When Your Whole Life Stinks


Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

Do you ever have a hard time seeing the bright side of things?

I do. After pulling all of our luggage, pillows and boxes from the car, I plopped on the couch in my brand new home, in a brand new city.

It’s not safe enough here, in this neighborhood. They are doing construction right next to us. There are no families around.

The anxious thoughts were eating my moment of joy.

The previous night didn’t help. Our train ride to the new home was horrendous. We slept in the passenger car. My three-year old daughter pleaded in 30-minute increments for a tissue for her nose. The door rattled. The train leaned in, then out, as it went down the track. I slept for half an hour.

It’s easy for me to see what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Things that stress me instead of what God has put there to bless me. Everything annoying, disturbing and wrong instead of the things that are right.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

What about you? What does your mind go to? What do you reflect on?

You know, that morning after our horrendous night on the train, I saw a woman I’d met earlier. After smiling, I asked her, “How was your night’s sleep?”

Her answer? “Good, I got some naps in.”

She chose to speak what was good rather than sinking into what was bad. She still smiled, her eyes looked happy and her face seemed ready for the day.

Later, I passed by my cabin neighbor. She recounted the night by saying, “Last night, I was awake. So all I did was stare at the beauty of the wide-open skies. You should have seen the stars. They were magnificent.”

Again, this woman chose to find the find the good in the bad.

What is the good in your bad?

God has left it for us, if we choose to see it. We can see Provider God over our anxiety. We can see hope rise above uncertainty. We can see little lights shine out from our vast darkness. We can give thanks for spurts of goodness when everything else is blah.

We can always:

Praise God’s character.
Give thanks for eternity.
Remember the good times.
Dwell on God’s promise that He’ll always be with us.
Decide to truly believe God is our Provider.

When Jesus came into this dark world, He brought goodness. And even better, He left it. Our job is to search it out, to draw it near, and to return to thinking about it, even when we’re prone to forget. This keeps our head up and our hope strong.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Look Where You’re Going

Thank you to Girlfriends in God for today’s message…

I live in a suburban neighborhood. As my family of five pulled out of the driveway in our minivan, we were about to encounter a very strange sight.

There – smack dab in the middle of the road – was a teen girl.

She was walking away from us, right in the center of the street. Her eyes were glued to her phone. She walked slowly, completely unaware of her surroundings (including our two-ton vehicle quickly approaching).

As we got closer in our van, I capitalized on this larger-than-life teachable moment.

“Kids, do you see that girl? Is she even aware we are here? Why is it dangerous to stare at your phone, especially when you’re in the middle of the street?”

My husband James was having a lot of fun with this. He followed her slowly, not passing her so she wouldn’t be startled. We were all curious about how long it would take her to realize she was being stalked by the mighty minivan. Would she get scared? Embarrassed?

To our utter surprise, she did not notice us. She turned the corner (still in the middle of the street) and then veered to the left, getting on the sidewalk.

She never looked up once as we drove by.

How much she missed by her preoccupation with her phone above all else! She averted danger and didn’t even know it. You and I (hopefully) won’t be walking down the middle of the street anytime soon, but perhaps there are times when we’re buried in our phones instead of looking where we’re going in life.

In Genesis 15, we see that Abram (who would later be renamed Abraham) didn’t have any offspring. He was a wealthy man with no heir. His quest for a son characterized much of his life. When he looked to make his servant Eliezer his heir, the Lord told him He had a different plan. “Look to the sky and see if you can number the stars. So shall your descendants be.”

Like Abram, when we look up from our phones and into the promises of God, the sky is the limit. We are not designed to be plugged into a device 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Instead we blessed when we meditate on the law of the Lord day and night (Psalm 1:2). Which promises of God are you standing on? Are you walking by faith with an expectant heart?

The next you are taking a walk outside, make sure your phone is in your pocket or purse. Look up into the sky God has created. The heavens declare His majesty if we will stop to listen. Don’t blindly follow the crowds with your head down, buried in your texts, emails, posts, and pins. Look around for your physical safety and look up to God for the safety of your soul.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me  ~ Psalm 51:10, NIV

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and completely changed her life. She felt conviction over what she had done, her heart softened, and she vowed never be that woman again. Karen had a beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when he cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of His ministry, after His first of miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, He scattered the coins of the moneychangers and over turned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’” (John 2:14-16, NIV)

Three years later, during His last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ He said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13, NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time? I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus initially cleared out the temple, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a moneychanger set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In just three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV) Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment as some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that he will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

Today, think back to a time when you made a decision to change something in your life: a bad habit, an ungodly behavior, a destructive relationship, hurtful words, overeating, the abuse of alcohol, disrespect to your husband, yelling at your children, bitterness toward someone who hurt you, etc.

Have you allowed any old ways or attitudes to creep back in? If so, simply ask Jesus to come and clean out the temple…again. Then cooperate with Holy Spirit to keep your resolve.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was. If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below. Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Envy

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”   Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)

Envy is defined as “a feeling of discontent or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck”; “a desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else)”.

I have felt envy.  I never wanted to admit that Envious Edna occasionally pays a visit to my office.  She tries to call at least once a month.  You know when monthly CELEBRATIONS or promotions are announced.  Sometimes it is easy to ignore the call while other times, she sits in the office for the day sharing her words of inadequacy.  Am I proud of this? NO!

Then in the midst, God will send me a sign – a gentle reminder that each of us are called to do his work.  That the body of Christ needs many parts to work and my part may be different than someone else’s.  As a result, their accolades now may be mine later.

I never thought it was envy.  I used to feel like they were just better at sales, recruiting, or bookings than I was.  Or it wasn’t my time. Or, maybe this was not what I was meant to do.  Ladies, lets be honest, envy and jealousy has drifted into all of our thoughts at some time. The difference is how each of us handles it.  Some use it as motivation to strive for greater things.  Others use it as an excuse NOT to achieve their goals.  Then there are those who never give it a second thought because they are focused on letting their individual qualities shine through.

I found that when I acknowledge the envy, confessed it before God (and anyone else that would listen) that I was taking steps to closing the door completely on Envious Edna.  I was healing.

The next step was to STOP the comparison.  We know that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side.  While we are comparing ourselves to others, there are people comparing themselves to us.  This tidbit of information really shocked me.  People were really envious of ME???

What do I do when I am feeling overlooked? Look up and celebrate with others. Send an email or text on the spot, and chase away those negative feelings. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15a, NIV).  The truth is this is the BEST medicine for me.  Bringing joy to others.

I am learning to be patient. I don’t know about you but patience is NOT usually one of my strongpoints.  I am learning to own my journey and enjoy it. My goal is to make someone smile each day and let my light shine (and maybe sell some Thirty One in the process)   “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV).

When I learned to let go of the envy and actually befriend the one who I was envious of, I learned that we both had strengths that could help each other.  I began to understand the dynamics of our personalities and why each of us were successful in our own way.  I could actually admit that I was successful in something.

Most of all, I have learned to have faith and trust in God.  He stands ready, willing and able to overcome our weaknesses through the power of His Spirit.  If we lean on him and follow his plan for our life, the blessings will fall upon us.  They may not be the way you want.  They may not be what you initially thought you wanted BUT gratitude is the key.  For everything (good and bad) is a blessing.  And I am reminded of that each time I hear the song “Blessings” by Laura Story.

So, if you have succumbed to envy or jealousy, now is the time to admit it.  Close the door on Envious Edna and rejoice with others as you trust in God’s timing.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!