PEACE ON GOD’S TERMS

How often when we have a disagreement with someone do we want to just end the tension by apologizing, even if we know deep down we were right in our actions? How often have we experienced that true sense of family peace, that feeling where no one is on edge? In a quote from a friend, “when you feel tension in the room (home, office, relationship, etc) you know God isn’t there.” You can’t have Godly peace if you are searching for ways to control the people around you, or blaming everyone else for your own misgivings.

Olive Branch

Extending an olive branch shouldn’t be met with a list of tasks to do. The homecoming of the prodigal son was not met with a laundry list of tasks that needed to be done first. No, his father, welcomed him home on God’s terms, not on man’s. Can you imagine for a moment the feeling of joy the prodigal son’s mother must have felt. Here she hadn’t been able to speak to her son for quite some time. When the prodigal son returned home, he was met with outstretched arms, welcoming love, and even a party. But in this physical world, when you extend an olive branch you are met with a laundry list of how the others in families and relationships want it to happen. Everyone finding ways to spout off “You must do this or that.” “We will only accept that olive branch if you do it my way.” Where is God in this scenario? He isn’t present at all.

Today is Day of Atonement, and we are to be reconciled to God and to each other. But it is so difficult to be reconciled with people who want reconciliation on their terms that they forget what God has to say about reconciliation. Are you at peace on God’s terms or your own terms? Do you make people constantly jump through hoops to win your affection, your respect, and your honor? Do you live a life filled with Godly peace or is your life filled with tension? Are your actions dividing families?

The Prodigal son came home, told his father he was wrong and in essence apologized for what he did. The father showed compassion on the son, even before the son apologized, and welcomed him back into the fold. This is a Godly story one that depicts all of our lives. But just as we go to our spiritual father and ask for forgiveness we need to ask for forgiveness from our physical fathers. The father of the prodigal son did not hold the wrongdoing over the son’s head for years on end. No, he had compassion on him. When you forgive as God forgives you wipe out the wrongdoing, God doesn’t hold the sin over your head and reminds you of it 10 years down the road.

When an olive branch is offered out to you, do you put stipulations on it? Or do you show compassion?

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RENEWAL

Waking up at the crack of dawn, my husband gently nudged me awake. We had a plan to spend July 4th not in celebration of our freedom, but in enjoying our freedom to visit a lady who help him put things into perspective. This lady is old, she’s majestic, magnificent, and in the splendor of her beauty we found awe, perspective, clarity and renewal.

On July 4th while most people were waving flags, marching in parades, and partying at barbeques, we hiked Mount St Helens. We listened to the peacefulness of this mountain that once spoke with boisterous thunder. We marveled at God’s creation at every turn, from the herd of elk we saw bathing in the morning sun to the chipmunks scampering through the brush snacking along the way.

While walking the trail I stopped to write in my journal, which I carry with me on every hike now, to capture the words that God’s beautiful creation inspires me to think about. First entry of the hike, “The mountain has her own words, her own voice. Yet no one understands the magnitude of her thoughts.” Being away from the hurriedness of the city, where I thought I thrived, I’ve been awakened to new thoughts, new ponderings, new attitudes, new philosophies of what I want for the second half of my life.

God's Renewal

Seeing the remnants of the devastation caused when the earth sighed through the nostril of Mount St Helens, I am reminded of all the chances we are given in life to change. God’s way of life is a constant renewal, if we let it be. When we stop growing, it’s us that stops not God. Life is constantly changing and we must change and grow or we become like the mud petrified tree stumps that stand among the new growth.

As I walked the trail, I pondered the immensity of change and renewal. Changing our character and our being is so much more profound than slapping on a coat paint (lipstick), or a new pair of shoes. Change takes courage, perseverance, trust, love, motivation, and most of all it takes reliance. Reliance in knowing who you are changing for and why. We shouldn’t be changing for other people, but for God. We rely on God’s direction in life to bring us to a place where we are ready to break forth from the sheltering cocoon and be a light to the world.

2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18 “There we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

AN INHERITANCE

How many times have you thought or said something that sounds just like what would come out of your mother’s or father’s mouth? I used to hear myself talking or yelling at my kids and just stop because I sounded just like my own mom, when she yelled at me. She yelled at me more times than I care to remember. I think the inheritance we give our children is filled with our faults as well as our attributes. When we think of an inheritance we usually think about wealth, land, and family heirlooms but our words hold our inheritance too.

family inheritance

There have been numerous times when we compare our children to ourselves and ourselves to our own parents by our behaviors. Telling our children they are acting just like their father or mother when they misbehave will instill in them that it’s okay to act out in a negative way. This negative behavior is carried with them into adulthood and it becomes a part of who they are to the point of being a fault but not knowing how to stop the behavior.

Yes, we inherit the faults and attributes of our parents, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t build upon what we inherit. If we inherit land or wealth from our parents do we just let it go into ruin like we do when we inherit their faults? No we protect it, we invest it, and we find ways to keep the inheritance growing so we can pass it down to our own children. So why do we let the faults of our parents eat us away and destroy that which is good in us?

