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.

From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions – Book Summary

As I sat down to write about this book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions by Sasha Chanoff and David Chanoff, an online article in the Huff Post grabbed my attention proclaiming Afghan Refugee Crisis Worsens. It seems the news is dominated by more and more crises related to refugees who are suffering greatly in violence–torn regions. This book would have been much more uncomfortable to read had it not been for the authors’ presentation of the storyline through the moral compass of each person involved in the refugee evacuation. In the second half of the book, the five principles of moral decision making are conveyed through stories about corporate heroes of today.

Here are the 5-steps to moral decision making which are in the book called The Five Principles – building blocks to making moral decisions.

  1. Be prepared
  2. Open your eyes
  3. Confront yourself
  4. Know yourself
  5. Take courage

The subject of this book, From Crisis to Calling is about developing authentic leaders who make decisions based on deep personal values that positively affect their lives and the lives of their organizations. Leaders of this deep moral character will build cultures of trust, fairness, equitability, and ethical leadership. One final thought from the authors, “Empathy is the essential need of great leaders who are intentional about building their organizations and communities.” Whether leaders or lay people, life’s tough choices need to be infused with moral sense – empathy, compassion, altruism.

CSLews - Book Cover - From Crisis to Calling

 

 

Read the full book summary published on the BizCatalyst360 network.

http://bizcatalyst360.com/from-crisis-to-calling-finding-your-moral-center-in-the-toughest-decisions/

What would your card say?

Many years ago I read the book by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. I can’t say the book changed my life, but if asked, I could probably still recite the list of habits. One, however was seared into my mind and frequently comes back to me.  You may have guessed it’s Begin With the End in Mind.  The deep meaning behind that thought consistently impacts my acts and reactions. If you don’t know the analogy, let me help you out.  In his book, Covey asks his readers to imagine being at their own funeral and observing what the guests say about them.  I know.  Morbid! But embedded in that statement is the reality that our lives are made up moments all strung together that make us who we are and what we become. Envision what you want to be remembered for and think about what you want people to say about you when you’re not here. Somewhere in those thoughts and visions is your purpose statement.

Wednesday was my birthday and I have crossed the threshold to senior citizen. I have the same choices today that I had 20 years ago. How will I use the moments I’ve been given? Someone said, nobody gets out of here alive. At any given point, until we are no longer here, we have opportunity to become what we might have been. We have strung out opportunities that are life defining. On a personal level, what are my beliefs, my values, and attitudes that characterize
me? I’m convicted of how many times I say “I want to . . .” or “I should do ….” I catch myself falling into the pattern of aimless wandering because I lose focus and forget what I want to be remembered for.

Let me clarify wandering because it’s more than distraction from things to accomplish in a day or a week. We all have lists of things to do. In fact, lists can keep us on track so we remember things that need to be done, but we are more than our to do lists. For a few moments think about your family and consider friends, including people you know only from online connections. If you asked them right this minute to describe you, what would they say? Are you satisfied with the answers? If you are, do more of that. What if your answers aren’t favorable? You still have time to change it. You can stop wandering and focus on becoming who you want to be.

When I consider all those moments that have become my life, what do I want to be remembered for? I’ve thought of a few.

  • Faith in God and complete trust in His sovereignty:  While this sounds simple, it’s a serious act of turning over my will to God’s will even when I don’t understand His ways.
  • My relationships – wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend:  My role is to be loving, attentive, empathetic, authentic, involved, thoughtful, encouraging, supportive, and spread infectious joy.
  • Employee, co-worker:  How to carry my fair share of the work, be a team player, be genuinely supportive no matter what, be loyal, practice gratitude, be complimentary, give recognition, project joy
  • Personally: Be discerning, live with integrity, be diligent, act with kindness, take care of my physical body, strengthen my mind, guard my heart and mind from deceit and wrong, be joyful

Admittedly, that list could be even longer, more intense and transparent. In the context of a full life though, not impossible.

Much of my list is comprised of attitudes which in reality are the foundation of how I’ve built my life. Proverbs 4:23  says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues [attitudes] of life.”  I’ve never met anyone who lives more than one moment at a time. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who has more than 60 seconds in a minute or 24 hours in a day.  In Ephesians 5, I read the instruction to make the most of every opportunity.  When I look down from heaven I hope people use these words when remembering me: unshakable faith, kind, compassionate, made others feel like they matter, involved, eternal cheerleader, supportive, encourager, attitude of gratitude, enthusiastic, positive, lover of life, infectious joy.

