Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Can't

"Don't listen to that voice in your head telling you 'I can't.' Don't give it that much power." ~Judy Blume

I'm guessing if you're reading this blog right now you have had at least one moment when you've told yourself "I can't." I'm also guessing you've probably not just stopped at the "I can't"  and have allowed that voice take control of many situations in your past and present. 

We are human. This what we do when the doubts creep up and tattoo themselves wherever we will let them stay. 

What voice are you listening to right now? Who has control of your mind as you are reading this blog? Is it the voice that tells you "You're a victim?" Is the voice that is saying "You're a VICTOR!" 

The voice we listen to is the voice that controls our lives, our jobs, our relationships, and our destiny. 

I will admit to having many voices talking to me at the same time. Each of them trying to gain control of my mind and what I believe. 

Recently on twitter and FB we posted this: Whatever you have the power to believe has the power to become your reality. #onthewingsofgratitude

This is the truth. If you are letting a negative voice talk to you all day, everyday, it's not surprising that your life is full of negative situations and relationships. 

You can practice being conscious over that voice and change what it's telling you: 

I can. 
I will. 
I can choose. 
I am loved. 
I am worth it. 
I am beautiful. 
I am a leader. 
I have a purpose. 
I have a great destiny. 
I am not afraid. 

Some ways that I have done this myself is creating sticky notes and posting them everywhere (work, car, mirror, laptop) or I have taken a marker and written positive messages to myself on the mirror so I see them when I get ready each morning. Other people have created calendar reminders that include positive messages.  

Any of the #gratitude exercises that we've done over the past 5 years (365 Days of Gratitude, 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge, 3 for 3 Gratitudes) is also a great way to remind yourself of the goodness in your life and all of the accomplishments that you hold. 

People around you are not always going to tell you these things and some may even be constantly working to tear you down. You cannot wait a minute longer to wait for someone to tell you these things. You need to start now because you ARE worth it! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Good Grief: The Kaleidoscopic Work of Art

