Emra Smith is known as the inspirational challenger and facilitator of HOPE. She is a Speaker, Author, Corporate Trainer and Life Coach for leaders to facilitate change. Emra is a Certified Coach through Coach Training Alliance.
Can you be thankful yet filled with anticipation? Is thankfulness not equal to contentment? A place of peace? Is anticipation not quite the opposite, where your tummy has butterflies and you sit on the edge of your seat waiting?
YES you can and I AM – filled with thanks and huge anticipation! What a year 2017 has been! A year filled with gifts and crazy busy. A year touched by unexpected sadness with the loss of a beloved friend. In fact it was during this time that I received the gift of anticipation. Anticipate. Expect. “You don’t expect enough big things from God Emra”, said a friend of the family to me at the funeral.
Gregg Talbert, my previous co-worker who had become my beloved friend died suddenly. I drove the ten hours to say good-bye, to fill my heart with the warmth of his family, to share who he was – to give hope. I returned with hope and the words of the family friend ringing in my ears . . . expect big things . . .
I am thankful for this past year’s big things and there’s more? Yes, I’m thankful for:
Leaning into loss, giving my heart and in doing so, receiving the challenge to anticipate.
My coaching clients, corporate training, workshops and speaking engagements this past year.
The first EBW2020 Chapter Leader Summit and seeing the power of God sweep through the room. Little did we know all God would do in the months to come.
HOPE Walk 2017 that started in Georgia then off to San Fransisco and on down to Los Angeles. Wow! So much experienced in those 21 days! Plenty of photos on Facebook covering the walk.
The International School of Story gaining non-profit status and becoming a hybrid publishing house – furthering the promise of sharing life-changing stories.
Launching our Savannah EBW2020 Chapter and taking on the role of being EBW’s Director of Chapters Globally.
Being a Billion Dollar Funder Circle (BDFC) finalist, being mentored, growing and pitching a whole new added business aspect – the HOPE App! This literally takes all my life work into one place that will go global.
A trip to open EBW Chapters in new York City and London – meeting women who will forever be a part of my life. Hopping over to Sardinia to see my precious Gianna.
The gift of the fundraiser by a group of supportive men.
Global work with EBW2020 and the promise of visiting South Africa in January to give back – a dream since the day I left.
Being thankful compels me to anticipate greatly,to expect much. It seems as if the journey has just begun. As if I’ve been prepared for all that lies ahead and am finally ready. As I complete my new book Together we are Stronger and plan the many working trips for next year, I marvel at it all. My soul is at peace, my heart filled with joy and my spirit revved up anticipating it all. There’s nothing like living fully in the purpose you were created for.
As you close out this year, may you take time to reflect and write down all you are thankful for. Anticipate and expect huge things! Dream bigger than ever before! Make plans to turn your dreams into reality. Invite God into this process – it changes everything!
Are we all called to serve? Perhaps we need to look at the word serve to begin with.
Dictionary.com says it means, “To act as a servant, to be of use.” Some synonyms – “deliver, give, provide, assist, attend to, be assistance of, care for, minister to, wait on, work for.” Adding one from the Oxford Dictionary – “devote (part of one’s life efforts to.)”
So what do you think? Are we all called to serve? Yes or no? Looks like a huge YES to me. Let’s see where it’s obvious:
Parenting – serving your children, teaching, nurturing, providing. Especially when they’re little and can’t fend for themselves. If you can’t do this, don’t have kids right?
Being a child – serving your parents, siblings and family. There’s always a chore to help with, love, respect and support to be given – at any age. Serving when a parent ages is an entire added honor and challenge at times.
True friendship always has moments of serving one another. Being there when your friend needs support, comfort, encouragement and love when life knocks hard.
Church or non-profit organizations. We know there’s always a place to serve and give time or resources here.
Your Country. Mmmm . . . this get’s tricky depending on your political persuasion and who governs. Yet, irrespective of the Who’s-in-charge, it’s still your home to take care of for your next generations. Can you serve in spite-of, in some way or another?
Your workplace. Sometimes it’s a no-brainer to serve at work – serve your customers, because without them you may not have a business or a job.
What about serving as a leader? Do you bully or demand? Do you show respect and value your team?
Serving as an employee: do you give the least you can because you don’t feel valued, appreciated and don’t earn enough? Do you complain and gossip about the wrongs of the organization because you think you know and deserve better? Who serves and gives, under these circumstances! It’s so easy to slip into a “forget that” attitude.
