Saturday, February 20, 2021

What are qualities of a resilient person?

Why is resilience important?  Recently, I was on a trip for work and I was reminded of resilience by the airline steward. As he stood and gave us the typical before flight instructions telling us that when the mask drops in the case of an emergency that we were to put on our masks first before helping others. This reminded me of the importance of resilience. We cannot give what we do not have! Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, George Kohlrieser, states, “It is often forgotten that one must learn to lead oneself before being able to lead others successfully. Self-leadership provides the backbone for the effective leadership in groups.” When companies build in resilience training it opens doors for resilience to grow. When a company recognizes that our human economy plays an important role in our effectiveness at work and in relationships, we are more likely to be creative and productive. This builds in the natural response of retention because resilience when honored will grow the mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual well-being. This always makes for better employees and better work environments. Resilience training provides a framework for relationships to prosper and grow because doors are opened so that communication and conflict resolution skills are able to flourish because people are serving out of balance and stability rather than crisis. How can growing your resilience improve your work environment? Where do you think your team needs to seek out resilience training? 

So, we find ourselves asking, what are qualities of a resilient person? Who in your life have you observed resilience? A mentally resilient person tends to be able to adapt well to new circumstances because they gather information and then seek to be strategic in how they engage their resources to help them and others persevere! An emotionally resilient person will use positivity to help themselves self-regulate to find the internal strength to be calm or mindful in the moment to help them bounce back. Physically resilient people know how to use rest and recovery to their advantage so that they can endure physical challenges without further injury. This is what makes them stronger in the long run! While a spiritually resilient person knows that there is a source of strength outside of themselves that they can call upon. This gives them peace of mind and a sense of contentment despite their circumstances because they use their core values as their moral compass. Spiritually resilient people find ways to empathize with others and serve them on the journey.  This frees them from being so self-focused and reminds them that they must take care of themselves so they can take care of others. The Founder of the Resilient Institute, Dr. Sven Hansen points out that, “Our ability to function, deliver, and thrive depends on how we leverage our mental, emotional and social strength, so any program that wants to a develop more resilient workforce and culture needs to focus on all aspects of the emotions and mind to care and listen with empathy which is difficult in burn out.”  Essentially, we should build resilience in times of peace as much as we might grow in resilience in a time of crisis. Training ourselves to develop resilient awareness and strategies will make us stronger. Which qualities do you struggle with personally or in your work environment? What can you do to grow this area of your life? 

One way to grow resilience is to look for circumstances where resilience is observed. Look for the quality and then consider why that quality is important and how to grow that quality in you. For example, we can discover resiliency characteristics within the animal kingdom.  The animal kingdom seems to have numerous examples of resiliency. I have chosen four creatures to consider. For example, the fire ant. I know it is a creature most of us do not want to encounter because they bite and leave a painful sting when they do! When we were escaping the floods in Houston, we were dodging enormous fire ant colonies floating precariously around us in the flood waters. We were so afraid that if we were hit by one that they would jump on us and sting us all over. This is not a good thing! Curiosity caught my attention by the fact that they traveled in a massive colony through the floodsso I researched and discovered that fire ants can exist this way for months because they interconnect their legs as they move about.  Apparently, an ant can stay under water for as long as twenty-four hours so, the colony keeps moving. They never let go of each other and they always make sure that no ant stays under water too long. This way they all survive and make it through. They are always aware of their need for each other and the importance of protecting one another. The two characteristics that I decided to cultivate in my life from observing the fire ant was keeping a communal approach and to always be looking for the one that needs to be lifted up that might be drowning. What if we had the attitude of community awareness that no one was left below or behind too long?

Emperor penguins show resiliency by also being communal. When the mother penguin goes off to sea for two months for food the male penguin will sit with the baby egg on his feet. The male penguins will huddle together to fight the bitter cold and keep each other warm while protecting the eggs from predators inside their penguin huddle. The male penguins will not eat for the entire two months and in some cases losing as much as two thirds of his body weight. The male penguins use each other for warmth, a barrier to the 90-mile winds and the -40F temperatures, and predators.  What if we lived out sacrifice and shared responsibilities like the emperor penguins? How would our team or family change if we were willing to work together to fight off the elements? What kind of sacrifices can we make to help our team? 

