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!

Why His Strength is Our Victory

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message…

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. ~~ Psalm 127:1 NIV

There are two ways champion athletes act. Consider the game of football. The guy who runs the winning touchdown either kneels on the ground, pounds his fists against his chest, and yells, “I’m Da’ Man!” or he runs to the 10-yard line, points up to God, and says, “All due credit goes to You, Jesus.”

May we do all things to the glory of God.

A girl can hope, right? Sometimes I misplace due-glory. It’s not that I don’t want to thank, praise or give credit to God. I do. It is just that I get busy, distracted, and focused on all that I need to do. All the people who need me. All the happenings around me.

Are you at all like me?

Consider, when you (work, help others, do a job, want something, are after a dream), do you:

1. Work really hard, yet feel disappointed that you don’t get what you want? (Yes/No)
2. Put your best effort in, yet feel reliant on the outcome? (Yes/No)
3. Get upset when people don’t acknowledge what you’ve done? (Yes/No)
4. Become worried that other people will look better than you? (Yes/No)
5. Wonder if you’ll be put to shame if you don’t perform well? (Yes/No)
6. Hope that people see you and notice all that you are doing? (Yes/No)
7. Work yourself to the point of being extremely tired? (Yes/No)
8. Say yes to everyone even though you know you should say no? (Yes/No)
9. Expect people to give you the things “due to you”? (Yes/No)
10. Become resentful towards the “many” people who demand things of you? (Yes/No)

If you answered yes to a few of the above questions, this is a good sign you’re working by your own strength. Strength that leads to discouragement, disappointment and a depleted spirit.

Our strength = Our defeat.

His strength = Our victory.

Where do you need to move out of the way, so that you can find a new, restful and restorative way — Jesus’ way?

Relying on God’s victory doesn’t mean we do nothing. Here are some things we can do, while trusting God as we wait on Him. We can:

1. Pray
2. Lean on His promises
3. Wait to understand what He wants us to do.
4. Move out and love others
5. Rest
6. Pray and give thanks.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

4th Annual Chemo Care Tote Campaign

As part of “Giving Tuesday” I am kicking off  my “4th Annual CHEMO CARE TOTES” Campaign.

When I began my journey with Thirty One in 2011, I wanted to make a difference.  Actually, I have been making  difference all of my life – from collecting funds for MD as a child to working in soup kitchens and food pantries to bringing a smile to those who are struggling.  I want to share my spiritual gifts of “helps and encouragement” so others know someone cares when they are struggling.

Here is the message I received from past recipients:

Wanted to let you know I have handed out all of the beautiful bags you had donated for women battling breast cancer. Each person loved the bag and it put a smile on their face to know someone was kind and providing a sense of support as they started their chemotherapy treatments. Thank you again for supporting our patients.

Yes, I cried the first time!… Now, I get goosebumps every time I read it.  Cancer has touched each of us in some way – a friend, a family member, a sister, a mother, a father, a child, and the list goes on.

This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to my family who fought a good fight against this dreaded disease and lost: Edythe (kidney cancer), Elsie (breast cancer), Pop-pop (lung cancer) and my dad (prostrate cancer). I spent many hours in the Oncology Units with Elsie and Edythe as they underwent chemo treatments.  I held their hand when they struggled with the insertion of the needles.  I was there when they were sick from the chemo and sat by their bedside when they were too weak to go out.  As a friend said #cancersucks.  It takes many from us long before their time.  It ravages families.  It leaves children parentless.  It has parents burying children.

With my own health struggles, I have spent many hours in the infusion units of local hospitals.  I am blessed to only have to be there a short time – time for blood work and special testing.  The many women I have seen are not there for a one time visit, they are there for weeks of painful treatments.  They smile and carry on conversations  while encouraging each other.  My heart breaks and the tears come each time I leave the unit for I know what their struggles are like.

Your gift/ sponsorship of $25 will pay for the bag.   I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a blanket/scarf, notepad, pen, bottle of water, lotion, warm socks, chap stick and crossword puzzle book. Donations will again be delivered to the local Cancer Care Center at Southern Ocean Medical Center to bring a smile to the face of those who are fighting this dreadful disease.

chemo bagsLast year, we delivered 31 bags BUT this year, my goal is 50.  I know it is a HUGE jump but I am confident we are up for the challenge. Yes, I know it is the holiday season.  Yes, I know money is tight.  STOP for a moment and think how you would feel if someone handed you an unexpected gift – no strings attached – when you were feeling your lowest.  Let the love of this holiday season shine through with your help.

For $25 you can bring a smile to someone who is fighting the cancer battle.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check, credit card or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@comcast.net as a friend/family.   If you see me at a vendor event, I will be happy to accept your donation.

Won’t you help us to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Princess Problems


Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. ` Philippians 2:14

My friend Ellen is a preschool teacher who regularly contends with entitled toddlers and privileged preschoolers who know how to major on some minors and throw down some serious tantrums.

I want the red crayon, but Tommy has it!

I’m not eating this because it has white cheese. I only like yellow cheese.

I want to go first!

I’m allowed. You’re not my boss.
Miss Ellen calls these little escapades “princess problems,” and she does her best to lovingly redirect the heart of each young complainer toward the reality of his or her blessings and toward the virtue of patience, selflessness, kindness, sharing, etc..

