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!

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How To Pick the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Over the years, I have always had a hard time finding the perfect gift for my mom.  She is kind, giving, hard-working and of course, she holds a special place in my heart.  What about you?  Do you struggle?  Since miles (okay about an hour’s drive) separate us, we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like or have in the past.  So, the gift of time seems to be the best thing to give her on any given day.  On Mother’s Day, I want it to be special.  It’s so important on Mother’s Day to show our moms just how much we appreciate them. Take this short quiz to find great gift ideas for your mom to make her special day amazing!

How does your mom like to spend her weekends?

  1. Traveling and exploring new places
  2. Hiking, picnicking or at the beach
  3. Soccer games, trips to the grocery store and a million other errands – she’s always on the go!
  4. In the kitchen trying out new recipes
  5. Cozied up at home with a good book
  6. Shopping!

Describe her personality in one word.

  1. Adventurous
  2. Nature-lover
  3. Organized
  4. Loving
  5. Homebody
  6. Fashionista

What’s her dream vacation?

  1. Going somewhere new and exciting like Australia or Japan
  2. She’s just as happy exploring national parks as she is lounging on the beach
  3. A week at the spa to relax from her hectic life
  4. Paris, Spain or Italy – she’s not picky as long as it has amazing food!
  5. Visiting friends and family that she doesn’t get to see often
  6. Exploring all of the amazing boutiques in London or New York City

What’s your budget for her gift?

  1. Less than $30
  2. The mid-$30s sound good
  3. Let’s keep it under $40
  4. Right around $50
  5. Under $60
  6. Less than $90
Mostly 1s: Choose the perfect travel accessory or mix and match a few for the ultimate travel solution set! The Hanging Traveler Case, Fold-Up Family Organizer, Shine On Jewelry Case or Glamour Case won’t break your bank and will make organizing her overnight bag or suitcase easier for her next getaway.  My mom loves her Hanging Traveler Case so maybe it should be the Shine On Jewelry Case this year?
Mostly 2s….If your mom loves all things outdoors, the Sand N’ Shore Thermal Tote Bundle is the perfect companion for her next adventure. From picnics and hiking to the beach, this thermal’s Leak Lock® lining means she’ll always be ready with food, drinks and snacks to keep the whole crew going.
Mostly 3s:  She’ll love the Crossbody Organizing Tote.  This versatile utility-style bag is functional and fashionable enough to go with her everywhere! The adjustable crossbody strap and wipeable design of the Crossbody Organizing Tote will make it her go-to bag for work, the store and beyond.
Mostly 4s:  The Tote-ally Thermal or Fresh Market® Thermal is for her!

If there’s nothing your mom loves more than getting creative in the kitchen and sharing the food she makes, then the super-portable Tote-ally Thermal or roomy Fresh Market®Thermal is just what she needs. Both have Leak Lock® lining to hold ice to transport her creations to the next dinner party or holiday celebration.  The best part is these are on SALE this month.

Mostly 5s: The Close To Home™ Table Gallery is her perfect match

Family is important to your mom, and she loves to be reminded of her loved ones daily. The Close To Home Table Gallery’s interchangeable Photo Inserts let her switch out pictures to display different special memories throughout the year.  OR, you can pick your favorite photo and grab just the insert for her to hang or display for all to see.

Mostly 6s: Give the gift of fashion with Miles of Style®.  Your mom knows accessories make the outfit, so give her a bag she’ll want to show off every day with the versatile and fashionable Miles of Style®. Personalize this stylish handbag with an embroidered monogram for a Mother’s Day gift she’ll always cherish.
Which one is the perfect gift for your mom?  Need some more suggestions, feel free to comment below OR check out my Thirty One website.  Share a picture with us of your mom and you….
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!
Business Tips and Tricks, Unclutter Your Life

Is Impatience Your Problem? –

Patience can be developed with practice. 

As a recovering addict, patience has not been one of my strong points.  Sure I had patience (most of the time) with my daughter as a single mom BUT not when it came to other things it was non-existant.

