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!

What If?

This two word question may not seem like a lot to you but the impact it could have on your life and your business is HUGE!

At the beginning of this year, I identified a one-word theme for the year: Accountable. For some being accountable is easy.  For others, it depends on the subject matter whether or not we can be accountable.  It is easy to be accountable in my Weight Watchers program but it is WAY more difficult to be accountable in my life – business and personal.  

It may not sound like an exciting word, but I sensed in my spirit it was a word which could transform my life.  Talking about stepping out of my comfort zone!!!

It is not necessarily the word “accountable” in itself as it is what each line stands for…

Some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far is “it is okay to ask for help and not assume others will know you need help”.  Miss Independent thought everyone was on my page so they knew what I needed when I needed it.  SMACK!  So not the truth.  Another big AHA was “consistency will lead to success”.  As a result, I will be cruising to the Bahamas in September courtesy of Thirty One Gifts.

So where does “what if” come in, right?  I know you all think I squirreled.  Well maybe but the truth is those two words can help you to dream what the future can hold for you.

I want you to consider a persistent challenge you face – one you’d be willing to make a major life change in order to resolve it once and for all.

Here’s the process proposed by Valerie Burton to help you reach for those dreams:

1. Identify the challenge.  What is your challenge?  Is your calendar to hectic? Are you miserable in your career or hate your job? Have you stretched yourself too thin financially as a result of too many credit cards?

2. Ask yourself a “What if?” question to force yourself to imagine a solution which will radically change your circumstance and eliminate the problem, not just pacify it? “What if you didn’t schedule anything on your weekends and gave yourself room to relax and be spontaneous?” “What if you phased out your current career and finally pursued the career you really want?” “What if you dramatically cut your expenses so you have the freedom to work less or do something different?” Write down as many “What if?” scenarios as you can. Make them bold. Make them authentic. Write scenarios which excite you.

This may be a little different for you.  We usually let fear control our “what ifs” like…”What if I fail?:,  “What if I’m not good enough?”.  It is those what if questions which leave your paralyzed in fear and keep you from  moving forward.  If they are that powerful, what if you used those same questions to see radically new positive possibilities.

3. What choices or shifts would move you in the direction of your most compelling “What if?” possibility?

Now you have a list of questions, which one is most compelling? Start there. Then begin to ponder the types of choices and decisions which would move you towards the possibility. When your dreams come from “What if?” scenarios are the real desires of your heart. Maybe they are the possibilities you simply need to give yourself permission to pursue. They may be short or long term goals but chances are they are more long-term goals. Don’t let it discourage you.  Brainstorm and get a game plan in place. Talk to others and if it feels like the right goal, set it then make a timeline to start moving towards it.

I challenge you to explore your possibilities by creating and answering at least three “What if?” questions to help you see your possibilities for resolving your most persistent problem. Scary, right?  You can do this, I believe in you!

Can’t come up with your own questions?  Try one or all of these:

  1. What if you were entirely debt free – no credit card debt, no loans, no mortgage? What choices could you put in place to lead you to this reality?
  2. What if you stopped trying to prove a point in your most difficult relationship(s)? How would things shift for you if you simply refused to spend your energy debating?
  3. What if your schedule was entirely up to you to determine? What would change for you? What opportunity could bring this reality to life? What choices would position you for such an opportunity?

Let us hear from you… what is your “what if” question or questions?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Confidence is Within Your Reach

Confident by definition is “feeling or showing self-assured; and feeling or showing certainty about something.”  Have you ever felt your confidence slipping?  Fear and doubt creeps in?  Those nasty inner gremlins play with your emotions?

I have a choice – it is time to make a decision and take action.  Time to stop wallowing in self-pity.  Time to find the independent confident woman I was.  Time to STOMP on those inner gremlins.  Yes, there may be tears.  Yes, there may be angry moments.  But in the end, all will be well.  God has a plan for me and I need to have faith.

I looked back at an article I read on the Direct Sales Education Foundation‘s website about “Finding Confidence“.  Yes, I need to hit “RESET” periodically because those nasty gremlins find their way past the closed (or what I thought was sealed) doors.

