Happy Valentine’s Day

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Flowers? Chocolate? A special dinner out?

This year it takes on a whole new meaning.  Why? As a result of my relapse and changing healthy issues, I am learning to love again.  So it is a day to celebrate the gift of love in my life which I sometimes take for granted

Parents – I know you are thinking of course, they love us they are our parents, right?  I have learned over the years many do not have this gift.  Missing my dad BUT I am blessed to be able to spend time with my momma.  Through good times and bad, she loved me even when I didn’t love myself.  I’m grateful for her love and support.

My Daughter – Belinda.  The day she was born, I finally GOT it!  The 6 months on bed rest, the struggles with her biological dad, the days of being a struggling single mom – I got it!  I understood about the sacrifices a parent makes for their child no matter how it hurts.  I LOVE she has grown up to be an independent, strong married woman.  I admire her strength.

My hubby, Rob – a love story for the ages.  When we met back in high school, he was a blond haired, guitar playing guy whose smile gave me chills. He was from Neptune and I was Ocean Township. Our schools were rivals and it didn’t take long for me to succumb to peer pressure. I was and still am a people pleaser ( a HUGE character defect)! We went our separate ways.

The summer of 2002, he reentered my life. I long for the memories which flashed before me back then. Belinda was (and still is) a little protective of her mom. A roadside memorial with the name “HOPE” on it sent him on a hunt to be sure it wasn’t me. We emailed for months and then one Saturday, he showed up at a craft show to see me. To say the least, the rest is history.

We have had our ups and downs over the years. There are some days, I think he got the raw end of the deal. An overly independent woman, with a ton of baggage. Through it all, he has stuck around.  There are days he is my caregiver when the MS flares.  There are days when my lack of memories have him sharing tales of things he have done since 2002.

My recovery has taught me so much in just a few short months.  I am no longer the self-centered woman who doesn’t need anyone.  I have learned to trust again.  I am enjoying him being my best friend. He is my Ying to my Yang. He keeps me grounded when I am ready to fly in the wind.

Today is the day I honor LOVE. Remember LOVE is an intense feeling with deep affection and we are meant to share it with others – family, friends and random acts of kindness to a stranger.  I challenge you to put a smile on someone’s face to day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You Demolition Debbie?

 

Thank you Lisa Morrone for today’s message…

A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. ~ Proverbs 14:1

In the past, whenever I’ve read the above verse, I’ve always thought of it in the context of the maternal head of a family, or of a wife. But truly, this “Demolition Debbie” role could belong to a big-mouthed teenaged girl, a disagreeable girlfriend, a disrespectful coworker, or even a dismissive adult sister. Scripture takes care not to label this woman beyond “wise” or “foolish,” giving each of us the opportunity to slip ourselves into this descriptive warning.

How, exactly, does this foolish woman tear her house down? Well, knowing (and being) a woman, I have a strong hunch: Her tongue, Ladies. Most of us have been said to possess the ‘gift of gab.’ And a few of us, myself included, have even been accused at one time or another of having “verbal diarrhea!”

All that tongue wagging can get us in deep trouble. Especially when our speech is sarcastic, full of condescending tone, or littered with insults or complaints. Growing up in a home where sharp tongues reigned and verbal arguments filled the air, I was well-trained to use my tongue as weapon.

Whenever I was frustrated, my tongue would come out in full force. This was an area where the Lord had to deal most pointedly with me, as I was accustomed to tearing down the people in the home of my upbringing. My husband—then fiancé—helped me to see how insulting my words could be one day after receiving a verbal outburst from me. He calmly interrupted me and said, “Hey, I don’t deserve to be spoken to that way.” And he was right, he didn’t.

Over the past three decades, I have made great strides in this area, although I do still, from time to time “have a tone” as my husband would say. The way Jesus began to work on this for me was to show me that out of my heart, my mouth speaks. My heart needed to get right for my speech to reflect the Lord’s grace. Second, I had to realize I was not the Holy Spirit to others, meaning, it wasn’t the job of my comments to reform the behavior of those in my life—it was the job of my prayers and of my God.

