Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Love Lives Here

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message…

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid  ~ John 14:26-28, NIV

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up…When my husband is nicer…When we have more money…things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help to those circumstances. God sent His Son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.

If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

Speak Words that Build Peace

So much of what determines our level of peace is the choice of words we use in our home. Are we speaking words of respect and kindness? Are we lifting up the people we live with? How can you build into the lives of those you love with an “I love you!” and “I’m proud of you!” A “You make me happy!” and “I forgive you”?

And it is not just the words we speak, it is the words we allow into our home. Carefully consider TV programs, music, and especially sites you visit on the internet. All of those words that come into your home can promote or tear down peace within your four walls.

Create a Home that Promotes Peace

One of the main biblical definitions of peace when translated from the Greek includes “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” A home that promotes peace is one where healthy food is served, clutter is controlled, systems are in place and people are cared for. These may feel like the everyday acts of a woman just keeping her home running, but really, they are the hundreds of small decisions we can make every day to promote peace and live whole lives in our homes:

  • Create meal plans for healthy eating.
  • Put things away when we are done using them.
  • Balance our bank account.
  • Pay our bills.
  • Invite others over to share a meal.
  • Serve our neighbors when there is a crisis.
  • Tend to a garden.

Be a Woman Who Promotes Peace

When someone insults me online, on the phone, or even in the line at the grocery store, I need to commit deliberate, defiant acts of peace toward that person. Those acts of peace can be, depending on the situation and the person, quick forgiveness, kind words to quench the hurt, or praying for them instead of responding. Peace is not powerlessness but refusing to give someone else the power over your response.

As you drive home tonight, think about what feeling you have as you approach your front door. Is it relief that you are finally home and have a soft place to land, or do you hesitate because inside your house carries the same amount of chaos as the rest of the world?

If peace doesn’t meet you at the door, make the decision to be someone who doggedly pursues peace in your home starting today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Business Tips and Tricks, Unclutter Your Life

Difficult or Burdensome?

Letting Go…. not something most of us do easily.  This time of year is filled with so many things – work, holiday shopping, visiting family/ friends, cooking, baking, wrapping presents, decorating, cleaning… What if you could LET GO of just one or two of those things?

I start MS injections tomorrow (at least give them a try), I am finding there are things I need to let go of.  Some things may fe letting go for a season, while others are for good.  I have to embrace my journey and NOT get wrapped up in the picture of the “perfect XXX” (fill in the blank).

I was struggling this morning trying to decide about an upcoming leadership training – should/could I travel, what would people think if I don’t go or does it mean I don’t care about my business if I don’t go – the comparison game inner gremlins were hard at work – actually working overtime.  This scripture popped up.  I’ve seen it many times but for some reason, today the words took on new meaning:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Maybe you are working on a project (business, job, etc), and to be blunt, you dread it.  It isn’t hard and someone else might love it BUT you don’t.  Maybe it isn’t purposeful.  Maybe is won’t lead to a better opportunity.  Maybe it is sucking up a lot of time you could better spend elsewhere.  The worst is, it  doesn’t use your strengths well. Bottom line – it has become a burden.  I have heard this lately from consultants in direct sales.  Their passion has turned to only an occasional spark and it has become more work than anything else. They are sticking with the business because of fear, need for an income, a big following… the list goes on AND none of the reasons include a passion for the work they are doing.

I know direct sales (or any job) can be “difficult”.  There are peaks and valleys in everything but when something becomes “burdensome” it may be time to let it go.  Here are the key distinctions between activities which are difficult versus ones which are burdensome:

1. You’re working hard and you’re tired, but deep down, you’re energized by the work.

When something is difficult, but you are energized by it, it can be a sign you are right in the midst of your sweet spot. There is a certain gratification which comes with your purpose. You can give everything you have and yet still have the energy to keep going.

2. You feel stretched, but not broken.

Difficult tasks and situations stretch you. They empower you to learn and grow and become more of the person you are meant to be. Growth, by its very definition, expands you into a bigger version of yourself.

3. You are at peace even in the midst of the chaos.

There are seasons of life which are very difficult and even chaotic. You look forward to getting through them, even when you feel uniquely equipped to handle them. Chaos can swirl around you and yet you are calm. You are at peace.

4. There is purpose in the pain.

Difficult tasks and situations lead to purpose. Burdensome ones distract you from your purpose. Difficult, but purposeful situations can transform you, give clarity, strengthen relationships, and mature you so you are better prepared for the future. They lead you towards your purpose.

5. It is worth the effort.

Difficult tasks and situations are purposeful. Burdensome ones are not. If you can see by persevering, the reward will be worth it, stick with it. Difficulties are about making sacrifices for a greater purpose.

