Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!

If You Feel Like a Hot Mess, You’re Not Alone!


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus  ~ Romans 3:22-24 NIV

Sometimes I feel like such a mess, I wonder what God even wants with me. And then He reminds me that ALL His children are a mess in one way or another.

A common theme throughout Scripture is overcoming failure. Abraham passed his wife, Sarah, off as his sister because of fear (Genesis 12 and 20). Lot failed to stand up for what was right and offered his daughters to immoral men (Genesis 18-19). Jacob betrayed his father and stole his brother’s blessing (Genesis 27). Moses struck the rock twice in anger when God commanded him to strike it once (Numbers 20:11). Aaron gave into peer pressure and made a golden calf (Exodus 32).

Miriam had a bout of jealousy and tried to usurp her brother’s God-appointed position (Numbers 12). Jonah hopped on a boat and headed in the opposite direction when God called him to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-3). Samson fell for the whims of a Philistine woman and gave away the secret to his strength (Judges 16). David committed adultery and murder and then tried to cover it up (2 Samuel 11).

You know what’s amazing? Most of these men and women are listed as people of great faith who “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:33-34, emphasis added).

We have a great cloud of witnesses who can identify with failure. We are never alone in that regard.

Oh, friend, failure doesn’t have to be fatal or final. During a time of failure, the Enemy will tell you to quit trying, that you’re hopeless, worthless, and powerless to succeed.

Don’t believe him. Reject the lie and replace it with truth. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 nlt). God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Learn from your failure under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, and then move on. Nothing makes the devil madder than a child of God who fails, gets back up, and tries again with the power of God moving him or her forward.The next time you feel like you’re a hot mess, try the following.

Recognize the lie: I’m such a failure.

Reject the lie: That is not true.

Replace the lie with truth: I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 nlt).

Have a blessed day!

Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

 

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Christ followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God.Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ.

The past has no hold on you.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a blessed day!

Want to Reach Your Goal?

I know you are wondering WHY are we talking about reaching our goals when the year is almost over, right?  We set our New Year’s Resolutions and are closing in on the end of the year……….have you reached any of your goals or did you ditch them about three months into the year?  I actually do two sets of goals – yes, I am a glutton for punishment.  LOL.  The first ones are on New Years and they are usually more about me personally.  Then in June, I set my business goals because this is when the fiscal year for Thirty One starts.  It actually is a good time for me to reflect on my personal goals too and jumpstart them if it is needed – which it usually is.
Sometimes, reaching our goals isn’t just about knowing what steps to take. It is more about how we handle the discouragement, the fear and the stumbles on the way to our goal. I don’t know about you but when those bumps in the road come, I am usually ready to call it quits but there are times when I persevere.  What’s the difference in those times?  It is mostly about my willingness to face the obstacles and overcome them.  There must be something to it because research shows most successful people actually think differently on the path to success – and their mental toughness helps them to be resilient in the face of frustrations and obstacles.
Here are some ways to boost your chances of reaching your goals…

 

1. Know your “why” and be specific.

We talk about this ALL of the time.  The truth is purpose will fuel perseverance. When you have a strong “why” behind your goal;  you are more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.  The more specific you are, the more obvious your action steps become. Vague goals will produce vague results.

2. Plan it on your calendar.

Have a realistic plan to achieve your goals.  Pull out your calendar.   Block time (whether 15 minutes for a small goal or a whole day for a big goal) to brainstorm how you will achieve the goal and plan your timeline.  You schedule medical appointments, maybe even gym time and other activities – why not schedule time to plan and implement the steps to reach your goal.  Identify potential obstacles and figure out a plan to help you avoid them.  Identify and put in place the things you will need to reach your goal.  Is it a healthier grocery shopping list? An automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you can boost your savings by 25%? No matter what it is, plan for it so it will happen.

