Relax, Reflect, Recharge

The Secret of Being Content

Thank you Michele Cushatt for today’s message.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12, NIV).

“It’s too hot!” he complained over the kitchen counter, complete with rolled eyes and his best pre-adolescent attempt to pretend he might pass out from the heat.

Nice acting job, buddy. I restrained rolling my own eyes.

Moments, before I’d told my twelve-year-old to go outside and play with friends. He needed to get some fresh air and sunshine. Otherwise we both might have a meltdown.

Granted, it was close to 90 degrees outside. Warm, no doubt about it. But not scorching or dangerous. And our neighborhood boasted plenty of large trees and front porches providing shade. It was a normal summer day, but already the break from school had lost its luster.

“It’s beautiful outside!” I told him. “Besides, remember a couple weeks ago?”

I went on to remind him of those early June days when the temperature had remained unseasonably cool and the summer shorts stayed in the drawer.

“You didn’t want to play outside then because it was ‘too cold.’” I grinned, hoping he’d see the irony. Instead …

“70 degrees!” he countered. “Every day needs to be 70 degrees. That would be perfect.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He had a point. Seventy-degree sunny days are just about as perfect as they come. But expecting every day to deliver perfect weather is not only unreasonable but impossible. The planet needs a combination of rain and sun, night and day, to thrive.

Sometimes I’m not all that different from my son. Although I don’t wake up expecting perfect weather, I do expect my life to go according to plan, to follow a predictable routine and meet my every need. In a sense, I want a string of seventy-degree days. I don’t want too many crises, too much discomfort, too many challenges. And if life doesn’t deliver my definition of perfect weather, I can easily grow frustrated and lose my peace and contentment.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul claimed he’d learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation” (4:12). That means on the hot days and cold days alike. His secret?

Finding an outside source to regulate his temperature.

Like a furnace and air conditioning unit regulates the temperature inside the house regardless of the weather, we need an outside source to help us stay centered even when life grows uncomfortable. We need someone who can counteract our crises with his unwavering presence and soothe our anxiety with his unending peace.

Jesus. The one who comforts day after day with his nearness.

To pine away our days waiting for perfection will only leave us complaining in the kitchen about everything that’s wrong. In the process, will miss what’s waiting for us outside, the fresh air and sunshine and adventure of a life in Christ. No, we can’t control the weather. But we know One who can. And He makes the difference from being a woman who melts down in the heat of life and a woman who knows how to shine in spite of it.

Have a blessed day!

Making a Difference, Personal Causes

Thankful Thursday: Be A Blessing

Some time ago, I did a blog post on packing a blessing bag…… It is something I wanted to do but just never seemed to get to.  This post inspired someone to make it her mission.

I met Maxine through this “purse gig”.  She was on my team for a little bit.  She and I stayed in touch over the last few years by praying for each other and just being there for moral support.  She reached out to me to ask for some suggestions on growing a ministry which is near and dear to her heart.   Here is Maxine’s story in her own words…..

Awhile back I decided to do bags for homeless people. Nothing elaborate just simple items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, small soaps, a pen, a little note pad, a pair of socks, a razor, a pack of Kleenex, a granola bar, some cheese crackers, small snacks, hand sanitizer, and a rain poncho.  I was working as a home health care  aide and traveled on the bus every day.  I always carried a couple with me and if I came across someone in need I would give them one . I don’t put cash in them simply because you just never know.  Many people hustle for money for other things. Fast forward to now. I’m driving for Lyft and I come across a good number of people so I started doing it again.  Handing bags out to those who are in need – usually when I stop at a traffic light.  You can kind of tell who’s legit and who’s not when you hand it to them.  But regardless, I try to help everyone I can. I use ziplock bags to hold the items. I want to continue this ministry but I am struggling.  I come across a great number of people every day while I’m out driving.  I’ve been doing this all out of pocket!   The time has come when I can no longer afford to do it and it is breaking my heart . We are ourselves are  living in a hotel.  God has blessed up and we  get through day by day.  He makes a way!  Even when I cannot see it, He makes a way.  I am reaching out to others for donations – monetary and for items to fill the bags.

The hotel where we are staying has offered to do some extra soaps and shampoos to help.  I am reaching out to churches and other organizations to see if they can help with individually packaged snacks and things.  But there is still a gap.  The need is so great….

