Hope Wissel

Everyone Has a Story

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Thank you BRANDON BUELL for today’s message:

Before our son Jaxon was born, whenever I looked at someone I didn’t know, I saw a stranger. Now I see a person with a unique story.

Since Jaxon was born with microcephaly, a birth defect where the baby’s head is smaller than normal, my wife Brittany and I have become much more sensitive to people around us. We see young couples and wonder if they have children at home who struggle with health or emotional problems. We see middle-aged people and wonder if they’ve been through a situation similar to ours. We see older people and wonder if they’ve stood beside the hospital bed of a grandchild.

What obstacles have they overcome, and how have they coped with their challenges? Have they been blessed to live relatively ordinary lives? Probably not. Everyone faces struggles. But most of us hide our challenges from all but our most intimate friends.

Recently at my gym, I saw an elderly gentleman moving very slowly on a nearby treadmill. The “old me” would have laughed at the sight, wondering why he was wasting his time. But the new me wondered what that gentleman had been through in his lifetime. How had he become convinced to stay mobile? What if he’d been injured serving our country? Had he been an athlete in his youth? How had he found the courage to work out with younger, more athletic people?

I doubt thoughts like these would have occurred to me in the “before Jaxon” years.

Everyone has struggles. If you know someone without a problem in the world, just give them time. Hardships and sorrow catch up to all of us.

Most people we meet don’t guess we’ve faced such significant challenges with our child. We usually try to maintain a positive attitude, but sometimes it’s impossible to hide our frayed emotions and private sorrows. We’ve learned when things get rough, we just have to feel those difficult emotions until we don’t feel them anymore. And that’s okay.

I try to post to our Facebook page every day or so, which means I’m frequently looking at cute pictures of Jaxon. But pictures and videos don’t tell the entire story. They don’t capture his pain or our fears about how a common cold could result in a life-threatening infection for him.

We don’t want to dwell on the hardships, however, because ultimately Jaxon’s story is one of encouragement. While we are honest about the difficulties we’ve faced and the challenges that lie ahead, our primary message is one of hope. Life is a precious gift from God, and we want to celebrate every minute of it.

Now that I’m aware of how many people are living out difficult stories just below the surface, I find myself more sensitive to what they may be going through.

The Lord is using our situation to teach us the importance of staying humble, and looking out for others’ needs — not just our own. Our key verse puts it this way, “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:3b-4).

When I’m at the grocery store and notice the woman in front of me has 20 items in the 10-item express lane, I wonder what sort of family emergency is forcing her to bend the rules and rush home. Maybe she has a sick child, or an impatient husband. Maybe she’s under pressure and simply forgot the express lane limitation. Whatever her reason, I do my best to be patient with her. Because she, too, has her own story.

What is your story?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life

What’s Your Story?

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Happy Monday!  Are you dreading heading into work?  Are you longing for the weekend already?  Is there something you want to do but fear and doubt is keeping you from stepping out of your comfort zone? I had a rare Sunday off yesterday so I enjoyed church and an afternoon of football.   I took the time to write out a plan for the week so that I can change my story!

9f2088487cd4489a877a3ca7c0734aaeWhat does this have to do with “my story”?  Well, I was thinking.  I know – scary but when I do, things start to happen.  I am especially excited on the rare occasions brain fog is not invading my space.  Several months ago, I set a goal with a date and yesterday helped me to realize I needed to stay the course even when the going gets tough.  I have  been on a mission to get my business and my life back on track.  It seems to be working – business is picking up, the number on the scale seems to have a mind of its own and I am learning how to work within the parameters of my health issues.   Is everything going 100% according to plan, NOPE!  So why am I excited about the small changes?  My mindset changed and I am relying more on God for his guidance then LISTENING for an answer.

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I have been stretching out of my comfort zone.  I have been looking for the lesson to be learned in each perceived negative thing as it happens.  I am sharing my story – the good, the bad and the ugly.  There was a great article in the Huffington Post about writing your LIFE story.  I used to think my story was long, uninteresting and full of boosting which resulted in not being of interest to anyone. I was so wrong.

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Here are some tips to help you tell YOUR story:

1. Your 3-Sentence Life Story.  What to write: Try to summarize your life in two or three sentences. Take your time. Think about your past. For me:

Overcoming a life filled with addictions.  Gaining my confidence. Love my life. Blessed with a loving hubby, amazing daughter, family & friends.

2. Your Crucial Incident (or Incidents)  What to write: Choose one or more of the sentences below and write a page or two that begins with that particular sentence. Just write for yourself and for your clarity of mind.

Sentence 1: I was just a kid, but…

Sentence 2: I tried my best and…

Sentence 3: In that moment everything changed.

Sentence 4: It was shocking to find out that…

Sentence 5: It was the proudest day of my life. I couldn’t stop smiling when…

My sentence would be #3 with #2 a close a second. I relive moments often wondering if I had made different choices or reacted differently if my life would be different, would I be where I am today OR the person I am today.  The “what if” in your life can be the thing holding you back!

3) Your Secret Why.  What to write: Take a minute to think about the previous two exercises. Then, finish this sentence:  “I’d like to really understand everything that led me to _______________.”   What truth is important for you to get at? You have a structure (your three sentences), you have a crucial event (that may have caused or contributed to your life story) and now you have a purpose—a reason for writing which let’s you learn, enjoy and even be surprised by the story you’ve been waiting to tell yourself and—maybe, just maybe, the world, as well.

Some days, I struggle with what to write and today was one of them.  I LOVE blogging and sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences with people.  My hope is through my story, I might touch their lives.  I believe each blog has a message – even if only one person reads it and it helps them or  brings a smile to their face – it was worth it.

Write your life story and then if you don’t like it – rewrite your destiny. Share with us, if you want.  Let’s use CELEBRATE and ENCOURAGE you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!