NCN 2017–Day 28

Today is Giving Tuesday and in view of that, I’ve decided to share an opportunity to give with you!

My friend  Janet Robertson (we went to the same school growing up!) has spent the past few years in Rwanda doing all kinds of things to help people. Talk about becoming a person of influence? This woman has done it! She’s taught school, worked to better the lives of mentally and physically challenged people, encouraged participation in community-building events and, honestly, I’m not sure what she could have decided to do next except help build a school…so that’s what she’s working on right now.

She needs some help.

thumb_IMG_8204_1024Actually, the KIDS need some help and so does the community around them. They have walls now, but the roof needs to be finished in this rainy season, there are mouths to feed, minds to educate, and a community to bring HOPE to by just sharing whatever amount you choose. Here’s a bit more information for you on this wonderful project in Kigali, Rwanda! (I couldn’t get the video to embed here, but I worked on this link and I DO hope it works! Copy and paste to your browser, if possible. It really is neat to see the progress and hear from people in the community!)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B75VXlzfLFkAUXYxSzNHMTVuWXM/view?usp=sharing

You can donate online at columbuscoc.com (drop down: Love God/Give Online and then choose Rwanda–Janet Robertson) or by writing a check with HOPE SCHOOL in the memo line and sending it to

Columbus Church of Christ

2401 7th Street N

Columbus, MS 39705

ANYTHING you can send will help make life better for these children and it will make you smile, too, I think, so it’s really a win-win! (and just so you know, the only thing I get out of this is the opportunity to share one of my happy-happy favorite things with you: helping my friends do what God has called them to do!)

Grace and Peace!!

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NCN 2017–Days 7 & 8

I’m still trying to get my mind around it: how much God loves us. That’s easier to see some days than others. Sometimes, you just have to move forward in faith. Coming on the heels of a time of national mourning, I wasn’t quite prepared for–or, rather, I wasn’t really expecting–the blessing of yesterday.

God loves to surprise us…and, if you’re paying attention, He’s often very humorous and very personal. Yesterday was such a day.

I have the privilege of leading a Tuesday Morning Ladies Bible Study at our church. Because I know you have to know what’s in the Bible to follow it, I’ve tried to make sure that we actually get in and move around in the Word each time, in addition to any other teaching material we use. To that end, I invariably come with multiple sticky notes extended from my Bible to guide me from my study and I put small–as in it started out to be a regular sized sticky note, but I usually cut them up to make them last longer–very small sticky notes on each table listing the verses I want them to have ready to read as we go through my teaching time.

I never thought anything about it. It’s just what I do. I’m a sticky note fanatic…and I try to be frugal.

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Apparently, my ladies have noticed, because at the end of our session yesterday–the last session for the Semester–they presented me with this: (see the photo!)

You can have no idea how much this tickled me! What a delightful way to bless–it’s even better than flowers!–and I still laugh every time I look at my table or even think about it!

I share it here because it’s important to look beyond the normal ways of blessing those around you and find creative ways to share the joy of life with one another. Choosing not to complain about those miniscule scraps of sticky notes they have to decipher was a choice. Blessing me with what they think might be “5 years worth” of sticky notes (HA!) went beyond that and expressed their love and care for me in a very personal way. My Tuesday Ladies ROCK! They represent Christ well and they are loads of fun!

As we end our first week of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER and begin our second, I want to challenge you to HAVE FUN with this! This 30-day challenge isn’t meant to add another burden or give you another RULE to follow. It’s meant to be a blessing. Look for creative ways to share the blessing and enjoy the process! It can change your life. I know this, because it has changed mine.

And now, I’m off to try and organize the abundance of sticky note blessing from yesterday…and have fun doing it!

Grace & Peace!

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

NCN 2017–Day 2

14803374006631278927256Sooooooo…how’d you do yesterday? No complaining? At all? All day? It takes a little bit of getting used to again, doesn’t it? (grin) You have to actually think about what you’re going to say now,  don’t you? (LOL! and isn’t that fun?! HA!)

I’m laughing WITH you and not AT you, I promise. I can sympathize. I struggled a little bit yesterday, as well. Ok. In all honesty, I may have struggled more than a little bit. That’s not a complaint, I promise; it is a fact.

Here’s another fact for you: it’s ok if you struggled AND it’s ok if you didn’t succeed. This is a process of retraining for most of us. Processes take time to implement and they are always subject to tweaking, so don’t give up if you didn’t make Day 1 of NCN 2017 a roaring success. Try again today.

You’re not alone.

You are, however, given another opportunity to try.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV)

Today is a new day. We serve a compassionate God whose mercies are new every morning. Begin again.

You can do this! I am certain of it!

Grace and Peace!

