Hope Inspires

The Gift of Time

If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you (Luke 6:38, NLT)

This has been a CRAZY year to say the least….. Yet, the countdown to Christmas is still on and you can see the panicked faces of the shoppers even in the grocery store.  I know you are thinking “how can you tell when everyone is wearing a mask”…. Watch as they leave the stores and take the mask off.  Look and SMILE at people as you are sitting at a traffic light.  You will see the stress on their face.

Everyone is worried about so many things this year……..finances, COVID, and this “new way of life”.  Christmas is still for the children, I know the presents are not the true meaning but explain it to a small child who has been watching TV and seeing Santa bring gifts.  So we shop online hoping to pick out the right gift for that someone special.

Can I tell you in some ways I am grateful Belinda is grown.  Yes, the gifts are a little bit more expensive but they are also a lot more practical.  Yes, I miss the wide eyed excitement of Christmas morning – I mean who wouldn’t, right? They are memories I struggle to remember but am grateful for the pictures.

Over the last 13 years, since Belinda left for college in North Carolina, our family has dwindled in size – the real meaning of Christmas as started to shine through.  It is sad it took death, separation, recovery and major health issues to make me begin to see the real meaning of Christmas.  Yes, we went to church.  Yes, we sang all of the traditional Christmas carols.  Yet, I still was worried about finding the perfect gift for everyone.  My hubby’s family is not big on gift giving once someone turns 18 years old so we used to call him the “Grinch”.  They would gather for holidays to spend time with each other and gave of their time.  The true gift one can give someone…

I re-read a devotion on ibelieve.com to help me remember to give the gifts which truly matter this year – the gift of time, encouragement and prayer.  I think back to the days when I used to make everyone’s holiday gift – holiday table runners, recipe rolodex, ornaments, etc.  It was done because I didn’t have the money to spend on presents but I think some of them were the best gifts. I took the time to think of each person and what would mean something to them.  I still like to do the handcrafted gifts, but I am not always the one making them.  I have been blessed with friends who make some amazing things so it makes shopping a little easier.

The gift of time is probably the most precious gift to give someone.  In this crazy COVID world, we need to take more time for our family and friends whether it is in-person or on zoom, skype or facetime.  I have learned the importance of “seeing” people instead of just talking to them.  You can truly get a sense for how people are when you see them – how well we jump to use the word “fine” when we are emailing or talking on the phone.

Being an absolute introvert, giving the gift of time to friends is a struggle.  Probably sounds crazy since I am in direct sales, right?  I am quite content to stay home seeing family.   Yet I know, it is not good for my mental health or my recovery.  The days I like myself are okay but on those off days, my mind can really beat me up.   What about you?  During these crazy times, are you learning to love yourself so you can freely give the gift of time to friends and family?

This year is the first year in our new home.  New traditions. Missing Belinda and wishing she were home even though she visited in July.  Life has had its ups and downs for all of us the last few months.  I’m grateful for FaceTime and the time we spend together.  Grateful for the time spent with Mom and the fact we are now closer so we can do things together.

The gift of time and encouragement – more precious than any material gift.  Who do you know who would love these two gifts from YOU?  Take a moment and remember the true gift of Christmas didn’t come wrapped up in a box with a fancy bow.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel

Birthday Reflections

Another year, another milestone….. believe it or not, today is my 63rd birthday!  Do I feel 63?  Nope, not this year!  I kicked MS to the curb A LOT this year.

I wasn’t going to do my annual reflection BUT last night I decided I had so much to be grateful for this year – I would!

Despite the craziness of the “shelter in place” order, I have been content.  I never realized what an introvert I truly was or should I say am!  I don’t mind staying home… sure I miss the hugs at NA meetings  and the running to the store when I get an angel idea to grab materials BUT overall I have learned so much about me through this process.  I enjoy cooking meals – even three times a day!  LOL.  I enjoy staying home because I can always find something to do…yup I squirreled!

I am blessed to have woken up this morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  Am I always this optimistic – NOPE!   I’m determined to be positive and make the most of each day.  Brain fog mornings have been few and far between.  Physical therapy this year helped with the “shuffle” as hubby calls it.  LOL.  The brace has made long walks possible without dragging my foot.  I haven’t lost any of the weight gained because of my MS meds but I haven’t gained anymore either.  I guess that is a win.

