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–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!

 

NCN 2019–Day 19

Have you found your purpose yet? Do you know who you were created to be? These are some big questions. The answers can be even bigger. IF you’re still not sure at this point, maybe this verse can help you clarify some things.

“For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of God.” Galatians 1:10 (CSB)

This little gem just arrived in my email and I think it came just in time. There’s nothing wrong with making other people happy. In fact, I think we’re actually supposed to care about others in ways that make their lives better. Doing so will, quite naturally, help us to feel at least a little bit happier about our own.

The problems come when we make the happiness of others a higher priority than making sure that we’ve first been pleasing to GOD. Being God’s servant doesn’t mean living a life of unrelenting, punishing service. It WILL mean that we’ll be called to do some things that we’re not always comfortable doing, but AS WE DO THEM God generally comes alongside us and brings His sweet peace and joy and, before we know it, we’re feeling better and being grateful for some of the very things that made us wonder if He really knew who He was asking to do them in the first place! (grin)

And what, exactly, does this all have to do with NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER? It’s a reminder that when we live in a way that is consistent with our calling we won’t have as much time (or the desire!) to complain. Consistency in living out our purpose. That’s the key. It is the very fitting definition for our “progress, not perfection” theme this year.

Yes, we all get out of alignment with our calling from time to time, but if we look closely enough when that happens, we’ll see that we’re trying to please people instead of trying to please God. Don’t take my word for it! Take HIS:

“When a person’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 (CSB)

Sounds like another great way to eliminate some complaining to me! Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you. The peace with others may take a little time to get here, but the peace between you and God (Who is really in charge of everything!) will be immediate and healing while you wait on those around you to catch up and find who THEY were created to be, as well.

Did you need to see this today? Maybe someone you know does, too! Spread the peace! Share the Word! Reap the rewards of pleasing God.

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

 

NCN 2019–Days 15-17

Another week! We’re almost  half-way through NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! (Does that seem strange to anyone else?! This is flying by SO quickly this year!)

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been doing a Study by Max Lucado during this NCN. It’s entitled, Life lessons from James. The James in question is one of the leaders of the early Christian church and, perhaps more significantly, the half-brother of Jesus. Think about that for a moment. Your big brother is the son of GOD…and you only realize this as an adult. What in the world ran through James’ mind as he thought about the tricks he’d played, the brotherly insults, and the realization that at one time…he and others had gone to “take charge of/restrain him” because they thought Jesus was out of his mind?! (yes, really. Mark 3:21) Oh, my. The things–and the people!–we color with our limited minds, incomplete information, and bad attitudes!

I love James’ passion for right thinking and righteous living as he realizes the truth about his big brother! It makes me wonder what we might be missing in the people around us today. Don’t get too excited, now. I’m certainly not advocating that we have friends and relatives with such a Divine heritage, but I AM saying we need to look around and appreciate those who bless us in this life!

 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:10 (NIV)

That verse is part of the challenge for today and for this weekend (and, well, EVERY day!): Look past the things that might annoy (since you’re already getting so good at not complaining about them anyway, right?!) and focus on those people who uplift–and then, reciprocate! Max Lucado actually suggests taking 2 minutes (just 2, so EVERYONE can do this!) and making a list of the people who are blessings in your life right now.

If you’re like me, you’ll find that you need to stop with an incomplete listing after such a short time for this task. I’m passing along the challenge today, though, because I want you to consider not only your family members, but also your work-family members. It’s vital that we nurture those relationships since we spend so much time with them. The 2-minute list is the first part of the challenge.

The second part of the challenge is to go beyond “not complaining” to/about those who made your list, but to acknowledge their presence as a blessing in your life. You can do this in any number of ways: a note (stickies will do!), a fresh cup of refreshment, completing a task you know they hate doing, a hug (Actual family ONLY and ONLY if appropriate and appreciated, please!), a phone call to those out of town, a small gift, or a simple “I appreciate you! You are fabulous!” spoken as you pass them in the hall or at the table as you share a meal together.

Let’s take the time to acknowledge the value of those we have in our lives before we no longer have the blessing of that as an option!

Remember: You can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2020–Day 6

My husband and I were reminiscing over breakfast yesterday. One year ago we were coming off a great and successful show with lots of plans for our business future. Now, we no longer have a business. By it’s very nature, life changes. We had no clue how much that would be true for us this year. You may be in the same boat with us.

Our season for this year has been a difficult one, but we’ve learned a lot. While some of it is stuff we’d really rather NOT know, we now have a pretty solid base of knowledge and  friends/resources with additional information on the subject for reaching out and helping others who also find themselves loving a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s. Our family is blessed in that we’ve continued to work together to figure out the solutions that work for us and be as supportive as possible in the process.

Along the way, we’ve had legitimate times of despair and frustration. That, too, is life. As I walked along the road and talked to God about this yesterday, I absolutely loved that as I ran through the mental list of difficult changes during the past year, I had a corresponding list of blessings that we are now seeing or that have emerged as a result of those changes.

LAMENT IS NATURAL AND NECESSARY, but COMPLAINING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A PART OF IT.

That’s right. Read that again. (Seriously. READ IT AGAIN. It’s important.)

No matter what changes have come your way since our last NCN, you get the choice about how you’ll react to them…and choosing to acknowledge the losses–even when they are deep and devastating!–without wallowing in the negativity of complaining about them IS possible.

As I type this, I have a list running through my head of friends and family who have faced devastating losses this year. Please know that I am praying for ALL of us as we hurt and as we heal! Whether your loss and lament involves changes at home, at work, at church, or within your circle of love, it is critical that you acknowledge it to heal, but equally critical that you stop complaining about it so that you can move forward.

Lament is NOT just complaining. Look it up.

Mourning the hard losses and difficult changes is natural and is a phase to move THROUGH. Complaining about them keeps them fresh and rehearsing the hurt keeps you bound to it. We need to find ways to use what we’ve learned to help and bless others. Let’s start moving forward toward healing instead of just moving in circles of complaint.

I know. This may seem like an odd post for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER. I wasn’t planning to write a post like this, but somehow it just seems necessary today. I don’t know who this one is for, but I’m asking God to bless you. I’m asking Him to be especially close to you today and I’m asking Him to start helping you move THROUGH to the other side so that you can begin to see your own list of corresponding blessings as a result of the changes you’re dealing with today.

You are loved more than you can imagine. God adores you and He wants the best for you! Complaining about it won’t change a thing and, aren’t you ready for a positive change today?

Remember:  You can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.

Grace and Peace!