Talking Back to Yourself

Thank you to Lisa Morrone for today’s message…

Last week, while selecting some avocados in the produce aisle, I heard a loud gasp which caused my attention to be diverted to a woman who had just started an avalanche of sorts over by the oranges. As she restacked the fruit I distinctly heard her mutter, “Stupid girl! How could you be so clumsy?” In that moment I imagined her as a five year old child being berated by her mother, in the same tone, for the same offense.

From an early age, I remember learning that spoken words have power, both to hurt and to heal. My mom taught me to use the words that came out of my mouth with care, particularly when they were directed towards others. What I did not understand then was that the way we talk to ourselves can have just as much power to transform our minds—in both good and bad ways.

In the first testament, the Bible contains an historical timeline of accounts surrounding King David, beginning in his childhood and culminating with his death. David, like you and I, encountered some great highs and some equally low lows. In today’s Scripture, we find David battling with what I believe to be borderline depression. He was tired of being chased by his enemies, tired of being misunderstood, and likely tired of waiting for God’s promises to come to fruition. Can you relate?

Buried in the words of Psalm 42 is a valuable lesson on self-speak that we would do well to put into practice. David knows he’s feeling particularly low. So he wisely acknowledges and labels his feelings. But then David uses the power of his own words to construct a ladder which he uses to climb his downcast spirit out of the pit of despair he’s found himself in.

Here are the four rungs David put in place:

HOPE: He looks his despair squarely between the eyes and directs himself to “Put your hope in God.”

PRAISE: Next David invokes a new (contrary) attitude by saying, “for I will yet praise him.”

AUTHORITY: He reminds himself who his Lord is by identifying Him as, “my Savior and my God.”

RECOLLECTION: Lastly, David takes a decisive walk down memory lane when he declares, “therefore I will remember you”—which I am sure brought him back to thoughts of himself as a boy killing a lion and then the giant, Goliath, and having escaped from the tip of Saul’s spear a time, or three.

Do you feel in a state of despair today? Have you been passively listening to (and agreeing with) all the negative self-talk that comes along with it? Do not lose heart—USE YOUR WORDS! It’s time you quit listening to yourself, and start talking back to yourself instead. Speak out transformative words of hope and praise. Remind yourself aloud who your Lord is and recount the many times He has redeemed your circumstances, been true to His promises, and shown His kindness towards you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!


That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the city park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it, too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to) folks still do it. As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say, “You’re going to walk down it eventually.”

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin. Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.

  • You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate-covereds in one sitting. You’re not even driving by.
  • You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend…ever again!
  • You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you…ever again.
  • You’re not going to look at that particular website.
  • You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.
  • You’re not going to gossip about other people.
  • You are not going to drink because you know you have an alcohol problem.
  • You are not going to indulge in online shopping because you’re in debt.
  • You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence. But then there’s a nicely groomed little path that you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

  • The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.
  • You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.
  • You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.
  • You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.
  • You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin Donut store.
  • You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.

The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them…eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a gateless fence.

  • Remove the contact.
  • Change your job.
  • Get rid of your computer.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Take a different route home from work.
  • Remove the bottle.
  • Unsubscribe.

Make the path impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29 NKJV). That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path. Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

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!

When Worry Weakens Your Soul 

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message focused on one of my favorite passages in the Bible…

My husband, Steve, and I sat anxiously in our seats. I wondered if I was going to be able to endure the ride, especially knowing my propensity for motion sickness. But we began nonetheless.

The guide strapped all passengers into the tiny boats and gave last minute instructions. Of course there were life preservers, but what good would they do in the fierce rapids that threatened to suck its prey below the surface?

The crew boarded and began the journey down the mysterious Amazon. The calm meandering waters quickly gave way to fierce torrents, rushing rapids, and rocky crags protruding from the foaming waters. Alternating between plunging into the water and flying into the air, the boat made its way through the first set of rapids. My body relaxed, thankful that was over. Several times along the journey calm gave way to chaos as passengers maneuvered to keep the boats afloat. Often, I closed my eyes and waited for the turbulence to pass.

When we finally reached the end of our journey, I picked up my popcorn and walked out of the theater.

No, I wasn’t really on the Amazon River strapped in a tiny boat. I was comfortably sitting in a cushioned chair in the IMAX Theater watching a documentary about the Amazon River. In the five-story domed screen covering 6532 square feet of projection surface, large images put you in the center of the action, and the surround sound gave the illusion that you were indeed wherever the screen took you. It wasn’t real.

Yes, I did get a bit queasy from the larger-than-life movement down the river, but I was never in real danger. Even though the producers and engineer tried their best to create a realistic experience, I knew it wasn’t true. It was a movie. I would walk out unscathed.

That is the peace of walking, or in this case sitting, in the truth. Every day the enemy seeks to trip us up by stirring up worry about the future. It’s not real. It’s imaginings. Something that most likely will never happen.

Worrying is like sitting in the IMAX Theater watching a documentary about the Amazon River, but thinking you’re really in the boat. You’re not. It is your imagination running wild.

So what do you do?

Stop looking at the screen…the imaginings in your mind.

Leave the theater…the cinema where the worriers in you heart loop round and round.

Trust in God…the only One who knows what the future holds. He’s got this.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful 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!