How to Be Enough, When It Feels Like All Eyes are On You

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

One evening, while on a getaway with my husband, Steve and I splurged at a fancy restaurant, complete with a four-man band playing music from the ’40s and ’50s. We had taken a few ballroom dance lessons, and Steve was itching to see if we could remember the foxtrot.

“Come on, Sharon,” he urged. “Let’s take a spin on the dance floor.”

“No way,” I said. “Nobody else is dancing.

I’m not going to be the only one out there with everyone staring at me. And suppose we mess up? I’d be embarrassed. It’s been a long time since we’ve practiced, and I don’t remember all the steps. Let’s wait until some other people are out there so we won’t be so conspicuous.”

After a few moments, the first couple took their place on the parquet. They squared their shoulders, pointed their toes, and framed their arms. In one fluid motion they graced the dance floor with perfect dips, sways, turns, and twirls. They looked good, and they knew it.

Nope. I was not going to embarrass myself. I hunkered down in my seat with renewed resolve. I was stuck there. I refused to budge. Then couple number two joined couple number one. Their steps weren’t quite so perfect, but they looked pretty good too.

“Okay, I’ll go,” I said. “But let’s get in the back corner behind that big ficus tree so nobody can see us.”

Off we went to try to remember the slow-slow-quick-quick of the foxtrot. The whole time I was hoping all eyes were still mesmerized on the polished artistry of couple number one.

As I dared look at the crowd, I noticed they weren’t looking at couple number one, number two, or even wobbly kneed number three. All eyes were fixed on a fourth couple approaching the dance floor. The husband was in a wheelchair. He was a middle-aged, slightly balding, large-framed man with a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard.

His dapper attire included a crisp white shirt, a snappy bow tie, and a stylish tuxedo. On his left hand he wore a white glove—I guessed to cover a skin disease. With a smiling wife by his side, the couple approached the dance floor with a graceful confidence and fashionable flair.

Suddenly everyone else faded away, and they seemed to be the only two people in the room.

As the band churned out a peppy tune, the blithesome wife held her love’s healthy right hand and danced. He never rose from the wheelchair that had become his legs, but they didn’t seem to care. They came together and separated like expert dancers. He spun her around as she stooped low to conform to her husband’s seated position.

Lovingly, like a little fairy child, she danced around his chair while her laughter became the fifth instrument in the musical ensemble. Even though his feet never left their metal resting place, his shoulders swayed in perfect time and his eyes danced with hers.

My heart was so moved by this love story unfolding before my eyes that I had to turn my head and bury my face on Steve’s chest so no one would see the tears streaming down my cheeks. As I did, I saw person after person dabbing linen napkins to dewy eyes.

This portrait of love and devotion transfixed even the band members, now misty-eyed as well. Finally, the music slowed to a romantic melody. The wife pulled up a chair beside her husband’s wheelchair, but facing in the opposite direction. They held each other in a dancer’s embrace, closed their eyes, and swayed back and forth, cheek to cheek.

Surprisingly, I no longer worried about whether anyone was watching me.

I didn’t care if my steps weren’t perfect. I wasn’t even concerned about being compared to and falling short of perfect couple number one.

The Lord spoke to my heart in a powerful way. Sharon, I want you to notice who moved this crowd to tears, He seemed to say. Was it couple number one, with their perfect steps? Or was it the last couple that had no steps at all? No, My child, it was the display of love, not perfection, that moved the crowd. If you obey Me, if you do what I have called you to do, then I will do for you what that man’s wife did for him.

As Paul said, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God isn’t looking for perfect people with perfect children, perfect marriages, and perfect lives. He is not searching for men and women with perfect steps to do great things for Him.

He is looking for courageous believers who will rely on His power to work in and through them to accomplish all He has planned for them to do.He is scouting for followers who will obey Him regardless of their present fears or past failures.

He is looking for men and women who know they are good enough because of His power working in them and through them.

Simply put, God had sent a lame man to teach me how to dance.

God chooses to do extraordinary work through ordinary people who will bring glory to His name.

Men and women who know they are not good enough in their own strength but are incredibly powerful in God’s strength slay the giants of this world.

Today, I’m thinking that’s you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Dream Homes and Fixer Uppers

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

There we were – my realtor husband and I – standing in front of our new home grinning and holding a bright red SOLD sign for the picture.  The excitement of moving into a great house had temporarily eclipsed the stress of packing three weeks before Christmas.  I couldn’t see one thing wrong with my dream house.  And then we moved in.