Hardly a day goes by that the kingdom of her kiddie classroom isn’t inundated with princess problems. The outbursts are common. Most are simple issues to address, but occasionally they can become a minefield of messy mayhem that disrupts a special moment.

As I reflect on this, it occurs to me that even though I’m adult I’ve got my own fair share of princess problems. At times I throw myself in a tizzy and worry about things that don’t need to be given a second thought. I make a big deal out of situations that do not have eternal consequences just because I might be temporarily inconvenienced or offended.

I can’t believe I have to go to the grocery store again. This is the third time this week!

It took them over an hour to change the oil in my car today. Over an hour!

The pastor’s sermon was way too long and the music was loud.

In the Old Testament, Daniel could’ve complained about his problems. But he didn’t. Not even as he faced impending death when he was thrown in a den of lions. Instead, he remained devoted to God and honored the Lord while humbly serving the king who brutally destroyed his hometown and took he, and his friends, captive to Babylon.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul endured extreme hardships during his missionary journeys. He was attacked by murderous mobs, beaten, betrayed, flogged, arrested, starved, shipwrecked three times, and bitten by a viper… all while serving God! Nice, right? Though he had every earthly reason to whine about the stuff he went through, Paul didn’t. To the contrary, he wrote a letter about joy and perseverance to encourage the believers in the church of Philippi from prison. He encouraged others instead of griping about the mess he’d been through, and in spite of the limitations he was constrained by.

Ah! Perspective.

Yes. I am a daughter of the Most High, King of kings. A noble princess in God’s kingdom with an endless and enchanting inheritance. I am not, however, entitled to grumble and complain about pithy little annoyances. Not even about big things!

Period.

Princess problems don’t fly with God. There’s no loophole.

Paul wrote about this very thing in that letter he sent to the Philippians.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.(Philippians 2:14-16a)

Imagine what our loved ones and co-workers would think if you and I actually live these verses out. If we stop complaining. If we choose to be blameless and pure worshipers who trust God’s sovereignty in the inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even the worst of times.

What would it look like for you and I to hold firmly to the word of life … to sparkle instead of spew?

Let’s make a deal. You and me. The next time we get shipwrecked in our own imaginations and begin to drown in the petty dramas of our own making, let’s straighten our crooked tiaras and ask God to adjust our crooked attitudes. In doing so we’ll move forward in the strength, dignity, and joy of Jesus.

In His grace, Jesus quiets our princess problems and purifies us to shine like stars in the sky for the glory of God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is another Thanksgiving filled with lots of emotions…as usual, I will be spending a lot of time crying.   Tears of gratitude for the blessings of this year mixed with tears of sadness.

This is our second Thanksgiving without my dad.  Since Belinda was a baby, we locked in two holidays which were always spent with dad – Father’s Day and Thanksgiving.  We will be spending the day with my step-mom and extended family but it will be a struggle.  Belinda is in NC celebrating Thanksgiving with her in-laws.  As I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, I struggle with memories of past years filled with high school football games, homecoming floats, dinner at Grams with the entire family.

Today I am counting my blessings….  Blessed to have a supportive hubby, it has been a rough year but he has been my rock.  I am grateful I was able to fix us a mini Thanksgiving dinner on Monday since he is working today.   I am grateful my family is healthy as mom and Sal head off on a cruise..

This Laura Story song is one of my favorites…

Thirty One continues to bless my life and be the thing which keeps me going on those bad days.  Who would have thought 7 plus years ago, a $99 kit would make such a difference in someone’s live?   Over the last 6 months, my business has grown beyond my wildest dreams.  I have an amazing team of women who inspire me with their strength, courage and friendship.  I’m grateful I am still able to earn an income despite the challenges of MS.  I have a multitude of women who have gone from customers and hostesses to friends.  The greatest blessing is the ability to share with those who are struggling by giving back to our community.

Words can’t express how grateful I am today and every day. My wish is each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving – enjoy the time with your friends and family. Cherish the moments for all the years to come.

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Gwen Smith…

Dear Lord:

We come with hearts of gratitude today to bless Your name and to ask that Your hand of blessing would be upon us. THANK YOU, Father, for loving us with an eternal love that stands firm, even when we are unlovable. THANK YOU for being faithful, righteous, holy and just, yet willing to see us, Your children, through divine eyes of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace. THANK YOU for being a God of restoration and renewal in the midst of a broken, pain-filled world. THANK YOU for providing for our needs, directing our paths, and establishing our steps.

We acknowledge Your sovereignty, Lord, and freshly submit to Your will today. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our children, grandchildren, marriages, families, and loved ones. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our country, president, governors, senators, representatives, and local officials. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our communities, churches, schools, work places, decisions, and opportunities. Please FILL US with the presence of Your joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control today. HELP US to see as You see and to love as You love. HELP US to serve others humbly for the sake of Your name. HELP US to be light that shines in the darkness. HELP US to follow Your ways and continually seek Your leading.

You are our hope and our strength, Lord. We give you THANKS in all of this and ask for the fullness of Your BLESSING in all these things, according to the power of Jesus Christ who is at work within us through Your Holy Spirit.

Amen

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Thanksgiving!