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 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 20

I just got off the phone with my sister. She called before getting started on her day as a teacher. We’re working on our schedules for Thanksgiving week and trying to fit in as much family, fun, and fellowship as we will on the food-angle of this holiday! That takes some planning!

Speaking of planning, I’ve done a lot of that this year. Riding down the road on the way to and from taking care of family matters has given me PLENTY of thinking time. Topics have ranged from how to get all of the chores done before my next trip to what I want to be when/if I grow up one day. (ha! no, seriously. I’m still working on that.)

I’ve begun to think about the future instead of just managing the present chaos and reacting to the next emergency situation. It’s a progression that I’m grateful for–and one of which I need to take full advantage while I have the luxury of time. I’m talking with God about it and having conversations with my husband and others, as well. Seriously, I’m not sure where it will all lead or how fast it will arrive, but I’m still “planning.”

For today, I’m planning to get some chores knocked out, some of my people checked on, and quite a few other things, but the MOST important thing I will do today has already been planned:  I have already been talking with God and I have decided that I will choose to have a good attitude. I will choose not to complain or allow my mind to dwell negatively on the challenges still before me. I will choose to trust God to reveal in His own good time what steps I am to take next…and, in the meantime, I will keep taking steps to accomplish what He’s already put in front of me.

That’s really all any of us can do, you know? We can pray, we can plan, and then we can do. It works best in that order for doing chores, for working jobs, for blessing those around us…and for making it through the rest of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER!

Make your plans to have a great day and bless those around you by continuing not to complain today!

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

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Day 13

The weather app on my phone says the temperature here at home in Georgia was 23 degrees Fahrenheit when I woke up this morning. That. Is. Cold. We can’t fix that.

Just a little over a month ago, the high for the day here was 98 degrees Fahrenheit. That. Is. Hot. We couldn’t fix that, either.

I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but people complained about both…and some people will complain no matter what the weather is doing even though the complaints do nothing to fix it. Hmmmm…what can we learn from this?

  1. Some other things are out of our control.
  2. Complaining won’t change the truth of #1.
  3. If we wait a little bit, our SITUATIONS will change of their own accord…OR we will learn to adapt.
  4. God is still in control of ALL of it. He’s been doing this for quite some time and, this is just a guess here, but…I think we can trust Him. (wink)
  5. The weather isn’t the only thing this list applies to in our lives.

When we come up against things that we can’t control, our best efforts become aimed at adaptation. It doesn’t mean that we don’t ever discuss what we would prefer, but that action for how to mitigate our discomfort/frustration is ALWAYS more productive than talking about “how bad things are.”

The wisest man that ever lived penned these words:

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (NIV)

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Did you see that? There is a time for EVERYTHING–even that thing that bugs you. IF you can’t change it, at least acknowledge that it is most likely temporary…and get on with the adaptation process.

What in your life is in need of adaptation today? Your solution could change the world for you AND for someone else! (Oh my! There’s that becoming a person of influence again! LOL) Don’t stay stuck in the complaint department! Get busy moving forward!

Make the differences YOU can make!

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

Grace and Peace!

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–Day 11

Happy Monday and Happy Veteran’s Day!!

It’s been quite the weekend for us. We got our new-to-us vehicle checked out (a wayward deer took out our old faithful Blue a few weeks ago…may she rest in peace), we took some time off to do something that fed our artistic souls, and we watched some football that wasn’t on the DVR! Both of our teams lost and, to be perfectly honest, I did a personal suspension of NCN during the Alabama game, but other than that, it was an amazing weekend.

We did simple things that fed our spirits and we laughed and we talked and we REVELED in the luxury of it all.

I realize that may sound way too simple for some people, but our schedules have been so consumed with family, travel, health issues, and finding a new vehicle that our weekend filled with football and art was truly a treat. We kept talking about how luxurious it felt to not be on the road or in a medical setting or in the middle of a family medical crisis. It’s the simple things that bring the best blessings sometimes. We just have to stop complaining about things and start celebrating how very blessed we are!

Today, here in the United States, we celebrate our veterans. For those who have volunteered to stand in the path of what would cause us harm and shoulder the burdens of protecting a nation…the celebration ought to be more than just one day, right? They are the ones who make doing our simple schedules possible.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

– John F. Kennedy in his 1963 Thanksgiving proclamation

In their honor, I’d like to propose a challenge for the week: Let’s honor those who serve us so well by living out our appreciation! Who can YOU serve and Whose life can YOU make easier to just do the simple things this week? Go beyond NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER and choose to be a blessing to someone near you. There’s no limit to what good we can do if we try and I’d love to hear what you come up with to bless others, so feel free to let me know–even if you keep it a secret from the ones you choose to bless!

What simple thing will you choose to celebrate today and what simple thing will you choose to share so that others can be blessed, as well? Who will you serve? Let’s have some fun with this!

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

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2020–Day 6

My husband and I were reminiscing over breakfast yesterday. One year ago we were coming off a great and successful show with lots of plans for our business future. Now, we no longer have a business. By it’s very nature, life changes. We had no clue how much that would be true for us this year. You may be in the same boat with us.

Our season for this year has been a difficult one, but we’ve learned a lot. While some of it is stuff we’d really rather NOT know, we now have a pretty solid base of knowledge and  friends/resources with additional information on the subject for reaching out and helping others who also find themselves loving a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s. Our family is blessed in that we’ve continued to work together to figure out the solutions that work for us and be as supportive as possible in the process.

Along the way, we’ve had legitimate times of despair and frustration. That, too, is life. As I walked along the road and talked to God about this yesterday, I absolutely loved that as I ran through the mental list of difficult changes during the past year, I had a corresponding list of blessings that we are now seeing or that have emerged as a result of those changes.

LAMENT IS NATURAL AND NECESSARY, but COMPLAINING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A PART OF IT.

That’s right. Read that again. (Seriously. READ IT AGAIN. It’s important.)

No matter what changes have come your way since our last NCN, you get the choice about how you’ll react to them…and choosing to acknowledge the losses–even when they are deep and devastating!–without wallowing in the negativity of complaining about them IS possible.

As I type this, I have a list running through my head of friends and family who have faced devastating losses this year. Please know that I am praying for ALL of us as we hurt and as we heal! Whether your loss and lament involves changes at home, at work, at church, or within your circle of love, it is critical that you acknowledge it to heal, but equally critical that you stop complaining about it so that you can move forward.

Lament is NOT just complaining. Look it up.

Mourning the hard losses and difficult changes is natural and is a phase to move THROUGH. Complaining about them keeps them fresh and rehearsing the hurt keeps you bound to it. We need to find ways to use what we’ve learned to help and bless others. Let’s start moving forward toward healing instead of just moving in circles of complaint.

I know. This may seem like an odd post for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER. I wasn’t planning to write a post like this, but somehow it just seems necessary today. I don’t know who this one is for, but I’m asking God to bless you. I’m asking Him to be especially close to you today and I’m asking Him to start helping you move THROUGH to the other side so that you can begin to see your own list of corresponding blessings as a result of the changes you’re dealing with today.

You are loved more than you can imagine. God adores you and He wants the best for you! Complaining about it won’t change a thing and, aren’t you ready for a positive change today?

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

Grace and Peace!