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

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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.)

NCN 2017–Day 13

1118160817Well, I blew it, y’all. I had a really good streak going on this NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER thing and on Saturday, I blew it over, of all things…a hotdog. I may or may not have also blown it again later that day watching football. Ok, I did. I tried to tell a friend that I was simply “encouraging with authority” (ha!), but truth be told, I was not happy with the way my team was playing and I started complaining…as though it might help. (smh)

You might think that I’d have picked something more important to  break my streak about than a hotdog and football game, but as our interim pastor said yesterday, “It isn’t the big things that will get you, but the little ones.” Was he ever right!

Also over the weekend, I found myself “rehearsing the bad” for a moment…again. Each time I failed, I was caught almost immediately by my sweet husband and encouraged to start over.

I’m sharing this because I wanted to make sure you knew you weren’t alone. We all fail at something. The most important things to remember, however, are that we get to start over every time and that we should continue to encourage others along the way.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Happy Monday, y’all! Failure isn’t fatal. It’s time to start over. It’s time to encourage those around us and make a renewed effort to become a person of influence for good…and for God. 

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2017–Day 10

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I always remember this holiday on the calendar because, years ago, my brother got on a bus and headed for Basic Training on November 11th…Veterans Day. It stuck with me: my “little” brother was headed off to eventually become a Veteran…one of the most noble things I could imagine. There seemed to be a kind of disconnect at the time. I was proud of him and his decision to serve, but I remember thinking that “nobility” wasn’t exactly a trait I had ever really associated with a sibling. It was something I had reserved for tales of knights and fair maidens, actual royalty…and old soldiers.

Things have changed. I guess a LOT of things have changed, because nobility is now something I have no problem whatsoever associating with either one of my siblings. I’m proud of both of them. I always think about my brother a little more though, as each Veterans Day approaches. He served in the Navy and then came home to raise a son. There’s a nobility in both of those decisions.

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Making the decision to serve in the military affects more than just the one who wears the uniform. It costs the ones who are left at home, those who serve as they wait and who often struggle with being proud and frustrated at the same time. There’s a lot of reasons for both emotions, whether or not they’re ever voiced outside the confines of family.

I’ve noticed, however, that when I thank a current member of the military or a veteran for their service, the response is invariably that it is/was their pleasure to serve. I’m always amazed by that. I know it isn’t always a pleasure and I know that the privilege to serve cost them dearly on many fronts. That’s why it is so important to BE GENUINE in our thanks for them. No one feels truly appreciated when the “thank you” seems to be a canned response to either the uniform or some other symbol of their service.

[I’ve actually got a whole lot to say on that, but this is supposed to be a NCN post, so I’ll be saving that for another day. In any case, BE GENUINE is life advice that can never really fail you. You’re welcome for that one. It costs you nothing extra. (insert very wry grin here.) Moving on!]

This weekend, we’ll see a lot of flags flying and, hopefully, we’ll see at least one veteran we can express our genuine thanks to for serving our country–no matter what branch in which they served or what post they held. Make a point of doing that, please. They didn’t make the political decisions or create the policies under which they served. They chose, instead, to uphold the value of a nation committed to individual freedoms by serving as a committed aggregate. They served to make sure we continue to have the right to speak as we choose–either to celebrate or complain–even when it is against them! They chose to serve with honor and without complaint. The least we can do is thank them without complaint.

THIS weekend, choose to be grateful and speak your thanks kindly. They deserve it every day.

See you back on Monday! Grace & Peace!

NCN 2017–Day 9

I’ve heard from quite a few of you that the exercise of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER is proving to be a bigger challenge than you had expected–even for some who consider themselves to be generally positive people. Exercise is like that. As a general rule, it can be hard work, but it always ends up making us stronger. These comments, however, reminded me of something I started writing months ago, so I’m adapting it for the blog today. I hope it helps…or at least makes you think.

Awhile ago a friend from college posted a photo with a quote I haven’t quite been able to get out of my mind.  In the picture, there is a man standing with his back to the camera as he looks out over a golden field toward a majestic mountain range.  At the top of the photo, the quote says,

“People never remember happiness with the care that they lavish on preserving every detail of their suffering.”

I don’t know who said it. I can’t find any record of it on the internet. I have no way of tracking the photographer to ask for further details. I also can’t quit thinking about that quote, because no matter who it was that said it, they were right…for a lot of us.

Suffering is a universal experience. Regardless of the degree to which you’re dealing with that personally right now, you have a choice. You can choose to remember happiness. Remember joy! Remember the good, the kind, the beautiful! Remember the people who help, who pray, who love, and those who serve! Choose not to complain.

CHOOSE not to complain. No matter how ingrained it might have become for some people, it is still a choice. So for today, why not make a different choice? It may not change your situation, but it could change your attitude and THAT could change your circumstances, or at the very least, make them easier to bear.

Related imageI’m not making light of the tough things that some of us are facing right now. I am suggesting that we should make a habit of rehearsing the good instead of rehearsing the bad. I chose that word “rehearsing” deliberately, because most of us tend to revisit things in our minds and try different endings, think about what we should have said, or could have done differently. It rarely makes us feel better and often makes us feel worse. It’s like rehearsing for a play that’s already ended. If you’ve got to occupy your mind with something, why not make it something that went right, felt great, helped someone, created joy, made a smile, shared a laugh?!

God’s plan was never about making life harder for us. We’ve managed that quite well all on our own. Instead, He says this:

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” John 10:10 (AMP)

The choice is ours.

Choose well. If you must revisit things in your mind today, rehearse the good…or better yet, practice it! The exercise will do you good.

Grace & Peace!