Unlocking the Power of Praise

Thank you Rachel Wojo for today’s message….

My 21-year-old daughter, Taylor, stares at me as she sits propped up in her hospital bed. Not many young adults would ask for a hospital bed in their room, but she hasn’t been able to ask me for anything in 15 years. I attempt to read the communication in her eyes and will her body language to reveal her needs and desires. She’s been a frontline disease fighter since birth and since age 4, we’ve faced the eventual outcome of no cure and no treatment. My thoughts turn to prayer, an instinctive reflex I’ve cultivated for all these years, but somehow, I can only be silent.

Though I can find no words in the moment, I long for God’s presence. Just as my girl will move her leg over to touch mine so she can simply know that I am here, so I find myself seeking moments to be still and know that He is God and yes, He is here. I remind myself that prayer begins with praise. Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name.

How do I find words to praise God when my child, my heart existing outside my body, is suffering? Limbs that once ran everywhere have withered down to skin and bone. Hands that once grabbed with lightning speed can barely hold a sippy cup to her mouth. Voice box that once chimed “Mom-my” is lost, never to be returned on this earth. Though together we’ve practiced gratitude day after day, frankly, we are running out of things to be thankful for.

But Jesus didn’t begin His prayer with thanksgiving. And the praise didn’t begin with things God has given. Nor did it begin with God’s work. Jesus first reminded God of Who He is. With this epiphany, the prayer that I couldn’t begin starts to form as I grip my girl’s hand. Just as Jesus began his prayer with words of adoration, so my prayer reflex is stimulated to follow his model.

Praise is the most powerful tool in our prayer arsenal. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15, NIV) As today’s truth explains, the blood of Jesus sacrificed on the cross provides our direct access to God. As a result, we are privileged to enter the presence of our Father and whisper praises directly to Him! When we stand before the Almighty God, we come as we are. It doesn’t mean we have a complete understanding of His work in our lives. It simply means our hearts are trusting and believing Him to be the ever-present, never-changing God who loves us beyond our comprehension.

When we can’t find praise in our hearts because we don’t understand what God is doing, we can always praise God for Who He is. He is the God Who never changes and has loved us since the beginning of time. Praise Him!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When You Feel You’re Not Good Enough

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

“I’m not ___________ enough.” You can fill in that blank with smart, talented, gifted, spiritual, outgoing, attractive, or any number of positive attributes. But the root source of each one of those blanks is rooted in “I’m not good enough.” Period. It’s one of the Enemy’s favorite deceptions to hold God’s children hostage to a life that is “less than.

“I’m not good enough” is an insidious lie that keeps God’s best at bay for many of His children.

The Enemy tries to get us to focus on our flaws rather than on our faith. When we focus on our faults, we take our focus off God, who equips us; the Holy Spirit, who empowers us; and Jesus, who envelops us.

The Bible does say no one is good enough to earn his or her way into heaven (Romans 3:23). Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). However, many have taken the truth that they are not good enough to earn their way to heaven and transferred it to “I’m not good enough—period.” But through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and His power working in you and through you, you are good enough to do everything God has called you to do and be.

Giving in to the lie of “I’m not good enough” will paralyze you. It’s the coward’s way out. I might have just hurt your feelings, but listen, I’m talking to myself, too.

I was asked to speak to a group of teenage girls not too long ago. I thought, I don’t do teenage girls. They scare me. I’m not cool enough. They won’t listen to me. I’m going to sound stupid!

Yes, after all these years of writing and speaking, I still struggle with feeling not good enough. I haven’t conquered it yet. God still stretches me and challenges me to see if I truly believe He is enough to work through me.

By the way, I did put on my cool jeans and my gladiator sandals and spoke to the girls. How did it go? I’m not sure. But here’s what I do know. I am not responsible for the outcome of my obedience. God is.

Stepping out when “not good enough” is heckling at you to step aside is scary. Shrinking back and not moving forward is safer. But it is also boring—not the life-to-the-full Jesus came to give.

Henry Blackaby challenges us, “When God invites you to join Him in His work, He has assigned a God-sized assignment for you. You will realize that you cannot do it on your own. If God doesn’t help you, you will fail. This is the crisis point where many decide not to follow what they sense God is leading them to do. Then they wonder why they do not experience God’s presence and activity the way other Christians do.”

I don’t want to be that person. I don’t think you do either.

Courage and confidence follow obedience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood backstage at a conference with the words “I’m not good enough” screaming in my head. But when I step out in obedience, and do what God has called me to do, the power of the Holy Spirit overpowers the lies of the Enemy who told me to just go home. And God does amazing things.

God has given you everything you need in order to do what He has called you to do. You are enough.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Make a Difference For Mother’s Day

As you know if you follow my blog, a HUGE part of my journey with Thirty One is to help others.  Sometimes it is a fundraising project, or a donation to an event or giving to someone who was just in need of some loving.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small goal or a HUGE goal, I want to help.  As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes throughout the years.

This is not to toot my own horn. None of these projects would be possible if it were not for the support of my friends, family and customers.  Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

For Easter, we donated 25 Easter Baskets to Dottie’s House.  Dottie’s House is a transitional housing facility designed to aid women and children who have survived domestic violence. They proactively help these families develop the life skills needed to become self-sufficient for their future financial and emotional independence.

While delivering them, I was sharing stories of my days as a Social Worker with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance when SMACK!  Mother’s Day was quickly approaching and I wanted these moms to feel some love.

If you have children, think about how your hubby or your family make sure you have a special Mother’s Day.  For many of the women at Dottie’s House, they do not have the same support system so Mother’s Day could be just another day.  I want them to know they are special too.

