Think it … Act it … Believe it

Have you ever been through a major life change? Well – maybe not even major, but some change that prompt friends to ask, “How did it go?” I’ve been asked that by many of my friends. When a major change takes place in life, friends you’ve confided in want to know “How did it go?” and what else can we say except, “It’s different.” That’s a good place to start. I saw a book once titled, Change is Good.  You Go First. That about describes it.  Sometimes change is forced on us and in those times, change doesn’t seem all that great. Right? Other times we make a decision that changes the landscape of our lives and we think this change is good, we hope this change is good, then we wonder … it’s different.  No matter which description fits the situation, the one thing we can control is our attitude. Chuck Swindoll has a famous quote about attitude and in it he says, ´I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”  So how did it go? It’s different, but it’s good, the possibilities are ahead, as are the consequences. So right now our best choice is to have joy and remember – we are never on the path alone.  – God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5  

When change comes, we have to accept it, because it’s our new normal. It’s reality. We could fret over what we no longer have or we can begin the rebuilding process and start the remanufacture of our life from a different vantage point. When I was in my early twenties, someone wisely convinced me that change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different. It took awhile for that to sink in, but it’s become my survival mechanism. Here’s a little free advice. “Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you can’t.” I know it works.Psalm 30 11-12

Are you going through changes now that are exciting and you anticipate better days ahead? Or do you approach each day, tenuously out of dread or even fear for what lies ahead? Either way, when change comes, it means adjustment … day-by-day, moment-by-moment.  Ask yourself how can I get through these moments and come out the victor instead of the victim? You might not want t to hear this, but it starts with Attitude.  You might come to the starting line kicking and screaming, toting a long list of disadvantages and (gasp) even grievances. Acknowledgement is good. Bring that list along because this is where making adjustments begins. First in attitude, then in thoughts, then in actions, and finally in acceptance. Change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different.  ´I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

We might not be happy, but we can have joy. Happiness comes from the external; those situations that we perceive as good give us happiness. But happiness can be shattered in an instant, or it can fade when circumstances are less than optimistic. Joy on the other hand comes from the inside and is unaffected by the beating we take by those things that cause us despair.  I was having a bad spell in my life a while ago and on one of my ‘least optimistic days’  someone said to me that I was the happiest person she knew. Well huh! Mission accomplished then, because at that moment, I was anything but happy.  It must work then . . . We can fake happiness by choosing to be joyful. In that moment, when she said I was the happiest person, I prayed right then and thanked God for masking the unhappiness I was feeling at that time, so that happiness looked real.

What can we all do today, regardless of our circumstances, to make a big production of our joy? Think it, act it, believe it!

Psalm 30:5 [God’s] favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:11-12 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Ecclesiastes 8:15  So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

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Power Comes From Attitude

Have you ever made a commitment, then as the time approached you were overcome with fear or insecurity or dread? I know that feeling. What if, like me, the commitment was long term and you wondered how you would hold up through it and endure to the end? Maybe you haven’t been there and can’t grasp how that feels, but if you can, how did it turn out?

I think God gives us almost unlimited power to change how we think, how we feel, and how we act. I’m not convinced that if I can think it, I can do it, but with a strong blend of prayer, will, attitude, and action, I can change my whole perspective. That thing I labored over, dragged my feet toward, and even cried over – yes, that thing – I now look forward to the opportunity. Attitude is powerful.

I am not gifted in this area – but I volunteered to ‘help out’ as a child care provider during the hours of Bible Study. Young moms would then have a place for their kids to play while they spent time with other women learning about Jesus. For the first term, I kept thinking I would say I changed my mind – but that wouldn’t be right. It was a process, but fast forward to three years later and I look forward to the hours watching kids interact (flying trucks, tug of war over one puzzle piece, battle for sippy cups and goldfish crackers).   power-is-in-your-attitude-1

One of my (well-meaning) friends tried to talk me into resigning, but I decided to pray before doing anything. I took pictures of the room full of kids then I started praying for their safety and that everything I did would reflect the love of Jesus. I already loved the kids individually so I didn’t have to pray about that. I questioned my ability to keep them safe when using the slide and crawling over tables and chewing on toys and remember the flying trucks. I felt unqualified to keep them entertained for a full morning. On my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up, there was no hint of teacher. What happens when we are unsure? Do the sure thing.

I started thanking God that I was healthy enough to be the child care provider. I thanked God that I have a strong immune system – you can imagine why that’s important. I thanked God that he somehow chose me to play and be a substitute grandma for a dozen toddlers and preschoolers – Oh! And I thanked God that every week I have a helper.

Then you know what happened? I opened my Bible one day and turned to 1 Corinthians 16 and when I got to verse 13 it cracked me up. “Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” OK, God. I’m in! I can be courageous and strong. I can do this with love.

You know God didn’t do this just for me. If you dread the thing you said you would do, if you have fears that you are way out of your league, if you can barely pull yourself to the task – start praying. “God thank you that you made me just the way I am. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I don’t like it Lord, but I’m in it. Please either change my circumstances, change my commitment, or change me. Make my attitude like yours, Jesus. I trust you, God, to do what’s best.”

