How To Trust God’s Goodness Even When …

Goodness, God! What are you up to?

Quarantining an extrovert who depends on PUBLIC speaking to make a living? How is that gonna work? Can I celebrate God’s goodness in light of these circumstances?

Are you asking a similar question?

To answer, start with what you know to be true. I KNOW God loves me and called me to write of His faithfulness, proclaim His name and teach His Word. Ironic that now I have no place to do that.

I have to remind myself of God’s goodness.

I look to the Bible for hope and inspiration and I find that God doesn’t promise fame and/or fortune and/or pain-free smooth sailing.

He simply asks me to trust him and to be faithful as life unfolds. Even when I don’t understand. When I absolutely want to know more. Especially when the outcome looks bleak.

I question, 

Not with my eternal future but with my RIGHT NOW circumstances. If you question, look no further than your Bible.

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Creating New Normals

What is your new normal?  

In the midst of a nationwide quarantine, there are gobs of suggestions to ride out the days till life returns to normal.

  • Exercise
  • Scroll Facebook or Instagram
  • Watch television
  • Organize closets
  • Clean everything in sight.

One of the ways I’m coping with this crisis is by reading my Bible. It’s one of the best ways I know to connect with God, recall the myriad ways He rescued His people, redeemed dreadful situations,  conquered enemies and multiplied miracles.

Why the Bible? 

The Bible is engaging, historical, comforting, educational, transformational and entertaining but I haven’t always thought that way.

When I first started following Jesus in my 30’s, the ladies in my small group told me to read the Bible, but sheesh, such a big book. Where do you start?

My Study Bible has 2335 pages – not counting the maps or the concordance.

2335!

That is a lot of pages.

If the Bible intimidates you with its thees and thous and dosts or seems overwhelming just by virtue of its girth, take heart. 

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Your Path to Peace Takes Work

Get over it!

When little kids fight, they flare, they pout, they tattle, and they make up. It’s over! As we get older and get into conflicts, we tend to foster bitterness, hold onto grudges, and plot retaliation.

That is exactly the opposite of God’s desire for us. He created us to live in harmony with Him and with others. Hebrews 12:14-15 specifically says, “WORK (emphasis mine) at living in peace with everyone, … Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

That’s right, we have to WORK at living in peace with everyone cuz we each have opinions and systems we believe are the correct ones. We all have soft spots and past hurts that we want to protect. When we bump into someone who triggers us, it’s super easy for an offense to grow, bitterness to take root and our version of justice to be meted out.

The right – but hard thing to do.

When an offense is blossoming or when bitterness has taken root the right — but hard — thing to do is have a conversation with the person you’re honked at. If you get used to having awkward conversations about little things, you’ll be practiced and brave enough to have a hard conversation when a bigger offense develops.

This past Christmas, as usual, I texted both my grown boys and reminded them to make sure they had Christmas cards in the mail to their grandparents. By implication, I figured they would recognize it as a subtle reminder to send one to me, too. If not a gift, at least a card. After all, I gave them life!

Well. Christmas came and went and nothing from my youngest. New Years was celebrated and nada from him. By mid-January, bitterness and hurt was taking root and I knew I’d have to talk to him.

The awkward conversation.

When he called, I told him,“I’m kinda down. Someone hurt my feelings.”
“Awww, that stinks, Mom. What happened?”
“You didn’t send me a Christmas card.”
Immediately, he said, “Oh, mom, I’m so sorry. It just got away from me. Do you want me to still send you one?”
Without any hesitation, I said, “Yes. Yes I do.”

The next week, I got a lovely non-Christmas card. Since it was mid-January, he had no choice but to improvise. The card had butterflies and blossoms on the front and a beautiful sentiment inside.

Mom, sorry I didn’t get this to you sooner. I love you so much and am very glad I’m your son. You’re the best mom in the world! Love you lots, Eli

One quick awkward conversation cut down a bitter root and restored the peace between us.

God’s plan for peace.

Friend, God knew conflict was going to happen to all of us, so he provided a way of restoring peace and harmony in our hearts and relationships. In Matthew 18:15, the plan is clearly laid out.

“If your brother or sister sins (offends), go and point out their fault (what has you so upset), just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

The Message version says, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend.

Don’t ask 45 other people for an opinion. Don’t post the offense on Facebook or send an angry text. Call or sit down with them and have the conversation so peace can prevail. Explain what happened to upset you and come to an agreement to resolve the conflict.

Who do you need to be at peace with and is there a way to make that happen? Is there a hard conversation you’ve been putting off? May today be the day for your peace to be restored.

