You are Accepted

Thank you to Jennifer Rothschild for today’s message:

Several years ago, my friend Lisa was going through a crafty phase and wanted to make a piece of word art for me. So, she texted this question: “If one word could become a reality in your life, what would it be?”

Girl, this took me awhile! The one word that kept coming to mind was “accepted,” but I was too embarrassed to admit that feeling accepted was what I really longed for.

I was a Christian, so I knew God accepted and loved me unconditionally. Wasn’t that already a reality in my life?

The reality was, I was afraid God accepted everyone but me.

In pondering my one word, God began to show me that I associated my performance with my acceptability.

Here’s what I (wrongly) believed: If I am good, I am acceptable. If I help people … if I am a blessing instead of a burden … well, then I am accepted. But, if I fail, blow it or mess up, then I feel like a reject — not acceptable to me, not to others and certainly not to God.

My skewed belief was I was acceptable only when I was at the top of my game or in the center of God’s will. Clearly, I had not truly embraced my identity in Christ because acceptance is what I already have.

So, I texted Lisa back with my one word that I needed to embrace and believe: accepted.

Lisa’s gift showed up in the mail a week later. It was a wooden ledge with the Scrabble letters A-C-C-E-P-T-E-D glued on it. This is a treasure to me because it is a constant reminder to see what I already have in God rather than seek it in the wrong ways and places.

Lots of us struggle with trusting the truth that we’re acceptable to and accepted by God. We are accepted not because of what we do or don’t do; we are accepted not because of how we succeed or if we’re good. We are accepted not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and to as many as receive Him, He gives the power to be sons and daughters of God (John 1:12). Talk about accepted!!

We are not only accepted “in” the beloved, we are accepted “by” the Beloved Himself!

My Scrabble word “accepted” reminds me I already have what I want. When I am feeling less than acceptable, I hold it in my hand, wrap my fingers around it and the truth it represents, and tell myself, “This is what God gave me. This is who I am.”

Can you take that truth in?

If you feel invisible, it may be because, deep down, you never really embraced the truth about yourself — that you are accepted by God, admired by Him and have His full and unconditional love.

Just like Lisa glued the word “accepted” to a Scrabble ledge for me, ask God to glue the word “accepted” to your heart so that, with every heartbeat, this truth is reinforced and becomes woven into the very fiber of your being.

Oh my friend, you are accepted by God. That is your reality.

When you accepted Christ, He accepted you. You may sometimes feel rejected, but how you feel is not who you are! You are acceptable, accepted — no exceptions!

Have a ThirtyOne-deful day!

When You Don’t Like the Story God is Writing

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

If it were up to me, I would have written some stories differently. My second child would not have died, and I would have a little girl who would be 21 years old this year. Carol’s son would not be in prison. Linda’s 20-year-old daughter would not be a quadriplegic. Barbara’s daughter would not be bipolar. Patty’s 21-year-old daughter would not have died in a car accident. Jennifer’s husband would not have died of a brain tumor. If I had been writing the story.

But I’m so glad I’m not the author of those stories. Each and every one of these friends has ministries that impact thousands upon thousands of women all over the world. God has turned their pain into purpose, the misery into ministry, and their devastation into anointed messages of hope and restoration. Sudden glories fill and spill from each of these women’s lives. Their love journeys of living and moving and having their being in Christ have led them through dark valleys and back out into the light on the other side. They practically glow with radiant wonder.

Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is to not allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts. One way to avoid the darkening of the soul is by constant communication seasoned with thanksgiving—a continual acknowledgement of His presence.

Glory moments in difficult times are not dependent on our circumstances, but on our focus. Focus on the difficulty and God is difficult to see. Focus on God and glory seeps through the broken places. Difficulties become the bass notes of our life’s song, adding a depth and beauty not found in a life that hovers around middle C.

After my husband and I got out of college, we moved to Charlotte so that my husband could go into practice with another doctor. But after we moved here, the doctor changed his mind.

“Sorry, Steve. Good luck,” the doctor said.

