How Bright is Your Light?

Have you ever noticed, you are happiest when you are helping others, or making a difference in your own unique way?

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

The last month, I have been struggling.  Struggling with changes in my MS.  Struggling in my business.  Struggling with life.  I have been pondering why this month, what makes this one different.  I feel like my light has been dimming.  Sounds weird, right? I don’t mean it is a morbid way, just not feeling like I am making a difference anymore in the lives of others. No, I’m not on a pity pot.  I’m simply trying to adjust to the changes MS is making in my life.  A reality which is sometimes tough to grasp.  Talking with my sponsor the other day, she said “your brain my think things are jumbled but the words actually come out clearly and concisely.”  Yup, I needed to hear those words because it is the exact reason I have been taking a backseat in things.  Ok, I squirreled so, let’s get back to how you can let your light shit….

No matter what your purpose in life is, there is an underlying mission.  It is all about living your life in a way people say to themselves, “There’s something different about her and I want to know how to have some of the peace, joy, and love in my own life.”

Here are five ways you can let your light shine:

1. Look for ways to be a blessing.

Letting your light shine means letting everything good within you come forth. There is so much negativity around us on a daily basis when good enters our environment, it brings light into the darkness. It is a refreshing burst of clean air. Be sensitive to the needs of others. Find ways to be a blessing—even simple ways such as being a courteous driver, thoughtful friend, and kind coworker.  Small random acts of kindness do make a difference.

2. Refuse to be judgmental.

One of the fastest ways to turn people off – in business or in your life is to judge them. A person can done wrong without condemning them for it.  Honestly, I have made mistakes during my addiction BUT I was glad people did not judge me.  They gave me chance.  Honestly, we have all done things we need to be forgiven for, so be merciful to others. Embrace and support those you want to judge when they are trying to do better.

3. Speak up for what is just.

Speak up for what is just—not right. Do you confuse the two of these?  I know I do!  Focus more on being just so those who cross your path are better off for having done so. At work, in your business or in a personal situation, when others are being cheated, disrespected, or done a disservice, let your light shine and speak up. You can do it in a direct, calm, straightforward, and nonjudgmental way.  Of course, the “old social worker/advocate” in me is sometimes far from calm.  LOL!

4. Let go of the desire to fit in.

Maybe this is part of why my light has dimmed this month….. I’m a proverbial people-pleaser.  As the MS effects more of my life, I struggle to find a place to fit in.  I never thought about how difficult it is for my light to shine when I feel like I need to fit in everywhere I go. Sometimes, people think I am odd just because I  am smiling and talking to everyone.  I need to focus more on being a symbol of truth and love on a daily basis instead of trying to fit in.  What about you?

5. Don’t hide your spiritual life.

This may be a hard one for some.  For me, I have learned my Higher Power is central to everything in my life.  When I pretend that is not the case, my light dims.  It is by his grace, I have survived the craziness of my life.  I am not saying you need a Bible on your desk or a preacher’s robe to share your faith with others. When the chance comes to tell people where your strength comes from in difficult times, or to acknowledge how your Higher Power has protected or blessed you, be honest. Your faith is a part of who you are. When you free yourself to be who you are, you also free others to be who they truly are.

My Challenge to you is to identify one way you will share your light this week. Then set out to be a symbol of love and light in the world…  Share with us…..

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

You’re Truly Loved


Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message:

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God ~ Ephesians 3:17-19, CSB

I’m a girl who’s serious about coffee. One morning I poured water into my machine, pressed the “on” button and waited for the magic to happen. But my much-desired beverage failed to appear. I began investigating and discovered somehow the grounds had overflowed the filter and clogged the whole process. I cleared the way and soon I had a hot mug of something wonderful in my hands again.

The lies we believe are a lot like those grounds in my coffee maker. They may seem small and harmless but they can end up totally blocking the love God wants to pour into our lives. So let’s get rid of the lies and get back to the goodness that’s rightfully ours.

As I’ve connected with thousands of women as an author, life coach and speaker, I’ve found the following three lies about love can cause us the most trouble.

1) I’m only loveable if I’m perfect. We often wear ourselves out trying to have hair, hearts and homes that are just right. When that doesn’t work, our solution is usually to try harder. Unfortunately, that’s like pouring more water into the clogged coffee maker. It only leads to a bigger mess. Instead we need to take hold of this heart-freeing truth: “I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved by God”

2) The amount of love I receive is based on what I achieve. Even if we become convinced that we don’t have to be perfect we can still believe love has limits. We then end up living like we’re on a reward system. For every good thing we do, we get a little more of God’s love. When we fail, He takes the love He’s given us away. But God’s love for us is infinite. We can’t do anything to gain more of it, and we can’t lose what’s already ours

3) If God loves me, nothing bad will ever happen in my life. The reality is that we live in a fallen, broken world where hard things happen. I went through a difficult season and kept thinking of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse in which God promises He has a hope and future for us. I asked Him, “If that’s true, why is this going on in my life?” And I sensed this in my heart, “I had good plans for my Son and they still included a cross.” Jesus was perfect and He still suffered. When we face challenges it doesn’t mean we are being punished by God or He is withdrawing His love from us. It simply means we are not in heaven yet.

