Day 18–NCN2016

I rarely watch commercials, so as we were watching a previously recorded show last night and my husband asked if I had seen “that commercial” (as they sped by thanks to the remote control), my answer was a definite “no” regardless of which one he meant.

He paused, backed it up, and we watched the one he wanted. Apparently, he had seen it while on a recent business trip because I’m pretty sure he hasn’t seen it here. We’re both1118160811a-1 fans of the remote control and its fast-forward button. (it gets you back to the game a LOT faster!)

That tiny little interaction has me thinking about life and wondering what else I might have been speeding past…things that are a lot more important than a commercial. What else have I gone “remote control” over and put on hold until I finished this task or that one? What have I outright ignored or just deleted before it finished because I was in a hurry?

1118160811.jpg“You’re spending too much time thinking about crazy stuff!”, you might say and, perhaps you’re right. I’ve been so focused on “getting through until…” lately that I’ve probably missed more than I realized. That changes today. I’m adding another element to my NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, and you’re welcome to join me in that, too.

In my efforts to “get through” and “get it done”–and not complain about it!–I’ve missed out a little bit. I tend to get so task-focused that I forget to actually “enjoy” sometimes. Am I the only one? I don’t think so. Oh, I’ve taken some time out to have fun this month. I took friends on a picnic and decorated for the season a little bit and I’ve spent more time writing than I have in a while, but I also know that, while I haven’t complained (often!), I also haven’t deliberately enjoyed things as much as I could have, either.

That brings me to this weekend’s challenge: take time to appreciate who and where you are–and who shares life with you! Look for the beauty around you–in nature and in 1118160817.jpgpeople. Take a photo, write a note, drag someone you love out to enjoy it with you or celebrate the beauty all by yourself, but do THAT this weekend instead of remote-controlling your life while you miss out on actually living it.

Thanksgiving is coming up next week and we might as well start practicing for it today!

Grace and Peace! (and NO COMPAINTS!)

*And yes, I did go out and take these pictures while still in my pajamas today just for fun! The colors are even better in person and that late-blooming hydrangea picture had to be taken from my deck because it is higher than my head! (big grin!) Stopping to smell the roses actually happened today and it was worth every single second! 

 

Days 12 & 13–NCN2016

Good morning! It’s about 4:30 or so (VERY A.M!!) and I woke up thinking about all the angst and rancor of this past week…not so much in a bad way, but in a “I SO wish it had been different” way. I truly think that’s how a lot of us are feeling. This has been a most interesting NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER so far!–and a most necessary one! (and you know, God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect!)

Earlier in the week I posted about some of the ways that my friends were using different items or methods to remind them not to complain. I’m looking forward to exploring that a bit more next week, but for these next two days, I’d like us to focus on expressing our appreciation to the people around us. Let’s DO something POSITIVE in addition to eliminating the negative!!

So, here it is, your weekend challenge: Make a point (and even keep a count, if you’d like!) to let the people around you know that you love them. Give them a hug! Give them a compliment! Give them a lollipop, if you’re so inclined, but make every effort to raise the bar in expressing your appreciation of those who make your life and your day something better. Use your words, for sure, but be deliberate about passing out some hugs and kisses, too, if appropriate–and if not, a good firm handshake WILL DO! (grin!)

Experts in the field of human interaction have long since told us that it takes at least TWO positive interactions to counteract ONE negative. I think we’ve all had more than one negative interaction this week, so that means we’ve got a LOT of catching up to do! Make it FUN! Make it a GAME! Make it HAPPEN! Change the world where you live and bless the socks off the people you share life with this weekend! Be intentional about being a light in the darkness!

Anyone can do this! Will YOU?

Grace & Peace (and NO COMPLAINTS!)

How Deep?

Monday afternoon:
There are times when God steps in and transforms the ordinary physicality of a place into a cathedral of words and song and prayers of praise. That kind of grace (unmerited favor–fyi: auto correct wants to make that “inherited favor” and that works for those of us who are His, right?!) snuck up on me just now. I’m sitting in a hospital. There are no stained glass windows on this hall and no choir and no anything truly spiritual but God…and those of us who believe.

I’ve been waiting. For awhile now. It feels like we’ve been here forever and, maybe, we’ll be here just that long, as well. We won’t be, but after a long night, it kind of feels like it and so I sit on this couch and wait for healing to become evident in this one I love.

Earphones in. Book open with beautifully crafted words and I am deeply involved in the story…and then the music overtook me. David Nevue’s “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” swept in and removed place and time and anything but that realization. The Father’s love is that deep…and it is mine.

Tuesday morning:
There are times (rare, of course) when even hospitals are quietened. I think that’s what woke me up. The unexpected quiet. The delightful quiet in this place of beehive-busy-ness. In the deepest dark of early morning I found myself sitting up on the side of my couch/bed and reaching anew for this modern hymn of old truth. Once again, the simple melody moved me beyond imagining…and with palms laid open before God I asked for His help to choose THIS. And then I laughed…and amended my prayer to, “Forget that ‘help me’-thing, Lord, and just DO this thing in me.”

