A Confidence Builder for Speakers and Writers – and a Giveaway!

Today, I am linking up with Cindy Bultema of Red Hot Faith to tell you about the great things that come from attending the Speak Up Conference.  Cindy and I are graduates of this fabulous conference and are both offering workshops there this July.

 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” II Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

Reflections on my experience at the Speak Up with Confidence Conference 2010

Wow!  What a weekend.  I knew it would be good, but I wasn’t prepared to be floating home, full of excitement and the energy transferred from the conference leaders.  And it was a large team of diverse and qualified leaders, from many areas of discipline.  I should note that prior to attending Speak Up, I had been blessed with a plethora of high quality training as an employee of an international corporation and professional trainer, myself. I worked in Leadership and Professional Development for several years. Yet, I found my investment of time and money into the Speak Up Conference, very worth while.

This team of worship leaders, teachers, and some former participants poured out their hearts and talents upon this room filled with eager (and some trembling) students.  And the expectations were high for those attending: to receive and apply what was being given.

I am a kinesthetic learner, so for me, the most valuable part of this conference was the ability to give several presentations and receive specific, immediate feedback.  I still have my Speak Up Evaluation forms!  And for my last and most memorable presentation, Carol Kent stepped in to listen and give me direct guidance.  She was encouraging and provided me specific feedback.

The conference is fast-paced and kept my attention well.  There is an option to take a break; or for those of us who like to take in as much as possible, to choose extra sessions.  I chose one that gave tips on professional appearance.  It was fun and fabulously fashionable (I know, cheesy).

Oh… and I met the most beautiful people.  I fell instantly in love with one woman, we became fast friends.  Although several states apart, we are still in touch today.

In 2010 the conference only focused on developing speakers, now the Speak Up Conference includes a writers track with options to meet publishers to pitch a book idea.

When the time comes to an end, you purpose to come back every year because it is so life-giving.  However, we all know God is the keeper of our time and our plans are not always His!  I was unable to attend in 2011-13, however, in 2014 I was invited to join the speaker team.  It was an equally rewarding experience to be a part of the conference team. I look forward to sharing Mind Mapping: A Whole Brain Tool for Writers and Speakers, once again this year.  I hope you will join us!

GIVEAWAY:  Carol Kent is making a generous offer of $100 off Speak Up Conference registration to one winner from among all the comments. To be entered for the chance to win simply add your comment below stating whether you prefer speaking or writing and if you are being called to one or both.  A winner will be randomly selected.

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DETAILS: Starts today, Monday, May 4th and ends Monday, May 11th at 9 PM. Winner will be announced the week of May 12th.

Join our Blog Hop:

Cindy Bultema - She Sparkles

Cindy Bultema – She Sparkles

Brenda L Yoder, MA

Brenda L Yoder, MA

Radiant Learning

Radiant Learning

Amelia Rhodes

Amelia Rhodes

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Power of Pictures

organized and free flowing brainImagination

The image-making capability of our brain is powerful.  When we hear a word, we do not see the letter in our mind’s eye; we see the image of what was spoken.  Often our brain does this so quickly, we forget this switch is taking place.

According to John Medina in Brain Rules vision trumps all senses.


By Laitr Keiows


  • Takes up half our brain’s resources
  • We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoiken words.
  • “A picture is worth a thousand words.”


USA Today’s popularity over traditional word-dominated presses.

Today’s Smartphone application driven society.  Gaming, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and the list goes on of the push and pull of an image driven world.

Net Lesson:

When you want to communicate an important concept and/or you really need to drive an idea home – be CERTAIN to use images.

Communication feedback process

Wise Wednesday: The Joy of Creativity

Hand Heart at Sunset

I have read many creativity books over the years  Most recently I am reading Thinking for a Change: 11 ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work, John Maxwell shares 5 Ways to Discover the Joy of Creativity:
1) Remove creativity killers
2) Ask the right questions
3) Develop a creative environment
4) Spend time with creative people
5) Get out of your box

I am using Maxwell’s 5 Ways as a starting point and adding insights from my experiences.

