A Different Kind of Gratitude


Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message…

The sky outside is a dense, soaked grey today. It reminds me of earlier this year when my husband and I watched from our living room window as menacing clouds rose up in the distance then stretched their fingers tentatively toward the ground. We live in tornado country and we don’t take such sights lightly. Flipping on the television, we heard the weatherman telling us to find a safe place as he pointed to splotches of red on the map. We went to our designated spot and took a moment to pray as the tree limbs began to sway outside.

The dark masses soon gave way to brilliant blue again. The wind quieted, and we stepped back into the rhythm of our routine. It was not until hours later as I curled up in my cozy bed under a pile of warm blankets that it occurred to me to say “thank you” to God for what didn’t happen that day.

I mentally scrolled through the list of other disasters I’d narrowly missed in life. The bad-news boy I had a huge crush on as a teenager. The suspicious test results that worried the doctor but turned out to be nothing at all. The countless times I’ve asked God to keep my husband safe as he headed out for a bike ride and then watched him walk back through the door sweaty and smiling hours later.

And, yes, I understand that even if the storm wreaks havoc, the unwelcome diagnosis comes, or the heart gets broken we are still to say thanks. I have experienced firsthand the mysterious, hard beauty that can come from tears and ashes. But the place where I seem to most often miss an opportunity to be grateful is when everything turns out fine and I just go on my merry way.

God invites us to say thanks then, too. First, simply because He is worthy of it. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good” (Psalm 106:1). What He prevents in our lives is just as full of gifts as what He allows.

Also, this kind of gratitude can cure so much of our discontent. When I think of how I could be suddenly homeless after a storm, I smile a bit more at the roof over my head and don’t notice that stain in the carpet as much. When I recognize I might be in the hospital instead of sitting in a little coffee shop with my computer, it puts that envy-provoking picture on social media into proper perspective. When I think of all the turns my story could have taken, the rocky patches in the road of my relationships don’t seem quite as much like boulders.

I want to remember to express my appreciation for all that’s right in front of me—many provisions, memories being made, dear friends and family. But I also want to thank God for all that isn’t there, for what could have been if things had gone another way or even if I had always gotten my way.

Yes, gratitude is about what we can see. But I’m learning it’s also about what, thankfully, will never be.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Will You be Happy While?

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I am sure you are wondering what this blog is all about, right?  What does the bunny bin have to do with it?  They truth is I just think he is cute!

How many times I have you said or thought “I will be happy when (fill in the blank)?  Maybe it is when you lose weight or meet the perfect guy or get the perfect job.  Doesn’t all of that worry, wear you out?  I know it does me!  Then what really happens is I miss out on the here and now.

It’s an art to stay content where you are while you’re on the way to something better.  As you race to your goal, I’m sure you have heard it a million times “It’s the journey, not the destination.”, right?

What if you were to change the mindset and the words from “I will be happy when I get the new job/my kids graduate/I retire/I win the lottery.” to “I will be happy while I wait for the new job/my kids are with me/I’m blessed to have a job.”  Just a slight change in the mindset, allows you to enjoy the moment while you are racing towards your goal.

Here are a few questions courtesy of Valerie Burton to help you appreciate the value of the here and now.

1. What are you grateful for?

Contentment and gratitude are impossible to separate.  Gratitude empowers you to notice the blessings right in front of you.  It opens your mind to the possibility of what if the little blessings disappeared, they wouldn’t seem so little anymore. Stop talking, thinking, and complaining about what you don’t have and start noticing what you do have. SMACK!  I am so guilty of this but I am a work in progress so I am learning to be grateful for the little things.

2. What’s the most important lesson being offered to you right now?

When you’re too focused on the future, you can miss the lesson being offered to you today.  More important than reaching a goal is the person you become in the process of reaching it. What character traits are being developed? What destructive habits are being eliminated? What are you learning you would not have learned otherwise? Look for the lessons. Appreciate them. Embrace them.  Lessons can sometimes be hard, brutal even BUT without the lessons we would not learn and grow

3. When you look back on this time a year from now, what will you wish you had done?

UGH!  This question is HUGE!  I sometimes fall into the “what if” trap and believe me it doesn’t get me anywhere.  The frustration effects my attitude, and we most likely will make choices we’ll later regret. But when you ask yourself this question, you suddenly recognize the magnitude of the opportunity before you. What do you want your legacy to be? Rather than complaining or murmuring about how hard things are, you have an opportunity to face the challenges before you like a champion.  You can’t change the past BUT you can live in the moment and create your own future.

