#TBT: Bullying – The Visible vs the Invisible

I can hardly believe it has been 6 years since I started this blog.  For those of you who don’t know, it was started as a result of a challenge by Vanessa Coppes as a way to grow my business.

For those of you who have ever thought about blogging – do it!  It hasn’t just been good for my business but it has been good for my soul.  Sharing my strength, hope and experience with others has been amazing.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my when it comes to blogging since my MS plays havoc on processing thoughts BUT I will continue in some way!

So, as I celebrate heading into year number 7, here is a throwback to my very first post:

I wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

I was a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things I had when I was growing up and give my daughter, Belinda, more. Isn’t it every parent’s wish – to give their child more?  We lived in a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area with a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and affordable.  My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to change to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

It was then, the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker who loves working with troubled kids (she now works for the State helping disabled individuals). As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park which as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talked about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports.  Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came.  Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t head in that direction. 

Many believe if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community.  She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all I have both professionally and personally. 

I wanted to share this to let people know bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent and confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Since signing up to be a part of the Family Wellness & Beauty Day for Kickin’ It Kids AntiBullying, God has pressed on my heart to share this story. 

I know this was a a LONG post but it will always be a part of my story.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Every Storm – An Opportunity to Trust God

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message….

LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, You will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, You will reach down and save me by Your power  ~ Psalm 138:7, NCV

My father-in-law was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when he was caught in a school of jellyfish. Dad was stung twenty-three times. In severe pain and a state of sheer panic, he began to swim furiously, trying to escape the poisonous sea creatures.

The only problem was that he was not sure which way was up.

Dad was soon running out of air. He prayed … asking God for help.

And then a thought occurred to him. His only hope was to stop, relax, and look for the light. As he forced himself to relax, he began to float. And then he saw it … the light. With his last bit of energy, he began to swim toward the light and made it to the surface just before he passed out and was rescued.

We often react to a crisis in the same way.

When the excruciating pain of life leaves us breathless, we panic.

We are not sure which way to go.

We are soon paralyzed and in desperate need of rescuing.

And as a last resort, we cry out to God.

When will we learn that crying out to God should be our first response instead of our last resort?

The psalmist promises that God will keep us by His power. The word “power” means “strength and authority.” When we fully surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. He is our power link to God. And one of His most important jobs is to comfort us when we are in pain and sustain us in the storms of life.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative – and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you
(John 14:25-26, NLT).

Many times, when the storm waves of life hit, we forget every promise we know. That is when the Holy Spirit reminds us that …

·       God is faithful.
·       God will not forsake us.
·       God will never leave us.
·       God is always with us.
·       God will empower us to withstand the storm.

Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God.

Life can be messy and bad things will happen, but every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them – opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms.

In the midst of the darkness, He will point us toward the light. When a huge wave of daily life knocks us to our knees, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. When a storm overwhelms us, we need to stop, look for the light, and swim toward it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

You’re Truly Loved


Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message:

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God ~ Ephesians 3:17-19, CSB

I’m a girl who’s serious about coffee. One morning I poured water into my machine, pressed the “on” button and waited for the magic to happen. But my much-desired beverage failed to appear. I began investigating and discovered somehow the grounds had overflowed the filter and clogged the whole process. I cleared the way and soon I had a hot mug of something wonderful in my hands again.

The lies we believe are a lot like those grounds in my coffee maker. They may seem small and harmless but they can end up totally blocking the love God wants to pour into our lives. So let’s get rid of the lies and get back to the goodness that’s rightfully ours.

As I’ve connected with thousands of women as an author, life coach and speaker, I’ve found the following three lies about love can cause us the most trouble.

1) I’m only loveable if I’m perfect. We often wear ourselves out trying to have hair, hearts and homes that are just right. When that doesn’t work, our solution is usually to try harder. Unfortunately, that’s like pouring more water into the clogged coffee maker. It only leads to a bigger mess. Instead we need to take hold of this heart-freeing truth: “I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved by God”

2) The amount of love I receive is based on what I achieve. Even if we become convinced that we don’t have to be perfect we can still believe love has limits. We then end up living like we’re on a reward system. For every good thing we do, we get a little more of God’s love. When we fail, He takes the love He’s given us away. But God’s love for us is infinite. We can’t do anything to gain more of it, and we can’t lose what’s already ours

3) If God loves me, nothing bad will ever happen in my life. The reality is that we live in a fallen, broken world where hard things happen. I went through a difficult season and kept thinking of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse in which God promises He has a hope and future for us. I asked Him, “If that’s true, why is this going on in my life?” And I sensed this in my heart, “I had good plans for my Son and they still included a cross.” Jesus was perfect and He still suffered. When we face challenges it doesn’t mean we are being punished by God or He is withdrawing His love from us. It simply means we are not in heaven yet.

This month as we celebrate love, “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). Unlike my little coffee pot, God’s love never runs out. He has more than enough to share with us. And He’s always willing to give us a refill whenever we need it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Are Emotions Ruling Your Decisions?

We have all done it, right?  Let emotions rule our decisions.  I am sure there are more time than I can remember where I made impulse decisions based on how I was feeling instead of thinking them through.

