Tuesday, October 29, 2013


A truth I already believed was reinforced at my speaking event this weekend.

Authenticity is powerful.

In the middle of one of my points, I felt God’s gentle nudge to share a personal story about a painful event in my family.  Even as I told it, I felt a familiar inner resistance.  It’s the part of me that wants to hide and protect.  It wasn’t until after the event I knew for sure that I had actually been following God.

Three women approached me to talk.  One woman has a painful story of her own, but she hasn’t told it yet.  Just like I have, however, she has experienced healing and the power of God in such a way to compel her to share.  I was able to encourage her to seek God about His timing and perfect opportunities to share.

Another woman wanted to thank me for being “real”.  She said often she’s reluctant to even come to women’s events, because she just can’t connect to speakers who appear to have it all together.  The thing that struck me as we talked is how many other women probably consider her as someone who wouldn’t struggle with comparison.  She herself is lovely on the outside, involved in ministry and connected in the church.  It reminded me of how we ALL have places of insecurity and comparison

The third woman is currently going through the same issue I told the story about.  I was able to share and encourage her that there is something good coming from this distressing experience. I told her the follow-up on my family’s journey and how God was able to further strengthen us through the hard season.

These interactions are pictures of why I believe vulnerability and authenticity are so powerful.

1.  Authenticity shatters the foundation of negative comparisons.  As my friend Renee Swope says, “When we compare, we compare our insides to others’ outsides.”  We break down wall-generating comparisons when we’re willing to turn ourselves inside-out.  When we share our own insecurities, hurts and failures, we then get to paint God as the ultimate hero He is. (Click here to tweet this.)  It puts all of us humans in a place of awe on the level ground of the cross.

2.  Telling our stories is part of the redemption of those very stories.  Do you have a place in your past that you’ve hidden?  When a secret is exposed, it gives the story the chance to be part of someone else’s healing.  Amazingly, offering your vulnerability for someone else’s gain becomes part of our own healing.  What a beautiful cycle!  Full redemption comes when the pain of telling our story becomes less than the joy received from seeing others’ freed by it. ( to tweet this.)

Have you seen examples of the power of authenticity in your own writing and speaking?  We’d love to hear your stories!


Leave a comment here | 4 Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Monday, October 28, 2013

Celebrate and Enter to Win!

I wanted to write you a quick note to let you know about a big celebration and a way to win a free coaching call through Next Step Speaker Services.

Our friend Elise Daley Parker and her team over at Circles of Faith are celebrating their one year anniversary with a big giveaway that includes over $500 worth of prizes.  One of them is a call with me!

Please click here to visit and enter to win.  There are only 3 days left!


Leave a comment here | No Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Using Your Tagline and Working on a Website Plan

The last two weeks I’ve written about creating a tagline describing your calling and ministry niche.  For week 1 click here.  For week 2 click here.

Once you’ve got a tagline, what do you do with it?  The answer is to attach it permanently to your name!  For ministry purposes, your tagline should be associated with your name wherever it appears.  Here’s a little list for starters:

  • In any bio for guest blog posts or articles you write
  • In your personalized email signature
  • On your business cards
  • In the header of your website

I’d love to get your suggestions for other places to use your tagline.  Comment away!

Just briefly today, I’d like to talk about my current project–updating my personal website.  For those of you who have done this in the past, either for the first time or as a “freshen up”, you know how much work and brain space this takes.  I’ll do a whole series on creating a website soon, but here are a few things I’ve been doing on the front end of the project.

1.  Become a student of websites you love–I’m not at a point where I have “people”–marketing experts, corporate web-developers, etc.–and you probably aren’t either.  All of us, however, can study the people who  have “people” (or have just done it very well on their own)!  I have gone through every page, every link and every sidebar of sites I love listing the elements I’d like to implement on my site.  Here are some of the sites I’ve been stalking:










2.  Archive your list of “must haves”–After studying all these great sites, my list of elements I want to include on my site is very long.  I won’t be able to implement it all over night, but I now have my list of all the elements I’d like to eventually include.  I am concentrating on ways to highlight my speaking as a resource, so I’ve even studied author’s sites to look at how they highlight their books.  My spoken messages will be inserted into these elements.  My long list is currently on a legal pad, but I’ll save it into a Word doc soon for long-term storage to refer to as I work on one piece at a time.