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Rainwater Jacobs. I've known her since I was 8. Almost 30 years. She was a part of my life when my life was the worst its ever been. The following is her account of my brother's death and her full circle moment: 
I don’t really know where to begin.  The last few weeks have been filled with the single steps that start the proverbial journey of a thousand miles. I’ve laid in bed, my mind churning, scattered thoughts milling around up there, ever evolving like the glass shards in that kaleidoscope I had as a kid.  It’s funny how that works.  One single little thought, like a single bit of glass can appear in so many different ways and spurn so many more thoughts.  For me, the last few weeks have been an impromptu exploratory adventure into some deeper thoughts about my attitude, how I view things and how I might need to change my perspective on things. On everything. 
This week, that little shard of glass was the excerpt Tisha posted here from her book On The Wings of Gratitude.  I can’t pretend to know what she felt in those awful moments when God took her little brother home; I’ve never experienced anything even close.  But her words took me back to where I was the night the call came & my grandparents told me about Johnny, and I cried.  AGAIN.  Which made me think… which made me post the following status update… which touched more people than I could have ever imagined… which led me here.
“Grief is such a powerful emotion. It amazes me how it can follow you through your life... How something you grieved as a child, you may grieve again as an adult... Then maybe again as a spouse or as a parent. Grief can transcend years... Decades. You may turn a corner on your journey and find it waiting for you... Something you thought you had left behind you long ago. And for all the pain grief can bring rushing back to your heart, it can bring so much more: Growth, peace, understanding, closure and even gratitude.” (April 9, 2012)
Johnny’s death is the first memory I have of losing someone I loved.  I can’t begin to count the times and the ways that I have grieved him.  First as a friend, then as I got older and would think of him, my perspective would change.  I am a big sister and a mother, and as the years have passed, I’ve grieved for his sister and his parents from a place I couldn’t have before.  Grief is like that.  It never goes away, really, and it has such power to change you.  It can make you bitter or leave you feeling lost, confused and broken, or it can make you stronger, increase your faith, and, as is the point I am finally getting to, IT CAN MAKE YOU GRATEFUL.  That’s where it brought me this week. 
A friend of mine lost her best friend two weeks ago.  I didn’t know her friend, but I have shared her grief, and have tried to lift her up.  I have remembered my friends that were lost too soon.  Gone before they had the chance to experience so many of the things I have been so blessed with: True love, a 1st wedding anniversary, a 14th wedding anniversary, holding my newborn children, experiencing the indescribable way children love their mommies… the list goes on and on and even includes some of the less than pleasant experiences of life: Heartbreak, tragedy, lessons learned the hard way.  All the little shards of glass that make our lives one big, beautiful, light-filled kaleidoscope work of art.
If you’ve ever looked into a kaleidoscope  you know that the image inside is the sum of its parts; of tiny little pieces.  You’ve probably also noticed that the big pattern is created from several smaller patterns. 
This week, those few words from On The Wings of Gratitude turned my mind’s kaleidoscope and made me see my grief differently.  That turned into the facebook status update.  I never expected a response or even a “like” from anyone… much less for the whole thing to come full circle like it has.  The first two responses I got were from the very people who were on my mind as I tapped away on my iPad. Hmmm… “God Winks”? 
“God Winks” might be putting it mildly.  My 365 Days of Gratitude post the next day was “The times when you have NO DOUBT that God is speaking to you. Some days it's a soft, still voice... other days, the bush may as well be on fire.”  When I woke up that morning, and Tisha Poncio was the first person on my mind, I knew the bush was definitely burning.  She’d been on my mind constantly for some time, but I wasn’t sure why.  Well, now I knew.  And Dad’s sermon from two Sundays ago on being encouragers and enablers to people in our lives fell neatly into place. So, I sent Tish the following (abridged) facebook message:
“Good morning, Tish.  I want you to know that you are heavy on my heart this morning.  I woke up at 4:50am and you were absolutely the first person on my mind. I don't even know where to begin trying to sort out everything I am feeling right now, but I DO KNOW that you are a large part of it. You are such an inspiration! You remind me daily of so many of the principles that I believe in, but so often overlook when life gets a little crazy.  You are so right though, we are NOT our story. I stumble on that a lot. A lot, A LOT!:)clip_image001  I can't pretend to know where this crazy journey may take me or where it may end, but I feel very much called to encourage you on yours.  My post (about grief) last night was about Johnny, or at least it was in large part where my train of thought originated. I was reading a little of your blog, and as usual, your words made my wheels turn a little faster.
So, as I was saying, I feel a STRONG CALL to be an encourager to you. Barnabas I am not. I have no influence with any people of any importance who may further your efforts, I don't have the assets to promote your projects, but I do have a heart for your work and have committed to pray for you daily and do anything within my power to help you. Even if all you need is prayer and verbal encouragement, I am here.”
It’s pretty amazing when all those little pieces fall into place and the big picture becomes clear.  It’s been a 36 hour internal whirlwind for me!!  God is good, and His timing is ALWAYS PERFECT.
So, take a new perspective on your grief, on your loss:  The broken pieces will always be there, and where they fall is ever-changing. One thing that never changes though, is that in the right light – His Light -  they are part of something so much bigger and oh so beautiful.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

3 for 3

I am not the best writer, blogger or media promoter. I've never claimed to be. I know that no matter what I choose, if I put myself out there, I'm going to be subject to criticism. 

In the past year, I've come to find out several "friends" have anonymously (or not so much) voiced their opinion on my writing ability. Others have "deleted" me out of their life because I am "too positive." I also found myself in a situation where I stood my ground to a family member about my way of thinking and living. The gratitude practice is not for everyone, but gratitude can lift everyone higher if they choose. 