So, again with the help of my family, friends and customers, we are putting together “pampering bags” as Mother’s Day Gifts for these ladies.  The goal is 18 since there are 18 units at Dottie’s House.  So far we are halfway there.

The $20 sponsorship will pay for the actual bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a fuzzy socks, notepad, pen, lotion, and chap stick.  My friends in direct sales will also be adding pampering products to make these hardworking mommas feel special.   

In addition, I am selling Domestic Violence Angel Awareness magnets for $5 with the proceeds being donated to Dottie’s House.

Since I began my “give back program”, almost $10,000 in products and cash donations have been made to various causes.  It fills my cup to know we have made the difference in the lives of so many people.

So, who is with me? For $20 you can bring a smile to a mom who is a survivor of domestic violence.   The cut-off is April 20th so the bags will arrive in time to be stuffed and delivered on May 9th.  This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to the women I know who have escaped and survived domestic violence.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@@comcast.net as a friend/family.  I can also accept credit card payments directly.  Please complete the form for more details:

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Happy Easter 2018

EASTER cross

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”  

On this day, let’s remember the true meaning of Easter as we visit with family and friends.  Treasure the moments for the days go by quickly, loved ones are gone and kids grow up.  This day holds so many mixed feelings for me…..

Growing up going to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach.  Then home to get ready for church.  Totally new outfits to wear to church.  Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park.  Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family.  Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth”.  Happy memories of my childhood.

Fast forward (many years) to having my own home with my daughter, Belinda.  Easter took on a different meaning.  As an infant, I had lost touch with God, feeling like I didn’t deserve his unconditional love.  Easter was still about dinner with family but gone were the traditions of church and the Easter parade.  When I entered recovery, things changed ever so slightly – now I was entering into a relationship with God but still did not have a church.  As Belinda got a little older, we did Easter baskets but they were filled with toys and games because she didn’t like chocolate.  I know can you believe it!  She did like white chocolate but only in small amounts.  And of course “stale” marshmallow peeps.  It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house.  I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket.  I even remember making her Easter outfits and heading to Atlantic City for the traditional Easter parade.  Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy.  Gone is the traditional family Easter dinner.  There will be loved ones in heaven celebrating together while those of us left behind still struggle with making new traditions.  The true meaning of Easter begins to shine through…

My relationship with God has grown and I am grateful he loved me enough to sacrifice his son for my sins.  Today, I will head to church then hubby and I will head to Atlantic City to have brunch with mom and my step dad.  I miss those traditional family holidays (those I remember) but am learning to create new memories with each passing day.

Share your Easter memories with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

I Don’t Remember

As I sat at the computer thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I had a brain fog moment.  A moment when I couldn’t remember what I had been writing about the past few days let alone the past few weeks or months.  As I scrolled through the published posts and the scheduled ones, I couldn’t remember writing some of them.
So, why am I telling you all of this?  It has been awhile since I shared about my MS journey.  For some, you may tune out.  For others, they are curious.  While still others have been on this journey with me so they totally get it.
How often have you said “I don’t remember”?  Maybe you walk into another room and forget what you went in the room for?  Go to the store and forget to get things unless they are on a list.  Imagine if every day was like that – every hour even.  Welcome to my life with MS.  I don’t say it for sympathy, it is more about me starting to accept the impact it has on my life and others.
Most days, I just let things slide.  Family and close friends try to adjust to the fact I don’t remember things or even times spent together.  The hardest are the missing memories of childhood – mine, my daughter growing up, my wedding, high school and so much more.  Not to mention the frustration as I try to work my business remembering customers and hostesses or even the names of products or prints.
Those who meet me just think it is a “senior moment” when the reality is I honestly don’t remember.  I remember faces (most of the time) but names I’m not very good at.  I may know I “should know you” but don’t know how or why.
Today is Thursday and I can barely remember what I did on Saturday or Sunday even though I lived through them.  I think hard about the weekend but the only thing I remember is I can’t remember.  Thankful for my planner where I write down scheduled plans and even note things I have done in case I forget and try to do them again – like pay bills, make calls to customers, etc.
There are so many things which could have filled my time. It’s possible I might have buried a dead body in the back yard (nope, hubby is still here with me – LOL), I could have won a years supply of chocolate (now I’m stalking the UPS driver), or I maybe I robbed a bank and am now a multi-millionaire so I should have moved to a tropical island escaping the cold weather.  Who knows? I sure don’t.
The one thing I am blessed with I’m still breathing, I’m alive alive, and ready for a new day, It’s weird how my brain works. You have heard about selective hearing where people can tune out things which annoy them? Well I think I have selective thinking.  No, really at a talk last week, the doctor said “the most common symptom of MS is cognitive issues and memory loss”.  HELLOOOO!!! I have been saying it for years.  It honestly was nice to hear a medical doctor confirm it and say it out loud – or did I dream it?
What truly amazes me (and everyone around me) is I have no problem remembering the words to songs but easily forget Sunday is trash day or Wednesday is recycling.  If I didn’t have reminders on my phone or it written in my planner I’d probably not get anything done.
I forget to call people back, answer text messages and respond to emails. It’s not intentional. It just is what it is. If I haven’t responded to you…I’m sorry. If I forgot your birthday or anniversary…again, sorry.  If I can’t remember your favorite color, miss an appointment because I didn’t have it written down or forgot your name, trust me, it’s not on purpose.
Multiple sclerosis just has this way of scrambling my thoughts and at times turning them into mush. Sometimes I wonder how I get anything done at all.
Time to get some things done – now where did I put the list?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!