The sink in the master bathroom started to leak.  The plumber was supposed to come in the afternoon but couldn’t come until after dinnertime.  While the plumber tooled around under the sink, James and I were standing on top of our bed trying to fix the ceiling fan and light.  My arms ached as I held up the light while James worked with the wiring.  Let’s just say it didn’t work the first time (or the second, or the third).  I had a choice.  Would I complain about my aching arms and quarrel with my husband in the heat of the moment?

Marriage is a lot like having a massive home improvement project for life.  There’s always something new to work on.  Now in the beginning, you marry Prince Charming and there’s not a blemish on him.  He looks perfect.  And there’s not a blemish on you either.  But as you begin to do life together day after day, you soon realize you need to put some elbow grease into the relationship to keep the magic alive.  Healthy relationships take work.

You don’t have to be married to mine the wisdom of today’s verse.  In Solomon’s day, roofs were flat and small rooms could be built there.  Today’s verse is repeated verbatim in Proverbs 25:24, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”  In other words, it’s better to live sparsely in peace than live in comfort with quarreling.  It would be better to live in a dusty, little room than in the prettiest most Pinterest perfect home if it meant a complaining, argumentative woman would be living there too.

Quarrelcan be defined as “an angry argument or disagreement, typically between people who are usually on good terms.”  Whether married or single, I don’t think any of us want to be known as a quarrelsome woman.

So the next time you feel like fighting with your spouse or someone else, extend grace.  Instead of being contentious and argumentative, be gracious. The more gracious you are to others; the more others will be attracted to you.  Your loved ones won’t try to escape to the roof.  They’ll be happy wherever you are.  That sounds a lot like a dream home to me.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

It’s Not About Me


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message….

Some of my Girlfriends in God are not going to like this devotion. I’m not even sure I do. But I’m going to put it out there anyhow. During the month of February, I write devotions on marriage. It is the month of love, and marriages certainly are in shambles all around the world. Each February, I am flooded with e-mails: some are appreciative for the reminders on how to love their husbands; some are filled with hurt because they are in their own struggling marriage, and some are broken-hearted because of shattered dreams. These women are so thankful for the balm of God’s truth in a very tender area of their lives.

But I also receive e-mails from women who are not married, who do not like the attention to marriage at all. They are flat out angry and frustrated because the devotions do not pertain to them. “Don’t you know that all of your readers are not married?”

“Oh honey child,” as my grandmother would say.

I’ve seen the same attitude in church. “I didn’t like that sermon.” “I didn’t like the singing today.” “I couldn’t relate to that teaching.” And on and on we go.

You know what I’ve discovered…it’s not about me. It is all about God. If the pastor is preaching on a topic that is not my struggle, I pray that God will open my eyes to new truths that I’ve never seen. If he is talking about losing a loved one, I pray for those who have lost a loved one recently…even though that might not be my struggle at that particular time. Is the teaching on raising young children? I have a grown son, so I pray for those who are raising the next generation.

One Sunday, I was singing in church. Barely singing, I might add. It was a dry old hymn and I just wasn’t into it. Then I looked at an older woman a few seats down and she had tears trickling down her wrinkled cheeks. She was moved to tears by that old hymn and was taken to the throne room of grace.

“Oh Father,” I prayed. “Please forgive me. This is not about me. It’s not about what I like or don’t like. It is all about You. Truth is truth. Worship is worship. Help my focus be on You and You alone. It’s not about me.

Here’s a truth I want you to underline, memorize and ponderize (I know that is not a real word, but it should be.) Say it out loud: As long as I think the world is all about me, the angrier and tired-er I will be. The more I realize it is all about God, the happier and freer I will be. (I know tireder is not a word either. I’m just feeling feisty today).

Listen to how David focused on God during worship:

So let’s commit to remember together…it’s not about me. It’s all about God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are You Content?

Mustard-Seed-Faith-by-CRI

It is the last day of November and the panic of the holiday season is about to start (if it hasn’t already).  My calendar is full with lots of business activity over the next 14 days which is exciting so this morning, I took just a moment to STOP!  A mixture of emotions have been flowing through me as the holiday approaches.  I am struggling with being content and not wanting more.  More money to pay bills.  More money to spend and give to others.  More time with my daughter.  More time to spend with family. More business.  More recruits.  More weight loss.  All of these things are attainable with prayer and thanksgiving.

I saw this and it made me think about my contentment…

Being content in our lives takes work. Contentment is not something which just happens. Far from it actually because we are a needy people. We always want something more. We always work harder to get the things everyone else has. We all have even been guilty of commenting on our lack of satisfaction of our life placement. It is once again one of those pesky human nature things.

