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!)

 

Day 3–NCC2016

img_1583So, how’s it going with our challenge? Are we having fun yet?! Ha! Oh, I do hope you are. I know  I am! I love hearing from so many people with their questions and their wonderful stories about their adventures with this challenge to change the world!

20161102_074924Those who are new to NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER need to know a little history about how it came to be. While the blog posts are mine, the idea for the challenge was an entirely collaborative effort! (Reminder: LIFE is a collaborative effort and the BEST ones have LOTS of collaborators!)

img_1146I’m living proof of that–and so is this challenge. In October of 2015, a group of amazing women gathered at my house for another of our “retreats”–a time of gathering in and just being US for a weekend. We’ve been doing this at least once a year since we graduated from college together. (Some of our families might laugh at that “once a year” part and, in truth, it was our 2nd retreat of the year! LOL)

On this occasion, however, the conversation had turned to things we had done to observe Lent. One of our group (Hey,Jody!) had actually given up complaining during one of her observances. She talked about how challenging that had been for her–and she is a VERY positive person! It intrigued all of us. Someone else in the room–I’m not sure who, but bless you!–mentioned something about that being a great challenge as we entered the month of November and the season of Thanksgiving. Everyone agreed (some of us with more trepidation than others). I asked if they minded if I blogged about what we were doing and just like that, the NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER challenge was born.

They shared the idea and the blog with friends and family members who shared with others and, suddenly, it was ON! We were all amazed at how this simple idea resonated with so many people. Every time I think back on that conversation, I am reminded of this quote by Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. 

She was right. These women have changed my life. They are truly people of influence wherever they go and are, collectively, one of my greatest gifts from God. I am more than grateful to call them friends. 32461

Scattered through the blog today, you see some of their collaboration on display yet again. Yesterday I asked them to share some of the things that they were using to help them be successful in this challenge. Almost immediately, I started receiving their feedback.

I’ll be sharing more of their input over the rest of the month, but for today, I thought you might like to see some of their visual reminders. They might even inspire you to set up some of your own–and share them with us here, perhaps?

Whether you send a photo or not, please share with me or with those around you what kinds of things you’re using to help you be successful at NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2016. (PLEASE?! I don’t have to share them here on the blog, if you prefer your privacy, but your participation just might be the thing to inspire someone else!)

Think about it…You might just become one of those “thoughtful, committed citizens” that helps change the world! The comment section is now OPEN (along with my text, email and Facebook feed! ~grin~)

Grace & Peace! (and NO COMPLAINTS!)

 

 

The Today Blessing

I’m cleaning out again. Still. This time it’s the table top beside my chair. Old cards, magazines, photos, pens, paints, sticky notes with prayers and verses on them, books and Bible study materials…yes, I’ve managed to amass quite the collection of treasures here.

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As I’ve sifted through all of the detritus of many yesterdays, I unearthed this poem. I’ve had it for so long that I can’t remember where I found it, so I can’t give credit where its due, but it’s too good to keep myself, so here it is, just for you in case you need reminding, too…

Living in the Present (by Helen Mallicoat, 1977)

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.

Suddenly my Teacher was speaking:

“My name is I AM.” He paused, I waited.

He continued, “When you live in the past

with its mistakes and regrets,

it is hard. I am not there.

My name is not I WAS.

When you live in the future

with its problems and fears, it is hard.

I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment,

it is not hard. I am HERE.

My name is I AM.”

Grace and Peace…and as Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”…because that’s where God is, too.

Heroic faithfulness?

Our Sunday School class is in 1 Samuel right now and the lesson this week is on David and Goliath. Almost everybody knows this ancient story. Its part of our cultural lexicon and used even by people who aren’t believers in the Word. We refer to it when we face difficult situations with impossible-looking tasks or to significant victories where the little guy comes out on top even today. As I read through the material in preparation to teach, this quote made quite the impression on me, so I thought I’d share it with you today:

“Heroes do in times of crisis what they’ve faithfully done in times of calm.” *

I read that sentence, grabbed my highlighter, and then I read it again and headed to the computer. Those words speak to me. In this world of political and social upheaval, we’ve seen policemen, firemen, and other emergency personnel run toward the danger almost every day. They go because they’re trained to do so. They’ve worked hard to be ready at a moment’s notice. They go because they care. Despite the actions of a few, the majority hold the line and perform admirably every day whether they’re caught on camera or not.

“Heroes do in times of crisis what they’ve faithfully done in times of calm.” 

You don’t have to be a public servant for these words to apply. The same can be said of those who are faithful to prepare and perform any task. Not so sure about that?

