NCN 2019–Day 4

Happy Monday, y’all! Welcome to our first full week of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2019! I hope your weekend was a blessing…or at least “quieter” than you expected. I read an article the other day that talked about how loud society has become. It mentioned that between the news, commercials desperately hawking goods (that we don’t really need), and our complaints about those things on social media our world has gotten louder–and not necessarily in a good way. While all of those things don’t have to make actual noise, they can fill our minds and spirits with dissonance and disquiet–making it more difficult to hear the good news that is most surely present, as well!

NCN 2019 is ALL about trying to change that! Exercising our wills (and our “won’ts and wants,” as well!!) to move us individually toward a quieter and more peaceful spirit can actually help our society move in a more positive direction. Remember, our secondary theme this year, is PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.

That theme in an encouragement to me all by itself! It’s a reminder that I can take my time and do something well and incrementally instead of rushing and stressing myself out in order to present a perfect (impossible!) product to those around me. Speaking of “them”…we are most often surrounded by people who love us and are important to us. Isn’t THAT a motivator to make life better and, hopefully, more harmonious? What if we looked at this challenge as a way to bless THEM in addition to changing US?

Excuses are only for those people who are unwilling to find the solution, who find greater solace in the loudness of their complaints rather than in the action they are taking to implement the actions that carry them steadily forward to their achievement.     ~Bryon Pulsifer

Well, ouch.

Unfortunately, I have resembled that remark at times. While I was raised to see the positive side of things, I’ve had a few people in my life who tended toward the negative side of things. I love them! They are marvelous people…and I find that my heart sometimes hurts after I’ve been with them for awhile. I also find that I need a little space after we’ve been together to “shake it off”–even when I’ve been encouraging them to become more positive.

That makes me even more determined to be grateful, to be cheerful, to look for–and CREATE!–a more positive outlook. IF we’re going to do the job that God put us here to do, we need to become people of influence.

I want that influence to be a POSITIVE one! How about you?

What attitude will you CHOOSE today to become a person of influence right where you are? Seems like NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2019 is right on time…and right on target!

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

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2018–Day 26

We all have our days and I guess ours might have caught up with us this weekend. Although we’ve been more careful about adding to our schedule and trying to stay rested this year–and especially this show season!–the husband and I were on the verge of a crash Saturday night. We were beyond tired all of a sudden, so we had a mini-conversation and decided we would just stay home on Sunday instead of going to church. We would sleep in, set no alarms, and take the day to rest and recover.

IMG_20180418_104244495_HDRExcept…it was only the second Sunday in a row since September that we had been free and without a show. I’ve missed being in church. It’s too easy to get out of the habit of going and I had actually asked a few prayer partners to pray about that specifically for us: that we wouldn’t be drawn away and lose our desire for the fellowship. As I got ready for bed, I looked at the alarm and still chose not to set it. Instead, I just told God, “If I need to be there, wake me up in time to get ready.”

Boy, did He ever. 4:35 AM. Wide awake. Nope, rolling over wasn’t going to help. I just got on up and started doing little quiet chores in areas away from the sleeping husband and the cat who thinks he must be with me…loudly…as much as possible. I laughed about it to myself as I straightened the guest rooms and cleaned bathrooms: Apparently, I really needed to be in church…and, when my husband walked into the living room about 6 AM, I figured that he needed to be there, as well…but I didn’t say anything.

I finished preparing a few “happies” that needed to be delivered that morning, we fixed breakfast and finished watching the game that almost never ended. (LSU v Texas A&M–SEVEN overtimes?!! I am SO grateful for the DVR that allows me to sleep and watch football when my eyes can stay open!) I got up and started getting ready. It wasn’t long before my husband was preparing to go, as well. Sometimes, the encouragement of seeing someone else do something you know you should do is enough to help you push through and do it, too.

We arrived without incident and I set out to deliver my happies. Before I could leave the sanctuary, however, I spotted a friend who has been battling cancer for quite awhile. She was there despite the pain etched in her face. I stopped to hold her hand and pray. She is amazing. Leaving the sanctuary, I saw her husband, who is equally amazing. He had stopped to take a break, having gone as far as he could in that moment. I went over to tell him that we loved him and that we were continuing to pray for him, as well. He never looked up; he just said, “Dear Lord, don’t ever let’em stop.” I moved on before I burst into tears on the spot, praying for them as I went.

I also had to pray–for myself–and ask forgiveness for my attitude. Though no words of complaint had left my lips, my attitude was not a positive one…because I was tired. Here were my friends, battling pain, significant health concerns, and weary beyond belief from their long battles, making their way in to worship. I was humbled. I was chastened. I was encouraged. I had already received my first sermon and the services hadn’t even begun. I was reminded, for the second time that day, that sometimes, the encouragement of seeing someone else do something you know you should do is enough to help you push through and do it, too.

I’m sharing this today, at the beginning of this week–this MONDAY after a long holiday weekend when going back to our schedules feels harder than we remembered–as a reminder to all of us:  complaint isn’t always verbal. Choosing to do what we know we should and doing it with a good attitude helps more than just us. Be a good example to those around you. Honestly, when I first typed that, it came out as “be a GOD example”–and that’s not bad advice, either, since that is what those of us who love God and are called to bear His name are supposed to do anyway, right?! Because, sometimes, the encouragement of seeing someone else do something you know you should do is enough to help you push through and do it, too.