I'm not a stranger to criticism. I've lived a lot of my life being criticized or put down. I've come to believe that's much of the reason I live with an attitude of gratitude. 

I believe what I believe and have stopped caring what people thought about me. There's that saying that goes something like this, "I'd rather be hated for what I am...." 

My path is my path and that's all I need to focus on. 

So, if people want to criticize me for my writing or my story or the fact that I feel compelled to tell it, so be it. 

If anything, this day, Easter Day, has taught me that being condemned, mocked, and beaten down while doing what you know to be the right thing, has a much greater and powerful outcome than just following the crowd. Doing what you know is right can change your life.


Tuesday evening I felt like I needed to sit down and watch The Passion of the Christ again. I've seen it only once before and even then it was hard to watch. 

So with my new Apple TV and my hubby at my side, I bought the digital version. 

Watching was an intense experience just as I remembered it years before. This time, though, one part kept replaying in mind

He said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.  

He said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.  
He said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.  

The number 3. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 3 days from the time he was tortured and put on the cross to the day he ROSE. 

Then, I started thinking to my own story.  I was adopted at 3 days old.  

I cannot tell you why I just now started thinking about all of this. I do not know why it's never occurred to me the importance of the number 3 in my own life. 

Last week, in 3 days I had 3 messages of prayer for me. Specific messages of favor on my life, for doors to open for me and for anything else I thought required prayer.  

I am humbled in the way that He uses all people, even the temple leaders,  to carry out His will. 
And so, as Easter 2012 comes to an end, I wanted to do something to remind people that they DO have hope. There IS hope even in your darkest days. 

3 for 3 #gratitudes is a 21 day journey for people who want/need to be reminded of all that they have in their lives. 

If you lost everything tomorrow, would you still have hope? No? Then this journey is for you. 

Do those negative voices talk to you all day and win every single conversation you have? Yes? Then this journey is for you. 

Do you want to teach your children and loved ones the gift of gratitude as many of you have learned with the 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge or 365 Days of Gratitude? Yes? Then this journey is for you. 

Take a moment for the next 21 days and jot down 3 things you are grateful for. Post these on our wall, the event wall, your twitter feed, your facebook status, your own personal journal/diary, or an app like Day One Journal

It doesn't matter WHERE. It only matters that you DO! 

Like our Facebook page and 

"Give thanks in all circumstances." 

Friday, April 6, 2012

He is there.

Feeling compelled to share this today: 

(excerpt from On The Wings of Gratitude) 

"...God was with him on that tractor. God was with him when he fell. God was with him when his sweet, six-year-old spirit passed over. God was with me as I screamed. God was with me every single moment before and after that tragic moment, and He was there as my life set off on a much different course than I ever could’ve imagined." 

God was there in the moment leading up to Jesus being arrested. God was there as Jesus endured massive torture. God was there as the nails went into Jesus' flesh. God was there as Mary cried out in grief. God was there as the cross was hoisted up. 

God was there. God was there. God was there

If God was there, what makes you think He's not there in your life now? Why do you doubt that He is there right now standing with you in the pain you are surrounded by this very moment? 

He is. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Everyday we wake up, rush to get kids and ourselves out the door and on into our day. If we let it, it can be exhausting- If we LET it. 

Everyday we meet and greet each other. Some do not put our best selves forward. Some spread hate and negativity. Some gossip and some are the subject of that gossip. If we let it, those words can get the best of you - If we LET it.  

Everyday we are asked to take care of our responsibilities. Everyday we must work, parent, and at times give more than we think is fair. If we let it, those expectations can set us up to be bitter and angry -  If we LET it. 

Everyday something in our path tries to pull us doen: bills, chores, lost items, lost jobs, failed marriages, anger, bitterness, frustration, disappointment, fighting, lonliness. These things can bring us down  IF WE LET IT. 

Be willing. 
Honor people as yourself. 
Plant seeds in your life. Serve. 
Be GRATEFUL for all that you DO have and those things you DO NOT have. 

