Making a Difference

Thankful Thursday: Be A Blessing

Some time ago, I did a blog post on packing a blessing bag…… It is something I wanted to do but just never seemed to get to.  This post inspired someone to make it her mission.

I met Maxine through this “purse gig”.  She was on my team for a little bit.  She and I stayed in touch over the last few years by praying for each other and just being there for moral support.  She reached out to me to ask for some suggestions on growing a ministry which is near and dear to her heart.   Here is Maxine’s story in her own words…..

Awhile back I decided to do bags for homeless people. Nothing elaborate just simple items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, small soaps, a pen, a little note pad, a pair of socks, a razor, a pack of Kleenex, a granola bar, some cheese crackers, small snacks, hand sanitizer, and a rain poncho.  I was working as a home health care  aide and traveled on the bus every day.  I always carried a couple with me and if I came across someone in need I would give them one . I don’t put cash in them simply because you just never know.  Many people hustle for money for other things. Fast forward to now. I’m driving for Lyft and I come across a good number of people so I started doing it again.  Handing bags out to those who are in need – usually when I stop at a traffic light.  You can kind of tell who’s legit and who’s not when you hand it to them.  But regardless, I try to help everyone I can. I use ziplock bags to hold the items. I want to continue this ministry but I am struggling.  I come across a great number of people every day while I’m out driving.  I’ve been doing this all out of pocket!   The time has come when I can no longer afford to do it and it is breaking my heart . We are ourselves are  living in a hotel.  God has blessed up and we  get through day by day.  He makes a way!  Even when I cannot see it, He makes a way.  I am reaching out to others for donations – monetary and for items to fill the bags.

The hotel where we are staying has offered to do some extra soaps and shampoos to help.  I am reaching out to churches and other organizations to see if they can help with individually packaged snacks and things.  But there is still a gap.  The need is so great….

I am reaching out to my readers and my friends.  Won’t you consider helping?  Maxine has set up a PayPal account to collect monetary donations (https://paypal.me/maxineniemeier?locale.x=en_US).  Every little bit helps.  She lives in Chicago, so if you have any suggestions or contacts please let us know.  I’m trying to help her keep her ministry alive….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

A Little Reminder From God

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

I am such a mess. I hate how I am. I can’t ever get a handle on this issue.

Thoughts of self-hatred coursed through my mind as I sat on the hard-tile floor and took it all in. . . Within the cabinets I’d just spent twenty minutes rearranging, there still was no semblance of organization. Papers shot out of books. Bags heaped left and right in no particular order. Shoes and knick-knacks filled the right side of the cabinet. And, worst of all, electrical cords stood like tumbleweed in the center of it all.

Regarding cleaning and organizing, my best efforts fell – way short. And this is the problem. You see, no matter what I do, everything stays a mess. I fix things for a moment, until: my kids come home and mess things up, I get busy and I forget to keep up with it all, or clutter becomes impossible to throw out because I fear I’ll lose future-memories.

I want to be a better mom than this; my family deserves better.

With a heavy heart, I decided to approach my husband, “Uh…,” I said. “Can I share something with you?”

He waited.

“There’s an area I haven’t told you about where – all the time — I feel so angry at myself. Every time I open up a cabinet, I mentally get furious at how I feel like I’m the most unorganized woman on the planet.”

Compassionately, he looked at me and replied, “Well, maybe Jesus just wants you to remind you that His grace is sufficient.”  And He was right. I finally understood. My cabinets – and my deficiency — are a blessing, not a curse.

How could a deficiency be a blessing? Deficiencies point us to Christ’s all-sufficiency. Through them, we come to the One prepared to help us. The One with answers. The One with all the grace to accomplish true and long-lasting life-change.

Grace accomplishes far more than our hardest labor ever could. Certainly, God often calls us to meet Him in this venture by working, but work without God is — toil.

My cabinets would now be a reminder of this. They, in all their untidy-glory, would almost speak, “Kelly, invite Jesus in to help you with this.”

Where do you need to invite Jesus in? What personal issue do you hate to look at? What feels unconquerable? Heavy? Burdening?

Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to change you, to rework you, to remake you, and to renew you.

It is more than okay to desperately need Jesus’ grace. It is life-changing to be in need of God.

Be encouraged. Wherever you feel powerless, God is powerful. Wherever you are hungry, God has food for you. Wherever you feel blind, God restores sight. You are not left behind or forgotten. God will help.

Today, rejoice by saying: No matter where I feel deficient, Christ is all-sufficient.

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Notice Others in a Selfie World


Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4, NIV.

My daughter Noelle and I were sightseeing in New York City. One highlight was rocketing up 102 stories in a mere 47 seconds inside the elevator of the Freedom Tower. Once at the top, we looked for a good spot to take in the glorious view. I couldn’t help but notice two teenage girls taking up a large space in the very front.

