Unintended Benefits

My friend Jody (hey, 3!) inadvertently sent me on a mission as she shared about participating in an online Bible study through her church. I’ve been out of the “official” Bible study loop over the past several months as we’ve worked to settle our loved one into her placement and routines. In the process of that, my own routines have quite gone out their own window and, as anyone who is part of a care-giving team for a loved one can tell you, concentration abilities can sometimes take quite the hit.

Mine did, anyway. I understood the why, but I haven’t liked the process of trying to regain ground that had always felt so ingrained as to be considered permanent. Stepping away from leading and then from even doing my own in-depth study was quite an adjustment. (So was regaining ground on some of my neglected chore list!) I reveled in the Psalms after my daily walks and God allowed David’s writings of his own struggles to help sooth my own. Over and over I read them. They are familiar ground to me, so I chose to read them in a “different” translation (ESV–English Standard Version) so I wouldn’t gloss over the meanings on my way through them. That helped. I saw things I’ve never noticed before and these new-old words were a balm and a blessing, so when Jody shared her new challenge, I jumped on board immediately.

Her online group is using a book by Susan Goodwin, Jennifer Peterson, and Molly Sawyer (all new to me), entitled EVERY WORD A Reader’s 90-day Guide to the Bible. It’s short and just exactly what the title implies:  a guide to reading the Bible through in 90 days. I’ve read through the Scriptures many times, but never really put a defined timeline on it. Even so, the 90-day thing sounded just like what I needed:  an opportunity to dive into the Word with some concentration and discipline. This isn’t intended to be a “deep” dive. It’s supposed to be more of an overview reading and the authors have included some general questions/commentary/points of interest for the reader to consider along the way. Ninety days through the Bible translates into about 10-15 chapters a day, so far, and although I generally read pretty quickly, I am finding that I’m deliberately pacing myself to match their targets instead of just racing through as I had previously thought about doing.

(Annnnnnddddd…Falling behind makes for a tough catch-up process. Ask me how I know and insert an eye-roll here!)

This journey through the Bible follows a chronological reading schedule instead of the more traditional route, so that change has been intriguing to me, as well. I already knew that Job and Abraham were likely contemporaries, but reading Job right after Genesis made me truly connect some of their cultural dots in a new way. Perhaps that is also due to my decision to read through these 90-days in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)-translation instead of my trusty NKJV with decades of notes in the margins, dates out beside SO many of the verses, and sticky notes protruding from many pages to mark topics and notes along the way.

I’m a “word nerd” and that means I’ve always loved the lyrical nature of the King James English. I typically use the New King James because that translation retains the lyrical poetry without the formal Thees and Thous for readability. I’ve used my burgundy leather-bound copy of that translation for years, so I wasn’t quite sure I would really enjoy a more contemporary language styling for these ancient Words. I wanted a fresh start for this project, however, so I picked up my purple-bound (I love purple!) CSB translation which I have used for additional clarification during previous studies. The CSB remains faithful to original text and translates in a word-for word and thought-for-thought manner to give us a wonderful readability of the truth within the covers. Win-win! (Did I mention that this one is purple?! Love it!!)

I expected to use this challenge as a way to marshall my now-all-too-often-scrambled thought processes and help me regain some stability of study habits. I hoped to be alert to learning along the way, of course, but the 90-day pace doesn’t allow for in-depth study right now, and that seemed to be all I could handle. That’s really different for me, but the logical side of my brain says I have to start somewhere to regain the ground, so this was my shot. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was something I should have thought of from the beginning: the Word of God is powerful and healing and interesting and entertaining and instructive…and just reading through it in this measured pace has sparked my interest in finding out more/digging deeper to the point that I’ve had to actually force myself not to stop and dig deeper along the way…every few minutes or so! (grin) The “new” language for these ancient truths has made me fall in love with the Words all over again and I’ve found myself caught up in the drama and the history of it all. (Even reading through Leviticus wasn’t a chore this time!)

