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When my mom passed away, I was allowed great moments of reflection on the qualities she bestowed upon my life.

The peace was found in knowing that she got to go to her ordained home for Christmas (she passed December 24th – my mother went home for Christmas). She no longer struggles and there is no longer a fight; she has been set free.

The following are ten of the top qualities she delivered to me as I was maturing into the woman I am today. With all of this reflection I realized what my mother was really instilling in me was character.

Kingdom Fuel - Drs. Mark & Michele Sherwood

Going forward each day, I revisit the strong principles she set as a guide, and I will do my best in continuing to uphold each one better and better. Allow me to share them with you in the hope of your own character development.

  1. Pray every day. Her relentless faith was powerful. Even in spite of all the poor health cards she was dealt during her years on the planet, she never stepped away from her faith.  There was no amount of sickness, no amount of hurt, no amount of struggle that could sway her a different way. She was faithful to her faith to the bittersweet end.
  2. Love one another. With reverence and love take care of each other, but stay out of the way of danger. Love has good boundaries and continues to forgive. Never forget the attributes of love and its ability to persevere.
  3. Forgive often and easily. Forgiveness does not mean we do “whatever it takes” to restore a relationship (the relationship may even be you with yourself – the relationship that needs the greatest amount of forgiveness and healing). It means we “cancel a debt.”  It doesn’t mean we endure abuse, insults, or unhealthy relationships or lies and hidden secrets. We can erase what people “owe” us, without exposing ourselves to danger. Sometimes it’s important to remember things so we can avoid future pain. Sometimes the place to start is the act of forgiveness with oneself. Begin anew by setting boundaries and clarifying the life you want to lead. It takes guts to stand up, courage to speak up, and incredible resiliency to stay the course. Her words of wisdom fostered a person with guts, courage, and resiliency. It’s not easy, but the reward is lasting and legacy building.
  4. Always clothe yourself with a beautiful outfit. Wear the jewels of compassion, patience, gentleness, humility, love, kindness, and forgiveness. It was hard to understand what all of this meant until I had a few years of hard core life experience. This helped me really understand that beauty is not just skin deep but the qualities go from the skin all the way to the bones.
  5. Always leave things better than the way you found them. Clean up after yourself. Always make your bed; a messy room is an indicator of a messy mind. Wipe off the bathroom counter top. Pick up things that don’t belong on the floor and pieces of trash you find along your path. Avoid throwing trash out the window just because you have seen someone else do it. Don’t leave your mess for those who follow you. Detour your habit of speeding and putting the lives of yourself and others at risk. It is simple, just follow the law. Because you are ‘cute’ does not allow you to be a rule breaker. Create a beautiful environment and make the world a better place.
  6. Keep your language pure. There is no need for profanity. Profanity muddies the water. This life is tough enough without bringing yourself and others down with dirty words. Oftentimes she would utter, “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth”. I now understand…that statement was gold. The words we speak can be the most empowering moment in time or the most gut wrenching, relationship shredding issues we create.
  7. Laugh at yourself: life is too short to be too serious. That has not come easy for me as the life work I have chosen demands focus, endless hours and serious commitment. However, even in a demanding, serious and focused situation, moments of laughter create an environment of peace and ease.
  8. In all things be grateful. Life is full of great things in which to be grateful. If we never stop to take notice, these special moments will escape us. Gratefulness lends more happiness and less stress. In each moment there are things for which to be grateful. There is always someone with more struggle than you and someone who would give anything to be in your situation. A grateful life is a rich life.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say, “Thank you.” You can’t be thankful and bitter at the same instant. Thankfulness exposes the simplest things and transfers your internal and external smiles back to the giver. Everyone enjoys being appreciated. Make it a goal every day not only to be thankful, but to tell others thank you for the things you have been given and express what you are thankful for.
  10. Take a moment and pause. In other words, stop to smell the roses. We get far too busy and far too hyper vigilant causing the scent of the roses to go unnoticed. The rich scents of life, from fresh air to organic wood burning fire place are better noticed when we simply pause and take the time to appreciate. Give a sense of pure satisfaction for the wonderment of this life. Its short, it will pass in the blink of an eye.

There you have it, mom’s top ten tips of character development. Call this a tribute to her if you will.

However, I prefer this to be and encouragement to everyone’s character development. Let these ten tips guide you to great blessing and a powerful, influential life.