3.  Develop a plan–This week I created a plan for the site in which I color-coded (yes, I’m OCD like that!) each of these:  tabs/pages, down downs, page elements, sidebar elements.  The better you plan ahead and have a vision for your website, the better your working relationships will be and the closer to your vision you’ll get.  I’m learning to plan so I can communicate more clearly with my people.

4.  Get some people–Although I can’t pay corporate salaries for people with the skills I lack,  I definitely couldn’t do what I’m doing without some very important people.  Carol Poortvliet is my graphic artist, and she’s completely amazing.  Many of you already know her from her work for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ magazine and many of the biosheets designed for our speaker team.  I love working with Carol, because she’s patient with what I don’t know and gently leads me as well as carefully listening to me.  Here’s Carol’s website for those of you looking for a graphic artist:  http://www.thedesigndiva.org/  I highly recommend her!

Also, I am employing a surprising person who is a tremendous blessing to me.  My 13-year-old nephew Jake is helping me tremendously with the techie aspects of maintaining and improving two websites.  I have to brag on him by telling you that not only has he solved every problem I’ve hit him with so far, he’s also highly professional.  Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how it would go working together, but he has far exceeded my expectations on every level.

I share about my “people” not just to boast a little, but to encourage you that you may have people around you who can help too.  I slam against my limitations when I deal with technology, so it’s very worth the price both Carol and Jake charge.  They elevate my sites to a place I could never attain myself.  Look around and consider investing in people of your own!

Have you recently developed a website or updated?  What problems did you run into?  What lessons did you learn that can help the rest of us?

Make sure to like us on or follow us on Twitter @nextstepspeaker for practical tips and encouragement on developing your website.  We’d also love for you to contribute to the conversation!


Leave a comment here | No Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Writing a Tagline–Part 2

I  hope I convinced you last week that taglines are important and a worthy investment of your thought and time.

This week I want to give you some steps to take to write your tagline.

1.  Pray–Ask God to show you the niche specially made for you.  Also, ask Him to fill you with His gift for words!

2.  Think–Think about your past experiences and your current passions.  I love this instructive thought from Mary Demuth, “Your ministry niche is the intersection of your life experiences and what you see as the world’s greatest problems.”  I’d ask yourself questions like:  What past events have shaped who I am today?  What credentials make me qualified to speak on a subject?  What are adjectives I’d use to describe myself?  What topics make me want to jump up on my soap box?  What are my favorite subjects to converse about?

As you think, start a word bank on paper.  List words and phrases that come to mind as you ask yourself these questions.

3.  Ask–Ask some people close to you, “What do you see as my passions?  What passions always bubble to the top when we talk?”  It’s interesting.  People usually say what you think they well, but occasionally they don’t.  You’ll either have your passions confirmed or see  how God is using you in ways you haven’t recognized.  Both are great results!

Add these words and thoughts to your word bank.

4.  Brainstorm–Sit down with something to write on and something to write with.  Determine to fill the paper with ideas.  Turn off your internal editor–trying to evaluate in the midst of brainstorming is the surest way to damp the flow of ideas–and create.  Write a tagline and play with it, writing it as many different ways as you can. When you can’t think of any more, start again with a completely different tagline.

Only turn your editor back on when you’ve finished brainstorming.  Choose your top 3 or 4.  Narrow down to 2, and then pick one.  Although I think outside input is awesome, I’m finding myself a little confused because of the various input.  If you ask and don’t like your friend’s advice, be ready to choose the one they don’t like.  In the end, your tagline need to meet this checklist:

  • Concise
  • Memorable–this included a fresh perspective and unique way of saying it
  • Expresses what you’ll give to your audience

Equal to all those above, I think it’s important to pick one you love.  You’re the one who is going to have to live with it, say it to people who ask “What do you speak/write about?”, and attach it to your website, business cards, email signature, etc.  You need to love it and be proud of what it expresses.

Your turn!  Would you share your tagline if you love it?  Even if you don’t would you be willing to share?  Friends, let’s jump into conversation about taglines.


Leave a comment here | 1 Comment
Share and Enjoy: