OCTOBER 12TH, 2009

Think about all the magnificent and amazing things around us; the architecture of all the different buildings, the beautiful landscaping, the variety of fashion in clothes and shoes we wear, our jewelry and accessories, the furniture we sit on, cars we drive, books we read, games we play, all those delicious recipes of foods we love to eat, the vast discoveries and new technologies that continue to bless our lives every day. These creations are never ending. 

How It All Begins…
I’m not talking about the creation of the world, or the beginning of life. I’m not talking about God. Or maybe I am. Because when I think about how inter-related it all really is, I certainly could be talking about God, our Supreme Creator, the creator of our Spirits. But that’s another sermon. What I’d like to talk about right now is something we each possess inside of us. It’s our gifts and talents, the things that bring us joy and fulfill our lives. It’s those things we are most passionate about and the things that come natural to us. All of us in this world have the capacity and the need to create, to bring to life something worthwhile and meaningful. I believe that’s what brings true happiness, like the creation of life itself, giving birth and having children is probably the greatest of all eternal joys.

But when we look around us, there is a vast of other creations that bring us great joy as well. Someone, somewhere, at some time had to invent, create, discover, or design all these wonderful things we see and enjoy in the world around us. How did they do it? How did it all start? I don’t know the intricate details of architectural or fashion designing, or writing a computer program. I have no earthly idea how those doctors can operate on someone’s heart, or do brain surgery, or even set a broken arm or leg. I’m not even very good at baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. But I do know one thing. It all begins with a vision, looking ahead and seeing, what you want to do or what you want to be. When I visualize that perfect looking, round, tender, chewy and gooey on the inside, and golden crispy on the outside, buttery melt in your mouth delicious chocolate chip cookie, it motivates me to really make the effort to get it exactly right this time. And I can’t forget the ice-cold milk.

Start With The End In Mind
The very first step anyone must have before they can create something is that they must imagine it in their mind, have an idea, a dream, or a vision of what they want to do. What is your main objective? We must VISUALIZE any goal we want to accomplish. That vision is the driving force, or you can call it the “faith”, that brings that thought into motion. It’s that thought, that idea, and I will go further to say that we create that idea spiritually first, before we create it physically, or temporarily. We must first see it in our mind, believing in that dream or goal, and visualize it, so we can actually see into the future to work towards making it happen, making it REAL. But a vision without effort would accomplish little. Therefore, once we visualize that thing we want in our life, we must make the necessary steps toward accomplishing short-term goals that accomplish our long-term goals, to bring our dream closer to reality.

Can you imagine wanting to becoming a doctor without first visualizing yourself caring for the health and welfare of others? I imagine that a future doctor can see himself in his stethoscope and white coat, consulting a patient. Would it be realistic to think you could ever be a doctor without going to medical school? Could you be a lawyer without going to law school? If you start with the end in mind, you realize the necessary time, cost, and sacrifice it would take to get the training, education, the studying, practice, interning, clinicals, etc. that these professionals must accomplish before they are qualified and ready for their demanding careers.

Although simple compared to treating a patient or representing a client in a court of law, an example for me, is that every time I have taught a class or given a talk, I first asked myself, “What it is my main objective?  What am I trying to teach? How can I inspire this group of kids? Do I have any experiences that would relate 

to my message and help reinforce what I am trying to help them internalize? Starting with the end in mind gives me focus on the steps I need to take to accomplish the assignment. Taking small steps really helps me not get overwhelmed and discouraged. When we see progress from taking small steps, it gives us the incentive and self-motivation to continue moving forward. It becomes exciting and fun to accomplish our goals when we can see results.

Another Personal Example…  

In the past seven past years, I have gained about 20 pounds, due to getting older and still eating as much as I did when I was younger and active while raising my five children. A few years ago, I kept saying I was going to lose the weight, but I have failed to lose even a couple of pounds. So this time I “visualized” myself 20 pounds thinner. I imagined myself working out on the exercise machine downstairs in the family room where that machine has sat untouched for over 9 years. I envisioned myself working out, squatting, strengthening my legs, rowing my arms, feeling my heart rate go up, getting fit, losing the weight, and looking like I did 10 years ago! I visualized seeing real results. I imagined myself toned, with muscles on my arms, firm thighs, and a flat stomach. OK, so I’m not there yet, I do not have a flat tummy, but it’s only been 4 months, and I have lost 10 pounds, and my arms are not as flabby, my thighs don’t rub against each other anymore, and I’m losing inches off my waist. This time it’s working, because I actually get up and exercise every day until I’m soaking wet with sweat! I realized that dieting alone does not work, at least not for me, so I needed to go the extra mile to reach my goals of losing the extra fat on my body. And it’s a daily battle I must continue to fight the rest of my life, if I’m going to be realistic about keeping the weight off.

