Work-Life Balance Brilliance by Denise R. Green: book summary

Have you ever thought of hiring a life coach? Have you ever wondered what you could achieve if you had an accountability partner? Maybe you’ve tried the novel approach to creating different results than the trajectory you are on right now. If you are self-motivated at all, this book could be the recipe for positive momentum in finding what works for you. One glance at the book cover should clue you in to what the author thinks of work-life balance. In fact, the title of the book is, Work-Life Balance Brilliance and isn’t that really what we want from our lives and from our work?

I usually don’t copy chapter titles into a book summary, but in this case, the chapter titles are like opening the doors and giving you a full spectrum view of why this book functions like a personal coach. Burnout versus Brilliance, Tame Your Thoughts, Reinvent Your Outer Self, Nurture Brilliant Relationships, Manage Your Relationship with “Stuff”, Brilliant Sleep., How Not to Change, How to Choose the Right Goal, How to Change for Good, How to Say No with Grace, Not Guilt. Now you can see why I wanted to reveal the chapter titles before mentioning what is so fascinating and magnetic about this book.  From the outset, I had a feeling there was a meaningful purpose behind the writing of this book that I could identify with and Denise Green described it. “I’m on a mission to help people light the spark within them that may feel like it’s been nearly snuffed out due to the demands of life.” Does that sound anything like your dilemma? Here’s your next book.    Work-Life Balance Brilliance  

This book, with the chapters listed above, can best be described as a tool for knowing yourself and understanding inspirations and aspirations within and how your relationships and interactions are key in creating brilliance. The author identifies the four realms of Whole Life Integrations which she calls Brillance. Then through stories and instructive dialog, she coaches you through the steps to create that work-like brilliance.

I am a huge advocate of being careful with thoughts because thoughts drive actions. I was impressed with the content of the chapter, Tame Your Thoughts. Green doesn’t just rely on dialog to teach the methods of controlling thought. She offers a 6-step upgrade tool that I would call guided self-reflection. Then she offers advice on how to make your release from negative thoughts really stick.

Some strong points of this book are in the toolkits integrated with each chapter. Story is interesting, and case studies are evidence that somewhere along the line the principles taught in the book worked for someone. All you have to do is read through some of the action items to know that, if put into practice, many of your niggling aspirations could become your reality. By implementing some of the basic ideas suggested could bolster your confidence and give you an edge toward balance which you will redefine as brilliance. You don’t have to change everything. The changes will be dictated by what you discover about yourself and about relationships as you work through the pages of the book and guidance received by using the focus-inciting questions.

When I read a book like this one, I have a tendency to choose a favorite chapter. Manage Your Relationship With “Stuff” was a surprise. It is a powerful game-changer. Rarely have I read a book like this one that so aptly presents the tethers that hold us back like our ‘stuff’. Denise Green points out that we have two limitations that are huge. Time – we get 24 hours every day. Period. Physical – we operate with imperfect bodies that need to be taken care of – sleep is one thing most of us need more of. Note: we get 24 hours every day. Period. The author remarks that “This Brilliance realm (relationship with stuff) includes our relationship to our spaces, possessions, technology, and time.”  Certainly, every reader can identify with the components we all deal with every day and how we allow them to affect our world makes this book invaluable to creating a brilliant life. Do you need ideas for managing your time, designing a winning pattern for your day, working productively in your environment, managing technology? How about reducing your exposure to toxic energy? The toolkit consists of worksheets to help you replace those components that are not serving you.

Remember sleep? Some of us are more familiar with the lack of it. The chapter titled Brilliant Sleep is – well – brilliant. Whether you suffer from legitimate insomnia or sleep deprivation brought on by environmental or physical or activity conditions, the best practices for sleep hygiene in this chapter are priceless. Yes, we all know the trick of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. We know to restrict caffeine in the afternoon. We might, on the advice of a physician, take melatonin. We might invest in a book that sends us to sleep because it provides absolutely no spark of interest. If you want to sleep and have forgotten what it feels like to get adequate sleep, you aren’t alone. The tips in this book are plentiful.

