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I am Not Your Enemy: An Open Letter to My Sister in Christ

By Rachel Barrett-Dolcine

 

11013205_10204872102615782_87614912772372477_nDear Sister,

Recently, I have experienced some successes that I wish I could share with you. I quietly celebrated because I was afraid that my happiness would drive a wedge between us. I hate feeling this way. I hate fearing that you will not see my success as your success. After all, we are sisters. We are sisters in business. We are sisters in ministry. But most importantly, we are sisters in Christ.

As I sit here, missing you, I sink deeper and deeper into my sadness. I have always celebrated you, cheered you on, encouraged you, and held your hand when you faced your darkest times. I have cried with you, prayed with you, laughed with you, and danced with you. Your happiness was always and will continue to be my happiness.

Where did it all go wrong? When did we get to this dark passage in our friendship? Where did all the light go?

Was it the day my successes outweighed yours? After years of struggle, tearful prayers, sacrifice, and hard work, God’s favor found its way to my doorstep. I expected you to be happy for me. Instead, your face darkened, your voice got harsh, and you abruptly ended a sisterhood that I believed was forged in fire.

Forged in fire. Or, so I thought.

Did you ever think that my blessing was your blessing, too? Did you ever think that my blessing was to be shared and enjoyed by the both of us? Did you ever think that my recognition, award, and accolades were a reflection of our joint efforts to do God’s will? Did you think I would forget you? Why did you let jealousy and envy cloud your emotions? Did you realize the pain and hurt your actions would cause me?

I am not your enemy.11042657_10204872102655783_1878106349200512215_n

I am your friend. I am your support. I am your prayer warrior. I am your cheerleader. I am a reflection of Christ in you. I am your sister.

The days pass by slowly, and I often wonder what life would be like if I was still living in your shadow. You would be happier and surely believe that all was right with the world. Did you ever truly believe that I had a purpose, too? I want you to know that God has a plan for my life that exceeds anything I could ever want and supersedes what you or anyone else think I could or should become. God is big enough to bless us both.

Sister, I miss you. There are times when I wish that things were different. Then, I smile and am thankful and grateful for this painful experience.

I want to thank you for turning away from me. Your jealousy has forced me to turn my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. Your envy has driven me into the arms of a gracious and loving God. Your harsh words have made me seek the God who mends broken hearts and heals every wound.

I forgive you. Don’t ever forget you are my sister. Forever my sister.

We will not be enemies.

 

Loving You Always,

Your Sister in Christ

 

RachelDRachel J. Barrett-Dolcine, CEO of Compass Consulting and Training Solutions is an innovative strategist with extensive experience in training & development, nonprofit management and consulting for small business start-ups. Through its Community Giving Back Program, Compass facilitates free training classe
s and workshops for nonprofit and community organizations that are on a limited budget.

Rachel is an Adjunct Faculty member at two local community colleges, a Certified CPR/First Aid Train the Trainer Instructor, an approved Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Office of Childcare (OCC) Core of Knowledge Trainer. She also sits on two nonprofit boards and is the Founder of the Joseph & Vera Douglas Family Foundation.

Rachel lives in Randallstown, Maryland with her husband and son.

The Two ‘F’ Words

 

by Rachel Barrett-Dolcine

rachel1I have a confession to make. Ready? I struggle with faith! Yes, I know…I know…you’re surprised!

Last year, I presented a workshop for one of the nonprofits where I sit on the Board of Directors. The workshop was for women who were interested in starting a business or owned a business for less than three years.  The theme of the workshop was to motivate women to move past their FEARS and take a leap of FAITH. As the women shared their fears, my heart cried. I was once in that seat. Covered in worry. Dripping in fear. Not an ounce of faith anywhere to be found.

Fear and Faith. The two ‘F’ words. Two simple words with so much ‘umph’. Both have the same number of letters, but they are so drastically different in their outcomes.

When I was a little girl, I questioned everything I heard.  Everything I read. Everything I saw.  I remember I was about 10 years old when I called The Bible Answer Man to ask him, “If Adam & Eve were the only two humans created by God, who did their children marry?” His answer was, as you could imagine, mind-blowing—well, for a 10-year-old, anyway!

