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 a Titus Woman?

I am blessed with many positive people in my life who encourage me, support my efforts and know just the right thing to say.  When health struggles plague me, when fear and doubt creep; I am grateful for the reminder I am blessed to be a work in progress.  I am grateful God continues to refine me to be the woman he calls me to be…

I stumbled on a blog which talked about the qualities young women should learn from older women.  I guess in years – I would be the older woman but I am still a work in progress.  Here are the qualities as they are listed in Titus 2:3-5 which says:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

1) Self-Control – definitely a work in progress here.  She is self-controlled with her spending habits, her words, her temper, her appetites, her priorities, and her use of time.   Yea, I would have to stay this is a HUGE struggle for me.  I call out for help when I am in a weak moment or in a crisis .  My prayer life is getting stronger as I some to God each morning.  As she pursues intimacy with God, her soul is satisfied and she finds contentment and strength through his Spirit. For me, contentment leads to self-control and with God’s help, I work on this daily.

2) Purity.  By God’s grace, this is something I obtained over the years.  The greek word for purity here is ‘hagnos’ and is referring to moral and sexual purity.  Unfortunately this was not the case growing up, but with a gift from God – my daughter Belinda, I was able to work towards this.

3) Working at Home.  A Godly woman is not lazy – she is to be a hard worker.  Okay, I am sure God did not mean for me to be a workaholic, unable to put down the “gadgets” and stop working.  The passage does talk about being skilled in our homemaking abilities as well.   We should shine like lights in a dark world. We should love maintaining a warm cozy home for our family and those passing through.  I have never professed to be good at the homemaking abilities – dust bunnies can count on a home for a little while BUT we are always neat.  I love to care for my family at home and am really more of an introvert.  I am a work in progress..

4) Kind.  A kind woman is a woman who is careful with her words, generous, thoughtful and compassionate. She is cheerfully helpful and gracious when wronged. Without sounding like I am bragging, I would say I am kind.  This is why my career in social work was a success.  I pray each day I am able to apply the same principles to my Thirty One business.  Yes, I can look back on the work I did and say “you did well”.

5) Submissive to their own husbands.  There’s just one specific relationship where God has called us to submit and it is to our husband.  She stands out in this modern world as a woman who allows her husband to take the lead.  This is definitely a work in progress.  On most days, I am okay with this and am willing to let hubby take the lead. Then there are those days when the independent woman kicks in – and he will let me know about it.  I am grateful he understands it is not intentional but comes from years of being an independent single mom.

I talk a lot about being a Proverbs woman as Thirty One is based on Proverbs 31 – The Virtuous Woman but the description in Titus made it a little easier to see myself as a work in progress.  I am a work in progress and JUST FOR TODAY, I will continue to work on this.  What about you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Fireside Lessons

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

I have learned many lessons from my husband about how to do ministry. Dan is a people person and views strangers as friends he simply hasn’t met yet. But his heart beats for the lost man who seems to be running from God with every ounce of energy he has. Dan’s passion gave birth to the Fireside Ministry.

Every Sunday night men from all walks of life gather in our driveway around a fire pit to share what God is doing in their lives as well as the struggles they are experiencing. They ask for help. They pray for each other. Fireside time is a holy time where God shows up and works in amazing ways.

One Sunday night I slipped into the garage to grab something out of the refrigerator we keep there. When I heard Dan talking about the spaces we have to create in our lives, I stopped and listened.

For months, I had been brutally examining my life. I was very busy doing good things, but were those things ordained by God or tasks simply assigned by my own need to be seen and heard? I was tired and discouraged – ready to give up.

I sat down on the garage steps and listened as a master teacher laid out a life-changing truth for me.

Dan said, “I give Scott a hard time about his fire-building technique. But there is a truth here for all of us about the spaces we need to have in our lives. Scott cannot stand to see space in a fire. The minute one of the logs burns through, Scott jumps up and replaces it with two logs … and the fire always struggles to keep burning. Here’s why. A fire has to have space to burn its brightest. There has to be room for air to get through and fan the flames. If there are no spaces, the fire will soon die out because it can’t breathe.”

“Mary, you need space in your life … for Me,” the Father whispered to my heart.

I immediately knew what I had to do. I had to lay down every commitment, every ministry, and every log in my life at the feet of Jesus. I was smothering the power of God because there were too many logs on my fire and no space for Him to fan the flames of His plans for me.

I’ve repeatedly tried to defy my God-given need for rest, thinking that I’m somehow above both the occurrence and consequences of exhaustion. Some urgent task will always call my name, as will that person whose life will absolutely disintegrate before my eyes if I don’t do something right now. My ego loves those deadly toxic strokes that are from the pit and smell like smoke.

Stress shouts, “Get busy! There is so much to do!” Stress applauds and dances with delight as I keep on “doing” instead of “being.”

Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. Details! I need details! Instead, God calls me to rest.

I don’t want to rest.

When I rest, I feel guilty. I have places to go, people to see, and important things to do. I hear the quiet whisper of the One who knows me best and loves me most, “Mary, it is time to rest.”

In Psalm 23:2 the psalmist writes, “He lets me rest.” Don’t let that gentle statement fool you. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says it this way, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” I can personally testify to the fact that the word “makes” holds a world of possibilities in the hands of our creative God.

Throughout the years God has gently grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent loving Father and well aware of just how much rest we need and when we need it.

