Undivided

I was back on the porch after my walk this morning and back in the Psalms, as well. I love reading through these familiar words that suddenly grab my attention as though they are brand new to me.

Today, God used Psalm 86:11, to do that:

“Teach me Your way, Lord, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.” (CSB)

“…Give me an undivided mind…” it says. Wow. How long has it been since you had that?! The ESV translates it this way: “…unite my heart…” and I suddenly know and remember out loud that we are the ones who divide our hearts and minds.

We call it multi-tasking and say we’re making progress, but it really isn’t progress if we lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing: walking in His truth and fearing (honoring, giving reverence to) His name.

Somewhere along the way we got that mixed up. We began to make our own “truths” and revere our own names. No wonder we find ourselves with divided hearts and minds unable to see what is real…and  too often afraid to speak it lest we annoy someone or step on toes that walk in ways contrary to what God says is good.

And sometimes, those toes are our own. Connected to minds that race when we should be resting and are still when we should be working, our divided hearts still fight for relationship with more–when GOD is the only MORE that we ever really need. 

I needed this Word today as I make plans to celebrate this season. I want my celebration to be meaningful and God-focused, praise-filled and prayer-full–AND I want it to continue throughout the upcoming year! Yes, we set aside this season to celebrate the gift of God to mankind and we decorate and we purchase and we revel… and we’re different…for a little while. I wonder what would happen if we used this time of celebration to unite our hearts and minds so that we can walk in HIS truth and be who we were actually created to be: undivided.

Hmmmm…I wonder.

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–Day 18

Honesty alert! I’ve been tearing up my house looking for something that’s important to me. For some reason–and I cannot imagine the WHY of this–I failed to put this thing back where it belonged. That’s almost unheard of for me about this particular object. Consequently, I have to report that I would give myself a failing grade on NCN over the last 12 hours or so…and some of that was sleep time! (ha!)

Ever done that? Misplaced something? Failed at something you usually do well? Well. All I can say is that I hope you are calmer and more gracious than I have felt about this. I am much more likely to be the one who finds things than the one who loses them. I typically put things back where they “live” when I’m finished–and typing this sentence actually made me laugh because it reminds me of my sister.

When I first moved to Atlanta after grad school I didn’t have very much. It was easy to find things because there wasn’t a lot of competition for space in my apartment! I found that I really liked that, so as I began to acquire things, I opted for choosing defined homes for my stuff. My sister visited and commented about how nice everything looked. Several months later, she came back, walked in, looked around, and said, “Everything is in EXACTLY the same place. This is a sickness.” HA!

That’s the way it goes, isn’t it?! What seems right to someone also seems strange to someone else! HOW WONDERFUL is that?! We are NOT all the same! No clones, No carbon copies, NO BOREDOM because there is this gorgeously and divinely planned patchwork of crazy-quilt people in the our world! GOD has made us different ON PURPOSE–and at least part of that, I am convinced, is so that we can see and get to know a little bit of HIM in every person we meet.

We get to choose how we react about that, you know? We can choose to celebrate the differences and look for ways to see them as strengths–because they ARE for the other person who lives a different life than the one life we live. We can choose to look for the good–and GOD–instead of starting to complain or rush right to frustration over all of the ways someone else does it “wrong.”

This is not a plea for political correctness. It is not a call for allowing chaos. It is most especially not a promotion of the idea that we’re all somehow nebulously “Divine” or a rejection of the God we learn about in Scripture. It IS, instead, a call for greater harmony as we look past our differences and annoyances to seek out ways we can encourage the strength and the blessing of those around us this week.

Heading into the holiday season can up the ante on schedules and attitudes as we gather with those we don’t see very often and spend more time in “confined spaces” with those we do, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We can CHOOSE our responses to our differences! Let’s make better choices this year! Who knows what our encouragement can help others achieve?

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

Grace and Peace!

