THE CHAMPION WITHIN By Lori A Alicea

In all of us is a Champion Within.

A champion aspiring gold, setting their sights to receive the prize.

We are all born a champion.
No matter our age;
the young, the old,
and middle age,
we are born a champion and retain champion status for a lifetime.
USE Brystol baby on barsYour champion is in there.

You know what I’m talking about. That gnawing on the inside keeping you up at night, nagging and bothering you to unveil those gifts and talents you were given upon your birth announcement.

A quiet confidence that dares to tell the world from the highest mountain,

“I was born for this!”

And you were.

We are all born for greatness, born to do great things for a big God who has a great big plan for our life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
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While talents are a gift from God, God does demand a response from our talents.

Leo Buscaglia is quoted as saying:

“Your talent is God’s gift to you.
What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

 Along the highways and byways of our life’s tour, God is booking opportunities and preparing stages for our performances. We must diligently study and practice over and over to show ourselves approved during rehearsal.  But when that curtain rises and the audience applause begs for our appearance, we must be ready when God calls us to take our stage.

As John Wooden warns us:
“When opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare.”

As an athlete trains, we too must work the muscles of our talents, submitting our bodies to discipline and self-control, toiling in the gym for hours so the athlete emerges a Champion Within.

Day in and day out, wherever we are, we enlist our talents to the bootcamps of training.

God looks and watches for those esteemed as His faithful in secret.

God rewards and increases those talents we display and frame in our excellence.

When the day finally comes and God calls us to take our stage for His glory,
USE THIS Brystol on matAll of those hours of discipline and diligence will reward a prize
to the
Champion Within.

Our talents and gifts are given to us by God, to be used for God in the plan he has prepared for our lives.

As parents teaching their children, we are to:

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 AMP

A word of wisdom for ourselves and our children using their abilities and talents for God’s Kingdom Stage,

 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14 NIV

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BE NOT EMPTY HANDED By Lori A Alicea

We all have something to give.

From the palm of our hand rests the prospect of making a big difference from our small “somethings” if we are willing to open our hand and release that which we hold; an opportunity, a word of encouragement, our available time, our available resources, even a cup of cold water on a hot thirsty day.
USE THIS WHITE VASE 2While the value of what our hand holds might not add up to much in our opinion, the potential impact of meeting another man’s need could be life changing if you’re willing to give first what is caught in your grip.

I remember as if it were yesterday. I was young and embarking a new career path when an opportunity came my way, a gift that could alter my personal and professional life if I chose to accept it.  Opportunities sometimes though place us at a fork in the road, standing on the steps of indecision forcing the perplexing question, “Go north, south, east or west?” Remembering that opportunities come with a price tag, a cost to pay regardless the direction.

I was in my late twenties and waiting for my “big professional break” as a computer programmer analyst. Paying my dues as an operator consultant while competing in the race of runners whose resumes of education and experience was a far distance ahead of mine, leaving me behind and exhausted in my personal confidence.

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But life as an operator consultant wasn’t so bad. I found a simple pleasure in the manager’s morning routine whose rounds to every work station expressed sincere appreciation with his kind words and smile, “How’s your day going?”  It was his way of saying, “I see you.  I acknowledge you.  I’m here for you.”

Unknowingly to him, this manager’s small gesture to visit those under his leadership made an indelible difference during the days I felt barely alive and unimportant, secretly trying to survive a painful divorce.  Day after day, I looked forward to this man’s unassuming presence, more than I ever told him, more than he ever knew.

It was this same manager who called me into his office one afternoon unexpectedly with a career proposition; my big professional break. This opportunity presented itself as a black cloud with a silver lining.  The silver lining reveals a programming project automating the manual efforts of one’s position, thus eliminating the need for that employee; the black cloud unfortunately names that eliminated position as mine.

