The 90%

It’s been a rollercoaster for us lately. You can probably say the same thing about your life. That’s the key word, of course…it’s life! Nothing ever stays the same, otherwise we become stagnant and stale in our outlook, our aspirations, and our prayers. None of that is a good idea. As much as we often say we’d like things to stay the same, growth can’t occur in a vacuum. Change is constant, inevitable, and God’s deliberate idea of blessing us.

As my husband and I have discussed our circumstances, laughed, cried, prayed and driven more miles this month than I can say, we’ve been reminded of the truth that Chuck Swindoll so beautifully penned many years ago:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.

I believe God gave this insight to Pastor Chuck. I’ve had his quote pinned or taped to some surface in every office I’ve ever worked in professionally. I read it every day for years. I think it stuck. I hope so, anyway. The truth it contains has bolstered, encouraged, and (at times!) convicted me. I’ve been blessed by it.

Attitude is important, but so are the people around us. I’ve been blessed by my circle of friends near and far as they have prayed, called, emailed, texted, and made sure my cat was ok when I couldn’t. Some even sent cards and Scripture happies in the mail! IMG_20190617_064938374

Others ministered to us in different ways. My friend Patty (which came out typed as “Party” originally because my fingers obviously know the real Patty!! Lol!) actually blessed me back in December with a Christmas gift that has continued her blessing. Every day, I walk past a calendar she sent to me. Each month has a new reminder as the focus. This month, it has been a reminder to choose “gratitude” as my attitude! IMG_20190617_062805485

Well, there have been days when that was easier than others, but I have done my best to be grateful and express that to God and those around me. Today, I will get to choose again. So will we all.

What attitude will you choose as your 90% today?

Grace and Peace!

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I used to…

I used to be a lot louder. That was back when I knew more. (grin) I think the quiet started when I began to realize how much I didn’t know. Incidentally, that probably started about the time I began to get serious about having a personal relationship with God. Coincidence? I think not.

Getting to know the One who knows it all, kinda shuts you up sometimes…or, at least, it ought to. “Before,” I just looked like I knew Him. That was pretty easy since I was raised in a home that taught the Scripture to us practically and deliberately from Day 1 of breathing on our own.

It was easy to look like I knew Him because I knew all about Him. (Just ask anyone who played “Bible trivia”  with our family. {BTW–“Bible trivia“?!–Is that even a possible thing?! The phrase kind of makes me cringe a little bit right now.} I made all the right appearances and I did all of the right things in public. My parents were praised for doing it right, but inside, I hadn’t really made a choice for following Jesus so much as a choice to ruffle as few feathers as possible on my way out the door. I had all of the head knowledge and very little of the heart knowledge or life application of all that I “knew.” I had plenty of the rebellion going on inside despite all appearances to the contrary.

I used to be louder. My temper was fierce and while I’m not entirely sure those days are past, but I know there are a whole lot fewer of them and that makes me happier in ways that being louder never could. Louder meant being called on for all the right answers even when my heart wasn’t in it–or NOT called on “so other people can learn for themselves.” Louder meant being perceived as right even when I was wrong. Louder meant being praised for WHAT I knew instead of WHO I knew. Louder meant more to me then than relationships did.

I didn’t know that a quieter spirit meant I would be able to hear God more clearly. I was too busy charting my own path to be very concerned about His plans. The fact that my path looked a little like His to those who weren’t looking too closely made it even harder to figure out that I needed a change.

I didn’t know that a quieter Becky meant time for others to grow and opportunities for me to grow and learn, as well. Turns out, I didn’t know all I should have…or needed to know. I didn’t know that being quieter would grow me up instead of just growing my reputation…and, oddly enough, would make me more concerned about God’s reputation in me than I was about my own.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know…and I wasn’t all that interested in finding that out. I was good. Just ask anyone who knew me! I was good. It was enough. I was enough. Writing that down makes me cringe a bit now, too, but I’m doing it anyway because I don’t want anyone else to make the same mistake that I made…when I used to be louder.

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27 (NIV) 

Today, I am reminded that God’s Word is always true…and I am praying for a world that still thinks like I used to when I used to be louder.

Grace and Peace!

 

Lessons in love

IMG_20181205_071214882Even after years of practice and a whole month of November in intensive training, I still felt like I was failing yesterday. I am out of my element this week and I was out of sorts about it! Once again, while nothing escaped my lips, my mind was absolutely rife with complaint, all while battling situation and provocation…and Scripture. That last one is always a heavy hitter! (grin)

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)

I read that verse pretty early in the day as I moved ahead with preparations for an upcoming Bible study. I sailed right past it at first. God knew that.