Remove Creativity Killers
Years ago I read a great book titled: No Yes But’s, and Other Creativity Killers. The premise of the book was that when you respond to an idea with, “Yes, but…” you infer the original idea was ‘not good enough’ and are sure to discourage and stifle all creativity from that point forward.

Learn to Eliminate Discouraging comments like:

It is not logical
We’ve tried that before
It has never been done
It can’t be done
It’s too much work
Be serious
Be practical
There is only one way
Don’t ask questions

Ask the Right Questions

To stimulate creative thinking, ask yourself:
Why must it be done this way? What is the root problem? What are the underlying issues? Why is it important? What is the opposite? What happens if we do not do this at all?
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” – Sir Antony Jay, Management Trainer

Develop a Creative Environment

Encourages creativity
Places a high value on trust among team members and individuality Embraces those who are creative or different
Focuses on innovation, not just invention
Places high value on options
Willing to let people go outside the Lines
Values Dreamers

Also consider the physical environment: if you have white or gray all around you, perhaps you need to bring someone in to help set a more creative surrounding.  Put things on your desk that have color because color excites the brain for most people, it evokes feelings and associations and tends to spark creative thinking.  Place a few toys on your desk to play with when you need a brain break.

Spend Time with Creative People
Creativity is contagious!  And, personally, I believe it is FUN to hang around people who are creative.  They are unique in their thinking, dress, words, ideas and tend to get me out of my comfort zone because they think EXTRAordinarily.

Get Out of Your Box

The most effective way to help yourself to get out of the box is to expose yourself to new paradigms. One way we can do that is by traveling to new places. Explore other cultures, countries, and traditions. Find out how people very different from you live and think. Another way to get out of your box is to read books on new subjects.

Relational Smarts: The Balance Between Efficiency and Effectiveness

Balancing Male Female

Who is not trying to squeeze one more To Do or appointment into each day?  This is the age of movers and shakers; work-while-at-home; listen to a podcast while responding to emails — you get the picture.  There are so many wonderful systems to get organized and become more efficient at processing your In-Box and Project tasks. Yet, I implore you not to overlook the Relational effectiveness variable.

Should you focus too much on time efficiency: you may quickly find that you are stealing from relational effectiveness.

Think of this as an example:

A newly married couple, both had former marriages and children from a previous marriage.

Money is tight.

Work load is heavy.

Determined to make this marriage last they decide to spend Sundays together and resist the temptation to work.

Time/money perspective:

‘Well, I don’t know why they both have to go together.  If he stayed home, instead of making the 6 hour round trip to pick up Sarah (grandchild), then he could get more work hours.  They would have more money and be less stressed because now he will have to make it up (the work) during the week and I know they can use the money.’

Relational perspective:

The couple works tirelessly six days a week.  They are exhausted most of the time.  they have little time together to talk and laugh together.  Money is tight.  It is tempting for her to say, ‘Honey, I can go by myself and pickup Sarah. You stay here and finish the work you started.  We always have next Sunday together.’

He says, “No, I am going with you, you are tired and we can share the driving so that neither of us gets too sleepy on the road. We will spend the drive time catching up from these busy weeks that have rushed past us.  And I think we should stop at that Cider Mill you love so much to break up the drive and have a little fun. Plus Sarah loves their doughnuts.”

Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. Exodus 34:21 NIV

There is still so much wisdom in the ancient text and it goes beyond our physical care and needs, this rest extends to our relational health.  We need to make appropriate quality time for important relationships a non-negotiable.  This will help us keep the delicate Relational Balance of Effectiveness and Efficiency.   On the other hand, too much together time can lead to trouble too:  if it steals time from work or other commitments; causes strife, generates boredom, or leads to relational laziness.  There is no magical formula or prescription for the exact amount to time. Take into consideration your personalities, life’s demands, total time available and set your priorities accordingly so that your special someone knows he or she is on the top of the list.


 Intelligence does not translate to relational smarts – do not become complacent – work to develop your relational intelligence.  XXOO


Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Teen Brain

This week I had the privilege of hearing from a man who shared his very difficult and painful 2.5 year journey with his only son.  His son was in his early twenties, came from a healthy middle-class family, achieved a 32 on his ACT and was a great all-American kid (for those outside of the US, this means he was well kept, well-liked).  He attended university out of town, but had recently transferred to a University in his hometown.  This young man met a girl who had modelled in a metropolitan city and during this experience met up with the wrong crowd.  The type of crowd that lures unsuspecting successful kids into the life of drugs.  Since she could no longer keep jobs, she moved back to her home state and hung out on this same University campus, because there were many ‘partying’ houses that welcomed her.  It was at one of these parties that the two met.

