- Identify the what happened to cause the change
- Why did it happen
- How can I use this for my personal growth
- What changes can I make to improve in the future
- Where can I find help or who can help
I would like to take a moment and wish a Happy Father’s Day to dads. Today will be bitter sweet as I remember my dad and grandfather treasuring the moments with my hubby.
Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..
Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.
As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.
After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.
The pruning made such a difference!
Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8, NIV)
Whom we spend time with really matters.
And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.
Stay with me here! Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.
I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up. Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away. You too?
In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.
God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. To bring glory to God, this fruit of His Spirit must be seen in our lives.
Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.
But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…
Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.
The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree.
He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.
Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on your tree?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!
Some time ago, I did a blog post on packing a blessing bag…… It is something I wanted to do but just never seemed to get to. This post inspired someone to make it her mission.
I met Maxine through this “purse gig”. She was on my team for a little bit. She and I stayed in touch over the last few years by praying for each other and just being there for moral support. She reached out to me to ask for some suggestions on growing a ministry which is near and dear to her heart. Here is Maxine’s story in her own words…..
Awhile back I decided to do bags for homeless people. Nothing elaborate just simple items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, small soaps, a pen, a little note pad, a pair of socks, a razor, a pack of Kleenex, a granola bar, some cheese crackers, small snacks, hand sanitizer, and a rain poncho. I was working as a home health care aide and traveled on the bus every day. I always carried a couple with me and if I came across someone in need I would give them one . I don’t put cash in them simply because you just never know. Many people hustle for money for other things. Fast forward to now. I’m driving for Lyft and I come across a good number of people so I started doing it again. Handing bags out to those who are in need – usually when I stop at a traffic light. You can kind of tell who’s legit and who’s not when you hand it to them. But regardless, I try to help everyone I can. I use ziplock bags to hold the items. I want to continue this ministry but I am struggling. I come across a great number of people every day while I’m out driving. I’ve been doing this all out of pocket! The time has come when I can no longer afford to do it and it is breaking my heart . We are ourselves are living in a hotel. God has blessed up and we get through day by day. He makes a way! Even when I cannot see it, He makes a way. I am reaching out to others for donations – monetary and for items to fill the bags.
The hotel where we are staying has offered to do some extra soaps and shampoos to help. I am reaching out to churches and other organizations to see if they can help with individually packaged snacks and things. But there is still a gap. The need is so great….
I am reaching out to my readers and my friends. Won’t you consider helping? Maxine has set up a PayPal account to collect monetary donations (https://paypal.me/maxineniemeier?locale.x=en_US). Every little bit helps. She lives in Chicago, so if you have any suggestions or contacts please let us know. I’m trying to help her keep her ministry alive….
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!
I have been talking a lot lately about my struggles. Of trying to decide if the glass is half empty or half full? My vision has been blurred (and not just by the glaucoma) with the struggle to process thoughts, find my passion and to stay focused. Do you look at the world through rose-colored glasses? Some days I do.
We’ve all heard those sayings, right? We may have actually felt the distinct difference between viewing life with a positive perspective and viewing it with a negative one. Positive beliefs draw more positive things, right?
My struggles with emotions is real… some days I want to curl up in a ball and cry for no apparent reason. Then there are days when I feel like the movie “50 Dates”, you know the one where she keeps reliving the same day and is always happy. All of these challenges hold opportunity but the key is learning how to change the mindset.
When it comes to facing life’s challenges—because we all have them—we have the change to reframe them, appreciating how struggles help us build strength and resilience. I could be a world-class weight lifter if that was the case. LOL. The key is to train our minds to view these challenges in a more positive light by first reflecting on our lives, identifying those tough times, and understanding how they shaped us and made us stronger.
As I reflect on the past challenges, those I can remember, I struggle with understanding them but I do see how they have made a huge impact on my life. I can see how the negative mindset has led me on the path of relapse and had me looking at life as if I was a victim. As I moved into recovery, I am slowly able to embrace the positive in all of life’s challenges and move forward.
In every challenge—and in the time which follows—we build strength and resilience. We don’t have the power to change the past, but we do have the power to find the positive within the past and use it to create a greater impact today.
Thank you for sticking with me during these challenges… my blog posts tend to ramble, my Thirty One business continues despite my bad days, and The Angel Connection is starting to grow. I guess you are wondering where is the challenge, right? For me, the challenge in finding my passion and deciding where I want to head in the future. How am I moving forward? I am reflecting on these key questions:
What are you learning? How are you growing?
I’m looking for the growth from each difficulty especially in my relapse and my MS diagnosis. I’m trying to identify new knowledge I’ve gained, relationships I’ve built, or personal growth I’ve experienced. The truth is I’m moving forward despite these challenges, which means I’m strong and resilient, right? I need to open my eyes to the positive outcomes. I know the lessons I have learned will help me to find my passion again and decide the direction for my business.