Most of all I want to be remembered for being who God intended me to be and that regardless of all the defective decisions I’ve made through my lifetime, He was able to take the broken and rebuild them for good.  I am His workmanship, created by Christ Jesus to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 And when I say good bye to this life I will leave singing 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Above my desk where I have my daily quiet time with God, I have this handwritten card. What would your card say?purpose card

The New Gold Standard

Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver, others gold.  I look at that poem and realize the truth in that old Proverb.  I’ve bent the words just a touch because whether my friends are new or old (er – friends I’ve known while I’ve grown old), their value is much higher than today’s going rate for silver – at $15.30/ounce, or the gold spot price of $1251.10/ounce. Every friend is a gift, the Gold Standard  – a gift of compassion, a gift of encouragement, a gift of laughter, a gift of experiences, a gift of support, a gift of themselves. Take a minute and think of friends who have made your world better just by being in it.

When something heartwarming and unexpected happens, one of my friends, Bonnie Washburn calls that kisses from the King. I like that. The imagery of being wrapped in embrace and kissed on the forehead by the God who created everything and still holds it all together. Colossians 1:17 “God’s Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together.” Kisses from the king whose plans precede our own. Jeremiah 32:19 “With great wisdom you make plans, and with your great power you do all the mighty things you planned. Nothing we do is hidden from your eyes”.

A few weeks ago I got one of those kisses from the King.

I was folding an apron that I’d received from a friend 30 years ago. I still remember finding it packaged for me “To: Jane From: Your Secret Pal” this slate blue apron ruffled around the skirt with a quilted goose on the chest. I already know you’re wondering how a 30 year old apron is still being laundered and put away after all this time. It’s as durable as my friendship with Joyce Shiels who gave it to me, and I feel wrapped in warmth when I wear it and it refreshes my soul. Proverbs 27:9 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend refreshes the soul.”

Tucking that apron into the closet, I thought of Joyce and her husband Chuck. How often we’d spent time together and how I missed them since they moved, we moved, then they moved again and we did the same; all across counties and sometimes across state lines. Suddenly I wanted to see them and wondered how we could ever work that out. I closed the closet door and put that thought on the shelf with the apron.  What I was thinking then was probably close to this verse in Psalm 94:11 “The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.”Thank you for knowing what I need even before I know it’s missing.

I brightened at the thought that we were soon going to have dinner with friends we’ve known so long they’ve reached that old friends status. Jim and Suzan Middleton, and Ted Nelson – friends since 1971 – definitely GOLD standard for friends.  6:00 Arnies! Couldn’t wait to see them again …

Walking into the restaurant, I exchanged the gold standard hug with Jim, and Ted and then I saw them. It had to be a mirage, there is no way that the people at the far end of the lobby were Chuck and Joyce. How would they choose this restaurant on this night at this time? Kisses from the King! Didn’t God say in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”?  In Psalm 20:4 didn’t God impress this upon David? “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

It was such a small thing, but it was a GOLD standard friendship operation for me. We talked and reminisced and caught up on our lives as they have rolled through the past years since we last met. Hugs from the Almighty. Kisses from the King. Arriving home that night I realized what had happened in those few short hours. God knew I had an empty place that needed to be filled and he said “Yes, I care about even the small things, but Jane, you have to also trust me for the big things.” Do you even care what I said in Luke 12:28 “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”.

This could be a simple story about lasting friendships, but it’s more than that. It’s a story about trust; trusting God to fill the empty places, walk with us through the storm, take care of our needs, and even grant us our wants. We can trust him in the dark for what he promised us in the light.  Kisses from the King. Love wins.

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for knowing what I need even before I know it’s missing. Take my small, measly faith and make it audacious and strong. Replace my pathetic fearfulness with your courage, and give me a heart like yours, full of wisdom and discernment, and let me serve you out of love and compassion, not of pride. Bless this day with peace and your children with spirit of thankfulness. I love you Lord, please let my life reflect you today. Amen

Get your shine on with Evie Tournquist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8tKTf3qIUU

Search for joy, find peace

If we practice it diligently, anxiety can become a habit.  If we practice it diligently, peace can become a habit.  Remember that habits are learned behavior. Anxiety can be unlearned. The best way to learn or unlearn is what? Practice!  The best time to start is when? How about right now? Today is a good day to forge a path toward confidence in the future and away from worry and anxiety. Will it be easy?  Not really.  But it will be worth it.  We’ll need a lot of energy for the task so let’s start with being joyful.  Think of one thing that brings you joy…..if you have to go back a ways, that’s OK.  Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”  I don’t know about you, but I want to know the Lord is near.  Could it be that the beginning of the end of anxiety starts with searching for joy in our circumstances?

