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!

 

 

 

 

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NCN 2017–Day 21

Did you see what day it is?! Day 21! If you’re still working the NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER challenge with us, then you’ve made it for almost THREE WEEKS without complaining! Even if your attempts at it (like mine!) haven’t been perfect, there are only NINE more days to go! You can do this! Truly, you can!

One of the reasons I know you can keep going is because of some of the stories you’ve shared during the past 20 days of this adventure. Spoken words of support, texts with photos, and emails with kind comments–and commiserations!–have helped make this NCN a much easier challenge for me this year. I believe I am most grateful for those words of encouragement that come from some of you who have struggled, but continued onward just the same. Bless you! It is the ONLY way to make a significant change in life: KEEP GOING no matter what!

I was especially touched yesterday when my friend Jody shared the following quote with our Line who originally started the challenge:

“Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.” ~ E.M. Bounds

SONY DSCI wholeheartedly approve the quote because it is both appropriate for NCN and also because I know that Jody and her family have also suffered the recent loss of a loved one…and continued on in the challenge. That speaks to me. Hard things don’t automatically mean surrender! In fact, persevering past the thorns in life often brings a sweet reward! I also love this quote because it is a MUCH more elegant rendering of something I have said for years:

“It is impossible to worship and whine at the same time!” ~Becky

God taught me that long ago and, while it usually elicits a laugh when I say it, I’m sure it’s because the stark truth of it strikes a chord with all of us. We have to choose…every single day. Better than that, we GET to choose every single day! (Aside from that, it’s pretty neat to have had a similar line of thought/life lesson as E.M. Bounds! Actually, I’m trying to decide if that puts me in exalted company or just makes him even more of a flawed human. hmmmm…either way…)

God created us to worship Him and bring Him glory, but He wasn’t–and ISN’T!– interested in automaton praise. He wants us to choose gratitude and worship because of our deeply intimate relationship with Him, not just so He can rack up a high score of mindlessly adoring “fans” without true knowledge or personal interaction. He could have decided otherwise, but instead, He allows us to choose our own responses and our own eternity.

What will you choose today? In this week of Thanksgiving, I hope you choose to reach even deeper. I pray that you go beyond NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER and enter into worship of the One Who loves you best and deserves all of our praise. To do that, you need to first choose HIM.

If you’re at all unsure about this most important choosing, please know that nothing could be simpler. You must first acknowledge that there is a perfect God who loves you enough to send His most precious Son–Jesus–to die on a cross so that your sin can be forgiven and you can spend eternity with Him. This offer is free, but critical to where you will spend eternity. Romans 10:9 says,

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

It really is that simple. It really is that important. If you’re still unsure or have questions, I would LOVE for you to contact me and let me introduce you to my Jesus. He gives a whole new meaning to NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER and a whole new reason to enter into Thanksgiving.

BTW, whether you’re on Day 1 or Day 21, I’m glad you’re here and I can’t wait to see how God uses your decision not to complain to change us and the world around us! It really does make a difference!

Grace and Peace–and NO COMPLAINTS!

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 17

I started out looking for quotes about complaining. In case you’re interested, there are actually quite a lot of those. I thought it might be interesting to see what other people had said…and…it was, but something was missing. For all of the quotes I kept wondering what brought them to that point. Was it a passing phase or a desire to encourage? Was it a hallmark of their life or simply a way to fill a page? Motivation makes a difference when you’re trying to do something as monumental as removing negativity from your life. It ought to be about more than just an experiment, don’t you think?

I finally decided  that instead of giving you quotes from people for your weekend I would give you a simple sampling from Scripture. I KNOW what the motivation behind these words is and I KNOW the reason they were written. Because of His great love for us, God wants us to have life. That is more than being successful in material goods or in just getting through without making waves or causing disruptions. He knows that our relationship with Him is critical to our eternal destination, but He’s also profoundly interested in the relationships we have here in this temporary portion of the eternal journey. We’re called to represent the Perfect One…and that’s hard to do while we’re complaining. These words (and there are so many more!) are designed to make this life easier and better for us and help us make it a blessing for those around us so that they’ll want to get to know Him, too.

That’s something I can appreciate, something I want in on, and something I’d like to share.

So, here are a few God-quotes for your weekend. I’ll see you back here on Monday. (AND, yes, I am hoping NCN will be more than just one month out of the year for us. I’m hoping it becomes a lifestyle for all of us.)

Grace and Peace!

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning…” Philippians 2:14 

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” James 5:9

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2: 14-15

NCN 2017–Day 16

It is quiet around here today. Really quiet…the kind where you can hear the clock ticking on the mantle from across the room. I am loving it.

I’ve been “peopling” a lot here lately and I have enjoyed the blessing of company and friends who love me. This quiet, though, is a balm to my soul. Even my cat is quiet right now–and that’s rarely the case. We’re both just soaking in the quiet and enjoying the vacation from sound.

