Road map for life

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Most of us have at least heard these words before. Many of us can quote them. How many of us, I wonder, apply them?

Trust in the Lord–Well, sure! Who doesn’t know that they’re supposed to trust God?! Lots of us give lip service to this part. We SAY we’re trusting, but all the while, we’re scheming and planning our own ways and trying to work the system or get the people in our own systems to meet our own goals and meet our own desires with little to no thought about whether or not those plans actually line up with God’s Word or His heart. While it sounds like a no-brainer to trust the only One in charge…do we really trust Him? What do our prayers say? Are we telling Him how we want things to go or telling Him that we’re willing to go His way? Are we even talking to Him at all?

with all your heart–Oh, my. If we’re having trouble with that first part, whatever are we doing with this one? With ALL your heart? (Did You really mean, our whole heart, God?) What are you doing with your whole heart? Are you focused–in ANY area of life–with your whole heart? Divided hearts seem to be the norm these days. Are we willing to look simple and foolish because we focus our whole (Definition: “all of; entire; total, unabridged…”) heart on the Eternal God who is actually the only way we can have a whole (definition:  “in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece; intact; unbroken; unimpaired…) heart?

and–you mean there’s more, God?! Yes. There’s more…SO much more!

do not lean on your own understanding,–What happens when we lean? We allow our weight to be carried by something other than ourselves. Hmmmmm…What if we were truly willing to allow for the possibility that we don’t have all of the information needed to navigate this life? Anyone else in NEED of the ability to take a break from trying to do it all on our own and get rid of the self-inflicted (not to mention totally unreasonable and unattainable!) pressure to be infallible? Would that lighten our loads in any way? Don’t we need that?!

in all your ways acknowledge Him–Oh, dear. There’s that word again:  all. Every single one? In EVERY. THING? Yes, and there’s still more! Keep reading! In every single thing we do we are to “acknowledge Him. That word means we’re supposed to:

  1. accept or admit the existence or truth of.
  2. recognize the fact or importance or quality of…to celebrate, to praise, to speak highly of, to accept the validity or legitimacy of…(Becky’s definition: believe!)
  3. show that one has noticed or recognized (someone) by making a gesture or greeting. (Becky’s definition: make a change!)
    That sounds like the ABCs of salvation to me! Admit, Believe, Confess…and be CHANGED so that all the rest of this is even possible.

and He will make straight your paths.–So many times we want to know where we’re going and what we’ll see/do along the way. Keep in mind that this verse does NOT say our paths will be easy, simple, without issues and fault lines and mountains and valleys and…we’re still going to have all of those things and–that’s what makes a trip SCENIC, y’all!! Our final destination changes once we’ve done all of that acknowledging, however, and our path will then lead us straight to HIM even when the route along the way gets “scenic” at times.

Father God, Thanks for giving us a way to come straight to You and making it possible to rest in all that You have planned for our journey. We make that harder than it has to be sometimes. Thanks for being patient and giving us a brand new day in which to make better choices. Help us to lean into You today no matter what part of the road we’re on and be at peace with knowing You’re in control. We make that harder than it has to be sometimes, too. Give us You today in ways that allow others to be blessed and see that they need You, too. Help us to represent You well, God, and give us the ability to praise You on purpose no matter what our “scenery” looks like today.

Grace and Peace.

 

Undivided

I was back on the porch after my walk this morning and back in the Psalms, as well. I love reading through these familiar words that suddenly grab my attention as though they are brand new to me.

Today, God used Psalm 86:11, to do that:

“Teach me Your way, Lord, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.” (CSB)

“…Give me an undivided mind…” it says. Wow. How long has it been since you had that?! The ESV translates it this way: “…unite my heart…” and I suddenly know and remember out loud that we are the ones who divide our hearts and minds.

We call it multi-tasking and say we’re making progress, but it really isn’t progress if we lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing: walking in His truth and fearing (honoring, giving reverence to) His name.

Somewhere along the way we got that mixed up. We began to make our own “truths” and revere our own names. No wonder we find ourselves with divided hearts and minds unable to see what is real…and  too often afraid to speak it lest we annoy someone or step on toes that walk in ways contrary to what God says is good.

And sometimes, those toes are our own. Connected to minds that race when we should be resting and are still when we should be working, our divided hearts still fight for relationship with more–when GOD is the only MORE that we ever really need. 