Truth be told for many years “birthdays” were just another day.  I was filled with low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and a LOT of nasty inner gremlins which made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration. Today, I was blessed to wake up without expectations.  I have learned this year expectations lead to hurt feelings and resentments.  I have a little bit more confidence and am starting to like myself a little more each day.  I am sometimes still self-centered but I can actually spot when it happens.  I am grateful for whatever the day may bring.  Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.

This year, my Disability was approved as a result of a change in my diagnosis.  I went from RRMS to Primary Progressive.  It was a hard pill to swallow but it does explain so many things.  As a result, changes needed to be made in my life.  Changes which made me put on my “big girl panties” and do…..

I made the decision to step down as a Director with Thirty One.  I will always be a Thirty One girl but I felt I was not giving my best to my customers or my team.  Trying to keep up with all of the exciting things happening in the company was taking its toll on me.  Doing home parties are tough from carrying things into the house to remember prints/products to processing all of the conversations which go on.  A hard decision but a necessary one.

Angels by Hope took off during the holiday season.  I love sharing my angels with everyone.  New ideas continue to come along…. some are a success while others are definite flops.  Allowing the creative juices to flow again has been exciting.  It helps with processing the same as working my puzzles help with eye hand coordination.

I have come to terms with more lost memories and struggling to find the right words to say.  Hubby’s guitar playing has helped with some memories as he plays songs which have meaning in our life.  As I look through old pictures, there is frustration with the occasional glimmer of a tiny memory.  The normal question of “do you remember…….?” when I see old friends or family brings stress and frustration because most times, I don’t remember.

Through it all I hold fast to the mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”  WOW! I feel like this is turning into one of those “holiday letters” you get from people you only hear from once a year…. LOL.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow, tears of joy mixed with some sadness…

  • To my NA friends and family…………thank you for your support and guidance this year.  You have helped this “hot mess” become a better person.  Actually you have helped me to find the person I lost so many years ago.  To those who take my texts at all hours of the night, to those who listen even when I repeat myself, to those who put up with this “old lady”…… I am grateful and blessed to have you in my life.  God willing, we will have two years on the 22nd!
  • To my daughter, Belinda.  God could not have given me a greater gift than to be your mom.  Has the road been rocky the last few years?  I think that’s an understatement!  My relapse created a wall between us which I never thought would happen. You have grown into an amazing woman who I am so proud of.  Today, I feel like we are on the road to rebuilding our relationship.  I know it will not be the same but I’m sure it will be better.
  • To my mom….You are my best friend. I don’t know what to say, you are always there for me.  I’m looking forward to the time when the miles no longer separate us.  Till then, I know you are a phone call or a short drive away.  You are one of my biggest cheerleaders.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the support you have given me during my relapse and recovery.  I know dealing with my MS memory issues is tough but you are a trooper.
  • Lastly, to my hubby (who probably won’t see this)…who is my ROCK!  This past year has been amazing.  There are days I feel like we are back to when we were first dating (yup, that is a good thing).  I know I am not the easiest person to live with (imagine?) but you are always there, standing strong and supporting me.  I’m looking forward to your retirement this year, selling the condo and moving to our forever home.  Together we will do amazing things.

I’m sure there are many more people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this past year.  Please don’t feel slighted…  This has been a great year and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 63 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right?

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Have a blessed day!

Tasty Tuesday Recipes

Tasty Tuesday: Brown Butter Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Thank you Baker by Nature for today’s recipe….

Prep: ook

Cool: ield: 2 dozen

 

Ingredients

For the Buttered Pecans:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups pecan halves, finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Brown Butter Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted until browned
  • 2 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (don’t pack the flour into the measuring cup!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet OR dark chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks
  • 24 pecan halves, for decoration, optional

Instructions

For the Buttered Pecans:

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in chopped pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside until needed.