He brought it back around.

He had me focus on it, and then He proceeded to bring that theme up over and over and over throughout the day from the words I typed, the people I saw in the grocery store, and even in the book of fiction I picked up at the local library.

It shook me. It schooled me. It made me do some self-evaluation…and I wasn’t always pleased with what I found. Scripture does that. It is both a mirror and a standard of perfection side by side. Given my state of mind, I really wasn’t in the mood for either, yet God continued to push me. I know He does so out of love, and I truly felt that, but I was also frustrated by so many things I couldn’t change externally. That helplessness to “make things better” rages against my internal “fixer” motif and frustrates me no end.

By the end of the day, I felt beaten. That’s rare for me. I’m usually the most positive person in the room–and I still was!–but God knew I needed to feel, not just love, but empathy…and that is always harder after a day of battle of multiple fronts.

Today, I woke up to a new verse. Matthew 25:40 says,

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

and THEN, there was THIS one…

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

When you can’t change the situation or fix the people in it, you still need to move forward in love. That instruction never changes. That standard never changes–and neither does the fact that we are still representing Jesus wherever we go. AND (I usually hate when people start  sentences off with AND, but here is one to remember), if the battle makes us weary and our feelings are less than loving or empathetic, we can STILL love on Jesus by doing what we can right where we are. I am responsible for my actions and, yes, even my attitude. He is responsible for the outcome. Today, I needed to be reminded of that. Maybe you did, too.

Let’s go represent Him well today. Happy Wednesday!

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2018–Day 30…and beyond

IMG_20181130_071351806_HDRDay 30, and the end of this month is finally here. In this month of Thanksgiving and holiday prep, of increased activity and decreased time allotted for it, of focusing on the good and trying to eliminate the negative, THANK YOU for participating in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER with me again! Your stories and your encouragements have meant a great deal to me. Once again, I am reminded that I am the most blessed person I know…and that you can be, as well.

As we have chosen to direct our thinking and constrict our voicing of the negative this month, I have found that some days were a lot easier than others…and that THOSE were the days when practicing the discipline of not complaining was most critical for me and those around me. Encouragement is always most needed when it is in least evidence. That will be true going forward, as well. It is the CHOOSING to keep moving forward toward the goal that becomes the mainstay of any decision, and so it will be with this.

Tomorrow we will enter the season of Advent, a looking forward season. What are you looking forward to where you are? Will you continue this challenge? Will you set new goals? Will you heave a sigh of relief and work to find rest or will you keep hurtling along at breakneck speed? Every choice has both blessings and consequences, so I find myself praying that as we go through this last day of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2018, our choices will reflect a greater discipline because of what we’ve learned, a greater joy because of how we’ve learned to look for the goodness around us, and that the world will become a better place because we continue to acknowledge the areas that need work and get busy changing them without taking time out to complain about them first.

May all of your choices going forward be the best ones, so that your blessings will be many and your consequences can be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). In short, I pray that your choices reflect a life filled with the goodness of God and a ready display of His Presence will absolutely permeate every nook and cranny of your life. He is good–despite all of the hard things in this world–and He loves you! May you learn to love Him more than you ever thought possible and may you–and those around you!–see Him at work in and through you as we celebrate His coming. I pray He finds a home in your heart and that you always find yourself most at home in Him.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Grace and peace!

(and yes, those roses really are blooming out on my kitchen counter today!)

NCN 2018–Day 29

IMG_20181127_111626618You never know what’s going to happen next. That’s why planning is so important. I realize those two statements may sound at odds, but they’re really not.

I’m a planner. For every day I face, I’ve usually thought ahead, looked at options and possibilities, and made a plan…and at least one list. (grin) I’ve been doing that since I was a kid.

Plans can adjust when necessary and the important things will still get done reasonably well and in a timely manner. Since having a plan in place generally makes for less confusion and stress, it also helps make a good attitude even easier when the changes aren’t what you would have ever chosen.

Good attitudes are invaluable in times of change, stress, and dealing with the upcoming unknown. I’m living that out today and so are most of the people around me. Although God wasn’t surprised when our plans changed suddenly yesterday, we were. The choice of how we choose to deal with the change is up to us, so I’m happier than ever to have been practicing a good attitude during NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER.