We wonder why some people are successful or have what we want.  The grass is greener on the other side syndrome takes over in my case (more often than I would like to admit).  I forget to be content in God’s blessings. I forget to be content in the things God has given me. I forget to trust God is going to give me everything I need but maybe not when or how I want it. I simply forget.

Contentment is possible. It simply takes work. It takes commitment on our part to not complain about the things we do not have. Instead we need to focus on the things we do have. Focusing on the pure grace God has given each and every one of us. This contentment is important so that we can in fact continue to praise God the way that He deserves……

Today, as I reflect, I am content.  Content in my business.  Content in my marriage.  Content in my life.  I know God will continue to bless me if I remember everything I have is a gift from him.

Are you content in your life?  Are you struggling to find the positive when there only seems to be negative?  PAUSE and give thanks for everything – no matter how small.  You will be amazed at how this “gratitude walk” will change your outlook.  If we practice this each day, Negative Nellie will find a new home.   We will be content and happy in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

A Wedding Anniversary

WOW!  It doesn’t seem possible but six years ago today, I married my amazing hubby.  For those of you who know our story, sorry for the repeat but it is a true tale of unconditional love which lasted over time.

Rob and I dated the summer BEFORE high school – I was from OTHS and he was from Neptune. A strange mix during those years, I mean our schools were rivals.  He walked into my house with a friend of the family and our eyes met.  The rest was history.  There are some pictures which along with some stories have helped me to remember.

Opposite schools, different backgrounds – not a great match.  I caved under peer pressure and the desire to fit in my first year in HS.  We broke up and never spoke again. He went his way and I went mine.

In July 2001, I received a note in the mail from him. He said after a year of searching, this was his last attempt to connect with me. The search for me started because of a roadside memorial said “HOPE”. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t me.  The easy thing would have been to reach out to my dad but who does things the easy way, right?

When I saw the note, I smiled but then there was a look of amazement across my face. Belinda was like Who is this? Tell me more? She had no idea who he was nor did she know much about my high school days so she was curious.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship.  I was content for it to be “Belinda and I” (or you and me kid) till she went to college.  Little did I know, God had other plans for us.  Rob and I emailed for over 3 months sharing all aspects of our life.  I shared tales of my past as did he.  We connected but I never let him believe we would be anything more than friends – I wasn’t interested.  My heart was opening up but “love” just didn’t seem to be in the cards.

On October 12, 2001 after working the midnight shift, Rob drove to EHT to spend the day with me at a craft show.  Yes, a craft show.  He knew I would be there all day and it didn’t matter.  He walked in the door and our eyes met – my heart skipped a beat.  NOPE!  I wasn’t looking for a relationship.  The day was busy with lots of kids, I was making American Girl doll clothes back then.  At the end of the day, he helped me pack up everything and we went back to my house for dinner.  Belinda was spending the day with friends so we spend hours talking and reconnecting. He showed me a picture of me from the summer we dated which he kept all of those years.  It was the first of many trips Rob would make to EHT over the next 5 years. He traveled to EHT to spend his days off with us every week.  He traveled to cheering competitions, sat through practices, and went to craft shows.

One year later, at Christmas, Rob proposed and I accepted! Yes, we were engaged for almost 9 years before we got married. He was concerned about Belinda. He didn’t want to change her life as she was in high school – a competitive cheerleader, active in church and EHT was the only home she had ever known.  They had their ups and downs.  This was the first man in her life besides my dad and her best friend’s dad.  He would give her the world. She is the daughter he never had.

When Belinda left for college, I sold our home in EHT and moved to Brick. Not an easy move for me, Miss Independent.  I had been in my own home for about 20 plus years and had built a life there. Once Belinda became a resident of North Carolina and was in her final year of college – the wedding date was set. I was calm and just thought it would be a routine kind of thing.  I mean could a piece of paper and a ceremony really make a difference?

I was a nervous. Why?  It was a simple ceremony with a few close friends and family. As my dad started to walk me down the aisle, the reality hit. This was really happening – I was getting married. I almost passed out walking down the aisle and the pictures show the slight look of panic.  It passed as I saw Rob, just as nervous standing with Pastor and Belinda smiling at me. It was an amazing day – the weather was beautiful, our families were there and we got to celebrate with those who mean the most to us.

I wouldn’t change a minute of the last 16 years. We have had our rough spots but we have worked through them. Health issues about the last few years have taken a toll on both of us.  Rob’s unconditional love has helped me to grow as a wife, a mom and a person. We are definitely opposites but we do compliment each other – opposites attract, right?

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, my hubby. Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!