This month as we celebrate love, “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). Unlike my little coffee pot, God’s love never runs out. He has more than enough to share with us. And He’s always willing to give us a refill whenever we need it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Valentine’s Day

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Flowers? Chocolate? A special dinner out?

This year it takes on a whole new meaning.  Why? As a result of my relapse and changing healthy issues, I am learning to love again.  So it is a day to celebrate the gift of love in my life which I sometimes take for granted

Parents – I know you are thinking of course, they love us they are our parents, right?  I have learned over the years many do not have this gift.  Missing my dad BUT I am blessed to be able to spend time with my momma.  Through good times and bad, she loved me even when I didn’t love myself.  I’m grateful for her love and support.

My Daughter – Belinda.  The day she was born, I finally GOT it!  The 6 months on bed rest, the struggles with her biological dad, the days of being a struggling single mom – I got it!  I understood about the sacrifices a parent makes for their child no matter how it hurts.  I LOVE she has grown up to be an independent, strong married woman.  I admire her strength.

My hubby, Rob – a love story for the ages.  When we met back in high school, he was a blond haired, guitar playing guy whose smile gave me chills. He was from Neptune and I was Ocean Township. Our schools were rivals and it didn’t take long for me to succumb to peer pressure. I was and still am a people pleaser ( a HUGE character defect)! We went our separate ways.

The summer of 2002, he reentered my life. I long for the memories which flashed before me back then. Belinda was (and still is) a little protective of her mom. A roadside memorial with the name “HOPE” on it sent him on a hunt to be sure it wasn’t me. We emailed for months and then one Saturday, he showed up at a craft show to see me. To say the least, the rest is history.

We have had our ups and downs over the years. There are some days, I think he got the raw end of the deal. An overly independent woman, with a ton of baggage. Through it all, he has stuck around.  There are days he is my caregiver when the MS flares.  There are days when my lack of memories have him sharing tales of things he have done since 2002.

My recovery has taught me so much in just a few short months.  I am no longer the self-centered woman who doesn’t need anyone.  I have learned to trust again.  I am enjoying him being my best friend. He is my Ying to my Yang. He keeps me grounded when I am ready to fly in the wind.

Today is the day I honor LOVE. Remember LOVE is an intense feeling with deep affection and we are meant to share it with others – family, friends and random acts of kindness to a stranger.  I challenge you to put a smile on someone’s face to day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Don’t Stop Too Soon


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message….

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised”  ~ Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV.

Can I make a confession? Sometimes I quit too soon. I’ve quit when what I really needed to do was to press on and press through. Sometimes I’ve gotten tired of trying. Sometimes I’ve gotten tired of the struggle. And you know what? I’ve missed many blessings because I got tired of the battle. I don’t want to do that any longer. I’m taking my cues from Joshua.

The battle plan to take the Promised Land was as simple as it was strange. March around the city of Jericho with all the armed men. Do this in silence, once a day for six days. Then on the seventh day, walk around seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets. Have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go straight in.

Now, that was a strange plan. God’s infinite ways often don’t make sense in our finite minds. Sometimes you have to be willing to look ridiculous and be radical to live a remarkable life. The choices you make when you feel God’s nudge will become the hinges on which your destiny swings. Each individual decision you make, to obey or ignore God’s promptings and directives, is a thread that weaves the tapestry of your life.

Jericho was tightly shut up. Sometimes it can feel that our promises are tightly shut up. That doesn’t mean that we give up. That means that we suit up, step up, and keep moving forward.

God said, “See, I have delivered them into your hands.” Notice that verb tense. God did not say, “I will deliver them into your hands.” He said, “I have delivered them into your hands.” He had already done it, but they had to obey and put their foot down to receive it. I love how God speaks in past tense to our present problems.

But here’s the conundrum: What do you do when what God says doesn’t match up with what you see? When all you see is a big wall standing between your promise and your present situation?
There will be times when you are doing everything you know to do, and you still don’t see any movement. The Israelites walked around Jericho for six days, and as far as they could tell, nothing happened. I’m sure it unnerved the people behind the wall, but as far as the walkers could tell, not one brick fell.

This is where many give up—when they don’t see any progress. The son is still taking drugs. The daughter is still living with her boyfriend. The husband is still cold and aloof. The bank account is still hovering on in double digits.

