August 31, 2015

Get in the Grateful Groove!

"Without Faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him." ~ Hebrew 11:6
I was reminded of this verse in Stephanie's Documented Faith lesson this week as I was looking for natural love notes on Pinterest to pin onto my HEART board. And I found many snapshots to train my eye to see, however neat those images are, how can people not see the love Christ has for them through the natural world? They have collected the pictures, but how can  they not connect to him who sent them?
They cannot see because: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4).
It was very eerie for me to have written that post last week on anger and only two days later, to hear about a guy so blinded by the rage he nursed for five years that he planned to strike back at the very people he hated and kill two reporters. He wore a giant chip on his shoulder for years just so that he could play the blame game. It was really sad.
A girlfriend sent me a timely email forward this morning. It said:

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a natural motivator. 

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. 

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it! 

You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" 
He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... you can choose to be in a bad mood

I choose to be in a good mood." 

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. 

"Yes, it is," he said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. 
You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life." 

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left that industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. 

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident. 

When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?" 

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter," he replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live." 

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked 

He continued, "..the paramedics were great. 
They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action." 

"What did you do?" I asked. 

"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said John. "She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity'." 
Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." 

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude... I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. 

Attitude, after all, is everything -- so, get in the grateful groove!

August 25, 2015

Grab a cup of tea, it's gonna be a long post!

Our son gave me a handful of these sesame seed and honey covered nuts
to eat the other day.
Guess what I found in the handful?
~~ <> @ <> ~~
It's hard to be grateful when you are angry. For years I thought it was a sin to be angry, so I would stuff my anger down inside until I exploded and woe anyone in the way (old habits die hard -- thank God for grace, 'cause I'm a work in progress.)
One of my school counselors, after a especially difficult day,  said I was full of anger.  Well, duh, kids can be real nasty to the different. I turned to God early because somehow I knew He cared, He listened to my little tales of woe, and He understood. It took me a little while longer though, to read the Bible, because I thought  reading it was to guilt me into the kingdom and I felt judged (little did I know the devil was beating me over the head with it). I didn't really read the Bible straight through until I was an adult. It took an experience of praying for God's love to wash over me before I actually opened the book to read his love letter to me.

The Bible gives clues, if you know how to decipher them about how to deal with anger. Even God and Jesus were angry from time to time.  (You know I can hear the wheel turning in your mind saying, "Oh, yeah, where does the Bible say they were? Hang on, I'm getting to that part.)
God's Righteous Anger: "How often they (the Israelites) rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland! Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. . . He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility -- a band of destroying angels. He prepared a path for his anger. . ." (Psalm 78:40-41, 49-50a).
An example of Jesus' righteous anger in action: "So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:15-16).
However, thank goodness, God is slow to anger: "Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh; a passing breeze that does not return." (Psalm 78:38-39). . . "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." (Jonah 4:2b)

Like children, the Israelites pushed God's buttons, but the Almighty was able to control his temper. And when he did get angry, it only lasted a moment: "Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name. for his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30: 4-5).
The first part of Ephesians 4:26 says "In your anger do not sin." It doesn't say "Do not be angry for that is sin." The second part of the verse says: "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold." This is the clue that I overlooked -- taking care of the anger issue as soon as possible, otherwise unhappiness grows into a monster.

Instead of immediately lashing out though, I must give myself the 10-second rule. Breathe, count to ten and try to calm down. Then  I must pray for wisdom and discernment (understanding). James 1:5 says: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

Second, I must think about why I'm angry. Does it involve pride or principle? Someone once told me that I must pick my battles. If the issue involves a principle, then I must say something to the other person as soon as possible, just as Jesus did to the distracting cheats out in the temple grounds, otherwise it sits and festers like a boil.
However, I'm usually a coward and don't like to confront people, because under duress, I get intimidated, go blank and usually embarrass myself by  just crying. Sometimes it's just easier to stuff it and walk away, then to confront the other person.  It's really, really hard for me to be assertive, however, walking away doesn't always solve the issue.
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault; just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. . . Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" (Matthew 18: 15-22).

However, if it's a principle, then I pray for the other person: "pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:28), grit my teeth and get on with it.

A friend once told me to make a "sandwich." She's a child-minder and occasionally has to talk to the parents about something naughty their child did that day. Most parents get offended if she just spills her gut, so she has learned a technique to sandwich something negative between two positives. She said it makes the negative thing less offensive.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverb 15:1). My husband once told me that I would attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. I don't always remember to go sweet, but practice makes perfect or so they say! *smile* You know I've been writing all this, just to remind myself of what to do, right?