According to the boy’s father, after piecing together bits of stories he came to uncover this picture: one night his son was drinking; the beautiful girl offered him heroine (or some precursor to it) and within three months this young man was HOOKED.  By hooked, I mean he was at the point of needing the drug so much he was stealing family heirlooms and money and his sister’s X-Box, nothing was off-limits to get the money he needed to get his next fix of heroine.

I opened with the fact that it was a privilege to hear from this father, and I feel this way because what he shared was what we would normally consider very up-close and personal.  You see, in spite of the father’s attempt to do everything he possibly could to help his son get clean – his son died  two and a half years after he first experienced heroin.  And because of what this father shared, I believe lives may be spared.  A little education goes a long way.  The one hundred people he taught that night will turn around and share with at least one more person, probably an average of 200 more people will have the ability to educate their children and their friends.

His main message:  The prefrontal cortex does not fully mature until the mid twenties.  Why does this matter?  This is where reason occurs.

According to the Guardian dot com:

Teenagers can do the craziest things. They drive at high speeds. They stand around outside loud parties and smoke weed in front of the cops. They guzzle liquor. They insult their parents – or lie to them – and feel no remorse, because, of course, their parents are idiots.

Using such tools as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), scientists have peered into teen brains and found that typically, until a person hits his early to mid-20s, his prefrontal cortex is still rapidly changing. So are the cell endings and chemical connections that link the cortex to parts of the brain associated with gut impulses.

It is easy to blame peer pressure or wilfulness, but scientific studies suggest that at least some of this out-there behaviour has a physiological tie-in: brain mapping technologies show that the average teenager’s brain looks slightly different from an adult’s. The biggest differences lie in the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain associated with reasoning – and in the networks of brain cells that link the cortex to regions of the brain that are less about reasoning and thinking and more about emotion.

When people are around 15 or 16 years old, many brain cells in the cortex die off while others are created, and new connections form among them. A lot of the basic cognitive abilities – advanced reasoning, abstract thinking, self-consciousness rapidly expand during this time, says Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University psychology professor. “The connections within the brain don’t fully branch out until age 22 or so. The kinds of capabilities that connectivity contributes to – emotion regulation and impulse control – probably plateau in the early to mid-20s.”



Jot and Tittle, Journal and Jar

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” Exodus 17:14 NIV

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ” Exodus 16:32 NIV

Recently I was recommissioned to begin writing my book again. As I sat down to begin, my mind was blank.  I have many ideas, in fact, I have two books started. The trouble is I want to be certain that I am writing on the right topic.  So I went to my knees and asked the Lord for insight and began typing. I wrote out my first sense (or calling) that I was to write a book. I wrote down all of my feelings of opposition and how God walked me through those with various promises, His presence, and major provisions. It was such an encouragement to me.  Of course, I knew these things had happened, but to see them all together in order as a reminder was a huge encouragement to my faith and a bolt to my initiative to keep writing!

I have a radiant friend who has been faithful to record every jot and tittle of her call to adopt two precious preemies over two years ago.  This journey has been filled with significant challenges and rewards.  She confesses that the ups and the downs are all worth it and God has given her a supernatural love for these two new family members.  They are now legally a part of her family, but they have been a forever part of her heart from the moment she laid eyes on them. Because she was faithful to detail this incredible journey – this Sunday she will stand before her church community and confidently recall God’s faithfulness.  This will prove to be an amazing encouragement to people whose faith is waning or to those who wonder if God still speaks today.  It will be a charge to others who may be sensing the calling to adopt or foster children.  My friend’s journal will be a faith builder and a call to action.  Had she neglected to record all of the little things, the big things may not have had such a powerful impact as they do with the full record.