Along the way, I’ve also been highly entertained by the way the more contemporary phrasing has caught my attention and made me laugh and see imagery I know that I’ve missed in previous readings. I’ve started a small sticky-note reminder of some of my favorites. I’ll close with the two that made me start the list:

“If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom.”  Job 13:5 (CSB)

and

“…All fat belongs to the Lord.”  Leviticus 3:16b (CSB)

I’ve got to tell you, those two gems–and the wisdom and the hilarity that ensued in my mind as I read those words–are worth the entire project! I needed that truth and humor combination. Maybe you did, too.

Spend some time in the Word today to deliberately draw closer to the One Who made you and loves you most. I think you’ll learn more than you intend…and God has way of giving us gifts that we didn’t even know we needed as we choose to be obedient.

Grace and Peace…and laughter with God!

 

NCN 2019–Day 12

Good morning! Today’s post will be a quick one. I know we’ve all got things to do with a positive attitude! (grin)

As I’ve looked through an untold number of quotes and writings about complaining, attitude, and personalities for this year’s project, I keep returning to one of my all-time favorites by Chuck Swindoll. I know that I’ve shared it before, but every time I do so I usually have at least one or two people who tell me that they’ve never seen it before. I think EVERYONE should see this…and live it!

“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, 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 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 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.”   ~Chuck Swindoll

If these words resonate with you in any way, perhaps these will, as well:

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  ~Milton Berle

We are in charge of our attitudes…and we’re able to make our own opportunities to be positive today! It’s a choice. Will it be yours today?

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

Grace and Peace

 

 

NCN 2019–Days 8-10

Happy Friday, y’all! and WHEW! We’ve (almost) made it through the first full week of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! Whether or not we were able to do it perfectly, does not matter. The important thing is that we have been attempting to make the world where we live a better place.

And, now…a more pressing question for contemplation: What are you DOING with all of the energy that might previously have gone into complaining? Are you “fixing” the things that bother you or just ignoring them this month? Don’t wait another moment! Find ways to remove the perceived need for the complaint! Stop simply focusing on the things that cause you grief and irritation and begin to look for the solutions to the problems. Being proactive is SO much better than sitting around waiting for things to happen–and HOPING that they’ll “happen” the way you want them to go!

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.     ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Can you imagine all that we could accomplish and all the good we could do if everyone worked toward solutions instead of railing at the state of things around them?! There is ALWAYS something we can do to make things better, even when we can’t change the thing that’s really bugging us. Maya Angelou put it this way:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”  (emphasis MINE!)

Attitude can make ALL the difference! Let’s make today and this weekend a time of positive change for ourselves and those around us. Choosing not to complain can improve morale even as we search for the solutions and improved morale leads to greater involvement by those who can help you find solutions. Harness that energy and made a positive difference this weekend! Step up, step out, and LEAD the people around you toward making the world a better place to be by being an example–BECOME A PERSON OF INFLUENCE!

OR, at the very least, you can try this:

“Stay away from ‘still’ people. Still broke, still complaining, still hating, and still nowhere.” ~Anonymous

HA! (and YES!)

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

Grace and Peace!

Location, Location, Location

IMG_20190916_070458056Happy Monday! Rise and shine! OR as my mama’s family used to say, “Feet, hit the floor!” (grin) To be perfectly honest, I didn’t fully understand that last one when I was a kid. It just made me laugh. These days, I’m aware that whether or not I feel like shinin’ when I wake up, my feet still have to hit the floor for things to get accomplished and for me to make the day as good as I can make it.

“As good as we can make it,”of course, is a relative term. It doesn’t mean everything will go as desired OR as planned OR that we’ll have a party and feelings of total fulfillment at the end of the day, but today I was reminded that while we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can always choose our spiritual location. We’re always just as close to God…as we choose to be.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV)

That means even if our “location” today is a challenge for us, we are not alone. God is with us. He is ready to guide us and eager for relationship. We must make the choice to be guided and draw near if we have any hope of navigating this day in a way that honors Him and gives us the benefit of being His in ways that others can see and want to know for themselves.