Once I filed down my sharp tongue I was able to speak to my children, not scream at them, overlook the insult of a friend, and rather than sharply rebut something my mother, husband, or brother said to me, I could simply chose be quiet. I’ve come to adopt this new slogan: A wise woman once said – nothing!

Friends, I have watched more than a few of my friends and acquaintances tear up their marriages, their relationships with their children, their parents, their siblings, all because of the wild fire that burned within their mouths—their tongue.

A thought occurred to me as I was reading the Book of Job this past summer and thinking about this truth: Maybe the reason Satan didn’t wipe out Job’s wife along with his children was that keeping her and her biting tongue alive was another facet of his torture.

Girl, let’s NEVER allow ourselves to be used by Satan as his weapon in another’s life!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Will God Really Help Me?

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message….

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30, NIV

I want to rescue him.

That’s what I thought on school field day, as I stood on that white painted gym-floor line getting ready to race.

I want to save him from all the bullying, taunting, and discouragement that destroyed him at his last school. Because, I know his pain. If we win, my little guy will finally see He’s worthy of love.

At the sound of “Go!” I exploded off the line with all the weight of a six-year-old boy loaded up on my back. It was amazing. With everything in me, my body seemed to run faster than itself. So much so, that I’m sure I was close to twisting my ankle. In fact, we nearly toppled over two times, but I didn’t care. No sooner had I crossed the line to win, a mom turned to me to say, “I didn’t know if you two were going to make it…and then, you did.”

“And then, we did…”

We made it. And I felt happy. On my back, I carried my son’s pain because I believed in his redemption.
Likewise, on Jesus’ back, He carried our pain because He believed in our redemption.

Jesus ran His race fully invested in our victory, and He won. He carried our pains, faults, and tears-to-come. Taking all the guilt, shame, and self-reproach we are prone to heap on our back.

“Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30, NIV)

Jesus gave up His life, so we could find ours. Jesus gave up His life, so we could find true hope. Jesus gave up His life, so we could be set free. This is redemption-life.

Oxford dictionary defines redemption as, “the action of gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.”

New friend in Christ, your debt has been cleared. Every old mistakes, trauma, humiliation, and embarrassment has been carried and covered by the love of Jesus. Redemption ran the race and paid the price – for you. You have “new life,” Choose today to believe in it.

“New life” believes the following:

– I have been forgiven, and I am free indeed.
– Jesus loves me, and I am entirely loved.
– Jesus saved m, and I cannot be un-saved.
– God wants me and will not reject me.
– God’s gift and call on my life are irrevocable (see: Romans 11:29)
– I am no longer enslaved to my flesh, but alive to the Holy Spirit.

By Jesus’ stripes we are healed. Praise be to God! It is done.

No longer dwell on days of old, for today is a new day. It is full of “new life.” Go forth and live in the joy of your Savior. He has given much to love you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Notice Others in a Selfie World


Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4, NIV.

My daughter Noelle and I were sightseeing in New York City. One highlight was rocketing up 102 stories in a mere 47 seconds inside the elevator of the Freedom Tower. Once at the top, we looked for a good spot to take in the glorious view. I couldn’t help but notice two teenage girls taking up a large space in the very front.

The problem was they were not even looking at the city below. They were posing for selfies – lots of them! They laid on the floor and posed. They struck different standing poses and snapped. I walked around and returned to that same spot about ten minutes later. They were still there! Posing in pursuit of the perfect selfie with New York City in the background.

I doubt they noticed the other people who would have liked to snap a picture where they had set up camp. I wondered why they didn’t turn around and enjoy the panoramic view with their God given eyes instead of the phone screen. With screens taking center stage, women can be obsessed with capturing the perfect photo to show the world.

Yet Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Selfish ambition is a work of the flesh, not of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:26 (NIV) instructs, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each another.”