We will rest – one way or another. The logs will come off and space will be created for our good and His glory. God’s love will see to it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Listen and Be Still

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Listen, be still and wait,

You’ll hear all kinds of things:

A moth up on the windowpane,

Whir of birds on the wing.

Listen, be still and hear

The language of the wildflowers.

Be serene and patient; wait

For new sounds every hour.  – Mami Oaburn Odum

These are the words I needed to hear this morning because I forget to LISTEN and BE STILL.  My mind is always racing 100 miles ahead of where I am – letting moments pass by, letting frustration creep in, and worse of all letting Negative Nellie and Doubtful Debbie land for even a moment.  Patience has never really been a strong point for me.

The last few weeks have been a struggle, I have found myself undergoing a range of emotions or should I say reactions which are not always pleasant.  I can be down right mean sometimes – yes, it happens.

I have asked Hubby to point it out to me when it happens.  Okay, I didn’t say it was the best decision but with brain fog happening more and more – I need someone to help me remember.   Just the other day.  We were having a great morning when all of a sudden – this gray cloud came over me and I was “snappy”.  I know hard to believe, right?  LOL.  I actually found myself stopping for a moment , keeping QUIET and saying the Serenity Prayer.  Within an hour – gray cloud gone and sunshine prevailed for the rest of the day.  I so which I could understand why the gray could comes out of no where.  I don’t know where they come from BUT I do know what makes them go away – listening to and signing my favorite songs, asking God for help instead of demanding help; keeping quiet, appreciating my surroundings and being grateful for all of the many blessings God has given me.

I find myself having one sided conversations with God (or anyone else who will listen) and then when I need to BE STILL, I become impatient because I want an answer NOW!  My time, not God’s time.

So JUST FOR TODAY in a day filled with activity, I will make sure I take a few moments to BE SERENE, BE STILL and LISTEN.  I have a dream and goals but I need to know if they are the same as what God has in store for me.  The only way to know is to LISTEN.  Get off the computer. Avoid the IPAD.  Get away from the phone.  UNPLUG, communicate with people, LISTEN and watch for the doors that God is opening for me.

Will you unplug with me and PLUG into God’s beauty which surrounds us?  What are you thankful for today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How To Make it a GREAT Monday

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WOOHOO!  Yes, I am one of those crazies that like Mondays.  Could be that it is the start of days devoted to my business.  Could be that Monday and Tuesday are hubby’s days off.  But I have to admit that I genuinely love Mondays.

I set my alarm to get up early. I’m full of motivation and anticipation for the week ahead.  I have my next 4 days planned out in detail – where I’m going, who I will meet, what work I will get done and even time some white space on the calendar for those unexpected curve balls called life.

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Yup, it is all about the Law of Attraction.  The reality is that your negative (dreading) thoughts are killing your productivity before you even start your day.  I know that Mondays are not everyones weekend.  I love Monday even when I was working CRAZY hours.  I kept a positive attitude.  Have you ever had a bad Monday and then it goes downhill the rest of the week?  Yup, you set the tone for the week.  So, are you looking to make a change?

To be honest, when I decided to make the most of Monday, I actually took control of my life’s direction.  Now, before you start the negatives of why you CAN’T do these things, give them a chance.  Remember baby steps are what help change the chaotic into the manageable:

#1 REST
Allow yourself to really slow down and unwind.  Maybe it is a glass of wine or reading a book or a bubble bath or a massage or watching endless episodes on Netflix?  Why not, right?  I know, you have a MILLION reasons but a little self indulgence lets you take some well earned rest.  Your weekends (days off) should be different then your work week.  It allows you time to forget the stresses and strains of being a busy woman on the go.  You get to recharge so that you are ready to start all over again on Monday morning.

#2 LIVE POSITIVELY
You need to practice this one daily.  I know those inner gremlins are screaming at you.  I know you have bad days.  I have them too.  The first thing I do is remind myself that my life is not this one day.  STOP and be grateful for the things in your life.  It will help you  to appreciate how good life really is. Your thoughts, your words, your status’, your tweets, your Facebook posts should ALL be positive. You wont be perfect but if you do your best; it will have a huge impact on the way you live your life.

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#3 RISE EARLY
I have talked about this before…Getting up early is the most motivating and self satisfying thing that I do.  When I wake up before 6am; I know it is going to be a really great day. Devotions done by 6:30AM. Coffee and a shower and I am at my desk by 7:30am.   Why so early? So I can be done in my office by 10 to enjoy time with hubby.  Days like these, I am unstoppable. My mood is upbeat and I feel energized because I have been productive.

#4 MAKE LISTS
This is more a part of my life since the MS but I have to admit, I LOVE seeing things checked off.  I make lists to ensure I don’t miss a thing and everything gets done.  It is also a great way to set-up my planner so I don’t over schedule or over commit myself.

#5 TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Yes, this actually is the key to being productive on any day.  By taking a regular break, I get fresh eyes and enthusiasm.  Planning all my tasks out in small increments helps too.  It ensures that I am not working non stop (or running around) for long hours.  This is how I avoid the afternoon sugar and feeling lethargic so my productivity suffers.   Take a tea break.  Go for a short walk.  Take a power nap.  Read a little in your favorite book.  You will see a huge difference in the rest of your day.

So, what are you going to do to make a difference in your Monday that will ripple into making a difference in your week?  Share your ideas with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!