Regardless of what you’re facing today, I hope you’ll choose to allow God to give you a song. Then, WHEN HE DOES, I hope you’ll choose to sing it loud and clear–and share it with those around you. While the highlighted Scripture above was a specific promise to a specific people, the principle is still the same because our God never changes. We can count on Him to be present–even when we fail to acknowledge Him!–because He has promised to never leave or forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5).

I pray that your week is a rip-roaring celebration of life and that you are fully aware of just how blessed you truly are today. If that isn’t the case (and it CAN be, regardless of whatever you’re facing!), I pray that you will take a moment and make the conscious choice to ask for God to help you see your circumstances through His eyes…and that you’ll be aware that His eyes are looking at you with love. You (yes, YOU!) matter to God and, more than you realize, you and your response to your circumstances matter to the people around you. 

“God Leads His Dear Children Along”  (lyrics by George A. Young, published 1903)

1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Refrain: (and THIS is what I’ve been singing this morning)
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

3. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.

Location, location, location. Where do you find yourself today?

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2018–Day 6

Good Morning! It’s barely 5 AM and I’ve been up for quite a bit already today–many things running through my head and lots to do, so this post will be a short one today. Among the many responses I’ve received to NCN this year, one of my favorites is a quote sent to our Line by our #12 (hey, Marsha!), as an encouragement for those who were struggling with the challenge this year. This quote has reminded me that complaining is never just about me…or them

“Complaining is never just horizontal. Every complaint has verticality to it. Embedded in complaining are questions of God’s wisdom His nearness, His compassion, His faithfulness, His goodness, and His love.” ~P.D. Tripp

I needed that.

There’s nothing quite like a dose of truth, is there?

Praying for each of us to have a wonderful, complaint-free day because we’re so very busy remembering the provision, the nearness, the compassion, the faithfulness, the goodness, and the love of our great God. Getting to know the truth of Who He is makes us more aware of how very blessed we are…and leaves us little room for complaint.

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21–Can you say it from memory now?

Sanctuary

IMG_20170718_161203627_HDROur friend the Barred Owl was back and hunting early today. We missed him yesterday, but had a hawk come to visit us twice in his stead. He landed, as he’s come to do, facing the house and peering our way as if looking for us in the windows. I stepped out on the back porch to take this shot and tell him how handsome he looked and how glad we were to see him back. He seemed to know both of those things already as he remained in place and posed.
Earlier this morning, we had a pale orange cat take up temporary residence under a table near the swing out in the back yard for a few hours…just sitting at ease and appearing to rest while being alert and guarding us from invading squirrels.
“Worshipers never leave church…we carry our sanctuary with us wherever we go.” ~Aiden Wilson Tozer
 Grace and Peace!

Day 22–NCN2016

As I’ve prepared to write the blog posts this month, I’ve read research about how complaining affects our brains and thought patterns, our health, the people around us, and a LOT of people’s opinions about it. There are quotes and videos, books and memes all over the internet. Resources are seemingly endless on this subject because, well, sometimes the complaints apparently seem so, as well.

Most of the recommendations in these resources, however, can be adequately summed up in just a few words, like: “Don’t do it!”  and “Stop!”  and “This is not a healthy life choice!” There are all kinds of different reasons behind each article, book, or quote, but this one little quote seemed to sum it up best for me:

“The hammer never complains of the noise.”  ~Marty Rubin

I love that! In fact, I stopped looking for quotes after I saw that one. It is, to me, the epitome of what this challenge is all about. If we are to really make a difference with this challenge, we’ll need to do more than just watch what we say.

We need to become agents of change and people of action. See something wrong? Make it right. Don’t like the way it’s done? Speak up with a solution or, at the very least, open the door for a conversation about how to improve it!

We all have our pet peeves. One of mine is negativity/ingratitude. One of my husband’s is to complain without posing a solution. To pose a solution, you have to look past the irritation and think for yourself instead of about yourself. It means you become the hammer.

Those who are busy working on it rarely have time to complain about it.

 

Which one are you: the hammer or the noise?img_1583

Think about that as we go through these last few days of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER. Make your time in this challenge count for more than one month out of the year. Become a person of influence! Change the world where you live…for the better…and for all of us.

Grace and Peace! (and NO COMPLAINTS!)