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 29

 

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Against the backdrop of fog this morning, the Japanese maple in the back walkway bed still shines like a beacon. It’s the same one that was all lit up in red and gold in yesterday’s sunny post photo, but the surroundings are a little different today. There’s a stillness to the air that replaces yesterday’s lively bird chatter and the air is a little bit cooler without the obvious rays of the sun. It is no less beautiful a day; it’s just different…

Kind of like this month has been for some of us. Sunshine and shadow, good days and bad, we’ve made a concerted effort to reduce the negativity in the world by…oh my goodness! Imagine this!:  placing limits on ourselves! We’ve chosen to speak the positive things and not the negative ones. We’ve CHOSEN to control what we can…or rather, WHO we can.

Truth be told, it’s all we can do on any given day, not just the ones in November. Remembering that can make all the difference going forward.

For the past few days, I’ve had a song in my head. An old hymn has run through the night and been with me almost constantly. These words, originally published in 1752, still seem most appropriate for us today and for the days going forward, as well. I hope you’ll see the connection and embrace the choice to continue our challenge long past our month of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER.

Be Still My Soul

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, be leaving, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

*Original words by Katharina A. von Schlegel, published in 1752
Grace and Peace!

NCN 2017–Day 27

When I was a child, my cousins and I would always go for a walk after our Thanksgiving feast. We’d kick through crunchy leaves on the ground and chatter about everything from what was going on at our schools to what we wanted to be when we got older. Those were happy times and my walk after this year’s feasting with friends reminded me of that, so I thought I’d share a few of the sights with you to start your week. Remember, God could have made everything in black and white…and I’m so glad He didn’t! Only a few more days left in this year’s NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER! You can do it!!!

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“The smell of burning firewood and the molding of organic, earthy substances reminded her of jumping wildly into the enormous leaf piles of autumns past and she suddenly wished that it was appropriate for someone her age to do such a thing.”
― Abby SlovinLetters In Cardboard Boxes

 

OH, don’t let something silly like age stop you! Go have some fun today! Grace and Peace!

*all photos by Becky Childs

 

 

NCN 2017–Day 22

Psalm 100 (NLT)

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

On this day before Thanksgiving, I pray that you won’t wait to enter His courts with praise! I hope your preparations go smoothly and your people arrive safely. I ask God to bless you and your families whether or not you are together this holiday season and I can’t wait to hear how He does that.

IMG_20170518_070436983I’ll be getting into the kitchen and having some prep fun all on my own later this morning after I talk with my mama. I’ll be remembering all those Thanksgivings at my Grandmother’s house with tables groaning from the food overload, but even more filled with love and hugs from my amazing family. I will pray through the family as I cook and be grateful. I will give thanks for my precious church family and our new pastor, for those who have poured their love and knowledge into my life, for friends across the world and for those who join me here. I am, indeed, the most blessed person I know.

I hope you think you are, too.

God is GOOD and there is no room for complaining over here.

Grace & Peace!

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