Prayer: God, I want to be at peace with you and your people. Help me to take responsibility for my part of any issue. Give me courage to have hard conversations the perfect words for peace to be restored. In Jesus Name amen.

3 Ways To Stop Beating Yourself Up!


Do you beat yourself up for making mistakes?

I was at the grocery store last week and purposely chose a check-out lane manned by one of my favorite cashiers. Alice is fast and friendly and packs my stuff like an engineer.

But as I looked over my receipt on my way out of the store, I realized she hadn’t credited me for a $5.00 coupon.

I wheeled my cart back to Alice’s lane and explained the sitch. Her face fell as she flipped through coupons in her drawer. “Is this it?” she said sharply as she thrust the coupon at me. “It is, thank you,” I said, “Sorry for the trouble.” As she turned away from me, she snarled to herself, “I do everything wrong!”

Whaaat the … ? Moments earlier, we’d had a very pleasant exchange. I’d chosen her. Smiled at her. Complimented her. Affirmed her. Then boom! It had all shifted over an innocent oversight. 

I was shocked, but then, it wasn’t all that long ago, I might have reacted the same way.

What you DO is not who you ARE.

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Restart Those Resolutions!

Are you on track or faltering?

I so wanted a different story to tell you but I’m already faltering in my New Year’s resolutions.

My first goal for 2020 was to abstain from chocolate for 30 days. Let me tell you how that worked. Girlfriend, it’s embarrassing! I fulfilled the letter of the law, I’ve had no chocolate. Instead, I had VANILLA pudding, strawberry shakes, and sugar laden coffee drinks.

My second goal was to exercise a little bit every weekday. Well, I sorta did this. But, a couple days, I counted grocery shopping or laundry as my exercise.

My third goal was to fast between meals (which is a fancy way of saying no snacking). This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I legitimized that if I didn’t CHEW, it wasn’t eating. It’s amazing what you can smash up enough with your tongue to swallow.

Take thoughts captive. 

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Your Presence Is The Best Present

 

A rough start to the holidays.

My holiday season has gotten off to a rough start. I’d planned to serve Thanksgiving dinner at 12:30. At noon, the turkey wasn’t close to cooked.

Not even close, I tell you!

Mashed potatoes and stuffing, sweet potatoes and green been casserole waited impatiently in warming ovens.

Tick.
Tick..
Tick.

At 3:30pm that bird finally surrendered enough breast meat to give each person a sliver.

Arrgh!

Girls, it was the ugliest looking plate of food I’ve ever served on Thanksgiving. Tasty, but ugly.

Interestingly, holding dinner hostage gave us all time to really catch up and interact. To connect. It was relaxed and fun for everyone. Everyone but me!

I should all over myself.

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The Universal Language Of Kindness

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

The beautiful thing about kindness is that everyone can do it. Anyone … in any season of life, whether young, old, male or female, rich, poor or even sick can show kindness.

Not to be confused with generosity, (which I generally associate with giving money) kindness requires nothing more than intentional action.

Kindness is more powerful than anger, selfishness or even hate. It morphs us into women who look, sound and act more like Jesus. When we clothe ourselves in kindness as Col. 3:12 directs, we affect people in a positive and lasting way. 

Contagious and courageous.

Those who are shown kindness will surely pass it on. Like a train of Dominos, when the first one falls, the rest follow. Taking the lead to demonstrate kindness softens hearts, quiets tempers and provides space for tenderness to grow. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12 

In close relationships, kindness can overcome the temptation to hold grudges, get revenge and act selfishly. Random acts of kindness toward strangers can break down prejudice, overcome greed and restore faith in humanity.

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” – Kahlil Gibran

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is put down a suffering animal. It’s tough to help pack up your best friend to move away from you. Being a listening ear or returning a lost wallet can be time consuming. Keeping someone company till the ambulance or locksmith arrives can mess up your schedule. 

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Thankfulness Is Key To A Better Life

Want a longer life, better relationships and improved health? Be thankful! 

When my kids were little, it was important to instill the character quality of being thankful in them. They were prompted to say thank you to anyone who served them or gifted them. Their prayer time always started with a long and creative list of thank yous. As they grew, they thanked bus drivers for shuttling them, the cafeteria workers for doing the dishes and tow truck drivers for being so prompt. 

Being thankful has myriad benefits.

Being thankful rewards us with better health, cheerier dispositions and deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Thankful people enjoy a stronger sense of well-being, suffer fewer symptoms of depression and are less likely to seek revenge against others. They are more likely to have empathy for others.

