When Life Seems Broken

Thank  you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. (Nehemiah 1:3, NIV)

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of a land far from his home. (Which means he held a trusted position that allowed him personal access to the king.) When some old friends came to town he found out that his people, the Jews, were in a terrible situation. Deeply burdened by the news, he wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. He took the devastation of his people to heart and responded on a soul level.

The Bible shows us that Nehemiah prayed. He was pressed but not crushed. He told the Lord that he was sorry for the way he and his people had rejected God and for the ways they had disobeyed His commands. He remembered the instructions of God to His people and reminded Him of His promises. And he asked God to hear his prayer, give him favor and lead his responses.

I read this and see a vibrant example of the way I should respond when difficult situations come my way. When my loved ones are hurting. When my homeland is unsafe and vulnerable to attack. Here are a few basic faith principles we can apply that Nehemiah modeled in his prayer and in the conversations that followed.

#1. BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS. Nehemiah wept and mourned in response to the situation. You don’t need to pretend that you’re “fine” when life hurts. Instead, You can do what Nehemiah did: cry. Be sad. Mourn. Grieve.

Because life is hard … and just because we’re Christians does not mean we get easy passes.

Thankfully, God knows sorrow well and is the generous source of comfort we need.

#2. PRAY. Nehemiah’s powerful prayer included the following. I’ve bullet pointed them to be a useful guide:

– Begin with confession (on behalf of you and your people).

– Remember and remind God of His Word.

– Petition on behalf of others (Pray for your people. Stand in the gap. Intercede.)

– Ask for success (Yes. You read this right. It’s okay to ask God to give you favor. Nehemiah did!)

– Ask for mercy (That the punishment we and our people deserve would be withheld.)

While following this template of Nehemiah’s prayer doesn’t guarantee any of us that God will answer our prayers as we expect Him to, it does give us a step by step path to follow that will focus our hearts on God’s intervention.

Then, after Nehemiah prayed, the Lord allowed the king to see that something was wrong. And the Lord allowed Nehemiah to experience the favor he asked for. BUT he had to face his fears in order to step into the provision God had for him. And this shows us another great takeaway…

#3. DON’T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK. Nehemiah was heavy with sorrow and the king noticed. In chapter 2 the king asked Nehemiah what had made him sad. “So the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2)

Insightful king, right?

The next words Nehemiah writes are, “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemiah 2:2-3)

Amazingly, the king cared! He asked what he could do to help, and then provided Nehemiah with everything he needed to go back to Jerusalem and help his people rebuild the ruins.

Nehemiah could’ve shrugged off the king’s question. He could’ve said,Nothing is wrong, my lord! I’m fine. All is well. But he didn’t. Even though he was afraid, he spoke truth. He didn’t let fear hold him back. And as a result, he was equipped with what he needed and was mobilized toward healing.

Are there complications that have your heart grieving and sifting through ashes?

Are you trying to keep a stiff upper lip and carry those broken burdens quietly?

God is all about rebuilding broken hearts and hopes, friend. He specializes in transforming smoky ash heaps into beautiful displays of His grace. He will move you toward that beauty and healing as you move toward Him in distress as Nehemiah did.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Judgement

 

Judgement is defined as the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, from circumstances presented to the mind”.  I know, why would I be thankful for “judgements”, right?   First because I am learning when I am judging someone else, I better look at myself in that particular area.  Second, I am learning to turn Judgement into Curiosity…..

Think about how many times you have judged or been judged by someone – no matter what the reason?  I know we try our best NOT to judge but isn’t it human nature to judge others.  I will admit since being in recovery, I realize how often I judge people and I don’t like it.   I usually find the reason I am judging them is because something is missing in me – a relationship with my Higher Power or a case of envy or jealousy. 

Isn’t it natural to form an opinion about information we receive?  The problem arises when we proclaim our opinion as the truth, even when we don’t have enough information to come to a definite conclusion.  How often have you done this?  I know I am not alone, right?

We judge people for the way they look, for the way they dress, where they live, what we “think” their life is like, what they eat, how they act……….you get the picture, right?  Social media doesn’t help either because we only see the image people want to project which is usually positive with all of the struggles.  As a result, we determine what their life is like based on just a few pictures.  I have found I do the same thing in my direct sales business as well as my small business.  I judge who may be potential customers or be interested in certain products.  I have already decided they may or may not buy based on what we think or what we perceive.  BUT have we talked to them?  Have we asked them any questions?

The first step in wanting to change this habit is to be aware AND admit you are doing it.  When you stop judging others, you will notice yourself connecting with people more authentically and learning valuable information about them. When others feel like they are being heard, they are more open to hearing you.

I challenge you to try this: The next time you are tempted to be judgmental, instead, be curious. Instead of deciding you know their motives, intentions or backstory, withhold those judgments and listen. The only way to build bridges is to refuse to jump to conclusions, and instead be curious.

1. Be curious by asking questions of yourself.

  • Why do you suppose they did/said/feel that?
  • How does it affect me, if at all?
  • Why does it bother me?
  • What could I learn from this person or situation?

2. Be curious by asking questions of others.

What if we asked them to tell us more about (fill in the blank)?  Or maybe you have been in their shoes, so you can share with them, or ask how they are feeling.  Better yet, say nothing at all. Let them talk and just listen.  Listening can be tough when we have already “judged” someone but force yourself to LISTEN!