The problem was they were not even looking at the city below. They were posing for selfies – lots of them! They laid on the floor and posed. They struck different standing poses and snapped. I walked around and returned to that same spot about ten minutes later. They were still there! Posing in pursuit of the perfect selfie with New York City in the background.

I doubt they noticed the other people who would have liked to snap a picture where they had set up camp. I wondered why they didn’t turn around and enjoy the panoramic view with their God given eyes instead of the phone screen. With screens taking center stage, women can be obsessed with capturing the perfect photo to show the world.

Yet Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Selfish ambition is a work of the flesh, not of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:26 (NIV) instructs, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each another.”

Does that mean it’s wrong to pose for a selfie? No – it can be a perfectly appropriate way to capture a moment. But there is cause for concern if you find that…

-You are overly concerned with portraying yourself a certain way to impress others

-You take numerous photos of the same pose to get it just right

-You compare your selfie to others and take mental notes on how you can improve yours

-You feel conceited when you see how favorable you look compared to others

-You are more interested in taking a selfie than meeting someone new or talking with an acquaintance

The Bible tells us to value others above ourselves. When we place the lens of our focus on the needs of others (instead of our own interests), we are having the same mindset as Jesus Christ. Popular culture fights against this notion. “Selfie” wasn’t even a word in the dictionary until 2013 but it’s commonplace today. The constant tracking of self can lead to a growing indifference towards others. The bigger we become inside the frame, the smaller everyone else becomes.

When you walk into a room, do you take the attitude of “Here I am!” or do you step in the doorway and think, “Ah, there you are!” Turning our “selfie” focus into an “others” focus takes practice and intention. God calls us to be “There you are!” people, women who are genuinely interested in others. But we live in a selfie world that caters to our natural instinct to preserve and exalt ourselves.

It’s time to switch things up. Instead of spending too much time preparing the perfect selfie, let’s quickly snap a picture of ourselves and then spend the bulk of our time focused on others. That view is much more meaningful.

Remember the teenage girls from the Freedom Tower? They walked out with some great selfies, but they never really took the time to take in the view. They missed out. Don’t miss the amazing people and things happening around you because you’re focused on your phone. Make it your daily practice to notice others in a selfie world.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is another Thanksgiving filled with lots of emotions…as usual, I will be spending a lot of time crying.   Tears of gratitude for the blessings of this year mixed with tears of sadness.

This is our second Thanksgiving without my dad.  Since Belinda was a baby, we locked in two holidays which were always spent with dad – Father’s Day and Thanksgiving.  We will be spending the day with my step-mom and extended family but it will be a struggle.  Belinda is in NC celebrating Thanksgiving with her in-laws.  As I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, I struggle with memories of past years filled with high school football games, homecoming floats, dinner at Grams with the entire family.

Today I am counting my blessings….  Blessed to have a supportive hubby, it has been a rough year but he has been my rock.  I am grateful I was able to fix us a mini Thanksgiving dinner on Monday since he is working today.   I am grateful my family is healthy as mom and Sal head off on a cruise..

This Laura Story song is one of my favorites…

Thirty One continues to bless my life and be the thing which keeps me going on those bad days.  Who would have thought 7 plus years ago, a $99 kit would make such a difference in someone’s live?   Over the last 6 months, my business has grown beyond my wildest dreams.  I have an amazing team of women who inspire me with their strength, courage and friendship.  I’m grateful I am still able to earn an income despite the challenges of MS.  I have a multitude of women who have gone from customers and hostesses to friends.  The greatest blessing is the ability to share with those who are struggling by giving back to our community.

Words can’t express how grateful I am today and every day. My wish is each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving – enjoy the time with your friends and family. Cherish the moments for all the years to come.

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Gwen Smith…

Dear Lord:

We come with hearts of gratitude today to bless Your name and to ask that Your hand of blessing would be upon us. THANK YOU, Father, for loving us with an eternal love that stands firm, even when we are unlovable. THANK YOU for being faithful, righteous, holy and just, yet willing to see us, Your children, through divine eyes of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace. THANK YOU for being a God of restoration and renewal in the midst of a broken, pain-filled world. THANK YOU for providing for our needs, directing our paths, and establishing our steps.

We acknowledge Your sovereignty, Lord, and freshly submit to Your will today. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our children, grandchildren, marriages, families, and loved ones. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our country, president, governors, senators, representatives, and local officials. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our communities, churches, schools, work places, decisions, and opportunities. Please FILL US with the presence of Your joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control today. HELP US to see as You see and to love as You love. HELP US to serve others humbly for the sake of Your name. HELP US to be light that shines in the darkness. HELP US to follow Your ways and continually seek Your leading.

You are our hope and our strength, Lord. We give you THANKS in all of this and ask for the fullness of Your BLESSING in all these things, according to the power of Jesus Christ who is at work within us through Your Holy Spirit.

Amen

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Thanksgiving!