Author's Posts

Lis Williams

Impact Measurement

  • November 3, 2016
  • Lis Williams

We all want to make a difference in the world. We all want to know that our life... Continue Reading

We all want to make a difference in the world.

We all want to know that our life has meaning and there’s a reason we are here – that we have a purpose.

We all want to make a difference

So when you step into the world of philanthropy wouldn’t it be nice to know if you’re making a difference? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your time or treasure or talent had an impact?

You can! By taking a more intentional approach to giving you can get a sense of your impact. Not perfectly, perhaps, but enough so that you can feel confident that your giving is not wasted and that your generosity is changing lives.

This is the intent of impact measurement and it’s becoming more and more prevalent in the non-profit sector. However, it’s an art not a science, and we’re all still figuring out how to do it well.

Impact measurement is an art not a science

The process begins with a Theory of Change. This is essentially a statement by the organization that defines how they intend to carry out their mission. What is the problem they are trying to solve, who are they serving, and what do they need to do to achieve their intended result?

A Logic Model then outlines the steps that must be taken for an intervention to succeed. It shows the links between program objectives, activities, and outcomes. A logic model makes clear who will be served, what should be accomplished, and how it will be done.

As you decide which organizations to support through your philanthropic giving, you want to be sure that an organization has a well thought out Theory of Change and a Logic Model to guide them in their ongoing decision making. They should be able to show you how they measure and track program evaluation. This does not need to be complex and does not require a fancy IT system. What it requires is a commitment from the leadership team and board to nurture a culture of high performance and continuous improvement so that they can be as effective as possible in the areas they serve.

The information gathered through this process is critical for two reasons. First, it permits the organization to measure and monitor on an ongoing basis the progress they are making toward reaching their goals. If they are serious about the work they are undertaking, they will absolutely want to capture this information as feedback for their staff to make course corrections as necessary in a timely fashion. This creates a culture of ongoing learning and evaluation which is critical to success.

Second, information about their results and impact is proof that their theory of change is accurate and that they’re on the right track. This is exactly the type of evidence strategic funders like you are looking for when determining where to donate.

If an organization tells you that what they do can’t be measured, it’s a cop out. There is always a way to measure results, even if imperfectly.

What can’t be measured are the “Mystery, Miracles, and Moments of Grace” that happen anywhere people of goodwill are reaching out to those in need. All work that is done from a place of selflessness and compassion is good work. All giving that comes from a place of gratitude and love is good giving. I’m not in any way suggesting that we remove the compassion, care, and concern that are at the heart of the non-profit community.

Look for the Mystery, Miracles and Moments of Grace

But if you want to be sure you’re making a difference, you have to take it a step further. We absolutely cannot and will not make progress on addressing our social ills if we don’t know that what we’re doing has lasting impact.

The mission may sound wonderful, the people may be compassionate and committed, the work they do may be important. But if it’s not effective, if it’s not moving the needle, then it’s time to assist them in their efforts to improve or look elsewhere for organizations to support.

We can’t keep spinning our wheels. We need solutions and you are part of the solution!

You are part of the solution!

Ultimately, your goal is to identify the result you hope to achieve through your giving, locate the organizations who are doing it most effectively, and lend your support through time, talent, and treasure.

This is philanthropy at its best. This is impact!

Be AWE-dacious!

Lis

november_quote2

The Overhead Myth

  • October 7, 2016
  • Lis Williams

We need to talk. Let me start by asking you to picture some of your favorite products or... Continue Reading

We need to talk.

Let me start by asking you to picture some of your favorite products or services. It might be that stunning pair of shoes by Via Spiga, the fabulous Kate Spade bag, or a gorgeous pair of Chanel sunglasses. Maybe it’s a spa treatment at your favorite salon or an amazing dinner at the hottest new restaurant in town. Perhaps it’s a dream vacation at an all-inclusive tropical island resort.

Can you see them? Great.

Now, have you ever asked yourself what the salary is of the CEO for the company who provides your favorite products and services? Or have you ever wondered about the company’s overhead ratio? How often do you question management’s approach to running their business?

If you’re like me, you NEVER think about it. You’re simply thrilled that they provide a product or service that you absolutely love and you willingly spend money to reap the benefits of being their satisfied customer.

Why do we try to manage the non-profit community?

So why do we ask these questions of the non-profit community? Why are we so focused on the salary level of a CEO who runs an organization that is attempting to solve our social ills? Why do we insist that management only spend so much on administrative expenses as they attempt to implement solutions to society’s greatest challenges? Why do we not willingly provide the support they need to make a real and sustained impact?

