When You Don’t Like the Story God is Writing

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

If it were up to me, I would have written some stories differently. My second child would not have died, and I would have a little girl who would be 21 years old this year. Carol’s son would not be in prison. Linda’s 20-year-old daughter would not be a quadriplegic. Barbara’s daughter would not be bipolar. Patty’s 21-year-old daughter would not have died in a car accident. Jennifer’s husband would not have died of a brain tumor. If I had been writing the story.

But I’m so glad I’m not the author of those stories. Each and every one of these friends has ministries that impact thousands upon thousands of women all over the world. God has turned their pain into purpose, the misery into ministry, and their devastation into anointed messages of hope and restoration. Sudden glories fill and spill from each of these women’s lives. Their love journeys of living and moving and having their being in Christ have led them through dark valleys and back out into the light on the other side. They practically glow with radiant wonder.

Difficult times are pregnant with glory moments just waiting to be birthed in the lives of those willing to labor through the pain. The key is to not allow bitterness and anger to make our hearts infertile to God’s gifts. One way to avoid the darkening of the soul is by constant communication seasoned with thanksgiving—a continual acknowledgement of His presence.

Glory moments in difficult times are not dependent on our circumstances, but on our focus. Focus on the difficulty and God is difficult to see. Focus on God and glory seeps through the broken places. Difficulties become the bass notes of our life’s song, adding a depth and beauty not found in a life that hovers around middle C.

After my husband and I got out of college, we moved to Charlotte so that my husband could go into practice with another doctor. But after we moved here, the doctor changed his mind.

“Sorry, Steve. Good luck,” the doctor said.

I was so upset. OK, I was angry. Flat out angry. Angry with the doctor and angry with God. We had no money. No job. And school debt.

Three months later a situation opened up that was far better than our original plan. It was Ephesians 3:20 in lab-coat white: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

Well, why didn’t God do that in the first place? Why didn’t He lead us to that second opportunity when we did all that praying and seeking? He could have. But He is far more interested in developing our character than doling out a life of comfort and ease. C.S. Lewis notes: “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

We are ever the students. He is the teacher still. Trials rip away the flimsy fabric of self-sufficiency and become the raw material for God’s miracles in our lives. And those miracles are a sudden glory.

Someone once said, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Oh that we would trust Him even if the twists and turns never make sense this side of heaven. That’s what trusting God is all about. As we live and move and have our being in Him, the dark places are simply opportunities to trust that He knows the way—and the perfect time to hold on tight.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Throwback: Loving Yourself When Your Too….

This post first appeared on June 30th, 2016…Woman-at-beach

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Last week, I had an AHA moment.  A moment when the brain fog lifted and I realized I had to stop making excuses for why a few (okay, 20) pounds were back.  Yes, I could blame health issues.  The truth was I was slowly slipping back into old habits I had BEFORE I lost 100 pounds.

B4 picture with Belinda

Yup, me and my cutie of a daughter (she hates this picture). It is REALLY old but the truth is there aren’t many pictures of me when I was heavy.

Back to the AHA moment….I needed to take control of what I could control – my eating. I was repeatedly complaining about “gaining” or not losing weight as hubby’s weight kept going down.  The truth was, he was eating healthier and I was secretly eating junk! Okay, so the truth is out, now I have to be accountable.

I wanted the capris which fit so good over the last 2 summers to again fit.  I wanted the jiggle in my thighs to be gone.  I wanted the puffiness in my face to be gone.  There was no magic wand but there was the proverbial SMACK on the head which made me realize what I needed to do.  It was at the moment I opened my email to find an online special from Weight Watchers.  I didn’t delete it, I just let it sit in my inbox.  After a lot of prayer and thought, I did it!  I signed up again.

It was time for me to stop beating myself up and take some of my own advice…

1. Stop comparing.

Hubby loves me not matter what – I mean when we got together, I was on the weightless journey.  Over the last two years as I struggled with health issues, I was constantly comparing myself to others. I felt inferior because I hadn’t stuck to the program.

Once you stop comparing, you realize you will always be too fat, too skinny, too tall, too this when you compare yourself to others.  The comparison game will kill your dreams before you even start. Know you are exactly what you’re supposed to be—one of a kind and beautiful.

2. Change the way you see.

Have you had experiences where people you told you how pretty (or nice you look) BUT you thought you were unattractive? I have.  Where you say “thank you” and add “but I have….” negating their compliment.

Dr. Wayne Dyer often said, “When you change the way you look at things, things you look at change.” I know this is true because I often experience it in my life.

Focus on what is wonderful about you, whether it’s your kindness, generosity, or thoughtfulness.  When you focus on the internal features, the external features seem to start to sparkle with radiance.  It’s not that you changed—your perception did.

3. Change your thoughts.

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How many times have you looked at a picture or a video of yourself and a barrage of negative self-talk dominated your thoughts? Those inner gremlins start to take over and before long they are in control.

How sad it would be if we allowed those negative voices to stop us from offering what we have to give: our knowledge, ideas, voice, gifts, our love, and more? We would be withholding these things from people who might need and benefit from them.

My Fierce Cheerleader and Abundance Coach, Eryka Peskin, has taught me how to celebrate those negative things so they no longer have control over my life.  Try it.  Step back and reframe those negatives into a positive.

