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!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When You’ve Failed and Bailed

 

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I just love Moses. I can relate to him on so many levels.

For about forty years, he thought he was an Egyptian…the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. But somehow he discovered that he was NOT an Egyptian after all. He was a Hebrew, the son of a slave woman. . . and that changed everything.

Moses had a mid-life crisis and came up with a plan to save his true people from Egyptian slavery. God did not call him to this plan. He came up with it all on his own. (Red flag for all of us.)

One day Moses was walking among his people and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Glancing first one way and then another to make sure no one was looking, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. One down. Several million to go. Moses was working the plan.

The next day, Moses was out walking among his people and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses realized what he had done was widely known. The Pharaoh was out to kill him, and his fellow Hebrews mocked him. So he failed and he bailed.

Moses fled to a place called Midian, married a gal named Zipporah, and joined the family business taking care of sheep. The next time we see Moses, forty years have passed; he is now 80 years old . . . and he is stuck. Oh, sister, I’ve been there. Have you?

Moses was stuck in Midian and held hostage by his failures. He had settled for less than what he was made for. Less than what God had prepared him for. Less than what he had hoped for in himself. And there he stayed.

This is where many people drive their tent stakes in the ground and settle. They make a mistake, fall flat on their face, and run away to the far side of the wilderness, hoping no one will notice. Praying everyone will just leave him or her alone, at the same time, absolutely miserable that life has morphed into a monotonous, lackluster checklist. Like Moses, many bury their hopes and dreams to protect their hearts from further disappointment.

But that’s not where God wants you to stay. We all fail. We all make mistakes. Peter did. Moses did. Jacob did. Samson did. David did. But just because you failed does not mean you ARE a failure. You are a child of God who makes mistakes.

God wasn’t finished with Moses and He’s not finished with you or me. He has a plan…a good and perfect plan.

So if you feel stuck…if you’ve failed and bailed to your far side of the wilderness…it’s time to get unstuck and move forward. God has burning bushes all around. This could be one right now. He’s calling you to let go of your failure, move forward in all that He has for you to do, and live bold.

Come on. Let’s do it together! He’s calling your name.

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Giving Up Control

Courtesy of Sharon Jaynes and ibelieve.com

“But he [God] 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV).

The angels were hovering low in our church on this particular Sunday morning. It was a special day for a group of 10 “kids” known as the King’s Kids. They were leading worship by singing a special song – only many of the kids couldn’t carry a tune, walk on their own, or even control their limbs.

We sat in silence as the unlikely band of worship leaders stumbled onto the stage. Each of these children of God had a disability and visible handicap. The King’s Kids lined up on the stage, many with adults standing behind them to support them, both physically and emotionally. Kristen, a young lady with Down Syndrome appeared to be the leader. She stood out in front of the others with confidence, strength, and passion.
The sound track began and the King’s Kids began to “sing” with their hands in sign language. “Press on,” their hands proclaimed. With wide sweeping motions and uninhibited praise, Kristen sang with arms and hands to the One who loved her most.

There was one girl in particular who caught my eye. She was not able to do the signs by herself. Her limbs were much too weak and uncontrolled. I watched as this gal leaned into a woman standing behind her and surrendered her arms and hands. While the others signed the words to the song, the woman moved her young charge’s hands in tandem with the others. Beth simply leaned into her helper and relinquished control.

Then God spoke to my heart: That is what I want you to do. Lean into Me, relinquish control, and allow Me to move your life in a symphony of worship.

We all have disabilities. While the handicaps vary, God longs for each one of us to do as Beth did on that Sunday morning. Lean into Him. Relinquish control. Allow God to move us to His song.

There was not a dry eye in the 2000-seat sanctuary that morning. These precious kids had many wounds and scars in their young lives, but they encouraged each of us to “press on” through our own struggles and hardships. Their disabilities were visible, yet those of us who sat in the pews had disabilities that were not visible to the naked eye but just as real.

I wonder what God wants to accomplish through you. I wonder how long He’s been waiting for you to lean into Him and let Him take control.