I needed this Word today as I make plans to celebrate this season. I want my celebration to be meaningful and God-focused, praise-filled and prayer-full–AND I want it to continue throughout the upcoming year! Yes, we set aside this season to celebrate the gift of God to mankind and we decorate and we purchase and we revel… and we’re different…for a little while. I wonder what would happen if we used this time of celebration to unite our hearts and minds so that we can walk in HIS truth and be who we were actually created to be: undivided.

Hmmmm…I wonder.

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Days 27-30

IMG_20171125_071335337Well, it’s here! We’re right at the end of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2019. This will be my last post for the month because I am choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving and LIFE with people who hold the biggest part of my heart. I pray that your days will be spent in much the same way. I pray that they are GOOD DAYS and, even if they are less than you’d like them to be, that you will choose to make the most of them.

I have been truly honored to share this month with you and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how well we all do carrying the lessons we learned into December and beyond. Despite all of the faults we hear so loudly proclaimed, God has given us a good world and plenty of opportunities to make the difficult places better simply by choosing to respond in positive and healing ways.

We will be people of influence…no matter what responses we choose. I hope we all choose the best ones.

Thanks for joining me this month! May God be praised by your life, your witness to the world, and your choices to make life better for those around you!

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Day 26

Today is a beloved cousin’s birthday AND her wedding anniversary, as well! I remember picking roses from the bush in front of my Mississippi house and being ever so grateful that God had given us so many to decorate her wedding cake–after all, it was right on Thanksgiving Day that year! I also remember how we had so much food prepared for her reception and the family Thanksgiving celebration that the roses ended up being stored outside overnight in the cars…where the water in ALL of the vases froze absolutely solid. 

IMG_20181130_071351806_HDRIt was quite a sight and quite a shock! We weren’t expecting that. We didn’t let it change the wedding plans or have a major affect on the wedding festivities, though. We just laughed, cut the blooms off, and left the stems in the frozen water! Her cake was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I still think about it every time I pass by similar blooms here at my current Georgia home.

I picked those bushes on purpose once I got settled here. They’re my favorite…and what could have made us upset that day, just made us laugh and turned into one of our favorite family memories.

Whether its a Tuesday or a holiday, we get to choose how we react to what happens. We get to decide. Sometimes we do that really well. Other times, we realize later, we should have taken more time before we pronounced our judgments or relayed our responses.

That’s one of the most important lessons I hope we learn from NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: the rush to respond rarely leaves us with a good memory or leaves others with a good impression. Once we become determined not to complain, it automatically makes our brains become wired to look for solutions instead of becoming bogged down in the challenges. It doesn’t stop the challenges, it just changes the way we view them! They can then become adventures, funny stories, opportunities for growth, and a chance to bless those around us by illustrating creative problem-solving and a choice to add to the number of blessings we share with the world and the ones we love in it.

It’s a pretty good opportunity to share the goodness of our God, as well.

It’s a choice. Are you willing to keep making the right ones?

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace! (and Happy Birthday and Anniversary, dear Cousins!)

NCN 2019–Day 25

tablescape1Happy Monday, everybody! I hope your weekend was a great one! We managed to get several things knocked off the to-do list…like…going to the eye doctor and finding out that we’re getting old..er…well, at least our eyes are! (LOL!) As we searched though all the frames in the universe for our next glasses–let me pause right here and give God praise for the patience and entertainment factor from our assistant in this venture! She was fantastic!–we realized that we’re in that “awkward stage” between not wanting to look too old OR look like we’re trying too hard NOT to be too old! HA! It was actually quite a bit of fun choosing new frames and trying on all kinds of new personas just by changing out this tiny thing about our lives.

It’s made me think: What other tiny things can we change that will make a difference in our lives. Hmmmm…MAYBE we could extend NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER into DON’T COMPLAIN DECEMBER? (did I really just hear a collective groan?! seriously?!…or was that just me? oops!) No, I’m not serious and, yet, yes! I am. While we won’t continue the official challenge, I am going to ask you to seriously evaluate “what looks better on you” as a new month approaches. Have you noticed a positive change from this challenge? Has it made an impact in your home or work place? What if you decided to keep it up…and made it a lifestyle?

Many people I know have chosen to make a list of blessing this month instead of trying not to complain. I suspect that both challenges have resulted in a more positive outlook and, hopefully, a permanent thought process shift. Why give up either of those challenges as we keep moving forward? Let’s end 2019 and begin 2020 on the high note of choosing to become better people and inviting others to join us in the adventure! Let’s find new ways to work the wonder of the Savior’s birth into our upcoming year instead of just focusing on it for the month of December! I could use some extra wonder in my life! How about you?