4. In what ways have you already made progress?

Are you like me – beat yourself up for mistakes you have made?  Stop taking yourself for granted. Maybe you (and I) haven’t made perfect progress, but who has? It is important we acknowledge what we have done. Focus on your milestones while they are happening. Celebrate them. Treat yourself. Tell the world. Life is happening right now. Rather than waiting to reach the finish line before you mark your progress, do it with every step you take.

I challenge you to be content where you are right now!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You Content?

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It is the last day of November and the panic of the holiday season is about to start (if it hasn’t already).  My calendar is full with lots of business activity over the next 14 days which is exciting so this morning, I took just a moment to STOP!  A mixture of emotions have been flowing through me as the holiday approaches.  I am struggling with being content and not wanting more.  More money to pay bills.  More money to spend and give to others.  More time with my daughter.  More time to spend with family. More business.  More recruits.  More weight loss.  All of these things are attainable with prayer and thanksgiving.

I saw this and it made me think about my contentment…

Being content in our lives takes work. Contentment is not something which just happens. Far from it actually because we are a needy people. We always want something more. We always work harder to get the things everyone else has. We all have even been guilty of commenting on our lack of satisfaction of our life placement. It is once again one of those pesky human nature things.

We wonder why some people are successful or have what we want.  The grass is greener on the other side syndrome takes over in my case (more often than I would like to admit).  I forget to be content in God’s blessings. I forget to be content in the things God has given me. I forget to trust God is going to give me everything I need but maybe not when or how I want it. I simply forget.

Contentment is possible. It simply takes work. It takes commitment on our part to not complain about the things we do not have. Instead we need to focus on the things we do have. Focusing on the pure grace God has given each and every one of us. This contentment is important so that we can in fact continue to praise God the way that He deserves……

Today, as I reflect, I am content.  Content in my business.  Content in my marriage.  Content in my life.  I know God will continue to bless me if I remember everything I have is a gift from him.

Are you content in your life?  Are you struggling to find the positive when there only seems to be negative?  PAUSE and give thanks for everything – no matter how small.  You will be amazed at how this “gratitude walk” will change your outlook.  If we practice this each day, Negative Nellie will find a new home.   We will be content and happy in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Success Your Way

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth” – Henry David Thoreau

There are four definitions for success in the Oxford Dictionary:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose:
  2. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status
  3. A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth, etc
  4. The good or bad outcome of an undertaking

What is your definition of success?  Is it a cookie cutter picture like others in your life or is it uniquely you?

My picture used to be cookie cutter.  In a nutshell, it was be the top in my field, make “big bucks”, make a difference in the lives of others and live happily ever after. When I became successful and a Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit, I didn’t feel like a success.  I couldn’t or didn’t want to see myself as others saw me.  I was content to be in the corner letting others receive the accolades.

When I entered the world of direct sales, my picture of success was a cookie cutter.  Yup, I am a people pleaser and didn’t really think about what I wanted.  I had forgotten how to dream and define success for me.  Over the last six months, things have changed.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t know if it is a result of the health issues or creeping up on 60 years old or whether I am just seeing myself as others see me.

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I have done a lot of digging, and I want my success to be defined as what feels fulfilling and meaningful to me.  Ultimately, the traditional definition of success just does not feed my soul or offer any long term fulfilment and joy – for me.  Traditional markers of success are about how the world perceives us and seldom takes into consideration how we feel about ourselves, our life or our work.

I have played the comparison game and so have you, where we have compromised our health, our relationships, and our wellbeing to reach someone else’s definition of success. We have ignored our own values so we could be accepted by others instead of building our own success dream. As a result, we find ourselves with a life which is exhausting and unfulfilling.