Has “self confidence” been a struggle for you?  I know I am always talking about it but I but I am often surprised by the people who share they lack confidence.  On the outside they appear strong, capable of overcoming anything while on the inside they are fighting the same inner gremlins many of us do.   Here are some of the tips which might help:

  • Practice makes perfect.   We have all heard this a million times growing up – from sports to school to musical instruments.  As I got older, practicing seemed silly.  I was a fan of winging it but have found when I do, my confidence is sometimes shaken.  “My mission is to bring a smiles and paychecks to those who are struggling and love #ThirtyOneGifts as much as I do!” Something simple but definitely worth practicing.  My party scripts are becoming a little bit more natural too since I have been practicing.  Practice may not make me perfect but it will help to build confidence.
  • Find a mentor.  I have an amazing upline, Hope Shortt has been supportive and knows just when to challenge me.  Find someone who you want to be like, ask them if you can shadow them.  Find someone who you can trust and respect and build a relationship.  I also am blessed to have Desiree Wolfe in my corner.  Her kick in the butt is what I need sometimes.
  • Find a partner.  Find a close friend, family member or even your spouse who can share in your accomplishments and help to bolster your confidence.
  • Dress for success.  This is something else I have heard since my college days.  Wear something which makes you feel good when you go to a presentation or a meeting.  It should fit well and be put together with accessories and hair style.  Someone asked me the other day if I had a makeover.  I was THRILLED.  No, not a formal one but I did in my head.  How?  Hair style instead of just hair hanging straight.  Out of my jeans for meetings and into a pair of khakis (capris right now) with a nice shirt and jewelry.  Makeup.  I never leave the house without some.  You never know who you will run into on the trip to the grocery store to grab a gallon of milk.
Simple tips but for those of us who have a small comfort zone, this is a BIG deal.  Things I have heard for years but thought I was “too old”.  You can teach an old dog new tricks – really!  Are you ready to challenge yourself?  Try one of these tips, if not all of them.  DREAM BIG!  The sky is the limit.
Time to accept your strengths and weaknesses. Challenges will come but it is how we deal with them which makes the difference in the end.  Time to be confident in myself and how I want my life to be.
How do you find your confidence?  Please share, I would love to hear and at the same time, you may help someone else.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Want to Sound More Confident?

I don’t read a lot of books, since I have a hard time remembering BUT I do love the core principles Valerie Burton outlined in her book, Successful Women Think Differently.  

Your thoughts create your actions.  I have said it a million times, think negative thoughts and more negative things happen.  Think positive thoughts and more positive things happen.  For me, sometimes I don’t realize I am thinking negative thoughts.  Crazy, right?  How many times have the words “don’t” or “need” or “won’t” been in your thoughts?  The Universe seldom hears things after these words.  I never really understood it until I started a list of positive mantras and read them every morning.  I claim the things I want and I am getting them – slowly but they are coming.

When you become aware of what you are saying to yourself about things, you can consciously decide if the thought is moving you toward your goals or farther away. Thoughts don’t just lead you to take actions,  your thoughts also shape the sound of your voice. Yes, the tone of our internal voices will reflect on the outside and others will see it.

Our voice is an expression of our internal state. If our internal state is anxious and you think danger is imminent, our voice will reflect anxiety. I have seen this play out so many times.  On the inside, I am stressing about money, relationships, business or whatever – on the outside, I am snappy and tense.  Our body responds to our thoughts.  No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to hide it.

Here is the “technical reason”: The sound of your voice is regulated by the vagus nerve, which is central to the parasympathetic nervous system. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can happen as a fight-or-flight response to anxiety-producing thoughts, the vocal cord muscle spasms. This can cause your voice to quiver or ‘sound nervous’. Additionally, when stressed or nervous, you typically don’t breathe deeply. As a result, you don’t have the air which creates the pressure needed for a strong, consistent voice quality.

How can you change things to sound more confident?

1. Become aware of your thoughts and redirect counterproductive ones. Basically, go from a negative thought to a positive one.  Instead of “No one wants to book parties” or “It is taking so long to pay off my debt”, intentionally change the thought.  If you can, change your environment – go for a walk, a ride or just sit out in the sunshine and watch the clouds.  Choose a new thought – like “I am a booking machine” or “I have enough money to pay off my debt”.  Do something (anything) to get your mind moving in a new direction.