Joy doesn’t come from our spouse, or friend, or children or our work – no matter how much we love any of those things. Joy doesn’t come from perfect health, a new car, or Starbucks. Joy comes from our relationship with God; it’s internal. Acts 16:34 says, “he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” Sometimes joy gets buried under layers of worry, fear of “what-if”, and obsessions with things. Joy is personal. Sometimes that monorail between my heart and heaven gets smokin’ hot because I pray. A lot. I have to search for joy because it won’t come find me. Joy is internal and gets buried deep. Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God Acts 16 34.jpg

Search for joy, find peace. It’s not a one-step process though. It’s something we do day after day, moment to moment and it’s never in our own strength. Here’s something to remember. God, who has my heart, who is the source of joy, who brings peace, will give me stability. Psalm 73:25-26 says, “Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth. My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.”

If you want joy, if you want peace, talk to God and empty your soul of worries, anger, frustrations, and attitudes that are caught in the spin cycle. God knows all about them, but acknowledging them before the Lord enables you to give up control. I like how Corrie ten Boom wrote, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. “  When we are in that perpetual cycle of worry and anxiety, our energies are completely depleted, leaving us feeling defeated and hopeless.

Now is a good time to be reminded of the joy factors in our lives, and these are not dependent on circumstances. Confess fears, shed all those worries and give them to the Lord. “And we destroy every arrogant obstacle that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 Something to think about: Holding on to worries and obsessing over them might be an arrogant obstacle to joy and peace.

You know that list of things to do that’s kept in plain sight so you don’t forget? What if you had a list like this? I refuse to take back my worry about “_____” . I am going to forgive “that or them” because it’s the right thing to do and I’m weary of the burden. I am not going to own “______” because it is outside my control. I am not going to take back “__________” because I have given it to God who controls everything anyway.  I’ve needed lists like that. Sometimes I still do.

Today might be one day that the lines of communication are between you and God are red hot due to constant use. I don’t know about you, but when I plan my day and anticipate what the future holds, I don’t want to be saddled by worry and anxiety. I want to be free to run the race, unshackled by debilitating anxiety.  I loved this quote by Corrie ten Boom “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”  If prayer is my steering wheel, I have a better chance of escaping anxiety and being victorious over worry. Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Escaping Anxiety Tools for a Peaceful Life

  • Focus on Philippians 4:8-9 – think on things that bring peace
  • Protect your first part of the day; protect your last part of the day
  • Learn from the past
  • Search for joy, find peace

Press On by Selah 

When the mountain is steep
when the valley is deep
when the body is weary
when we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
when we’re battered and scarred
when we’ve spent our resource
when we’ve given our all

In Jesus name we press on
In Jesus name we press on
dear lord, with the prize
clear before our eyes
we find the strength to press on

Now I lay me down to sleep … that’s a start

Do you pray? No, really. Do you pray? I’m not thinking of the simple ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ or ‘Bless us oh Father and these our gifts’, although that’s a start. I’m talking about praying to the almighty and holy God who is omnipresent (everywhere at all times), omnipotent (all power to do all things), and omniscient (all knowing of all things at all times). I mean praying to that God.

Do you ever wake up praying? Many of us have made a habit of praying as we tuck our thoughts in for the night. ‘Now I lay me down to sleep …” It’s like creating a comfortable nest for our last moments of the day. “It’s just you and me, God. This is what I want to tell you now because tomorrow is coming up pretty fast.” Prayer, a simple heart to heart conversation with the creator.  Isaiah 40:28 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” He will not grow tired of me no matter how often I talk to him.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

Please pray … Think for just a minute. In just the past week, have you read those words? And in that moment, didn’t your heart melt and fill with compassion for the person who needed, right then, to know that someone was asking God for favor? Psalm 6:9 says “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Some years ago, I was introduced to a structured method of prayer. ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. I could say that’s God’s ordained structure, but that would be pretty presumptuous because I don’t see any place in scripture where God says, “You must pray in steps 1, 2, 3 or I won’t hear you”.

