Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Evidence of God’s Love

I would like to take a moment and wish a Happy Father’s Day to dads.  Today will be bitter sweet as I remember my dad and grandfather treasuring the moments with my hubby.

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.

As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.

After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.

Seriously.

The pruning made such a difference!

Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (John 15:1-8, NIV)

Whom we spend time with really matters.

And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.

Stay with me here! Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.

I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up. Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away. You too?

In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.

God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. To bring glory to God, this fruit of His Spirit must be seen in our lives.

Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.

But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…

Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.

The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree.

He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.

Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on your tree?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

A Truth That Will Change Your Life

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

One blessing of being in women’s ministry is the friendships I have with other women in ministry. We are our own little band of sisters. Sisters with a mission! We cheer for one another, cry with one another, laugh with one another, pray for one another, and rejoice with one another.

One sister I’ve had the opportunity to lock arms with for the journey is named Renee. Renee is a talented God-fearing, Bible-teaching speaker and writer.

Several years ago, Renee traveled across the country to speak at a women’s retreat. When she got there, a few unexpected circumstances caused her to send out an “SOS, pray-for-me-now” email to her ministry sisters.

I got the email and hit my knees.

Early the next week, Renee sent us an email thanking us for praying and telling us what God did in the hearts of women at that retreat. She told us that she spoke about the lies that we believe as women and told personal and biblical stories that illuminated God’s truth. Then, at the final session, Renee asked the women to consider what they believed to be true about themselves.

Her challenge went something like this: “When you settle your soul long enough to simply be still—when you pause to listen to your heart—what do you hear? Are there lies that linger in your heart knowingly or unknowingly?”

She encouraged them to write down on a note card the lies they had accepted as truth, whether lies spoken by a parent, kids in the schoolyard, a friend, a family member, a spouse, a child, a pastor, or a stranger. She told them that some of the lies might never have been spoken at all, just believed.

When they finished she invited them to bring the cards to a wooden cross at the front of the room. Next to the cross she had placed baskets filled with promises from God’s Word, and after each woman nailed her card to the cross, she picked up a truth that would replace her lies.

Tears ran down cheek after cheek as the women brought their lies to the cross and embraced God’s life-changing Words. Guilt was forgiven and sorrows were traded for joy that day. Then a beautiful celebration went down. God, through his Holy Spirit, revealed His heart to those sweet women and shattered the lies of the enemy.

After the retreat was over, Renee looked through the cards that had been nailed to the cross. One card jumped out at her. Written over and over was one word: Worthless!

The woman who wrote that wasn’t the only one at that retreat who felt that way. That same word—worthless—was penned on many of the cards that weekend. It represents a lie that has been believed by most every woman at some point in her life. There have been days, weeks, and months that I’ve believed it myself.

It’s one of Satan’s favorite words to throw at us, and it is a big, fat, ugly LIE.

The Bible clearly shows us that we are valued in the sight of the Lord. When we allow God’s Word to flood our lives with truth we are changed by the height, the depth, and the width of His love for us.

“Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

God loves you with a personal love.

He knows your name.

He considers you highly valuable.

He adores you.

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith today to believe this one truth: you are perfectly loved by God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life

Scruffy hospitality

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I don’t know about you, BUT this fortune came at the right time.  See, I am one of those “need to have everything in place” kind of gals.  I struggle to have everything “perfect” before anyone comes to visit then freak when the littlest thing doesn’t go right.  Admit it, I am not the only one!  Don’t leave a girl hanging, please!!!

Your home doesn’t need to be picture-perfect to invite people over.

 I read a blog post by ROBIN SHREEVES which was an eye opener for me.  Yes, I will be the first one to give advice saying “they aren’t coming to see your house, they are coming to see you” BUT I seldom heed my own words.

The idea that we must make our home look un-lived in before having people over stops so many of us from sharing life together.

I mean don’t we usually try to make our home look un-lived in before friends and family come to visit?  And have you ever NOT had people over because there was no time to make it perfect?  As a result, we stop sharing our life with those who are closest to us.  (Photo: Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock)

I love the idea of “scruffy hospitality.”  So what is it?  On his blog, Father Jack defines scruffy hospitality this way:

Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.

Honestly, the best gatherings have been the “let’s just hang out”.  My best home parties in my direct sales business have been those gatherings of friends to just talk, play with bags and catch up.  No formal presentation.  No fancy food.  Just friends enjoying each other’s company.

Now I know that it is a little tough to get away from the “perfect” house concept.  I mean many of us scroll Pinterest every day looking for ideas that we want to do before guests come to visit, right?