Does that mean it’s wrong to pose for a selfie? No – it can be a perfectly appropriate way to capture a moment. But there is cause for concern if you find that…

-You are overly concerned with portraying yourself a certain way to impress others

-You take numerous photos of the same pose to get it just right

-You compare your selfie to others and take mental notes on how you can improve yours

-You feel conceited when you see how favorable you look compared to others

-You are more interested in taking a selfie than meeting someone new or talking with an acquaintance

The Bible tells us to value others above ourselves. When we place the lens of our focus on the needs of others (instead of our own interests), we are having the same mindset as Jesus Christ. Popular culture fights against this notion. “Selfie” wasn’t even a word in the dictionary until 2013 but it’s commonplace today. The constant tracking of self can lead to a growing indifference towards others. The bigger we become inside the frame, the smaller everyone else becomes.

When you walk into a room, do you take the attitude of “Here I am!” or do you step in the doorway and think, “Ah, there you are!” Turning our “selfie” focus into an “others” focus takes practice and intention. God calls us to be “There you are!” people, women who are genuinely interested in others. But we live in a selfie world that caters to our natural instinct to preserve and exalt ourselves.

It’s time to switch things up. Instead of spending too much time preparing the perfect selfie, let’s quickly snap a picture of ourselves and then spend the bulk of our time focused on others. That view is much more meaningful.

Remember the teenage girls from the Freedom Tower? They walked out with some great selfies, but they never really took the time to take in the view. They missed out. Don’t miss the amazing people and things happening around you because you’re focused on your phone. Make it your daily practice to notice others in a selfie world.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Solution to Restlessness


Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

Truly my soul finds rest in God. ~ Psalm 62:1

 

Cammie is a children’s ministry director at her church. One day, as she was preparing for the lesson she would teach on Sunday morning, she had an idea for a fun illustration that would require a few props. She asked her four-year-old daughter to help.

“Hey, Taylor! Can you please bring me a few of the Fisher Price people from your dollhouse?”

This reply came from her preschooler who was sitting across the room…

“No, Mom. They just want to chill out. They’ve had a long day.”

So funny… yet so not funny.

My word, people! When our children’s toys need a break, you know that it’s time for you and me to hit the pause button. And, truth be told, I live smack dab in the messy middle of this tension.

The Old Testament indicates that David lived in the messy middle of it too. The Bible says that the Lord made David take a break. Yes. He made him do it. Look: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Hemakes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3, emphasis mine)

I love the way Psalm 23 verse 3 is paraphrased in The Message, “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”

Yes. Please.

This is the desire of my heart. That I can catch my breath and be sent in the right direction by a loving God who knows what is best.

So, I – you – we have to be intentional. Life comes at us fast. If we are not careful, the dizzy pace at which we live can unwittingly become our weakness and demise.

I know you know this. I do too and yet somehow it still trips us up.

So what’s a woman to do?

Let’s keep it real here; we have obligations. We have families, jobs, friends, communities, and churches that need us. And though this will look different for each of us in the many seasons of life, our people depend on us a ton. They should. God tells us to put our faith into action (James 2). And we must. We must mobilize the hope we have in Christ. Serve. Show love. Feed the hungry. Minister to the widows and orphans. Yes. We must be women of action.

The Bible gives a clear and compelling teaching, however, about this life-pace topic that establishes our first call to action must be focused on the Lord himself! This get-with-Jesus business is the key to us experiencing the maximum abundance that God has in store for every believer.

What it all boils down to is this: God’s BEST requires REST.

So simple… Yet so complicated.

It was Augustine who wrote, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

Let me take this one step further by breaking down what the Word of God shows us about this very thing. When we rest in the presence of God, He restores our souls. Rest is the central ingredient in the restoration we all desperately need. Just look at the first four letters of the word!

Today (and in part two of this devotion) we are going to break down R.E.S.T. as an acronym and take a walk through Scripture to see just how God’s best for you is fueled by this discipline.

R.E.S.T. {Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust}

It all begins with reflection. There are two parts to this: reflecting ON God and allowing the Spirit of God to work within us so that we become better reflections OF God.

REFLECT on GOD:

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago I will meditate on all Your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12)

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” (Psalm 143:5-6)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

REFLECT GOD:

“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!” (Psalm 119:5, NLT)

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Meaningful reflection leads to the soul rest we long for.

Today let this truth sink in deep: when you reflect on God, you better reflect God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!