Building your own approach to success isn’t easy.  I regularly battle with Negative Nellie and Perfect Polly.  They are the inner gremlins who want me to continue to be a cookie cutter model of success.  How have I began building my own approach to success? I want to share with you some things which have helped me to find some peace in my world:

Contentment: Do I feel satisfied in my day-to-day life? Even when the stressors and challenges can’t be avoided, am I content with how I am spending my days?

Purpose:  Is my life all about me or is it bigger than just myself and my own needs? Am I am contributing to the world in a way which fulfills my purpose in life?

Passion: Am I excited about my work and my life? Am I eager to get up and start the day?

Joy: Am I happy with my life?  Maybe not every single second of every single day, but do I find joy and pleasure in my life on a regular basis?

Stability: Am I financially stable? Am I making smart decisions with my finances?

Personal growth: Am I open to changing, and growing in my life? Am I becoming the best version of me?

Devotion: Am I committed to what matters most in my life?  Am I giving 100% to the  priorities in my life?

Peace: Am I at peace in my day-to-day life, even when things may not be going as planned? Am I staying connected to my core values, to live an intentional life?

Authenticity: Am I showing up, in both my work and life, fully and 100% myself? Am I owning my story and living in my truth?

Remember these are my markers for how I am redefining success in my life.  Truth be told, I don’t live up to these every single day, BUT I am a work in progress not looking for perfection.  I’m learning to shift the focus from worrying about how others perceive my life to focusing more on how I feel about my life.

Tell us what success looks like to you…. no cookie cutter answers.  What questions would you yourself when fears of “am I successful?” and “am I good enough?” creep in?

Have a ThirtyOne-derufl day!

 

 

 

When Discontentment Comes Knocking at Your Door

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

The movers were arriving in less than 10 days, and I still had so much to pack.

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Shipping boxes, wrapping paper and rolls of tape were everywhere. Every room in our house begged for attention, and I didn’t know which direction to go first.

Downsizing wasn’t fun, but it was necessary. With a squeezing economy and company cutbacks, our family made the difficult decision to sell our home and minimize our debt.

Deep inside I knew it was the right choice, but the process was hard. And although I tried to put on a happy face, my heart was aching.

I dragged myself from room to room, pouting every step of the way. I stared at the massive amount of accumulated stuff, and it totally overwhelmed me. Clothes, furniture, linens, accessories … and enough kitchen appliances to open a community diner.

Bulging closets and overflowing dresser drawers reminded me of past shopping sprees where I’d picked up many of the items. And now I was blaming the early-bird door busters and all those neon clearance stickers that lured me in the first place.

I had prided myself on all the money I saved buying everything on sale. Who was I kidding?

The truth was our checking account balance was shrinking, yet I wanted to buy new things. All the while, insisting these were purchases we needed.

But now, all those bargains had to be boxed up, moved and put into storage. My “treasures” had become burdens. As I looked around at all the clutter, I wondered if it was really my heart, not my home, that needed to be de‑cluttered.

It was time to make some major adjustments in my thought life and begin living out today’s verse in Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.”

God spoke to me that day with gentle conviction. It was time to stop making excuses for buying so much and be content with less. A lot less. Kneeling in my storage room, I prayed and asked God to forgive me and help me change. Not just for a season, but as a new way of living.

When the movers arrived, everything was boxed and ready to go. Instead of heading to a storage facility, we delivered most of those boxes to a local children’s home in desperate need of household items and clothing.

It felt freeing to give away more and keep less. To experience the Giver instead of holding on to the material gifts. To trust God’s provision and stop worrying about having enough. To simply be content.

Maybe sometimes you struggle with contentment, too. Do you ever find yourself buying something you really don’t need? I know … it was probably on sale, right?

The cure to discontentment is not found in acquiring more things. It’s found in experiencing more of God’s presence. Remember what He promises in today’s key verse, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Perhaps God is asking you to keep less and give away more. To be content with what you already have and not feel the urge to buy more.

Friend, don’t fall for the lies I did. Trust God will provide what you need when you need it. If you have extra items, consider giving them away to someone else and experience the weightless freedom of being content with less.

Thank you LEAH DIPASCAL for today’s message.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!