What difference does an attitude to serve make?
When you wake up each day, one thing you know is that you have this one day. No one is assured of tomorrow. So it has to be a good day. No matter what you commit yourself to do, you need to find a way to make it marvelous! At the least you can be productive and find some benefit in the tough moments. This is a whole other discussion on how to do this.
Having an attitude to serve makes a world of difference:
YOU live your day with joy or a measure of accomplishment.
YOU feed your self-worth because you choose to make your day/life matter to YOU. It dissolves the drain of demands on you, your time and your being.
YOUR confidence stays in tact as you choose to control your attitude.
YOU benefit from the law of when you give you receive.
It is a no-brainer to me, yet some days it’s so hard to do. Seems so silly that one can get so bent out of shape with the need to be first. The best. Me. Me. Me. I think we simply forget to live each day with gusto and joy! To be of use. To care for. To devote to!
Are you serving in your call?
“Whoever becomes great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43, 44 (NIV)
The ladies of Isle of HOPE Baptist church stitched bags of HOPE Dolls to share.
Kathy Walters Burnsed handled all the media, did your laundry, drove you, took care of the speaking appointments.
Raelynne handled the receipts and cumbersome details.”
My heart surges further as I scroll through the photos of the people we met, served and shared life with. The women at the rehab homes who we gave HOPE to, helping them see the dreams their hearts held and how to believe in them again. The women we shared tea with, encouraging them to ask, find and realize their out-of-the-box solutions for their hopeless situations. Hugging a line of men and women who couldn’t believe we cared enough to spend time with and touch them. Talking to the children at Tampa Adventist Academy and serving in the kitchen for Metropolitan Ministries Homeless shelter.
I smile as I think of God answering the heart desire of our young traveller to visit Disney World and see her grow and make a decision to give her all to God. Each moment was filled with giving. How I loved the time and freedom to take one coaching call after another – listening, praying, mentoring while I walked the six to ten miles a day. HOPE Walk 2016 will be an experience each of us will never forget.
Now I have the call to do a Walk for HOPE in California. HOPE Walk 2017. My team won’t be there. What seemed sure isn’t. Will I do it if each detail of the plan falls apart? Will I do it alone? With no guarantee of revenue, driver, security?
Am I crazy walking for HOPE? Why on earth would I do this? Will I?
YES. I am doing this. Simply, in blind faith. “Just show up. Trust Me.” It is obedience to a Call.
Compelled by a fiery passion to serve. To give all I’ve got to humankind. To give HOPE and inspire dreams. Heal hurts through encouragement.
To prove that nothing is impossible and that it doesn’t take much to give and make a difference in the world.
We each have a story and our unique way to share life and love. I don’t have money to give away. I don’t have land to share. I can choose to not have time, but I’ll give it. I have me and that is what I’ll give.
ONWARDS! YES! It’s happening! The 21-day 2017 HOPE Walk is around the corner! March 27 – April 16, 2017, starting in Savannah, GA and ending in Los Angeles, CA.
The 21-day HOPE Walk will kick off at the Isle of HOPE Marina, Isle of Hope, Savannah on Monday, March 27, 2017 at sunrise.Several stops are scheduled in the Savannah, Pooler, Statesboro area before heading to the Savannah airport, Thursday March 30 and fly to California.The journey from San Rafael, CA to Los Angeles will include the historical El Camino missionary road.
Thank you for your prayers!
If you would more information, or would like to support in any way you can do so here:
“I imagine that Yes is the only living thing”. E.E. Cummings
When you say YES to today’s assignment, life rushes through you like a tidal-wave of energy, joy and fulfillment. When you look over your shoulder at what happened, peace floods your soul. You know what it means to say, “I’ve truly lived. I am alive. Life is amazing. It is good”.
That is exactly what happened with the Yes to the HOPE Walk:
SNN: HOPE Walk Comes to An End in Sarasota After 21 days - YouTube
“No matter your age, stage of life, or circumstances, don’t forget to dare to dream with God. You don’t have to figure anything out. Just keep saying yes to Him, in big ways and small, and watch what He does”. Lysa Terkeurst
I spend time with God. Do each step required. (Now, here’s a few details in these steps – this is for another story). Focus on the people within the assignment. And then . . .Is there a next assignment?
YES! Of course!
Halfway into the walk, I knew:
There will be more walks. This is a foundational part of the International School of Story.
