When the Big Bad Bully Messes With You

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Being from North Carolina, I love the old black-and-white episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. (And no, we don’t all talk like that.) In one episode, the neighborhood bully is picking on Andy’s boy, Opie. This blond-headed newcomer taunts and makes fun of Opie until he feels like a total loser. He’s ashamed of his own cowardice and embarrassed in front of his friends. After Andy, the wise father, figures out what is disturbing his moping son, he gives him a little lesson in standing up to bullies. The next day, when the bully threatens Opie, the little freckle-faced boy looks his opponent in the eye and refuses to crumble under his threats.

“Do you want to fight?” the bully taunts.

Opie doesn’t say a word. He just puts up his fists.

“Oh yeah? Well, knock this rock off my shoulder and I’ll—”

Opie knocks the rock off his shoulder before the bully has time to finish his sentence.

“Oh yeah? Well, step into this circle,” the bully continues as he draws a circle around himself in the dirt.

Opie steps into the circle.

Suddenly, the bully grows nervous. “You better be glad I’ve got on my good pants,” the bully says as he backs away.

Opie never had to throw the first punch. All he did was stand his ground and the bully backed away. Bullies don’t like it when we stand our ground. Never have. Never will.

Notice how many times Paul admonishes us tostand in Ephesians 6:13-14. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able tostand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” No one can stand for us. We must stand on our own two feet and stand up against the Enemy—and we stand onthe Word of Truth to do it.

In his book The Reason for God, Timothy Keller said this:

“If anything threatens your identity, you will not just be anxious but paralyzed with fear. If you lose your identity through the failings of someone else, you will not just be resentful but locked into bitterness. If you lose it through your own failings, you will hate or despise yourself as a failure as long as you live. Only if your identity is built on God and his love…can you have a self that can endure anything, face anything.”

We need to take our stand when the big bad bully tells us that we are no good losers who can’t do anything right, who will never change, who will always struggle with doubt, or who will never be free. He’s just messing with you. Don’t let him.

Paul said, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Maybe you’ve been running from the bully for way too long. Go ahead and take your stand. He’ll probably slink away because he has his good pants on.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

I Don’t Remember

As I sat at the computer thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I had a brain fog moment.  A moment when I couldn’t remember what I had been writing about the past few days let alone the past few weeks or months.  As I scrolled through the published posts and the scheduled ones, I couldn’t remember writing some of them.
So, why am I telling you all of this?  It has been awhile since I shared about my MS journey.  For some, you may tune out.  For others, they are curious.  While still others have been on this journey with me so they totally get it.
How often have you said “I don’t remember”?  Maybe you walk into another room and forget what you went in the room for?  Go to the store and forget to get things unless they are on a list.  Imagine if every day was like that – every hour even.  Welcome to my life with MS.  I don’t say it for sympathy, it is more about me starting to accept the impact it has on my life and others.
Most days, I just let things slide.  Family and close friends try to adjust to the fact I don’t remember things or even times spent together.  The hardest are the missing memories of childhood – mine, my daughter growing up, my wedding, high school and so much more.  Not to mention the frustration as I try to work my business remembering customers and hostesses or even the names of products or prints.
Those who meet me just think it is a “senior moment” when the reality is I honestly don’t remember.  I remember faces (most of the time) but names I’m not very good at.  I may know I “should know you” but don’t know how or why.
Today is Thursday and I can barely remember what I did on Saturday or Sunday even though I lived through them.  I think hard about the weekend but the only thing I remember is I can’t remember.  Thankful for my planner where I write down scheduled plans and even note things I have done in case I forget and try to do them again – like pay bills, make calls to customers, etc.
There are so many things which could have filled my time. It’s possible I might have buried a dead body in the back yard (nope, hubby is still here with me – LOL), I could have won a years supply of chocolate (now I’m stalking the UPS driver), or I maybe I robbed a bank and am now a multi-millionaire so I should have moved to a tropical island escaping the cold weather.  Who knows? I sure don’t.
The one thing I am blessed with I’m still breathing, I’m alive alive, and ready for a new day, It’s weird how my brain works. You have heard about selective hearing where people can tune out things which annoy them? Well I think I have selective thinking.  No, really at a talk last week, the doctor said “the most common symptom of MS is cognitive issues and memory loss”.  HELLOOOO!!! I have been saying it for years.  It honestly was nice to hear a medical doctor confirm it and say it out loud – or did I dream it?
What truly amazes me (and everyone around me) is I have no problem remembering the words to songs but easily forget Sunday is trash day or Wednesday is recycling.  If I didn’t have reminders on my phone or it written in my planner I’d probably not get anything done.
I forget to call people back, answer text messages and respond to emails. It’s not intentional. It just is what it is. If I haven’t responded to you…I’m sorry. If I forgot your birthday or anniversary…again, sorry.  If I can’t remember your favorite color, miss an appointment because I didn’t have it written down or forgot your name, trust me, it’s not on purpose.
Multiple sclerosis just has this way of scrambling my thoughts and at times turning them into mush. Sometimes I wonder how I get anything done at all.
Time to get some things done – now where did I put the list?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is Your Past Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13b, NIV)

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God. Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Celebrate the Little Wins

How do you feel when you hit a goal?  Maybe your goal weight?  Maybe you ran a marathon?  Maybe you hit your sales goals?  Whatever it was, do you remember how you felt?  The excitement of achieving something you have been working for – were you giddy with happiness, or are you like me and cry tears of joy?

