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.

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

AWAKENING

Today is MY day to reflect, recharge and relax.  I may be off to work but I am spending time with God this morning reflecting on all the emotions of last week at National Conference.  I probably cried the most, feeling God’s presence with Lisa Harper.  I should have known that I was in for an emotional and spiritual awakening just by this description – “Transform your soul, awaken your spirit, and revive your faith.  Discover new joy and a fresh sense of purpose”.  Let me tell you that she lived up to all  of this and MORE!

I was mesmerized from the first moment as a video was shared about her journey to adopt Missy an orphaned HIV-positive Haitian child.  This started me on a journey remembering my infected and affected HIV-positive kids from my days at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.  The tears began to fall as I realized that I had lost touch with them and as a result my heart has shrunk.  These kids were my heart and I gave unconditionally to them.  Yes, I contribute to causes now BUT that is with money and very often not with my time and talents.  Hubby would say, “you have not time with all that you do”.  The truth is – I do have time, I just need to find a cause near and dear to MY heart now that I am in a new area.

DREAM BIG!  I have heard it a million times but this time it was different.  Lisa said DREAM BIGGER so that you can stand up to your full potential.  Funny, I never seem to know what my full potential is.  Fear of failing. Fear of what others will think.  Fear of success.  These are the things that keep me from dreaming bigger.  I never really thought of it as living up to MY full potential.  That would require confidence, something that is shaky for me on any given day.  On the outside, I may look confident and ready for what ever life may throw my way BUT on the inside, I can be a hot mess.  It was right about this time when I realized that I had been crying through her whole talk and it wasn’t over yet.

“All addictions are a disorder of worship”.  Being a recovering addict and a recovering bulimic – I guess you could add shopaholic and spendaholic in there too, this really hit home.  During my addictions, I had no relationship with God.  I may have gone to church in the beginning but once I was deep in any of my addictions, I stopped.  I truly believed that God didn’t want this damaged child.  I mean if I couldn’t love me, how could he?  As I got gut honest, which I did a lot at conference, I believe that despite all of my work to overcome my addictions, a small part of me still believed that God was disappointed in me.  Talk about a tear jerker!  Even as I write this, the tears are dropping like rain on my keyboard.

Lisa ended her session with an exercise that had me balling like a baby (along with a few of my Thirty One sisters).  She had us each team up with either one or two people and say these three sentences to each other:

YOU are BRAVE

YOU are BEAUTIFUL

YOU are INTELLIGENT

As I listened to Kim say these words to me, it was like God was there reassuring me that I am worthy of his love.   I realized that I didn’t DREAM BIG because I didn’t believe that I was worthy enough for that dream.  I didn’t have faith that God would be there to guide and support me on my journey.

As I wiped the tears and hugged Megan and Kim, I realized that I am a child of God.  As his child, he loves me unconditionally and even if I stray off of his path, he will be there for me.  If you are struggling and don’t think you are ready to stand up to your full potential… Grab a friend, hold their hand, look into their eyes and each of you repeat these three sentences to each other.  Watch how God will work in your life to meet you where you are….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Business Tips and Tricks, Hope Wissel

Director Day AND Super Day

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WOOHOO!!  Today is Day 1 of National Conference.  I am so excited to be in Columbus, Ohio with 14,000 other Thirty One consultants.  That is only those who live East of the Mississippi…can you imagine what it would be like if we were ALL together.  YIKES!

Director’s Day will be exciting because I will be able to share it with my FIRST downline Director – Brandie.  She is a ROCK STAR in recruiting and has decided to make Thirty One a career so her goals are locked in.  They haven’t shared who the speakers are for this segment – or if they did, I missed it.  The excitement will be contagious as we learn how to grow our business AND how to lead our teams.

After a break filled with renewing of friendships and making new friends, the Directors and above, will join LOTS of Thirty One consultants for Super Day. This is an extra training that was earned for FREE by most of us.. Here we will get to hear these AWESOME speakers:

Debbie Phillips who is the inspiring founder of Women on Fire®, a national membership organization that provides inspiration, strategies and support for women of all ages to live their dreams. She’s the creator of the award-winning Women on Fire books, including the most recent volume in the series – Women on Fire: 21 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!).

Lisa Harper who is an author of multiple books and one of the top Bible teachers and speakers in the country. With six years of experience as the director of Focus on the Family’s national women’s ministry, Lisa has been called one of the “best Bible tour guides around,” by renowned pastor Max Lucado. She combines sound scriptural exposition with easy-to-relate anecdotes and comedic wit.

Robin Fisher Roffer who is the Founder & CEO of Big Fish Marketing. Robin is a brand strategist for clients such as A&E, AMC, Bloomberg, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, FX, History and Lifetime. Capitalizing on her experience at these powerhouse brands, Robin reveals must-have tips and tools in her keynote speeches and in her books, Make a Name for Yourself, The Fearless Fish Out of Water and The No Fear Career.  I can’t wait for this since I am in the process of developing my “brand”.

So, if you hear a low roar coming from the Ohio Valley, you can be assured that it is a group of Thirty One consultants who are being lit on fire by these dynamic speakers.  I can’t wait to share what I have learned from them with each of you. Just think, you don’t have to travel to Ohio to get their great tips either.

If you want to keep up with my travels… check out my personal Facebook page by clicking HERE!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!