  • Ask the child with the scraped knee when the parent shows up with a hug and a band-aid.
  • Ask the patient in need of pain management or just a friendly face.
  • Ask the employer who can’t get product out the door or make a living without the people who show up on time and as scheduled…and who actually work while they’re there.
  • Ask the friend in need of a listening ear and some sound advice.
  • Ask the husband or wife trading sleep to comfort and encourage–or do the dishes and laundry!– after a difficult day.
  • Ask the school without enough qualified teachers or coaches.

We may not automatically think about people performing mundane tasks as preparing to be heroes, but perhaps we should. Heroes-in-the-making are everywhere, quietly going about the business of living faithful lives. We need to be reminded to say “THANK YOU!”–BEFORE the need is great and the response is required. We need to show appreciation for those around us who do their job and show up consistently to make our lives better.

You know what this means, right? It means you need to be reminded that someone is counting on you today, too. They may not call you heroic and they might not throw a parade, but you matter more than you think you do. Your work ethic matters. Your attitude matters. Your presence matters. Your faithfulness matters.

Yes, your faithfulness matters…and so do you.

Thank you.

Grace & Peace!

 

*Explore the Bible Leader Guide HCSB, Summer, 2016. Eric Geiger, General Editor. Lifeway, One Lifeway Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234.

 

 

 

 

Start!

Autumn Lavender Bloom

Lavender Bloom

When I get on my treadmill in the mornings, I see a small sticky note that I placed there quite some time ago which says,

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~Frances of Assisi

I put it there on purpose to remind myself that sometimes those things that we need to do won’t always be all kinds of fun or even be our end goal, but they’re still necessary so we can get to where we want to be.

So where do YOU want to be? What is it that you feel deep in your soul that you’re supposed to be doing? Have you started toward it yet?

Change isn’t always comfortable, but if we want our lives to BE different, we must choose the often unfamiliar and, sometimes, even the uncomfortable get where we need to be. Choose what is necessary today…even if it feels like it won’t really make that much difference. Not every step forward has to be a giant leap. Get in the habit of doing something toward your goal every single day and see how God can use your consistency and His faithfulness to build something wonderful into your life!

It’s up to you! You have today. What will you do with it to get closer to where you want to be?

(And now, it is time for me to get on that treadmill and then get started pulling weeds out of the back flower bed…and, yes, I know. Sometimes we just have to do what is necessary…I’m preaching to the choir…again.)

Grace & Peace!

Spending the day

What are you doing today?

Is it work or play?  Is it easy or difficult?  Dull or exciting?  Laughter or tears…or both?  Or like most of us, “All of the above?”

I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately.  My “theme” for the year has been Jim Elliot’s quote:  “Wherever you are, be all there.” and that’s a lot harder sometimes than you’d think.

I’m a multi-tasker of the very first order and making a conscious choice to focus fully on whatever is right in front of me this year still feels foreign…even after more than 7 months of trying.

I’m getting better at it.  Little by little.  Day by day of practice…and yet sometimes I have to remind myself right moment by moment.

I’ve had a  house full of company around here lately and even in the midst of it all, I had to remind myself to “be all there” (and not run to the computer and blog about it right then!) so I wouldn’t waste a single second of it:  croquet on the side yard, card games on the back porch, amazing amounts of really great food, phone calls from those who couldn’t make it, the laughter ringing in the rafters and escaping to the yard, the quiet conversations late into the night or while waiting on others to wake up, the tears of shared heartbreak and the prayers of and for loved ones.  All that preciousness that we store up until we can all be together again–I didn’t want to miss even a moment of it.  God uses all of that to sustain us during the times it is more difficult to obtain and I wanted to revel in it and soak it all up like a sponge–wasting nothing, no matter how small.  Friendship.  Family.  Family of the heart.  Days of spirit-filling sustenance from God.  All from Him.

Today, this day that some of us will take for granted, will be someone’s wedding day, someone’s best day, someone’s worst day…and someone’s last day.  Wherever you find yourself, make the choice to be all there today.  There’s a reason you’re having the day you are–and (surprise, surprise!) it may not be all about you.  Someone else may need to see how you handle it.  They may need to see God at work in you today in the easy stuff and, more likely, in the hard stuff, too.

“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

This is what I need today:  the ability to be aware of how precious each day really is and a heart of wisdom to “spend” it well…and I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one.

Prayer:  Father God, please be with those who have lost today and feel that loss so keenly, with those who are uncertain of their next move and those who charge blindly–or deliberately!–into danger, with those who will choose to laugh in spite of their difficulties today and those who need to learn how to do so.  Be with those who celebrate the wondrous thing and those who will deal with the ponderous ones.  Show us YOU in each situation and help those around us to see You at work in us.  In short, give us You today and help us share You with the world.