I am reaching out to my readers and my friends.  Won’t you consider helping?  Maxine has set up a PayPal account to collect monetary donations (https://paypal.me/maxineniemeier?locale.x=en_US).  Every little bit helps.  She lives in Chicago, so if you have any suggestions or contacts please let us know.  I’m trying to help her keep her ministry alive….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Business Tips and Tricks

How To Handle Difficult or Demanding Customers

Let the Fall party season begin!  September is the Fall kickoff for many direct sales companies – new products, new styles, and a fresh look.  For many of us, this starts the busiest time of year in our business.  Did you know most direct sales consultants make 70% of their business from now till the end of December.  In just 4 months, we make 70% of our income, does the math work for you?

Whether you are in the party plan business or work for someone else, we have all met those customers who are just plain grumpy.   As we all look forward to helping our friends gather for a Girl’s Night Out, we begin to think about the guests who will be attending – moms, career woman, travelers, crafters, and the list goes on.  We want to be sure we are highlighting products which will be useful for them but what we don’t think about are the “hecklers” or the “difficult customer”.

Picture this:  you start your presentation when one of the guests begins making “side” comments just loud enough for you to hear.  Or, you talk about a product and they begin to tell you why XYZ company’s product is so much better.  Have you ever had a guest like this?  If not, consider your lucky and know at some point in your selling career, you may come across them.  If you have, did it throw you off your game?  I will be honest, I don’t do well with confrontation even after 7 plus years with Thirty One….I am grateful for these tips from Deb Bixler and Sherri Campbell:

  1. Spotlight the Difficult Customer at the Party.  A great way to stifle a difficult person is to answer all of their questions and offer not to go on until they are answered.   I have asked them to repeat their question or concern so I can answer it because there may be someone else in the group with the same concern.  As difficult as it may be I try to demonstrate empathy through eye contact, body language and smaller verbal cues showing concern.  This is REALLY tough since my face always gives me away.
  2. Rally the Interested Customers.  If someone is not cooperating at all with your presentation, participating or aren’t even being courteous enough to stop talking while you are; Debs suggests, simply say “The rest of the group is interested in this information”.  WOW!  I could not see myself saying it… it seems confrontational which totally scares me!  Remember the other guests are watching and will follow your lead (hopefully).  Stay calm and remain in charge of the interaction. You can also go with the difficult customer’s energy.  If nothing you are doing or saying is satisfying the customer/guest, disarm them by surrendering and granting agreement to the difficult customer.  Chances are the customer will probably start defending the you.  Believe it or not, it’s natural when someone is allowed to win they will be more open to what they were fighting against.
  3. The Wise Guy is Your Party Side Kick!  Difficult customers may think they know more than you do about your product or company.  Here is where knowing your products AND your company is a definite PLUS.  If you can show the “wise gal” the correct information, they tend to stop being a problem.  Don’t be forceful.  Come across soft and don’t talk over them even when it’s obvious they are off base. Let them talk themselves  out. Keep in mind the needier their behavior, the more power you have since neediness comes from weakness. By listening, you have a chance to build trust, empathy and rapport and ultimately, calms them down.  On the other hand, if they have good information, invite them to help out with the presentation.

Every party is not going to run smoothly.  I have to admit, I have been left speechless a few times due to a difficult customer.  I have even taken a 2 minute break in the middle of a party to “help” a difficult customer so she could be on her way.  By doing so, the customer actually booked a party and the group appreciated the fact the difficult customer had left.  Hopefully, you will never have a heckler or a difficult party guest BUT be ready just in case.

When a customer or party guest is never satisfied, it’s natural for us to lose motivation for working with this person. Sticking it out requires a strategy for dealing with difficult people, self-restraint and an ability to keep power in the relationship. we need to learn when to be hard and when to be soft in conflict. Something I am still working on….

The toughest thing for me is to remember to NOT take it personal….
When dealing with an unsatisfied customer, we need to remind ourselves this is a business issue and not a personal one.  Chances are,  this customer knows very little about you on a personal level, so keep this in mind guiding the conversation back to the pressing issue and how we plan to solve the problem for the customer.

Next time you encounter and angry person imagine they as a 2-year-old since it is the maturity level they are showing you.  Remember, you have the power as long as you remain calm, flexible, patient and mindful.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

In Want or in Plenty: Real Ways to Create Contentment in Your Life

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message…

On that sunny August day, I thought my life couldn’t get much worse.

Recently separated from my husband and with no support from him, I was teetering on the financial edge. My kids and I had just moved in with my parents, and I was desperately looking for a job to support my two middle schoolers.

I thought about our old life where the only thing I needed to get them ready for a new school year was a debit card and a couple trips to the mall. With school only a few weeks away, I didn’t know where I’d get the money to buy clothes and shoes or pay for annual physicals.

That was fifteen years ago.