Whenever I ask women how I can help them make more effective decisions with their charitable contributions, 9 times out of 10 they tell me they want me to help them identify organizations who spend their dollars on programming rather than overhead.

You don’t want to waste your money!

I get this! I understand that you don’t want to see your money wasted. And we absolutely must steer clear of organizations that are guilty of fraud.

But when we tell a reputable organization that they can only spend so much on administrative costs we actually limit their effectiveness. It’s been dubbed the “nonprofit starvation cycle” and, thankfully, smart funders are figuring out that this has got to change if we ever want to solve the most pressing social issues of our time.

The non-profit sector needs your support to solve our social issues.

It hasn’t helped that Charity Navigator, one of the oldest and most popular charity evaluators, historically based its rankings largely on ratios of overhead to programmatic spending. But even they are beginning to see the light after receiving criticism from the non-profit and funding communities. Charity Navigator is now in the process of launching an effort to assess how well charities measure and report on their impact.

GuideStar is another online service that helps donors evaluate charities by posting information including the IRS 990 Form for individual non-profits. GuideStar makes no judgments about the effectiveness of the charities, but organizations can earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold Exchange status, depending on how many details of their operations they submit.

GuideStar is also shifting its emphasis from overhead costs to programs and results using it’s “charting impact” questions that focus on goals and accomplishments. The GuideStar Platinum seal can be earned by charities who display the highest level of transparency by sharing measures of their effectiveness and outcomes.

Don’t believe the Overhead Myth!

Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance have teamed up to dispel “The Overhead Myth” through a campaign begun in 2013. If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to explore this at http://overheadmyth.com. There you will find facts about this movement and letters written to donors and nonprofits encouraging an end to the focus on overhead. Here are some highlights:

  • Research shows that the overhead ratio is imprecise and inaccurate
  • The overhead ratio tells one next to nothing about compensation rates as the vast majority of salary expenses are counted as programmatic rather than as administrative or fundraising
  • Organizations that build robust infrastructure (technology systems, financial systems, skills training…) are more likely to succeed than those that do not
  • Under-investing in administrative costs is consistently linked with poor organizational performance and sustainability

So now you know! No more focusing exclusively on overhead ratios to determine whether or not to donate to a particular organization.

Now you know!

Members of the AWE Community are smart, strategic and intentional in their giving! Join me next month to discover what you should be focusing on instead.

Be AWE-dacious,

Lis

© 2016
october_quote1

The Vast Ocean of Philanthropy

  • September 1, 2016
  • Lis Williams

The philanthropic arena is overwhelming! I have been involved with non-profits most of my life as a volunteer,... Continue Reading

The philanthropic arena is overwhelming!

I have been involved with non-profits most of my life as a volunteer, board member, employee, and consultant. I have an MBA with a concentration in management of non-profit organizations. I attend classes at the Kellogg Center for Nonprofit Management. I read books and articles, listen to webinars and attend networking events. And despite all of this I am frequently overwhelmed at the size and scope, breadth and depth of the nonprofit sector.

I can imagine that you may be as well, especially if this is not your chosen area of expertise. You have a life. You may have a career, a family, friends, your community. You’re busy!

You have a life. You’re busy!

Add to that the confusion resulting from the array of worthy causes, lack of accountability, cases of waste and fraud, and the fact that massive amounts of aid and charitable giving have been unable to solve our most pressing social issues.

You are passionate about giving of your time, talent, and treasure, but how in the world are you supposed to find the time to understand and wrap your arms around this whole idea of spiritual philanthropy?

I’m here to help.

I’m here to help. I want to take this vast arena and condense it into the information you need to know to make smart, effective giving decisions.

So let’s get started.

First, let’s talk jargon. The nonprofit sector can also be called not-for-profit, charitable, tax exempt, civic, third, independent, voluntary, public interest, and social sectors.

Within the arena there are many kinds of nonprofits, with the IRS identifying more than 30 categories of organizations that are exempt from federal income taxes.

The most common is classified as a “charitable” or 501(c)(3) organization. This classification includes public charities, religious organizations and private foundations. Contributions to these organizations are tax deductible for the donor.

The statistics are startling!

