How to NOT Shine Your Light


“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
Charles R. Swindoll

Attitude, attitude, attitude!! You guessed it. It’s ALL about attitude, yours and mine.

So lately I have been dealing (read that NOT dealing) with a terrible attitude myself. Mr. Wonderful now works nights. My mind wants to wait up for him. The 1 yr old has been teething and I am slowly, slooooowly trying to wean her. My school-aged kids wake up early and begin their morning clumping-through-the-house-like-circus-elephants routine. My 3 yr old is very mischievous and can-NOT be left alone. He finds things to nibble, and color with and on, and knock over, etc, etc. I also watch a little boy M-F and he arrives around 7:45 in the morning. I cannot usually sleep in. I cannot usually coordinate nap time so I can nap, although Heaven help me I am trying! Fact: I end up staying up too late to outlast my kids and the baby who needs a quiet room to actually stay asleep, and I have MUCHO interrupted sleep at all times of the night. Laying there fuming is not conducive to sleep as I try to get comfortable sans noise, and yep, when I DO finally start to fall asleep, that’s when the baby wakes up crying, Mr. Wonderful’s truck rumbles into the driveway, the kids get up for school, the 3yr old begins stomping up and down the hallway, there is a knock at the door, yadda-yadda. Fact: all of this adds up to make me a less-than-lovely, un-shiny, desperate, grumpy, snarky, impatient, schnickelfritz. Mr. T. a.k.a. B.A. Baracus. Yep, I AM that man……or woman. Anyway, moving right along. 

When I was looking up a passage on attitude for this post, I found a story about King Solomon. (You know, like the Mines? Kidding. Solomon, as in David and Bathsheba’s second son, Richie Rich in Biblical times, wise as…lots of wives, yeah, that one.) He and God had this agreement that basically went: Solomon honors God ONLY and puts a stop to worshiping other gods which were really leading the population into doing some bad things, like human sacrifice, etc. In return for Solomon’s exclusivity, God would bless him and his lineage and establish his kingdom, like He had promised David. Long story short…..Solomon flubbed it. He decided he was just going to go ahead and do his own thing (back to his insane, polygamous obsession for marrying, and marrying, and marrying…More on the company we keep and how it can ruin our character later.)

“Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.’ ” 1 Kings 11:-13

A bad attitude can really ruin a good thing. Solomon should have known better, just like the rest of us when we decide to do it our way and reap the  less-than-lovely, un-shiny, desperate, grumpy, snarky, impatient, schnickelfritz consequences. You can bet your sweet Aunt Bippy that this kind of life is NOT what God intends for any of us, either. When we get an attitude, He wants to give us more of Him, so that the amazingness that is God, fills us up so much that there is no room for the junk that makes us (and everyone around us) so very unhappy. All that is left is Him, and we become the person He intended us to be all along:

“blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world.” Philippians 2:15 Amplified

Focusing my mind to actually think about my attitude and the effects of it on those around me, most notably the 3 tiny ones who can’t do anything to stop me and are at my mercy. When my attitude is horrible, they suffer. Then hubby wakes up and he suffers. My kids get home, the phone rings, I get a text from my mom, etc….a bad attitude will lead to consequences that just snowball. It’s time to STOP THE MADNESS already! Here is what God says about our attitude:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 Amplified
“Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him], Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. [Zech. 8:16.] When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.” Ephesians 4:21-29 Amplified
“A scoffer seeks Wisdom in vain [for his very attitude blinds and deafens him to it], but knowledge is easy to him who [being teachable] understands. Go from the presence of a foolish and self-confident man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips. The Wisdom [godly Wisdom, which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of [self-confident] fools is to deceive. Fools make a mock of sin and sin mocks the fools [who are its victims; a sin offering made by them only mocks them, bringing them disappointment and disfavor], but among the upright there is the favor of God. [Prov. 10:23.]” Proverbs 4:6-9 Amplified

Keeping your eyes on the prize is essential. Do you want to just wake up one day and find that 50 years have gone by and you are still as lonely, impatient, selfish, touchy, unforgiving, gossipy, and unhappy as you always have been? To make the needful and difficult changes to be a more whole and sound and actually beneficial to others human being, you are going to have to dig in and work for it, and so will I.

If you have read only this post, or even if you are a follower, you will hopefully understand that this is not a “mommy blog”. There is a need and a place for those, definitely; but I hope to relate to you as a human being first. I am flawed and ridiculous and vain and selfish and small. I also know Jesus, who is none of those things, and I need him DESPERATELY to not only bring me out of a funk or make me pleasant to be around; but to help me to reach my ULTIMATE life goal, which is to be like Him and help others to know him. There are enormous obstacles in the way of that, but Jesus Christ is more than enough, for you and for me.

 “IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [Ps. 110:1.] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
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Day of the Dead?