As I grew older, I quickly realized that I was a strategic thinker. I saw the world for what it could be, not what it looked like in its current state. I often helped my mom figure out alternate solutions to everyday family challenges. My intellect grew. My faith shrank. My fear grew. My world started changing.

When I was seven years old, I accepted Christ as my Savior. I went to the front of my Sunday school class shaking with fear because my Sunday school teacher told us that if we did not accept Christ, we would go to hell when we died. She further explained that we could die today and end up in a lake of fire that could not be put out. This lake of fire was filled with snakes, worms, and other unsightly creatures that would torment us forever.

What was a seven-year-old intellectual to do?! That’s right! You got it! I stood on my skinny, shaking legs and wobbled my way to the altar. There was NO way I was dying that day just to end up in a place that terrible. My logic dictated I choose heaven over hell. That’s how I viewed my relationship with God: figure out the logically right thing to do. Do it or end up in hell. No faith necessary. Fear is a requirement. Make the wrong choice, end up in hell.

My fear grew. And grew. And grew.

In 2010, I decided to pursue an item on my bucket list: starting my own business. I was fearful of failing. I am an overachiever who does not do well with failing or messing up. I decided to keep my full-time job and dab my big toe, once in a while, in the river of business ownership. That worked well for a while, but I knew I was meant to own my own business.

In 2014, I lost my full-time job. My Fear almost had me by the throat. This time, I decided I was not going to let fear get the best of me! Fear is a liar! I put my big girl shoes on and jumped feet first in faith! It was the best decision I ever made.

Here are four things I have learned about the two ‘F’ words:rachel2

  1. FEAR is a big fat LIAR! The devil capitalizes on our weak human nature and holds us captive in our minds. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)!Faith is much more than believing what I don’t see (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is completely trusting without a shadow of a doubt that the plan that God has for my life is perfect and complete. The way has already been paved for me. My passage has been paid for with
  2. Faith is much more than believing what I don’t see (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is completely trusting without a shadow of a doubt that the plan that God has for my life is perfect and complete. The way has already been paved for me. My passage has been paid for with precious blood. I just need to walk, run, skip…whatever I need to do. I just need to move. Go. Get up!
  3. Faith and fear nullify each other. Both cannot coexist in the same soul. You can only have one or the other. The ‘F’ you feed is the ‘F’ that grows. Period.
  4. When we let our fear blind our faith, we are limiting God. God’s desire is for us to trust him wholeheartedly. I can’t trust if I am not vulnerable. I can’t have faith if I don’t trust God without question.

Today, I am not 100% fear-free, but I am well on my way to living a life of total faith. Will you join me?

 

RachelDRachel J. Barrett-Dolcine, CEO of Compass Consulting and Training Solutions is an innovative strategist with extensive experience in training & development, nonprofit management and consulting for small business start-ups. Through its Community Giving Back Program, Compass facilitates free training classe
s and workshops for nonprofit and community organizations that are on a limited budget.

Rachel is an Adjunct Faculty member at two local community colleges, a Certified CPR/First Aid Train the Trainer Instructor, an approved Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Office of Childcare (OCC) Core of Knowledge Trainer. She also sits on two nonprofit boards and is the Founder of the Joseph & Vera Douglas Family Foundation.

Rachel lives in Randallstown, Maryland with her husband and son.

7 Tips for Partnering with Success


Capture I spent most of my professional career in the non-profit sector. Most of my jobs included quite a bit of partnership development. All of the skills and knowledge I acquired during my time working in non-profits have proven to be quite useful as I build and grow my business. As I talk with other business owners, I hear many exclaim that they will never partner, or, due to being burned in the past, they will never partner again. Further discussion revealed that their lack of success in partnering was a result of unrealistic expectations and/or no written stipulations outlining the goals, partner expectations, and outcomes for the partnership.

Please note that when I use the word “partnership” in this article, I am not referring to the IRS category of a business that is set up as a partnership. I am referring to collaborative efforts by one or more businesses. These collaborations can be long-term (years) or short-term (months).