The final chapters of the book are based on putting legs on what you learned in the first part of the book. What do you want to change? What goals do you have? Are they the right goals for how you envision your work-life brilliance future? I remember hearing someone say that we invest ten months planning a two-week vacation and about ten minutes planning our future existence. That’s probably not truly accurate, but isn’t it true that we have goals, but may not know if they are the right goals until we get there and realize they aren’t?

This book, like a life coach, walks through the realms of life and helps you create a vision for your best life, set the right goals, determine how you will get there, and make wise choices of what you will do and what you will not. The author concludes with what I think of as the magic three. I mean if there was a bit of magic in all this.  Green says in her final address to readers, “If I were forced to describe achieving work-life brilliance in a few steps, those steps would include Assess, Choose, Change.”

There is no magic, but if you’re looking for help in reinventing your life, this book can bring magical results.

This book summary was first published at 


What would your card say?

Many years ago I read the book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. I can’t say the book changed my life, but if asked, I could probably still recite the list of habits. One, however was seared into my mind and frequently comes back to me.  You may have guessed it’s Begin With the End in Mind.  The deep meaning behind that thought consistently impacts my acts and reactions. If you don’t know the analogy, let me help you out.  In his book, Covey asks his readers to imagine being at their own funeral and observing what the guests say about them.  I know.  Morbid! But embedded in that statement is the reality that our lives are made up moments all strung together that make us who we are and what we become. Envision what you want to be remembered for and think about what you want people to say about you when you’re not here. Somewhere in those thoughts and visions is your purpose statement.

Wednesday was my birthday and I have crossed the threshold to senior citizen. I have the same choices today that I had 20 years ago. How will I use the moments I’ve been given? Someone said, nobody gets out of here alive. At any given point, until we are no longer here, we have opportunity to become what we might have been. We have strung out opportunities that are life defining. On a personal level, what are my beliefs, my values, and attitudes that characterize
me? I’m convicted of how many times I say “I want to . . .” or “I should do ….” I catch myself falling into the pattern of aimless wandering because I lose focus and forget what I want to be remembered for.

Let me clarify wandering because it’s more than distraction from things to accomplish in a day or a week. We all have lists of things to do. In fact, lists can keep us on track so we remember things that need to be done, but we are more than our to do lists. For a few moments think about your family and consider friends, including people you know only from online connections. If you asked them right this minute to describe you, what would they say? Are you satisfied with the answers? If you are, do more of that. What if your answers aren’t favorable? You still have time to change it. You can stop wandering and focus on becoming who you want to be.

When I consider all those moments that have become my life, what do I want to be remembered for? I’ve thought of a few.

  • Faith in God and complete trust in His sovereignty:  While this sounds simple, it’s a serious act of turning over my will to God’s will even when I don’t understand His ways.
  • My relationships – wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend:  My role is to be loving, attentive, empathetic, authentic, involved, thoughtful, encouraging, supportive, and spread infectious joy.
  • Employee, co-worker:  How to carry my fair share of the work, be a team player, be genuinely supportive no matter what, be loyal, practice gratitude, be complimentary, give recognition, project joy
  • Personally: Be discerning, live with integrity, be diligent, act with kindness, take care of my physical body, strengthen my mind, guard my heart and mind from deceit and wrong, be joyful

Admittedly, that list could be even longer, more intense and transparent. In the context of a full life though, not impossible.

Much of my list is comprised of attitudes which in reality are the foundation of how I’ve built my life. Proverbs 4:23  says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues [attitudes] of life.”  I’ve never met anyone who lives more than one moment at a time. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who has more than 60 seconds in a minute or 24 hours in a day.  In Ephesians 5, I read the instruction to make the most of every opportunity.  When I look down from heaven I hope people use these words when remembering me: unshakable faith, kind, compassionate, made others feel like they matter, involved, eternal cheerleader, supportive, encourager, attitude of gratitude, enthusiastic, positive, lover of life, infectious joy.

Most of all I want to be remembered for being who God intended me to be and that regardless of all the defective decisions I’ve made through my lifetime, He was able to take the broken and rebuild them for good.  I am His workmanship, created by Christ Jesus to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 And when I say good bye to this life I will leave singing 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Above my desk where I have my daily quiet time with God, I have this handwritten card. What would your card say?purpose card

Happy Valentine’s Day! Uh-oh! Did you forget?