Seeing Results
With any desire we have, setting small attainable goals helps us see results that inspire us to work harder and not give up. It does not matter if you fall on your face a hundred times, as long as you continue to get up and start over again. Like with my goal to drop 20 pounds, I feel confident I will lose that last 10 pounds if I am consistent. I’m motivated and excited, because I’m now finally seeing my clothes fit loosely after all these years! I see more definition around my face, muscles on my legs and arms I have never seen before, plus I have more energy and I’m feeling better about myself. I’m happier because I am accomplishing a worthwhile goal to be healthier and to look my best. I purposely visualize myself staying in shape all my life, so I will never allow myself to gain back that extra weight. That vision drives me each day, to continue to work hard and not slack off. I created a thinner, healthier me, (in my mind), and I am slowly becoming what I created spiritually. I must keep that vision of the thinner me right in the forefront of my mind. It’s really pretty easy once we understand that faith precedes the miracle.

A Dream Is Just A Fantasy Unless You Set Goals to Achieve Those Dreams
Too many singers profess that their dream is to be a recording artist. They tell me that want to be a star. “All I have ever wanted to do is to be a singer” That’s pretty much what I hear on a daily basis. But if I ask, “Are you performing out anywhere?” Or “Are you working with a band?”, or “Do you play an instrument?” or “Do you do any songwriting?” or “Have you ever taken any voice lessons?” or “What is your genre?” I’m surprised too often, that these “wanna be” singers have never (or seldom) get out to perform in public, nor have they prepared themselves in any way to make their dream a reality. As a result, most of these well-meaning individuals will find themselves still wishing and dreaming about stardom 30 years from now, wondering why they never got their lucky break. It’s quite comical when you think about it. I’ve heard it said that if you are not moving forward, you are only falling backward. Life is constant motion, and we must take those steps to make those dreams we want come true.

will say, how you will sound, what your style is and how you want to portray yourself to your audience. You must be realistic. You need the talent and the training to be your very best, to be competitive. You’ve got to visualize the hard work of choosing the right songs, recording, vocal coaching, staying in shape, choreographing your stage movements, interacting with your band and with your audience, traveling all over the world touring, etc. Is it really, what you want to do? Are you willing to make that kind of sacrifice? Is this the talent you were born to share? Are you passionate about it enough to make it your life?

How can you want to be a singer if you are not getting out singing? If you are serious about becoming a successful singer, you have to take those steps that will prepare you for the hard road ahead. If you’re not willing to plan your work, and work your plan, you are not serious enough. You must visualize yourself confident and ready, singing on stage, performing in front of crowds of people, entertaining, selling records, giving radio and television interviews. You must have a vision of how you will look, what you will wear, what you 

As a songwriter, you must visualize that great song that touches people, that clever hook, or chorus that is catchy and those meaningful verses that tell the story you want to communicate. Imagine and visualize how you want the song to sound and what you want others to hear and experience through your music, through your creation. Begin with the end in mind, and then start writing!

Determination and perseverance are important in the music business. Those few that make it in this industry are the ones who push forward despite obstacles. It is not talent alone that opens the door for that lucky break, it’s more about hard work, perseverance, and drive, and wanting it bad enough to hang in there through the hardships and disappointments along that bumpy road. It’s not giving up, it’s believing in yourself, it’s loving what you do, and focusing on that vision.

Choose Realistic Goals
Ok, so sometimes we are not realistic about our goals. Like I would be very unrealistic if I wanted to be one of those beautiful, graceful ballerinas you see at the ballet, or at the Opera, leaping effortlessly across the stage like a gentle swan. I’m smart enough to know that I have large feet and lack of coordination! I would not want to be a cardiologist either, because I’m simply not willing to dedicate myself to years of medical school and studying. I’ll leave that for those who love school and all that hard, technical, medical stuff. I’m happy doing what I do best. My creation is my family, my home, my little music business. We should choose those things that bring us joy and satisfaction, while helping others.

Find Your Niche
It took years of making a lot of mistakes and trying many new things for me to find what it is I was suppose to do with my life. But I finally found my niche. Sometimes we need to have experiences that teach us what we are good at and to discover what things we are better off leaving alone. Through the gifts and talents we each possess, we eventually find that perfect thing we do that gives our life balance. When that happens, it’s a wonderful blessing. I believe prayer plays a huge part in being led to what you are suppose to do with your life. You can call it your “mission” in life. What I have learned about myself is that I am good with people. I also know that I have always loved music. I love to sing, I love to hear the creation of new songs. I enjoy hearing all styles of good music and the miracle of the production process, hearing a song come together in it’s fullness. It’s so much fun to me. I love to be in the studio producing tracks and vocals.  It brings great satisfaction to hear these new and beautiful creations come to life! So coming to Nashville as a singer/songwriter and ending up running my own music business came natural to me. It is a result of my life’s experiences and the talents I have been blessed with. I’m grateful to be involved in a career that fills my life with music.

It’s important that each of you find that thing that fulfills you and brings real lasting meaning to your life. You need to be realistic, and then visualize it as if it has already happened. Plan your work and work your plan, until it is accomplished. I believe we can achieve whatever we want to in this life. It is my belief that our Heavenly Father wants His children to be happy, healthy, and successful, and to help each other along the way. Let’s create beautiful things with our minds and our hearts, and make them become a reality.