Here are 7 tips for starting and maintaining a successful partnership:

  1. Passion: Is the potential partner business or individual passionate and committed to their business? You can’t expect someone to be passionate about a joint venture if they are not committed to their own business. Sometimes, potential partners want to ride on your coat tails versus bringing their own resources to the table. This is not to say that a potential partner’s resource pool needs to be as large as your own. This means he/she needs to be as vested as you are in the success of the partnership and be willing to include their resources in making the partnership successful.
  2. Accountability: Clearly define who is responsible for which parts of the partnership. This process needs to include a clearly written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or contract. A partnership should not begin until the terms are in writing and accepted by both parties.
  3. Recognition: How will the partners be recognized? This should also be clearly outlined in the MOU or contract. Mutually agree on the appropriate way to recognize each partner for their contribution to the collaboration. I have seen quite a few partnerships go down in flames because one or more parties felt that they were not appropriately recognized.
  4. Time: Time is a valuable commodity for a business owner and is a very important part of making a decision about pursuing or declining a partnership. Each party should seriously evaluate the time commitment of a partnership in relation to other business commitments. A partnership can sour quickly if one or both parties have not taken the time to carefully account for their time limitations.Capture81
  5. Network: A network can be viewed in two ways: connecting with other likeminded business owners to stimulate growth, and creating a system in which the partnership can grow and thrive. Networking with other businesses can provide partnership options or allow business partners to gain new knowledge or skills. Creating a system for doing business includes setting goals, measureable outcomes, and ways to gauge success.
  6. Economics: What is the financial investment and profit for your business? How much can you afford to invest? How long will it take to see a return on your investment? Will the ROI timeframe work with the goals you have set for your business? Understand that the financial outcomes of a partnership may not be beneficial in the short term, be more than you can afford to commit, or translate to increased resources/customer base versus cold hard cash.
  7. Respect: Both parties need to determine the conditions of respect. How do you respect each other in this partnership? Respect extends to how parties communicate, use each other’s time and resources, acknowledge and value each other’s boundaries, and adapt to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

 

RachelDRachel J. Barrett-Dolcine, CEO of Compass Consulting and Training Solutions is an innovative strategist with extensive experience in training & development, nonprofit management and consulting for small business start-ups. Through its Community Giving Back Program, Compass facilitates free training classes and workshops for nonprofit and community organizations that are on a limited budget.

Rachel is an Adjunct Faculty member at two local community colleges, a Certified CPR/First Aid Train the Trainer Instructor, an approved Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Office of Childcare (OCC) Core of Knowledge Trainer. She also sits on two nonprofit boards and is the Founder of the Joseph & Vera Douglas Family Foundation.

Rachel lives in Randallstown, Maryland with her husband and son.

 

Staying Grounded in the Storm

 

IMG_65702976483033When I was a little girl, I loved and hated storms—especially thunderstorms. I dreaded the strong howling winds, heavy rains, pounding of water against the windows, and flashes of lightning scampering across the sky. My heart would pound, my hands would get shaky, and I would cover my ears in fear.

Even so, I also loved watching the rain, smelling its wateriness (as I used to call it), and snuggling up with my five other siblings as they scampered into the same room and, eventually, the same bed. I also loved the smell of the air after a storm. The fresh, clean, grassy, peaceful smell soothed me. Ironically, the after-storm smell had a greater impact on me than my fears of them.
A few weeks ago, a bad storm swept through our area. I once again began to feel those dreaded fears sweep over me. As the storm howled, lightning cracked like a horse whip, and thunder shook our home, I crept closer to my husband who was, of course, fast asleep. I heard my son calling for his dad from the other room. He never seemed to call for me during a storm. I guess he knew his mama was just as scared as he was. As my husband jumped up from his sleep and ran to my son’s room, I heard muffled voices and my son’s voice calmly saying, “Okay, Dad. Love you, too.”

A thought entered my mind. I smiled. Suddenly, I felt peace.

IMG_20131005_009043Wait! Peace?! The storm was still raging. I had not yet experienced my after-storm smells. Why was I peaceful? What was the thought that wrapped me like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer? I thought, “Wow. That’s exactly how God responds when I cry out in fear. He runs to my rescue. Talks to me calmly and reassures me that everything will be okay. He lets me know that He is right there, never far away. If I get scared again, I can just yell for Him and He will come. Then, I can smile warmly and tell Him, ‘Thanks, Dad. I love you.’”
The next day, my son and I talked about the storm. He told me how scared he was because the thunder was so loud and the lightening looked like it was going to come in his room and “shock him.” “Mom,” he said. “I thought the power was going to go out and our house was going to fall apart.” I told him that I was scared, too, but just like his father came to comfort him, God is always there for us as well. Even if his dad could not hear him or wasn’t home, he could always yell out for God and He would be like faster than the flashes of lightening. I also told him that storms were good and an important part of life.