This newly acquired experience could open the door to my future consulting career, yet a gamble this single mother with two small children living in subsidized-housing didn’t know if she could afford. Barely meeting the bills I had to be willing to walk the high wire of uncertainty without the safety net of another job waiting for me when the project completed.
CANDY JAKE 007With only this moment to make up my mind, I had to lean quickly into God for his ultimate wisdom. I had to trust that the steps asked of me to take were truly ordered from Him.  I had to trust the provision of God to be there in tomorrow’s rations for me and my small children. I had to feel safe in the hands of my God who said he’d be there as my husband, taking care of me while I lived life as a single mother.
Taking a blind step with the eyes of my faith,
I said, “Yes.”

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Following the project, the promises of God unveiled a consulting career developing software for most of the steel mills along Lake Michigan and other corporations.

God proved his faithfulness to a mother
wanting to take care of and provide for her children.

God proved that the answer standing on the steps of indecision is “Trust Me.”

God reminded me he moves and works through those and ways you least expect.

One man’s open hand of opportunity before me gave new meaning to the song,
“What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life.”

I wrote and told him so in a letter.

TAKE YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE By Lori A Alicea

Reserved at the “table of opportunity” is a seat specifically set aside with your name assigned, waiting for you to take your place at the table.

“Tables of opportunity” are set up everywhere.

Board rooms, war rooms, living rooms.

Tables set where conversations of like-minded others are casting vision, forming strategies or dreaming big dreams together.

You’ve been invited.
The invitations have all been mailed.
The guest list has you in attendance.
You’ve been seated with others on purpose and for a reason.

All that waits now is for you to take your place at the table.
England wedding table

As an event decorator for over a decade, I’ve set and decorated tables for a multitude of events.

WEDDINGS.

 

SHOWERS.

 

BIRTHDAYS.

 

HOLIDAYS.

 

Regardless the gathering, tables are set and prepared with guests seated together on purpose, for reasons only the Host would know.

From the beginning of time, God, the Host of our life had a plan.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

God’s plan for us includes prosperity, hope and a future.

God’s plan involves a lifetime of events, setting tables and pouring over guest lists, putting people together at “tables of opportunity” that they might discover another piece of their life’s puzzle.

We must keep watch with constant awareness of where we’re seated, and whom we’re seated by as they might hold in their pocket the keys for those locked doors of your future.

For every guest list baring our name, be willing to take your place at the table.

Sometimes God asks you to set the table for someone else’s dream.Hall pic
A dream bigger than himself.

A dream of tsunami proportion that had the potential to impact a great population as a statesman.

Years ago, my pastor said yes to run for office; my husband and I said yes to setting the table for a fundraiser in his honor.

 

Dreams were never meant to be dreamt alone.
The vision was cast before us.
The strategies were laid ahead of us.

God’s plan at this “table of opportunity” would give everyone the honor to lock arms with the call on our Pastor’s life.

Understanding that what you make happen for someone else, God will make happen for you.  Apostle Tetsola

 

Seated at the table were many eager to hear a statesman’s message.
pastor picSeated also at the table were his wife, children and parents who supported him unconditionally and had his back when the campaign arrows of lies and deceit were launched.

 

A statesman fully aware of the consequence of saying “yes” to the call, yet empowered and encouraged by the Founding Father’s bravery when they signed the Declaration of Independence:

Written in the Declaration of Independence and DECLARED by our Founding Father’s with their signatures…”And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

 It is written in “The Americans Who Risked Everything”, not one defected or went back on his pledged word.  Their honor and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

Of all the tables I’ve set over the past decade, this “table of opportunity” inspired me to dream bigger, risk more, and want more of what God has for me.

As a military mom, I loved my country more because of this opportunity.

 

I know my pastor’s wife saw stars too in her statesman also.
Marion STars pic

Pull your chair up to the table seated in the honor of an invited guest.

You don’t belong at the kid’s table.

Take your assigned seat at the “table of opportunity” as that is where God’s plan in you belongs.
place cardsEmbrace the call on your life.

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14

Believe that God is laying out his finest linens, priceless china and exquisite meal before you.
Keep vigil of those you dine with.

You will be seated at many “tables of opportunity” until you dine with Jesus at his banquet table in heaven.

While you dine this side of heaven, never doubt God’s plan for your life.

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”  -John Bingham, running speaker and writer

Whatever the event set before you,

BE BOLD AND TAKE YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE.