Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When It Never Feels Like Enough

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message:

As I stand in the middle of Sur La Table, my favorite kitchen store, I pass over the cookware and utensils that beckon me (I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets.) and head straight for the cookbook I came to get. It’s my stepson’s birthday. Jeremy is a talented chef and I know that the new Alton Brown cookbook will be exactly what he wants.

But then, right there in the middle of the store, I start to panic. Will it be enough?

Will it be enough to show Jeremy how much we love him? Step-relationships can be tricky, and I want to make sure that Jeremy knows he is a priority for me. Will this cookbook, along with the party and the other gift, be enough for him? I start to doubt myself and the book I hold in my hand. So, I start marching around the store, throwing utensils and towels into my basket so that I can make sure the gift looks like enough.

This has been a common theme throughout my life—feeling like not enough. And when I’m feeling like I’m not enough, I hustle by doing more, buying more and trying to be more than I am to make up for my lack of “enough.”

But hustle is the world’s answer to fear: work harder, do more, buy more and you will feel okay.

God’s answer to fear is dramatically different: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV) God wants us to reject what the world thinks—that hustle is what will get us peace—and instead renew our minds. God knows that the world’s pattern will never lead to peace, only the radical, counter-cultural act of replacing our worldly thoughts with His thoughts.

So, when the ugly, broken thoughts of being not enough start to invade my thinking (and my shopping cart) I need to break those patterns of thinking and replace them with these truths:

· The goal of giving gifts is celebrating the person, not building the relationship.

· It is presence, not presents, that builds relationships.

· I will never become more by buying more.

· God has promised He will provide everything I need. I don’t have to hustle when I’m in God’s perfect plan.

God says we are already enough, not because of who we are but because of who He is.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Tired of Doing Good?

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Thank you AMY CARROLL for today’s message:

I felt worn-out, and I knew my perspective on giving needed a little refreshing.

Even though I’ve always admired generous people and want to be known as one, I started to feel resistance in my heart against being a truly cheerful giver in every area of my life — with my time, my gifts and my finances.

Sometimes I was reluctant to give because I felt too consumed by my every day schedule. Other times, I felt the pinch of need in my own life. And occasionally it was because I’d become jaded toward the recipients of my help.

My friend Rita told me a story that was just what I needed. Her mother, an immigrant who grew up in desperate poverty, was very committed to a relief project for her home country. She would collect gently used shoes and ship them to an organization in her homeland that had needed help.

Rita’s mother did this for years, during which her own eight children observed their mother’s work and generosity.

Surprisingly, Rita was frustrated with her mother instead of admiring her work. One day, in exasperation, she said to her mother, “Why do you continue to work on this project? You know how corrupt the system is over there. Those shoes are probably stolen, resold and used to line the pockets of some corrupt official. You are just wasting your time.”

Her mother looked at Rita compassionately and responded, “Rita, my responsibility is not in the receiving. My responsibility is in the giving.”

As I digested Rita’s story and her mother’s lesson, I realized I’d stopped giving because I wasn’t sure of the response.

I didn’t give to poor people on the street because I didn’t know how they’d spend the money.
I didn’t freely love friends because I didn’t know how they felt about me.
I withheld time from my family because I didn’t think they appreciated it.
It’s easy to find reasons not to give … Too busy. One too many scams. Believing nobody cares about giving to me in my need. Thinking that somehow, somebody else will take care of it.

I’ve used all these excuses at one point or another, but I felt a softening in the hardened places of my heart as I listened to the wisdom Rita’s mom shared.

Her reminder is one echoed in Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

If you’re tired and full of excuses like I was, the best way to renew your commitment to doing good is to start giving.

My former stingy approach to life and love never served me well. God has given me extravagance and abundance. I want to be wise about where I give my time and resources, but I also want to do it freely and with an open heart. I want to be one who listens carefully to His voice for opportunities to give, because I know He can be trusted with the results.

Receiving refreshment comes through giving. And sometimes, it’s in the simplest of ways:

Give a smile to a weary clerk.

Give a break to a worn-out mom.

Give some time to a struggling non-profit.

Give your money to someone in need.

Give loving wisdom to a stressed friend.

Join me in the refreshing act of giving, even if you’re tired of doing good!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel

A Birthday Reflection

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Today is my 59th birthday, so I am reflecting on the past year and the many blessings in my life. First, I am thankful that I get to celebrate another day by waking up this morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know that it will be WONDERFUL!

Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years went GO by and life “happens” things changed.

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During my years of addiction and even in my early years of recovery, I saw “birthdays” as just another day or “I am too old to celebrate birthdays” and I never hesitated to share those thoughts.  The truth was, I never really felt like I deserved a celebration after all of the hurt and pain I had caused people through my addiction.  I am great at giving but not very good at receiving.

Despite memory struggles one things stands out a “surprise party” that Belinda planned for me with the help of her two great aunts – Edythe and Elsie. It was my 40th birthday and my FIRST surprise party.  It was a special day for two reasons: #1 – it was Belinda’s idea and #2 – it was the first time that my divorced parents were in the same room at the same time. Belinda was all of 9 years old  and if you know Belinda, you are not surprised that she pulled if off.  Of course, keeping it a secret was tough for her!  I arrived in sweats and a tee shirt because I thought I was coming to the fire house to help with something.  Yes, it was a little horrifying but funny since I almost didn’t arrive at the party. When I arrived, Belinda started to cry. She took the look of surprise as a look of “being mad” and didn’t understand that the tears were tears of joy.  The “OVER THE HILL” theme decorations were everywhere. Belinda picked them out. So the standing joke is if I was “over the hill at 40” what am I now? It was a day that I can remember without the pictures which is a blessing in itself.  I was overwhelmed by the love from family and friends.

Today, I am reflecting on the last year which has been a roller coaster of emotions.  My health challenges, finding out I have MS, memory loss, the ups and downs of my business and Belinda’s wedding – just a few of the highlights.  Through it all I truly believe that every day is a gift from God.  I learned so much this year:

  • I learned how to give and receive unconditional love (Crazy, right?)
  • I learned that asking for help does not mean that I am weak
  • I learned that friends are always there for you – even when you haven’t talked in years.
  • I opened myself up to meet new people and have made some wonderful new friends.
  • I learned how to advocate for myself and my health issues just like I always taught my clients to do.  It is so much harder to do for ourselves
  • I learned that even on a bad day, if I chose JOY, everything will be okay.

The celebration doesn’t need to be big and I don’t need a lot of presents (one or two would be nice).  I am just thankful that I get to enjoy the beauty of another day.

I was blessed with a family that loves and supports me despite my many faults. I am blessed with a daughter, Belinda, who has grown into an amazing woman. I am blessed with a husband who loves me unconditionally despite how crazy I make him.

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Happy Birthday to me! Hope you have ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Learning To Love

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“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, I beg to differ. I’ve learned at least one new thing. Every. Single. Day. Of the last year and a half.

Most of the lessons have come courtesy of a joyful 6-year-old Haitian with a wee rambunctious streak named Missy, who officially became my daughter in April 2014 after a tumultuous two-year adoption process.

My little girl has a brave warrior spirit and a predisposition to wiggle gleefully in the grocery store and greet bemused shoppers with the invitation, “Hello ma’am, do chu wanna dance wid my mama and me?” My little girl also has HIV.

She was unwittingly infected by her biological mom who, like far too many people living in impoverished conditions in third world countries, never got tested and died of AIDS without ever realizing she had it.

As a result of Missy’s disease, one of the first new lessons I learned was about loving more people, more. My tutoring session took place in the private non-chain pharmacy we visit monthly that specializes in meds for people with HIV and AIDS. They don’t sell candy, cards, breakfast cereal, toothpaste or Chia pets, just pricey medicine for pretty sick folks. It’s tucked away on the fifth floor of an old building that used to house a low-budget shopping mall.

Of course, at first some of the other customers glanced at us with curiosity. This was probably because — with Missy dressed in a plaid school uniform and a bow bigger than her head, and me wrapped in my whole harried, disheveled look — they assumed we were lost.