The Urban Institute’s Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2015 reports the following startling statistics:

  • In 2013, more than 1.4 million tax-exempt organizations of all kinds were registered with the IRS. Of this number, 1.1 million were 501(c)(3)s or public charities.
  • Reporting nonprofits took in approximately $2.26 trillion in revenues and identified total assets of $5.17 trillion in 2013.
  • The non-profit sector contributed an estimated $905.9 billion to the US economy in 2013, composing 5.4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provided 11.4 million jobs.
  • In 2014, an estimated 62.8 million (25.3%) US adults volunteered contributing 8.7 billion hours of service at a value of $179.2 billion.
  • Total charitable giving in 2015 was estimated at $373.3 billion according to the 2016 Giving USA Annual Report.

Why do these numbers matter to you?

Interestingly, charitable giving as a percent of disposable income has stayed pretty much the same at approximately 2% over the past 40 years according to Giving USA. Yet the number of non-profit organizations has skyrocketed!

According to an article by Alex Daniels in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, from 2011-2013, the number of tax-exempt designations granted by the IRS was less than 50,000 per year. In 2014, the IRS introduced the 1023-EZ, a three-page electronic form that replaced the 26-page application. That year the IRS granted 501(c)(3) status to 94,365 organizations. In 2015, the number was 86,915. That’s over 200 each day!

The number of nonprofit organizations is skyrocketing!

Ken Stern in Charity For All says that, “…according to a Stanford University study, the IRS approved more than 99.5% of charitable applications. This statistic reveals the first troubling truth about our process for deciding what is a charity and what is not: we don’t have one. We permit almost anyone with a basic facility with government forms to start a charity.”

And then once a charity receives approval, it is almost impossible for them to have the designation rescinded. There’s no trigger mechanism for when a charity should be shut down.

This is concerning for a number of reasons. First, the shorter tax form may make it more difficult for the IRS to root out fraud from the outset. Additionally, the IRS does not have the staff to oversee the burgeoning number of nonprofits resulting in frighteningly low levels of oversight. An independent study by the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities released in June of 2016 says that the IRS is “losing ground in its effort to regulate nonprofits”.

Lack of oversight in the nonprofit sector is a big problem.

Finally, with donations remaining relatively stable while the number of organizations balloons, the not-for-profit community finds itself struggling to attract the funding necessary to carry out its mission. As a result, management is required to spend more time on fund-raising than programming.

Even more concerning, dollars are being re-directed away from the most effective organizations to those that are ineffective and at times outright fraudulent. The reality is we need the non-profit community to perform efficiently and effectively. Our astronomical government debt means that we rely more and more on non-profits to deliver critical services.

We need to direct funding to the most effective nonprofit organizations.

So, how do we ensure that the more effective non-profits receive more funding than the less effective?

That’s where you come in. Join me next month to learn more!

 

© 2016

 

Septemeber_Quote1

The Art and Soul of Giving

  • August 4, 2016
  • Lis Williams

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that... Continue Reading

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
-Kahlil Gibran

Why do we give?

Why do we give away our money, our time, our gifts and talents?

Do we give from a place of guilt or obligation? Because we have so much and many have so little.

Do we give from a place of gratitude? In thanks for all of our blessings?

Or do we give just because it feels so good? What is often referred to as the “warm glow” of altruism.

Whatever the reasons, giving is good for us. Studies show that it improves our health by reducing stress and strengthening our immune system.

Giving also makes us happy. In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor says that “Altruism is one of the greatest buffers against depression. Doing something for someone else raises our levels of hope, joy, and happiness.”

Giving improves our health and makes us happy.

So if this doesn’t convince you to give I don’t know what will!

But it’s not just why we give that matters. It’s what and how we give.

There is no set formula. Your giving is as individual as you are.

It begins and springs from your relationship with God or Source, recognizing your true essence as spirit. Through spiritual practices you meet God and your whole and holy self. You are healed and filled and can then allow the blessing of you to overflow into the lives of others and into the world.

Next, you discover or re-discover your unique gifts and talents. The things you can do better than anyone else on the planet. The ways you express yourself that are like no other because your journey is yours alone.

Finally, you find your purpose in service to humanity asking…What have I been given to share with the world? Where am I needed? How can I help?

Serve with passion and make your life a prayer. – Sr. Joan Chittister

In Imagining Abundance, Kerry Alys Robinson writes, “…both philanthropy and fundraising are done more effectively, with greater purpose, focus, authenticity and effect, when spiritual disciplines and dispositions are part of the effort.”

Spiritual Philanthropy is contemplation and action, yin and yang. It’s a healthy blending of the true self and the ego. The Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine.

It’s the “sweet spot” of you as “be-er” and “do-er”. Your inner journey in search of the Divine and your outer journey to care for Creation.

Spiritual Philanthropy is a deeper way of giving. It’s a practice that engages the head, the heart and most importantly, the soul leading us out into the world, out beyond our comfort zone.

