Thankful Thursday: Disability

You are a diamond created by the crushing, pressing fires in life… in other words the journey.

I am no working on my 4th step which is “We made a searching and fearless morale inventory of ourselves” which is pretty damn scary.  It means reflecting back on my resentments and the part I actually played in certain situations.  I am reminded every day, this is to the best of my ability because my memory definitely falls short.  It is a process and in order to get to the other side, I need to walk through this step.

:I will admit there are days when I look back at what used to be and wish life was different. I have even envied others who didn’t have an addiction or a disability. What? I know I can’t change the past and dwelling on it will not change the journey I am on.  I know I shouldn’t think like this but thoughts happen.  Some days in my head can be kinda scary. I can think of some crazy ideas and have some equally wild woe-is-me moments. Then there are days when I can’t remember anything from the past which I think is God’s way of keeping me at peace.

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never wanted things to be different, because I have. Those thoughts seem to appear most when the struggle is at its worst. I don’t like feeling that way, but it happens. That’s just me being real.

I could let my addiction or my multiple sclerosis sour my life.  I could let it cause me to become as miserable as my body feels with thoughts of what used to be and what could have been, or I could spend each day trying to become a better person.  I can vaguely remember spending countless hours working on self-development – trying to change me especially where my business was concerned.  The truth was I needed to rid myself of the inner gremlins which have been haunting me for years instead of just stuffing them behind a locked door.  Sometimes the learning process was hard and it still is, but the lessons I have learned along the way are invaluable.  I am learning asking for help is not the sign of weakness I always thought it was – it is a sign of strength.  The ability to admit when we don’t know something or need help is a gift because it allows others to share with us their strength, hope and experiences.

One thing being back in recovery has taught me is to be thankful.  I’m even thankful for the MS.   Many people won’t have the opportunity to get through today; like the addict who will take their last drug.  That is enough to make me appreciate everything I have, whether it’s pain, the inability to do something, or the lack of memories MS and addiction can throw my way. I’m thankful through it all.

Fear is real but I can overcome anything if I am willing to let go and let God.  I can’t do any of this on my own – I need other addicts to walk me through recovery and I need others with MS to show me how they cope each and every day.  On those bad days, I take my day and break it up into tiny chunks.  Someone told me recently it’s easy to eat an elephant. STOP!  No haters – Not a real elephant, but a giant obstacle you are facing. Do it one bite at a time.  One step at a time which is why they are in a certain order.  So I break my day up…one bite at a time. I may find things hard to swallow at times, but when I keep at it I find I’m able to get through it. That impossible elephant suddenly becomes possible.

Having a dual disability (MS and addiction) has prepared me for the rest of my life. It has given me a better perspective on what’s really important. That highly successful career I held on to for way too long, wanting a big house, craving a fancy car, and lots of material things – they are no longer a focus for me.  I wonder why so many of us strive all our lives for stuff and titles? Those things don’t matter in the end. What matters is loving people and knowing you are loved. Everything could be stripped from me and I know I would make it.  Okay, so I am still working on this BUT I know God would provide.  Some days I wonder if other people could get through even one hour of what we with disabilities face, let alone a full day.

Living with a dual disability gave me an advantage over the rest of the world. In essence a second chance.  I learning  to appreciate the roses and the sunsets as well as the storm clouds and looming tsunamis. I choose to live life on my terms… not how other people think it should be done. It may appear strange to others, but I’m not trying to win an award. I just want to get through each day knowing I did the best I could with what I was given.

Whatever your life’s path…..You’ve got this. Don’t ever doubt your strength or your worth. You are a beautiful diamond. Your journey through your crushing pressing obstacles, and your  fire has made you the AMAZING person you are. Now’s your time to shine!

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” .  We have all made them from the little ones to the ones which wreck our lives or those around us.  Do you think of them as leaning lessons and are grateful for the mistake?  OR do you beat yourself up swearing to never do anything “stupid” like that again?

I will admit, depending on the mistake – I can go between the two.  No matter how you handle the mistake, you are not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another and reacted differently each time.  The truth is if we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

The good news is, you can learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom to help you in the future.