Many times I think “Oh what’s the use, it’s never going to work out.” These are the exact words my mom used to tell me whenever I was designing a new dress, sweater, or pattern for my own clothes. I have to make a constant effort to stop that thought, because it destroys any hope of doing anything that I set my mind to. It creates negativity. I also have a constant battle going on in my mind because my father’s words are also there too. But his words were always softer to me and whole lot more positive. His words, “You can do anything you set your mind to!” “I knew you could do it!” “Don’t let anyone steal your thunder!” My father was always encouraging me to be the best me possible. But it’s interesting that the negative is what I hear loud and clear in my head over the positive. Only when I consciously push the negative words of my mother out of my head is when I can hear my father’s encouraging words.

There are people in our lives who sit back and can’t remember a time when their own parents encouraged them. This is a sad inheritance to bestow on children. This lack of encouragement gets passed down to their children and their grandchildren. We need to remember that our words come from our hearts and minds. If we don’t control our minds and speak positively to our children we are giving them an inheritance of pain, misery, confusion, and chaos.

Proverbs 13:22 “The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”

If you want to children’s children to have a good heart and mind, you must mind your words today.

Stop yelling at them. Encourage them.

Stop using sarcasm. Encourage them.

Stop swearing at them. Encourage them.

Praise them. Encourage them.

Encourage them. Encourage them.

GOOD ENOUGH!

Two years ago I worked for an online bead company, where I filled bead orders for 10 hours a day. The production floor was divided into stations according to the type of bead or jewelry finding such as bicones, pearls, toggles, flat-backs, etc. Each of the stations had an average number of clicks (the way the company kept track of our production) that needed to be met daily by the filler that was assigned to said station. If the filler made the average he or she was awarded a slip of paper stating he or she was “Filler of the Day.” These slips of paper could be exchanged for candy and small prizes. Each day as we were winding down on the 10 hours of work, my coworkers were always comparing if they made the average. Once the average is met, workers would slow down to a snail’s pace, not wanting to do any more than just the average. Good enough was they’re motto. Those coworkers who did go above and beyond the average were told to slow down and pace yourself, “You won’t make filler of the day, that way!”

excellence

            As I look back, each day I saw firsthand that average became the new excellence I should strive for. Gone are the words from Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work, nor plan, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave where you go” (Modern King James Version). Striving for excellence is now taken over by “It’s good enough.”  God’s way is not the average way of doing something that is good enough. Every task that is performed should be done to the best of our ability; whether we are digging a ditch, writing a paper for school or putting words together for a blog. If we do something that is just good enough we are not following the words of this scripture. Many times I find myself saying these words “It’s good enough.” Then I ask myself “Who is it good enough for?”

            Weeding out these words from my daily life is a difficult task. I am constantly watching my speech, my attitude and my conduct, asking myself the same question “Am I doing this task at hand with all my strength?”  Average and good enough does not set the right example of living the life God intended for me to live. Each day when I sit down to do my work I don’t strive for average, I strive for excellence. I strive to live by the words of Ecclesiastes 9:10. I do not want to be rewarded for doing an average job; I would rather be a living example of God’s excellence.

DO THE BEST FIRST

When was the last time you prayed? I know it’s a personal question equaled to “How much do you weigh?” But people are more apt to tell you how much they weigh then to tell you when they last prayed. The bible tells us that we should pray without ceasing, pray continually, never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But why is it that we look at praying as our last resort instead of the first action step we take toward life? Why do we save the best for last and do the least first? Shouldn’t we do the best first?

All my life I was told to pray like everything depended on God and work like everything depended on me. This was ingrained in me from a small child. It helped me understand that if I prayed first and then did everything I could then God would answer my prayer. It also helped me understand that no matter how much I did, if I didn’t continually pray about the circumstances in my life, my life wouldn’t make sense. And it’s true life doesn’t make sense when we are constantly saving the best for last and doing our little part, the least first.

Pray without ceasing!

Pray without ceasing!

I’ve heard many times from different people in my life “Let’s try this first, if it doesn’t work out, then we’ll pray.” Or the one statement that really gets under my skin…”I’ve tried everything else, I guess a prayer couldn’t hurt!” Prayer is the key to my day and the lock at night. Many times growing up I always thought I needed to go through bad times so that I prayed more, because let’s face it when we’re going through rough days or trials we spend more time in prayer then when times are good. But praying without ceasing means that we should be praying just as much in the good times as well as the bad.

When my sons were little we used to pray together all the time. One day while we were walking to the summer enrichment summer school, it started to rain really hard. So as we walked we prayed and asked God to either make it stop raining until we got to school, or provide us with a way to stay dry. We had just finished our prayer when we all looked at the sidewalk a couple of feet ahead of us and there was a large umbrella laying in our path. My sons and I looked up and praised and thanked God for answering our prayer.