3. Clarify what needs to change AND be honest with yourself.

Do you know why most people fail to reach a goal?  They underestimate what it takes to reach it.  The bigger the goal, the bigger the commitment. “I want to work out three time a week” is a good start, but when? What will need to change to make time for this goal?  Most of all be honest with what has held you back from reaching this goal in the past.  Fill in the blank of this statement, “I hate to admit it, but ….”  Now, make a goal to address the BUT!   For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” the goal becomes, “I’m going to find healthy ways to cope with my stress/insecurity/anxiety other than eating.”

4. Make it fun.

Have you ever noticed when you have positive emotions, you feel better?  Research shows positive emotions have lots of health benefits. Positive emotion can help you set better goals, see more options to get to the goal and persevere in the face of adversity.  Why not ask a friend to join you, take a class or join a group focused on the goal, and brainstorm ideas for making it fun or creating a game out of it.  When you work together, you can encourage each other on those tough days.

5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is probably the hardest thing for me to do!  What about you?  Perfectionism is actually rooted in fear – fear we’re not good enough,  fear mistakes are the end of the world, and falling down means never getting back up.  Does this sound like you?  Buying into fear means you are less likely to ever get started.  Give yourself a break!  It is okay to make mistakes and stumble on the way to your goal.  Then when it happens, simply ask:  What is the lesson for me to learn? What will I do differently next time? Use your failures and mistakes as learning tools.

6. Pinpoint the milestones and how you’ll celebrate.

Anticipation is a happiness trigger. It produces positive emotion which keeps you moving forward. Rather than having just one big milestone – the finish line – create multiple milestones along your journey to the goal. Plan for them along the way.  Treat yourself when you hit one.  Most of all, be sure to share the milestones with people who will celebrate along with you.

7. Fear is inevitable, but it’s not a stop sign.

The biggest obstacle to creating meaningful goals and taking consistent steps forward is fear. Refuse to stop just because fear rears its ugly head. Instead, question your fear. Ask, “Well, what if that happens? What will I do then?” Push through your fear by being brave enough to face it, imagine it and make a plan to handle it.

Whether you are trying to finish off the year by reaching one of your New Year’s Resolutions or are already planning for the New Year, these steps will help you to reach your goal.  Share you goal with us, let us celebrate your milestones and encourage you when you hit the bump in the road.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Holy Hustle: Embrace A Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life

 

Best wishes for a blessed day!

Adopting a new attitude and outlook about hustle takes time. But when it comes to change and the new things God wants to do in our lives, we have two choices: retreat or pursue growth. I’m the first to admit that sometimes retreat sounds better until God shows me my motivation. When change feels scary, it’s because I’m relying on my strength to make it through. I assume it’s all up to me to make it work, to make sure it succeeds, to make sure I don’t look like a failure—again. When I choose to retreat it’s because I’m being reminded that on my own, in my striving, I won’t be able to make it all work out the way I want it to.

But then I stop striving and start pursuing, trusting that God is bringing a new thing because He has plans for me that are good, plans that will bring Him glory and expand His kingdom.

Will you lean into the new path He’s leading you on, one where holy hustle replaces striving? Or will you retreat, preferring the comfort of what is known to an uncomfortable season full of unknowns?

Here are three assurances we can take confidently into the future: God is not done with us yet, He’s ready to do a new thing, and He is there with us every step of the way.

Holy hustle gives us the freedom to work hard with all our might on the tasks God assigns to our soul. This is the heart work, the work that makes a difference in God’s kingdom. It gives us the freedom to recognize that the work others do is right for them, but not for us, not in this season. Holy hustle helps us to hear God over the roar of the bossy world, so we can say yes to the work God has prepared our hearts for and no to the work that will drain our souls.

The line between hustle and striving, rest and laziness, is a delicate place to live. When we lean too far one way, we find ourselves relying on our strength instead of abiding in God’s reminders that He is our strength. This version of hustle is not about finding more time in our day to do more, but discovering what God is calling us to do so we can serve more, give more, encourage more—in the right places and right ways.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!