Another animal that you might like being on the resilience list is the rat. These pesky rodents are built for resilience. Their persistence to chew through something is quite astounding. They do not give up. I realize that this is not okay when it is your house, but there is something to be said for persistence paying off. But, what really surprised me about this creature was based on some research some scientists did on rats. Honestly, I do not know that it is necessarily the best methods, but what they discovered is important. Scientists were testing to see how a wild rat versus a domestic rat by survive in adverse circumstances.  Would a wild rat swim longer than a domestic rat? They expected it would, but that is not what they discovered. They found that a domestic rat would out swim a wild rat and survive every time. The scientists came up with a hypothesis that the domestic rats lived with hope because they had someone that would help them survive. So, the scientists set about doing research on giving hope to a rat in bucket that was drowning and not giving hope to another rat. They discovered that rats that were rescued once would always swim longer. Scientists concluded that hope of rescue always made rats more resilient. They came to the conclusion that hope produces resilience. What if we developed hope in each other and lived out persistence? What if we found ways to rescue one another at work and at home? How can we help each other move through? How can we communicate that we are a team that will rescue one another and never let one of our own drown? What might building hope look like for you and your team?

The tardigrade is the said to be the most resilient creature.  It can survive under the most stressful of circumstances. Scientists call tardigrades survivors because they can withstand outer space, be frozen and thawed, dehydrated, and radiated and still bounce back to life. This little creature is adaptable! It will curl up in a small ball and wait it out. If necessary, it will release a special protein that protects its body and then wait until the circumstances change. Essentially, the tardigrade has good genes. There is a special genome that it passes on to the next generation. I realize that we do not have a say in our genes, but we do have a say on what we will intentionally pass on to the next generation. We can determine to pass on characteristics of resilience by learning them and sharing them. What if we made it a determination to make it a mark of our team or family to be known for resilience? What if we were determined to show that we know how to adapt, reduce when we need to, release when we must, and when we can reproduce ourselves in others? Imagine the possibilities!

How are you being challenged right now to be resilient? Which animal characteristic did you like most? Which one do you want to grow in? Which one do you feel your team or family might need to grow in? Imagine the possibilities and determine to be the one to build into the next generation of your team or family the resilience characteristics to bounce back! 😊 Shalom Y’all!

[1] Kohlrieser, George. “Resilient Leadership: Navigating the Pressures of Modern Working life.” REAL WORLD LEARNING. No. 42. 2014

[2] Hansen, Sven. PhD. How to Build a Culture of Resilience. Resilience Institute at

[3] Incredible Floating Fire Ants Help Develop Waterproof Materials and New Robotics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[4] H., Y. (2020, October 07). How To Be Resilient like the Emperor Penguin? Retrieved from penguins are known,resilient living creatures on earth.&text=They travel over 50 miles, catch and feed the young.

[5] The Remarkable Power of Hope. (2014, May 07). Retrieved from

[6] Dvorsky, G. (2016, September 20). Scientists Finally Figured Out Why Tardigrades Are So Indestructible. Retrieved from

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

What is resilience? Do I have it?

You have heard of your Intelligent Quotient (IQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and maybe even Cultural Intelligence (CQ), but what about your Resilient Intelligence (RQ)? What makes a person resilient? How does someone move through difficult circumstances and grow rather than shrink? Resilience is an essential component in the workforce and is a contributing factor to personal success. Did you know that resilience is learnable and achievable? What are key factors that will help you grow resilience? 