Love, like death, changes everything.” ~Kahlil Gibran

This time of year has always been my favorite. I love the fall colors, the fall food, the fall sweaters, smells, etc, etc. My anniversary is November 1st (5yrs tomorrow!). Halloween, on the other hand, used to be a big question mark for me. Do I celebrate, as a Christian? Do I make a point of telling others about my faith? Do I pretend I’m not at home? Do I celebrate as my non-Christian friends and neighbors do? I’m not sure why I tend to over-think things like this, but that’s the way I am. I like to analyze.

This year is a little different. There has been a LOT of death recently in my community and in my own life as well as the lives of my friends and family. It quite honestly frightens me. Like a divorce, the death of a friend or loved one (or the friends and loved ones of friends), death makes you reevaluate things in your life like relationships, priorities, hopes and dreams, and the unknown clock that is running out for each and every one of us. We each carry a skeleton around on the inside.

If the focus, for you or me or anyone else, stays on death, then no, Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead festivities are not fitting for a Christian to celebrate perhaps. There is, of course, more to the story than a skull and crossbones at the end of the trail. Our story continues after death. For those who have decided against popular culture and chosen Christ, there is no fear of what comes after death, because of the love of God.

“It will happen suddenly, quicker than the blink of an eye. At the sound of the last trumpet the dead will be raised. We will all be changed, so that we will never die again. Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won’t die or decay. The bodies we now have are weak and can die. But they will be changed into bodies that are eternal. Then the Scriptures will come true, “Death has lost the battle!Where is its victory?Where is its sting?”Sin is what gives death its sting, and the Law is the power behind sin.But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory!My dear friends, stand firm and don’t be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile.”1 Corinthians 15:52-58

 

The Wisdom of Going Through


“Why is it that men who can go through severe accidents, air raids, and any other major crisis always seems to think that they are at death’s door when they have a simple head cold?”Shirley Booth

A week or two ago, I came down with a cold. I had achy-breaky fever and chills. I sneezed and felt the tingle of impending sinus infection doom. I was miserable. You know the feeling. It’s funny how we can endure so many things except when our own body or health is challenged. You eventually recover from these little things, with a new appreciation for all the time you spend NOT feeling this way. Sometimes going through is the absolute best thing for us. Like exercise, sometimes we have to push through pain and discomfort in order to be stronger.

I spent years as a single mom who worked and went to school online. (Talk about your “going through”.) It was hard. There were so many times I felt like giving up on my dream of improving my life and the lives of my children. I almost threw in the towel instead of being a good example and showing my children (and the many naysayers) that some things are worth a fight. Instead of this, however, I pushed through and pushed and pushed and eventually earned my AA in Business Administration. After a few more years, and becoming very happily remarried, I was able to return to my studies and earned my Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. I have hopes of earning my Master’s and beyond one day. I will NOT reach these goals, on the other hand, if I begin to doubt that I can. My mind dictates the path my life will follow. not everything that happens to us is something we would have chosen, BUT we can learn the lessons we are meant to learn and come out better, stronger, and kinder than we were before the troubles came.

Perhaps my cold could help me to be more motivated to clean my house, eat healthy, drink water, wash my hands (for my sister in nursing school), and get good rest. Perhaps the next time I hear a friend is sick, I will be more compassionate and know how to ease their suffering a bit (temporary though it may be). Perhaps when I hear of people (or their loved ones) suffering chronic or terminal illnesses, my heart will go out to them, instead of a cold should shoulder and judgement, and I will be able to turn my attention toward thankfulness for all the pain I have NEVER had to suffer. It is only reasonable to expect us to learn something. We are reasoning beings, after all, are we not?

Maybe more than our immune systems or personal goals should be made stronger when we endure something unpleasant, tiring, irksome, humiliating, etc. Maybe what should be strengthened is our determination to reach out to others and encourage them as we have been encouraged. Maybe this strange life we all have to live on this strange planet and in these strange bodies with other strange beings is simply getting us ready for the ultimate strange destination of our souls?

“…Then he took hold of the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankle bones became strong and steady, And leaping forth he stood and began to walk, and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking about and praising God, And they recognized him as the man who usually sat [begging] for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement (bewilderment, consternation) over what had occurred to him…” Acts 3:1-26 Amplified (selected, read the whole passage here)

Hope Deferred, and Deferred, and Deferred…


“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” Eliza Tabor

Where I live, there is a common saying that Spring has not arrived until the snow flattens the daffodils.  Let me tell you, it is as true as it is disappointing.  The lovely, cheerful yellows, oranges, and whites under a blanket of snow is a bittersweet beginning to the end of winter’s long, slow sleep. Winter can seem so long and drear, it is sometimes hard to remember that it lasts only for a time. Winter, however, is only a season, even in the mountains. Everything in nature tells us that nothing lasts forever. Winter eventually turns to spring, every time. The seeds that go into the ground eventually sprout and rise from the soil as young seedlings, already well on their way to become the dreamed-of plants we originally intended to plant in our gardens.