I was so upset. OK, I was angry. Flat out angry. Angry with the doctor and angry with God. We had no money. No job. And school debt.

Three months later a situation opened up that was far better than our original plan. It was Ephesians 3:20 in lab-coat white: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

Well, why didn’t God do that in the first place? Why didn’t He lead us to that second opportunity when we did all that praying and seeking? He could have. But He is far more interested in developing our character than doling out a life of comfort and ease. C.S. Lewis notes: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

We are ever the students. He is the teacher still. Trials rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracles in our lives. And those miracles are a sudden glory.

Someone once said, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Oh that we would trust Him even if the twists and turns never make sense this side of heaven. That’s what trusting God is all about. As we live and move and have our being in Him, the dark places are simply opportunities to trust that He knows the way—and the perfect time to hold on tight.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

5-Step Plan to Godly Thinking

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message….

Some days, it feels like a woman’s work is never done.

These words coursed through my mind as I swung left and right around the kitchen tossing dishes into the dishwasher, removing food stains from the floor and shoving ketchup into the open nook in the side fridge door. I exhaled. I’m nearly there – nearly to the moment I fall back and put my feet up.

Trash still lined the counters: a paper towel by the sink, a wrapper by the coffee maker and an old straw that was nearly too grimy to pick up. I surveyed it all. I considered what to grab first and how to do it most efficiently. I had a plan! The kitchen would sparkle.

Yet, somewhere between laying hands on the grimy straw and the half-used paper towel a thought hit me: Why don’t I survey my mind the same way I do my counters?

God says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8)

Do I think this way? Do you?

The power of thinking is much like the process of cleaning.

We must:

1. Identify the dirty stuff. We must look for anything that does not belong in the temple of God. We must recognize our stuff.

Gossip, negative thinking, complaining, nit-picking, and judgement don’t belong in a shiny bright, glory-filled temple of God. Take notice of them.

2. Decide it must go. Pick up on what doesn’t belong and make a decision to do things differently. Head that very thought towards the trash can. Be done with it!

You do this by telling yourself: This thought is not helping me, but hurting me. When I fill my mind with the what is not good, I miss the goodness of God.

3. Replace what was missing. When we clean, we usually remove stuff from the counters first, so can wipe the whole surface. But, after we’ve cleaned, we replace items. We put back the vase, the coffee maker and the pot.

TIP: Put the P.L.A.N.T. back in location.

Simply, think a good thought as it relates to these letters (see sample below):

Pure: God loves me.

Lovely: God has a sweet moment for me after I’m done with this counter.

Admirable: I feel good I didn’t put this cleaning off until tomorrow.

Noble: The King of Kings sees my work.

True and Right: I have a family that loves me.

Will this process work perfectly every time? No way. What does? We live on earth, after all. Mean thoughts, annoyed words or debilitating self-proclamations still sneak in on occasion, but be encouraged, the more you clean and survey your mind, the more it comes alive to joy and contentment.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Are You a Titus Woman?

I am blessed with many positive people in my life who encourage me, support my efforts and know just the right thing to say.  When health struggles plague me, when fear and doubt creep; I am grateful for the reminder I am blessed to be a work in progress.  I am grateful God continues to refine me to be the woman he calls me to be…

I stumbled on a blog which talked about the qualities young women should learn from older women.  I guess in years – I would be the older woman but I am still a work in progress.  Here are the qualities as they are listed in Titus 2:3-5 which says:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

1) Self-Control – definitely a work in progress here.  She is self-controlled with her spending habits, her words, her temper, her appetites, her priorities, and her use of time.   Yea, I would have to stay this is a HUGE struggle for me.  I call out for help when I am in a weak moment or in a crisis .  My prayer life is getting stronger as I some to God each morning.  As she pursues intimacy with God, her soul is satisfied and she finds contentment and strength through his Spirit. For me, contentment leads to self-control and with God’s help, I work on this daily.

2) Purity.  By God’s grace, this is something I obtained over the years.  The greek word for purity here is ‘hagnos’ and is referring to moral and sexual purity.  Unfortunately this was not the case growing up, but with a gift from God – my daughter Belinda, I was able to work towards this.