2. Exercise. Exercise purges negative energy.  It is true.  I don’t mean you have to go to the gym to exercise, unless you want to.  For me, it means a walk around the block or some housecleaning or turn on the music and dance.

3. Practice. We have heard most of our lives “practice makes perfect”.  While we aren’t looking for perfection, we are looking to feel confident.  Need to do a presentation in from of a group and you feel uncomfortable or anxious – practice what you are going to say in advance. Some will say you should even record it and listen to find the areas where you want to improve. Take a video on your phone or have someone else film you.  Then watch it back.  Don’t be overly hard on yourself, just look for ways to improve.  You don’t need to be PERFECT but you want to get rid of the nervous energy.

4. Hydrate. Hydration alleviates dry mouth. Drink water before or during important conversations.  In the beginning of talking to a group of any size, I am nervous.  I usually ask for a glass of water or keep a bottle of water handy.  When I feel like I am talking too fast or my nervousness is showing, I stop, take a sip of water, breathe and move on.  It really does make a difference.  It is like the water washes away the nervousness.

5. Talk it out. This one is tough for me because when I have the negative thoughts and I try to share them, I get emotional.  I have been blessed with friends, old and new, who help me to put my negative thinking into perspective.  Be careful and choose wisely.  Be sure you pick someone to share with who will help put the negative thoughts into perspective restoring a sense of confidence and calm.

These are some basic steps which will help, I know because I continue to practice all of them at some point in my life.  As you become more aware of the negative thoughts, you will be able to convert them to  positive thoughts and actions to help you move forward.

What thoughts make you anxious and chip away at your confidence?

Is your Business Swim Suit Ready?

Everywhere I turn, people are on a mission to get “swimsuit ready”.  We start thinking about the warmer weather around Easter, by Memorial day the reality hits, by mid-June school is over and then July 4th – the official start of summer (at least on the East Coast) SMACKS us in the face.

I know I shutter at the thought of bringing my winter body out of hibernation and squeezing it into pieces of nylon and spandex.  Despite the weight loss there is still a lot of skin.  I actually fit in last year’s suit just not happy about the excess skin hanging around.

I know, what does tho have to do with getting your business ready for summer, right?

If I’m being completely honest, I actually love being in the water and have ever since I was little (young not size – LOL).  I just let the way I look and what people will think take over.  So I usually avoid the pool or sit on the sidelines all covered up worried about what others will think.   

Think about your business for a minute.  As a direct seller, I have always heard “the J months are the worst” and yes I have talked about it ALOT!  We send encouragement to others and share with our teams, to face their fears, put themselves out there, not worry what others think and to serve people even when it seems scary or uncomfortable.  But do we practice what we preach?

What would we be teaching them if we just hid and never put ourselves out there? Think about all the missed opportunities we would have.  Think about the other people who may see you and think, “If she can do it so can I.”

To be brutally honest – just like your body (or at least mine), your business may never be swimsuit “Ready”.  You will probably always have doubts, insecurities, or even question if people will look, stare, and point at you for thinking you can actually ROCK your business.

The bottom line is you have a passion for what you do.  You have people to serve. There are people who need you – yes, they need exactly what you have to give RIGHT NOW not when everything is 100% perfect.

Because let’s face it… nothing is ever going to be 100% perfect.  Are you waiting for perfect?

We have two choices in our business AND this summer:

1) We can sit on the sidelines watching the rest of the world having fun, making memories, launching businesses, and serving others.

OR

2) We can STOP waiting for perfect.  We can suck it up, put our businesses out there and ROCK it stretch marks and all!

Start today putting your business out there, whether it’s perfect or not.  Be a walking billboard with your products.  Start connecting with other people, growing and serving. We aren’t getting any younger and you’ve got a lot of people who need your voice and your message!

I know, I get it – you still feel like your business is not ready, right?  Share with us what’s holding you back.  Let us be your cheerleaders!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!