Help those around you today by choosing a good attitude along with your choice not to complain. You never know who needs the encouragement to keep doing the same.

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!!

(Side note: no, that’s not a picture of my church, but one of my favorite small chapels in the world. This one is at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. If you’ve never gone down to see the Gardens, you need to do yourself a favor and plan yourself a trip. If you happen to be there on a Sunday afternoon, you can sit in the chapel–or outside and enjoy the beauty there!–and hear hymns played on their organ as the music swells out into nature and it feels like the flowers are joining in the worship. Really. You should go sometime!–and save me a seat.)

 

 

NCN 2017–Day 30

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Today is the last “official” day of our NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER challenge, but it doesn’t have to be the end of this practice in your life. I hope that you’ve had some fun and learned a little more about yourself… like, maybe, that you’re stronger than the circumstances that surround you and that choosing to be positive is something that can make you happier…and even healthier. I hope it helps you to look for the good in life. I hope it makes you look for GOD in life!

I’m a ginkgo fan. I look for these gorgeous fan-shaped leaves wherever I go. They remind me of the many wonderful friendships I made in college at Mississippi University for Women. Some of the most important relationships I have in this life are from there. I even planted a tiny little ginkgo here in the yard the first year we lived here as a reminder of those friendships.

Relationships are important. They can influence us in all kinds of ways. The best ones happen when you find “your people” in life. I found many of mine years ago on a beautiful campus under the cover of ancient ginkgo trees. These women have pushed me and challenged me, comforted and cared for me. They insist on the best for me and aren’t hesitant to say when they know best or expect differently. I like that. I depend on it. I depend on them and their prayers. They’re the reason for this challenge, so…in a way…they’ve become your friends, too.

They make the world more beautiful. They’ve certainly made this past month more bearable and, like some of us, they’re ready for their next challenge. I don’t know what that will be, but I’m absolutely sure that they’ll succeed with that, as well. These women are kind and funny and generous and they push me to know God more deeply. Mere words are enough to say how much I love them, but I think they know.

Yesterday, our friend Audrey (hey, 9!) shared with us how she’s made it through this month. When asked how things are going, her reply has become, “I can’t complain!” It’s both a reminder and a declaration…and I think I’ll make it mine.

Maybe you should, too.

Grace and Peace!–And NO Complaints!

 

 

 

 

On those days when nothing goes right…

On the days when nothing goes right…

You still get to choose your response, be it physical, verbal or silent.
You still get to choose your words.
You still get to decide which voices to listen to.
You still get to choose how your voice will be used.
You still get to decide IF your voice should be used.
You still get to vent to trusted friends and loved ones–and you can choose to accept their comfort.
You still get to choose, to act responsibly, to take time out to be healthy and make good choices for yourself, SONY DSCand most importantly, to praise God ANYWAY!

See! You have more control than you thought. You just have to choose. I was reminded of that today, so I thought I ought to share.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.”
Isaiah 30: 20-21

Away with friends…

Right now I’m away with friends. This is the “mumble-something-th” year” we’ve done this since our college graduation from our beloved Mississippi University for Women.

There are just seven of us on the retreat this time due to jobs/moving and family health concerns. We miss those who aren’t here, but we are valiantly “retreating” just the same. (…and hoping they can come to one in the fall…if we can manage another quick one…in the fall? We’ll talk…)

The food is abundant. The laughter near constant. The joy of being together deeper than we’ll ever be able to vocalize or write. All these years together mean there are few silences and even fewer topics off limits (are there limits?) in our fellowship. We’re here to see, to shower with love, to lift up and empower.  We’re here to be reminded of who we REALLY are in a world where we each wear many hats…and, though we’re grateful for each hat, when we’re together, the hats come off and years fade…and we are just US.

Us-ness in a world seemingly committed to uniformed individuality. Celebrating our uniqueness and also our chosen togetherness is a marvelous gift we give to each other. No pressure to conform, but encouraged to be who we were created to be by the One Who loves us best…the One who has a way with friends who are away with friends.

Grace and Peace!

God and His “new things”

cropped-heart“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

I did something different this morning. I made a big breakfast and sent my husband off to work. Y’all, that is cause for serious celebration around here! (grin) It may not sound like a reason to party for most of you, but I haven’t done that in 192 days. For those of you who are counting, that’s over 6 months–over half a year!! For those of you who are really counting, that says that on Day 2 of our NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, my husband lost his job…and that God can have a really odd sense of humor when He decides to see if you’re serious about such a thing.

It was a shock to us. Nothing could have prepared us for the sudden and drastic change in circumstances. A business decision–nothing personal, but with no warning–suddenly severed a situation that we had come to count on for over 16 years. I guess God had decided to remind us that all we can really depend on in this world is HIM…and He’s taken His time and done that in spades.