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

Regardless of the size of the mistake or who it has effected,  you have to accept full responsibility for your role in what happened.  You need to ask yourself, “What role did I play in this?”.  The answer can be uncomfortable sometimes (okay, maybe most of the time), but you need to own your part.  Once you have said “I messed up,”  you can start to learn from it.  This is all part of changing and hopefully, not making the same mistake again.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

You don’t want to dwell on your mistakes (this is a tough one for me) BUT reflecting on them can be productive. I don’t know about you but when I dwell on mistakes, I tend to beat myself up a little bit.  So, if you ask yourself these tough questions, it can turn a bashing session into a productive one:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.  Let’s face it, we have all had them at one time.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road.  It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.  Make a plan to help avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change  No matter how you track your progress, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Remember what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

How will you be sure not to mess up again?  Does willpower alone prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification (I want what I want when I want it). Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again. Find creative ways to become more disciplined. If using credit cards is your struggle – cut up the cards or freeze them.  Yup, in a big block of ice.  Whenever you try to thaw the block of ice, you will realize how ridiculous the situation is and stop spending money you don’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

We all have weak moments and the next thing you know, we have made the same mistake again!  Why not create a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track and be self-disciplined,  you can refer to during tough times. Put the list some place where you can see it – if shopping is a problem, put the list in your wallet next to your debit/credit cards.  If flirting on social media is a thing, post your list on your computer so when you start scrolling or are tempted you see the list.  Is it a guarantee?  NO but it may help you to resist the temptation.  Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Mistakes aren’t always one big blunder. Sometimes, they are a series of little choices leading to failure.  So pay attention to your mistakes, no matter how big or how small they might seem. Recognize each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

Have a blessed day!

Help! My Job is Killing Me!


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

I recently stopped at a local discount store to pick up a few things. When I went to check out, the cashier looked very familiar. He must have seen the question in my eyes because he smiled and said, “It’s good to see you, Mrs. Southerland.” When I heard his voice, I immediately recognized him as the manager of a local grocery store where I frequently shopped. Before I could say one word, he explained, “I lost my job at the grocery store. Evidently, I needed to change mission fields for a while.” Now that is what I call a heavenly perspective of an earthly job.

God uses our work as one of His tools to mold us into who He wants us to be. Stress comes when we view our job as our main life mission. It isn’t. It is the God-given opportunity to provide the tools we need to accomplish our life mission.

The apostle Paul writes, “Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love” (Acts 20:24, LB).

Paul worked as a tentmaker, a church planter, and an author. His purpose never changed, but his work certainly did. Many of us do not need a different job. We just need a different attitude and a new point of view about the job we have.

How do we make that happen?

Start by envisioning Jesus standing in the midst of your work place as your real boss. Then look for the life lessons God provides through your work.

God uses our work to teach us responsibility. Meeting deadlines, completing assigned tasks with excellence, showing respect for co-workers (even the abrasive ones) and working without supervision are all valuable life lessons learned on the job. When we try to cut corners, stress steps in and wreaks havoc in our attitude about work.

God uses people at work to teach us valuable lessons about relationships. Cooperation, fairness, flexibility, humility, and patience are relationship skills of a successful worker. Stress comes when we stray from the guidelines God gives us for godly relationships. Our workplace is not only one of our God-ordained mission fields, but it is also a classroom for learning to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable. You may very well be the only sermon your co-workers ever hear.

God uses our work to teach us how to serve. The way we serve God is by serving others. God wants us to grow spiritually at work by becoming a servant to those with whom we work. It is easy to serve the people who sit beside us in a worship service each Sunday, but a real servant serves on the job … every single day. God asks us to accept others unconditionally, encourage other continually, forgive others freely, and help others willingly.

Attitudes never sit still. They constantly move and change.

An attitude is a pattern of thinking and a filter through which we view life.