How does this challenge reinforce what you are grateful for in your life?
Practicing gratitude has been BIG during my recovery. I have felt ungrateful for all of the problems which came from my relapse. I felt resentful. I needed to find gratitude for what it’s given me and what it’s shown me. As I look at everything in my life—the big and little things—and learn to appreciate them, it is those things which will help me during the tough times.
What boundaries will you put in place in your life to avoid future challenges and allow yourself to grow?
With the lessons you learn and the strength you build, consider whether there are ways you can adjust your mindset or actions to prevent future challenges. Sometimes life events are out of your control, but other times, you can make changes to move you toward a life of growth, positivity, and purpose. My MS may be out of my control but continuing in recovery is something I can work on daily.
Today’s post has been a ramble, a way for me to share not only my personal struggles but to try and reframe it to help someone else. It you are struggling to discover your strength and resilience today, try these simple steps:
- Use the above questions to look at a challenge from your past. How has this challenge made you stronger and more resilient? Believe it or not, it has!
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Focus on the positive in your life, no matter what the circumstances. Large or small, it doesn’t matter.
Now, think about one way you can live out your purpose today—and then do it! It could be as simple as a random act of kindness or buying someone a coffee. Living with purpose requires strength and resilience. Tap into those and challenge yourself to grow further.
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!
Have you ever noticed, you are happiest when you are helping others, or making a difference in your own unique way?
Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
The last month, I have been struggling. Struggling with changes in my MS. Struggling in my business. Struggling with life. I have been pondering why this month, what makes this one different. I feel like my light has been dimming. Sounds weird, right? I don’t mean it is a morbid way, just not feeling like I am making a difference anymore in the lives of others. No, I’m not on a pity pot. I’m simply trying to adjust to the changes MS is making in my life. A reality which is sometimes tough to grasp. Talking with my sponsor the other day, she said “your brain my think things are jumbled but the words actually come out clearly and concisely.” Yup, I needed to hear those words because it is the exact reason I have been taking a backseat in things. Ok, I squirreled so, let’s get back to how you can let your light shit….
No matter what your purpose in life is, there is an underlying mission. It is all about living your life in a way people say to themselves, “There’s something different about her and I want to know how to have some of the peace, joy, and love in my own life.”
Here are five ways you can let your light shine:
1. Look for ways to be a blessing.
Letting your light shine means letting everything good within you come forth. There is so much negativity around us on a daily basis when good enters our environment, it brings light into the darkness. It is a refreshing burst of clean air. Be sensitive to the needs of others. Find ways to be a blessing—even simple ways such as being a courteous driver, thoughtful friend, and kind coworker. Small random acts of kindness do make a difference.
2. Refuse to be judgmental.
One of the fastest ways to turn people off – in business or in your life is to judge them. A person can done wrong without condemning them for it. Honestly, I have made mistakes during my addiction BUT I was glad people did not judge me. They gave me chance. Honestly, we have all done things we need to be forgiven for, so be merciful to others. Embrace and support those you want to judge when they are trying to do better.
3. Speak up for what is just.
Speak up for what is just—not right. Do you confuse the two of these? I know I do! Focus more on being just so those who cross your path are better off for having done so. At work, in your business or in a personal situation, when others are being cheated, disrespected, or done a disservice, let your light shine and speak up. You can do it in a direct, calm, straightforward, and nonjudgmental way. Of course, the “old social worker/advocate” in me is sometimes far from calm. LOL!
4. Let go of the desire to fit in.
Maybe this is part of why my light has dimmed this month….. I’m a proverbial people-pleaser. As the MS effects more of my life, I struggle to find a place to fit in. I never thought about how difficult it is for my light to shine when I feel like I need to fit in everywhere I go. Sometimes, people think I am odd just because I am smiling and talking to everyone. I need to focus more on being a symbol of truth and love on a daily basis instead of trying to fit in. What about you?
5. Don’t hide your spiritual life.
This may be a hard one for some. For me, I have learned my Higher Power is central to everything in my life. When I pretend that is not the case, my light dims. It is by his grace, I have survived the craziness of my life. I am not saying you need a Bible on your desk or a preacher’s robe to share your faith with others. When the chance comes to tell people where your strength comes from in difficult times, or to acknowledge how your Higher Power has protected or blessed you, be honest. Your faith is a part of who you are. When you free yourself to be who you are, you also free others to be who they truly are.
My Challenge to you is to identify one way you will share your light this week. Then set out to be a symbol of love and light in the world… Share with us…..
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!