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What’s Your Personal Mission Statement?

October 12, 2011

I just got back from today’s New Face of Homelessness Symposium.  Karen Wells, Vice President of Strategy and Menu at McDonald’s, was the keynote speaker.  I was disappointed when she was done, because I just wanted to hear MORE.

Karen is the youngest of 10 children raised by a brave single mom who left an abusive marriage to give her family a better life.  She courageously shared her life story this morning to a full house at College of DuPage.  Karen and her family were homeless when she was growing up, but rather than let that hold her down, she used it as motivation not only to keep moving forward in life, but also to help as many others as she could along the way.  Today, Karen is a happily married mother of two with a successful career.

As I listened to Karen’s story, I couldn’t help but jot down parts of her story that she shared with the audience.   I’d like to share with you what Karen shared with us this morning…

As Karen began her story, she lovingly warned us, “When people see who you are today, they have no idea of your journey.”  Watching her at the podium – beautiful, poised and confident – you would never have guessed that Karen was raised in poverty and struggled in and out of homelessness as a child.  She went on to add that, as a child, “I was the new face of homelessness, but I had no idea what that was.  Literally, in the past week, I realized that.”

Karen credits her mom as her “She-ro” because of her courage and determination to care for her family of 10 children against daunting circumstances.   Her mom got and stayed on a path of self-sufficiency that makes her children and grandchildren extremely proud.

It became very obvious through the course of her talk that Karen is a deeply spiritual person.  She recalled a point in life when she chose Christ as her saviour and described her realization that “there is power in words; there is power in confession.”  She has leaned on that belief throughout her life.  A few years ago, Karen faced what she described as a minor surgical procedure that resulted in numerous serious complications.  After an exhaustively long, intensive hospital stay and three additional surgeries, Karen’s doctor explained that she was “going to live a life of misery,” a life that would not allow regular eating, drinking or normal daily activity, let alone the greater pleasures in life.

That’s when Karen’s belief system kicked into overdrive.  She explained, “My confession [to the doctor] was ‘I refuse to accept your report.  The truth is that I will be healed.’,” and to the audience assembled today, she proclaimed, “I stand before you an absolute miracle.”

What can we learn from Karen?  A LOT.  Like I said, I just wanted her to keep talking, to keep sharing more of her story, more of her insights.  She is a woman of strength, faith, courage, integrity and generosity.

Karen shared that her personal mission statement is that “God will use me to make a positive impact in the lives of others.”  As she concluded her talk, she reminded each of us that “we are blessed to be a blessing to other people,” and she challenged the group “to continue to give your time, your talent, and your treasures.  You’ll lack for nothing.”

What’s your personal mission statement?

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