3) Working at Home.  A Godly woman is not lazy – she is to be a hard worker.  Okay, I am sure God did not mean for me to be a workaholic, unable to put down the “gadgets” and stop working.  The passage does talk about being skilled in our homemaking abilities as well.   We should shine like lights in a dark world. We should love maintaining a warm cozy home for our family and those passing through.  I have never professed to be good at the homemaking abilities – dust bunnies can count on a home for a little while BUT we are always neat.  I love to care for my family at home and am really more of an introvert.  I am a work in progress..

4) Kind.  A kind woman is a woman who is careful with her words, generous, thoughtful and compassionate. She is cheerfully helpful and gracious when wronged. Without sounding like I am bragging, I would say I am kind.  This is why my career in social work was a success.  I pray each day I am able to apply the same principles to my Thirty One business.  Yes, I can look back on the work I did and say “you did well”.

5) Submissive to their own husbands.  There’s just one specific relationship where God has called us to submit and it is to our husband.  She stands out in this modern world as a woman who allows her husband to take the lead.  This is definitely a work in progress.  On most days, I am okay with this and am willing to let hubby take the lead. Then there are those days when the independent woman kicks in – and he will let me know about it.  I am grateful he understands it is not intentional but comes from years of being an independent single mom.

I talk a lot about being a Proverbs woman as Thirty One is based on Proverbs 31 – The Virtuous Woman but the description in Titus made it a little easier to see myself as a work in progress.  I am a work in progress and JUST FOR TODAY, I will continue to work on this.  What about you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

It’s All about Perspective

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

It was just a quick check-up at the doctor’s office…or at least that’s what it was supposed to be. My “to-do-list” resembled a mile-long scroll and several deadlines loomed like thunder clouds ready to burst. But, the appointment would take just a few minutes. Just enough time to catch my breath.

“Good morning Mrs. Jaynes,” the cheery receptionist greeted. “May I see your insurance card please?”

We went through the regular check-in procedure and then I settled in a comfy chair with a magazine that I would not have normally read. I knew I wouldn’t have time to read a full-length article…since this was just a quick visit. My, oh my, the trouble those Hollywood folks get into.

Ten minutes turned into fifteen turned into twenty turned into thirty. My to-do list began growing heavier and heavier in my mind.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted the receptionist. “My appointment was thirty minutes ago. Did they forget me?”

“I’m so sorry,” she reassured me. “I’ll check on it right away.”

In just a few moments, a nurse appeared at the door. “Mrs. Jaynes, come right this way.”

My second stop was into a stark treatment room with more magazines. “Oh well, let’s see what Brittany did last year,” I mumbled to myself. At least I was in the room. That was good.

The clock continued ticking. With each passing minute my frustration grew. “I’m glad he’s not checking my blood pressure,” I grumbled to no one in particular.

Fifty minutes after I had walked into the office for my quick 5-minute check-up, the doctor walked into my room. My to-do list was magnified in my mind. My time was important too, you know. I didn’t have time to sit around and read out-dated gossip magazines!

The doctor was actually a friend of mine, but I was feeling less than friendly. Ice Queen is a description that comes to mind when I think of my probable appearance.

“Hi Sharon,” he began. “I’m sorry you have had to wait so long. I have been with a patient and had to tell her that she has terminal cancer. It took longer than I thought.”

Suddenly, my icy countenance began to melt into a puddle on the shiny tile floor and tears pooled in my eyes.I was upset about not checking insignificant frivolous errands off my to-do list, and the woman in the next room was pondering how she was going to spend her last days on earth. I envisioned her walking to her car and coming up with a brand new to-do list for her day.

  1. Live well
  2. Love well

Yes, I did have a check-up that day. God was the doctor and He looked into my heart to see that my perspective on life needed surgery. What’s really important? My silly list of errands? No. What should be at the top of my to-do list today and every day is:

  1. Live well.
  2. Love well.

Celebrate each day as an incredible gift from God. How will you do that today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!