Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

How well do you accept things – mainly change?  Do you adjust quickly or do you fight it all the way?   Do you embrace change or close your eyes ignoring it is happening?

Since my health issues started in 2012, it has been a roller coaster ride of acceptance.  When the diagnosis of MS  finally came in 2017 I realized it would be physically challenging, emotionally draining, and around-the-clock exhausting with some extremely lonely times. The truth is for those who don’t have it, you can’t understand the challenges or how it is different in each person.  On the surface, I accepted things.  Those closest to me saw the struggles but I was still living a kind of denial.

I had been having a run of good days – when there is no brain fog, moving okay just a little slow and making it through most of the day before I was totally drained.  Then there are the days which take an extraordinary amount of effort to complete even a simple task. Try going through a day not knowing if you will be able to manage another moment of fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, dropping anything you get your hands on, and feeling as if you don’t have the strength to hold it together for one more second.  I accepted these minor challenges too… or at least I thought I did.

When I started my journey again working through my addiction, I realized I have never really accepted my MS diagnosis.  Why was accepting I’m an addict so much easier than accepting I have MS.   On most days I admit to those around me the limitations I have especially with memory as a result of my MS. Acceptance, right?  Then,  I came across this definition of acceptance in an NA reading.  “Acceptance is an opening of your heart to the realities of life and to the ways in which you have been impacted by your life choices. It means you don’t fight against the realities of your life, but accept them for what they are and use them to grow as a person and move forward in life. Accepting life on life’s terms.  Accepting the things you can not change while you focus on the things you can“. The truth is, I have not truly accepted my MS diagnosis.

Last week, I was told by disability “you are not considered disabled”.  One of their reasons was “you can use your arms and hands so basically go to work” and instead of getting angry, I started to wonder if they were right.  Then I was told by the physical therapist, I had flunked the balance test!  She said “you are a fall risk and need to have a cane with you”.  SMACK!  She had me pegged though, she said “you still think of yourself as an independent woman who can take care of everyone else”.  It took both of these things to make be realize I was still fighting the realities of my life.  I continue to fight the things I can’t change instead of focusing on the things I can change.  I can’t change I’m a 62 year old woman who struggles most days with MS both physically and mentally.  What I can change is the way I decide to handle things………working on eating healthier, getting sleep, getting up and moving when I feel up to it instead of just sitting around then resting when my body says it is time.

Now, your struggle with acceptance could be much different.  The difficulties you face may be different from mine, but I am convinced there is someone, somewhere in the world who is going through the same overwhelming moments as you. Just because you don’t hear about them or know them personally doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Believe me, I have been there.

Whatever your challenge, it’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart.  Eventually things will get better and you will find new ways of coping with all the changes happening in your life. I can guarantee it, but in the moment or in the heat of the battle it may not seem like it’s even possible.  I know, I am there fighting the battle of acceptance right now – with you.

It’s okay to ask for help.  I’m grateful for the rooms of NA where I can dump my stuff on the floor and walk away feeling a little less like a hot mess.  Find someone you can talk with about ways to help you manage your emotional chaos.  There is still hope for a better tomorrow whatever your challenge may be. I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

When all else fails, repeat the Serenity Prayer and wait for an answer.  Of course waiting for an answer is not one of my strong points.  Answers will always come but they may not be in a way we expect them or it may not be the answer we want….. expectations is a whole other topic.  LOL.

So, just for today, focus on the things you can change.  Accept life on life’s terms and count your blessings.

Have a blessed day!

 

Do You Have a Dream You Need to Resurrect?