We are told in Scripture, “In everything give thanks.” It is a directive straight from God, recorded by Paul. It is a divine expectation.

So how do you develop a habit of thankfulness?

1. Go without.

To gain a whole new level of appreciation and accelerate your thankfulness, go without something you take for granted!

Spend one day doing without food or electricity or hot water. Sleep on the floor a night or two. Give up sugar or coffee for a day or two. Spend a day or a week without television or radio or internet. Trust me, going without jumpstarts thankfulness.

2. Speak out thankfulness.

If you’re not ready to forego running water … spend a bit of time every day thanking God. You can speak it out or journal it, but see how many items you come up with. These are the first 25 in my journal.

  1. My salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection.
  2. Mr. 4-Ever.
  3. The kids.
  4. My moms and dad.
  5. Holy Spirit guidance.
  6. Flannel sheets, slinky sheets and clean sheets.
  7. Heat in my house.
  8. A closet full of clothing.
  9. The color green.
  10. In house refrigerator, washer, dryer, garbage disposal.
  11. The work and ministry I do.
  12. All the safety I enjoy every day.
  13. The bills that are paid.
  14. My family of origin.
  15. The taste of raspberries.
  16. Freedom to vote.
  17. Ability to read.
  18. Coffee, tea, soda pop.
  19. Clean water – hot and cold.
  20. Medicine.
  21. First responders.
  22. Dogs and Cats and pets of all kinds.
  23. Mail service.
  24. Music.
  25. Kissing.

Thanking God reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us and the authority he holds in our lives.

3. Be thankful in all things – even if they’re hard.

Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote: “The best way to demonstrate faith is to say ‘Thank You.'”

You don’t have to be thankful FOR rotten things, but you can and should be thankful in the midst of them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

Find the silver lining. Look for the small bright spot in the situation. I call these lousy tradeoffs. When my kids moved out, I suffered in my empty nest, but then I realized how clean my house stayed – lousy tradeoff. In my grief after my man died, I lost all the weight I’d fought against for a decade – lousy tradeoff. When my mom was hospitalized with cancer, I got to spend lots of time with her – lousy tradeoff. All these hard seasons had a spot of hope or joy in the midst of them.

Thankfulness is character building and leads to a better emotional state, improved relationships, and clearer understanding of God’s heart.

Friend, I wish you the very best Thanksgiving. I hope your jello set sand your marshmallows don’t burn. May your turkey get done on time and be juicy and delicious. Let the people at your table encounter Christ through you. Spread thankfulness habitually!

In the comments below tell me what you do or you’re going to do to develop thankfulness.

Try Something New

 

What’s new? 

A girlfriend I’d been wanting to know better called and asked if I’d like to get together and go for a walk. Alarms went off in my head. Meet for coffee? Sure. Go out for lunch? Yes! Walk? Mmmmn, no. “Walk?” I asked suspiciously. “Sure, walk and talk,” she replied cheerfully.

This is not a good idea, I thought. I hadn’t exercised in a long time. I don’t own yoga pants or exercise clothes. The closest thing to a walking shoe I own is a pair of Reeboks that I bought for an aerobics class I never went to in 1988. 

But I really liked this woman and wanted to spend the time with her.  It’s just walking, I figured. Surely I can try something new. I can walk!

Just to clarify, I asked, “Where would we walk?” I looked hopefully out the window as we talked, willing thunderstorms to come rolling in, but alas, clear skies.

“How about we walk around Reed’s Lake?” she said. Reeds Lake is a small body of water in the center of Grand Rapids. I only knew that because one of my favorite eateries was settled on its shoreline. Maybe I could divert her inside.

Another long pause on my part. Finally, “How far around is that?” “Just 4.15 miles.” The fact that my friend knew it was exactly 4 point 15 miles should have tipped me off that her pace was going to challenging. “We’ll go slowly and if you get tired, we’ll stop,” she said reading my mind. 

“Okay, sounds fun,” I lied.

I put on a pair of grey sweatpants that were actually old pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, laced up my venerable shoes, and set off to meet my girlfriend. 

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Key to Not Feeling Left Out!

Have you ever stumbled into a situation you wished you hadn’t?  

My feelings got hurt when several friends chattered away about a party EVERYONE had gone to. The conversation turned awkward with the realization that I hadn’t been asked to the festivities my friends were reminiscing about because I was no longer a party-girl. Not included.

My smile faded when I saw the beaming faces in my Facebook newsfeed of a friend’s wedding I wasn’t invited to attend. Not invited.

Tears fell hot as I read the note that my relative died but no one thought to notify me. Not remembered.

What do you do when you get left out?

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