You have so much to give (even if you feel like you don’t): your unique gifts, your experience, courage, ingenuity, creativity, and so much more. Don’t let the negative voices stop you from sharing what you have. The world (your neighbors, your friends, your grandma, or whatever your world may be) needs it.

The truth is, there will always be someone or some people who will find you undesirable or unlovable, but the world is also full of people who will feel the opposite.

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Ultimately, the deeper truth you have to find within yourself is this: If no one loves me, will I love myself?  YES, I will love myself.

In the moments when I don’t like what I see in the mirror, I make a choice. I make a choice to give myself total acceptance and love for all that I am: the good, the ugly, and the bad.

Will you make the choice to love yourself when you’re too short, too tall, too fat, and too skinny?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Conquering Your Challenges

Happy HUMP DAY!  It is a challenge in itself when it comes to getting through the work/school week, right?  Every day we have challenges – large or small – and all day long we ask ourself questions to determine what action we will take to overcome the challenge.

We all want to overcome our challenges.  For some it may be business related for others it may be in their personal life.  There are many with health challenges including loosing weight.  Challenges look different to everyone.

When we are faced with a challenge, the most important thing we can do is to open our mind to wisdom, strength and our powerful mind.  The first step is to be positive, not letting the ANTs creep in.  I don’t mean the little annoying bugs which raid our picnics, I mean “automatic negative thoughts”.  Many times when we are faced with disappointment or frustration, whether we mean to or not, the questions we ask ourselves will lead up down the black hole of negativity.

Think about the last challenge you were faced with or maybe you are facing right now. Did one of these questions enter your mind (or worse yet, come out of your mouth)?

  • Why does this kind of stuff always happen to me?
  • Why can’t I get a break?
  • What the heck is wrong with me?

What if you were to change those “negative questions” to something more productive? I know it isn’t easy, I have been there (more times than I want to count). For some, we have said those negative questions for so long, we can’t imagine any others.

What if you considered asking these productive questions:

  • What opportunity does this challenge give me to grow?
  • Looking back, what can I do differently the next time to prevent this outcome?
  • What part of this is beyond my control so I need to let go of trying to change/fix it?
  • How do I want to show up in this situation?

The difference in the questions you ask yourself, will produce different thoughts which will produce different reactions to the challenge.  Your thoughts produce your reactions (how you feel, what you say, and what you do). Remember “The Secret“.. we want to bring more positive into our lives instead of bringing in the negative.

When you approach a challenge with these questions, you are able to build an action plan to move forward.  You drawing in the positive energy of the universe in an effort to move forward.  Believe me, I know how easy it is to let the ANTs creep in.  I know how easy it is to be blinded by the negative unable to see the opportunity.  It takes practice.  It takes time.  Each time you catch yourself with a negative thought, STOP!  Change the mindset and get ready to move forward with “good” thoughts.

When faced with an adversity I challenge you to ask productive (action producing) questions.  What challenge have you faced and learned from?  What challenge are you currently facing and now see a way to change the outcome?

Share your struggles with us.  You are not alone – we have either been through or are currently going through it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

It’s All about Perspective

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

It was just a quick check-up at the doctor’s office…or at least that’s what it was supposed to be. My “to-do-list” resembled a mile-long scroll and several deadlines loomed like thunder clouds ready to burst. But, the appointment would take just a few minutes. Just enough time to catch my breath.

“Good morning Mrs. Jaynes,” the cheery receptionist greeted. “May I see your insurance card please?”

We went through the regular check-in procedure and then I settled in a comfy chair with a magazine that I would not have normally read. I knew I wouldn’t have time to read a full-length article…since this was just a quick visit. My, oh my, the trouble those Hollywood folks get into.

Ten minutes turned into fifteen turned into twenty turned into thirty. My to-do list began growing heavier and heavier in my mind.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted the receptionist. “My appointment was thirty minutes ago. Did they forget me?”

“I’m so sorry,” she reassured me. “I’ll check on it right away.”

In just a few moments, a nurse appeared at the door. “Mrs. Jaynes, come right this way.”

My second stop was into a stark treatment room with more magazines. “Oh well, let’s see what Brittany did last year,” I mumbled to myself. At least I was in the room. That was good.

The clock continued ticking. With each passing minute my frustration grew. “I’m glad he’s not checking my blood pressure,” I grumbled to no one in particular.

Fifty minutes after I had walked into the office for my quick 5-minute check-up, the doctor walked into my room. My to-do list was magnified in my mind. My time was important too, you know. I didn’t have time to sit around and read out-dated gossip magazines!

The doctor was actually a friend of mine, but I was feeling less than friendly. Ice Queen is a description that comes to mind when I think of my probable appearance.

“Hi Sharon,” he began. “I’m sorry you have had to wait so long. I have been with a patient and had to tell her that she has terminal cancer. It took longer than I thought.”

Suddenly, my icy countenance began to melt into a puddle on the shiny tile floor and tears pooled in my eyes.I was upset about not checking insignificant frivolous errands off my to-do list, and the woman in the next room was pondering how she was going to spend her last days on earth. I envisioned her walking to her car and coming up with a brand new to-do list for her day.

  1. Live well
  2. Love well

Yes, I did have a check-up that day. God was the doctor and He looked into my heart to see that my perspective on life needed surgery. What’s really important? My silly list of errands? No. What should be at the top of my to-do list today and every day is:

  1. Live well.
  2. Love well.

Celebrate each day as an incredible gift from God. How will you do that today?

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!