How to Be Enough, When It Feels Like All Eyes are On You

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

One evening, while on a getaway with my husband, Steve and I splurged at a fancy restaurant, complete with a four-man band playing music from the ’40s and ’50s. We had taken a few ballroom dance lessons, and Steve was itching to see if we could remember the foxtrot.

“Come on, Sharon,” he urged. “Let’s take a spin on the dance floor.”

“No way,” I said. “Nobody else is dancing.

I’m not going to be the only one out there with everyone staring at me. And suppose we mess up? I’d be embarrassed. It’s been a long time since we’ve practiced, and I don’t remember all the steps. Let’s wait until some other people are out there so we won’t be so conspicuous.”

After a few moments, the first couple took their place on the parquet. They squared their shoulders, pointed their toes, and framed their arms. In one fluid motion they graced the dance floor with perfect dips, sways, turns, and twirls. They looked good, and they knew it.

Nope. I was not going to embarrass myself. I hunkered down in my seat with renewed resolve. I was stuck there. I refused to budge. Then couple number two joined couple number one. Their steps weren’t quite so perfect, but they looked pretty good too.

“Okay, I’ll go,” I said. “But let’s get in the back corner behind that big ficus tree so nobody can see us.”

Off we went to try to remember the slow-slow-quick-quick of the foxtrot. The whole time I was hoping all eyes were still mesmerized on the polished artistry of couple number one.

As I dared look at the crowd, I noticed they weren’t looking at couple number one, number two, or even wobbly kneed number three. All eyes were fixed on a fourth couple approaching the dance floor. The husband was in a wheelchair. He was a middle-aged, slightly balding, large-framed man with a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard.

His dapper attire included a crisp white shirt, a snappy bow tie, and a stylish tuxedo. On his left hand he wore a white glove—I guessed to cover a skin disease. With a smiling wife by his side, the couple approached the dance floor with a graceful confidence and fashionable flair.

Suddenly everyone else faded away, and they seemed to be the only two people in the room.

As the band churned out a peppy tune, the blithesome wife held her love’s healthy right hand and danced. He never rose from the wheelchair that had become his legs, but they didn’t seem to care. They came together and separated like expert dancers. He spun her around as she stooped low to conform to her husband’s seated position.

Lovingly, like a little fairy child, she danced around his chair while her laughter became the fifth instrument in the musical ensemble. Even though his feet never left their metal resting place, his shoulders swayed in perfect time and his eyes danced with hers.

My heart was so moved by this love story unfolding before my eyes that I had to turn my head and bury my face on Steve’s chest so no one would see the tears streaming down my cheeks. As I did, I saw person after person dabbing linen napkins to dewy eyes.

This portrait of love and devotion transfixed even the band members, now misty-eyed as well. Finally, the music slowed to a romantic melody. The wife pulled up a chair beside her husband’s wheelchair, but facing in the opposite direction. They held each other in a dancer’s embrace, closed their eyes, and swayed back and forth, cheek to cheek.

Surprisingly, I no longer worried about whether anyone was watching me.

I didn’t care if my steps weren’t perfect. I wasn’t even concerned about being compared to and falling short of perfect couple number one.

The Lord spoke to my heart in a powerful way. Sharon, I want you to notice who moved this crowd to tears, He seemed to say. Was it couple number one, with their perfect steps? Or was it the last couple that had no steps at all? No, My child, it was the display of love, not perfection, that moved the crowd. If you obey Me, if you do what I have called you to do, then I will do for you what that man’s wife did for him.

As Paul said, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God isn’t looking for perfect people with perfect children, perfect marriages, and perfect lives. He is not searching for men and women with perfect steps to do great things for Him.

He is looking for courageous believers who will rely on His power to work in and through them to accomplish all He has planned for them to do.He is scouting for followers who will obey Him regardless of their present fears or past failures.

He is looking for men and women who know they are good enough because of His power working in them and through them.

Simply put, God had sent a lame man to teach me how to dance.

God chooses to do extraordinary work through ordinary people who will bring glory to His name.

Men and women who know they are not good enough in their own strength but are incredibly powerful in God’s strength slay the giants of this world.

Today, I’m thinking that’s you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Sometimes I Struggle with Anger

Thank you Wendy Speake for today’s message.

There are plenty of things, little things and big things, everyday ordinary things, that can set me off and cause me to lose my temper. I know it’s not Godly. And I’d like to keep quiet rather than blab about it publically here on the internet, but then who’s going to start this conversation? Perhaps you’ve been waiting for an invitation to talk it through, one weary heart to another.

I’ll go first: I wasn’t raised in an angry home, maybe you were. I’d never even been yelled at once. But then I gave birth to my third child, and it was as though every calm, kind place deep within me suddenly broke. Snap. The baby didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t deserve my frustrated tears. And his two big brothers were just busy being toddlers. It wasn’t their fault that I lost my footing each time they lost their shoes. I was simply overwhelmed and exhausted, with a messy house and a husband who traveled for work.

