Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

Acceptance is defined as “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group“.

For years, I didn’t feel like I fit in.  From about the age of 12, I started to stuff the feelings of inadequacy which raged in my head every day.  Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not doing the right thing.  Fear of disappointing others.  As  a result of stuffing those feelings, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms – bulimia along with many different types of addiction (drugs, alcohol, and shopping).  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I found true acceptance from others and with myself.  I spoke my mind and felt confident.

Over the years, on the outside I accepted who I was but on the inside the inner gremlins were starting to play the comparison game.  Slowly, the “old me” who was insecure in who she was, was looking outside for acceptance.  I worried about disappointing others.  I worried about whether I was good enough.  I worried about EVERYTHING.  The truth was I didn’t like who I was becoming.  Instead of sharing the feelings with others, I stuffed them.  I didn’t want family and friends to see my struggles.  WHY? Pride.  I was afraid of what they would think.  Unsure they could or would love me for who I was.  Unsure they would accept me broken and unsure.  Pride and fear kept feelings stuffed away.

As the feelings got stuffed deeper and deeper, relapse was inevitable.  See, relapse can take on many forms.  With me, it was in shopping and credit cards.  I was trying to live up to the expectations I thought everyone had of me.  When I walked back into NA, I was broken.  I didn’t like me at all.  I didn’t like the person I had become.  I didn’t like the pain and hurt I had caused over the years to the people I loved the most.  I didn’t like the financial mess I had made of my life.

With the help of friends and the support of family, I am again accepting who I am (okay, at least trying to).  I struggle with the picture I have of who I should be.  I struggle with worrying whether I am meeting everyone’s expectations.   But I know when I turn things over, it will get better.  The tapes aren’t on replay and I can live in the moment.

I am learning to accept what is in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am learning to accept I am wonderfully made even on my worst days.  I am learning to accept (very slowly) my struggles with MS, having faith in the fact it is all part of God’s plan.  Do I think God’s plan was for me to make a mess of my life twice?  NO!  I do know he has helped me through the struggles.  He accepts me for who I am – no matter what.

I am learning to be thankful…Being thankful helps you get through life’s tough times, because you can easily call to mind all of the good things in your life.  Being grateful just makes you happy and being happy can help keep your mind and body healthy!

Accept who you are, without relying on outside influences.  Accept we are not perfect and it is okay.  What are you thankful for today?

Have a blessed day!

How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

Grace for the Imperfect

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many – Hebrews 12:15, NIV

It wasn’t a major thing she did to upset me. It was many minor things over many days. For instance, I shared a joy I was thrilled about, but she changed the subject. I sent her texts of love from the bottom of my heart, and she was either slow to respond, or didn’t respond at all. I showed love, but she didn’t invite me to things other friends were invited to.

Inside, I was ready to write her off.

I’ve invested so much, butI am done with her.

Consciously and decisively, I created distance when we were together: talking to her less, giving her short answers, avoiding eye contact, and paying attention to others more.

But at home, I felt convicted. What is true love if it is dependent on another woman’s response?

I’d looked to her response to define my worth. But in reality, my love isn’t unto her – it is unto Christ. I’d lost perspective.

Worst of all, I’d allowed something horrible to grow within me.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15, NIV).

A bitter root was forming.

Do you have a bitter root forming within? Toward a co-worker? A husband? A friend? A child?

There are 3 ways to pull out bad roots:

1. Forgive.

Christ forgave us when we were still sinners. Likewise, we forgive others while they are still imperfect. This doesn’t negate or defend bad actions, but it frees us from carrying the weight of them.

2. Extend grace.

We can extend to others the very grace we could only hope to receive on our worst day.

No one is perfect. We all are growing. We hit busy seasons. Tough seasons. Rough seasons. Pain. Trials. Tribulations. Huge mistakes.

Christ-like love bears each other’s weaknesses, so as to carry the other person’s cross, even if only for a bit. This kind of love changes relationships, brings back marriages and restores what has been lost. It resurrects.

3. Receive grace.

Undoubtedly, I had eyes for myself in this situation. There was more to this woman’s responses. I could either beat myself up for what I’d done wrong or receive the grace Jesus paid for. The first option would keep me stuck in perpetual self-harm, but the other would set me free.

You too can let yourself off the hook, because Christ is not condemning you. The second you confess, you are blessed by His grace.

Have a blessed day!

How to Make a Gallery Wall

If your walls could talk, what stories would they tell? For some, like me, that would be a scary thought.  LOL.

For many of us, we would like them to simply share our milestones, memories and mottos, right?  I created one of these one our walls of our wedding pictures – some of the family who are in the pictures are no longer with us so it has great memories BUT is definitely doesn’t tell the whole story.  I am hoping to add some memories to it by using some of these tips.   Whether it’s in your kitchen, above your couch or along your staircase, choosing unique pieces is the key to making your display so special.

Here are some GREAT tips for adding one-of-a-kind elements to more traditional framed photographs and oversized initials – all to help you create something truly personalized.