Ahhh, the hubris that God would need my help…even to change me. And yet, I must choose. I must choose to do, to actively seek Him, to actively live Him. And so I DO choose, God. I SO DO choose…and I also wait on You to do this in me, as well. How deep the Father’s love for me…for you…for us…how vast beyond all measure. Worship. Praise. Peace.

And then someone kicked the hive. It happens.

And He is still good. He is always good.

Lyrics

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Stuart TownendCopyright © 1995 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)

Weekend challenge…

I was up until 2 AM this morning…changing things around in my house for fall.  Yes, I know.  It is crazy.

But I love it!—and I look forward to “doing the change” every single season in my house.  Art pieces get moved to new locations, different linens make their appearances, accessories are swapped and—while most of the furniture stayed in the same place this time—the house suddenly looks new again.  Fab-u-lous. This makes me happy. Every. Single. Time.

This year I’ve been waiting to make the changes and get the heirloom pumpkins and the little tiny gourds that I usually use as my finishing touches.  I like to have everything all cleaned and in place before I go pick them out and I like to pick out ones with “character”—kind of like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree-type character. (grin)pumpkin2 I thought it was just something that entertained me—and that’s totally worth it—but this week I learned that it also entertains my husband!  I was talking about how I loved the fall season Tuesday night when my husband asked when I’d be picking up some pumpkins for the season. I told him how I’d gone and looked at some that very day, but then I said, “But, I’ve been forcing myself to wait until October, you know, so they’ll last longer here…maybe even into Thanksgiving.” He just looked at me and said, “Honey, October starts TO-MOR-ROW.”

I felt like an idiot at first, but then I got really excited!  I could go get my pumpkins!!  Well, that didn’t actually happen until today, but last night I just couldn’t sleep because I wanted to make sure that everything was ready for the pumpkins…and more importantly, for my friend Jody who will arrive later today.  I get her for just a couple of very short hours on her way to see her precious daughter!!  JOY!!!

Normally, my weekend challenges involve something about making the people around us a little happier, but this week, I’d like us to focus on making ourselves a little happier.  Do something that is fun for YOU! In case it’s been so long that you’re a bit rusty on this, pumpkin3I’ll share a few things on my list for this weekend:

  • Decorate for the season—no matter what hemisphere you happen to be in at the moment!
  • Plant some new pots for your porch or your kitchen window—something you’ll see coming and going over the next few weeks!
  • Make a big pot of chili or red beans and rice and call in some help to eat them!
  • Watch some college football! (SEC is best, but make do with whatever is closest to you! HA!—that little zinger was for my Ohio State friends!)
  • Make time for a chat with a friend. It’s even better if she brings lunch and you can curl up in big comfy chairs to catch up afterward! (Go ahead and ask me how I know this!  Thank you, Jody!!)
  • Take some time to read a book or make some new art!
  • Have breakfast with someone special—and go somewhere new or unusual.

Whatever you decide, if it makes you happier, it will also make those who are closest to you happier, as well.  That’s part of the joy of sharing love and life and lots of laughter…now, don’t forget to let me know what you do! I might want to add it to my list, too!

Grace & Peace!

Weekend challenge…

This one is a little bit late because I wasn’t home yesterday to write it!  I was out and about…experiencing it!!  I was ever so privileged to be asked to serve as a hostess for a luncheon at our new church.  This week has been ALL about missions at our church and this luncheon was for our Senior Blessings (my title for them) and the missionaries who were visiting from near and far.

I arrived as instructed and joined in the job of counting out forks, knives and spoons for the 174 place settings.  As I counted along with another lady, we realized that she was the one God sent to me in the grocery store all those months ago to invite me to this church and we laughed at how God loves to answer prayers just because He can.

Once all was in place and the people began to arrive, we kept watch over the pitchers of water and tea for each of the 29 tables until it was time for us to sit and eat, as well.  I hadn’t been eating long when our worship leader encouraged our Seniors to stand and sing with him.  The hall was suddenly filled with the voices of almost 200 individuals singing, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” at the top of their lungs.  It was wonderful.

I sat there with my eyes closed so my heart could hear it even better.  These were the voices of the faithful.  They were the voices of experience…and they know the faithfulness of their God over their lifetimes, so they sang with gusto!  My mind tried to do the math:  I’ve been actively seeking to know God for more than 25 years, so if each one of them also had done the same for the last 25 years (yes, I know many of them have been serving God at least twice that long or more!), then we had over 4350 cumulative years of experiencing the faithfulness of God in that one room!  What a lovely and inspiring thought!

They moved from singing about God’s faithfulness to extolling His greatness in “How Great Thou Art” and, by then, I was free to join them.  What a gift!  To serve these precious people and then to sing praises to God with them!  I was blessed right down to my toes!