What about you?  Is there a goal or desire are you rushing toward? What is the one thing in your life you just can’t wait to see happen?  I’m usually an “instant gratification” person but I’m working on changing which takes time (and patience).  Are you getting the vicious circle?  LOL.  It is usually the thing we want the most which take the longest like the struggle to reach your goal weight.

And while we’re waiting for things to happen, we are usually tempted to make things happen — we want the magic wand for things to happen NOW!  In most cases, the solution we find to the problem or desire is not a perfect fit and as a result we muck things up.  We get a SMACK to remind us it is time to practice patience!

The truth is a lack of patience is often a sign of fear and those inner gremlins called fear are waiting to squash your  goals and desires.  We want what we want now!  I know I am not alone, right?   We get anxious and worried then begin pushing for things to happen before their time (remember it is His time, not ours).  We need to learn to slow down.  We need to trust.  We need to breathe. Patience is an act of faith, even when we don’t know when or how things will work out.

Here are four key areas of your life where you may need to practice more patience…

Relationships

Are you short-tempered with people? Does waiting in line at the store irritate you?  Do you get impatient with someone who is trying to do something especially when they don’t live up to your expectations?  Are you scared your dream relationship will never happen?  If you are single, have you pushed a relationship to be “serious” when it may not have been meant to be.  Why?  Because you fear someone special won’t come along, or maybe you think you’re getting too old to get married, or your choices are limited so you are tempted to marry the wrong person.   Love happens when you least expect.  I was one of those who always rushed a relationship.  It was when I made the decision to let things happen it did.  In fact, I told hubby I didn’t want a relationship.  Here we are almost 16 years later and still together.  Don’t rush into things.  Be patient. Trust. I am a definite believer of when you relax about things, the door to love (and other things) will open. Are you willing to wait?

Work

Patience was a lot tougher when I worked in an office. I found my lack of patience sabotaged my relationships with coworkers and clients who came into the office.  Now with my own business, on days I have no patience, my relationships with my customers are in jeopardy.  I was a job-hopper for many years because I thought it was the way to advance in my career.  Then in recovery, I learned some patience and VIOLA things changed.  I worked for 9 years at the Aids Alliance before moving into a consultant position. Then I was with Bethel for about 7 years – both of these long term positions allowed me to put my skills to use.  Is your job hopping depriving you of the chance to let you sparkle?

Finances

The lack of patience and the need for instant gratification leads to consumer debt.  For those, with no patience, we also tend to have a sense of entitlement because we think we deserve things even if we can’t afford them.  The result is we rack up credit card debt instead of saving for things we really want.    Yup, I have been guilty of this which is another part of my addictive personality. We often play the comparison game too.  We want to be like everyone else but never realize we are probably comparing their end to our beginning or middle.  When you have a little patience in fulfilling material desires, you might be able rein in your spending.

Health

If there is one thing which takes patience and perseverance, it’s eating healthy and exercising. It took me 7 years to reach my goal weight and it takes LOTS of perseverance to maintain it.  I lost and gained the same weight many times because I wanted the quick fix.  It wasn’t until I joined Weight Watchers where I learned patience.  The results were slow and steady and before long the changes were noticeable!   Are you looking for shortcuts to good health? There aren’t any. Make a commitment to start making one change on at a time and you’ll build up good habits which lead to good health and better looks.

This week I challenge you to practice patience in an area of your life where you are struggling.  What are you afraid will happen if you are patient instead of racing to the goal line?  Practice patience. Good things do come to those who wait.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life

How to Convince Someone to Change Their Ways

When I entered recovery over 26 years ago, I heard a zillion times “you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results”.  So, when life throws me a curve ball, it is time to make a change.  With a little bit of effort and commitment, we can make the change in our life

BUT what happens when we want to help someone change their behavior?

I was social worker whose clients were addicts, chronically unemployed, and those who had a hard time seeing life could be different.  As long as they couldn’t see their life as any different, there was no reason to change their behavior.

There are two elements which are an absolute requirement for trying to convince someone to change their behavior:

  1. They need to understand the effect change will have in their life.
  2. They need proof beyond a reasonable doubt change will help them.