What kinds of lessons learned will you take with you into this next month and beyond? How will you choose to celebrate the season of God’s greatest gift? Wouldn’t an attitude of gratitude STILL be appropriate as we enter the coming new year? What if you chose to permanently be a person of positive influence in the world?

As we gather together to give “official” thanks later this week, let’s stay focused on all we truly have to consider as blessings. Stay positive, stay aware of your blessings, and keep on finding ways to “not complain” as you celebrate this last official week of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER!

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Days 22-24

Has it been a great week? Are you pleased with where you are and all you’ve managed to accomplish this week? I hope so! I actually hope a lot things for you.

  • I hope you’re healthy and able to do the tasks ahead of you well.
  • I hope you’re surrounded by people who lift you up and let you know that you’re valued and valuable.
  • I hope you’re excited about the days ahead and have fond memories of the ones you’ve already passed through.
  • I hope…I hope…I hope…so many, many things.

I think the main thing I hope, however, is that you know God personally. I hope that you realize that He’s real and that He loves you even more than you can ever imagine. I hope you talk with Him and walk with Him all of the days of your life. I hope that if you don’t know Him, that you’ll want to change that.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”  ~Stephen Covey

Getting to know God isn’t difficult, but it does require a decision. He wants to be known. He wants it so much that He sent His Son Jesus down from heaven to live a perfect and sinless life before us so that we could know God more intimately than ever before. Jesus’ life and death here on earth makes it possible for us to have life and experience God throughout eternity.

How is that even possible? Because Jesus didn’t stay in the grave! He is alive and He’s waiting for each of us to take advantage of the life He came to provide for us. All that’s left for us to do is to make a decision to believe and follow Him.

It’s a simple thing, really.

  1. You have to first realize you haven’t lived a perfect life. In short, you have sinned–that means you have missed the mark. There is no one perfect, but God. (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23)
  2. Sin comes with a price that must be paid by someone. Your sin will never go away on its own and you have no way to make it do so or earn forgiveness for it through your own efforts. Without someone to pay the price, sin will destroy you. (“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23)
  3. You need a new life and to get it you NEED a Savior. Jesus is that Savior. There is no other way and no other option that will get rid of your sin and make it possible for you to know God personally and have an intimate relationship with Him. (“You must be born again.” John 3:3 / “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6)
  4. You need to know that Jesus is your only possibility for salvation, but you also need to believe it and share that knowledge with others. (“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame,…'” Romans 10:9-11)
  5. You need to know that, once you make this decision, your life will never be the same again. Because Jesus paid your sin debt, you will belong to Him and that will mean changes (wonderful changes!) are coming your way! You will no longer think or act in some of the ways you previously lived. You can’t make these changes on your own. You will have a standard that you never had before and you will have the Holy Spirit living inside of you to guide you, but you will also need to seek out others who have decided to follow Jesus and live in fellowship with them as you learn more about God and all that He has in store for you. (“And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves…” 2 Corinthians 5:15a / “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7)

This decision will be the most important one you ever make. By choosing to believe all the Bible says about who God is (and who YOU are created to be!), you are not signing up for a religion or joining any particular denomination. You are beginning a relationship with GOD–and that is exciting!!

I hope you’ve made the most important decision to follow Jesus. If this is new to you or you would like to know more about “what’s next” after making this decision, I would LOVE to help you learn more about my wonderful God. You can reach out to me in the comment section or send me a private message in several other social media outlets.

As for NCN and this weekend? Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION. I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Grace and Peace!

 

NCN 2019–Day 21

Twenty-one days! How’s it going for you on this month-long challenge to change your life? (grin) MY GOODNESS! Doesn’t that sentence sound dramatic?! Yes. It does, but I’ve found that sometimes the biggest changes can begin from the smallest of starts. Consistency is key and choosing to consistently eliminate the negative words and attitudes withIN us will, over time, help eliminate more and more of the negative words and attitudes around us!

This year has been quite the adventure for us. It’s been a time of…well…it’s been a challenge. That’s not a complaint. It’s a fact. As I spoke with some neighbors just yesterday I mentioned that 2019 has been a challenging year for more people that I know than those I know who’ve sailed through it.

Earlier in the year (and not too long ago–as in OCTOBER!!) I became overwhelmed for a short time by all that needed to be done. God, in His grace and wisdom, gave me a break and a talking to by my husband. (HA!) I was frustrated by all the many things that had interfered with my oh-so-carefully crafted schedule…repeatedly...as in: I no longer seemed to HAVE a schedule. (This might take a little bit, so get comfortable, ok? Hang with me, though. I promise: There is a point and an application.)