My anger surprised me.

Thankfully, almost immediately, from the pit of my postpartum haze, Bible verses that I never needed before, but were hidden in my heart just the same, came to mind and challenged my emotional behavior. Proverbs 29:11, likely memorized in Sunday School when I was just a child, reminded me that “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.”I realized that God didn’t tell me I wasn’t allowed to feel all my emotions, as my hormones shifted, and my husband traveled for work. But He did tell me what to do with my exasperated feelings — I was to quietly hold them back.

Shoving them down to fester into bitterness, or simmer like lava just beneath the surface, didn’t help me either. I had to learn to process my feelings prayerfully, as I held them back wisely. Psalm 4:4 in the English Standard Version of the Bible instructed me, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.” Pondering, meditating, and pausing to consider my feelings, became a Spiritual discipline for me. Crying and confessing each time the Lord convicted me, wasn’t enough. Change wasn’t happening just because I felt bad about my anger. I had to actually sit myself down (in a mommy time-out) and get silent. I had to listen. I had to “Selah.”

Selah is the poetic Greek word used in the Psalms to denote a holy pause. Selah instructs the reader to “stop and consider.” God was telling me to stop, in the quiet of my private bedroom, there upon my bed, and consider wise and calm, loving and gentle ways that I wanted to talk to my children, my neighbors, my husband, and my Mother-in-law… even when I was tired and spread too thin. And the more I considered my feelings and my life, the wiser I got. I learned to say no to volunteering in the nursery at church on Sunday mornings, for this busy season. I learned to take my social media apps off of my phone, because they distracted me and didn’t help my emotional stability. I also learned, again, how desperately I needed to abide in God’s Word, so that His Word would continue to abide in me.

All this, and so much more, I learned when I held back my anger and got real quiet upon my bed. God didn’t tell me that I couldn’t feel angry, but He did say I wasn’t to vent my anger. Slowly, gently, He’s transforming my heart and home.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What was I trying to say?

Have you ever been in the middle of a sentence and forgot what you were going to say?  Or maybe you want to use a word in a conversation but can’t think of it? Or maybe even use the wrong word the wrong way?  Or better yet, have someone say something and you are clueless on what the meaning is of a word so you don’t understand what they said.  I know everyone has it happen on occasion, right?
This past month has been a struggle to find the right words from writing my blog to talking to people to even working with customers in my business.  I usually can play off not remembering the names of products or prints when talking to customers – I mean I know what the best product is to solve their particular need, I just can’t remember the name of the product.  I may remember customer’s faces but 99% of the time, I can’t remember their name.  Then there are those moments when hubby tells a joke and then has to explain it because I didn’t process any of the words.
Why am I tell you all of this? It has been awhile since I shared about my struggle with MS.  On the outside everything seems to be great while on the inside there is a never ending struggle to keep my life the same as it always has been.
Okay, back to words…..
We all use words ALL the time.  From speaking to thinking them in our head or writing them down on scraps of paper. Not a day goes by without the use of words. My words seem to come out all mixed up.  It is like someone poured all the words in my head into a blender and then dumped the chopped up words on a table. Some where along the lines, the words get lost. 

Thankfully when I write, I can proofread and wait before I hit send on an email or post on social media..  Otherwise, my sentences would have words which don’t belong or the sentence would ramble on forever.  The scary part for me is when I talk. I will say something and then pause for a moment wondering “What did I just say?”.  Most people are polite and just smile if what I said makes no sense.  While others will question what I said or meant which causes more frustration for me.  Then there are those times when I “thought” I said something or asked for help with something only to find out the words never actually came out of my mouth.  UGH!!!

I hear everything correctly in my head but the words coming out of my mouth…well, they aren’t the ones I was thinking.  It’s crazy how the filter between my brain and fingers, or my brain and mouth, seems to get things all mixed up.  Even when I am trying to read aloud from a piece of paper – my tongue seems to have a mind of its own.   I wonder if there’s a replacement filter I can install? They make filters for the car which is replaced after so many miles of use. My air filter in my office gets replaced after some many months.  Our water filter gets replaced every 6 months.  Maybe I can get a filter replacement for my brain?

I thought auto correct was the solution.  WRONG!  Auto correct messes me up even more. It rewrites my words into different words and inserts random words into sentences which has nothing to do with what I’m trying to say. The end result – I get more confused then I already was.  Is that possible?

Life with Multiple Sclerosis. I’m learning to laugh about situations or at least be honest and tell people what is happening.  No, I don’t look like I have MS.  This crazy disease is playing havoc on the inside of my body – messing with my words, making my arms and legs constantly tingle and robbing me of my memories.