“God, throw me a bone,” I cry. “Show me a little something! Let me see just a hint of progress! Can I see one brick fall?” And God says, “Keep walking … by faith.”

Just because you don’t see God working does not mean that He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always at work” (John 5:17). The writer of Hebrews notes: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35).

Today, you might be on lap number seven and not even know it. Joshua told them to march around Jericho, but he didn’t tell them how many times they were going to have to do it. He just said to “march forward” and “remain silent.”

Supposed they had stopped on day six saying, “This is ridiculous. I’m not feelin’ it. Not one stone has fallen to the ground. I don’t see any progress. Those folks are probably in there laughing their heads off. I’m going home.”

They would have missed the blessing.

I wonder how many times I have missed the blessing because I stopped too soon. Perhaps you’ve wondered:

  • How much longer will I have to wait until God brings my prodigal home?
  • How much longer will I have to struggle with this unbelieving husband?
  • How much longer will I have to endure this dead-end job?
  • How much longer will I have to go without a job?
  • How many more laps will I have to walk around Jericho before the walls come tumbling down and I can take hold of my Promised Land?

I don’t know the answer to the question of how much longer, but I do know this, tomorrow could be the final lap. Don’t give up too soon.

Can I tell you something? Sometimes I get tired of writing books, posting devotions, and crafting blogs. But as I sit down to the keyboard, I realize that something I say might be just what someone needs to take that last lap around her walled up promise. So I write. And then someone has the courage and sustenance to take one more lap.

Keep going, my friend!  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Art of Confrontation

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend ~ Proverbs 27:6

Dan and I just celebrated 42 years of marriage. And every single day has been filled with peace, marital bliss, more peace … and I need to stop right there before a bolt of lightning strikes me dead!

Dan and I have a great marriage – most of the time. Honestly, there have been days when I have thought about getting in the car and driving away. I am sure there have been more days when Dan has had the same thought. We have weathered some severe storms in our marriage, and it is only by the grace of God that we still love and respect each other after all these years. We are best friends – flawed and frail humans who say and do stupid, hurtful things. But we work hard at our marriage and let me tell you one thing – a good marriage requires hard work. We are committed to each other and to making the rest of our marriage the best part of our marriage. It didn’t start off that way.

Before Dan and I were married, I noticed several rough edges that needed to be sanded away and felt like I was just the one who could do it. After all, that’s what wives are for, right?

I decided to lay low for a few months, lulling Dan into a false sense of security and giving him a chance to make the changes on his own before I stepped in with my well-thought-out plan for his life. The only problem was that my plan did not line up with his plan. Furthermore, he seemed oblivious to the character flaws that were blatantly obvious to me.

After a few months of marital bliss during which I was fine-tuning my “Fix Dan Plan,” a seed of discontent took root and began to grow in my heart and in our marriage.

The strength I had once so admired in Dan now looked a whole lot like stubbornness.
Dan’s ability to take a complicated issue, dissect it, and boil it down to a three-step-plan now seemed patronizing.

What I had once embraced as his devotion to me now seemed like his need to be in control of me.

I could go on – but you get the picture.

It was obviously time for the execution of my sure-to-succeed plan of transforming my husband into the man that God and I thought he should be. Looking back, my arrogance and ignorance are laughable, but at the time, they were just plain wrong and yielded painful and disastrous results.

I will never forget the afternoon Dan gently confronted me in love and with amazing patience. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I do remember the words that broke my heart and saved our marriage, “Honey, I’m not sure what is going on between us. But I do know that I want to love you like you need to be loved.”

Boom!

And there you have the recipe for a successful marriage – confrontation wrapped in love for the purpose of restoration. It is also the formula for cultivating peace and unity in every relationship.

Healthy confrontation is especially important when dealing with those difficult people who rub you the wrong way – the Sandpaper People in in your life.

Sandpaper people love a good fight and often mistake combat for confrontation. The two are not the same thing. Combat slowly corrodes and splinters while confrontation is an art that, when done correctly, improves and strengthens relationships.

To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Our heart motive must be love and restoration – not getting even or winning. Confrontation is an emotional tackle for the purpose of resolving conflict while promoting peace.

Most people I know hate confrontation and will do anything to avoid it. That is not all bad. In fact, if you love confrontation and drama, you are probably confronting for the wrong reason. On the other hand, if you refuse to confront, you are giving the impression that you are content with the status quo.

Silence is agreement.

Confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain unfettered, free to grow and spread its deadly relationship poison. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship as well as the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle.

As fully devoted followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to bring confrontation into the picture when dealing with sandpaper people. There is a right way and a wrong way to confront. Confrontation is not combat. The success of any confrontation depends upon understanding the difference between the two.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!