That was a problem for this slightly OCD/schedule-oriented person. I desperately wanted things to be different–on SO many fronts that I couldn’t fix or fight!–but this lack of schedule was right at the top for me and I just couldn’t get a handle on it. My frustration had built up until it just overflowed like lava one Sunday morning and I had a meltdown right out there on my back porch. Overwhelmed didn’t even touch it. I was tired in every way possible and, for the first time in a very long while, I wasn’t sure I was going to figure it out…at least not in time to make it happen for all of the others who were depending on me.

I had put so much pressure on myself to get everything done to my own personal standard in such a shortened time frame…do you see where I’m going with this? Maybe you’ve done that, too? At some point…or eight? Yes, I thought so. I am Wonder Woman, though, so of course this shouldn’t have happened to me! (insert a VERY wry grin and a great big eye roll here.) Ever notice how easy it becomes to head into the dark side when you’re tired and frustrated?

ANYway! The gist of the conversation with my husband revolved around his assessment of my efforts (which was FAR more generous to me that I had been to myself!) and his loving observation that in making every other person we were trying to serve as a couple a much higher priority than I had made my own self I had gotten lost in the shuffle. That needed to change. He asked me to list some of the things I was most frustrated by and was a little bit taken aback, I think, by all that poured out in response. He began to list some of the ways he thought might help me–INCLUDING taking time out to take care of ME and do something that didn’t have anything to do with anyone else. He thought I should start painting again. To be honest, at first it felt like a condemnation of just one more way I was failing and even more things that needed to be added to my “schedule.” Knowing his heart, however, I stayed still and tried to listen for the intent and not just the content of what he was saying.

That conversation saved me. Literally. It saved me and my sanity and my attitude and my heart that was hurting with all of those unrealistic expectations–that were mostly (allmine and never ever said by the people I was trying to serve. I never want to forget all of that grace and love and wisdom that God sent through my husband and straight to me in my time of desperation. Although he was doing the talking, I was being HEARD and that made all the difference in the world.

At the end of it, he asked me what I had gotten out of our conversation. There were lots of things, but the one that came out of my mouth was this: I need to make a list instead of making a schedule.

I’m not sure he was expecting that, but he readily agreed and reminded me that doing so ALSO meant that the list would evolve over time. It would grow and it would shorten, it would change directions, it needed to include things that would take care of ME and not just everyone else…and it didn’t all have to be done at once. RELIEF! A list is something that I could manage right then–and he encouraged me to do so…right then. 

IMG_20191121_072157403I headed into the house and grabbed some art supplies. I’m not sure that was what he expected, either, but it was crucial for me. He was right. I needed a list, but I also needed to take care of me a little bit before I could go back to taking care of everyone else right then. A short time later I added this tiny painting to my window sill in the kitchen so I would keep a reminder before me and, hopefully, avoid another meltdown! I was too tired to even be creative on my own, so I chose an image from Pinterest that I liked and just made my own personal version of it along with the words, “make a list, not a schedule,” and down at the bottom I added a tiny heart to remind me that I needed to love on myself while I loved on those I was working to serve.

It’s helped me.

So did the 8 pages of list that I made right after that. Yes. EIGHT pages. It’s no wonder that my mind was on overload. I was trying to remember everything and do everything all by myself. I use to make lists for every day in addition to the “continually running schedule in my head” and I had gotten away from doing that. Now, making my list helps me to remember that I can be more flexible. “THE LIST” might never get completely done, but I can make some serious progress! I can take it in smaller doses instead of setting unrealistic expectations or time lines. I can be proactive and do smaller tasks/ mark them off when I need to see progress or I can choose to do larger tasks based on actual priority instead of the order it popped into my head and got added to the list.

All that to say this: the holiday season is almost here. There will be a LOT to do on top of your already big to-do list, so actually MAKE A LIST and start to check it off instead of trying to keep the one running inside your head or make a schedule that only puts pressure on you. Maybe you need to grab some art supplies, too, or a take a walk, listen to music, or sit and actually pet your pet! Whatever it is that will feed your soul, put THAT on your list, as well. Build some time into every day that doesn’t have anything else to do with anyONE else but you. It might just make NCN over the holidays become an easier effort for you and everyone else, as well.

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION! (even on the list! grin)

Grace and Peace!