Saturday, March 5, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with KENDRA SMILEY

I am welcoming, Kendra Smiley, to the Nest today. I am excited to have her join us. Wow, is this woman filled with wisdom. She is part of  Women Inspired so it is a blessing to hear from her each week. It is almost like having her join you for a quick cup of great coffee with great conversation and then your charged for the day. I love reaching out to others for wisdom. Hearing their stories seem to empower us even more. Don't you think? There is something special about sharing over a cup of coffee. Sometimes it isn't so much as even talking. Just sitting quietly together knowing that girlfriend is there for you makes you feel loved even more. I pray you too are blessed by Kendra's words as I was when I first read them.

(Robin) Kendra, please tell us a little about yourself
(Kendra) I am the youngest of 3 by 10 years and my father (who was 45 years old when I was born) used to refer to me as his "built-in grandchild." Translated, that meant that I was probably just a little bit spoiled - at least by my father. He was a well-respected dentist in my hometown and also a functional alcoholic. His disease colored my life a great deal.


(Robin) I would love for you to share your testimony
(Kendra) When I was 16 years old I met the man who would 4 years later become my husband. John was the "victim" for a life-saving test at the local pool. I like to say, "I got him in a cross-chest carry and never let go!" He had just finished his freshman year of college and I was instantaneously infatuated with him. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was more than his good looks and charm, I was actually most attracted to the Jesus that his life reflected. Years later, it was John who shared the truth of the gospel with me and led me to Christ.

(Robin) On your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Kendra) Early in my walk with Christ I was aware that the Lord wanted me to forgive my father. Forgiveness is a choice we make. In my case my father neither asked for forgiveness and perhaps did not necessarily deserve to be forgiven. That doesn't really matter. The Lord instructs us to forgive "for our sakes." (see 2Cor 2:5-11) I praise God this was early in my life as a believer.

(Robin) Can you share with us how you came to be in the ministry? Just when did you hear Him calling?
(Kendra) I have always enjoyed speaking and writing. I am a speaker who writes, not vice versa. I have 2 degrees in education and loved teaching school. When our first son came along, I chose to be an at-home mom. I laughingly say that no one told me I'd have to dust. When I found that out, I began a home-based business selling Christian books on a party plan. It was just enough to provide a way to be with people and help others. I didn't make much money, but I was able to find an excuse not to dust. :) That evolved into speaking and eventually to becoming a published author.

(Robin) I believe a mistake is only a mistake if we cannot walk away with a greater wisdom. Has there been a time in your life where struggle occurred from a poor decision and if so, how did you overcome?
(Kendra) Do you want me to limit myself to only 1? :) Honestly, there have been many. Everyone has made mistakes. The key is to avoid living in the "if onlys" of life. The Lord wants us to move forward and to make the Next Right Choice!

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Kendra) Loving God...Obeying God...and Glorifying Him with your life.

(Robin) Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself at the age of eighteen to prepare you for life ahead?
(Kendra) Remember: Life on this earth is only a dot, a wisp. Eternity is forever!

(Robin) With a new year beginning what do you hope to accomplish this year?
(Kendra) I want to finish 2011 and look back and see positive growth in all areas of my life. Spiritually, to love as He loves. Mentally, to learn more about His word and sit at the feet of great teachers by reading great books. Physically, to exercise and pay attention to good nutrition. Relationally, to become the friend I desire to have.

(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Kendra) In some cases I am able to be empathetic because I have experienced a similar loss. In other cases, I can be sympathetic and "weep with those who weep." Many times I have found that be much more effective than any words I could share.
(Robin) My pastor says, "If the Lord has done something for you the least you can do is say so." Dear friend, what is the Lord doing in your life?
(Kendra) Where do I begin? In the past week, I have had the opportunity to refresh my memory about how important it is to hold lightly on to everything but my faith in my Heavenly Father. After all, He loves me (and you!) more than I am able to imagine and His plans are the best.

(Robin) What empowering advice would you give to someone facing adversity?
(Kendra) Look up. "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5-6) We should never say "all we can do is pray," instead that should be our immediate response to adversity.

(Robin) As women we wear many hats. We can feel at times we are juggling with one hand. How do you do it all? Where do you begin and what do you let go?
(Kendra) Part of that answer is that I don't do it all. At different stages in my life, I "sacrificed" different things. When our boys were young, our Tuesday trip to the library preempted visiting with my girlfriends. For the 21 years I led the high school youth ministry, attending a sporting event to cheer on one of "my kids" came before vacuuming. Now that my sons are grown and raising kids of their own, a 2-hour trip to babysit our grand girls means I take my laptop in the car and work while John drives. The key is to take time to prayerfully establish your priorities and to do your best to keep first things first. God blessed me with a husband who shares the same priorities and who is not high maintenance. :)

(Robin) Could you share some advice on how we can have a successful marriage?
(Kendra) Be a successful mother and friend? Let's go back to priorities. That's where it all begins. God describes himself as a jealous God and He demands and deserves to be in first place in our lives. Next of the list is your husband...then kids...then work...then other good things. Just knowing that doesn't mean that you can make it happen. For me it was a matter of periodically evaluating how I was doing. Had John become a Z-item? That's no good. He's supposed to be in second place. If you imagine the list being painted with water colors on a sheet of paper held in an upright position, you can see that the colors/ priorities at the top drip down and color the items below them. In other words, your relationship with the Lord (at the top of the list) colors every other relationship and so on down to the bottom.

Specifically, success in any relationship is greatly enhanced by unselfishness.

(Robin) In your legacy what do you hope to leave behind?
(Kendra) First of all, 3 sons (with their wives and children) who love God, obey God and glorify God with their lives. Secondly, a trail of people I have had the privilege of influencing with the love of God.


Kendra, thank you for sharing with us. So many nuggets to take away from your inspiring words. May the Lord continue to bless through all you are doing for His kingdom in bringing His people to Him with more passion than ever.


www.kendrasmiley.com



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