 

NCN 2017–Day 1

Good morning, dear friends! Isn’t it a glorious day to start off this new month of busy schedules and frenzied preparations and holiday shopping and decorating and lots of people in your house who aren’t normally there and…no complaining?! WHAT?! Becky, do you really mean, NO complaining…about ANY of it?! Just…doing it…without fussing and arguing and grumbling and…and…yes. Yes! YES, to all of that and more!

It is Day 1 of our NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, so today is the day we start it off right! This is the day we strengthen our minds to focus on the positive and, even when confronted–sometimes, face first!–with the negative, we will still CHOOSE not to complain about it. We chose to cope. We choose to breathe deeply and smile. We choose to grit the teeth, if necessary, and face it head on…and not complain.

It is a choice, you know. Most of life is–and isn’t that really the crux of it all? That we become more deliberate in our choices and choose well. Think of it! A world without complaint! A world of choosing to make the best of it and moving on without bringing more negativity into your life, because here’s the rub: you can’t be negative toward someone else without a lot of if sticking with YOU! Isn’t that WORTH choosing?

I think so.

Scripture says, “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 (NASB) and Matthew 12:34 (also NASB) says, “…For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”

I really like seeing all the different translations of that last verse. Here are just a few:

“…For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” (HCSB)

“…Your mouth says what comes from inside you.” (GOD’S WORD translation)

“…For the mouth speaks about what overflows from the heart.” (NET)

“…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (NIV)

“…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (NLT)

“…for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (ESV, Berean Study, KJV, NHEB)

I think I like that last one best of all simply because of the word “abundance.” Abundance is usually a good thing and it’s a concept we’ve all associated with this month containing falling leaves of red and gold, Thanksgiving, cornucopias, and tables full of good food all surrounded by family and friends. It’s a comforting word because it means you’re not likely to run out of something…and hopefully, that something is something good, pleasant, or beneficial.

That’s the goal for NCN 2017: that we not run out of good things to say, that we speak out of abundant hearts all of the GOOD things that we’ve been blessed with, and that we become people who are known for building up and not tearing down. At the heart of it all, it is about becoming people of influence…for good.

Will you join us? My Jester line is in, my husband says he’ll do it, there are friends and family who have communicated that they’re in for this, and that’s really great because the more we get on board with this, the bigger the influence we can have in the world! Grab a friend, a coworker, a family member, or even your postal worker and join us in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2017!

You’ll be glad you did, or your money back…guaranteed! (giggle)

Grace and Peace!

 

On a count of three…

img_1583It’s almost time, y’all! Are you ready? No, I’m not talking about Halloween and I’m not even talking about Thanksgiving or Christmas. This is something even bigger than that!

Well… maybe not bigger than Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it’s something that can make a tremendous difference in your life, just the same!

I’ve already seen some people on social media preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving by making a list of the many things they’re thankful for–and that IS amazing, but…

I’m once again offering you a chance to join me and a growing circle of friends who are taking it even further. For the third year in row, I would like to invite you to join us for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER!!!

Yes, you read that right! We will certainly make sure to celebrate our blessings, but we’re taking it even further by extending our celebration to monitoring what we put out into the world this November, as well. We won’t be all Pollyanna about it, but we WILL be choosing not to complain throughout the entire month!

I’ll do my best to post here regularly to keep us (umm, well, at least ME!) motivated and this is your official head’s up that we will begin in just THREE DAYS! This gives you until Wednesday morning to get your mind straight, your people alerted, and your support teams in place! We would LOVE to have you join us and we’d be even more excited if you got your families, your coworkers, classmates, or just a few besties to join in, as well!

Today is almost over, but it counts as ONE, tomorrow will be TWO, and Tuesday will be THREE, so get to counting and get ready for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2017!!!

(And don’t freak out–or complain! Lol!-about the calendar up there. It’s a shot of my friend Judy’s calendar from last year!)

Get ready! We’re about to have some fun!!

The power of connection

God seems intent on teaching me about the power of connection. Recent Bible study materials, texts, comments, and personal experiences are all aligning in such a way that it’s been difficult to ignore.

I love it when God does that.

He knows I can be obtuse…or…or…hyper-focused on other things. (Yeah, yeah, I like the way that second one sounds better than the first one…although that first one might actually be more accurate. Hmph…sigh…)

Either way, God seems to be intent on making me aware of something. Once again, it isn’t something monumental, and yet, it is: the power of a simple, heartfelt hug.

I grew up in a family that hugged, but didn’t really extend that outside of family lines. I remember our car being surrounded every time we arrived at my Grandmother’s house by people who joyously grabbed us for big hugs and exclamations over how glad they were to see us again.