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In a little bit, I’ll need to move and get busy checking items off my To-Do list (on 3 bright yellow sticky notes so far today, thank you very much, Tuesday Ladies!!). I’ll get things started and go out and “people” again, listen to music, and get things done. I’ll pray as I go and I’ll enjoy every moment…because I’ve already decided to do that. I have decided to be content today.

We can decide, you know. Some people aren’t aware of that and some have forgotten it, but it’s still true.

I pray you’ll be one of the ones who remembers it today. Even more, I pray you’ll be one who chooses to practice it today.

No matter how loud your day gets, I hope there’s a little space of quiet and contentment for you where you can rest from the noise of life and remember that you are loved beyond measure and valued for more than all you manage to accomplish today.

Grace and Peace!

“I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment…” Philippians 4:12a (NET Bible)

 

 

NCN 2017–Day 15

Last night was wonderful! The organizers did such a great job of getting everything in place and I think every woman who attended the Advent Dinner had a spectacular time. The speakers were inspirational and everything else was just lovely. (Can you tell I enjoyed it yet?)

Today has been about enjoying my friend and starting the cleanup process from last night’s event. There are dishes and linens to be washed, Facebook posts and photos to be viewed of everyone all decked out in their finery, and people who need to be appreciated for all of the hard work that went into making it such a great evening for all of us. This part of it is still fun for me, because I get to just enjoy seeing all of these happy faces again and be grateful for such joy to have in my memory.

Today is a good day. All things considered, it’s a restful one. That’s not the case for others I know. They’re dealing with family drama and loss of life. I’m praying for them as I go about setting things in order around here and wishing I could set things to right as easily for them. I think that vast difference in our situations is what made the following passage from Oswald Chambers strike a chord with me as I did a little catch up reading this morning.

“Abraham did not choose the sacrifice….If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom….” (My Utmost for His Highest, reading for November 11th)

Right now, my cup is sweet, but I’ve had plenty of time with that bitter one. We all have. What I love about this excerpt is that we’ll all find ourselves somewhere in it, but it is our attitude toward life as a whole that will make the difference.

Complaining can lead us toward martyrdom–even when we (or others) feel we might have justification. Please know that I’m aware mourning is both necessary and legitimate, but even the way we mourn and lament the losses in our lives can be without complaint. It is in our communion with God that we can find solace even in the hard things.

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For my friends facing difficult situations or dealing with loss today, I am praying comfort and peace. I hope that the remembered grace of the sweet days and the hope found in Christ will carry you through until we’re together again. There is joy on the other side of this trying time.

For the rest of us, I’m praying that the gift of this good day will compel us to move forward in grace and compassion for those less fortunate and that we’ll both share the joy of it and drink it in with the sweet communion of Christ just the same.

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2017–Day 14

Today is a big day for me. My friend Linda will arrive later this morning. She was scheduled to arrive yesterday, but ran into a whole host of travel issues that prevented that from happening. While I am certain there were moments when her NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER resolve was threatened (she reports it was “broken”–lol), I loved that as we ended our day she was expressing gratitude for those very delays that kept her from arriving as scheduled because they also might have kept her safe and made today’s arrival possible.

Linda and I haven’t seen each other in awhile, so there will be lots of catching up to do as we go about preparing for this evening when we will gather with over 300 women at my church to celebrate the beginning of the Advent season. We’ll be a little early–Advent officially begins on December 3rd this year–but this is the time we have available on our church calendar, so we’re getting a head start on celebrating the coming gift of the Christ-child.

I’m pretty sure God won’t mind.

For hundreds of years, God’s people looked for their Messiah. Some got tired of waiting. Others just quit. Some, like Anna and Simeon, lived long lives in anticipation. That sounds like something that might give rise to complaint, but they somehow managed to overcome that impulse and stay alert and ready to receive their promise from God.

One of the meanings for the name Simeon is: “obedient listener,” while Anna’s name means  “favor, grace, and beautiful.”  I want to be like both of them. It’s hard to anticipate the good God has in store for us and still complain. They both exhibited lives that were the very essence of Hope, Faith, Love, and Joy.

Yes, I want to be like them: ready to hear and be obedient as I anticipate experiencing the beautiful grace and favor of God. As He makes me wait, I even want to choose to celebrate the wait and see it as God giving me more time to enjoy the anticipation of His blessing in my life. Full disclosure: I may need some help on that one, but I want to look forward to seeing God at any moment and be excited when I do.

He still shows up, you know. Most of the time He’s quieter than our complaints, so it’s easy to miss Him…

…and that’s a whole other reason to practice NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER. I plan to listen and anticipate. How about you?

Grace and Peace!

(If you have time today, read the story of Simeon and Anna as they met God in the temple. You can find out more in Luke 2:25-38.)