Today, I do have enough, but the dread of not having what I need can still make me sick to my stomach.

We live in a tiny house, but one that is situated in the most expensive county in the US, with plenty of food, enough money to buy clothes we need and go out to dinner occasionally. Even take an occasional vacation.
This is the land of plenty. No doubt about it.

But what I’ve discovered? There are benefits and drawbacks to both.

When I was in want, we pulled together what we needed with the help of my parents, hand-me-downs from friends, Goodwill, and a small amount of surprise money that showed up in our mailbox. We didn’t have extra, but we had exactly what we needed.

Living in want is a scary place to be, whatever your want may be. But the other thing I discovered about living in want? It gives you plenty of room to see and experience God’s provision first hand, evidence of God’s care and provision for me and my kids.

Now, living in plenty? Whew! Finally, you can be relieved of the day-to-day worry about how you’re going to pay the rent, or the next car payment. But there is a drawback to living in plenty: You can forget to notice all the miracles around you.

We falsely believe we are making things happen—and that can even turn into thinking if only people were as ______________ (conscientious, hard-working, smart, etc.) as us, they would not be in want.

And suddenly we forget about the love, graciousness and strength only God can provide in both of these times.

So how do we stay content in a world that actively works to keep us discontent?

Limit your time around agents of discontent.

Where does your discontentment grow? For me, it’s looking at Pinterest or home decorating sites. I see all-white country chic homes and am transported into another world—until I have to come back to earth and see my stained carpets, saggy couches and 1970’s bathroom. Not only can I become dissatisfied, I can project that dissatisfaction onto my husband, who works hard to provide for me.

I’ve learned to limit myself when it comes to my house. Currently, we are replacing our carpets with flooring. Instead of spending months perusing different websites, I’m heading to Home Depot. No muss. No fuss.

Get radically, ridiculously grateful.

This is an exercise I do when I need to recalibrate my gratefulness. Notice how many things you have directly around you.

As I write this, within a foot of me are:

2 Bibles
A notebook and pen
A coffee cup with hot coffee in it
A banana peel from the banana I just ate
A tray a good friend gave me
A couch I’m sitting on
A quilt my mom made me
My dog cuddling with me
Just noticing the blessings in my immediate surroundings changes my perspective.

Here is what I know from reading God’s word: We need to set our hearts on God and not our circumstances. We must learn to live both in want and in plenty.

God will meet us, no matter our situation. Our ability to be content is not determined by our circumstances, but our connection to Him.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

What Does God Want From You?

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

Sometimes I think we’ve made our relationship with God far too difficult and confusing. We strive so hard to draw closer to the heart of God. And all the while, God’s outstretched hand is reaching to draw us in.

For more than half a century, I have been striving, pursuing, and seeking God. And like a cat chasing her tail, I’ve been going in circles.

Circling in the wilderness with the Israelites, if you will. Saved from slavery, for sure. Headed to my own personal Promised Land, hopefully. But somehow stuck in the wilderness wandering ever circling but not quite reaching Jordan’s shore.

And I am not alone. Statistics show that one of the top desires of Christians is to grow closer to God. During a recent poll, 65 percent said they were declining or on a plateau in their spiritual growth. On the other hand, Peter wrote: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

We have everything we need to experience the ever growing, continually maturing, abundant life, so why aren’t we? Why are most of us languishing on the desert plateaus of mediocrity and complacency? Why are most of us satisfied munching on the predigested truths of teachers rather than pulling up to the banquet table and feasting with God at a table set for two?

“God, what do you really want from me?”

I’ve pondered that question since the genesis of my relationship with Christ. Perhaps you have too. When you boil down all the water from the diluted soup of questions men and women have simmered in their heart through the centuries, this is the one question left in the pot.

And somehow, we feel that if we could answer that one question, we would discover why that glory ache persists and how to satisfy our yearning.

I had asked the question a thousand times, but one morning, I got quiet enough to listen. And then, in the stillness, He showed me that my busy sisters and I have been asking the wrong question.

Rather than ask God what He wants from us, we need to ask Him what He wants for us.

I meditated on Acts 17:28 throughout the following year after the day God whetted my appetite with the possibilities wrapped up in those eight little words: In Him we live and move and have our being. I came to realize that what He wants for us is to sense His presence, experience His love, and delight in intimate relationship as we live and move and have our being in sacred union with Him. And when we do, He opens our eyes to His glory all around and the ache for something more is soothed.

So today, I encourage you to be still. Just get quiet. Breathe deeply. Jesus in. Worries out.

Don’t make your faith about what God wants from you, but what God wants for you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!