1. Game boards & pieces

What was your favorite childhood sport to play? Which board games does your family reach for over and over on rainy evenings? Your local Goodwill or thrift store is a great place to score retro board games and sports equipment you can use to add character to your gallery wall or shelves. (That broken-in, well-loved look actually boosts the cool factor!)

2. Vintage numbers

Whether they’re antique license plates, framed playing cards, tin stencils or old scoreboard tags, vintage numerals are a fun way to express a number that holds a story or memory for your family. Do a quick online search or browse flea markets, yard sales and antique shops for the digits of your address, anniversary or favorite Bible verse.

3. Flowers & wreaths

Add a sweet touch to the gallery wall in a nursery, craft space, laundry room or even your front porch with an arrangement of dried flowers or an artificial wreath. Check your local craft store for oversized fabric blossoms to match your décor, swap in a seasonal sprig for a traditional frame, or create a cute wreath with fabric scraps – we tried this easy-to-make one from Kelly at Typically Simple. And faux greenery looks great mixed with antique window panes and grapevine wreaths arranged on an outdoor wall to welcome guests.

4. Quotes on canvas

Share the special names, dates and words in your life with customized Statement Canvas Wall Art. Scour a social site like Pinterest® for cute quote ideas, then choose from a variety of sizes and printed designs, including white text on black canvas, your choice of 16 colors on natural canvas and even your personal photos! Have a budding artist in the family? Scan your kids’ original artwork and have it printed on one of our durable canvases.

5. Shadowboxes

These deep-set frames are built to hold dimensional keepsakes and, depending on their size, the options are practically limitless. Highlight a single object like a sculpted key or bridal bouquet. Simply fill one with wine corks, seashells, fabric flowers, bottle caps or Christmas tree bulbs. Or adhere some items to the back, layering pieces over each other to add visual interest – think baby shoes, blocks and photos; use wooden letter game tiles to spell out names or places; arrange keys, ticket stubs, medals or pressed flowers; or design your own artwork out of buttons or plastic building blocks – even crayons! (Jamie at The Trendy Treehouse offers step-by-step instructions for putting together your own crayon letter shadowbox.)

6. Photo tag galleries

Turn moments to remember into personalized keepsakes to treasure with Thirty-One’s Close to Home™ Collection. We make it simple to tell your family’s story on your gallery wall with pieces like our Close to Home™ Table Gallery and 9″ Close to Home™ Round Frame, both available in Natural or Grey Wash Wood. It’s easy to switch out the keepsake-quality iron Photo Inserts for the season and to commemorate trips and events as your family grows. Remember to personalize the wood frame with your family name, saying or special date in your favorite laser-etched design.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget the sofa underneath!

Fluff up a few perfectly personalized Statement Canvas Pillows in black and natural – choose an embroidered monogram, printed design or your own family photos to continue your theme even below your gallery wall. Toss a cozy Super Soft Blanket over one arm of the sofa, and you’ll be ready to hibernate all winter!

Share your gallery wall with us….. Have a blessed day!

Real-Time Relationship

Thank you Elisa Pulliam for today’s message.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony – Colossians 3:12-14, NLT

I expected my usually happy teenage daughter to bounce into my office singing VBS songs from her morning spent serving at church. Instead, her sullen face conveyed another story. She was battling feelings of betrayal, insecurity, and jealousy after receiving a message from a friend about something that was happening in a completely different place.

Let’s just say this mama llama wanted to spew more than a few unpleasantries about social media and towards the adult involved behind the scenes. Yet I could feel God urging me to not be so easily offended. I’d been down this road enough times before to recognize what was happening.

Satan was busy writing the story in my head according to his own agenda.

Can you relate?

The Holy Spirit prompted me to take hold of my thought life before doing or saying something I might regret. While I’ve been practicing taking my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and asking God to align them with His truth (Romans 12:2) for the last decade, I’ve come to see that I have a harder time doing this when a relationship is at stake. It’s hard to find your voice when you’re already wounded and fear more rejection. Yet, avoiding conflict never leads to relationship restoration.

So I skipped the easy-out texting approach and took the risk with an old-fashioned phone call. I put into action the best communication tactics anytime conflict is brewing. I prayed for God to speak through me and asked the open-ended questions I’ve been trained to use as a life coach. It worked! As I listened and affirmed my commitment to our friendship, her voice softened. Her defenses dropped. And the truth rose beautifully out of it all.

Turns out that there was no reason to be offended. There was no intention to hurt my girl or betray us. There was no ill will. There was a perfectly good explanation that social media failed to capture. I should have known!

Satan is the King of Drama ready to destroy every relationship God created for His glory and kingdom purposes.

Maybe that’s why Paul urges the Colossians and us to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, making allowance for each other’s faults. Yes, it’s always beneficial when we choose to seek forgiveness and extend it. It’s God honoring when we put on love in the pursuit of unity.

When we live according to God’s design, we get to experience a whole lot less drama, along with the blessings that come from real-time relationships restored by His love and extravagant grace.

Have a blessed day!