Some even hurdle over benign curiosity and jump straight to barely disguised contempt. This aptly describes the man with an angry expression who rode up the elevator with us one visit. He literally averted his gaze and exhaled in protest when Missy blurted out happily, “Hello Sur! How awe you?”

I put my hand protectively on her shoulder and tried to scoot her a few inches away, but this was one time her ardor was not easily redirected. She tugged on his sleeve and persisted with more animation, “I’m Missy Haar-Purr. I’m FIVE! And this is my MAMA Haar-Purr!”

He threw me a look of frustration and exhaled louder. It was all I could do not to grin at his surprised expression when we walked into the pharmacy behind him and the darling employees swarmed Missy like a bevy of favorite aunts.

He seemed startled when they asked her to sing and she responded by belting out the praise chorus of “Your Great Name” followed by an enthusiastic, hip-swiveling encore of “Shake Your Booty.” (Missy’s musical repertoire is surprisingly vast.)

A few minutes later, after she’d proclaimed, “I lub ya’ll!” she handed a big sucker to each one of the staff. Then Missy turned to the man, held up her last remaining lollipop, and asked sweetly, “Wood chu like a sucker, Sur?”

His expression softened as he leaned down and replied gently, “Well, yes, honey. I believe I would.” My daughter hugged him before bellowing a rather bossy “Goodbye Sur, it was nice to meed you!” At which point he reached over her head and shook my hand.

When our eyes met, we both smiled. I couldn’t speak, because I was too close to tears. But I don’t think we needed any more words. Enough had already been said.

What Thanksgiving does annually for my waistline, Missy has done for my heart. She’s increased my capacity to “be kind and compassionate to one another,” which is exactly the kind of effect the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit has on Christ-followers.

Our Heavenly Father’s forgiveness and acceptance causes our hearts to expand far beyond our previous boundaries. As maturing Christians, we’ll scoot past simply being consumers of grace and become carriers of grace, becoming brave enough to embrace people we never noticed before as we seek to act like Christ.

Thank you Lisa Harper and Encouragement for Today.

 

Hope Wissel

Monday Morning Ramble

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It’s Monday morning.  For some (like me), I love Mondays.  I get to spend the day with hubby who is off. There is nothing on my calendar after a few morning hours in my office.  We will head to lunch and if it is nice, maybe even head to the lake to take a walk.  It is the perfect way to continue a fun filled weekend!  At Saturday’s craft show I got to catch up with some old friends then again with even more at St. Paul’s Annual Variety Show.  On Sunday I got to make some new friends while helping a Kathryn get some FREE Thirty-One products.  We were #bettertogether with Thirty-One and Pink Zebra.

This is the FIRST Monday in a LONG time that I am stuck!  Yup, not sure what to talk about…..So, I am going to “ramble” about some thoughts I had while I was on the road this past weekend.  As I used my GPS, I thought about a picture that I used to have hanging in my office:

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Okay, I know it is a little strange but for awhile it kept me focused on my business when I was in my office.  It kept me from getting lost in the black hole of social media.  The work I did in my office was all income producing in an effort to build my business.  Then I thought, what is someone put one of those “pocket cams” on me for a week, what would they think is important to me based on how I spend all my time.

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YIKES!  I don’t know about you but that could be a little scary.  I mean most of us can talk a good game, right?  We can share our values, our beliefs and even our “why”.  We can share our material wants and needs. We all carry around a picture in our head of what’s important.  You could give someone a visual picture of what is important to you.  BUT if they shadowed you for a day or a week, what would they say?  We can put words to things but what about that old saying “actions speak louder than words”.

So the question is, do you spend a lot of time on certain activities? Honestly, the typical assumption is that if it’s important, we spend more time doing it.  BUT, does that really tell the whole story.  Maybe you spend most of your life at work.  Does that make it most important? As for me, I think that “quality time” should definitely replace “quantity of time” as a way to determine importance.  For me, it can all be summed up in 6 words:

Giving myself away so others smile.

So, how will you SHOW people what’s important in your life?  Believe it or not, when you find your answer, then your true self is obvious to everyone. So, let YOUR sparkle shine today!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!