Corresponding

This pandemic has a lot of us in a muddle. Our plans and schedules–and many of our goals!–for 2020 have, so far, gone right out the window.

It’s difficult to plan and plant for growth when you’re still reeling from the latest blows of hard winds and whim. That’s what a lot of this feels like to me. Wind and whim. Questions abound about whether or not the wind is gale force and whether or not the responses to it are whims or solutions that will actually provide protection. I’ve had more than a few conversations about simple life tasks that we used to take for granted–like breathing without a mask!–and questioned if they’re an overreaction or an underreaction to what we’ve been told. It’s all more than a bit surreal and a-rhythmic…and not at all comforting.

Sometimes my own comfort levels with timing and personal rhythm blinds me to beautiful fact that God made us individuals and not cloned automatons. Oh, I am well aware of the fact–all the while often failing to celebrate the beauty of it! We are gloriously “messy” in our differences…and yet…those same glorious differences can frustrate the daylights out of me at times when I’m certain my way makes the most sense and would be ever-so-much more efficient.

I tend to power through tasks so I can be available to focus on relationships. “They” may actually use the tasks as a vehicle to focus on building relationships. Both approaches get things done and value relationships. Neither one is right or wrong. They’re just different…and different often bothers us more than we want to admit. I hope the differences also teach us something valuable for the day when we’re finally able to return to more and larger social gatherings.

I found myself contemplating these things as I read Genesis 2:18 this morning.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” (CSB)

More than just the story of God creating humanity, it is a blueprint for relationships. Even a deeply introverted person like me can see that! We need helpers to get the work done. We need responders to build relationships. It helps us be most effective for both tasks and relationships when we are CO-responders to those around us. Total isolation can kill the work load and the spirit.

I got stuck in that word “corresponding” and I started thinking about our recent times of being confined together–and separately. In order for there to be a need for response, someone must step up and take an action, make a decision, or simply bring up a topic for discussion. Leadership means using wisdom as we choose what areas need change and which ones should be allowed to remain in place.

I see the value of a unified approach to our current circumstances and yet remain uneasy about “herd mentality” thinking.  What works in one household (or marriage, or friendship, or nation!) may not be as wise in another. Once again, our differences make us messy, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Here’s hoping we all find our rhythm soon…or, at the very least, learn to find joy in our a-rhythmic dances together.

What differences are you finding, celebrating, and learning from in this season of life? How are you co-responding to make life better for those around you? What tasks are you able to lay aside for the moment and which ones have helped preserve your relationships and make life better for you during this time of social distancing? Sharing is caring! (grin) Your solutions may lighten the load for someone else!

Grace and peace!

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 25

tablescape1Happy Monday, everybody! I hope your weekend was a great one! We managed to get several things knocked off the to-do list…like…going to the eye doctor and finding out that we’re getting old..er…well, at least our eyes are! (LOL!) As we searched though all the frames in the universe for our next glasses–let me pause right here and give God praise for the patience and entertainment factor from our assistant in this venture! She was fantastic!–we realized that we’re in that “awkward stage” between not wanting to look too old OR look like we’re trying too hard NOT to be too old! HA! It was actually quite a bit of fun choosing new frames and trying on all kinds of new personas just by changing out this tiny thing about our lives.

It’s made me think: What other tiny things can we change that will make a difference in our lives. Hmmmm…MAYBE we could extend NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER into DON’T COMPLAIN DECEMBER? (did I really just hear a collective groan?! seriously?!…or was that just me? oops!) No, I’m not serious and, yet, yes! I am. While we won’t continue the official challenge, I am going to ask you to seriously evaluate “what looks better on you” as a new month approaches. Have you noticed a positive change from this challenge? Has it made an impact in your home or work place? What if you decided to keep it up…and made it a lifestyle?

Many people I know have chosen to make a list of blessing this month instead of trying not to complain. I suspect that both challenges have resulted in a more positive outlook and, hopefully, a permanent thought process shift. Why give up either of those challenges as we keep moving forward? Let’s end 2019 and begin 2020 on the high note of choosing to become better people and inviting others to join us in the adventure! Let’s find new ways to work the wonder of the Savior’s birth into our upcoming year instead of just focusing on it for the month of December! I could use some extra wonder in my life! How about you?