Where do broken hearts come from?

Have you read this quote by Deanna Wadsworth? “Four things you can’t recover: The stone after the throw, The word after it’s said, The occasion after it’s missed, The time after it’s gone.” Can I add one more? The fifth thing you can’t recover is a heart after it’s broken. You can’t unbreak a heart – but you can heal it.
Have you ever experienced a sadness so deep that it feels like you have a hole in your heart; one so huge nothing can fill it? Maybe it was a heated disagreement with a friend, a series of destructive arguments with your spouse, or maybe your trust was violated. These are not scratch and dent level experiences where an application of forgiveness and a splattering of kindness makes the patch almost invisible. A broken heart has been wounded, and hollowed out; shattered, empty, sucked dry. You can’t unbreak a heart. In Psalm 34:18 we are promised “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 4 things you cant recover 2nd
Did you catch that? The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Nothing touches the human spirit like the filling station of God’s spirit. The wounds are still there and scars may never fade completely, but as we learn in Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Where do broken hearts come from? There is one easy answer: human nature. Human nature that’s a homogenized version of good, bad, pride, humility, ego, character, truth, deception, honor, disgrace, love, hate, dignity, disrespect. It’s complicated, we are complicated, the world is complicated. James knew this when he wrote an entire book on how to get along with ourselves and people who are just like us – human to the core.
James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” That’s a good place to start – be dear brothers and sister – act as if you desire to produce the behavior God desires. Act that way until you are producing behavior God desires because He has changed your heart which is where behavior comes from. Proverbs 23:7
Have you read the Bible story of Hosea? I couldn’t believe it when I read it for the first time. If you struggle with forgiveness, read what God required of Hosea. From our human perspective we don’t want to be wrong and we are angry when someone wrongs us. That’s the story of Hosea, wronged yet he forgave. He had to be brokenhearted, hollowed out, and in need of healing, spiritual filling. The final verse in the book sums it up beautifully Hosea 14:9 “Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
Broken hearts can’t be unbroken, but they can be mended, stitched back together, and filled up. Will they ever be the same? After surgery, are we ever exactly the same as we were? No, but we live on, altered but better and healthier than before surgery.  This could be our prayer to live the behavior God desires in us. Psalm 143:10 “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Ready friends? 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Let’s get out there!

ThanksListed

Recently, a friend posted an idea on Facebook that suggested starting a Joy Jar or call it a Blessings Jar or maybe repurpose a Thankful List to become a Thankful Jar.  I decided to translate my daily ‘thanks’ to daily ‘blessings’ and toss them one by one into a Blessings Jar. I don’t want to let go of my Thankful List because if you continue reading, it has become my formula for stamina and survival. I love having optioons and in this case whether you choose a notebook, a battered single piece of paper, or an ornate jar – write something every day that you are thankful for. It can be as audacious as a new car or as insignificant as a hot peppermint mocha. Say it, write it, mean it – it will change your life.

It’s Monday …. the start of the week – and boy it is COLD out there!  Here are some ways to warm up our day from the inside out.  Having an attitude of gratitude, practicing being thankful is a catalyst. It changes e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It takes an act of the will be just be thankful, especially in those times (days, weeks, longer) that it seems like nothing favors you. Stuff happens, more goes wrong than goes right, our armor wears thin, and we wonder why we are implored to count it all joy when we are as far from joy as we can get. Here’s the formula to make it happen. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” We resist because we are too weary to dig down deep and find the tiniest flame of joy when it’s easier to just let the freight train run over us.

Stop! Just stop it! We can turn that tiny flame into a symphony of light with just a little practice.  Did you know you have an enemy of your soul and he wants to suck the joy right out of you? Remember Job from the Old Testament and all that he went through? In Job 33: 30 it says that God turned him back from the pit he was in so that the light of life could shine.  It had to be an attitude of his heart that allowed Job to continue.  Then in verse 31 God says to him again “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.

Today, let’s have that heart attitude. Let’s not let anyone steal our joy.

The formula – it’s free and it’s easy. Find a pen and grab a piece of paper. In fact you might want a durable notebook because this could catch on – Ready? Think of one thing you are thankful for. Just one. Write it down. There. #1 – done! Now here’s the next step and the next and sometimes they are tough but do it anyway. Every time you think of something you’re thankful for – write it down. Use the same piece of paper. The writing tool doesn’t matter – but keep your list handy and as you think of something you’re thankful for, write it down. If you’re using a jar, tear it off the tablet and put it in there.  I’m still using my list, but also copying it to a small paper and adding it to my jar. IMG_3378

There will be times when the list seems like unnecessary clutter – but keep it anyway. At times when fear, sadness, and doubt start their invasion – Stop! Just Stop it! Go get THE LIST and start reading. This is what transforms a gloomy day to joy. The enemy of your soul cannot coexist with joy – can’t do it. Choose joy. Today, I’m taking time to be thankful because that’s how a bad day is converted to a good day.  I can’t wait for a good day to happen, it’s up to me to make it happen. So here goes. I’m stoking the furnace on joy. I am thankful God doesn’t have mood swings. He is the same – all day, every day. He listens to me complain, He hears me when I call, and he shines His light so I can find my way.  Isaiah 43:11-3 ““Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord your God.”