Benefits of journaling the journey:

Clarifying direction

Testimony to God’s faithfulness

Ability to look back and see lessons learned and successes

Record for future generations

When the Lord told Moses to “Write on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it” It was to encourage this faithful Army Commander for future battles.  It was a testimony to God’s faithfulness.  It strengthened Joshua’s faith in God and helped him to trust that these enemies were in God’s capable hands.  It was a reminder that God was with Him and his army and rendered not only this victory, but the victories to come.

The Lord also knew that the Israelites seemed to have trouble with memory, so he had it ordered that an omer of manna would be preserved for the generations to come as proof that God was able to sustain about 2 million people in the desert by the miraculous provision of food for forty years!  I mean, come on, how else would they have been able to survive?  Apart from this miracle, it makes no logical sense.  This visual reminder would prove valuable to future generations to remind them of God’s provision and faithfulness to His promises.

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18 KJV

Just as we can trust the Word of God, let us show our faithfulness by jotting down all of God’s mercies, leading, and provision so we can strengthen the faith of generations to come.

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Listen to Learn


Common sense tells us that we learn more by listening than by speaking.  However, we all know someone who spends more time speaking than seeking.

Speakers share knowledge; seekers soak-in knowledge.  While it is good to do both, you will have the ability to share so much more when you spend time listening to learn from those who have gone before you.

True learners make a conscious effort to soak in as much knowledge from other’s life experiences, wisdom, and advice as possible by tuning in their ears to what is spoken, tapering the desire to dominate the conversation.

Listen to Learn.

Learn to Listen.

The way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice.      Proverbs 12:15 NIV

Marriage: A Work in Progress


 Two Imperfect People – Perfect for one another

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

As I write this I am keenly aware that some of you have heartbreaking stories of a marriage that has not gone the way you planned and perhaps has ended way before you dreamed.  I do understand that marriage can be a battlefront.   Arguably, marriage is the most intimate and vulnerable relationship we can have with a person.  Marriage requires humility to trust that the covenant made at the Altar will be equally valued to our spouse – no matter the circumstances: “for better or for worse”.  Perhaps we need to start spelling out the possible “worse” case scenarios so that we are more equipped to work toward reconciliation when those days arrive.

If you have had a failed relationship, this article is not intended to shame you, but rather to encourage you.  If you are struggling – it is intended to refocus and strengthen you; if you are in a good place in marriage – to commend you.  It takes work to be married!  Paul even says, “So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows–it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.” 1 Corinthians 7:8  But for those who must marry, it is important to know that the marriage will be a journey of “for better and for worse”.  There will be glorious, blissful days and there will be heart-crushing difficult days.

When our spouse strikes a chord in us, if we let our minds – our creative, active, image-making brains – take over:  we will be taken far away from the Truth in the Philippians 4:8-9 admonition to meditate on truth.  We will let doubt and lies creep in and our husband (wife) will be hung without a jury.  And even if we don’t say anything to him about it, we will have an edge to our voice, we will have resentment in our heart, because in some odd, twisted way we believe what our mind has made up.

Advice for staying married:

Be Forthright – our brains have a need to fill in the gaps.  Do not leave information out or your spouse will fill in the blanks with all matter of possible negatives.  Because in his/her mind, if it were positive – you would have shared it!

Extend Grace – do your very best to think positive thoughts of your spouse, until given concrete evidence, even if you have a history. If there has been progress-extend grace, as much as possible.  Study Exodus 11-17, take note of the forgetful, grumbling, ungrateful Israelites and their persistent, merciful, grace-filled God who continued to lead and provide and did not strike them down.

Empathize. How would my spouse respond to me if the circumstances were reversed?  Does he/she have a different love language or personality style?  Is this conflict a misunderstanding due to our differences versus a conscious breach of trust?

Do something you don’t like to do JUST because your spouse likes it.  This goes a long way to show that you care about her and you are willing to sacrifice on her behalf.

Talk it out.  When there is a cloud of doubt, talk it out.  Ladies, this does not mean ‘whenever’ you feel like it.  Your husband may process things differently than you and may need some time to go to his man-cave to let off steam or to process.  But as you pray you will sense a leading to know when to bring up the soreness and humbly approach your husband.  Men, don’t just stuff it and move on!  Your wife needs to know that you care!  How will she know if you seem like it is ‘no big deal’ – that translates to her that SHE is no big deal.  Talk it out.  Seek first to understand the other person’s perspective and then seek to have your side understood.  Be sure to engage in genuine empathic listening and to reflect what you are hearing.

