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–Day 20

cropped-heartWelcome to Day 20 of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! It’s the week of Thanksgiving and gathering in together to celebrate the blessings of life. To do that properly, we’ll need to turn off the narrative of the world with its relentless push for more and focus on giving thanks for what IS instead of what ISN’T.

Deciding to do that isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it, because what we end up with, then, is an opportunity for contentment. Oh, there’s no doubt that there are many things wrong in the world, but quite a few of them could be fixed if each of us started off recognizing just how blessed we are right now.

“Real contentment must come from within. You and I cannot change or control the world around us, but we can change and control the world within us.” – Warren Wiersbe

Don’t you love that quote?! The problems of the world can threaten to overwhelm and discourage us. Focusing on improving who we are by resolving to become more positive in our outlook and our communications with others is a concrete and achievable goal!  Imagine it: if we all changed the world within US by taking this small step forward, then the world AROUND us would change, as well.

Are you willing to change the world within you? Becoming a person of influence starts with influencing yourself!

Grace & 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!

 

Beauty regimen

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NKJV)

I found a graphic on Pinterest awhile back and haven’t been able to shake it. My mama had a saying: “Beauty is as beauty does.”  (I’d guess all the mamas I knew while I was growing up had that saying!) It took me quite awhile to fully appreciate the truth of it, but these days seems more on-target than ever.

In this world where we are more likely to share our lives online with more people than we actually see in person, our lines of right and wrong, our filters for kindness and civility,  and our boundaries of what is real and what is virtual have a taken quite a hit.

Freedom of speech is such a precious gift! What a shame that we’ve used it to cheapen ourselves by sharing our deepest hurts and joys along side photos of what we’re having for supper and attacking others for having the temerity to use that shared freedom of expression to disagree with our political opinions. It makes all of those things seem equally important…and they are most definitely not.

Earlier this month, those of us in the United States celebrated our nation’s independence. The formation of a single nation created specifically to harness the power of each individual’s right to think for themselves and express those thoughts and beliefs without fear of reprisal:  That’s an anomaly in this world…and an important one. Using the very freedom of expression granted to us by the first amendment of our Constitution to denigrate others with opposing viewpoints instead of using that power to educate, encourage, or entice them to see the merits of your own seems to indicate a lack of character–and that is far more damaging to our society than we can afford. Why wound and belittle when you could bridge gaps and find common ground for a common good? Why not become a person of influence for unity rather than one who divides and derides? We don’t have to agree on everything to cooperate on a lot of things!

I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. In fact, there are days I relish it. I’ve even been known to argue the side of the opposition just for the fun of it. The ability to see both sides of an issue helps me make better choices and it helps me to pray more specifically as I seek to do what God wants me to do.

More than ever I find that He asks me to speak words of encouragement. He asks me to look for the positive. Sometimes, He just asks me to be silent and extend grace…and grace is never easy…except when you’ve found that you’ve needed so much of it yourself.

I love the black and white of an issue and I love “being right” (who doesn’t?!) and I love that we have been gifted with both words and the ability to share our thoughts. This is not about being silent when we need to defend. I wonder about this though…and I think I want to be beautiful.

796aec037c435cd512e9b67547a76b1e

Words in the window

IMG_20170518_065834453This is my view today as I chop veggies to go in the freezer. There’s a scent of gardenia wafting over the freshness of the zucchini, squash, and onions simmering on the stove and the house is quiet. I’m cleaning out the fridge and preparing for a delicious casserole one of these days when I’m pressed for time and still in need of sustenance.

My cat watches my every move from his pod on top of the washer in the laundry room. It’s peaceful here today.

I had to take my glasses off as I transferred the steaming concoction to a strainer, but it didn’t stop me from reading the words on the ornament left on the window sill since Christmas, “Be cheerful and pass it on!”

I’m as struck by these words as I was the first time I saw them. Such a simple message. I originally bought the ornament for someone who has trouble being cheerful. (Subtle as a hammer, I know. grin) When I got it home, however, I noticed the ornament had a crack running through it. That’s not exactly what you look for in a gift, is it? A broken reminder to do something that’s often difficult? It just didn’t seem like a good idea to pass it along…or to throw it away. The “obvious” alternative was to place it atop a small silver cup on the window sill as a reminder to myself.

I’m convinced that’s what God wanted all along. The makers of this ornament meant for it to be perfect and to hang on a tree for a few days or so once a year. In the midst of all the other decorations of the Christmas season, this message might have gone unnoticed. But placed as it is on my window sill? Each day I see these words reminding me to spread the cheer that comes as a result of His coming among us to bring us hope and salvation. Each day I am reminded that things don’t have to be perfect for me to be cheerful and that I can change the world in simple ways just by being willing to be used in whatever way and in whatever place He chooses to put me.