 

Beholding and being held

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)

IMG_20171221_124155195My history with these verses goes WAY back. In fact, I don’t remember there ever being a time when I didn’t know about them. My parents and extended family saw to that. My teachers did, as well. In fact, years ago–in 5th grade, to be precise–one of our teachers, Mrs. Hayes, gave us the prize of a giant peppermint stick if we could recite Luke 2: 1-14…or maybe, through verse 20…I’m not exactly sure now because that was a VERY long time ago and other teachers encouraged me to learn the longer passages. To this day, I still recite it (in the King James Version, of course, because that’s how I learned it! LOL) whenever it is read or shared during the Christmas season.

I love that the angel starts off with “Fear not…” because I’d imagine suddenly seeing heavenly hosts in the middle of nowhere would have been a little scary. I also love its relevance today because “scary” things still seem to come out of nowhere even now sometimes and we still need that reminder that not all of them are bad–just different than we would have expected…or planned, if WE were in charge.

I also love that next word…”behold.” It’s the King James version of “Stop what you’re doing and look over here at what God is doing for you today!” I still need that reminder, too. Regularly, I need it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get sidetracked and miss out of what God is up to, so this reminder is just as freshly needed today as it was all that time ago. I don’t want to miss a thing that God has planned for me, but I’ve got a history of getting caught up in the details of my own life and, perhaps, missing out on the big picture of what God has planned.

I also love that the word “behold” reminds me that as I am looking for Him, I am actually being held by God. He’s at work doing things for me every day because He loves me and holds me in His more-than-capable hands. This year as I’ve been consumed with business details, He’s been bringing me people to share Him with at our shows. He’s brought us people to pray with and people to bless, people to encourage and people who just need a friendly smile…because He’s holding them, as well.

He’s held us as we’ve faced new challenges and continued to deal with older ones. He’s held us in our joy and held us as we faced the desperate need of it. Through it all, God has given us the constant reminder that He is HERE with us no matter what we face. Being held–a source of comfort and great joy–is available to ALL people because of news that came to shepherds long ago. We have a Savior and He is Christ the Lord!

As we celebrate the Season of His coming, let us also remember to share the good news that He is here to behold and we are able to be held. People need to know that. I know I do.

Grace and Peace…and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

 

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 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!!

NCN 2018–Day 22

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Today as I begin working on the traditional holiday feast, I’m remembering the days gone by of this holiday being filled with love, laughter, and more hugs than you could imagine. Playing in the woods, walks after lunch, card games and skeet shooting by the uncles, tables groaning under the weight of all it would take to feed this massive and wonderful family, cousins who were as close as siblings…it was an amazing way to grow up, y’all. I am fully cognizant of the blessing. SO much love!!

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As always, I couldn’t let the day pass without wishing you well and sharing my Grandmother Hodum’s Thanksgiving poem again. For those of you who are new, she used to recite this “piece” for us every year when I was growing up and it is one of my great blessings of life that my Cousin Suzanne had the foresight to have her write it down so that we still have it in her own scratchy handwriting! I can still hear her voice…

“Thanksgiving Dinner”

I don’t believe in eating much

of turkey, pumpkin pie and such.

It make me dream bad dreams at night

and then, besides, it’s not polite.

So I’m not going to stuff and stuff

and act like I can’t get enough.

For me a turkey leg will do

with just a slice of breast or two,

then some liver, gizzard, and a wing,

Lots of dressing, that’s the thing!

Mashed potatoes to make me grow

Squash and cabbages, they’re fine, you know,

And I must have some cranberries, too,

And layer cake–two pieces will do.

Then of pumpkin pie so yellow–

One piece, because I’m a little fellow.

With nuts and apples I shall quit

and not ask for another bit.

For it isn’t good the doctors say

To eat too much on Thanksgiving Day!

No matter where you are or who you’re with, make today a day of true Thanksgiving and enjoy the feast of life.

Grace & Peace, everyone!