So, which situations in your life are burdensome and which ones are difficult?  Will you make a change, removing the burden or persevere through a difficult time?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

A Light in the Dark

Thank you Michele Cushatt for today’s message:

“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” ~ John 20:21

The last thing I planned to do that day was to leave my house.I had a mountain of writing I’d neglected and only a small window of time to complete it. I planned to hole up at home, ignore email and phone, and get the job done.

But then the phone rang. And I answered it. Which led to a spontaneous lunch with a friend who needed to talk. It wasn’t in my schedule, but I jumped in the car and headed out anyway. I knew what it feels like to need a last-minute listening ear.

But lunch took longer than I planned. Doesn’t it always? A sweet afternoon, no doubt about it. But worry over my waiting responsibilities continued to nag me. So I jumped back in my car and pointed it straight toward home. No detours allowed.

Until my phone rang again. And I answered it. It was a work call I’d been waiting for. So I pulled into a coffee shop parking lot where I could talk business without distraction.

Nearly an hour later, I hung up. By now it was well into the late afternoon with my to-dos untouched. Thinking a chai tea latte might energize me; I backed out of my parking space and turned into the drive-through.

Only the drive-through was closed. In the middle of a weekday afternoon. Dear Lord, how was that possible? If I wanted my pick-me-up, I’d have to walk inside.

Once again I parked my car in the lot. Frustrated, I glanced at my watch as I walked inside.

That’s when I met Lindsey.

Lindsey is a beautiful barista. And when my frustrated self walked up to the crowded counter, she’s the one who greeted me with a smile.

“What can I get for you?”
More hours in the day?
“How about a grande chai tea latte?”
“Sure thing.” As she pulled out a fresh cup, Lindsey let me know they were now customizing their standard chai. As a result, I could choose my desired sweetness.

In a rare moment of stranger transparency, I mentioned how happy I was about the customization option, because of the fact that multiple surgeries have taken away most of my taste. I can’t taste sweet, making added sugar pointless, I told her.

Lindsey paused, sucked in a breath, and whispered, “You’re not that woman who wrote that book, are you?”

My turn to pause, inhale. “What book?”
“Undone?” I don’t think she could’ve said it any softer.
“Actually, yes.” I smiled big. “So nice to meet you!”
And that’s when tears filled her eyes. She went on to explain the week before, she’d heard me tell my story on a radio interview, an ordained moment and message God delivered on a day she desperately needed to hear it.

“That has nothing to do with me,” I smiled again. “That’s all Him. He loves you.”

She nodded in agreement. And then said my showing up in her coffee shop on this particular day was nothing short of a miracle.

If she only knew.

From the moment the day began, God orchestrated my seemingly errant details to interrupt my well-planned day. Instead of allowing me to hole up at home with my list of to-dos, He sent me out. To a beautiful barista named Lindsey.

A coincidence? No way.

Now, months later, I’m pretty sure all that divine orchestration was for me and not her.

You see, most days I feel a strong urge to hide. To buffer myself from the vulnerable life. There are moments when reality weighs heavy, and I feel overwhelmed with a world that’s gone mad.

You know what I mean, don’t you? The wars and economic woes and tragedies and diseases and accidents. Even beyond all the dramatic evidence of this broken world are the everyday challenges of simply trying to love and live. More often than I care to admit, I want to nestle into the protection of anonymity, hide in a shelter of my own making.

And yet, we weren’t given a light to hide it.

Our stories weren’t written for our own reading any more than the sun is for one person’s shining. We’ve been given stories—broken and beautiful stories—so a broken and beautiful world can see there is a God who’s written a story for them too.

Including baristas named Lindsey.

We’ve been sent, you and I. We’re message bearers, storytellers, light givers.

None of this can happen if we hide, content to keep our stories to ourselves. There is a great big world waiting to know there is a God who sees and loves them too. Will we leave safety in order to be sent?

The sending is hard, that is true. Both risk and rawness come when we allow God to push us out of hiding and into the light. It means sharing in the suffering of others. Opening yourself to rejection. Facing and feeling the brokenness of a world we once believed was nearly perfect.

And yet I shudder a bit when I think how close I came to staying home that day. How easy it would’ve been to keep the door locked, stay in my car, and refuse to walk inside those coffee shop doors, keep my lips shut about my story.

How close I came to missing out on God’s sweet gift through His sending. Because in offering Lindsey a glimpse of God’s love, I got a taste of it for myself too.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Fireside Lessons

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

I have learned many lessons from my husband about how to do ministry. Dan is a people person and views strangers as friends he simply hasn’t met yet. But his heart beats for the lost man who seems to be running from God with every ounce of energy he has. Dan’s passion gave birth to the Fireside Ministry.