We can choose to be honest about our attitude at work, and we can choose to change our attitude about work, but most importantly, we can choose to pray for God’s attitude about our work. When we can’t change our attitude, the One who lives in us can. He can give us His attitude. Exchanging our attitude for His always eliminates stress.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Looking For the Good


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

As an elementary school teacher, I am fairly certain I learned a whole lot more than my students did. My first fulltime teaching position was in a school of 900 students, K3 through second grade.

As I read over the files of my students, I was appalled at the labels that had been attached to these kids by their previous teachers. At the ripe old age of six, these children were described as corrupt, bad, failures, impossible to control … and one child was actually pronounced “stupid.” I was furious! I was also determined to change the way the children saw themselves. I pulled out all the stops to help them understand how special they were, but “Star of the Day” was by far the most successful.

First, I bought a piece of yellow foam board, cut out a huge star, decorated it with glitter, used adhesive letters to write “Star of the Day,” and attached it to my classroom door. I then took a picture of each student in my classroom. Each day, I chose a student to be the Star of the Day and attached his or her photo to the star. I also made a badge that read “Star of the Day” which the student wore all day long. My husband built a special desk, painted it gold, attached dime store jewels and streamers, and mounted the desk to a small platform. The Star of the Day sat on their “throne” all day.

The Star of the Day was my personal assistant, handing out papers, running errands, sharpening pencils … whatever I needed done. The other students watched the Star to see all of the good things he or she did. It could be something as simple as picking up a dropped pencil … or opening the door … or being especially nice to someone who was struggling.

At the end of the day, I gathered all of the children in a circle around the Star of the Day. Each student shared one good thing they had seen the Star do that day. No negative comments were allowed. And every student had to participate. It was amazing to watch the transformation in the students as they learned to look for the good in each other and share it with others.

We need to do the same with the people in our world. We need to look for the good things in each other … not the bad. We need to be quick to draw attention to the worthy things we see each other do and applaud those things.

Our words should be filled with acceptance and approval. We need to be cautious with criticism and liberal with praise.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So encourage each other to build each other up.”

People become what we encourage them to be. We need to train our hearts and minds to pass over faults in search of strong points. We should choose to draw the strong qualities of others into the spotlight.

We really can learn to look for reasons in each other to praise God. Everyone needs a cheerleader. When we choose to look for the good in each other, an amazing transformation happens. Our perspective of people changes, but that is not all. The people in our world begin to see themselves differently – the way Jesus sees them, precious and chosen – like a star of the day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Holy Hustle: Embrace A Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life

 

Best wishes for a blessed day!

Adopting a new attitude and outlook about hustle takes time. But when it comes to change and the new things God wants to do in our lives, we have two choices: retreat or pursue growth. I’m the first to admit that sometimes retreat sounds better until God shows me my motivation. When change feels scary, it’s because I’m relying on my strength to make it through. I assume it’s all up to me to make it work, to make sure it succeeds, to make sure I don’t look like a failure—again. When I choose to retreat it’s because I’m being reminded that on my own, in my striving, I won’t be able to make it all work out the way I want it to.

But then I stop striving and start pursuing, trusting that God is bringing a new thing because He has plans for me that are good, plans that will bring Him glory and expand His kingdom.

Will you lean into the new path He’s leading you on, one where holy hustle replaces striving? Or will you retreat, preferring the comfort of what is known to an uncomfortable season full of unknowns?

Here are three assurances we can take confidently into the future: God is not done with us yet, He’s ready to do a new thing, and He is there with us every step of the way.

Holy hustle gives us the freedom to work hard with all our might on the tasks God assigns to our soul. This is the heart work, the work that makes a difference in God’s kingdom. It gives us the freedom to recognize that the work others do is right for them, but not for us, not in this season. Holy hustle helps us to hear God over the roar of the bossy world, so we can say yes to the work God has prepared our hearts for and no to the work that will drain our souls.

The line between hustle and striving, rest and laziness, is a delicate place to live. When we lean too far one way, we find ourselves relying on our strength instead of abiding in God’s reminders that He is our strength. This version of hustle is not about finding more time in our day to do more, but discovering what God is calling us to do so we can serve more, give more, encourage more—in the right places and right ways.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!