Thursday, October 28, 2010

remember/realize there is only one way up...

remember/realize there is only one way up. Heaven is a reality. It is real. And it's open to anyone who wants to go there, but there is only one way up.

Heaven is a gift. It can't be bought. It can't be earned. Eternal salvation is the most amazing gift God has ever given us. All you have to do is accept Him and receive His gift. Many people haven't realized this yet. They don't understand that surrender is actually victory. There are some lyrics by Third Day in their song "Caught up in Yourself" that I feel hit the nail on the head.

Take a good look around you and I'm sure you are bound to think that all you have comes down to you and what you've done.
If you look far beyond this, there's a life I hope you don't miss.
What has kept you from moving on is learning to let go.
And there's so much more than what you're looking for.
Caught up in yourself - call it like it is - well, you're so good but you'll never be good enough.
You think if you surrender it's the end, but just remember life is more than dying embers burning your soul.
And I know it's true because I am just like you.
Thank God for mercy.
Thank God for His grace.
Thank God for everything you've got - before it's too late.

So, for today I pray that you and those you can touch will realize the way up and seize it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

teach my children about the real world...

teach my children about the real world. Today I will stop coddling my child. I will stop being so overprotective that I rob my child of any survival skills. I will stop pretending that the world is fair.

Maybe it's not politically correct but it is true...some people win and some people lose, not everyone is nice, you actually have to work for what you want, there's no such thing as a free ride, Mommy & Daddy won't always be there to take care of everything for you, money doesn't grow on trees, you have to take responsibility for your actions, you need to respect yourself and draw a line in the sand, just because the "in" crowd is doing that doesn't mean you should, some people will take advantage of you, not everyone tells the truth, and yes some people are just plain mean. I could go on and on. Our society is creating a false world for our children. They aren't learning sportsmanship; they aren't learning the value of a dollar; they aren't learning self-respect, modesty or values; they aren't learning negotiation and compromise; they aren't learning restraint; they aren't learning to make wise choices - they aren't learning. And whose fault is that? Don't blame television, music or movies. Don't blame the teachers or the coaches. The blame lies where the blame belongs - on us parents. We need to teach our children the realities of the world. It doesn't have to be harsh 100% doom-n-gloom, but they do need to understand reality, their role in life and the responsibility and consequences of their actions. You want them to be prepared, strong, quick thinking, responsible, thoughtful, talented achievers who go far in life. So give them the survival skills they need to make wise choices, to respect themselves and others, to know boundaries, and to know and trust God. Do your job. Teach your children. Teach them everything. Arm them with the weapon of knowledge. Temper the realities of this world with the hope and joy of Jesus. If you give them a true sense of balance between the two, they will do alright.

So, for today I will teach my children about the real world. I am not doing right by them to give them a false sense of reality. It is my job to provide survival skills and teach them. I want them strong and ready for life, so I will trust them to absorb the truth and learn from it. And I will pray continually for their strength, confidence and choices.

Monday, October 25, 2010

accept criticism...

accept criticism (constructive criticism). This one is tough for me!! I know that I'm not perfect. But, I think I do most things well so when someone points out "a better way to do that" let's just say I'm not the most patient or accepting person.

But I'm wrong when I act that way. Constructive criticism usually comes from a good place. That other person is offering a tip that they think might help. They want to help me. Why should I get upset by that? I always want God to help me. Maybe He's sending those people into my life to help, so why is it hard to listen? They aren't calling me a failure by offering a suggestion. They are helping, but in my defensiveness I take it as an intrusion, a nuisance, and a negative. My whole ego gets wounded. That's the heart of the matter - egos! We want to feel confident, accomplished, perhaps even superior. We are certain that our way is correct and wonderful and exemplary. But you know what? I have a lot of friends and family who do things totally different from me and they are awesome, talented, outstanding people. So I think it's time to push the ego aside and be glad that there is variety in the world. It's time to open up my eyes and my mind to the many possibilities for handling any given situation. I may not change my preferences, but I don't have to be defensive and I can accept the gracious help that someone is offering to me. If I listen and accept the constructive criticism I might actually learn something new!