As we’ve walked through the past few months we’ve discovered (or maybe RE-discovered!) some things about our God and about ourselves. I’ve been quiet here about them as they were happening because some things are just holy in the moment and I didn’t feel like they were really mine to share yet. Some of those things are still so intensely personal that I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to tell them (and certainly not without tears!), but here are just a few of the highlights:

  • God loves us far more than we can ever imagine. Sometimes He loves us enough to send us through things we’d rather not go through in order to show us that His love is constant, without reservation, and that He has no limits to the lengths He will go to prove that–as if the cross hadn’t already proven it!
  • God is indeed Jehovah Jireh—my Provider–and YOURS! He is MORE than ENOUGH no matter what circumstances He chooses for us because He orchestrates every single day so that we can see Him in action if we will but open our eyes.
  • He is charge and He knows EXACTLY what we need…even (especially?!) when it seems like a hard thing and doesn’t make a lot of sense to us on the surface. He is more than able to meet every single need we will ever face and we can never predict how our answers will come because our God is without limits and unfathomable in His ability to surprise and delight us with when we seek HIS answers, HIS timing, and HIS glory.
  • God’s people are AMAZING!! In our initial shock and throughout our “I don’t even know what to call it because it was hard and such a blessing all at the same time–thing!!” people we didn’t even know very well went to their knees on our behalf and showered us with encouragement, while those who know us best were unbelievable in their support for us.
  • We are still a great team. We’ve always known it (HA!), but it’s still nice to see our marriage work the way it is supposed to and we are grateful for the opportunity to spend over half a year together—even as unexpected as that opportunity was for us! We made the most of it and actually had a lot of fun in the process.
  • After over 23 years of marriage, we still LIKE each other and we know how to laugh together!
  • We were, are, and will always be “the most blessed people we know” because we CHOOSE to be. Circumstances cannot affect that. We belong to God and He is the Source of all blessing, so there’s that.

There will be more to share, but for today, did you read that verse at the top? Everybody likes “a new thing.” It’s really great to be in on the new thing, but sometimes we forget that one of the most exciting things can be to actually see God make a way in wilderness and rivers in the desert…and to see those things happen, you have BE in the wilderness and in the desert. If that’s where you are today, please don’t give in to discouragement. PLEASE be open to the new thing God has planned for you and know that I can and WILL pray with you for eyes to see the new things getting ready to spring up in the midst of your hard thing.

And now, there’s just one more thing to say: “GO, GOD!!!”

Lap time…

“What are you going to do this week to increase your abiding in Christ?”

My friend Lynn asked us that question near the end of our Bible study last Tuesday focused on John 15:1-8, with emphasis on verse 5, which says,

““I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (NKJV)

She asked us to write our answers down on a 3×5 card since writing down your goals is supposed to help you follow through. And it would…if you actually did what you wrote down…or wrote down what you intended to do. I didn’t do either of those things. Well, not really.

I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but it sounded a bit strange in my head and even more so as I tried to write it on paper, so I just wrote down that I planned to work on memorizing Scripture. I DO plan to do that, so I wasn’t missing the mark entirely.

What I really wanted to write down was “lap time”…but I didn’t know if she was going to take those cards up and, if she did, then that wasn’t going to tell her very much.

0221161718When I was little, my daddy loved to sit in the rocking chair and rock us. He wasn’t the only one who did that–because I come from a very big, loving family who got in the act with all of us–but he was pretty consistent about it. Many times, we would get a story as we rocked. That was the best thing ever. (and it might just be why I love words even today.)

Anyway, when I thought about what to write on my 3×5 card, that’s what popped into my head. Now, I’m WAY past being able to sit in a rocking chair and get a story from my earthly father, but one of the great things about having a big God is that you can never outgrow Him.

I decided that I would start re-reading the Bible “for fun.” Now, don’t get me wrong–I always love reading the Bible, but I’ve noticed lately that I’ve mainly been reading for specific study, for teaching prep, or to “do” a devotional activity. It’s been awhile since I just sat down and read the Bible because it was fun to read the story…and this is, trust me, THE Story.

We’re studying Matthew in Sunday School, so I decided to start there, in the New Testament. I made up my mind that at some point each day I would simply put everything else aside, and jump right into the Word without being concerned about analyzing, picking out base language meanings, or anything else the least bit academic. I just wanted to crawl up into God’s lap and read His story…which, incidentally, tells me how much He loves me…just like my earthly daddy did when we were rocking together all that long time ago.

It’s been amazing. There’s no pressure. There’s no schedule. I’ve been reading until I found something I wanted to ponder, or give thanks for, or celebrate and then I quit. I still have to do that ‘real study’ and prep, but this story time/lap time with God, has rested my spirit and calmed me down in a way that only He knew I really needed.

I shared all of this with a friend via text the other day and, before I knew it, felt like I needed to share it here with you, as well…you know, just in case you needed to crawl up in His lap this week, too. It will help you to rest, to remain, to abide and all those other good things that you’re in need of…and there’s plenty of room up here in the lap, because He’s a great big God and He loves you–way bigger than you can ever imagine…at least until you read His story and find your place in it.

Praying Grace & Peace…and some lap time for all of us!