Spiritual Philanthropy is a deeper way of giving engaging the head, heart, and soul.

It asks the questions…

Who am I?

Why am I here?

What is my calling?

Where do I find meaning?

How do I serve?

Then, it stops asking questions and starts doing – often imperfectly – but always with the best of intentions. Leaving the outcomes to God and Grace.

Leave the outcomes to God and Grace.

The Dalai Lama has instructed that if one’s intentions are sound, some good will always come of one’s efforts.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motive is pure, your means correct.”

And C.G. Jung said, “If we do the wrong thing with all our heart we will end up at the right place.”

What happens when spirituality meets philanthropy?

Miracles!
Spirituality + Philanthropy = Miracles Click To Tweet

Every form of giving is good when it comes from a place of love. You can’t do this wrong!

But you can do this better. And I’ll teach you how.

Stick with me AWE Community. We’re just getting started!

With you on the journey,

Lis

© 2016

 

August_Quote1

business, holistic business, yin yang

Embrace Your Calling

  • June 30, 2016
  • Lis Williams

“To grow up is to find the small part you are playing in this extraordinary drama written by... Continue Reading

To grow up is to find the small part you are playing in this extraordinary drama written by somebody else.”
-Madeline L’Engle

When my girlfriend, Verily, turned 50 she told me she’d like to celebrate by seeing Wicked together.

I had already seen the show once with my husband, and it wasn’t my favorite theater production. However, I recalled that the story centered on the friendship between two women, so I was up for giving it a second chance. I don’t know if it was because I was with my best friend, or if the production was so much better, or perhaps I had changed dramatically in the years since I first saw it.

Whatever happened…I LOVED IT!

The two actresses who play the main characters, Glinda and Elphaba, were extraordinarily talented. In the biz they’re called the “triple threat.” They can act, sing, and dance. What I saw were two amazing women who had devoted their entire lives to a calling and were now sharing their gifts with the world. They brought it all, night after night, and left it there on the stage for a mesmerized audience to experience, absorb, and take with them on their journey.

Others are transformed when we live out our calling.

I left the theater that evening transformed and swore to myself that I wouldn’t die with my song unsung. I began to ask myself if I had ever given all I had to anything? Had I ever put it all out there for the world to see?

Have you ever put it all out there?

Had I used all of the gifts and talents and skills and knowledge and wisdom in pursuit of my calling? Did I have any idea what my calling was?

This idea of a calling, a purpose, a mission is not easy to grasp. It takes time and patience and some digging to figure out why we’re here. But we are here for a reason. Each and every one of us. We each have a unique calling that God has destined just for us. And if we don’t claim it – then the world will miss out on the beauty and breath and soul of our being.

We each have a unique calling.

Have you found your calling? Did you know you had one? Or maybe more than one at different stages of your life? Have you listened to the urges and nudges that keep showing up at the most inconvenient times? Do you find yourself ignoring the messages the Universe is sending you because you’re too busy with the kids or the career or the messiness of life?

Are you ignoring the messages?

Don’t ignore it any longer. Don’t ignore the voice of your soul that has been calling out to you since you were a little girl. That thing that keeps showing up year after year in subtle and not too subtle ways. The synchronicities and coincidences.

Don’t forget who you are deep within.

What lights you up? What makes you come alive? What voice do you hear in the silence?

What do you dream about? Whose life do you envy? What does your gut tell you to do?

What are you passionate about? What inspires you? What brings you joy?

All of it. All of the pieces of your life – even the brokenness and pain – are leading you to where God is calling you. To where He needs you out in the world.

GIFTS + TALENTS + VALUES + PASSIONS + EXPERIENCES = CALLING

Wayne Dyer said, “Show up. Pay attention. And music happens. Your music happens.”

Do you hear that music? The symphony of your life? Are you practicing, and polishing your instrument, and ironing your outfit for the big performance?

I hope so.

No one can tell you what your calling is. Only you can determine that for yourself. But I can tell you that when your calling is authentic – and aligned with the Divine – it will manifest itself in service to others. It will bring meaning to your life and healing to the world.

Your calling has the power to heal the world. Click To Tweet

It may be complicated or simple, grandiose or surprisingly normal. But it’s yours. All yours. And the world will be blessed by it. Tosha Silver says, “And when she owns her true energy, the earth itself will breathe a long, deep sigh…of relief.”

Don’t keep us waiting any longer. Bring it!