So, for today I will accept constructive criticism. The Ego flare up will be left out and I will listen and try to learn and be grateful that someone cared enough to want to help me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

make and compare lists...

make and compare lists. We make lists for errands, responsibilities and job tasks - but have you ever made or compared your "happy" list?

We all define our happiness by certain things that are important to us. If it's a need or want that's a high priority on our list, then we need our partner to oblige the request and provide whatever that is to fulfill the item on the list. The problem is - sometimes we don't even know what's on the other persons list. And, what we may also forget is that the things that are important to me may not even be on my spouses' list. He may (and does) have a totally different set of things on his list. If I only acknowledge the things on my list as being valid, I won't come close to giving him what he needs and making him happy. See if this sounds familiar - "I do everything for him/her and he/she doesn't appreciate it or me. All that I do should be enough so I don't know what his/her problem is!" The key point is the "everything" you may be doing for the other person is not the priority on their list, so guess what - not happy. You've got to know their list and not what you think they want/need. Maybe he doesn't care if you cook, but he cares that you'll watch a football game with him and just order a pizza. Maybe she doesn't care if you help with the dishes, but she cares that you cuddle and read with her as you fall asleep instead of watching TV in the bedroom. Maybe he helps with the kids, but what she needs is for him to still see her as a sexy desirable woman he can't keep his hands off. Sometimes we struggle to express our true needs for happiness. It makes us feel vulnerable, we think the other person should automatically "know" what we want, or we don't think they'll do it so we never ask. So make it easy - make a list. Make sure your top three are actually the things that you MUST have in order to be happy. And be explicit - don't just write down "romance." (hint hint Ladies - men understand precise instructions, not vague generalities). Once the lists are made - exchange, compare and then commit to focusing on the items that make the other person HAPPY. And this applies to friendships too. If you care about tha happiness of your friends, get to know what it really is that they need out of your relationship and focus on their list. Good friends are hard to find. True friends are even harder to find. So the lists of friends are just as important.

So, for today I will compare lists. Things may be going pretty good or things may be off track. But I am going to make my list and compare it to my spouses'. When I do I will discover some things I never knew and I will strive to oblige my loved one with the items that make them happy. After all, if I love someone shouldn't I want to make them happy. So what's on your list?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

speak in a kind voice...

speak in a kind voice. That shouldn't be too hard should it? I mean none of us ever get frustrated, short-tempered, irritated, disappointed, annoyed, or furious - right? Ha! Well then go ahead and get frustrated or irritated, but instead of lashing out - control yourself.

For today speak in a kind, calm voice no matter what the situation. Did you hear that? No matter what the situation (and dealing with your kids counts). You don't have to be harsh or hostile or aggressive to make your point or get respect. Approach the situation from strength (controlled calmness) not weakness (uncontrolled aggravation). Still say whatever it is that you need to say, but keep a softer, calmer, kinder tone of voice. You will find that it deescalates the situation instead of escalating it. (And the urban myth that kids only listen when you yell isn't true.)

So, for today I will speak in a kind voice. I will control my attitude and approach. Jesus communicated with love and respect when correcting, guiding and disciplining those around Him. So, for today let's be more like Jesus and speak in a kind voice.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ask God to carry me...

ask God to carry me. Most of the good relationships in your life are partnerships. You've worked out an explicit or implicit set of expectations and boundaries with the other person. It's a give-and-take kind of thing that works out well. You do your part, they do theirs - everyone is happy.

