“everyone has a story”: birthday favorites, v. 47

Here’s what’s been giving me life lately, and things I’m celebrating here at birthday #47!

everyone has a story | “Hard work, long hours, determination and all the risks I took paid off. I would’ve never imagined what happened next. I lost it all.”

When fellow Tar Heel Shelley Willingham shared her testimony in a Dec. 4 2018 Instagram post, I knew I wanted to share it here on New Day. It speaks to what so many of us face in our daily lives as women, ministry leaders, entrepreneurs, and all the other hats we may wear. Shelley is a business strategist and coach and the founder and CEO of Vision and Passion International LLC. You can read more about her work here, and then be incredibly inspired as I was through the full text of her testimony at the end of this post.


Shelley Willingham has been featured in FORTUNE Magazine and currently gives strategic business guidance to other entrepreneurs. Photo used with permission.


on the bookshelf | When First Lady Michelle Obama released her top-selling book Becoming, I bought it, but saved it for my birthday month’s read as a gift to myself. I actually ended up getting the audio version also as I wanted to hear her story come to life. As of the writing of this post, the book does not disappoint. She gracefully and candidly shares glimpses inside her childhood, her family, and her experiences, all setting the path for her journey to the White House. An amazing account.

I’m also e-book reading On Calvary’s Hill by Max Lucado, probably my favorite writer. I’ve read it each year for the past few for Lent, and I committed to diving in again this year. It’s a great telling, in true Lucado style, of Christ’s journey to the cross. Max invites readers to, “follow Jesus on his final journey. For by observing his, we may learn how to make ours.” Certainly accomplishes that.

So two books this birthday #47 on journeying. I wonder what the Lord will reveal of my own . . .


warmer days and other small favorites | Me and my bones don’t like winter, so I have looked forward to spring since day one OF winter! Glad to finally see higher temps here in NC on the way!

I try to keep a little bouquet of flowers in my apartment just to brighten my space and to remind me of the beauty of life. This pretty hydrangea is my latest placement.


Finally, I kicked off the month enjoying the She’s Still There Tour with Chrystal Evans Hurst and Anthony Evans. Chrystal’s message reminded us we are God’s, and the uniqueness of who we are allows us to do good works. Anthony’s worship through music took the evening to a whole other level. Grateful for their stop in NC, and fun to be joined by good friends!

So hey! That’s it for me! I’m just thankful to see another year, thankful that indeed I AM His, and that I’m entirely blessed.

Don’t forget to read Shelley’s “I Am an Entrepreneur” below, and thank you all so much for your prayers and engagement!


“In 2006 one of the most respected business publications in the nation, FORTUNE magazine, approached me about partnering with them on a special diversity section.  I was blown away. 

Hard work, long hours, late nights, determination and all the risks I took paid off. I was on cloud nine! I would have never imagined what happened next.

I lost it all. 

Despite it all, I am an entrepreneur. Doesn’t matter if my circumstances haven’t always looked like it, but I am an entrepreneur.  

This was easy for me to say when I was running a successful business, lived in my dream home, drove an expensive car, had money in the bank… that was very easy.

When all of the things around me that I thought reflected I was an entrepreneur went away. Then it became hard.

When I had to cash in my retirement and savings to pay my employees…it was hard.

When I had to sell the furniture from my office….it was hard.

When I had to drive my Mercedes that I had not made a payment on in 6 months to the Department of Social Services to apply for food stamps so I could feed my family….it was hard.

When I had to go to an agency to help me pay my gas bill one month…it was hard.

When I had to file for unemployment…it was hard.

When I had to pack up and move out of my dream home because it was being foreclosed on….it was hard.

When I had to file bankruptcy…it was hard.

When I had to apply for jobs…it was hard.

When I couldn’t repay a business loan from a family member and ruined a relationship with someone I absolutely adored…it was hard. Very hard.

When I went from driving a Mercedes to a Ford….it was hard.

When I accepted a job where I was earning the same thing that I earned my first three years out of college…it was hard.

When I was trying to keep up a facade of what I defined as success knowing that around me everything was falling apart….it was hard.

But, despite it all. I AM an entrepreneur. Throughout it all, I never stopped. I stalled, but I didn’t stop.

When I realized that material things don’t define me….it got a little bit easier.

When I realized that God has blessed me with a creative mind and the capacity to rebuild and regain everything that I lost… it got a little bit easier.

When I realized that my perceived failure and the way I handled my perceived failure was all a part of being an entrepreneur…. it got a little bit easier.

When I stopped caring about what people thought and decided that this is my life to live and I’m going to live it the best way I know how…it got a little bit easier.

When I realized that having a big house, expensive cars and pretty things that glitter and look great on the outside don’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things… it got a little bit easier.

When I stopped chasing those things that I thought said to the world, “She’s arrived,” I exhaled; I took a step back and looked inside myself for the answers. 

And this is what I found.

No one thing makes you an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind.

It’s using the culmination of all your experiences, good and bad, and packaging them up in a vision undergirded with passion and a determination to change your life and succeed. 

Being an entrepreneur is recognizing that success is not measured by material things.  Those things can come and go in an instant.

You may currently be working for someone else right now…preparing for your next move.

That doesn’t make you any less of an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is knowing that you will not be derailed by life’s circumstances. 

You see your vision with your heart and although you may feel delayed and sometimes even denied, you keep pressing because you know the value is in your journey. 

Stay the course and never ever give up. If you’ve been called to it, things will line up and you will achieve it.

I can tell you how to build a successful business from nothing, I can tell you my mistakes and teach you how not to lose it, and I can tell you how to bounce back if you’re suffering from a blow right now…I’ve lived it and I’ve survived it. 

No one who has earned success magically appeared out of a bubble.  

Everyone has a story.  What’s yours?”

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