Are you are ready to give up control and lean into the Master?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Celebrate and Connect, Hope Wissel, Personal Causes, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

I Really Should Have More Fun

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:11-12 (NIV)

This really spoke to me this morning.  I had to ask myself “Why is it so hard for me to stop working and just have fun?”  I remember when my daughter was younger and living at home.  I made it a point to STOP working and just spend time doing things with her.  We had fun – it may have seemed like more work to others – the endless competitions and practices for cheering, the traveling all over but I enjoyed it.  I left work at work (or home) and just had fun.  I wasn’t worried about checking my phone constantly for messages or to see what was happening.  So what happened?

Other people have no trouble doing this. They look for any reason to drop the dust rags, ditch the dirty laundry, turn off the computer, and head to the park! Or the movies. Or a hike. Laughing all the way.  I wish I were more like that.

On Sundays, I always blog about Relax, Reflect, Recharge but in reality this is NOT a day that I turn off my phone or my computer to just enjoy the blessings that I have been given.  I know in today’s world, work schedules vary and  yes, sometimes I do have to work on Sunday.  I mean that isn’t so bad since hubby is off on Monday and Tuesday.  The problem comes when on Monday and Tuesday – I don’t unplug and just have fun.  This past week, I did that – Rob and I had lunch out and then went to the movies.  I had fun!  I am looking forward to the warmer weather so that we can take those walks around the lake or on the boardwalk and I can “unplug”.

I’m pretty sure this all-work-no-play routine wasn’t the life Jesus intended me to live as one of His disciples. Carrying the weight of burdens that aren’t mine to carry. Choosing to interact with a computer screen rather than being with people.

This is a truth my idea of loving others is often shown by doing things for them. But some people feel loved when I simply spend time with them. And for some, that time needs to be a little less task-oriented and a lot more laughter-filled.  SMACK!

So, here is my challenge: To be intentional about having fun. To initiate getting together with others. To say yes when invited. To stretch outside my comfort zone. And to relax about the details.  I LOVE this challenge and it probably will be the hardest one for me.  I need to remember that  “Work will always be there — but the people might not be”.  God has a pretty good handle on managing the world. I can leave that job to Him while I grab a loved one and make a lasting memory instead of checking something off my to-do list.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Got Faith?

It is Sunday morning and unfortunately, I am not going to make it to church today.  It is one of those Sundays when I have a 9 hour shift at WaWa – my part time job (2 days a week, if I am lucky).  I am grateful for the hours but I do miss going to church on Sunday morning

Mary Southerland  always manages to make me think.  Her blog on ibelieve.com about having faith did just that.  I have often talked about faith and even my lack of it when things are tough.  One of my favorite scriptures is:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Over the last two weeks, I have adopted a more positive approach to life and my business.  There have been valleys where disappointment and discouragement  which could have absorbed all of my energy.  The difference is that I choose to handle it differently.  As Mary says:

We must respond to each valley with trust and faith. The word “trust” means, “to lie helpless, face down” and is the picture of a servant waiting for his master’s command or a soldier yielding himself to a conquering general. “Heart” refers to “the center of one’s being.” In other words, to trust God completely means that from the very center of our being, from the very core of our existence, we trust Him, totally abandoning ourselves in childlike faith to Him and His plan. We come, holding nothing in our hands, pushing no agenda, with one word in our heart—“whatever!” “Whatever You want me to do, Lord, I will do. Whatever You want me to say, Lord, I will say. Whatever You want me to think, Lord, I will think. Whatever path You have for me, Lord, I will walk.”

One of the things that I learned is that faith does not bypass pain – it empowers us so that we can deal with pain.  Faith steps up to the bat and invites the opponent to throw his best pitch. Sometimes faith strengthens us, and other times, surprises us. Great faith is forged in the deepest valleys, beginning where our strength and power end.

I have been blessed over the last two weeks to see faith in action.  Business has increased, potential recruits have reached out to me and despite all odds, money has been available to pay some bills.  My faith on some days is as small as a mustard seed and with God’s help it is slowly growing into a mighty oak.

One of my favorite descriptions of faith is:

F: forsaking

A: all

I:  I

T: trust

H: Him

Share how would you define faith?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!