Holding my breath in anticipation,

Lis

© 2016

 

July_Quote3

4 Ways to Live Your Magnificence

  • June 16, 2016
  • Lis Williams

  “Hide not your talents.  They for use were made.  What’s a sundial in the shade?”    ... Continue Reading

 

Hide not your talents.  They for use were made.  What’s a sundial in the shade?”

                                                                                                                              -Benjamin Franklin

Here’s another guest post from Kathleen Gawlik, founder Pure Pupose Coaching & Consulting and also my sister.

1. Keep Your Eye on Your Strengths

One of my unique gifts is seeing others’ strengths. I use this gift in my work as a life coach. Ironically, this ability often made it more difficult for me to identify and focus on the unique gifts and strengths in myself.

Even if seeing the magnificence in others is not your gift, it can be easier for many of us to identify the good and valuable in others than to see the value in the gifts God has chosen to give us. Often, we value in others what we perceive we lack in ourselves.

We value in others what we perceive we lack in ourselves.

God didn’t make us to be clones of one another. Our gifts are meant to complement the gifts of those around us so that in community we become whole.

2. There’s a Reason They’re Called Gifts

It’s exhausting trying to be what we’re NOT. I know from experience! The crazy part is I was living like this for a long time and had NO idea that I was doing it, but it was taking its toll.

It’s exhausting trying to be what we’re NOT!

We get messages from the world and those around us about what is valued. I thought I should be an outgoing, energetic self-starter who’s smart and beautiful, athletic, funny, capable, confident, organized, efficient… Why couldn’t I get it together? Everyone else seemed to be able to (at least the few people I chose to focus on who appeared to be and have it all).

In the end, trying to be something we’re not only makes us tired, sick, and utterly discouraged. God is the Great Gift Giver, and you are His gift to you and to the world. Don’t look around admiring the gifts He’s given to others, wishing they were yours, when all the while the Great Gift Giver’s most perfect package for you is right in your hands!

3. Nurture Your Gifts and Strengths

Let’s say God gave you the gift of music, but music wasn’t valued by those around you. When you brought up your desire to take lessons and become a professional musician, the response was, “You’ll never make any money doing that!” Eventually, music may seem worthless, and you might set it aside and forget about it not realizing its true value to you and to the world.

Knowing our gifts and strengths and nurturing them regardless of others’ opinions is imperative. If we don’t then they eventually are forgotten, and an essential part of us and our potential dies.

If those around you don’t value your gift, find people who do. They’re out there!

Find people who value your gifts!

4. Looking for Purpose? Follow Your Strengths!

So many of us struggle with finding our purpose and often look outside ourselves in search of it when God has placed the clues inside of us in the form of our strengths and gifts.

Why would He make you a natural leader and then give you a purpose that’s not consistent with this? At some point, a natural leader is meant to lead, an exceptional teacher is meant to teach, and a brilliant designer is meant to design and create.

Explore even deeper into your God-given passions and interests, and you’ll begin to understand where you want to use these gifts. Life’s a wonderful adventure when you are being the person God created you to be. Enjoy and share the gifts He’s given you and the world!

Life’s a wonderful adventure when you are being the person God created you to be.

We are blessed when we marvel at and make the most of our magnificence.

The world is blessed when we share our magnificence!

Kathleen Gawlik received her BA in English and MA in counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She completed her ICF-approved training as a Christian Coach through Christian Coach Institute and founded Pure Purpose Coaching & Consulting, LLC. She now helps women weather the storms of life and find their value, unique purpose, and peace as Christ’s Beloved. She is a Christian Coach, Counselor, Consultant and Motivational Speaker.

(c)2016

June_Quote2

From UFO’s to NDE’s

  • June 1, 2016
  • Lis Williams

”…when focusing on talents, we tend to forget that our real gift is not so much what we... Continue Reading

”…when focusing on talents, we tend to forget that our real gift is not so much what we can do, but who we are. The real question is not “What can we offer each other?” but “Who can we be for each other?” — Henri Nouwen

As a kid I was fascinated with UFO’s. I loved to read books about extraterrestrial beings. I suspect it was the mystery of it all and the unanswered questions that kept me intrigued.

As an adult I have that same fascination with NDE’s or “Near Death Experiences”. I’m intrigued by stories of people who have died and experienced life on the other side. Recently, it seems, there have been a number of books written on the topic. I have read them all, but my absolute favorite is Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani.