Happy Valentine’s Day! Uh-oh! Did you forget? According to “Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.”  If you forgot to get a card for that special loved one, no problem.  You can do something else – even more meaningful and memorable.  Act it out. 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

What starts with a thought, travels to your heart, and comes out as the act.  file0001058376399

I love the Valentine holiday, but not for the flowers, candy, and special dinners with flaming steak and Tiramisu. I’m not a romantic, don’t even like romance novels, but I still love Valentine’s Day. Is it because we’re two weeks closer to spring regardless of whether the groundhog saw his shadow? Or maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is lots of pink and red – the colors of joy and calm. Vibrant red for joy and shades of calming pink. Or quite possibly it’s just because there are more smiles and more happy greetings.

You might not care about Valentine’s Day at all, you might think it’s a manufactured holiday, (bah-humbug) but get into the spirit. Choose joy, demonstrate love, share positive feedback with someone, smile at everyone, practice love – February 14th is your day! It’s never too late to reach out and make someone’s day a little better just because you were kind. 1Peter 3:8 has the right idea “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

Most acts of kindness are free, costing you nothing except a few seconds of thought and a minute to act it out.  Say ‘hello’ to everyone you meet and be genuinely happy about it.  There is no language barrier in a smile. Smile at people you see as you walk down a hallway. Open the door for someone. Brush the snow off the car in the parking spot next to you. Let a person in line behind you, have cuts.  Go ahead.  Be patient, let a couple people cut in front of you.  Be brave, open our wallet a little wider and donate to a food bank when you pay for your groceries.

Galatians 6:9 spells it out for us “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

A few days ago I mentioned Intenional Acts of Kindness and one reader sent me 25 ideas. I’ll share 10 of them today.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Wake up! You need this relationship.

How do you wake up in the morning? OK. OK. I get that. You wake up breathing. That’s good. Keep doing that. But really how do you wake up? To an alarm? To music? To someone shaking you back to consciousness? Does a song ever wake you up? This morning I heard someone singing, “I miss my time with you. Those moments together. I need to be with you each day.” Now that was a blast from the past! It’s been years since I’ve heard Larnelle Harris sing.

Hearing that song reminded me that God wants a relationship with me. Hebrews 8:10 says, God established a covenant (promised) “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Relationship.

There is nothing singular about relationship. It takes you and something else. Another person, a pet, God. See how that works? The way to strengthen the bond of relationship is by being together. Since I’ve been pretty good about spending time with God it’s a mystery why I heard that song, but decided to honor the prompting and start praying for everyone God brought to my mind. I know what you’re thinking – that could take all day, and you would be right about that.Prayer1

I think God does want us to spend time reading scripture, his words, his commands, his promises, his love letter to us. I think our relationship with God is strengthened when we take time to talk to him without distractions, like entering a prayer closet – just God and me. You know. Like Matthew 6:6 describes it, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”

If you look up the word prayer in an exhaustive concordance, you will find hundreds of references to prayer and the people doing the praying weren’t always standing at an altar or on their knees in a temple. How often do you think shepherds and warriors excused themselves from duty and traveled to the nearest tabernacle to pray? No. We can pray anyplace, anytime, for any reason. Over and over in the Psalms we hear David call out to God. Anyplace. Anytime. Any reason. Psalm 17:6 “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.”

God desires a relationship with you. The song continues “and it hurts me when you say you’re too busy trying to serve me, but how can you serve me when your spirit’s empty”. I don’t know about you, but when my spirit is empty, everything is drained from me. I love these few verses where God assures us that he is always there to fill us up when life empties us out. Jesus understands everything we’re going through because he lived through the same trauma on Earth. “So let us hold on to the faith we have. For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel free to come before God’s throne. Here there is grace. And we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

I can’t think of a better prayer of relationship with God than this from the Apostle Paul: I ask the Father in his great glory to give you the power to be strong in spirit. He will give you that strength through his Spirit. I pray that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love. I pray that you can understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than any person can ever know. But I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:126-19


Larnelle Harris – I Miss My Time With You

I miss my time with you
those moments together
I need to be with you each day
and it hurt’s me when you say
you’re too busy,
busy trying to serve me
but how can you serve me
when your spirit’s empty
there’s a longing in my heart
wanting more than just a part of you
it’s true
I miss my time with you.

