stone?
Our wisdom is folly to God, and when we take a step back to examine our lives, we see our folly as well. The forest is a good place to take a step back. It’s still. Our minds can think clear and hear, absorb the wisdom that He speaks to us. There are no flashing lights, no drone of talking television sets flooding our thoughts with what is supposedly important. Yes, something happens when we get into nature.
His rich mercy
When I spend time in the wilderness, I often wonder what it would have been like to find this place as a frontiers-woman. Here I would have stood, after an arduous journey and I would have to build a home. I would have to carve out a place for myself between the rock and the trees and the bramble.
When my eyes first saw the light, I didn’t realize where I’d landed. It was all new and strange and I had to learn to understand. And the more I learned, the more I understood that I had, indeed, found myself in the thick of the forest. The wild forest was inside of me. I was by nature a child of wrath. Wild.
But God... God, who is rich in mercy and greatly in love did not leave me to fend for myself. He changed Himself to make a place for me. He found that wild child filled with thorns and brambles and He loved me.
I walk on to the Cave. It is dark, cool and damp. As part of the sanctification process, we are taught to exterminate any evil that might have taken root in us. But then all we are is empty, cold and dark. The absence of our wrathful nature is not all there is. That is not the life of abundance. Paul continues in Ephesians 2:6-8 “and [He] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
His kindness and grace is beautiful. It is a blanket of green, peppered with miniature flowers. His love grows in us as we grow in Him. First we are hard as stone. But we see His love, and we can’t help but be transformed by it. His rich mercy doesn’t leave us in the wild. It doesn’t even leave us when the wrath is gone. It continues to press in, deeper and stronger until we burst into life like the sun bursts through the leafy canopy.
At His Word
A short drive back on the winding Route 664 and we turn once more into the wilderness where our cozy two-bedroom cabin stands almost blending in with the backdrop of trees and hazy green. We are less than an hour from Columbus, and my cell phone barely works.
I listen some more. God isn’t finished with me yet. The full life, the life of abundance, that’s His desire for us. He shows me how much life there is in the forest: tall, old oaks and maples, honeysuckle, ivy, moss and mosquitoes. There are song birds and woodpeckers and whitetail deer and yellow jackets. The nourishment God provides sustains them all, and us all.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:9-10 reveals a bit more love: we are not in our own hands, but in all-powerful Fatherly hands. Those hands bring forth life. They touch us and fill us and grow an abundant life within us. And then it starts to spill out.
I smile at my Father, and He smiles at me, and my daughter smiles as she dances around in the leaves. God’s abundance grows without bounds. He liberates us to experience it to the fullest! We are not responsible to save ourselves. We are responsible only to take God at His Word: we are His workmanship and our salvation is His precious, perfect gift to us. And He doesn’t stop there.
He fills the empty caverns of our lives with wonderful blessings: good works that He prepared for us to do, beautiful paths that He has for us to walk in.
When we visited Hocking Hills, I was eight months pregnant with a ten pound baby and I could feel life within me. The anticipation in the final month was exhilarating: Who was this little boy going to be? How much would I grow to love him, and he me?
God anticipates our love for Him the same way. He loves us first, draws us close and keeps us safe. But He also raises us. We are His workmanship. He waits eagerly for us to love Him back. He hides treasures all around us and celebrates our delight with us when we discover them. Tiny flowers blooming for almost no one to see, the grass of the field, the sparrow in flight.
Our lives in Him are full, and the more we experience of Him, the fuller we become of life. Nature helps us see, and the Word helps us hear.
Father, help me to find you more often. Quiet my heart so that it can be filled with you. Work on me some more, Lord, and fill the caverns of my heart with your abundance. Show me Your secret treasures, Lord, that I might rejoice with creation at the majesty of our Creator. Amen.
by Patty Morwood
A few days ago I hiked through a forest with friends, bending down often to collect the fiery red and orange leaves strewn on paths and boulders. I remarked to myself, again, that leaves don’t really matter in this annual recollection; it’s the Tree itself that grips me.
It always does at this time of year when they begin to go dormant and release their deadening leaves into the cooling wind.
Just few years ago during this very same season, my husband and I rode an antique train up a mountain in West Virginia. A swath just a few feet wide had been cut through a vast sea of trees to allow the old tracks to still hold that old train as it made its eight-hour trek to the top, where miners who had worked deep in the mountain in the 1800s had built a town for their families.
Periodically a family member would take the long ride down to civilization for necessaries or to find a doctor. The ride down, the ride back up. Two days surrounded by trees.