Every Sunday night men from all walks of life gather in our driveway around a fire pit to share what God is doing in their lives as well as the struggles they are experiencing. They ask for help. They pray for each other. Fireside time is a holy time where God shows up and works in amazing ways.

One Sunday night I slipped into the garage to grab something out of the refrigerator we keep there. When I heard Dan talking about the spaces we have to create in our lives, I stopped and listened.

For months, I had been brutally examining my life. I was very busy doing good things, but were those things ordained by God or tasks simply assigned by my own need to be seen and heard? I was tired and discouraged – ready to give up.

I sat down on the garage steps and listened as a master teacher laid out a life-changing truth for me.

Dan said, “I give Scott a hard time about his fire-building technique. But there is a truth here for all of us about the spaces we need to have in our lives. Scott cannot stand to see space in a fire. The minute one of the logs burns through, Scott jumps up and replaces it with two logs … and the fire always struggles to keep burning. Here’s why. A fire has to have space to burn its brightest. There has to be room for air to get through and fan the flames. If there are no spaces, the fire will soon die out because it can’t breathe.”

“Mary, you need space in your life … for Me,” the Father whispered to my heart.

I immediately knew what I had to do. I had to lay down every commitment, every ministry, and every log in my life at the feet of Jesus. I was smothering the power of God because there were too many logs on my fire and no space for Him to fan the flames of His plans for me.

I’ve repeatedly tried to defy my God-given need for rest, thinking that I’m somehow above both the occurrence and consequences of exhaustion. Some urgent task will always call my name, as will that person whose life will absolutely disintegrate before my eyes if I don’t do something right now. My ego loves those deadly toxic strokes that are from the pit and smell like smoke.

Stress shouts, “Get busy! There is so much to do!” Stress applauds and dances with delight as I keep on “doing” instead of “being.”

Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. Details! I need details! Instead, God calls me to rest.

I don’t want to rest.

When I rest, I feel guilty. I have places to go, people to see, and important things to do. I hear the quiet whisper of the One who knows me best and loves me most, “Mary, it is time to rest.”

In Psalm 23:2 the psalmist writes, “He lets me rest.” Don’t let that gentle statement fool you. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says it this way, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” I can personally testify to the fact that the word “makes” holds a world of possibilities in the hands of our creative God.

Throughout the years God has gently grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent loving Father and well aware of just how much rest we need and when we need it.

We will rest – one way or another. The logs will come off and space will be created for our good and His glory. God’s love will see to it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Listen and Be Still

tulips

Listen, be still and wait,

You’ll hear all kinds of things:

A moth up on the windowpane,

Whir of birds on the wing.

Listen, be still and hear

The language of the wildflowers.

Be serene and patient; wait

For new sounds every hour.  – Mami Oaburn Odum

These are the words I needed to hear this morning because I forget to LISTEN and BE STILL.  My mind is always racing 100 miles ahead of where I am – letting moments pass by, letting frustration creep in, and worse of all letting Negative Nellie and Doubtful Debbie land for even a moment.  Patience has never really been a strong point for me.

The last few weeks have been a struggle, I have found myself undergoing a range of emotions or should I say reactions which are not always pleasant.  I can be down right mean sometimes – yes, it happens.

I have asked Hubby to point it out to me when it happens.  Okay, I didn’t say it was the best decision but with brain fog happening more and more – I need someone to help me remember.   Just the other day.  We were having a great morning when all of a sudden – this gray cloud came over me and I was “snappy”.  I know hard to believe, right?  LOL.  I actually found myself stopping for a moment , keeping QUIET and saying the Serenity Prayer.  Within an hour – gray cloud gone and sunshine prevailed for the rest of the day.  I so which I could understand why the gray could comes out of no where.  I don’t know where they come from BUT I do know what makes them go away – listening to and signing my favorite songs, asking God for help instead of demanding help; keeping quiet, appreciating my surroundings and being grateful for all of the many blessings God has given me.

I find myself having one sided conversations with God (or anyone else who will listen) and then when I need to BE STILL, I become impatient because I want an answer NOW!  My time, not God’s time.

So JUST FOR TODAY in a day filled with activity, I will make sure I take a few moments to BE SERENE, BE STILL and LISTEN.  I have a dream and goals but I need to know if they are the same as what God has in store for me.  The only way to know is to LISTEN.  Get off the computer. Avoid the IPAD.  Get away from the phone.  UNPLUG, communicate with people, LISTEN and watch for the doors that God is opening for me.

Will you unplug with me and PLUG into God’s beauty which surrounds us?  What are you thankful for today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!