He looked at me puzzled. Huh? A storm is good?!

I explained that as he grows up, sometimes life may feel very stormy. The problems that he may face may seem scary, loud, and destructive. However, I always wanted him to remember three (3) good things about a storm:

1.)    Storms do not last forever. Yes, they may last a few hours or even a few days, but they have to end sometime. God made a promise to Noah that He would never flood the earth again. He sealed his promise by placing a rainbow in the sky.

2.)    Storms make things better. Yup! They sure do! A few months ago, I did some research on the benefits of storms. I learned that storms provide water for the earth, are a natural air conditioner, provide electrical balance, remove pollutants from the air, and fertilize the earth as they allow nitrogen compounds to be absorbed into the soil. Storms are nature’s cleaners and refreshers.

3.)    Storms change the way we look at life. Think about how fresh and new the air smells after a storm, the rainbow shooting across the sky, and the brightness and warmness of the sun. We appreciate these things so much more after a storm. Would you notice a rainbow on a sunny day? Perhaps, but after a storm we usually remember that a rainbow is a symbol of God’s promise to never leave us. Storms bring clarity in their wake. We feel like we have a new lease on life, a new start. We are reassured. Yes, God is still with us.

IMG_99825660714402Despite the good, storms can also be destructive. They kill. They injure. They cause hundreds of dollars in property damage. Dead, weak plants and leaves get blown away during a storm. If we are not grounded, prepared, and trusting in God during our storms, we also will get blown away.

So, how do we, as Christian leaders and business owners, stay grounded during the personal and business-related storms of our lives? Here are three (3) ways I have learned to stay grounded in the storm:

1.)    Studying & Living God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-3): This includes daily time spent reading God’s Word, avoiding ungodly counsel, and remaining committed to a course of life that avoids sitting, standing, or dwelling in sin or being connected to those who mock and scoff at God’s principles through their lifestyle choices. As I study God’s Word, my roots will extend deeper and deeper, allowing me to stand firm in Him.

2.)    Staying Connected to OtherBelievers (Ephesians 4:14-16): Avoiding our natural human tendency to isolate ourselves during times of adversity will allow us to garner strength from our brothers and sisters in Christ. God is the life source for His body allowing His power to flow through His body from one body part to the other. We can only stay healthy, strong, and charged up if we remain connected to the body of Christ. The enemy is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Predators target weak and isolated members of a herd. Stay connected. Stay strong. Stay grounded. Weather any storm.

3.)    Daily renewing our minds and girding up with courage (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23, I Peter 1:13, Joshua 1:9): The storms in our lives largely manifest in our minds. We face the most adverse of our strongholds in our own minds. When we are stressed, we lose focus on our goals. We shift our focus away from staying grounded in the storm. This shift, even for a minute, leaves room for the enemy to sweep in like a flood. During our storms, we need to fasten down our hatches and hold our ground, no matter how loud, boisterous, or violent the storm may be. After the storm—after we have breathed a sigh of relief—we need to reflect on the cause and effects of the storm on our lives. What can we change? How can we be better prepared for the next storm?

 

RachelDRachel J. Barrett-Dolcine, CEO of Compass Consulting and Training Solutions is an innovative strategist with extensive experience in training & development, nonprofit management and consulting for small business start-ups. Through its Community Giving Back Program, Compass facilitates free training classes and workshops for nonprofit and community organizations that are on a limited budget.

Rachel is an Adjunct Faculty member at two local community colleges, a Certified CPR/First Aid Train the Trainer Instructor, an approved Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Office of Childcare (OCC) Core of Knowledge Trainer. She also sits on two nonprofit boards and is the Founder of the Joseph & Vera Douglas Family Foundation.

Rachel lives in Randallstown, Maryland with her husband and son.