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!

You are Accepted

Thank you to Jennifer Rothschild for today’s message:

Several years ago, my friend Lisa was going through a crafty phase and wanted to make a piece of word art for me. So, she texted this question: “If one word could become a reality in your life, what would it be?”

Girl, this took me awhile! The one word that kept coming to mind was “accepted,” but I was too embarrassed to admit that feeling accepted was what I really longed for.

I was a Christian, so I knew God accepted and loved me unconditionally. Wasn’t that already a reality in my life?

The reality was, I was afraid God accepted everyone but me.

In pondering my one word, God began to show me that I associated my performance with my acceptability.

Here’s what I (wrongly) believed: If I am good, I am acceptable. If I help people … if I am a blessing instead of a burden … well, then I am accepted. But, if I fail, blow it or mess up, then I feel like a reject — not acceptable to me, not to others and certainly not to God.

My skewed belief was I was acceptable only when I was at the top of my game or in the center of God’s will. Clearly, I had not truly embraced my identity in Christ because acceptance is what I already have.

So, I texted Lisa back with my one word that I needed to embrace and believe: accepted.

Lisa’s gift showed up in the mail a week later. It was a wooden ledge with the Scrabble letters A-C-C-E-P-T-E-D glued on it. This is a treasure to me because it is a constant reminder to see what I already have in God rather than seek it in the wrong ways and places.

Lots of us struggle with trusting the truth that we’re acceptable to and accepted by God. We are accepted not because of what we do or don’t do; we are accepted not because of how we succeed or if we’re good. We are accepted not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and to as many as receive Him, He gives the power to be sons and daughters of God (John 1:12). Talk about accepted!!

We are not only accepted “in” the beloved, we are accepted “by” the Beloved Himself!

My Scrabble word “accepted” reminds me I already have what I want. When I am feeling less than acceptable, I hold it in my hand, wrap my fingers around it and the truth it represents, and tell myself, “This is what God gave me. This is who I am.”

Can you take that truth in?

If you feel invisible, it may be because, deep down, you never really embraced the truth about yourself — that you are accepted by God, admired by Him and have His full and unconditional love.

Just like Lisa glued the word “accepted” to a Scrabble ledge for me, ask God to glue the word “accepted” to your heart so that, with every heartbeat, this truth is reinforced and becomes woven into the very fiber of your being.

Oh my friend, you are accepted by God. That is your reality.

When you accepted Christ, He accepted you. You may sometimes feel rejected, but how you feel is not who you are! You are acceptable, accepted — no exceptions!

Have a ThirtyOne-deful day!

What Do Happy People Do?

Last week I talked about three things happy people do, remember it was:

  • They don’t dwell on the past
  • They focus on the here and now
  • They recharge

Believe it or not, there are 4 more things they do.  Have you every searched “things happy people do” on Google?  OMG!  There is a ton of stuff.  I have scanned a lot of it and it really comes down to just a few things said in a different ways.

So here are a few more things happy people do and those who aren’t happy 24/7 don’t do:

#4. They don’t spend time with toxic people

We all have had or have people in our life who are toxic.  The ones who say things behind your back. Or are constantly putting you down.  Maybe they promise to change but it just never happens?  Being around people like this over a long period of time, will bring you down. Happy people don’t let this happen.  They quickly recognize a toxic person when they see one. Me, not so quickly.

Here are some tips to help you recognize a toxic person, and what to do about it:

  • Notice when someone puts you down. Are the words they use positive or not. Body language can also tell you how someone feels about you. Don’t feel good around them? Gradually close them off.
  • Notice when someone constantly cancels on you (leaving you feeling bummed)  If someone doesn’t want to spend time with you, and they are constantly cancelling on you, it might be time to direct your energy into something or someone else.
  • Be aware of those who take advantage of your kind nature. I’m happy just going along with things most of the time but some people will use you for it.
  • Don’t let people take advantage of your generosity – whether it’s time or money, don’t let people take advantage of you.  It is okay to say no. What’s the worst that can happen?
  • Spend time with those who make you feel cherished, valued and happy

#5. They value their self-worth

We are all human, so at some point in our life, we are going to have negative thoughts about ourselves. Happy people control these thoughts, or at least recognize when their self-worth is low. They know the moments will pass, and at the end of the day, they are just thoughts.

When your mind starts to wander to thoughts of low self-worth, or doubting yourself, spend time focusing on the good stuff. REMIND yourself of the great things you’ve done, or take yourself away to a happy moment in your life.  Being happy is all about choosing to be happy. Lacking in self-worth can be controlled just as easily as controlling your thoughts.

#6. They keep things simple

How have you felt after you cleared out your closet, or tossed/donated items you didn’t need anymore? Awesome, right? That’s the beauty of keeping things simple. “Clutter in the house clutters the mind”

“It is simple to be happy, but it is difficult to be simple”.

Our lives are complicated and busy.  I don’t know about you but I long for things how they used to be.   So how do we keep things simple? Here are a few ideas:

  • Toss old stuff away. If you haven’t used it in the last 6 months, are you ever going to need it, really?
  • Keep some time in your schedule clear – you deserve some time off
  • You don’t need to be busy to feel validated. Being busy and being productive are two very different things
  • Looking for a solution, and can’t find it right away, come back to it tomorrow. Obsessing over things for long periods is not going to get you a solution.

#7. They smile often

Yes, smiling makes people happy. When you smile, your face lights up. When you’re on the phone and you’re smiling, your demeanour changes.  EVERYONE looks and feels better when they smile.  Happy people tend to smile more. Consider this quote from Scientific American:

“It would appear the way we feel emotions isn’t just restricted to our brain—there are parts of our bodies which help to reinforce the feelings we’re having,” says Michael Lewis, a co-author of the study.