Anita had stage 4 cancer and died when her organs shut down. However, her near death experience resulted in a miracle which cured her completely. In her book, she shares many extraordinary insights, but the most important thing she learned was how we all need to love ourselves and recognize our magnificence. Here’s what she says…

“Only when we love ourselves unconditionally, accepting ourselves as the magnificent creatures we are with great respect and compassion, can we ever hope to offer the same to anyone else. Cherishing the self comes first, and caring for others is the inevitable outcome.”

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said, “I love you”?

When was the last time you exclaimed, “I am magnificent!”?

I’m gonna guess the answer may be “Never!!”

We don’t like to claim our beauty. We’re not comfortable admitting that we have unique gifts, talents, and strengths. We worry what others will think of us if we “get too big for our britches,” as my grandma used to say.

We don’t want to get too big for our britches.

Not only does this keep us living small, it keeps us from sharing the truth of who we are with the world.

Brendan Burchard says we focus on the “busywork” of life rather than focusing on our “life’s work”.

Think about that. How much time do you spend on busywork and how much time do you devote to your life’s work?

Do you even know what your life’s work is?

What is your life’s work?

Most of us don’t because we’ve never taken the time to really explore who we are and just how we might share our gifts, talents, skills, knowledge, wisdom, experiences, hurts, pains, joys, loves with a world that desperately needs what we have to offer.

It’s possible that the truth of who we are has gotten buried under piles of laundry and bills, hidden behind careers that are unfulfilling or marriages that break our hearts, covered by the responsibility of caring for children or the reality of a broken world.

If so, it’s time to re-discover you!

Re-discover you!

Begin the process of figuring out who God made you to be and how you might live from that place.

There are lots of assessment tools you can use that help you to identify your strengths, personality type, passions, spiritual gifts, etc… And those tools can be very helpful as a starting point, but I’m going to suggest that you already know many of the answers. You’ve lived long enough and had enough life experiences to have a strong sense of who you are at the core.

Carving out quiet time on a regular basis will help you to hear that still small voice of truth within that remembers the authentic you.

Spending time with supportive friends and family can help as well. They often see things in us that we aren’t willing to own.

L. Gregory Jones says, “Holy friends challenge the sins we have come to love, affirm the gifts we are afraid to claim and help us dream dreams we otherwise would not dream…Something transformative happens when someone helps us see potential in ourselves we cannot yet see.”

As I was struggling to overcome my fears and step out into the bigger world and God’s plan for my life, my closest friends and family provided the strength I needed to own my gifts and talents and have the courage to take risks and reach for something more.

I’ll always remember the time I was in a meeting with women from our faith sharing group at church. We were talking about a new project and how I might help get it started. My friend, Mary, was describing my role in the process and said, “That’s her gift.”

Her words were so powerful!

To hear someone who had known me for a very long time and with whom I had worked on many projects, voice what she saw as my unique gift in the world – it gave me wings.

Her words gave me wings!

I knew what she said was true – but somehow hearing it from her mouth solidified for me what I long suspected. I could now take what she said and run with it.

Each morning, one of the affirmations I read from Dr. Christiane Northrup says this, “We keep needing to be reminded of our power, not the fear. Become as fabulous as you can!”

Women of AWE, boldly exclaim the truth of your magnificence as a child of Divine Love!

Women of AWE, shine the light of truth on the unique gifts and talents that each and every person on this planet has to share!

You are magnificent! Own it! Click To Tweet

Loving you for the one of a kind Child of God that you are,

Lis (xoxo)

(c)2016

June_Quote1

Live Your Heaven!

  • May 19, 2016
  • Lis Williams

“We have to accept that the human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance. We’re sleepwalkers…That’s why the... Continue Reading

“We have to accept that the human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance. We’re sleepwalkers…That’s why the Buddha and Jesus say with one voice, “Be awake”. — Richard Rohr

I love the Polar Express! Every Christmas as I read that book (yes – I still read it even though my kids are grown) I cry when I get to the last pages about how the bell has stopped ringing for so many. I always swear I won’t let that to happen to me.

At the end of the movie version, the Conductor looks at the little boy and says, “One thing about trains. It doesn’t matter where they’re going – what matters is deciding to get on.”

Living with “awe” is like that. It’s deciding to get on the damn train rather than standing at the station!

And then once you’re on the train it’s about paying attention to the scenery and not just the destination. It’s living more intentionally, more fully, with more awareness.

You’ve probably heard people talk about being more present and living in the moment. That’s living with “awe”.

It’s stopping the rat race, getting off the treadmill, slowing down.

Breathe.

It’s recognizing that God doesn’t care so much about what we do but rather who we are. How do we show up in the world?

How do you show up in the world?

I’ll give you an example. We have two postal carriers on our block – our regular guy and the guy who fills in for him every so often. And they show up completely differently!