We can learn so much about people by turning away from judgment and towards curiosity. When you ask those two questions – of yourself and others – you will gain a new unexpected perspective or a new piece of information providing insight you might not have had before.  It will help you build trust which will  open the door to greater connection.

Who have you been (tempted to be) judgmental towards recently? At work? On social media? With a friend or family member?

Maybe in your business…. Have you hesitated because you had already decided they wouldn’t be interested or couldn’t afford the products?  Have you missed an opportunity to connect with someone new?  Maybe you have missed out on giving or receiving a blessing because you pre-judged them and their situation.

What would happen if you were curious instead of judgemental? Share your AHA moment with us.

Have a blessed day!

 

How To Take Your Style From Summer to Fall

Anyone who knows me knows I’m ALWAYS cold.  I love the heat of the summer BUT I do love the change in seasons.  Fall with the beautiful colors and the crisp air.  Is it crazy I am a hot weather girl but LOVE to wear sweaters.  Don’t try to figure it out.  LOL.  I gave up a long time ago…

Too hot for sweaters, too cold for spaghetti straps. What’s a fashionista to do?  I’ am by no means a fashionista so I am glad I was able to grab some tips from Thirty One‘s top fashionistas….

When the calendar says fall but the weather report hasn’t quite caught up, dressing for the season can be a challenge. There are some simple swaps and creative styling, which can make your summer staples work well into autumn!

Try these seven tips and tricks to transition your wardrobe as we head into fall:

1. Start with simple swaps. Begin your summer-to-fall transition by packing away your flip-flops (OH NO!!!) and bringing out the suede booties (staple in my closet) , or trading an airy cardigan for a structured blazer at work. Add a breathable scarf to any outfit for another signal fall is on its way.

2. Do a style switch-up. Trade your summery Studio Thirty-One flaps and straps for a neutral color palette to take you from August to September and beyond. Ikat Bazaar, Twill Stripe and Dotted Geo Pebble are some of our picks.

3. Maximize your maxi. You live in them all summer – so why not stretch maxi dress season? Top your dress with a jean jacket (they go with EVERYTHING!) or flowy cardigan, or try a long-sleeved tee under your dress for more coverage.  Have you tried a tee under your dress?  What’s the best one?  I can’t seem to get that look to work for me…

4. Throw out the color rules. Bright shades like our Fields of Gold Pebble or pastels like Rose Blush Pebble have their place in fall, too! Pair Fields of Gold with navy or turquoise tones and wear Rose Blush with olive tones for a look that transcends season.

5. Play with coverage. When there’s a slight chill in the air, re-purpose your summer staples. Wear a longer knit tee under your favorite crop top, rock a wrap dress over jeans, and break out the tights (or leggings) to keep your summer skirts in the rotation.

6. Carry your bag into fall. Was our Statement Canvas Shopper your go-to bag this season? No need to leave it at the beach! Neutral materials like canvas, rope and twills can transition your tote seamlessly from your summer getaway bag to your everyday fall tote.

7. Add some edge. Stay warm, look cool! Cut the sweetness of summer sundresses and rompers with a military-style cargo jacket in taupe or olive, or a cropped moto jacket. This look can be easily dressed up or down with your accessories – think chunky jewelry or sneakers vs. heels.

8. Style your home. It’s not quite time to break out the pumpkins and leaves, but you can subtly show the change of seasons with something as simple as our Statement Canvas Pillows. We especially love our succulent-themed print designs!

What is your best tip or trick for transitioning from summer to fall?  I hold onto my flip flops as long as possible BUT my tootsies do get cold quick.  Share your tips with us…

 

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Boneless Turkey Breast

I have been looking for some new basic recipes.  Since being on the Wahl’s Program I am eating more fruits, veggies and meat (organic, grass fed) and I am bored with the basics.  LOL.  With hubby working swing shift, I only cook twice a week so I want to make things I can freeze for him but I can also have for me during the week.  Having things I can add to my salad is a big help.  This recipe makes having lots of meals quick and easy.  I found it on Facebook and can’t remember who shared it but thank you!
Prep:  10 minutes     Cook:  8 hours

 

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 pound) boneless turkey breast
  • 2 (1 ounce) packages dry onion soup mix
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt 
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Directions

  1. Place turkey breast into a large slow cooker. Whisk onion soup mix and water in a bowl and pour the mixture over the turkey breast, spreading it out to evenly cover the meat.
  2. Stir garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, seasoned salt, basil, and oregano in a bowl until thoroughly combined; sprinkle the seasonings over the turkey breast.
  3. Cook on Low until turkey is very tender and the seasonings have flavored the meat, 8 to 9 hours. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read at least 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).

Tip:  Try using a Reynolds® slow cooker liner in your slow cooker for easier cleanup.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 468 calories; 2.6  5.5  99.7  273  815  Full nutrition
 

 

Lots of leftovers?  Isn’t that the reason we cook in the crockpot when there is only two people?  LOL.  Thirty One’s Lunch Buddy Thermal is a perfect size for the light luncher or the kids.  This roomy, insulated cooler bag is perfectly sized and styled for packing lunch and snacks for you or the kids, with a water-resistant thermal lining, zipper closure, large front pocket and mesh side bottle pocket. Personalize your lunch bag with an embroidered name, monogram or Icon-It design for school, work or travel. Just a heads up too…. this is on the retirement list which means it will be gone at the end of August.  Be sure to grab yours now!

Have a blessed day!

When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s  message:

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time?I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a money changer set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was.If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a blessed day!