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!

Throwback: An Act of Kindness

No-Act-of-Kindness-Is-Wasted  This post first appeared in 2015..

Today’s blog was inspired by Lori Deschene….

As we approach the last few shopping days till Christmas, I have noticed a few things: tempers are shorter, people are in a hurry, while store employees are tired and feeling unappreciated.  The happiest time of the year has become the “let’s just get through this season”.  No, I am not being Negative Nelly just stating some observations while I was out shopping the other night.

The holiday season has taken on a new meaning for me.  I can’t explain it – hubby would say it is old age.  LOL.  I have found myself NOT just getting a gift because I need to get something.  I am NOT spending tons of money to show how I feel about someone.  I have found myself showing compassion and understanding more than ever before. I am surprised at their response.

Over the years, I have been shown kindness in many ways from friends and family but the kindness of strangers has taught me lasting lessons.  Think about it as you check out at the register.  Smile and greet the cashier.  Ask them how they are doing.  Maybe give someone a tip that they weren’t expecting.

They all have struggles, and dreams, and goals, and responsibilities, and they too could benefit from someone showing them patience, kindness, and understanding if they’re a little slow or less than friendly.

The other day I was with hubby as he stopped for gas.  He ALWAYS pays cash.  The total was $16 and he told the attendant to keep the change.  Okay, so $4 isn’t a big deal but the smile that spread across the attendant’s face was priceless.  He couldn’t thank us enough.  A random act of kindness made a difference in someone’s day.

The world is a better place when we see people beyond their nametags, and visualize everyone as someone who truly is doing their best.

We’re all a little scared and a little rough around the edges.

We’re all looking for love, support, acceptance, and appreciation.

And we can all get and give these things every day, one tiny act at a time.

Has the power of tiny acts of kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance made a difference in your own life?  Here are some suggestions from Tiny Buddha’s 365 Love Challenges of small acts that we can all do:

Be patient and understanding with people who serve you, especially if they have a lot of customers to tend to.

Compliment someone who serves you in some way (for example, a waiter, barista, or bus driver) on how well they do their job.

Empathizing instead of criticizing is a big thing. Getting up to help instead of sitting back and judging is a big thing.

Keep an eye out for someone who looks sad—a friend, coworker, or even stranger—and say something that might make them laugh or smile.

It may seem like a tiny thing, but sometimes the tiny things are the big things.  And it’s big things like these that help us all feel seen, appreciated, and loved—and far happier for it.

What Random Act of Kindness will you do today?  Share it with us and let us all celebrate the spirit of Christmas this holiday season.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Throwback: Loving Yourself When Your Too….

This post first appeared on June 30th, 2016…Woman-at-beach

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Last week, I had an AHA moment.  A moment when the brain fog lifted and I realized I had to stop making excuses for why a few (okay, 20) pounds were back.  Yes, I could blame health issues.  The truth was I was slowly slipping back into old habits I had BEFORE I lost 100 pounds.

B4 picture with Belinda

Yup, me and my cutie of a daughter (she hates this picture). It is REALLY old but the truth is there aren’t many pictures of me when I was heavy.

Back to the AHA moment….I needed to take control of what I could control – my eating. I was repeatedly complaining about “gaining” or not losing weight as hubby’s weight kept going down.  The truth was, he was eating healthier and I was secretly eating junk! Okay, so the truth is out, now I have to be accountable.

I wanted the capris which fit so good over the last 2 summers to again fit.  I wanted the jiggle in my thighs to be gone.  I wanted the puffiness in my face to be gone.  There was no magic wand but there was the proverbial SMACK on the head which made me realize what I needed to do.  It was at the moment I opened my email to find an online special from Weight Watchers.  I didn’t delete it, I just let it sit in my inbox.  After a lot of prayer and thought, I did it!  I signed up again.

It was time for me to stop beating myself up and take some of my own advice…

1. Stop comparing.

Hubby loves me not matter what – I mean when we got together, I was on the weightless journey.  Over the last two years as I struggled with health issues, I was constantly comparing myself to others. I felt inferior because I hadn’t stuck to the program.

Once you stop comparing, you realize you will always be too fat, too skinny, too tall, too this when you compare yourself to others.  The comparison game will kill your dreams before you even start. Know you are exactly what you’re supposed to be—one of a kind and beautiful.