Our regular guy walks very slowly, with his head down the entire time, staring at the envelopes in his hand, avoiding eye contact at all costs. My kids tell the story of the time they were out playing. One of them fell off his bike and was lying on the sidewalk wailing. The postal carrier just kept walking -right around him – never acknowledging his presence.

The fill in guy shows up completely differently. He’s looking up, smiling, happy to start a conversation with you. He evens stops to shoot hoops with the kids in the driveway. I once told him that my son would always remember him as his favorite mailman. That’s living with “awe”!

We rarely look up!

Why is that?

Why are we so busy?

When did we become so important that the world can’t function without our harried existence?

We rarely look up!

I don’t think we have to wait until we die to experience heaven. I believe we can experience heaven – the kingdom of God – here and now. When you open your eyes and begin living with “awe”, you realize that it’s been here all along.

Mark Nepo says, “Rather than finding heaven on earth we are asked to release heaven by living on earth.”

Embrace the “awe” that is your life - then go out and live your heaven! Click To Tweet

Love, Lis

May_Quote2

Life in “awe”

  • May 5, 2016
  • Lis Williams

“Don’t drink at the water’s edge, throw yourself in. Become the water. Only then will your thirst be... Continue Reading

“Don’t drink at the water’s edge, throw yourself in. Become the water. Only then will your thirst be quenched.”                                    — Jeanette Berson

When I decided to re-invent myself, one of the things I really wanted was to live with more “awe”.

For quite some time I had felt a “restlessness” – like something was missing. I had a wonderful marriage, two great kids, all the necessities of life and more – so this didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

It was as if I felt that there was a deeper, more magical way of living and I wanted to experience that.

There’s a deeper, more magical way to live.

Every so often, I would read about or meet someone who seemed to be living that way – so I knew it was possible, but I wasn’t sure how to get there.

About that time, I read what would become one of my favorite books of all time – A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Here’s the introduction:

“If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except to feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.”

“If what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.” – Donald Miller

Maybe this hit me in the gut because I drove a Volvo. Or maybe there was more to it.

I started to wonder whose story I was living. Was this the story that God intended for my life when He knit me in my mother’s womb? Or was I living someone else’s story? A story written and directed perhaps by my family of origin, friends I had met along the way, my schools and churches, or society.

Whose story are you living?

In Life’s Golden Ticket, Brendon Burchard describes it like this, “It is a quiet dissatisfaction with yourself, with who you have become. You feel there is something more inside you, and you have come here searching for ways to dig it up and unleash it into the world. Deep down, you know you are more than what society has said you are or told you to be, and you are here to begin the great quest of proving it to the world and to yourself.”

To be honest, I felt like I was playing small. Like I was told I could only go so far but no further.

I felt like I was playing small.

And then, of course, there were the fears. (I’m a six on the Enneagram so fear comes naturally to me.) There was always so much to be afraid of. And stepping out in life was sure to invite challenges, struggles, and heartache. Who needs more of that?

It’s easier, isn’t it, to hunker down, stay in your safe cocoon, and bide your time until it’s over.

But let’s be honest. That’s not living! That’s existing. And I wanted more out of life.

So I started to wonder why the most quoted passage in the Bible is “Be not afraid”. Could there be something to that? Is it possible to stop living in fear and instead begin living with faith?

And then there was one of my favorite scripture passages that says, “I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly.”

Wow! Dish me up a plate of that, please.

Is it possible that life wasn’t meant to be so scary? That we weren’t supposed to suffer so much? That we could actually live with peace and joy and abundance?

If so, I wanted in.

Recognizing that this would take some work, I began reading books like Wired for Joy and The Chemistry of Calm. I learned that we can actually re-wire our brains away from fear and toward joy.

I started listening to Hay House CD’s, podcasts and radio shows by authors and speakers who seemed to be living more positively, like Wayne Dyer and Dr. Christiane Northrup.

I began watching Oprah Winfrey’s show, Super Soul Sunday, which I just can’t get enough of!! I watch my favorites over and over again.

And slowly, things began to change. I felt calmer and didn’t worry so much. I stopped thinking about all of the things I could be afraid of and instead started thinking about all of the amazing things I wanted to do with my life.