When we make an important decision at the height of an emotional state – whether we are angry or ecstatic, frustrated or giddy – can lead to decisions you regret.  How about the shopping spree when you were feeling down?  Or the eating binge? Or maybe you left a job after a bad review or incident?

Emotions are powerful. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative, but they always have the power to move us into action.

I have to admit, I take action more often when the emotions are uncomfortable – like fear or anger or frustration.  The end result was to always get rid of the feeling.  Yup, stuffing feelings lead me to my addiction and then to my relapse so many years later.  Those inner gremlins reared their ugly head and made me feel less than in so many ways.  They compared me to what others were doing in similar situations (or so I thought).  The end result was some really bad decisions leading to credit card debt and more negative feelings.

Emotions can  be brought on by the circumstances and events in your life, or by the manipulative behavior of a particular person in your life.  The key is to take notice when you feel pressure to make an important decision in the midst of strong emotion. Is it easy – NO!  The pressure of our emotions is strong.  It allows those inner gremlins we thought we had dealt with so many years ago to gain some strength.  Emotions or stuffing them, allows old behaviors to come back creating more of a mess.

The next time you feel pressured by your emotions, I want you to do something different…

That’s right. Do absolutely nothing. I know it is scary – trust me, I have been there more times than I can count lately.  Let yourself feel uncomfortable, afraid, angry, sad – and don’t make a decision or take an action. Just sit with the emotion.  No, I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little).  Talk it out with someone BEFORE you make the decision.  Over the last eight months, I’m grateful to have found a group of like minded people who help me through the emotions BEFORE I make a decision.  I hate asking for help.  I mean at 61 you would think I could make them on my own.  The truth is I can’t….

We need to embrace the idea that your emotions don’t have to rule. The are not facts they are feelings.  Emotions can actually teach you something. What message is your emotions sending you? What can you learn? And when would be a better time for you to make a decision or take action?

I’m a person who seeks instant gratification.  I hate feeling uncomfortable.  I don’t like people to see me being emotional so I stuff feelings which doesn’t make for good decision making either.  Do you stuff your emotions or do you share them?

The reality is – it is oaky to be emotional. It’s natural. Just don’t let your emotions think for you. Slow down. Take a breath. Be wise.  Remember emotions are not facts!

Today, I challenge you to not let your emotions rule your actions. STOP! Be still. Hold off on making a decision until you are less emotional. When we are emotional, we fell the NEED to make a decision immediately to get rid of the feelings.  But, what would happen if you refused to make a decision or take action in the midst of high emotions?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Notice Others in a Selfie World


Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4, NIV.

My daughter Noelle and I were sightseeing in New York City. One highlight was rocketing up 102 stories in a mere 47 seconds inside the elevator of the Freedom Tower. Once at the top, we looked for a good spot to take in the glorious view. I couldn’t help but notice two teenage girls taking up a large space in the very front.

The problem was they were not even looking at the city below. They were posing for selfies – lots of them! They laid on the floor and posed. They struck different standing poses and snapped. I walked around and returned to that same spot about ten minutes later. They were still there! Posing in pursuit of the perfect selfie with New York City in the background.

I doubt they noticed the other people who would have liked to snap a picture where they had set up camp. I wondered why they didn’t turn around and enjoy the panoramic view with their God given eyes instead of the phone screen. With screens taking center stage, women can be obsessed with capturing the perfect photo to show the world.

Yet Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Selfish ambition is a work of the flesh, not of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:26 (NIV) instructs, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each another.”

Does that mean it’s wrong to pose for a selfie? No – it can be a perfectly appropriate way to capture a moment. But there is cause for concern if you find that…

-You are overly concerned with portraying yourself a certain way to impress others

-You take numerous photos of the same pose to get it just right

-You compare your selfie to others and take mental notes on how you can improve yours

-You feel conceited when you see how favorable you look compared to others

-You are more interested in taking a selfie than meeting someone new or talking with an acquaintance

The Bible tells us to value others above ourselves. When we place the lens of our focus on the needs of others (instead of our own interests), we are having the same mindset as Jesus Christ. Popular culture fights against this notion. “Selfie” wasn’t even a word in the dictionary until 2013 but it’s commonplace today. The constant tracking of self can lead to a growing indifference towards others. The bigger we become inside the frame, the smaller everyone else becomes.

When you walk into a room, do you take the attitude of “Here I am!” or do you step in the doorway and think, “Ah, there you are!” Turning our “selfie” focus into an “others” focus takes practice and intention. God calls us to be “There you are!” people, women who are genuinely interested in others. But we live in a selfie world that caters to our natural instinct to preserve and exalt ourselves.

It’s time to switch things up. Instead of spending too much time preparing the perfect selfie, let’s quickly snap a picture of ourselves and then spend the bulk of our time focused on others. That view is much more meaningful.

Remember the teenage girls from the Freedom Tower? They walked out with some great selfies, but they never really took the time to take in the view. They missed out. Don’t miss the amazing people and things happening around you because you’re focused on your phone. Make it your daily practice to notice others in a selfie world.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!