Because he ROSE for me, I CHOOSE to RISE for HIM. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I have a two year old. 

His favorite word? 

This really is my favorite age. Though, for so many parents it's the most frustrating of time of all. 

This is the time in their sweet little lives when they become aware of themselves and what they want. If it's not something they want, expect the two year old fury to ensue. 

This, my friends, is the development of the ego.

Unfortunately, we all have one. Many of us let our ego lead us through our lives and our days, but some are conscious of their ego and are constantly working against it.

We seem to have to be reminded to think of others instead of ourselves. And society definitely isn't helping the egos of the world. 

How will this help me? 
What will I get out of this? 
I don't have time. 
I don't want to. 
I work. I have kids. I have too many commitments. 
I'm too busy. 
Maybe later. 

Don't I know it! I've said some of those same exact things. For six years, I've been working on a book. The book that I talk about with everyone. The book I know is waiting to be written. The book I know God has been nudging me to write. 

I have written parts of it here and there. As a teacher, summers are my time "off." So, June and July I've designated as my writing months. The reality is that I write during whatever time is leftover from being at the park, the pool, vacation, conferences, and taking lazy days. 

Really, there is no excuse. Excuses are really fear transformed. 

I admit it. I'm scared. What will people think? How can I write about all of that? I'm not ready to be judged. No one cares. No one will want to read it. I'm not the only one who's gone through this. My story isn't unique. 

I could go on and on, but I won't bore you with my self-doubt. I'm sure you've been there yourself. Aren't we our worst critics? 

For the last 3 months, that's been the conversation in my head, but the conversation in my heart was something different. God has a way of urging us and pushing us along when we willingly ask him to use our lives for His will. This is my prayer and has been for sometime. 

God teach through me. 
God love through me. 
God speak through me. 
God inspire through me. 
My story is YOUR story and if you say write, I will. 

It wasn't until the last week, I decided to stop the excuses. I sat in church with tears in my eyes just like I have for the last three months. 

I felt the same urging I had as a ten year old. The small Baptist church was having a revival. I remember sitting in a pew listening to tall, dark haired, deep voiced man. I cannot recall one sentence he said, but I can recall the very powerful urge I had to step out and walk to the front and ask Jesus to be my Savior. 

I didn't. Ya know, fear and all. 

Later that night, our home pastor and what would be one of my greatest life mentors, took me into his office and prayed with me and guided me toward the decision to follow Jesus. I have never felt anything that strong in my life. Well, once before, but that's where my book comes in. :) 

Fear has kept me from a lot of things in life, but Sunday morning it, finally, hit me. 

God has been asking me to do this one thing. He's been asking for years and yet I continue to make excuses out of fear. I continue tell him "no." 

Well, when I put it like that I realized who was wrong in this whole process. ME! 

So, that night I found an old t-shirt from my college days and threw it on with some yoga pants. I climbed into my bed, turned on my laptop, pulled out my writing journal, and I decided to set a goal of 4 hours a week. 

5 days later I've accomplished the following: 

1. Confirmed what would be the 10 chapter titles of my book
2. Started taking notes with the notes app on my phone anytime I had 5 minutes to spare
3. Contacted 2 authors, one of which emailed me a detailed outline of what I needed to do #gratitude
4. Contacted a digital graphics artist to talk about a logo and buying domains
5. Created this blog, a twitter account, a Facebook account
6. Wrote 2,000 words to add to my existing 14,000
7. Spent a total of 15 hours this week writing. 15! My I-don't-have-time theory is shot. 
8. Vowed to stomp out that fear every time it creeps back. 
9. Was showen more support and "God winks" in a week than I have seen in the last 6 years. 

That was exactly one week ago. 

What would happen if you opened your heart up today? What would happen if you decided to set your ego and agenda aside? What would happen if you told Him "YES!" instead of "NO." 

What would happen?