Why do I have to be the one to forgive?

For too many days now, I have had on my high priority list this task: Clear the clutter from office, including file drawers. And that’s as far as it gets, but in my defense I’ve come across some pretty cool reminders of things God has taught me over the past 10 years. I know it’s been 10 years because that’s about the time I started using my home office.
I pulled out a notebook yesterday where notes about forgiveness were stuffed inside. As I read, I wondered if anyone else would find consolation in learning what I learned. There are no dates on my notes – ever – but scripture is timeless, so does it really matter if I date the seasons of my life when God taught me something? Forgiveness is a tough one, so I won’t blame you if you abandon ship and move on today.
Maybe you have a better idea, but I think forgiveness is tough because it means somewhere along the line something went wrong. For those of us who like everyone’s little world to be perfect, it’s against our nature to believe that people can do wrong against other people. Get a grip. It happens. Last week, one of my friends asked me to pray for someone who was struggling with things in her life due to emotional abuse. She had shut herself off from her family until they admitted they were wrong and asked for forgiveness. Isn’t it interesting that of all the notes I read in my organizing frenzy was about forgiveness?Forest road. Landscape.
I don’t know the person my friend asked prayer for, but I know the prison she has created for herself by waiting for hurtful people to release her. Back in 1994, and yes, I do remember the year, a friend of mine suddenly told me she had put our friendship on trial and I failed. I was mortified and heartsick. I apologized for everything I could think of, but because I didn’t hit on the right ‘thing’ that I did to break our friendship, my friend cut me off any relationship with her. I’m still devastated and I still hurt, but even though she never forgave me, I had to forgive her.
You know Mark 11:25 tell us “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you.” God has forgiven me because I asked him to and I know he won’t hold this against me. But to keep my relationship with my Father in Heaven, I had to forgive my friend because I found myself obsessing about my flaws, then about her flaws, and then I started planning different ways to walk through the office where we worked so I didn’t run into her. I was afraid she had gone to other mutual friends and ratted me out for things I didn’t even know I did. Do you see what was happening? Holding onto this offense became a weapon, and that’s not what God would want from me.
If you were to open my bible to Colossians 3:12-13 you would see purple highlighted text. My Bible translation is the NIV, but this gentle text is from the Contemporary English Version “God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.”
It’s painful to be wronged. Being victimized goes beyond an aching heart or tender feelings. To be lied to, or worse – lied about, to be exploited, to be deceived, to be publically criticized or ridiculed – these are fighting words, aren’t they. Anyone in this position has a right to put up their guard and refuse safe passage to anyone who tries to cross the line without apologizing first. That guard becomes a fence, becomes a wall becomes a blockade. And humanly speaking, you have reason and right to build it.
This is extreme, but do you remember Stephen from the New Testament? His reputation for his diligence in serving people was well known. In 1 Corinthians he was honored for doing all he could for God’s people, yet he was dragged out and stoned to death. Do you know what he said just before his last breath? You can read it in Acts 7:60 “Stephen fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he died.” I’m thankful God has not asked me to be brutalized, the openly and without regret, forgive my offenders.
It’s getting close to the Easter season. A time when we remember how Jesus was sacrificed on the cross. We know it was his purpose decided before God sent him to Earth, but he gave us the perfect example of forgiveness. He was completely innocent of any wrong, but still he was mocked, beat, rejected, and tormented by his one Jewish people, Roman politicians, government officials, soldiers, and citizens of his country. And as he breathed his last, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Forgiveness is hard. It means giving up your justification to be in the clear of any wrong doing. Forgiveness is difficult. I means rearranging all the negative feelings going on inside, letting down your guard, and pushing them beyond the point where they can return.
Forgiveness can set you free. In the case of my friend from the past, she passed away a few years ago, and I felt bad that we had never resolved whatever the dispute was, but I had long before forgiven myself and forgiven her.
Grudges and regret serve no purpose. You can try to talk out your grievances. You can ask to be forgiven of any part you have in discord. You can attempt to create peace where there’s conflict. But even if none of those efforts work out, you can live free of guilt because in your heart you have forgiven yourself and forgiven those who have wronged you. The result is in 2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Seeking stillness – finding your quiet place

In the secret, in the quiet place. In the stillness you are there …. That song was playing in my mind as I woke up this morning. “In the secret in the quite hour I wait, only for you because I want to know you more.”