Please pray … When someone asks us to pray, we don’t have to worry about whether we have the structure in place and follow prescribed rules. This is what the Bible says about praying.

Come clean before the Lord. If you know you have anger, resentment, envy, any unconfessed sin in your heart, God can’t hear you. This isn’t my rule, it’s God’s. Psalm 66:18 “If I had harbored sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

Be sincere and stay faithful. Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

It’s OK to tell God what you want. Please heal … Please spare the life of …. Please send someone to help … Please give them a job … Please be near to this family … God I don’t understand, please help me accept …. Please bring comfort …. They need peace, Lord, please fill their heart with peace …

Ask for the right reasons and with the right motives.  James 4:3 ”When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Be thankful for God and his omnipotent power. Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Expect a miracle. God is still in the business of making miracles every day. He doesn’t have a Magic Kingdom, he owns the Miracle Kingdom and He has the power, the glory, and majesty to do what is best for everyone. Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Please God, do this …. Or something even better!

Something to think about – Expect a miracle, because when we go before the Lord and pour out our hearts to him, don’t we often expect a miracle? Even some of the smallest things turn out to have the biggest impact. We don’t know what God has planned, but we know that nothing catches him by surprise. Psalm 135:6 says “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Then why ask?

We pray because we worship God, we acknowledge His awesome power. We pray because it is our privilege to enter his presence and talk to him as a child to a Father. We pray because we have faith. In Proverbs 1, Solomon tells his people that their life is in the condition it’s in because they have not honored God, worshipped him, or recognized his power. Notice the comparison in these few verses of Proverbs 1.

Proverbs 1:28-29 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.”

Proverbs 1:33 “… but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

There are books written on the subject of prayer, and if you want recommendations, I can provide them. What we’ve read here is at the most elementary level of prayer. Why do we pray? The reasons are limitless. But one reason could be because we seek peace that only God can give. John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

What to do when there’s nothing you can do…

One of my closest friends posted this on Facebook, “It’s hard being so far away when things like this happen.” I can relate. Can you? When someone we love is thousands of miles away and we can’t go to them, helplessness is its own form of trauma. Waiting through a medical procedure, wondering but hoping the prognosis isn’t as bad as once thought. Standing by while decisions are made about ‘what happens now’. Fearing the outcome of attempts at reconciliation. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty powerless when I want to do something but there’s nothing I can do.
 
There is something I can do though. Psalm 103:19 plainly says, “The Lord has established his throne in heaven; his kingdom extends over everything.” While I’m on the sidelines, helpless and powerless, God is on the throne in heaven taking care of everything. Psalm 33:13 “The Lord watches from heaven; he sees all people.” Even with 20/20 vision, there’s a limit to what I can see. Even though I care deeply what happens today and in the future, it’s God who sees with eternal perspective.
 
I know all about promises in the New Testament like Mark 11:24 “I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” And you’ve probably memorized, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name …”, but there’s a part two in that verse. It continues, “… so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13 That last part sort of scares me sometimes. Does it scare you? I can ask God for anything. I can believe He will give me what I ask for – but do I trust Him? Trust means recognizing who is responsible and being confident enough to let go, release whatever it is from my grasp and believe it will be taken care of in the best way possible.
 
“Lord take this, I want these specific results, but God I trust you, by your miraculous power to work everything out so you are glorified. And Lord, I know that the end result might not look the same as what I had in mind, but my confidence is in you because you know the eternal value of every minute detail. I release this to your omniscient discernment. Thank you for caring about me personally even though you have the entire world to watch over.”
 
David knew the relief and joy that came from whole hearted trust in God. Psalm 33:21 “Our hearts rejoice in him, for we trust in his holy name.”God isn't going anywhere
 
We can’t be everywhere. We can’t see everything. We have each moment and that’s all. Jeremiah calls God, “The Lord God who rules over all.” Daniel said of God, “He who has in his control your very breath and all your ways!”
 
What if this moment you could relinquish this burden you’re carrying, this fear that grips you, this deep sadness that’s overwhelming you to the ‘Lord God who rules over all and has control of your very breath and all your ways’? God isn’t going anywhere. He’s waiting to be your everything.
 
Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”