Pray – there is no greater marital strength than prayer.  I know there is evidence of marriages that make it without prayer, but I know from first hand experience that prayer has been the most powerful ingredient to bring joy and cohesion than any other element in our marriage.

My prayer for you:  Lord, thank you for your provision and leading to pair imperfect people in the perfect way.  Thank you that you use the good and the bad for your glory, and help us to rely more on your strength than our own weakness.  Lord, I ask that you bless each marriage represented by each reader and their extended families.  I ask that you impart humility and grace upon the hearts and minds of each spouse and that your Holy Spirit will unite these loved ones and that you will provide a protective Shield over each marriage keeping the enemy at bay and your powerful grace-filled, love at the center of their hearts and mind’s for each other. Lord, I also believe with those who are estranged from their spouse, that you are able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine – fill each one with faith and hope in You. Amen.

Whole Brain Writing

Writing Inspiration

Welcome to those of you who are joining me from the Compel website for writers!  I hope you will explore this blog for more tools to equip you with your writing endeavors.  If you are not familiar with Compel and are in the market to sharpen your writing skills you may wish to visit www.CompelTraining.com

My passion is to help people use their whole brain in everything they do.  Research shows that the more we use all parts of our learning-brain, the cerebral cortex, the more likely we are to increase our memory and creative thinking.  Surely, your writing will benefit from both memory and creativity!

The more you add in all of the senses, the more you will involve your reader to connect and participate in a more memorable way to your writing.

The most comprehensive whole brain writing tool to date is the Mind Map.  The Mind Map is a tool to organize your thoughts that engages all of your cortical (brain) skills – automatically!  You will find helpful resources and more information on Mind Maps at my website at www.Blooming-Brains.com  You will find a direct link to it on the right side-bar menu also.

As you explore this blog more, I do hope you find facts, tips, inspiration, and much encouragement for your personal and professional endeavors.  Here is one post from my guest spot on WomensMinistryNet:

How to Make the Most of Your Mind, a five minute video http://wp.me/p1tgzO-7a

Thanks again for stopping by, and consider signing up for weekly emails to keep you focused on growing your brain.

Also consider leaving a question or a success story with using your whole brain for the writing wow-factor.  Thanks!



Expectations of the Marthan Runner Married to the Walker

brain - knows what you want to say

Expectations.  Spoken.  Unspoken. We all have expectations.  The problem is that we do not always express these expectations to our spouse appropriately.

And even more importantly, we do not always have realistic expectations.

Why?  I believe it is because we think that we think more alike than reality.  We are oblivious, or overlook the fact that our spouse has a different personality type, learning style, or strengths.  So we impose our own personality, learning style and strength upon our unsuspecting spouse.

The results: mismatched EXPECTATIONS.

The result of mismatched expectations  = conflict.

Ask yourself is my expectation of my spouse fair?  Is it based on my needs and strengths/skills or his?

If you are a marathon runner and your husband is a walker, you would not expect that he would keep up with you when you run.  So why is it that the self-controlled/disciplined spouse expects her addictive personality husband to track with her in the same way she operates?  Overcoming addiction is a process. One step at a time.  If you are the self controlled spouse frustrated with your partner disappointing you one choice after another, I suggest you work hard to find each victory – no matter how small, and be sure to celebrate the victory.  Help your spouse to reinforce this small victory once again; and once again; until he/she is ready to take the next step on the road to recovery.

Help her to walk a little faster before she must begin to jog, and then a little faster until she picked up the jogging pace.  The a pace will take a great deal of time, effort, discipline and continued patience on your part to help her/him to get to an higher level than first begun.  However, not everyone has a desire or the determination to become a marathon runner.  And not every spouse has the same goal to accomplish the same level of accomplishment as his/her spouse in EVERY area.

You must give allowance to your spouse for his personality, learning style, and God-given strengths.  If you do not, you certainly will be setting him up for failure and yourself up for severe disappointment and frustration.


brain - knows what you want to say

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