Do you have a place where you can be alone with God, just you and him to talk about your day? At one time, it was the front seat of my car, in the parking lot at work. I opened my YouVersion Bible App and there, just before entering the mission field, I read things like Hebrews 4:16 “Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” And 2Corinthians 1:4 “God of all comfort, comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Know God, know comfort, then pass it on.

When I was a young mom with kids around all the time I craved alone time. I had heard the story of Susanna Wesley, John Wesley’s mother, who had 19 children. Imagine her need to be alone! She solved it by throwing her apron up over her face, signaling that it was her time to be alone. That wouldn’t make it for me, but it worked for her. It’s been a long time since that season of my life when days were a circus of activities from sun-up to sundown, but I still remember the secret room. We had this plywood room attached to the side of our aging house that was originally built to cover the well pit. Our freezer was tucked into one corner and the remaining room was shelves constructed out of scrap wood that held jars of home canned food, the result of an acre of garden. In that room there was just enough space to fit an old ragged armchair and lamp. It was the poster child of ugliness but it was my corner of quietness.

My husband looked at it skeptically, but you know? This is one thing guys just don’t understand. I think when God used one of Adam’s ribs to create woman, Adam didn’t grasp the reality that it was a rib, not part of his brain and women think differently than men. Genesis 2:23 “The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” There is no mention of brain in that passage.

Every morning at 5:00 am you could find me in that little room unraveling the complicated and getting centered for the day. In that room is where I made my plans, wrote lists, read scripture, read books, and poured out my heart to the Lord. I learned, just as you have learned, that life is a contact sport and sometimes it can beat us up. That tiny hollow in side of our house was a place to be silent before the uproar of the day began. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God.” We rarely have silence, our ears and eyes are constantly bombarded with noise or images. Quiet solitude is an anomaly. “In the secret, in the quiet place …”

Today, I have a designated place in one small area of my office. It’s where I connect with God and pray for everyone I have promised to pray for – and some who don’t even know are being prayed over. If we every sell our home, the wall will have to be painted to patch over the scars left behind by all the messages taped to it.

We need stillness, time to quiet the clamor of our lives, as much as we need water. When my heart is desperate for quiet, I often turn to Psalms. Don’t you picture David lounging around out in an open field with nothing bothering him but a few nuzzling lambs. That’s the wrong concept, because we know David’s life from the grueling work of a shepherd to the victim of Saul’s vengeance, was anything but carefree and easy. David turned his relentless problems into creative sonnets. He said in Psalm 119:49 “I hang on to our words for dear life! Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.”

The song that was on my mind this morning is by Chris Tomlin. You can listen here.




Breaking Through: Discovering the Riches Within – Book Review

When this book was given to me, I didn’t realize how well I would relate to the author’s story. From the first page, I recognized it as one of those books that has all the elements of a memorable experience told as though I could have lived through it myself. It was a tough book to read at times because the story tells the life story in raw detail of a man whose life revolved around alcohol even though he had a family, home, and steady employment. At many points I wanted to say “Wake Up! What are you doing?”

This book really tugged at my emotions, but not in a sappy sort of way. I didn’t grow up in an abusive home ruled by an unstable mother, and alcoholism never became a personal demon, but I witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of lives in turmoil by disease and mental illness triggered by addictions. I hope you read the book because it’s infused with hope that there is possibility of a new beginning to those who are tormented and being destroyed by addictions. This is inspiration with instruction – a book that really does travel the path from tragedy to triumph and proves that an amazing life is possible on the other side of addiction.

Read the full review here.