It’s time to ask. Look for The Place – a physical space for the studio where the dolls and products will be made, where teaching, speaking and mentoring will be done. AND a house for women going through difficult times.
So I wait to hear and watch to see what God will do. Now I know that each day will be laced with next steps for these assignments – each one part of my Call. My Call – to share HOPE. To facilitate a Platform and Place where we can change the world through our stories.
“Don’t let fear or frustration – or the fact that others around you seem to be all set – immobilize you. But do, from this day forward, open yourself up to possibilities you might never have considered. Step up. Step out of your comfort zone. Consider saying ‘yes’ even when ‘no’ feels much safer”. Meredith Vieira
What do YOU need to say YES to today?
Will you allow God to let you live life fully?
Will you open the door and not miss tomorrow’s assignment?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full”. John 10:10
“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours”. Vera Nazarian
With a full heart, my dreams, goals and plans bubbled forth as we shared a Starbucks tea. “Stop, enough goose bumps already”, she said. Leaning in she asked, “Do you have a woman’s advisory board yet?”. My scrunched up eyes were begging questions she saw and instantly asked, “You need one. Can I help you with this?”
After a few tears of wonder, many emails and phone calls later, the board’s charter members and I sat at my bank’s conference room. She chaired the meeting that day and before we began she breathed out a story she had just experienced with a loved one . . .
The bin of gloves lay tucked away on the closet shelf. Hidden. Waiting. At any unknown moment her tiny hand would sneak it out and her fingers would slip into one of the many pairs. Tenderly caressing her hands, saying I love you, you are beautiful, you are mine. The warmth of each glove meeting the need to be held, touched, loved. Holding her hands while she twirled, smiled, giggled. Treasuring each moment till her cup was full again . . .
I think we all choked up, I know I did. I looked at her. We both knew. She was my glove. She had freely offered to hold my hand in this entrepreneurial journey that lay ahead of me. Other than being a mom, this was my biggest journey ever. She nodded, she would hold my hand for as long as I needed her to.
I slip on the gloves the days I get scared, wonder what on earth I’m thinking . . .
Yes, she gave me a pair from that box. They’re used to holding hands, comforting – taking the journey together. God’s earthly touches for heavenly work. Sending the right person at the perfect time.
The vision is real and as I daily commit each next-step to God’s unfolding magnificent plan, the journey unfolds. Expands. Becomes clear.
August 14 we have a kick-off HOPE Rally downtown Savannah and Monday August 15, we head out on a 21-day walk. I will walk from Savannah, GA to Sarasota, FL approximately 6-10 miles a day. Media and Time Management Consultant, Kathy Burnsed will travel along by car and Raelynne Wessels, by bicycle. I will be sharing HOPE by giving free life coaching phone calls as I walk.
We will be sharing HOPE Dolls, visiting homeless shelters, community centers, hospitals and speaking to many diverse groups of women (and some amazing men) during the walk. We will share how HOPE can be spread and encourage positive actions to help facilitate personal and community change.
We are also raising funds for the Place of Story while building this Platform where we all can support one another through our stories of HOPE.
Perhaps you will allow me to hold your hand as you journey forward.
Lost HOPE in some area of your life? A relationship? Financially? Work troubling you? Not sure of your purpose or call? Bored? Depressed?
Connect with us to schedule a free coaching call while I walk. Perhaps you want to share your story to encourage someone else. Perhaps you want to donate and facilitate holding hands with those we serve and will yet serve.
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,
I still have a dream”. Martin Luther King
Dreams become reality. They matter. Your dreams matter. Don’t discard them.
This dream was given twenty-seven years ago, got buried, re-surfaced, died and sprung to life again these past few years. Now, it’s racing forward vigorously. The dream of a place where women can come to during difficult times. A place to rest, recover, catch their breath. A place where they gain HOPE, learn about self-care while they step into their stories, find purpose in them and go change their world. Empowered. Invigorated. Excited.
The dream of this physical place has expanded as our world has become a global place of connection. The place is also a platform to serve, share stories and grow together. Enhancing each other’s lives. And now the International School of Story is birthed! And the physical place is in process. Oh boy, I can hardly wait to share what’s about to happen here!
A wave of wallowing in that valley of despair moved towards me as I thought of the difficulties and complexities of the financial needs to enable this dream. As my custom now, I’d wrestle with God at night in prayer over each aspect and voila . . . always when dawn breaks, there’s a wild, audacious idea. So thankful I’ve finally learned to step into it and march forward!