For the Brown Butter:

  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook for about 3 minutes – stirring almost constantly – until the butter has browned.
  2. Pour the brown butter into a heatproof bowl, being sure to scrape all of the “toasted” bits into the bowl as well.
  3. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the butter is at room temperature. You’ll know the butter is at room temperature when you press a finger into the top and it makes a slight indentation. It should not be liquid at all.
  4. Once the butter is at room temperature, you’re ready to get baking!

For the Brown Butter Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside until needed.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda; whisk well to combine then set aside until needed.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine browned butter and both sugars and beat on medium-speed until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla and bourbon and beat until combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for 15 seconds after each addition. Turn mixer off. Using a wooden spoon or sturdy rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour, stirring only until the flour begins to disappear. Fold in the chocolate chunks and buttered pecans.
  4. Roll 3 tablespoon sized scoops of dough between your palms to form a ball (they should be big; almost a 1/4 cup), then place on prepared sheets (make sure to leave enough room in between each cookie for inevitable spreading). Continue this process until all the dough has been rolled. Press a pecan on the top of each cookie dough mound, if desired.
  5. Place baking sheets in preheated oven, one at a time, and bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until golden at the edges but still soft in the middle. Repeat with all cookie dough. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt right when they come out of the oven. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.

Remember if you submit a recipe to me and I use it in my blog, YOU will receive a FREE gift from me….What is your favorite recipe during the holiday season?

Pack up those holiday cookies and take them with you as a hostess gift to your next party.  Thirty One’s Little Carry Alls are perfect for this…These novelty Littles Carry-All Caddys are also the perfect solution for organizing the little things in your life. From office supplies to eating utensils and cosmetics, this caddy helps keep your life in order by keeping everything right at your fingertips. Great for gifts, small toys, crafts, office desks, candy and seasonal home décor.  Lots of choices for everyone in the family.  You can even use these as a stocking stuffer instead of traditional stockings.

Favorite Products

Personalize Holiday Gifts

Finding gifts for friends and family used to be easy for me….. I would note things there were interested in or wanted and probably wouldn’t buy for themselves or it would be something that triggered a memory.  Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (mainly the MS) this has become more and more difficult.  If I don’t buy it or write it down when I am thinking of it….it is gone out of my head never to return.

I love giving things that are personal to friends and family.  I know it can be the difference between giving something they enjoy and something truly unforgettable. No matter how long your shopping list is this holiday season, these fun and creative ideas can add a personal touch which makes your gift one they’ll never forget! 

The holidays are a great time to celebrate the hardworking loved ones in your life. Maybe they’re driving the kids to and from practice and need some extra storage. Or they’re educating little ones and need a place to put all their classroom supplies. Or they’re nurses and need to be extra prepared for those extra-long shifts. Regardless, a Large Utility Tote or Medium Utility Tote will be a perfect fit for their busy schedules.  Here are some fun ways to personalize their bags:

For moms:

    • Chaos Coordinator
    • Too blessed to be stressed
    • Bless this Hot Mess
    • Wife. Mom. Boss.
    • Mom Life
    • Messy bun & gettin’ things done

For teachers:

    • Prepare to get schooled
    • Stop. Grammar time!
    • Because I’m the teacher, that’s why.
    • The influence of a great teacher cannot be erased
    • Teach, Love, Inspire

For nurses:

    • Work Hard. Stay Humble.
    • Sleep all day, Nurse all night
    • Boo Boo Crew
    • Hair up, Scrubs on
    • Comfort & Joy

 

Home is where the heart is, so help your friends and family make their space festive for the holidays with some of these keepsake decorations. Our Statement Canvas Pillow Cover is perfect for any room – and with so many options for embroidered or printed personalization, you can be sure to find something for that special person in mind.

Here are a few ideas for personalization:

    • Choose a Christmas Tree with the phrase “Home for the Holidays”
    • Use a festive lyric like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
    • Add a name along with a snowglobe or snowflake design
    • Insert Baby’s name with the phrase “First Christmas”

Other products like the Close to Home™ Round Tray are perfect for those who love to host friends and family for those big holiday meals. And with the endless possibilities of playful personalized phrases that can be added, their guests are sure to be served well.