What kinds of lessons learned will you take with you into this next month and beyond? How will you choose to celebrate the season of God’s greatest gift? Wouldn’t an attitude of gratitude STILL be appropriate as we enter the coming new year? What if you chose to permanently be a person of positive influence in the world?

As we gather together to give “official” thanks later this week, let’s stay focused on all we truly have to consider as blessings. Stay positive, stay aware of your blessings, and keep on finding ways to “not complain” as you celebrate this last official week of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER!

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

Grace and Peace!

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 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!

 

NCN 2019–Day 14

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”  ~Abraham Lincoln

I read this quote the other day and I’ve thought about it several times since then. Naturally, I trust the source. I mean, after all…it IS the internet. (grin)

Whether or not this is an actual quote by Abraham Lincoln, the intent behind it is still powerful. It illustrates a strength of character that we could ALL use when we run up against a situation or someone we “don’t like.” We need to look beyond the surface of what is annoying and find out the WHY of things.

THAT knowledge can help us decide whether a situation actually REQUIRES “fixing” or is a simple adjustment (on our part, perhaps?) might just be the ticket to making it work or helping us work together in greater harmony. Life is too short to live in continual chaos and disorder, anger and frustration, but getting some more information before we run off–either literally or at the mouth!–about it might make the situations we are frustrated with better for EVVVeryone involved.

I am a classic illustration. I can name on way less than my two whole hands the number of people that I’ve “disliked on sight” and just never got over my initial impression. That’s a good thing. It means I’ve met a lot of great people! I learned early on, however, that when someone strikes sparks off me that hard from the start…well, it means I need to look a little closer. Sometimes, those people are just _____ (fill in your own blank here!) and SOMETIMES it is because God is showing me how I appear to others.

That’s not a comfortable thought, but it is a truthful one.

With very few exceptions, I’ve found that the people who frustrate me the most are the ones with whom I have an attitude, a habit, or a character flaw in common. I see in them the things that need to change the most about ME…and it’s sometimes annoying when God points out that we need to change. (insert very heartfelt eye roll here) I am convinced that when He’s tried other unsuccessful methods of helping me improve in an area, God often sends me a visual aid. It’s not comfortable when that happens. Unfortunately, for me, He’s had to do that more than once–to the point that now, when I meet someone who is a “visual aid” for me, I immediately want to know them a little better as quickly as possible so I can find out what we have in common…and what I will need to change…in me.

If I can also help them to learn or change in the process, so much the better.

God is funny about that stuff. He rarely wastes an effort to make us better.

So…who or what do you need to get to know a little better today? Think about it, but don’t take too long. It’s always more comfortable to be the one who needs the clue than to find out you’re the one who is the visual aid! You do NOT want to be THAT person of influence! (ha! ask me how I know this!)

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

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 2019–Days 8-10

Happy Friday, y’all! and WHEW! We’ve (almost) made it through the first full week of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! Whether or not we were able to do it perfectly, does not matter. The important thing is that we have been attempting to make the world where we live a better place.

And, now…a more pressing question for contemplation: What are you DOING with all of the energy that might previously have gone into complaining? Are you “fixing” the things that bother you or just ignoring them this month? Don’t wait another moment! Find ways to remove the perceived need for the complaint! Stop simply focusing on the things that cause you grief and irritation and begin to look for the solutions to the problems. Being proactive is SO much better than sitting around waiting for things to happen–and HOPING that they’ll “happen” the way you want them to go!

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.     ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Can you imagine all that we could accomplish and all the good we could do if everyone worked toward solutions instead of railing at the state of things around them?! There is ALWAYS something we can do to make things better, even when we can’t change the thing that’s really bugging us. Maya Angelou put it this way:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”  (emphasis MINE!)

Attitude can make ALL the difference! Let’s make today and this weekend a time of positive change for ourselves and those around us. Choosing not to complain can improve morale even as we search for the solutions and improved morale leads to greater involvement by those who can help you find solutions. Harness that energy and made a positive difference this weekend! Step up, step out, and LEAD the people around you toward making the world a better place to be by being an example–BECOME A PERSON OF INFLUENCE!

OR, at the very least, you can try this:

“Stay away from ‘still’ people. Still broke, still complaining, still hating, and still nowhere.” ~Anonymous

HA! (and YES!)

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

Grace and Peace!