Life moves in a different direction.  Health struggles make you doubt.  And the result is postponing a dream……You are the only person who can decide to pursue your dream.  Whether it is a book you want to write, a business you want to launch or an adventure you want to go on – YOU need to take the first step and keep moving forward.
Have you postponed a dream? Is one of your ideas sitting on the shelf collecting dust? What hope or vision has been left for dead in your life?  Maybe it is time to dust it off and bring it back to life…..Believe it or not, it is not difficult to do.  So how do you do that? What’s the first step to get you started?
Walk through these powerful questions and you will be on your way…..
1. What dream lies dormant in your life you wish were still a possibility?
Is your dream buried so deep, you forgot about it?  Think for a moment. Maybe it is a dream connected to your professional life, finances, relationships, health, or personal life. What is it for you right now?
2. What do you need to give yourself permission to do about it?
There is a reason something important to you has been buried. Whatever the reason you decided you couldn’t pursue it any longer, now is the time to give yourself permission to do it.  Maybe you got hurt in the past and found a safer road to travel.  Maybe life took over and you let your dream die. Or maybe the dream seemed unattainable, so you gave up on it. Let the past be a learning tool to recast your dream. Have the faith to believe nothing is impossible with God.
3. What do you need to say about it?
Did you know the power of life and death is in the words you speak?  Speak life into your dream right now. Say it out loud. Allow yourself to hear the words. There is power in this exercise. Speak life, not death. Then watch how you talk about your dream to others. When you start with all the reasons you can’t have what your heart desires, you speak death to your dream. Each negative word is like a shovel, digging the grave and then piling dirt onto it until you can no longer see the dream at all. Negative words will steal your vision.  Negative words will NOT get you to your dream!
4. What action will you take next?
Faith without action is dead.  Did you know you may have killed your dream by inaction?  BUT when you take action, you can bring it back to life. Do you believe your dream is possible? Then take steps toward it. It doesn’t mean you have to take BIG steps or lots of them you just have to take them!  Even baby steps, when taken consistently, will get you to the finish line.
I challenge you to dust off your old dream! Give it new life.  Think about the dreams lying dormant in your life then answer the four questions above.  Share your dream with us and what is the ONE baby step you will take?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When a Dream Dies

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

I sat on my porch with my Bible in my lap and a hot mug of steamy coffee in my hand. Early morning is my favorite time of day. Just me, Jesus, and a smattering of birds.

I closed my Bible and looked out across the backyard. My eyes landed on a rounded mound of fur nestled in the grass under the willow tree.

I got up and moved in for a closer look. My heart sank as I discovered what appeared to be a curled-up baby fawn lying lifeless in the grass. Probably the same fawn my neighbor had seen nursing from its mom the day before. My heart broke. I understand the circle of life, but still. A baby fawn lay dead in my yard. Most likely the target of the coyote I’d seen roaming around.

I couldn’t get close enough to see the wound. Sometimes that is the way of things.

I did get close enough to see the sunlight passing through the velum-like ears, the intricate spots on its back, and the Bambi-like eyelashes resting on a perfectly shaped snout. I would have to wait until Steve got home to take care of the situation. I didn’t have the nerve.

All morning long my mind returned to the lifeless form lying in the sun. Hours passed. At noon I looked out of the window and the still fawn remained unmoved. Untouched. Undisturbed. I couldn’t stand it. I had to know what had happened to it. So I mustered up my courage and made my way to the fawn. Three feet away. Stop. No signs of an attack. I inched closer.
Finally, I knelt down by the beautifully crafted creature, admiring God’s handiwork. But I couldn’t see what had killed it.

“What happened to you, little deer?” I whispered.

Suddenly, the fawn’s head popped up! Startled eyes stared at mine…wide-eyed. Me like a deer caught in the headlights. The fawn simply caught. I fell back on my haunches! And time stood still for a moment as we stared at each other in disbelief!

Finally, the fawn sprang to its feet, wobbled a bit, and scampered off like a drunken sailor. I sat in the grass and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. So the fawn wasn’t dead after all. It had simply found a bit of grass and fallen asleep…until almost noon.

After my heart stopped pounding in my chest, God spoke to my heart, Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

I pondered those words for the rest of the day. I called a friend who was struggling in her marriage—in a very bad way. The sort of way that leaves you wondering if it will survive. I told her the story.

Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

Sometimes a marriage is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a friendship is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a dream is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

I think of how God told the prophet Ezekiel to speak to the valley of dry bones. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NIV)

I imagine Ezekiel felt pretty silly talking to those dry bones. And honestly sometimes I feel pretty silly obeying God and speaking life into the dry bones of some of my situations.

So here’s my word for you and me today.

For my friend struggling in her marriage…

For my friend who cries for her adult son who walked away from God…

For my friend who longs to cuddle up with a good husband rather than a good book…

Don’t assume the dream is dead. Sometimes it just needs to be woken up. Don’t give up too soon.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Hope Button

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message….

