I can remember the fun I had as a child singing with my sister. We sang around the house, at church, and in the car during long road trips.  My brothers were pretty much tone deaf, but my sister and I were expected to harmonize with each other.  Because my mother and her siblings sang together, she expected the same of us.  We were required to be in the church choir, and, as much as we hated it, we had no choice in being part of her “evangelistic team” as the singers. In those days, children had little, if any say at all in matters like that. During the teen years, we sang on church programs around town, which sparked the short-lived hope of becoming national recording artists.  My sister had learned to play the piano, and I was pretty good with lyrics, so we began writing songs together. So in our minds, all we needed was a big break.

Well, on one occasion we attended a national convention hosted by the organization we were part of at the time. My mother had insisted that we attend with her.  She loved to hear her daughters sing, so she wanted more people to hear us, as any proud mother would.  Each night, after the main service, there was a late night concert, where youngsters like us were given an opportunity to showcase their musical talents in front of the large crowds the convention attracted.

While my sister and I were sitting in the audience enjoying the great singing from the other artists who had signed up to be on the program that night, we both were utterly shocked when the emcee announced our names to come up and sing.  Yep, you guessed it; my mother had added our names to the list, without asking us if we wanted to do it.  Now don’t get me wrong, we loved to sing, but we had not prepared or planned to do so that night. This, in our minds, was a big deal.  So, as the audience was giving the polite applause that had been given to all whose names were called, we stood.  But, as I headed towards the stage/pulpit area, when I turned around, my sister was not behind me. She had taken off in the opposite direction, completely overcome with stage fright!   So there I was, without the best half of the duo, staring out at hundreds of faces.  Remember, she was the musician, and that mattered because I would have preferred to sing one of the songs that we usually sang together. That was the beauty of us.  Well, as you may have figured out by now, I sang, and I survived it. But honestly, it’s pretty much a blur.  To me, this was a missed moment. Never to be recovered. We had a few songs in repertoire that worked every time.  But, unfortunately, my sister chose fear over embracing the moment.

Similarly, many years later, I, myself, was the hijacker of another moment.  I was blessed with the opportunity to do a radio interview on a nationally syndicated show, hosted by one of the most notable personalities in the gospel music/preaching community.  It was indeed a dream come true for someone like me.  But for reasons unknown to me, I woke up the day of the interview in a weird mood.  So, needless to say, I was not on my “A” game. I believe the host may have even regretted inviting me.  You see, during those days, there was so much coming at me, as a wife, mother, daughter, care-taker, pastor, entrepreneur, and whatever else I had going on, that I didn’t always guard my heart and emotions.  There were instances where the best of me needed to be present, but instead, some tired, irritated representative showed up in my stead.  As a result, I suspect there were many other missed moments.

Thankfully, the years have tempered and prepared me for the things before me.  I am focused, available, and prepared, yet always on guard and on the lookout for that other me that might try to show up and wreck something. I am intentional in everything I do.  I no longer let fear, disappointment, anger, or similar emotions cause me to miss strategic and important moments.  I was able to BLAME my sister for not stepping into a moment with me, right? WRONG!! Truth is, there is NEVER anyone else to blame. We each must determine to remain focused, and available for those opportunities that may present themselves without giving any warning or prior notification.  I believe great opportunities are before us, most of which, we won’t see coming. So we need to make up our minds not to miss them.

Here are some of the lessons I learned, that I’d like to pass along to you.

Get Focused

Locate the areas of your life that are a distraction to your peace and purpose.  You know, those things that interfere with your forward movement, and keep you from having a clear head.  You have too much at stake to be caught up in drama, issues, and the stuff of life.  Organize your world. Add what needs to be added, and eliminate what needs to go.  Get rid of drainers, whether they be people, places, or things. If it clouds you, depresses you, or frustrates you unnecessarily, LET IT GO!

Stop Blaming Others

Truth is, I could’ve gone up on the stage and sang my little heart out like I had done many times before. Though my sister and I made a great team, I still could have made it a great moment.  Like me, you may have convinced yourself that your success is based on another person’s participation. I’m here to tell you that is simply not the truth.  There is always another way to accomplish your goals. But if you’re stuck in blaming others, you will never unlock the creativity inside of you. YOU have what you need, YOU  are enough.  Others will join you, once you figure that out.

Get Prepared

You’ve heard it said before, but it is worthy of repeating. Opportunity is waiting for preparation, period.  Whatever your deal is, stay on top of it.  Keep that pitch ready. Be prepared to do your best work on a moment’s notice. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE.  Be ready when the door opens.  I love watching the stories of people on those reality TV shows, who have been working hard on their craft, and then suddenly they are able to share it with the world.  I cry every time. I cry because I am so happy that their hard work paid off. I believe hard work will eventually pay off.

Get ready, to embrace those moments.