I also remember my first meal at MUW (or Mississippi University for Women, for those who aren’t familiar). As I found a seat and began to eat I was suddenly struck by the number of people who were jumping up to hug and exclaim over one another just like my family did, but these people weren’t related…by blood. I remember thinking–and saying–“That’s not going to happen to me. I do not know these people and I can’t imagine being that excited by people who aren’t family.”

That lasted less than half a semester. People can become your family whether or not God gave you a common bloodline. Those women did. They still are. Even those I haven’t seen or hugged in years.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that some people seem surprised when I hug them, and then they seem inordinately pleased–some, even enough to write to me or comment on it later. Maybe I haven’t been doing it enough. Maybe no one else has, either. Perhaps, if we were all hugging enough, some of the truly horrible things that sometimes happen in our world wouldn’t, or maybe, they’d just be easier to deal with when they happen.

What I do know is this: God has been nudging me to make an effort to hug more lately, to express my appreciation more freely, to pray on the spot for people more, offer deliberate attention, to connect more, and to be intentional about doing so in His Name. In short, He’s calling me to do more of the things He’s always told us to do: to be Jesus with skin on to those we meet whether we’re related by blood, by relationship, by experiences, by time and place, or simply by our mutual humanity.

As an introvert, this stretches me sometimes. As a Christ-follower, it challenges me and it changes me. Always. It’s a little monumental thing and it’s worth a try on your end, too.

(side note: As always, I looked up a Scripture to go with my post. What I found was Romans 16:16. Most translations say, “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” Hmmm…I’m honestly not sure I’m ready to be that connected. (ha!) I think I’ll choose the NLT version that says, “Greet one another in Christian love…” for now and we’ll see if God needs me to go any further. LOL! Y’all have fun with this!–and start with a HUG, people!)

Grace and Peace!

 

 

Challenging

In her recent Bible study on the Gospel of John entitled Proven, Jenni Allen shares several opportunities for “experiences” to reinforce each week’s lesson. One of my favorites, so far, has been from Week One where she asked us to celebrate the fact that God is a master experience-creator by creating an experience for some of our friends or family members. Her guidelines were simple: it had to be fun, inexpensive, contain something you’ve never tried or done before, and it had to be memorable.

A couple of friends agreed to join in the experience with me and I had so much fun with it that I decided to share it here. (Don’t get freaked out because there are multiple steps! These are SIMPLE!)

Step One: Spend a few minutes telling God God all the things you’re grateful for today! (I know, a few minutes isn’t nearly long enough!)

Step Two: Choose ONE word as your “today, I am most grateful for____” word.

Step Three: Now, you get to go on a nature walk/treasure hunt around the yard or house…for items that you can use to spell out your word! I don’t care what you collect for this project, but you can’t leave your yard and you can’t spend any money.

Step Four: Now go to the Word and find a verse about the word you’ve chosen and photographed.

Step Five: Send me a picture of your “word” and your verse so I can share in your creativity and celebrate with you! (BTW, I’m happy to receive them all personally, but you might want to share them in the comments section so others can share in your fun, as well…just a thought! Either way works for me!)

Step Six: Post your word and your verse on your social media platform and share the blessing with someone else.

Step Seven (because if I’ve gone this far, there HAS to be a 7!): Spend a few more minutes thinking about how you can incorporate more of “your word” into your life this week.

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As you can see, my word was “joy” and, although it doesn’t really match the traditional colors of Autumn, it was gathered right out in my yard on October 1st! Thanks to previous owners, hot pink and purple are actually signs of Fall around here. (grin–we’d hate to be predictable, you know!)

Last week, I was given a hug by someone who doesn’t know me very well. At the end of it, she turned to others nearby and said, “You can just feel the joy in her!” That blessed me really big. While I am rarely without joy, sometimes, my serious side shows more than my fun one and I have been challenging myself to work toward being more balanced in this area. I chose this word because I know that happiness is temporary, but JOY can be permanent because of my relationship with God. I grabbed the bungee cord because sometimes joy can stretch you and you need to be flexible to hang on to it when things get a bit hard. I opted for the echinacea flower over the bungee cord because echinacea naturally strengthens the immune system and joy is a healing thing. I picked the clematis bloom because it was the biggest blooming thing on the place (grin) and because clematis is happy to send tendrils up and out into the world grabbing hold and covering whatever you’ll let it. I settled on the twig from one of the camelias in the front because it was pretty, it had fully extended blooms along with buds that signal more beauty to come…and was also easily made into a “Y”–and practicality is also part of Joy for me! (ha!)

Your choices don’t all have to have hidden meanings, that’s where my mind naturally took me on this journey. I would LOVE to see what you come up with and, whether or not you choose to participate in this one, I challenge you to find more joy in your week. Grab hold and celebrate the beauty of the season, the goodness of our God, and the fact that Autumn seems to have finally begun to arrive.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Grace and Peace!