Now, how did you feel working towards the goal?  Frustrated?  Overwhelmed?

There’s a reason why so many of us work hard in the pursuit of big bold goals – because it feels so good when we make them happen, right?  The truth is BIG wins don’t happen every day.  Sometimes not even every month, quarter, or year. Sometimes big dreamy goals take time, patience, and a whole lot of devotion to make happen. And it’s okay, it’s how it’s supposed to be.

But are we supposed to defer our happiness, our joy, and our contentment until those BIG dreams happen?  How many of you actually celebrate or give yourself credit for the baby steps you made on the way to your BIG goal?

Most of us (me included) forget to feel proud of ourselves in the here and now – in the moment BEFORE we reach the big goal. It is important for us to allow ourselves to enjoy the moment. We can make ourselves crazy if we continue to defer our happiness until some day in the future when we make those big dreams happen.

So what if we started to obsess over our little wins instead of the big ones?  What if we reconnected with the things which truly matter most in my life – the present, the here and now.  When we show up each day for our work and our life while taking care of ourself, our family, and our business – these are the things which truly matter most. The big wins are then the icing on the cake.  The little wins are the ones which truly shape and define a well lived successful life.

What do some of your little wins look like? Do any of these look like yours?

I paid my bills this month on time and am reducing my debt.  That’s awesome.

One of my favorite customer/hostess wants to host another party. That’s amazing.

I got 8 hours of sleep every night this week! Go me.

I gave myself time and space to read an incredible book this month.  Woo hoo!

I created and shared original posts on social media this month I’m proud of.  I sure did.

I embraced guilt-free rest this week whenever I needed it.  Yes!

So, what happens when you think about the little steps you took this week?  Were you energized, excited, and aligned?

Believe it or not, when you are focused on the little wins, you are less attached to the outcome.  You can feel proud of the hard work and devotion it took to make the BIG dreams happen without diminishing what it took to make the little, everyday wins happen too.

I’m challenging you to obsess about your little wins instead of the big ones.

What are five things you’re really proud of this week?  No matter what they are, embrace the positive feelings about the little wins.  Enjoy the feelings as you celebrate showing up each day and giving your life everything you’ve got.  Because it’s what really matters in the end.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Make a Godly Decision

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message:

My husband said to me, “Kelly, you need to be more straightforward with people. Answer with an outright ‘no’ when you know you need to say ‘no.’”

I mulled over his words, considering them.

He had a good point. I have a hard time saying no. I want to make everyone happy. I don’t want to let people down. My central goal is to leave them encouraged.

And to avoid feeling unlikable. To avoid dealing with those awful residual icky feelings of knowing a person may not want me anymore, think highly of me, or desire to be my friend. Or worst yet, they talk behind my back and form some kind of club that hates me. The idea of all this hurts enough to live a life that rapidly throws out a yes.

Even the idea of it horribly stresses me out.

Are you like me? Do you say “yes” when you have an inkling the right answer is “no?” Why? Underneath your altruistic, save-the-world, love-on-every man, give-your-whole-life-over goal, what are you seeking?

Do you want to appear the do-it-all woman?

Do you want people to know you are capable?

Do you not want to look weak?

Do you hope to never let anyone down?

Do you believe God has called you to do everything?

Do you cringe at the idea of not being liked?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

This verse teaches us: Our goal is not to be loved by man, but to love God first and foremost. We can’t easily pursue God’s mission when we’re caught in the web of everyone else’s approval. The only approval we need is the approval of Christ Jesus. Just as many men disliked Jesus, there will be many times when we are disliked too. The value of Christian life is not how liked we are; it is how loved by Jesus we are.

With these foundational truths in our pocket, we can ask God 3 things when making a decision:

1. Are you calling me to do this?

Consider: Our immediate and half-hearted action plan may prohibit God’s perfect and powerful plan. It may be another’s gifts that are meant to be used for this unique situation, not ours. Sometimes our best strategy is to move out of the way, so God can move in.

2. Am I doing this out of love?

If it’s absent of love, it is worthless.

“If I…do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

3. Am I wise to wait on this?

If we don’t have clarity, there’s validity in waiting. Pray. Seek. Ask. Repeat. By faith, believe God has our way.

Jesus is “The Way.” And no matter how you answer… “yes” or “no,” he always loves you. Always. And He’s prepared to help, guide and lead you in all of your ways.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!