My journey to scruffy has been very slow!  I mean, miracles don’t happen overnight, right? Remember back to before kids, maybe even before you were married.  Were you a whirlwind, cleaning before dinner guests or were you more casual making sure things were put away but didn’t get crazy?

I realized at some point when I was a single mom that entertaining didn’t mean I had to have a spotless house.  The kids didn’t care and most of the moms were glad to know that they weren’t alone in “not” having a perfect house.  I totally got the idea of  “Are they coming to see me, or are they coming to see my home?”.  The house was always neat but dust bunnies got to stay longer than I wanted and sometimes I had to close a bedroom door to hide the mess.  It never seemed to bother me.

Then, somewhere after Belinda left for college, I moved into the condo and got married – the ideas that I embraced for years seemed to fly out the window.  Time to go back to the “old ways”.

Sometimes authenticity happens when everything is a bit scruffy,writes Father Jack.  In fact, I think the most authentic conversations I’ve experienced have happened during scruffy gatherings. Maybe it’s because when everything is polished and shiny, I feel like I need to be polished and shiny, too. When things are a little messy around me, I feel like I can let people know things are a little messy inside me, too.

Maybe you have friends who are excellent housekeepers, and their homes are always “company ready”. Do you feel like you need to measure up?  What if your house was authentically you?  Maybe a little dust, maybe some dishes not done or maybe even a few papers laying around, how would that make you feel?

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Authenticity invites authenticity. If your home isn’t naturally ready for company why not try the idea of scruffy hospitality.  Value community over tidiness. Invite people over and say, “I don’t know what I’m serving. I may have to order pizza. I would just love your company.”

“Hospitality,” writes Father Jack, “is not a house inspection, it’s friendship.”

Are you ready for scruffy hospitality?  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel, Personal Causes

Friends

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As Belinda and her friends arrived last night, I witnessed “friendship” in action.  I know that sounds weird and some might think this is a pity party; it is more like a realization.  THINK about your best friend?  For some that might be someone you are close to now, or someone you have been friends with for years and for others, they may say their best friend is their hubby while there may be a few out there who have to admit that they don’t have a BFF.  You shared secrets (the good, the bad & the ugly), you spent hours together talking, you did or do everything together and when you need a shoulder to cry on, they are the first ones that you call.  I know for Belinda, her FIRST BFF is Jenn – friends since they met in pre-school at age 3 and still today they are there for each other in thick and thin despite 13 hours of travel time.

This is GUT honest – growing up I didn’t really have a BFF.  I had a lot of friends but NOT 1 person that I could share my deepest darkest secrets with and know they would be there to support me.  I used to think I wasn’t good enough, now I know that is not true.  The truth was, I was ashamed of my deepest secrets so I isolated from people because I didn’t want them to know the truth.  It started at about 12 years old and I guess continued until I had an epiphany last night!  When I was younger, I hid the secrets of my home life, I hid secrets of things that I was ashamed of and those that I thought God would never forgive.  I had mostly male friends because I found it easier to hang out with them then the girls my age.  As I grew up, my BFF was Elsie (my aunt), I shared those deep dark secrets and she was there for me.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents were too but Elsie was more like a friend then an aunt.  When Elsie passed away, my life revolved around Belinda, her friends, her activities and my work.  My BFF was Steph – funny enough Jenn’s mom.  BFF’s for a season – a long one.

Why am I telling you all of this, right?  Well, as I was reading Shari Hudspeth book “Party Plan Success”, my brain got to thinking about the word “friends”.  When Belinda went to college and I relocated to Brick, I found myself in an emotional place that I had not be in since about the age of 13 – the NEW kid.  Instead of using this as a time to grow and make new friends, I isolated, worked, commuted and spent time with family.  OUCH!  So, now I have a business that relies on parties… what do I do, right?  There was a lot of talk about building relationships at National Conference.  I continue to build them with my team, my hostesses, my customers and my Thirty One sisters….GREAT!

Now, I need to learn how to build them to form lasting friendships.. a skill that I don’t think I learned very well growing up.   I have a few people who I have gotten close to but I still feel like the new kid on the block.  Never really measuring up as a friend or feeling like I belong (Negative Nellie LOVES this party).  Never being one of the girls that just hangs out, to have fun.   Those old fears keep me busy at home or with other things so I don’t step out of my comfort zone.  I have finally realized that THIS is the last key to being totally successful in Thirty One business.  An AHA moment..

What is your core struggle that keeps you from succeeding at YOUR goal?  Share that struggle with us – NO JUDGEMENT.  Let’s help each other reach our personal and business goals by hitting the reset button and starting fresh.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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