There are many auto-immune diseases out there which play havoc with people on the inside while their outside appears to be “normal”.  Maybe not to them because they are living with the craziness of their disease.  So the next time someone stumbles on their words, says something totally out of wack in a conversation or seems clueless in a conversation – have some patience for you never know what may be happening on the inside.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

You Are Worth More

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…..

As a little girl, I never felt I was worth very much. I always felt that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, or good enough. I sensed my parents tolerated me, but certainly didn’t delight in me. And if your own parents couldn’t love you, then who could?

Then there was the definitive day in the eleventh grade that took my self-worth to an all-time low. I can still remember what I was wearing: lavender bell bottom low rise jeans, a bubble knit short-sleeve top, Dr. Scholl’s wooden sandals, and a blue bandanna tied around my head of long oily hair I hadn’t had time to wash that morning. This was acceptable attire for teens when I was in high school, except for the days when a special awards or recognition assembly was held.

In homeroom that morning, the principal announced over the intercom that an unscheduled assembly would take place at eleven o’clock to recognize students being inducted into the National Honor Society. That’s when I understood why so many of my friends were dressed a notch above the norm. Their parents had received the secretive congratulatory call the night before and made sure their kids had washed their hair and left the frayed jeans in the drawer.

Four hundred teens found seats in the darkened auditorium. The principal made a speech of commendation from the podium and then said, “Will the following students come forward when your name is called to receive a certificate and a candle to be lit by last year’s inductees?”

The principal called each name, and I watched several of my friends walk across the immense stage. Then, to my horror and surprise, my name was called. Why didn’t my parents warn me, I thought. I look horrible—and I did.

When the houselights went up, I panned the back of the room where proud parents snapped pictures and pointed out their progeny to others standing on tiptoe to catch a glimpse. My parents were not among them—they never were.

I later discovered that my dad had received the call from the school the night before, but forgot to tell my mom. Even though they both worked across the street from the school, they didn’t come to the ceremony. In my mind, their absence confirmed what I’d suspected for the past 17 years. I’m just not worth the trouble.

I didn’t care about the certificate or the principal’s accolades. What I really wanted was to know I had value to the two people who mattered most.

Perhaps you had painful experiences in your past that left you feeling worthless, but Jesus wants you to know you have great value. He gave His life so that you would!

Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he asked His disciples. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, emphasis added).

You are worth more than the money in your bank account.

You are worth more than the number of friends you have on Facebook.

You are worth more than the number of followers for your Twitter account.

You are worth more than the number of meetings and appointments on your calendar.

You are worth more than your successes or failures.

You are worth more than your level of education.

You are worth more than the price tags in your closet.

You are worth more than your accomplishments or lack of them.

You are worth more than many sparrows.

It took many years, but finally I took hold of Jesus’s words: You are worth more. That’s what he wants you to know today.

If you believe it, leave a comment and say, “I am worth more.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

I am Offended and Hurt

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message…..

She put me down, right there in front of “all them.” Sure, it was subtle, but it was real and … worst of all, it wasn’t the first time. In fact, every time I encourage others around that one particular subject, she circles right back and shoots it down. You can’t get one thing past her.

Hmph! Well, if she’s going to put me down like that? Well…I’ll show her. I don’t have to put up with this.

I thought about leaving the gathering. But I didn’t. I just sat there, internally fuming, while externally smiling.

Later, when I got home, I wondered why I even bother speaking up, encouraging others or taking the risk to be open and honest. Women always hurt me. Like that one time I shared the vulnerable details of my heart, only to get word it was being passed through the meat grinder of women’s chattering mouths. Or the other time when I shared my hurt and it was misinterpreted and stomped upon by those around me. Or worst yet, when I shared about God and felt all the crawling judgement of others walking up and down my body.

The more I think about all this, the more the problem bothers me. And worst yet, I fear: what if the real problem is – me? Perhaps it’s not their issue, but my fatal-flaw issue. One I was born with. What then?

I must not be good. I must be unlikable. I’ll always have this problem.

When I look deep within myself, I see faults:

I sometimes seek to impress others.
I hate feeling like people aren’t approving of me.
I never want to be seen as one doing wrong.
I have a hard time when people disagree.
I feel like less of a person when I’m not adding value.
I feel worthier when God is using me for important things.

Yet, when I look a level deeper I see something else. Yes, I am flawed, but not fatally – thanks to Jesus. I say things wrong, but I am always wanted. I make mistakes, but I am always loved. I do need to say, “I’m sorry,” but I am always forgiven.

I am not the sum of what I do, but the product of how I’m loved by Jesus.

The same goes for you. Love pours out of you, because Love came for you and conquered all. He taught. He led. He bled. He died. He was buried. He rose to heaven. For you.

With this, we no longer have to create perfect love that demands perfect responses from others. Instead, we can rest in Him who is perfect love. We can trust His love to compel us. We can breathe deep and gain perseverance and endurance from the endlessly beautiful gift he extends to us. The gift called, “sweet relief.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!