The HOPE Doll Project, The HOPE Walk and each detail of it has followed. Each aspect a piece to fulfill this long-ago dream in ways I could never have imagined. Yet, each project connects to other heart dreams – to change the world, serve women globally. To live a life of giving. Be a missionary. Love people. Give HOPE and joy. They’re all wrapped into one call.
The call on your life:
Be willing to see what the call is – know your story
Be willing to accept the call and be vulnerable
Be brave – walk alongside the fear, it’ll pass
Be committed to the call – do each next-step, act
Be prayerful, humble – keep listening to God’s plan, it’s bigger than you
The gifts, the miracles and plans He has, I have found, are more than we can dream of. He plants the longing, the idea, the dream and we only discover the magnificent details as we take action on each step.
AND does this story have details and stories within the story! Stay tuned to see these stories and those from each corner of our globe. Be ready to be wowed! Inspired! Empowered!
Dreams become reality.
Your dreams matter.
Don’t discard them.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”. Jeremiah 29v11 (NASB)
My small story of an insignificant longing of my heart that has started a journey of significance . . .
I believe that God plants dreams, longings in our hearts. Sometimes they don’t seem to make sense and we forget them. They pop up now and then and are gone again. I’ve had a few of those and three have just collided:
I always dreamed of being a missionary, working, changing something in the entire world. I was constantly told to stop that nonsense and give to my family and what immediately surrounds me, “Stop thinking big”.
I’ve had this tug on my heart every time I hear the name “United Nations Foundation” – makes my heart sing.
I love to make things with my hands – be crafty, yet suck at it as I’m so impractical.
This journey of the insignificant, hidden dreams becoming significant have many practical steps in the process – shaping, practice, preparation, building up confidence . . . unseen tasks God does through each little story/experience we have. Each one meant to be – towards this exciting plan. We learn patience, trust, belief in this process. It takes time to be ready – meditation/prayer/listening – being willing to be open to the unexpected. Yet being active. Obedient to that little voice that says do this, do that.
So: Two years ago I took the plunge and made gifts for a conference I keynoted at, then I made Christmas ornaments for my friends. Didn’t know if it was good enough, was nervous, and yes, embarrassed! Did it anyway. Not knowing it was step 1 in preparation for the things to come – practicing!
A year ago I listened to a podcast by Ali Brown as she interviewed Ingrid Vanderveldt. I knew I had to connect with Ingrid and ask her share her story in my upcoming book. We connected, captured her story and knew in my heart there was so much more to this than the story. (Note the threads being woven). Next thing I knew was Ingrid starting the test drive of her mission, EBW2020 – Empowering a Billion Women by 2020. I journeyed along with her and for the first time heard: “Think Big!” Felt odd, went against my limiting belief (which I didn’t realize I had). Slowly after a few months, I allowed my heart to open and insignificant longings surfaced. As I finished writing Your Story Matters, God showed some painful threads I had not yet dealt with and pulled them out. In those empty spaces He showed me the treasures, sweet longings and joys of my heart. One being, that I love tea, it’s part of my story and that He wants to share in that happy place with me – now it’s part of my brand. It was as if a cork popped off and crazy spurted out. No stopping now.
. . . He also reminded me how I said I don’t want to work with the brokenhearted . . .
This past December my heart broke as I watched post after post of a friend’s son – a Doctor, working in Greece with the refugees . . . I must help . . . I can’t . . . What of the women and children here in my city, my country, all over the world. I fell into despair . . . My heart was captured by those that were broken.
Next day I woke up to the grand idea of a dolly . . . drew her, cut her out, stitched her by hand, placed a teabag and note in her pocket . . . There she lay – the HOPE Tea Doll. I was so excited. Two days later I thought it was the silliest idea I’ve ever had. Yet another two days and the same doctor posted the story of being deeply moved by the sorrow, fear and grief of the the women and children. All they could do was give soft toys as gifts and were overcome with emotion as they watched them cling desperately to them. That was it! I knew I had to just do it.
NEXT STEP: Ingrid leading EBW2020, had it’s first Retreat in San Antonio, Texas and I went – a little nervous, did I belong here? Is this the place for me? What an experience! The room filled with incredible women poured into each other’s lives, business’s, non-profits. Each woman grew and expanded her global vision and work and left bigger and bolder than when she arrived. So did the HOPE Tea Doll. The project got wings to fly to global corners. Threads of passion for tea, laboring in love over hand-crafts, giving globally . . . who I am, my gift, His voice through me. Encouraging. Giving HOPE. Being a missionary.