There was one young lady who I had the pleasure of working with and still keep in touch with today.  Let’s call her D.  She was a heroin addict who also had an AIDS diagnosis.  At our first meeting, I knocked on her front door to find her and her dealer getting high.  I opted not to go in and told her I would be back in an hour to talk with her.  Of course, an hour later she didn’t answer her door.  As someone who was early in their recovery, I knew I couldn’t save her, she would have to save herself.  She would have to want to change her behavior.

Over the next year, we had many run-ins over her drug use but every step of the way, I was able to show her glimpses into the positive effect not using would have on her life.  Would it cure her AIDS?  No but it could prolong her life.  She could feel better. The medicine wouldn’t make her sick.  With each little milestone – a few days clean, not sharing needles to not using needles – we celebrated.  With each little milestone, she saw glimpses of how her life could be different.

First, the restored relationship with family.  Was it easy?  No.  Did she slip?  Yes.  Each time she did, she remembered the positive impact the change had on her life.  Today, she still continues to fight the AIDS battle (27 years and counting ), has fought cancer and even went back to school to get her GED.  She is living a life she couldn’t even imagine 26 years ago.

Believe it or not, I use the same social work tactics in my business.  From helping team members reach their goal to working with colleagues to help them move forward when they are stuck.

The misconceptions about change are:

  1. It takes time to change.  Yes, it is a process but can happen as fast as you are willing to work to move forward
  2. Someone has to want to change.  We all talk a good game when it comes to making changes BUT are you really willing to reach down to the depths of your soul to make the change?
  3. Someone needs to hit rock bottom before they change.  I believe each person is different and for some, yes this is VERY true.

When you are ready to apply the two elements to the area of your life you want to change, AMAZING things can happen.  Want to make a change in your business?  Want to make a change in your relationship?  All things are possible when you embrace these two elements.

What do you want to change?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Learning to Give Joy Away

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

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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

I once heard a story that offers a great prescription for joy. A young believer came to a man who had followed Christ for many years with the complaint that he had lost his joy. The older and wiser Christian responded, “Go do something for someone else. Repeat that act of kindness nine times. Then you will find joy.”

When we develop the habit of looking for a need and then meeting that need, we will experience joy as never before. Many times, instead of looking for a need, we look the other way.

One of the most amazing paradoxes in the Christian life is that the more we give, the more we receive. We simply cannot out-give God!

In Luke 6:38 we find an amazing promise, “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.”

If you want joy, learn to invest your life in others. Be on the lookout for a need and meet it. God created us to share each other’s load. A shared load is a lighter load.
F.B. Meyer once noted: “I used to think God’s gifts were on shelves – one above another so that the taller we grow, the easier we can reach them. Now I find that God’s gifts are on shelves, one beneath another, and the lower we stoop, the more we get.”

The apostle Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:10, “For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will give you many opportunities to do good, and He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”

Give your time.
Give encouragement.
Give a praying heart.
Give a listening ear.
Give yourself.
Give materially.
The more you give, the more joy you will experience. The more joy you have, the more you will want to give. God always rewards “joy-givers.”

Philippians 4:17-18 “Really, it is not that I want to receive gifts from you. But I want you to have the good that comes from giving. Your gift is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God. God accepts that sacrifice, and it pleases Him.”

The idea of a sweet-smelling sacrifice is taken from the sweet-smelling incense that was burned along with the Jewish sacrifices. When we meet a need in the life of someone, it is a pleasing aroma to God and a sacrifice of praise to Him. In fact, when we meet someone’s need, we are actually giving through that need to God Himself. In other words, that met need becomes a deposit slip in our kingdom account. The perspective and heart behind the giving really matters. Joy-givers please God.

Three men were hired to work on a large building project. One was asked, “What are you doing?” He responded, “I’m mixing mortar. The second man said, “I’m helping put up this great stone wall.” When the third man was asked what he was doing, he replied, “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God.” Perspective is a powerful thing.

In Philippians 4:19, Paul goes on to say that when we meet the needs of others, God will meet our needs. “My God will use His wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need.”

When we give out of our limited resources, God gives out of His unlimited resources. What a solid foundation for a life of joy!

God stands today, arms open wide, ready to pour out His unspeakable gift of joy into our lives so we can have joy … and so we can share that joy with others. Our gift back to Him is to be a joy-giver.