So, here’s your challenge for the weekend:  find someone whose life has been one of faithful service and let them know that you’ve noticed.  Send a note, make a call, bring them cookies (if they’re ok to have them!) or a plant SONY DSC(if you’re not sure the cookies are a good idea)–bring them a pumpkin!SONY DSC–or just walk up and tell them in person how much their service and their example have inspired you.  Let them know that they have been a person of influence in your life!  I don’t think either one of you will walk away from this without a smile. I know that we don’t serve God for the recognition of doing so, but I also know that He always approves when we encourage others as we walk out our faith together!

Grace & Peace…and lots and lots of faithfulness!

 

Weekend Challenge…

The other day I was sitting in a very hot vehicle waiting for my nice cold slush to be delivered. I was on a “schedule” (self-imposed) and I was already behind, but the sweltering Georgia heat was too much to bear, thus making a Sonic run become an absolute life necessity. (FYI: Sonic was actually created just to make lemon-berry slushes. Truly. It may or may not be the only reason they exist.) I tapped the little red button and I waited. Then I waited some more…and a little bit more…and finally a voice came on to take my order.  One slush.  It wasn’t even the really big one.  And then I waited. And then I waited. (yes, I meant to say that twice) And then, just as my fingers headed toward the little red button one more time–to cancel my order (I was on a schedule–self-imposed, you know!!)–a small little figure emerged from the building and headed toward me.

You could actually see the dread on her face as she hurriedly approached. She handed me the slush and began to apologize profusely for my wait and then she took a small step back, kind of braced herself, and just stood there. She was waiting on it:  the big fuss. It made me wonder how many times that day that she’d been the one to take the brunt of whatever caused the delays.  All of the sudden, those words behind my teeth–those absolutely true and deserved words about the service/wait-time–decided to just stay with me.  I handed her the money–with a nice tip included–and I smiled and nodded at her.  I didn’t say a single word.  You should have seen her smile!  Her face totally changed and her shoulders relaxed and she just looked so grateful…because I didn’t say anything…even though I had a “right” to do so?

That experience changed me a bit this week.  I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  This girl’s day was suddenly brighter because I kept my mouth shut.  Revelation.  What if I could make other people around me have a better day by choosing not to exercise my “right” to speak up, speak out or “educate by way of criticism”?  What if I extended grace?  What if I made the choice to pass on some of the grace God has extended to me…by being quiet?

Some days that is a lot harder than others, isn’t it?!  Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in several other situations where I literally felt as if the words were pushing at the back of my teeth trying trying desperately to escape. Honestly, in every single instance, the words weren’t really my best ones, either. It was up to me in each situation:  I could choose to release the words clamoring for escape, I could change them, or I could choose to keep them to myself.

I know it’s happened to you, as well.  Can’t remember any right offhand?  See if the  following sound like anything that’s happened in your life lately:

  • If you have to pick up one more pair of socks or step on one more out-of-place toy or find one more half-empty glass left in the living room…
  • Seriously?  The line to check out was forever long and the clerk waited until the person just before you started to unload their cart before announcing that her line was closing because it was time for her break…
  • You made the call and then sent the text and then…nothing.  No response.  You need a response.  You need it now and…nothing…
  • They promised.  You heard it and they know it, but they didn’t come through…and it might have even made you look bad in front of someone you want to impress…

Yep. I know. It happened at your house, too, didn’t it?  (grin)

cropped-heartSo here’s OUR challenge for the weekend:  Forget about your right to be right and just be quiet.  Extend grace.  It doesn’t mean you have to be falsely complimentary, just quiet…for the next three whole days. If you find you’re up to it, you just might want to extend the challenge and take it in to work with you next week…

Bonus:  For those of you who really enjoy God’s sense of timing/perspective, here are a few illustrations of what He might think about this challenge. If you think of any others that also fit the bill, please feel free to share them with me!  Some days I need all the help I can get! (grin)

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…”  James 1:19

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”  Proverbs 11:12

“Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah”  Psalm 4:4

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”  Proverbs 29:11

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.”  Job 6:24

and, of course, my own personal favorite…

“…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

For your weekend…

The past 24 hours have been another roller-coaster ride…and not just for me.  Yesterday, I was privileged to be asked to pray for another friend in another state whose home has been on the market for quite some time.  After all the waiting, they finally had an offer!

What a gift!  As friends from across the South–and perhaps even further–unified our prayers for a successful conclusion for our friend, we were united in spirit.  God was gracious–and perhaps, even a bit humorous–as He sent in a second contract for their review on the very same day.

Last night we were notified that our friend and her husband had accepted a contract and that the terms God had sent were very generous…just because He likes to do that sort of thing…and just because He can.  As we all celebrated our friend’s blessing, a comment was made that “Anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of prayer should read this message chain!”

Once again, I was reminded of our need for a faith family and additionally reminded that they will never all be located under one roof.  How fabulous that is!  We are spread across the globe on purpose!  We are sent to minister wherever we are!

What will you do to support your faith family this weekend?  How will you reach out and minister to those around you?  It doesn’t have to take up your whole weekend–it just has to come from the heart and bring glory to God.  What will you choose today?