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!

It’s All about Perspective

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

It was just a quick check-up at the doctor’s office…or at least that’s what it was supposed to be. My “to-do-list” resembled a mile-long scroll and several deadlines loomed like thunder clouds ready to burst. But, the appointment would take just a few minutes. Just enough time to catch my breath.

“Good morning Mrs. Jaynes,” the cheery receptionist greeted. “May I see your insurance card please?”

We went through the regular check-in procedure and then I settled in a comfy chair with a magazine that I would not have normally read. I knew I wouldn’t have time to read a full-length article…since this was just a quick visit. My, oh my, the trouble those Hollywood folks get into.

Ten minutes turned into fifteen turned into twenty turned into thirty. My to-do list began growing heavier and heavier in my mind.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted the receptionist. “My appointment was thirty minutes ago. Did they forget me?”

“I’m so sorry,” she reassured me. “I’ll check on it right away.”

In just a few moments, a nurse appeared at the door. “Mrs. Jaynes, come right this way.”

My second stop was into a stark treatment room with more magazines. “Oh well, let’s see what Brittany did last year,” I mumbled to myself. At least I was in the room. That was good.

The clock continued ticking. With each passing minute my frustration grew. “I’m glad he’s not checking my blood pressure,” I grumbled to no one in particular.

Fifty minutes after I had walked into the office for my quick 5-minute check-up, the doctor walked into my room. My to-do list was magnified in my mind. My time was important too, you know. I didn’t have time to sit around and read out-dated gossip magazines!

The doctor was actually a friend of mine, but I was feeling less than friendly. Ice Queen is a description that comes to mind when I think of my probable appearance.

“Hi Sharon,” he began. “I’m sorry you have had to wait so long. I have been with a patient and had to tell her that she has terminal cancer. It took longer than I thought.”

Suddenly, my icy countenance began to melt into a puddle on the shiny tile floor and tears pooled in my eyes.I was upset about not checking insignificant frivolous errands off my to-do list, and the woman in the next room was pondering how she was going to spend her last days on earth. I envisioned her walking to her car and coming up with a brand new to-do list for her day.

  1. Live well
  2. Love well

Yes, I did have a check-up that day. God was the doctor and He looked into my heart to see that my perspective on life needed surgery. What’s really important? My silly list of errands? No. What should be at the top of my to-do list today and every day is:

  1. Live well.
  2. Love well.

Celebrate each day as an incredible gift from God. How will you do that today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Saturday Spotlight: Life Expressions

WOOHOO!  It is Saturday and time to spotlight another amazing business.  I had the chance to meet Shawna through the League of Audacious Women in Direct Sales. The online group is for women in Direct Sales, Party Plan and Network Marketing who are ready to stop playing small and start building an empire.  

Shawna is a Creator with Life Expressions and here is her story:

I LOVE the opportunity to bless others with personalized and custom gifts! I LOVE the Freedom and creativity I can have at our Make and Take parties and bringing peoples ideas in Home Decor to realities! Life Expressions brings Printerest to reality with a perfect sign every time. We take a FUN and social night of painting and make it affordable and something you won’t want to stash under the bed!

I got into Life Expressions to help with the costs of my kids activities and to one day quit my “day” job! WELL, I quit my job after just 2 months and now pay for ALL of the kids activities and gifts we purchase!!

I am the mother to 5 amazing children, 4 boys and princess and Life Expressions has given me the opportunity to stay home with them and cover the costs of their many activities: bowling, baseball, soccer, basketball, and Tae Kwon Do all while having FUN and blessing others!

If you are interested in having a “no fail Pinterest” project, give her a call.  I love these signs!  Be sure to check out her Facebook Page and you can shop on line too!

Hope you have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Beat Manic Mornings

Some have already gone back to school or will be in the next week or so.  While the kids on the Jersey shore know the new school year is just around the corner.  Today’s post was inspired by thepeacefulmom.com. It has been a long time since I had anyone going back to school but I do remember some of the tricks which helped this crazy busy single mom stay sane (okay, maybe only a little).

Transitioning from summer days to the schedule of the school year can be rough.  Belinda always had a schedule even in the summer because of sports (gymnastics, field hockey and cheering) but she was definitely NOT a morning person.  So the first step was adjusting from the late nights and late mornings to early to bed, early to rise.  When she was younger, we started about 2 weeks before school started with moving bedtime up about a 1/2 hour every few days until the time school started, she was going to be at her required bedtime.  No it wasn’t easy and many days it was a fight BUT when the school year started it was a little bit easier.

Here are some tips to to help you send your kids back to school and make mornings a little less crazy at your house.  You can take a few pro-active steps to reduce the stress and chaos.