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a hope button? Something you could just press when you felt pessimism and misery weighing you down?

Friend, you have a button like this available for your use. It’s nestled in between despair and the dawning of hope recorded in the book of Lamentations. The writer, Jeremiah the prophet, is utterly broken. Jerusalem, the City of David, had been attacked and destroyed. Jeremiah sees no hope of restoration, wholeness, or safety.

He cries out to God with many complaints such as “he has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship” (v. 5), “he has weighed me down with chains” (v. 7), and “he has trampled me in the dust” (v. 16). Jeremiah is remembering all that went wrong and his soul is depressed and despondent.

Yet somehow, he reaches for the hope button in verse 21 and it becomes his turning point:

“Yet this I call to mind and there I have hope…”

What is the “this” that Jeremiah is calling to mind? We find it in verses 22-23:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Jeremiah is shifting his focus from the rubble around him to the fact that he is still standing. He remains unconsumed because of God’s great love. “Compassions” is plural illustrating how God showers us with new compassion every morning. Even though Jerusalem laid in ruin, the Word of God lasts forever.

When Jeremiah pressed the hope button – recalling God’s great love and compassion – he could say in the midst of grief, “I have hope. God is my portion and He is enough.”

Have you felt hopeless in a particular area of your life lately? It’s time to press the hope button. You’re still here. God’s mercies are for you today, and they are waiting to bless you tomorrow.

When I went away to college, I was discouraged and miserable because I felt lost without my family, friends, and all things familiar. I cried most days for the first few weeks. I did however have a Christian roommate with a flair for art. She painted our dorm room walls with Bible verses. Guess what she painted? Lamentations 3:22-23 which reminded me every morning when I opened my eyes that God’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.

The next time you find yourself sitting in a heap of discouragement, press the hope button. Surround yourself with the promises of God. Recall His faithfulness and refresh your faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Talking Back to Yourself

Thank you to Lisa Morrone for today’s message…

Last week, while selecting some avocados in the produce aisle, I heard a loud gasp which caused my attention to be diverted to a woman who had just started an avalanche of sorts over by the oranges. As she restacked the fruit I distinctly heard her mutter, “Stupid girl! How could you be so clumsy?” In that moment I imagined her as a five year old child being berated by her mother, in the same tone, for the same offense.

From an early age, I remember learning that spoken words have power, both to hurt and to heal. My mom taught me to use the words that came out of my mouth with care, particularly when they were directed towards others. What I did not understand then was that the way we talk to ourselves can have just as much power to transform our minds—in both good and bad ways.

In the first testament, the Bible contains an historical timeline of accounts surrounding King David, beginning in his childhood and culminating with his death. David, like you and I, encountered some great highs and some equally low lows. In today’s Scripture, we find David battling with what I believe to be borderline depression. He was tired of being chased by his enemies, tired of being misunderstood, and likely tired of waiting for God’s promises to come to fruition. Can you relate?

Buried in the words of Psalm 42 is a valuable lesson on self-speak that we would do well to put into practice. David knows he’s feeling particularly low. So he wisely acknowledges and labels his feelings. But then David uses the power of his own words to construct a ladder which he uses to climb his downcast spirit out of the pit of despair he’s found himself in.

Here are the four rungs David put in place:

HOPE: He looks his despair squarely between the eyes and directs himself to “Put your hope in God.”

PRAISE: Next David invokes a new (contrary) attitude by saying, “for I will yet praise him.”

AUTHORITY: He reminds himself who his Lord is by identifying Him as, “my Savior and my God.”

RECOLLECTION: Lastly, David takes a decisive walk down memory lane when he declares, “therefore I will remember you”—which I am sure brought him back to thoughts of himself as a boy killing a lion and then the giant, Goliath, and having escaped from the tip of Saul’s spear a time, or three.

Do you feel in a state of despair today? Have you been passively listening to (and agreeing with) all the negative self-talk that comes along with it? Do not lose heart—USE YOUR WORDS! It’s time you quit listening to yourself, and start talking back to yourself instead. Speak out transformative words of hope and praise. Remind yourself aloud who your Lord is and recount the many times He has redeemed your circumstances, been true to His promises, and shown His kindness towards you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!