When I was asked to lead this session for UNMC and UNO’s GRIT series I immediately asked myself, “Do I have resilience? And when I realized that I do, I asked myself, Where and how did I develop resilience?” I have chosen four moments. I could choose others, but these four proved to be profound moments where I had to choose to move through or bounce back when I did not think I had the capacity to do so. On September 11, 1998, our home flooded in Tropical Storm Francis in Houston, Texas. Greg, Mikayla (our two-year-old) and six-month-pregnant-me along with two dogs had to escape through rapid moving flood waters. We left the cat. It was rescued in speed boat. Along with several other thousand people that day, we lost it all and had to begin the process of rebuilding. It took six months so our new born baby was technically born homeless. In October 2001, ENRON, the Fortune 500 company my husband worked for collapsed and we lost everything financially. We ended up being relocated to Omaha and had to rebuild a whole new community and financial base. On August 3, 2016 while on a leadership retreat with our Resident Assistant Team, I hit a tree while ziplining because my brakes didn’t work. I seriously injured all of the tendons and ligaments in my feet and ankles while crushing my heal pads of my feet. For the first time in my life, I felt what I thought was level 10 pain. I live with chronic pain from that injury even today. And on October 3, 2017, Grace University announced that it was closing. As the Dean of Women, I had to walk through eight months of grief helping the students and staff let go of our 75-year beloved institution. Each of these stories carry intense moments of deep learning and hard choices to push through when I thought I did not have the mental, emotional, social, or physical capacity to do so. But I learned that I am much stronger than I thought I was and that yes, I can move through to a better tomorrow and a better normal. Why? Because I am resilient!

So, what is resilience? Resilience can be defined as the bounce back factor in the face of difficult circumstances without engaging in dysfunctional behavior. Resilience is the ability to move through it and become better because of it. The crazy and amazing thing about resilience is that it is learnable, teachable, and possible for all people. And that with each step we take toward moving forward we strengthen our resilience! In many ways, resilience is caught more than taught in the hard moments of life. It is caught when we get up and take the next step. 

So, I find myself asking, What did I learn about resilience in these four moments? Honestly, I could never have walked the journey without my community of faith, family, friends, and yes, coworkers and students. As hard as it was to do, I learned to ask for help. After the shock wore off when I hit the tree, I had no choice. I could not stand on my own two feet by myself. I found that my students would carry me when I could not stand, literally! As I experienced their kindness in carrying me, I learned more about how to serve others in those moments than any other in my life. I can give stories from each of these moments where someone carried me. Through these moments of seeking help, I experienced in more profound way the power of love, sacrifice, and service. And that God truly is our help in our time of need and that with God all things are possible. Often His answers come through the hands and feet of those around us! Asking for help is not only a gift to ourselves, but it is to the other person because it allows them to walk in the blessing of serving you.

Another characteristic of resilience that I encountered was the power of being present in the moment even when it meant conflict, suffering and/or pain. I discovered that if I took the time to assess the situation and acknowledge what I was feeling and going through that I was better able to handle the moment. Acknowledging something makes it less scary. At times, I would just verbalize aloud what I was feeling. So, if I didn’t like me in the moment, I would just say it. This somehow helped me to pull it together. It helped me to center myself and be mindful of what I was going through. I had to learn to give myself grace and others as well. If I focused on what I could do in that moment and just take the next step, I would feel like I accomplished something. It gave me a sense of completion and accomplishment which made me feel like I was in control in what was perceived an uncontrollable situation.

I realize that this is not everyone’s story, but for me, I found that if I faithed it, I could make it! I found strength in God and the people of God. This means that even though I could not see what would be, if I stepped out in faith trusting that movement, healing, provision, and whatever I might need would happen that I became stronger. I started saying, “I am faithing forward!” I found ways to feed my soul with spiritual truths that encouraged my heart and mind. I found ways to share with others about my journey. This kept me from living in mental isolation. Which really helped me process and release a lot of stuff. I tried hard to think about how my husband might be feeling and how I could be his encouragement or how my students and colleagues were feeling so that I could serve them with better understanding. On the night that we flooded and lost it all, we were sleeping on a day bed in my parent’s guest room with our two dogs on the floor, the cat on the edge of the bed, our two-year-old wedged between us and I whispered to my husband, Greg, “Babe, we have all we need right here. I am content and we are going to be okay.” I meant it and it was true. Despite losing it all, we can now say that we are better having gone through it than if we had not. 