The month is almost over, but each of us can continue this discipline as we move forward. We’ve been strengthening our good attitude muscles all month. There’s no reason to stop that now that the plans have changed. In fact, it may be more important than ever before.

Grace and peace!

Romans 12:21!

NCN 2018–Day 28

Only THREE more days, y’all, until the end of this year’s NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER!!  (and, yes, I DO know that some of you have it timed down to the minute! LOL!) As we wind it down, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned/re-learned/remembered this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are my biggest practical takeaways from this year’s challenge:

  • Encouragement always helps make life easier. CHOOSE to become an encourager wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing. It will bless those around you and it will actually make your load a lot lighter, as well.
  • “Tired OF or tired BECAUSE?”–our speech choices tend to give us away even when we are trying to cover up the fact that we’re complaining. “I’m tired OF…” usually heralds the sound of a coming complaint. “I’m tired BECAUSE…” tends to mean that you’ve been busy…and it really is ok to be tired when you’ve been busy. If, of course, you’re tired because you’ve spent the day complaining…well, not cool. At all. AND… If you’re tired BECAUSE you’ve spent the day with a complainer…dear one, I beg you to call a good friend and ask them to pray for both of you. That’s a legitimate issue in need of some prayer because being around complaining people WILL wear. you. out.
  • That last statement is a good thing to remember. You don’t want to spend lots of time WITH “that person” any more than you want to BECOME “that person”, so make sure you don’t give up all the ground you’ve managed gain this month. Keep up the good work! You CAN continue this positive pattern of behavior. It may mean that you have to alter your calendar, buy your coffee elsewhere for a bit, or simply say, “No” (in your kindest and most positive voice, of course!) the next time a chronic complainer wants to spend lots of extra time with you–especially if even the invitation is covered in complaints. While I am ALL FOR and created for ministering to people when they are hurting, there comes a time when you also have to extend the kindness of speaking the truth in love to them. I get it. They need Jesus–and so do I on a MOMENT BY MOMENT basis!! It is totally appropriate to continue to introduce them to Him. Beware of putting yourself in HIS place, however, by becoming the one they turn to with every issue, problem, or complaint. You can’t save them and you can’t fix them, but HE can. Be aware of the need and beware of becoming it. Some distance might just be the best and healthiest thing for each of you.
  • Hurting people hurt people. Y’all already know this. Just as you can’t fix or save THEM, you have to know that you are responsible for pursuing your own healing so that you don’t continue to injure the people around you. Some things are a matter of determination and being stubborn can actually help you with those things. (I am living proof of this!)  Other issues require a good, qualified, Godly counselor who will take you to the Source of all wisdom and help you find your healing in the One who made you and has the best plan imaginable for you. Jesus can do more in an instant to move you toward healing that you can struggle toward in a whole lifetime, so if you’re tired of struggling–with more than just this NCN challenge–I’d be happier than you can imagine to introduce you to God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. He adores you. He created you for good things. He desires a personal relationship with you and He’s so set on that goal that He was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice so that you could be with Him forever.

You might not think this last one is really practical unless you already know Jesus. That’s ok. He’s not going to give up on you whether you’ve done NCN poorly, well, or even given it a shot at all. Neither am I. Because He loves you, I do, too. I’m grateful for every single one who reads these words–even those of you who disagree with me on this. (Insert big wide grin here!) I appreciate your willingness to take on the challenge of making the world you live in a more positive place even if we don’t live close to each other, because choosing to be more peaceful in your part of the world automatically affects my part, as well.

Happy Wednesday, Y’all! Only three more days to go…You can do it!!

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!!

NCN 2018–Day 27

Today is #givingtuesday, a time to be generous and contribute to worthy causes. I don’t know when it got started, but I definitely applaud the whole idea, and it makes me wonder…

  • What if we decided to be make every day a giving day?
  • What if we made a plan (not a wish, but a PLAN) to support worthy causes with regularity…because our priority was to become more worthy, too.
  • What if we looked at our resources with an eye toward blessing those whose needs we’re aware of long after “the season of giving” has passed because we realized that the Source of all blessing has promised to never leave or forsake us…and others need to see that promise in action so THEY can believe it, too?
  • What if our whole lives centered around making those around us know they matter, that they’re loved, and that their gifts are needed to help others, too?
  • What if we decided to become walking, talking, giving billboards for grace and peace and the One whose idea they were in the first place?

What if…?

What will you choose to do today…since you’ve given up complaining…and have all that extra time on your hands? (grin)

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!