Prepare the Night Before

Generally anything you can do the night before will help to relieve stress in the morning. Kids should pack backpacks, make lunch, choose clothing and pick up after themselves. Mom can make sure all permission slips and forms are signed and all homework makes it back into the backpack, then set the table for breakfast (or at least think about what the kids will eat the next morning).  I know this sounds like a lot of work after a long day especially for the single mommas BUT it does help.  I know breakfast is the most important part of the day but it was not Belinda’s favorite meal and she hated eating in the morning.  The key was to have some grab and go things she could eat while getting ready or on the way to the bus stop.

Gather Your Gear

Having one central spot for everything is key.  It makes heading out the door a snap. Place backpacks, shoes, library books, lunch money, permission slips, etc. on and around an entry way table or in bins or baskets inside your entryway closet. No more searching for lost keys or forms you need to sign.  Ours was the counter in between the kitchen and the living room.  This way we could see everything on the way out either the front or the back door.

Create a Morning Routine for the Kids

Routines are the key to making your mornings run smoothly. It started with a routine for me.  Up early to get ready for work then get Belinda up.  Probably making a list of everything your kids need to do, creating a checklist they can mark as they accomplish each task would work for some but we weren’t list makers.  If you have kids who are too young to ready, use pictures.  If we had multiple kids, this would have been a definite to do.  A chart inside a plastic page protector so your child can use a dry erase marker then erase the marks each day. A great way to teach kids responsibility while ensuring you are not running around like a crazy women trying to get everything done in the morning.

Use Rewards

Use whatever your kid loves (watching TV, playing on the computer, playing video games) as a reward for when he gets ready ahead of schedule. In other words, no playtime until he’s done what he needs to.  

Get Ready First

This was always huge for me.  The fact I was a morning person made the difference.  It was easy for me to be up at 5AM to get what I wanted done before I woke up Belinda.  If you aren’t a morning person, you need at least a few minutes before the kids wake up to gather your thoughts and start your day well. Creating a routine for yourself is imperative for sane mornings.  Believe me the 10 minutes or so of quiet time to drink your coffee will make a big difference in the way your day goes.

What is your best tips for a sane morning when school starts?  Share your ideas with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Cauliflower Rice Recipes

Get creative with your cauliflower rice! These comfort-food-inspired recipes will earn rave reviews…  Yumminess from Hungry Girl...

First up is: Sloppy Jane Stuffed Peppers.  Sloppy joes are yummy… but why let bread have all the fun? Enter peppers! Add cauliflower rice, and prepare to be wowed.

1/4th of recipe (1 stuffed pepper half): 278 calories, 5.5g total fat (2g sat fat), 423mg sodium, 28.5g carbs, 7g fiber, 18g sugars, 28.5g protein.  SmartPoints® value 4*.

Prep: 10 minutes     Cook: 30 minutes     MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

4 large red bell peppers (look for peppers that sit flat when stem ends are up)
2 1/2 cups roughly chopped cauliflower or 1 3/4 cups cauliflower rice
1 1/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. molasses
1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper
1 lb. raw extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less)
1 cup chopped onion

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Carefully slice off and discard stem ends of bell peppers, about half an inch from the top. Remove and discard seeds. Place peppers cut-side up in a deep 8″ X 8″ baking pan. If they don’t sit flat, gently lean them against the pan sides.
  • Bake until soft, 25 – 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, if starting with roughly chopped cauliflower, pulse in a blender until reduced to rice-sized pieces, working in batches as needed.
  • In a medium bowl, combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, honey, red wine vinegar, molasses, and 1/8 tsp. each salt and black pepper. Mix until uniform.
  • Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add beef, and sprinkle with remaining 1/8 tsp. each salt and black pepper. Cook and crumble for 4 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add cauliflower rice and onion. Cook and stir until beef is fully cooked and veggies have softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add tomato mixture, and cook and stir until hot, about 3 minutes.
  • Blot away excess moisture from bell peppers. Evenly distribute filling among the peppers.

BONUS recipe: Cheesy Broccoli Cauli’ Rice.  Why do broccoli and cheese pair so well together? We can’t explain the secrets of the universe, but we can give you a great recipe featuring the combo plus cauliflower rice.

1/4th of recipe (about 1 1/4 cups): 144 calories, 6g total fat (3g sat fat), 416mg sodium, 17g carbs, 5g fiber, 6g sugars, 8g protein.  SmartPoints® value 3*

Prep: 15 minutes     Cook: 15 minutes     MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

5 cups roughly chopped cauliflower or 4 cups cauliflower rice
1 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp. chopped garlic
3 cups roughly chopped broccoli
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup light/reduced-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  • If starting with roughly chopped cauliflower, pulse in a blender until reduced to rice-sized pieces, working in batches as needed.
  • In an extra-large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir until onion has slightly softened and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Stir in cauliflower rice, broccoli, and broth. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, uncovering occasionally to stir, or until veggies have softened and broth has evaporated.
  • Reduce heat to medium low. Add all remaining ingredients, and cook and stir until cheeses have melted and mixture is uniform, about 2 minutes.

Share your favorite recipe with us….. Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!