Our emotions can be affected by our physical body, too. Feeling down, stressing – SMILE!  It might just do you a bit of good, and help you improve your mood (even just temporarily).

Are you a happy person 24/7 or do you strive for it?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Don’t Worry – Be Happy

Did you start humming the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”?  I do every time I see or hear this line.  Have you ever wanted some of the “pink kool-aid” people who are alway happy take?  You must know someone who always seems to be happy, I have one or two people I know like that.

When I am not having a MS flare up (of the depression kind), I am pretty much a happy go lucky kind of gal.  Yes, I have times of sadness, anger, frustrate – don’t we all? I mean if we didn’t have a variety of emotions we would be “like a wet noodle” or a “block of stone”.

I will be the first to admit, on days when depression hits I enter a black hole where there sees to be no way out.  It can last for an hour, a day, a week and sadly there are times when it can last for longer.  You know those times when even the simplest word will make you cry.  Key the song “Cry Me a River”. LOL.  Thank you to “Modern Day Girl” for inspiring this post.

1. They don’t dwell on the past.

I know I do especially on a bad day.  The shoulda, coulda, woulda kick in and the path into the black hole gets deeper.  What happens when you start with the stinkin’ thinkin’? Things get worse instead of better, right?

So how do you stop yourself from dwelling on the past? Remember “It takes 21 days to make or break a habit”.  So you need to change your mindset.  Your mind is a powerful thing and you can control how you think, and it’s not hard either.  When you focus on the here and now, it becomes easier to get rid of the old bad habits.

FIRST, recognize you’re dwelling on past situations. I know, easier said then done.  When you spend time being more aware of your thoughts, it is easier to change your mindset. Like a new habit, once you start it becomes easier over time.  When you’re aware you are dwelling on thoughts of the past, you can work on ignoring them, or replacing them with focus on the here and now.

2. They focus on the here and now

When you get rid of the thoughts from your past, you can dwell more on the here and now.  I have been told meditation helps and will teach you how to focus on your breathing and what is around you.  I haven’t mastered this yet but I haven’t given up.    Here are some ways meditation and yoga (still need to try this) can help:

  • When you’re focusing on the past, you’re distracted.
  • We miss moments in our lives which may have been the happiest.
  • When we let our thoughts control us , we feel unbalanced
  • When we’re aware of our surroundings, we feel more empathetic towards others, have high self-esteem, and can reduce impulsivity (reducing mental health issues – Psychologytoday.com)

So, if meditation and yoga aren’t for you, find a way to focus on the here and now.  Journal your thoughts.  Take a few minutes to “zone” out.  I like to sit outside and watch the clouds float by, imagining it is all of my past floating away.  I guess my own form of meditation.

3. They recharge

Recharging is something we all need to do.  For happy people, it is part of the every day life.  Not sure what this means? Well, it means different things to different people. Think about what you like to do in your spare time? I know, what spare time, right?  I’ve been there.  The truth is having a chronic disease has helped to me identify when I need to recharge.  It is usually a SMACK but I am learning to stop and rest.  Maybe one of these will work for you:

  • A good book and a cup of coffee
  • A nap
  • Exercise of some kind
  • Drawing
  • Writing/scribbling
  • Painting
  • Spending time in a spa
  • Eating chocolate in front of the TV
  • Pretty much anything that makes you happy

The truth is, we live our lives in overdrive, always rushing to the next thing.  Our bodies need time to relax and recharge. How happy are you when your schedule is jammed full with no time for fun?  Probably not very, right?

If you feel like you don’t have time for yourself, make time. I know it’s hard, believe me I get it.  I was a single mom working full-time but you need to schedule time.  Maybe when the kids are napping, grab the book you’ve been meaning to read. Or on your lunch break at work – read your favourite magazine (whether online or paper).

Happy people value their time and know cultivating happiness is important.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Feel Smarter and Stronger

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It is officially SUMMER!  That is what the calendar says, right?  The kids are out of school. We have heard for years that we are all becoming “coach potatoes”, right?  The more technology, the busier we get, the busier we get, the less time we spend enjoying nature and the great outdoors.  Funny, I always thought that it would be the opposite.  

Did you not that there are REAL health benefits from spending time in nature.  I don’t mean just opening the sun roof to your car and absorbing the sun.  I mean taking a walk or sitting outside and just breathing in the fresh air.  

There are awesome environmental benefits that are provided by trees and other plants. BUT do you take advantage of the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits available from nature?

Did you know that, “people today spend up to 25 percent less time enjoying nature than people did just 20 years ago.”

Remember how you felt after you took a break and spent a few minutes outside?  Didn’t you come back energized and ready to conquer the next challenge?  Statistics have shown that people that walked through an arboretum performed 20% better in memory and attention tests then those that walked on a busy street.  Okay, so maybe there isn’t an arboretum outside your home or office BUT there is probably a park close by.  Studies show that long stretches in nature have resulted in dramatic increases in our creativity and problem solving skills. Nature also improves our mood, and  generosity.

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Here are some of the other benefits from being out in nature:

  • Regain physical energy
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Decrease stress hormones
  • Heighten immunity
  • Lower heart rate
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Better cholesterol

Why does all of this work?  Because we are actually programmed to spend time relaxing and resting, especially in natural environments.  We are meant to spend a substantial amounts of time outdoors so we can experience our Creator and restore our spirits.

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A long walk, gardening, sitting by the ocean — any activity let us disconnect from the crazy and get reconnected to our hearts is a plus mentally, physically and spiritually.  Nature is God’s reset button for our minds, bodies, and spirits. If you’re spending all day indoors, you’re missing the restorative power of nature.

How much time do you spend outdoors each week?