2. Change the way you see.

Have you had experiences where people you told you how pretty (or nice you look) BUT you thought you were unattractive? I have.  Where you say “thank you” and add “but I have….” negating their compliment.

Dr. Wayne Dyer often said, “When you change the way you look at things, things you look at change.” I know this is true because I often experience it in my life.

Focus on what is wonderful about you, whether it’s your kindness, generosity, or thoughtfulness.  When you focus on the internal features, the external features seem to start to sparkle with radiance.  It’s not that you changed—your perception did.

3. Change your thoughts.

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How many times have you looked at a picture or a video of yourself and a barrage of negative self-talk dominated your thoughts? Those inner gremlins start to take over and before long they are in control.

How sad it would be if we allowed those negative voices to stop us from offering what we have to give: our knowledge, ideas, voice, gifts, our love, and more? We would be withholding these things from people who might need and benefit from them.

My Fierce Cheerleader and Abundance Coach, Eryka Peskin, has taught me how to celebrate those negative things so they no longer have control over my life.  Try it.  Step back and reframe those negatives into a positive.

You have so much to give (even if you feel like you don’t): your unique gifts, your experience, courage, ingenuity, creativity, and so much more. Don’t let the negative voices stop you from sharing what you have. The world (your neighbors, your friends, your grandma, or whatever your world may be) needs it.

The truth is, there will always be someone or some people who will find you undesirable or unlovable, but the world is also full of people who will feel the opposite.

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Ultimately, the deeper truth you have to find within yourself is this: If no one loves me, will I love myself?  YES, I will love myself.

In the moments when I don’t like what I see in the mirror, I make a choice. I make a choice to give myself total acceptance and love for all that I am: the good, the ugly, and the bad.

Will you make the choice to love yourself when you’re too short, too tall, too fat, and too skinny?

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!

 

Things People On Weight Watchers Understand

Thursday morning weigh in with my extended family.  I have been on Weight Watchers for years.  I have lost more than 120 pounds and believe it is the best way to lose weight (for me).  Is it an easy road? NO!  Do I get frustrated? YES!  Do I keep going? YES!

If you are on Weight Watchers, can you pick out those who are also adopting this way of life.  No, it is not a diet but a change in the food we eat and the way we look at eating every day.  Those of you on WW will understand today’s blog – see how many you can identify with…

1. Your friends know you always have snacks stashed in your purse (or in the car) just in case.  Anyone need a carrot or a granola bar or maybe even a jerky stick?

2. You’re have a deeply committed relationship with your pedometer or your fit bit.  Have you been known to do the happy dance when you hit your steps goal before sundown?  Or maybe you have walked circles around your living room just to hit your goal before the clock strikes midnight?

3. You know exactly how many ounces of chicken fit in the palm of your hand.  Or maybe you measure tablespoons by the tips of your thumb?

4. And you’ve figured out how to include exercise into every space you spend time in.  Even at the doctor’s office — why not? Parking in the farthest spot away from the store or carrying one thing at a time up the stairs?

5. You’ve considered walking a few extra miles for wine…Yup, that’s me!

6. …or for a little reward when you deserve it the most.  Keep the dessert and give me wine!

7. You have a special lightweight outfit set aside for your weigh-in day each week. Yup, been wearing the same type of outfit every week for weigh in FOREVER and never denim!  Or maybe you have been known to change clothes once you weigh in?

8. You know the feeling of pure bliss after having all your work lunches figured out ahead of time.

9. You’ve grown accustomed to people asking “can you really eat that?”  Yes, that’s chocolate chip cheesecake. And yes, you can have the recipe.

10. You find yourself doing things you thought were impossible effortlessly.  Well, almost.  Maybe the stairs are a little easier.  Maybe you jog more instead of walk.

11. You find yourself talking to strangers about how amazing spaghetti squash really is.  “It’s just like spaghetti. But it’s squash! No, really!”  So guilty of this one and cauliflower rice!

12. Light whipped topping is basically your boyfriend at this point.  You’ve found a million and one ways to use it, and you’re never gonna let it go.

13. More than anything, people can’t put their finger on what’s different about you… …but you look and feel great — of course they noticed!

Whether you are on Weight Watcher‘s or not, I’m sure you can identify at least a friend or two who fit one of these things.

How can you spot a fellow Weight Watcher?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!