    • Eat, Drink & Be Merry
    • Let’s eat!
    • All are welcome
    • The Miller Family
    • Gather Here
    • Eat, Pray, Love
    • Bless this Home

 

For all those people in your life who have a flair for the dramatic, our bold products and prints are sure to fit their personal style. Plus, by adding some sassy personalization to go with it, their one-of-a-kind bag can complete any look.

Our classic Cindy Tote™ Ltd., casual Retro Metro® Bag or new Festival Mini Backpackall make great gifts for those who want to stay on trend this season.

Personalization makes any bag mean even more:

Whatever you pick, remember about 90% of Thirty One’s products can be personalized… make the gift you give this holiday season one they will remember.

Have a blessed day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Spiritual GPS


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

GPS has changed our lives. So much so that many people today cannot even read a map. We don’t have a clue how to figure out North, South, East and West. We don’t have to.

We have GPS. Global Positioning Satellite systems.

We have it in our phones.

We have it in our watches.

We have it in our cars.

GPS has changed our lives. It helps us know where we are going and how to get there.

To pursue God’s calling in my life, I must discover my spiritual GPS.

The G in spiritual GPS is gifts. Finding God’s calling for your life begins with gifts. The spiritual gifts God has given you. The supernatural, better than your average bear abilities He has put within you. When God calls you to do something, He gives you the gifts that will enable you to do it. God’s plan never lacks God’s resources.

Check out the first part of Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship (His own master work, a work of art)” (Ephesians 2:10a, AMP).

You sometimes have to give some thought and effort to discovering your spiritual gifts.

Here are three of mine:

  • Teaching is one of my spiritual gifts. I have always had the ability to take complex truths and make them simple. I thought and often still do think that everyone can do that. Not true. I call it “putting the cookies on the bottom shelf.”
  • Encouraging is one of my gifts. I often spell “encourage” as “in courage” – because when you encourage someone, you pour courage into them.
  • Laughter is one of my gifts. I can make people laugh. Sometimes they laugh with me. Sometimes they laugh at me. But they laugh. And the Bible tells us that laughter is good medicine.

God placed those gifts in my life when He created me in my mother’s womb. The more I use them, the more they grow.

We all have gifts that God has given us. We need to know what they are. Because they are hints at God’s plan and design and calling for our lives.

So, the “G” in spiritual GPS is gifts.

The P in spiritual GPS is passion.

Ever notice how different people are passionate about different things?

We had a tornado this week in the area just West of Kansas City. Some of our church members are so passionate about helping people, they simply had to go do something. My son and daughter-in-law took a day off of work to go help their neighbors. Some of those neighbors lived less than a quarter mile away from them – and lost everything. There were so many people showing up to help that the police had to turn some people away because of the unusually heavy traffic on the rural Kansas road that runs through the area.

Back to the next part of Ephesians 2:10. “For we are created in Christ Jesus (reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used).”

Reborn …

Transformed …

Renewed …

Ready to be used …

Sounds like passion to me!

I have been speaking for women’s conferences and writing books and devotions for women for 30 years. I love it. Why? It lets me do what God created me to do. It fits my gifts – encouragement, leadership and teaching. It fits my passion – helping people become everything God created them to be.

So, the G in GPS stands for Gifts.

And the P in GPS stands for Passion.

The S in GPS stands for Story.

God – who designed me with a purpose in mind – is writing my story. He has been writing my story all of my life. The Bible tells us that He knew who we would be before He even created the world. The Bible tells us that He planned our story while we were still in the womb. The plan came first!

He is writing His story in and through you and me. And that story – our experiences, good and bad – helps us find our calling.

Back one more time to Ephesians 2:10 for the last part of that verse: “For we are created … for good works, which God prepared (for us) beforehand so that we would walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us).

Did you catch what that verse says? God created you for doing good. God has prepared and gifted you to do good. God has given you passion for doing good. He is writing a good story in and through us!

Throughout the course of your life, God has been at work in you. Writing His story. Giving you the desire and the ability to do what He has created you to do. Why have these gifts and passions always been present in your life? Because they are part of your story.

God will help you discover your spiritual GPS – your calling.

You will find it in your gifts.

You will find it in your passion.

You will find it in your story.

Have a blessed day!