Try it tomorrow … Good Morning, God – Good Morning World – Good Morning Sunshine Be held by  the omnipotent hands of God.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOufqWodFNo

Unmerited Favor

I have a confession to make. Today I was given an award that I didn’t deserve, but I accepted it quietly, speechlessly, and with gratitude more than I was able to express at the time. I should explain.

I spent 3 hours in the presence of greatness today. Bonnie Washburn, Brenda Benedict, and Kathryn Armstrong. These three Extraordinary Women are uniquely gifted and amazingly talented.  Trust me on this – they are awesome and they are great. I would say a lot more but I know they would make me delete my post and all that eloquent expression would be an effort in futility.

Katheryn, among her many talents is an epic blogger and writes several that I read with admiration; one of them the subject of the award I accepted without earning it.  On October 30, Kathryn Armstrong posted a contest on her blog where I could win a book by Beth Moore. http://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/beth-moore-book-contest/ I fully intended to participate.  I have read and participated in eight Beth Moore Bible studies and kept the workbooks, that pretty much qualifies me to enter the contest and be awarded a book if my entry was chosen. So why didn’t I? Competition in any form makes me choke. I choked. Something else that makes me choke is being favorited when I didn’t do anything to deserve it. So for Kathi and anyone else interested, here are favorite Beth Moore quotes from my favorite studies.

Loving God with all your mind means “We apply the principle of feeding what we want to live and starving what we want to die. In other words we start feeding the spirit and starving the flesh.” – When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

God’s primary purpose in healing us from our hurts is to introduce us to new depths of relationship with Himself. – Breaking Free

We have a choice in which fire our tongues light. Our words can bring comfort and courage or destruction and deafness. – James Mercy Triumphs

For every hopeless sorrow, if we cooperate with God, he’ll turn every single one of our failures into something useful for his kingdom. – Daniel Lives of Integrity Words of Prophecy

We have the mind of Christ but don’t know how to activate it. There are few things we need more than spiritual discernment. We need to know what to do, how to proceed, and how to respond to situations. We pursue wisdom and discernment and they don’t come to us by accident. We grow in discernment through prayer, pursuit, and practice. – Faithful Abundant True

Death cannot come to obedient children of God until they have finished their testimony. Strengthened by His power and shielded by his protection, we will reach our goal. – Jesus the One and Only

I was assured that there were two copies of the book so another was rightfully awarded to the person who did the work. When I reached out to accept the book, I realized the topic is one I have thought about studying for the past couple years, but never pursued it as passionately as God wanted me to do.  Whispers of Hope – 10 weeks of devotional prayer – by Beth Moore

Thank you Kathryn, Brenda, and Bonnie for being Extraordinary Women who have impacted my life in ways only you could do. I am blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Out of a blank mind…

I have heard that when you ask a woman what she’s thinking, and she says. “Nothing” she is, in fact thinking about what to cook for dinner, picking up the dry cleaning, returning books to the library, sending a birthday card, calling her sick friend, adding to her shopping list, and fetching the kids from school.  But ask a man that same question and when he responds “Nothing” he is, in fact, thinking of nothing. Every morning, when I wake up, there is a menagerie of thought in my head – not this morning. I have no idea where my mind had gone because when my opportunity clock went off, it sounded to me like a far distant pinging. Zig Ziglar said an optimist has an opportunity clock; it’s the pessimist who wakes to an alarm.  Maybe you have an opportunity clock too.  If not you might what to go get yourself one.  They are a fabulous invention!

There’s a problem with waking up with a blank mind though….deciding on the story to tell today. Oh no! Rambling, random thoughts from my notebooks.  Hang on.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Contentment – is not what you get, it’s being satisfied with what you already have.  Contentment is not complacency, nor an escape from life’s challenges; it’s about peace in your circumstances. Paul was content because he devoted himself to rejoicing. Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! “ And Philippians 4:12 “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.”

Gratitude – there is nothing wrong with wanting good things unless those things become too important to me.  Be thankful for the little things, especially those you never think about. The heart is our control center – feed it constantly with an attitude of gratitude.  Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Colossians 3:15 says to “Let peace rule your heart  . . .  and be thankful.”

Trouble – What day goes by that doesn’t have a little bit of trouble.  What can we do with trouble – learn from it. Trouble can terrify or it can transform.  Life is a series of problems, but they are all teaching moments – even those that are devastating and seem impossible to us. 1Peter 4:12  lays it out for us “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Don’t be surprised – I’m often surprised when bad things happen, especially to my friends.  Somehow I find it hard to fit devastating circumstances into the framework of ‘good’.  After all doesn’t the Bible say in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”?  That’s what we hang on to – that somehow, God will bless this person who loves him, with a good outcome – even if we don’t understand how this can be good.  2Corinthians 4:17 says “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Most of all – through it all, this is my forever prayer.  I’m sure David won’t take me to court for quoting him. Psalm 119:33 “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—my whole life one long, obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEsghRJI2kw