Icing on the cake, heart-flutters: the ladies from the United Nations Foundation were there and they believe there is a place for this work in one of their upcoming endeavors! Yessum! What about that!
You can be part of this amazing journey and I ask if you please will be, right now. The vision is huge, but it starts here in it’s simplest form: The HOPE Tea Doll Project.
FOR YOU: Follow prompts, no matter how odd or insignificant they seem. It is part of a chain event that unfolds and sets in motion God’s sweetest, significant plans designed just for you. How you’re created, combined with your experiences, to shine brightly as His Masterpiece – ingeniously woven together in your mother’s womb. #YourStoryMatters
“My days are swifter than a weavers’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope”. — Book of Job 7:6 (NIV).
An unexpected story is unfolding in my life. Little did I know how plump my little insert-book was destined to become. Yes, I call it the insert-book. I’ve been laboring over Teatime Stories for three years and as I thought the end was in sight, the little book – Your Story Matters was written and published in five months. It all made sense as the writing came to an end. It’s the essence, the foundation of the books to follow, of my speaking and of the platform that’s developing for women (and a few amazing men). Each story matters. God’s story matters as it breathes life into our stories.
But this is not the unexpected story . . .
The invitation to the unexpected story lay waiting in my Facebook Inbox one morning a few months ago:
Can I translate your book into Spanish and would you be willing to come to Mexico and speak to our ladies? The unexpected story began.
My heart leapt, my fingers tapped the words, “Of Course, YES”. My emotions spilled a tear down my cheek. My voice was silent as the blood pulsed through my body, drowning every sound.
In the days and weeks that have followed my mind has raced:
I have no funds for this project –
Translation fees, travel expenses, printing costs
I’m scared –
Is it safe, is there clean water, will it matter to the women
How do I fit it into my schedule
Answers are coming and my faith is growing. More than that, my heart is expanding.
The love I feel for these unknown women is a thread woven into my entire life story. Our cultures have similarities as to the roles of women, love of family, deep joy and serving. Strong women within the confines of culture.
I can hardly wait to lay my eyes on this Spanish translation. To share and walk among the ladies. To see life through their eyes. Somehow I think I already do. Of essence we are all so alike, yet unique as individuals because of our different stories.
Can you imagine all that lies ahead in such an unexpected story?
She walked through the hull of the USS Alabama, surrounded by plaques, pictures, memorials, memorabilia and dioramas. Each one beckoned for her attention. Yet, she was drawn to the little teacup in the Captain’s quarters. As a photographer, she started clicking away taking many angled pictures and suddenly a sentence from her favorite book came to mind. It says, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor of our souls.” (Hebrews 6:19). Her next thought poised to completely change her life: “Yes, I am the anchor of your soul, but who fills your cup?”
About that time in her life she had been praying and yearning for the good ole’ days when she felt the presence of God strong in her life. The days when her cup was running over and she knew that He was with her. For so many years life felt purpose-filled. Now all that remained were the memories of a full cup.
After examining her ‘cup’, she realized somewhere along the way, like the teacup in the Captain’s quarters, her cup had been turned over. Not knowing when, why or how it happened. It could’ve been when a pastor started to molest her. Maybe it happened standing on the side of a road when she was told her fiancé was dead six weeks before their wedding. Maybe it happened with unemployment, bankruptcy or infertility.
She knew it didn’t really matter when it happened, but she knew she couldn’t let it stay like that. So she paused. Then she gave thanks. She thanked God for always being the anchor of her soul that kept her from drifting away. She thanked Him for the inspiration He sent through a little teacup on a battleship.
But most of all she thanked Him for the ability to turn her cup over.
Maybe you haven’t felt like your spiritual cup has been full in a while.
Will you to examine your cup?
Have circumstances caused you to turn it over?
The rest of Hebrew 6:19 says “It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary”. The anchor leads us to the only place, God’s inner sanctuary. Here is where our cups can overflow. Can you now give thanks and sing:
“Fill my cup Lord. I lift it up Lord. Fill it up and make me whole.”
Story of Tina Mahon. To connect with Tina: ”Survivors Shine Bright” FB page
Will you turn your cup over and allow the Captain Quarters Teacup Story to examine your story, give thanks to God for what’s good around you and let Him fill your cup anew?