I could tell you about all the things that God taught me to release like pride, vanity, greed, materialism, and identity in things, positions, power, or influence. But that is another lesson. However, with resilience building I discovered that there were things that I needed to hold onto and things that I needed release. My self-talk was critical. I could beat myself up, tear down others, or remind myself of truths that brough positive outcomes. Two truths that I found myself embracing as I moved through these circumstances were “we will make it through” and that “I am stronger than I think.” I realized that normal is whatever I make it to be. If I take the time to set a rhythm into the routine, then I create a new normal. I am the one that determines what normal is for me, my family, and my work. This was huge! It made chaos comfortable and confusion settled. Why? Because I determined in my heart what the norm was and did not allow the circumstances to tell me otherwise. 

How are you being challenged right now to be resilient? What aspect of resilience have you already developed? Where might you need to grow or take the next step? Go ahead and faith forward and create your new normal by choosing to be in community, ask for help, focus on the moment, do what you can do, and live out good self-talk as you move forward! Shalom Y’all! 😉

Sunday, February 14, 2021


This is my first Doodly creation! I thought it appropriate that I should try to tell the story of Creation! I hope you like it!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Thursday, February 11, 2021

What I discovered about God in the story of Deborah and Barak

(Photo taken from 

I have always found the story of Deborah and Barak fascinating and a bit creepy when I consider that Jael pushed a tent stake through the king's temple! But when I reflect on GOD and how He works in our lives, I love that GOD provides us a story of a woman leader. It gives me comfort as a woman and as someone that wants to be a leader to see Deborah's example. Recently as I studied the story of Deborah and Barak, I reflected on what I learn about GOD in this passage and I am always surprised by what GOD reveals to me when I ask this question, What do I learn about God? I have provided below some of the truths I discovered about GOD. I especially love how GOD gave Deborah details of who to talk to, what will happen, and how He will work it out. 

Go read the passage and see what God reveals to you in Judges 4. 

Here is what I discovered! 

 1. What do I learn about God? 
     a. God knows when the Israelites do evil. 
     b. God hands Israel over to Jabin, King of Canaan. 
     c. God heard the cry of Israel when Israel cried out to God in their oppression. 
     d. God used Deborah, a woman, as a prophet, to judge and send messages. 
     e. God sent Deborah with a command in what to do. It included who and where! 
     f. God uses details when He sends messages. 
     g. God uses Deborah to lead Barak to lead the nation out into battle. 
     h. God routed Sisera at Barak’s advance.
     i. God waited for Barak to do what was commanded. 
     j. God subdued the King of Canaan, Jabin. 
    k. God caused mountains to quake when Deborah and Barak sang a song praising the LORD. 
    l. God uses people to help Him in battles. 

1. What to emphasize about God?
    a. God does NOT tolerate evil! 
    b. God knows our choices and releases us to our enemies when our choices are evil. 
    c. God releases us to our evil. 
    d. God hears our cry for help. 
    e. God sends prophets and messengers.
    f. God gives commands that need to be followed. 
    g. God uses women to lead. 
    h. God routes the enemy.
    i. God uses people to accomplish help! I find the story so encouraging. I do not need to fear evil and I can trust that GOD will route the enemy. Isn't that comforting! 

What blesses you about this story? 

As you read through what I discovered about God and what I thought was important to emphasize did you have anything that stood out to you as important? 

What made it significant to you? 

I know for myself each time I read through it I can apply it to different areas of my life. I confess that it is a little bit scary to know that God will release a person or a nation to their choices when they are evil. This has such great consequences for those around us. But, I have tremendous hope when I realize that GOD will send messengers, prophets, and leaders to do His work. We just need to be willing to obey when He does. I love that GOD uses people to accomplish His work. I love that you or I could be the one He chooses to use! Don't you! 

How can you pray this story into your life today? For me, it is that I listen to Him clearly and that I give the messages He asks and I do what He presents to me to do!