"If one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." (James 5:19,20).  When I was parenting, my youngest sister and I agreed we had to disciple our children for eternity's sake. Didn't make us always popular with the junior set, but we knew we had to do it, for the above reason. Sometimes talking to people doesn't make us popular with them either. I've had people walk away from our friendship because they didn't agree with me and couldn't say I'm sorry.  It's a risk you take.
 ~~ <> @ <> ~~
My husband and I stopped for a bite to eat last weekend at Taco Via. Down in the tray was a sheet of paper my hubby asked if I wanted to keep for my faith journal and I said, "sure, 'nuf!"
And speaking of my faith journal, I've been doing a little cleaning out (I had a paper challenge going on over on my craft blog) and I found a bunch of business cards that I obtained from various people associated with my churches. Shorty is one of them. He and his friends were called "The Joy Boys or the Witt Brothers -- Half, Nit, & Dim" Two of the Witt Brothers have graduated to heaven and I miss seeing their smiling faces, however the other one has recently been in the hospital. I'm sure he would appreciate prayers for good health!

I might have to use a little washi (decorative) tape on the inside of the business card plastic sleeve to keep them from sliding out. That sleeve is extra slippery.
I'm still currently using two notebooks -- the green one holds three months worth of material, but the other one is getting fatter as I slip out the old stuff and add in the new stuff. I saw a Youtube video awhile back and am thinking of adding an elastic closure to my big notebook to keep stuff from falling out.

 And last but not least, I have another "love note" to add. *smile*  Wow, two in one week!  Thank you, Jesus, for the new rose on my once-a-year-bloom rose bush. (Sorry for the blurry pic, I had to hold the camera at an odd angle in order to get the rose in the shot.)

August 11, 2015

Grace, the Princess of the Pea

One of our Documented Faith weekly prompts under the monthly word "Authenticity" came late and this was the verse --
"For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing." ~ Romans 7:19. 
I refused to write out a memory card for that particular verse because I  thought Stephanie was giving herself an excuse for failing to send out the prompt earlier. I'm just stating my opinion, by the way, however, the week after that, our Pastor preached on Grace, by using an illustration of  the Princess and the Pea story by Hans Christian Anderson which fit so perfectly well with Romans 7:19, that I knew I  had to fill out my memory card with the additional "second verse" as a two-part memory verse -- one verse explaining the failure and the other verse telling of God's grace. 
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so Christ's power may rest on me. . . For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
Grace looked like a half-drowned rat when she arrived at the door of the castle that rainy night asking for shelter. She said she came ahead on foot, because her carriage had broken down several miles back, and since she was a Princess, she felt she could ask at the castle for a place to wait out the storm so that her carriage could to be repaired and she could  be on her way. However, not knowing if this statement was true (about being a Princess), the Queen decided to test her to see just how sensitive she really was because everyone knows that only royalty are sensitive to the tenth degree and nobody but royalty would do for her son, the Prince, who wasn't married yet, so  the Queen had a bed in a guest room built up with several mattresses and she placed a dried pea under the bottom of the  stack. Of course, the next morning the Princess was terribly unhappy because she didn't get a wink of sleep and was black and blue from the hard place in the bed. And as you know the rest of the story, Grace passed the Queen's test with flying colors and she and Prince Charming got married and lived happily ever after.
Paul, on the other hand, to prevent him from becoming conceited, God allowed him to experience  a physical " thorn" that tormented him so. Biblical historians think it was some kind of handicap or chronic disease and Paul pleaded with the Lord to take it away three times, but the Lord did not. Instead he told Paul that his grace was all he needed, because when he was weak, then he was sensitive to the Lord's power and strength in his life. God knew how arrogant he had been before his Damascus experience and this thorn kept him humble and grateful.
I've had several people come to me recently and say to me, "The Lord wants you to be in good health, so all you need to do is pray for healing and he will heal you." And I've told them, it's all right if the Lord chooses not to heal me, for it may be in my best interest to not be to healed at that time. However, if the Lord so chooses, he can heal me as the good news I shared last week shows! I had a great grateful  praise and worship time last week into the wee hours of the morning after I received the GOOD NEWS that there was no shadow! No Cancer!
And today, to top it off, I received an cartoon in an email from a friend in another state. Ironically, it fits  in perfectly with the prevailing theme; Grace, after a long happy marriage to her Prince Charming is: 

August 01, 2015

I've Got HAPPY!

I could have danced all day,
 I could have danced all day
with JOY like these HAPPY people, 'cause, guess what?
Six months ago, I had 2 mammograms and an ultrasound and was told to come back for a follow up because they were seeing a "shadow" they were concerned about,
I prayed about it,
felt peace
guess what?
The "shadow" is GONE!