September 17, 2014

Plentiful Sunshine


Have you ever noticed that weather reports tend to lead with the chance of BAD weather rather than telling us the glass-half-full version? I mean, really. You never hear, "There's a 70 percent chance that it WON'T rain today!" No. The report usually tells us of the likelihood that it WILL rain, even if it's slight. Why is that?

My new friend Tommy planted that seed in my brain this morning. Who is Tommy, you ask? Tommy Newberry is the author of a daily devotional that I've just started reading - 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life. It is based on his 4:8 Principle (Philippians 4:8) of shifting our focus to the things that bring us joy rather than dwelling on the stuff that brings us down. That's a really hard thing to do, if you really think about it. It is for me anyway.

I am a worrier. I worry about money, relationships, the future, Auburn football, and a myriad of other issues, most of which I have absolutely no control over. It seems automatic for my brain to go to the places of obsessing about what isn't going right in my life, and what good does that do? I end up just twisting myself into knots and making matters worse. It hasn't worked for me so far, so I'm going to give "living 4:8" a shot.

I'm on Day 3 of 40 and today's devotional is titled "Hundreds of Problems, Millions of Blessings: the Joy of Perspective." The truth is I have WAY more blessings in my life than I have problems. I'd even go as far as to say that's true for most of us. Here are a few things to which I'm going to actively shift my thinking when I feel myself starting to drift over to the worry zone:

  • A relationship with God that is growing and changing everyday in deeply meaningful ways. 
  • My big family filled with people who love and protect me intensely. 
  • More friends than I deserve who are there for me in every way that I need.
  • A career that I love, and a job that feels important and impactful to the people I serve.
  • An over abundance of doggy affection.
I really am surrounded by love. What's better than that?


Look. I'm no Cindy Sunshine, but I'm going to do my best to start thinking more like her than like Debbie Downer.

I am committing this verse to memory today:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (MSG) 
- Philippians 4:8

As I closed my book this morning, I decided to check the weather report on the handy dandy app on my iPhone, and what do ya know?!


Wishing you all plentiful sunshine and blessings today and everyday!

March 3, 2014

Giving Up

tap...tap...tap....
Is this thing on??

It's hard to believe that the season of Lent is upon us once again. This season has been very special to me for many years now. I always give something up (some years more successfully than others), but it's more than that. More recently it has been a time of prayer, faith, and recommitment to what is really important.

Before I get to the more personal part, let's cover a few basics about Lent:

It's not just for Catholics! Each year on Ash Wednesday when I'm walking around with a big black mark on my forehead, I inevitably hear, "Oh. I didn't know you were Catholic" or something of that sort. While it's true that the Catholic church may have historically put the most emphasis on Lent, it does not mean that they are the only ones who observe it. I am Methodist, but that is less important than the fact that I am a Christian, and this is just one of the ways that I choose to practice and demonstrate my faith.

What is that on you forehead? The Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday and many churches hold special services on this day. Usually the ashes come from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter). The imposition of ashes is not mandated in the Bible and certainly isn't a requirement, but many (including me) find it a meaningful practice showing reverence, repentance, and commitment.

What is the point of "giving something up"? Lent is symbolic for the 40 days (not including Sundays) that Jesus spent in the desert where he fasted and was tempted by Satan to turn away from God. In the Lenten observance, the point is to make some sort of sacrifice as a show of faith and use the season as a time of preparation for the Holiest Week of the year when we celebrate Christ's glorification. I've seen some of my deeply believing brothers and sisters in Christ question this practice of giving up something for Lent. The fact is, there is no scriptural mandate for it. For me, it is a personal challenge and a way to refocus on what matters the most in my life.

40 days not including Sundays? Why not Sundays? Actually, I really don't know. The literature suggests that Sunday is a feast day or a mini-Easter, so I suppose for those who truly fast during Lent, it's necessary to have a feast day to...you know...stay alive. I once engaged in a heated debate with a friend over the "not including Sundays" bit. She thought I was just making it up, so I could have a cheat day. Even though I wasn't, I've actually tended to include Sundays in my "giving up", because I think I might lose a bit of my resolve to see it all the way through if I didn't.

Personally, I have had quite a year, and I intend to make this Lent season more meaningful than ever. I'm not going to get into specifics about what I'm giving up, because that's really not important. It's not about avoiding coffee, chocolate, fast food, or whatever else. It's really about preparing my heart for a deeper relationship with my Savior. I know that this should be my focus everyday - not just during Lent. That being said, I am going to use this season to quiet my soul and avoid distractions that pull me further away from Him.

Like everyone else, I am carrying my own cross, and I hope that by Easter I can celebrate my own resurrection along with my Savior's. I pray the same thing for you. If you believe in the power of prayer and have room on your prayer list, I would certainly appreciate a place on it. I would be honored to pray for you as well. Feel free to leave a comment or email me directly if there is something specific on your heart. If not, I will simply pray for peace and love to find you in the way that God intended for all of us.

September 27, 2013

Forgive



C.S. Lewis“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
― C.S. Lewis

 

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