I stopped asking... What if? And started saying... What if!!!! Click To Tweet

And I made out a long list of what my life would look life if it were magical. Here are just a few of the things I wrote…

  • I wouldn’t be afraid. I would let go and let God.
  • I would embrace the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.
  • I would be grateful for all of my amazing blessings.
  • I would surround myself with positive, optimistic, supportive, enthusiastic, nurturing, fun-loving people, and stay away from the toxic and negative.
  • I would seek out adventures and experiences that were life giving.
  • I would engage in activities that feed my soul.
  • I would pursue my calling with passion.
  • I would be free.
  • My spirit would soar.
  • I would light the dark and heal the world!

Donald Miller says, “A good storyteller doesn’t just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too…It’s as though God is saying, Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help.”

The AWE Community is in the business of writing better stories for ourselves and for women and children around the globe. I hope you’ll join us!

XOXOXO, Lis

May_Quote1

Ignore the noise and listen to Truth

  • April 15, 2016
  • Lis Williams

Here’s another guest post from Kathleen Gawlik, founder Pure Purpose Coaching & Consulting and also my sister. Read her post... Continue Reading

Here’s another guest post from Kathleen Gawlik, founder Pure Purpose Coaching & Consulting and also my sister. Read her post on The Counterintuitive Path to Peace & Joy here.

I had a tough day today in the middle of a tough few weeks.

I feel like I have been working virtually nonstop. Progress seems slow, and I can’t seem to make a deadline no matter how hard I try.

So today, as I drove home from a very challenging appointment, I struggled with the thoughts going through my mind.

“Maybe I’m just not cut out for this type of work…I’m not good at this…All of the opportunities that God has been sending my way seem to be drying up…What will happen if it keeps getting worse?”

With each new thought, my world seemed darker and darker and I felt smaller and smaller.

My world seemed darker and I felt smaller.

I have a history of being pretty hard on myself. Can anyone relate?

Thankfully, God has been guiding me down a different path in the past few years, and this new path has included a lesson in self-care.

Self-care goes beyond pedicures and buying ourselves a new pair of shoes – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes it just comes down to being as caring toward ourselves as we are toward others.

How are you treating yourself?

This includes speaking to and treating ourselves with the same (or dare I say more) kindness that we would show someone we love or care about. The truth is, many of us treat strangers or people we don’t like better than we treat ourselves.

Self-care is less about earning something and more about grace which is by definition undeserved.

So on the day when your performance is less than stellar at work or at home, maybe that’s the very day we need to take the gentlest most loving care of ourselves – treat ourselves to whatever it is that we most need to nourish our body and spirit, whether it’s time with friends or time alone with the Lord.

It’s only recently and with God’s encouragement that I have changed my strategy of how I respond to myself when things don’t seem to be going well, and I’m not pleased with myself.

It seemed so counterintuitive at first. If I’m not performing and accomplishing what I should be in the way I could be, shouldn’t I buckle down, work harder, talk a little tougher to myself? Doesn’t it make sense to go down every negative path I can think of to make sure I understand how much pressure I need to feel to do better and how bad things could be if I don’t?

Ok, I realize that when I put it that way it seems like a pretty poor motivation strategy. So why do so many of us fall into it?

Here’s the good news. All you have to do to change it is be nicer to yourself.

Try being nicer to yourself.

It may take some time to begin to recognize what you’re saying and doing that may be more hurtful than helpful. But it’s amazing how much brighter the world can feel and how much more motivated and productive we become when we begin to be our own encourager and treat ourselves with love.

And, we’re not on our own. When we take the first step of just being aware of how we treat ourselves, God meets us there and carries us forward.

Ok, so back to my depressing drive home today. Once I began to realize that what I was saying to myself wasn’t very positive or encouraging, as only God can orchestrate, I turned on the Christian radio station to hear Casting Crowns singing,

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me

Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed

The giant keeps on telling me time and time again,

“Boy, you’ll never win! You’ll never win!”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story

And the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”

And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Well, that message seemed pretty clear and only confirmed that I needed to take action and stop being hard on myself and negative about my circumstances.

So I began to consciously change my thoughts and listen to the voice of truth. “This is just one of those tough days; God is still in control, and He will never leave me or forsake me; It is unlikely that others are judging me and my performance as harshly as I am; I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me – plans to give me hope and a future.”

Once I got home, I sat down, put my feet up, and did some therapeutic writing.

Thanks for listening!

Love, Kathleen

Kathleen Gawlik received her BA in English and MA in counseling from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She completed her ICF-approved training as a Christian Coach through Christian Coach Institute and founded Pure Purpose Coaching & Consulting, LLC. She now helps women weather the storms of life and find their value, unique purpose, and peace as Christ’s Beloved. She is a Christian Coach, Counselor, Consultant and Motivational Speaker.

March_blog-quote5