God is the only partner I know who definitely allows me a different interpretation. He "takes" everything I can throw at Him and "gives" me everything I need. Supportive, patient, and forgiving don't even seem like big enough words to describe how good He is to me. The one thing though that I count on the most is His ability to carry me when I can't go on. He's with me side by side everyday helping me through my challenges and obstacles, but some days even with that I still can feel lost or unsure. On those days, I ask Him to carry me. I don't just lay my burdens at His feet, I actually have Him hoist me up into His arms and carry me through. I need Him to think for me, walk for me, choose the path for me. I need to be lifted up into the arms of my Father. To be cared for and protected by Him like a scared little child. On those days, I'm so grateful that our relationship isn't defined in the usual manner. Some days we all feel like babes in the woods. All of a sudden we are lost and we have no clue what to do, where to go, whom to trust. Just like little children, we need our Daddy. We need the strength and comfort that only He can provide when He picks us up and carries us and says, "It's o.k. Everything will be alright."

So, for today I will ask God to carry me. I need sometimes to breakdown knowing that I can't do it on my own. I need Him to not only help me, I need Him to carry me. I need the freedom from figuring out what to do. I need His thoughts, His plans, His steps. I need the peace and security that only He can provide. I need my Father to carry me and tell me there is a plan and things will be o.k.

Monday, October 4, 2010

remember what I learned on Sunday...

remember what I learned on Sunday. I love going to church on Sunday. The message gives me fuel for my soul. I have new things to consider and think about and I feel energized as I leave the service knowing that I am armed and ready for the week.

I think a lot of people feel that way. We go to church to praise God and He ends up blessing us with a new focus and renewed dedication and a joy-filled heart wanting to spread His love. So why is it then that the "noise" of the world can drown out that wonderful message and make it hard to remember what was even said? By Wednesday, we are so caught up in the commotion of news and jobs and emails and phone calls and texts - we have communication overload and we can't remember the message that meant so much just a few days before. The message in church was more important than anything else going on, but it's one of the first things forgotten. It's sad, but it's fixable. I have found that if I take a few notes of key points during the sermon, the message sticks with me and I can refer back to it during the week to stay focused. You jot down notes when you go to the grocery store so you won't forget things right? You send emails to a friend to remind them of an appointment or date don't you? We mark our calendars so we don't miss that big event? So, why is it that we don't have the discipline to write down a few simple notes of God's love, encouragement or power during service. Those notes will help you far more than a calendar or an email. They can keep you on the right path when things start going wrong. God is giving you a message each Sunday to carry you through the week. He's the teacher, we're the students. So take your notes and study. You'll find yourself staying more focused and feeling stronger if you do.

So, for today I will remember what I learned on Sunday. I will start taking notes and making the effort to retain God's wonderful messages. I will be the student who is eager to learn and grow from God's words. I know that He is speaking directly to me during service, so I will write down what He says and I will be able to hear His communication to me throughout the week. His message will overpower the communication overload of my life and I will remember what He has taught me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

will not be lazy...

will not be lazy. But it's Friday! I want to relax and do nothing this weekend! My life is jam-packed all week long and I want to be lazy! If that's what you're saying to yourself right now, don't worry this isn't as hard as you think.

My definition of lazy in this instance is not related to your physical activity or work or kids - it's related to your relationship with God. We are so fortunately blessed in the fact that God loves us and keeps doing His job whether we hold up our end of the deal or not. He doesn't take time off, He doesn't "forget" you, and He doesn't put in half effort when He decides on your blessings. He's not lazy. But many times, we take Him for granted and forget He's there, forget to say "thank you" and forget to talk to Him. Just for today I'm asking you to not be lazy in your relationship with Him. Remember Him today. Talk to Him today. Say, "thank you" today. Let Him know that you do love Him, you do need Him, you do want Him in your life and that you would not want to find out what life would be like without Him. He's the best friend you could ever imagine and you know it. If we treated any of our friends or family the way we sometimes treat God - we'd probably be very lonely! So give Him some effort today.

So, for today I will not be lazy. I will put God properly back into my "T.G.I.F" for all the right reasons. I will be a better friend to Him today than I was yesterday. I will appreciate Him and thank Him and call on Him when I need Him. He's always there for me so today I will be there for Him and with Him.