Sounds like the words in the window were meant for me…and maybe, you, too. What will you do today to be a person of influence right where you are?

BE CHEERFUL and pass it on.

Grace and Peace!

 

 

Passing

I got a text the other day from a friend requesting prayer. That’s not unusual. She and another friend were going to be doing prison ministry that evening and she was requesting prayer that they would be able to share God with those inside…and not be offensive in the process. I know. THAT part was unusual. I also know that several eyebrows just rose—and for different reasons.

Some of them rose because in this day and age who worries about offending people who are already in prison? Some of them rose because they already know that sharing the Gospel…the Good News…the information that we’ve all been born into sin and are in desperate need of a Savior is offensive to many. Some of them rose because the very idea of trying not to offend seems to be a new one.

We’ve all watched for a while now as our society has gotten more and more “truthful” and less and less loving. I put those quotation marks around the word truthful because what passes for truth these days is often a lot more personal opinion and political outrage than actual truth. Unfortunately, that outrage is happening on all sides of almost every argument. Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, or Independent. Religious right, left, or repulsed (of any faith). World view, political leaning, religious affiliation all seem to have at least one thing in common right now: the determination to scream the loudest and use the most offensive way possible of grabbing the attention…because that’s really what they’re after: the attention.

Father God, help us! We’ve made an art form of being offended and raise in triumph our abilities to offend.

Word to the wise: offended people rarely listen. Even more rarely do they look for ANY good in those who are offending them. Rarer still are those who are converted and then espouse any expressed belief which has covered itself in words and deeds that offensively take them far from their comfort zone or that shout them down without listening or caring about anything but being heard.

There are such people. We know this because of Scripture. The New Testament is largely comprised of the writings of one such man, Paul. Seen any of those people lately? Probably not. Pauls are the exception, not the rule.

The Apostle Paul went from being a rising star in the religious elite, full of his education and even more full of indignation—full of himself! —to being one of the most powerfully erudite servants of God–and others!–ever to be on record. What caused this drastic change? The only thing that can change anyone: a personal encounter with the living God. Yes, Pauls in our day and age are rare…but they don’t have to be!

No matter what ideology you espouse today, know this:  what passes for “right” in our world today bears little resemblance to actual righteousness. That only comes from God. He is the true standard for both righteousness and for love. Without His help, our world is doomed to the cacophony of the loudest offended spirit and the anger that inevitably follows which leads us into violence and creates a circle of offense that gets passed along in the name of all things holy. Riots, looting, and leaving a trail of trash for others to pick up once you’ve marched to express yourself won’t draw others to your cause or help them think your sense of entitlement worthy of their efforts on your behalf. Neither will using Scripture as a battering ram instead of a loving invitation to relationship with the only One who actually can make a difference. Think about that before you raise your voice, write that Facebook post, share that joke or use words designed to hurt others in the name of teaching them your truth, or call them names and cast aspersions at those who may have beat you to the punch…all in the name of doing good. If it didn’t work ON you, then why would it work FOR you?! It all reminds me of this verse Paul wrote to Timothy:  “…having a form of godliness but denying its power.”  2 Timothy 3:5 (NKJV) It isn’t really good at all…it’s just passing itself off as good.

No, what passes for truth and righteousness these days in the public arena is just that. Passing. It isn’t the real thing and it isn’t going to last. Only God’s word will last and it is absolutely full of admonitions to do life differently than what we’re seeing today. Like it or not, we are temporary. He is eternal and so it only makes sense to follow the path of the One whose ways will outlast us all.

 

cropped-heart
”Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.”

Jude 24-25

 

Grace and Peace!

Early Spring

Our nation has seemed to descend into a vitriolic winter of the soul over the past few months that has far surpassed any depth I had previously thought possible. The loss of civility even between friends over differences in politics, the outright refusal to acknowledge that it is the right to have our differences that make this nation a place of desired residence for so many, and the apparent lack of willingness to remember that even those who hold polar opposite views can STILL both have  our country’s best interest at heart…well, these things are disturbing to me on many levels. Part of me has wondered if God wasn’t witholding a natural winter from us because we were already treating each other so coldly.

Even in the absence of a “proper” winter I am inordinately cheered by the signs of this early spring. I pray the signs of nature’s new growth will also stimulate a resurgence of kindness, a putting away of offended and offensive spirits, breathe into us a new determination to move forward despite the obstacles, and spur a willingness to find common ground and work from there in an effort to heal the vast breaches we’ve worked so hard to create.

img_20170224_102311867As I wander through my yard viewing the signs of an early spring, I pray for my nation. I pray for her leaders in both parties and ask God to grant them wisdom. I pray for healing and I pray for an abundance of obstinate seeds of hope and reconciliation to survive in all of us. We could all use an early Spring.