Don’t save prayer as the last resort. Yes, God knows what’s going on in your life, He sees everything, He knows everything, He even sees what’s in your heart. We can’t hide anything from God. So pray, thank Him for all the blessings in your life. Ask Him for help with your health, your job, your family. Pray for protection, pray for strength.

Life will always give us something to pray about.

Do the best first, pray

 

 

 

TIP #30: AN INHERITANCE

How many times have you thought or said something that sounds just like what would come out of your mother’s or father’s mouth? I used to hear myself talking or yelling at my kids and just stop because I sounded just like my own mom, when she yelled at me. She yelled at me more times than I care to remember. I think the inheritance we give our children is filled with our faults as well as our attributes. When we think of an inheritance we usually think about wealth, land, and family heirlooms but our words hold our inheritance too.

family inheritance

There have been numerous times when we compare our children to ourselves and ourselves to our own parents by our behaviors. Telling our children they are acting just like their father or mother when they misbehave will instill in them that it’s okay to act out in a negative way. This negative behavior is carried with them into adulthood and it becomes a part of who they are to the point of being a fault but not knowing how to stop the behavior.

Yes, we inherit the faults and attributes of our parents, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t build upon what we inherit. If we inherit land or wealth from our parents do we just let it go into ruin like we do when we inherit their faults? No we protect it, we invest it, and we find ways to keep the inheritance growing so we can pass it down to our own children. So why do we let the faults of our parents eat us away and destroy that which is good in us?

Many times I think “Oh what’s the use, it’s never going to work out.” These are the exact words my mom used to tell me whenever I was designing a new dress, sweater, or pattern for my own clothes. I have to make a constant effort to stop that thought, because it destroys any hope of doing anything that I set my mind to. It creates negativity. I also have a constant battle going on in my mind because my father’s words are also there too. But his words were always softer to me and whole lot more positive. His words, “You can do anything you set your mind to!” “I knew you could do it!” “Don’t let anyone steal your thunder!” My father was always encouraging me to be the best me possible. But it’s interesting that the negative is what I hear loud and clear in my head over the positive. Only when I consciously push the negative words of my mother out of my head is when I can hear my father’s encouraging words.

There are people in our lives who sit back and can’t remember a time when their own parents encouraged them. This is a sad inheritance to bestow on children. This lack of encouragement gets passed down to their children and their grandchildren. We need to remember that our words come from our hearts and minds. If we don’t control our minds and speak positively to our children we are giving them an inheritance of pain, misery, confusion, and chaos.

Proverbs 13:22 “The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”

If you want to children’s children to have a good heart and mind, you must mind your words today.

Stop yelling at them. Encourage them.

Stop using sarcasm. Encourage them.

Stop swearing at them. Encourage them.

Praise them. Encourage them.

Encourage them. Encourage them.

TIP #16: GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Two years ago I started a gratitude journal, in response to something I had read in a magazine article to write down what I was grateful for in my life for one year. This journal was to make me think about the positive things in my life instead of the negative things that have permeated our society. What I noticed about myself what that as I was grateful for everything God has done, for the people, and things in my life. At the end of each day I would write down at least 10 things I was grateful for that day. I was always grateful for the basics: God, my husband, my sons and my family therefore; I tried to come up with 10 different things to be grateful for. One day I was grateful that one of my coworkers would trade work days with me so I could have one of the Spring Holy Days off and not lose any pay.  I was also grateful to several people at church for helping me with after services snack set up when it wasn’t their turn. Three months into this journal I started to wonder if just writing down what I was grateful for was a selfish act. Shouldn’t gratitude be something I share with the people who are bestowing kindness on me?

astrantia-moulin-rouge-7218-1

Gratitude is more profound than just being thankful for something. Having gratitude towards someone for a kind deed means that I needed to take an action and let that person know how grateful I am for their kind deed. Simply writing it down in a journal does nothing. Gratitude deals with our heart. We must give gratitude away for it to mean something. On the other hand, being thankful is a feeling. Thankfulness is the awareness that someone has done something for you when you least expected it. Keeping a “thankful journal,” listing what we are thankful for throughout our day makes us aware of those kind deeds.

As I continued to write in my journal, I also began buying packs of thank-you cards, so I could say “thank you” directly to the people who made a difference in my life. Gratitude is to be shared not written about and hidden in the pages of some journal. My gratitude journal turned into a tool of expressing my thankfulness for the people and the acts of kindness that were bestowed on me.

Do we show the people in our lives how thankful we are that they are a part of our lives?  Bake some cookies for the neighbor who shoveled your sidewalk.  Write a letter to those people in your life that have gone out of their way to make your journey on this earth livable.  Acknowledge the things you are grateful for in your conversations with your coworker, who picked up the slack at your office, when you were gone for the Feast. Send thank you cards, not through the internet, but real, paper thank-you cards. Say exactly what you are thankful for in the card, make it specific: “Thank you for…holding the elevator for me every day.” “I am grateful to you for…sharing your harvest with me” “You are a blessing to me…for calling me during the busy week!” Don’t let another day go by without showing your gratitude.