To this day it’s the only sight to see through the windows. No structures, no light, no sky even. Trees stretched upward so high one doubts their top branches really exist. Trees packed together, marching in lock-step to the summit of their mountain. An endless experience for any passenger rocking to and fro with hours more to go.
But I was riveted. “Patty, what are you thinking?” he queried. “About the Tree,” I answered as thousands of them sped by my window, a silent witness.
The Cross is our reminder today of a saving love so startling that hymnists and poets over centuries have penned the most glorious language to portray it. But the Cross was a terrifying sight, an anathema to even speak of for those on the ground who witnessed its use in ancient times.
The Gospels barely mention it; we know His feet were nailed to the pillar and His arms to the crossbeam.
Instead they wrote of the week leading up to it: palm branches, poignant gatherings at Lazarus’ house, the Last Supper and Gethsemane, the trial and the screaming “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” of the midnight rabble, the brutal trek of a nearly unrecognizable Man through the streets of Jerusalem.
And they wrote of its victory-day afterward: women laden with spices suddenly face-to-face with the Resurrected One, followers on the road out of Jerusalem walking and talking with their Lord unknowingly, the lying collaboration between natural enemies: soldiers, government and religious leaders.
In those days everyone knew the inhumanity and the agonies of the Roman cross. Everyone had seen it. Why go into it when expensive scrolls were needed to explain the new fresh Gospel circulating where Paul and Peter and Barnabas and Luke had traveled with their life-changing story of love?
But you and I must take a long hard look at the Cross. We don’t see this sort of thing ringing our cities that teem with shops and theaters and walking paths and parks.
But the Romans would leave the pillar entrenched in the ground just outside the towns or even at a crossroads, standing mute as a warning to occupied peoples of what would be the fate for the next rebel against their rule. Afterward they’d throw the body into a shallow pit nearby for the carrion to feast on until they reached the stripped-clean skeletons layered underneath.
Their bodies were nailed as one would nail a marker or a sign. Huge nails; powerful blows hammered by soldiers deadened to the cries for mercy.
But that one particular Tree, that monstrous obscene Cross, was stained with a deep red drained from a God-man willing to be there. The most beautiful of men died impaled because of you and me. Because our sin so long ago had incurred the wrath of God and the greatest mercy of God … so long ago.
For us, for you and for me. For the joy of our salvation.
Why would I write this now? Why not save this essay for Easter Week?
Because fall is the season marked by millions of trees undergoing a remarkable change right before our eyes; many families plan excursions into areas of spectacular fall foliage. Because we decorate our dining tables with vibrant leaves collected from trees shutting down for winter. Because rustling is a sound that awakens and reminds.
Because I can’t any more look at trees in this season with a simple enjoyment.
Never again will I be able to hike a forest, wrap my fingers around bark for balance, bend down with the impulse to collect, without experiencing the deep mournful regret for sin and an ever-deepening awe and gratitude for our Lord’s bloody rescue.
By: Taylor Abigail
Today's Woman of Strength is a lady named Diana Nyad. At 64 years old, she became the first confirmed person to swim from Cuba to Florida in a journey that lasted 53 hours. You can hear her describe the experience here as she addresses the TED Talk crowd in a talk titled "Never, Ever Give Up."
There is no better advice for leaders than the charge to persevere. DO NOT GIVE UP. Diana Nyad was able to swim 110 miles in one shot. She didn't sleep. She didn't get on a boat and rest. She swam and swam and swam. She persisted through hypothermia, hallucination and fatigue, and focused on what she knew in her heart she could achieve.
Nyad did what the world's best swimmers have not been able to do since people began attempts at swimming the Gulf in 1950. But it took her all. Diana did not succeed on her first try. She trained for years and tried to complete the same swim four times prior to succeeding in September of 2013. After four failures she didn't give up. She didn't settle back and say, "It can't be done." She undertook the journey again. She did training swims that ranged between 15 and 35 hours each. She continued on. She never gave up, and because of that she became the first person in history to swim such a distance.
I encourage you to watch the video below. Her final comment was, to me, the most powerful: FIND A WAY.
That is the sign of a true leader. If you are faced with a challenge, find a way to get through it. Diana Nyad LITERALLY swam through shark infested waters to reach the horizon she was chasing. She did not give up after the first couple attempts ended in failure. She continued pushing herself and her team. She continued striving and that is how she attained her goal.
Proverbs 31:25 "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come"
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Cornel Warren, Managing Editor of Live with Heart & Soul, shares her heart as she reaches Christian women with timeless, beautiful content to encourage and inspire their walks with God, themselves and those around them.