Life, like the natural seasons, has its times of growth, blooming, death, recovery, and most of all, waiting. Sometimes it seems we wait forever, until the day at last arrives when we see the fruit of our labor, tears, prayers, and long, sleepless nights. Our hopes and dreams usually follow a wait, as well as a lot of hard work and planning. We often have to implement a lot of changes and innovations to our old ways of thinking and doing and talking. We make new contacts, buy new things: clothes, tools, buildings, etc.  (Dreams are many and as varied as the people who dream them.) We also often lose weight, start exercising, add rooms on to our homes, build, begin, become.

Days, weeks, and sometimes years pass before we are able to see our dreams come true. Most likely, more time passes than we anticipate. More money is spent than was in our original budget. More work was necessary than our original estimate. Our plans alter as we prioritize and fix our sights on the future and the realization of our hopes and dreams. We do a lot of waiting… “One day”, we think.  “Someday”, we hope. “But when? But how? But how long??” we cry.

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8:43-48
Twelve years is a long time to wait, especially when an unpleasant situation continues to take its toll. Scorn, ridicule, shame, and more were this woman’s food for thought for twelve long, and exhausting years. Outcast and broken both physically and financially, she encountered Jesus, and followed in his wake until she was able, perhaps during a pause in his gait, to grab hold of just the smallest part of his clothing. She believed that even a brief encounter could change her life and make her whole. She was at first afraid of what she had done, but hoped on in spite of her boldness and the social impropriety of what she had done. Her shocking presumption to touch a man who was not her husband was met, not with a frown or yet more derision, but with the love of a Savior, whose purpose was to seek and save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)
You are probably waiting for something today. You may have been waiting for a really long time. The continued waiting is probably frustrating, wearing, and discouraging to you and the people who wait with you.
Be encouraged. The snow WILL melt. Spring WILL come. One day will eventually be TO-DAY. Your waiting will not last forever.

The Sunshine of My Life


You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

I feel like this is the beginning
Though I’ve loved you for a million years
And if I thought our love was ending
I’d find myself drowning in my own tears

You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always stay around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

You must have known that I was lonely
Because you came to my rescue
And I know that this must be Heaven
How could so much love be inside of you?

You are the sunshine of my life, yeah
That’s why I’ll always stay around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my soul

You are the sunshine of my life, baby
That’s why I’ll always stay around
Can’t stop living You are the apple of my eye

Stevie Wonder

The things that bring us joy in life are many and varied. What makes one person happy is as unique as that person is themselves. It is February, just after Valentine’s Day, and yet in my neck of the woods (I am surrounded by Plumas National Forest), folks are starting the first of their flower and vegetable seeds indoors, airing out their houses, wearing shirt sleeves while the weather holds, and taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather until the next storm hits. (We are expecting snow on Tuesday.) Gardening, listening to birds sing, cooking, puppy breath, the smell of Fall, the faces of my children, the love of my husband…these are some of the things that make my heart sing, and wrap around me like a warm security blanket. My list is unique to me, although many people would say similar things also make them happy. The love of my particular husband named Adam, the faces of my exact children, and the reasons and memories which are the basis for my list of favorite things are even more specific to me. These things inspire and encourage me when I am feeling discouraged or depressed. When I feel like giving up, they help me go on, and on, and on…

Many studies, such as published on the website of the University of Kansas (Happiness = Health), have shown a strong link between health and happiness. It follows that the happier we are throughout our lives, the healthier we will be as well. A positive attitude and well-developed sense of humor cannot stave of any and all effects of living, naturally; but the road we follow can have a lot less bumps and a lot more scenic vistas. It all depends on our method of travel and our point of view. In other words, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NIV

We all of us need our “heart song” lists. Life is often hard and full of challenges in all shapes, sizes, and durations. If we do not have things to buoy us up, we will surely sink. Perhaps, therefore, it would be wise to focus on not just a happy place, but happy people, place(s), and things. Carry the loves of your life in your heart. Take them with you wherever you go; and never leave home without them. Better than any credit card you might carry, the joy of your heart will help you up like a kind hand extended. With a happy heart, it is much more likely that we will be able to rise again after crushing disappointment. Happiness comes out of us. It is not dependent on our situations. Therefore we must carry it inside of us. What do you carry inside of you day after day? Is it a burden that drags you down, or a boon to uplift your spirit and the spirits of those around you? The greatest source of joy which I have found is the truth of Christ, and Him crucified. After discovering something so rare and excellent, what reason do I have to stay downcast?

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:5

Weathering the Storm That Never Was


“The cyclone had set the house down gently, very gently – for a cyclone—in the midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patches of green sward all about, with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand, and birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the trees and bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sometimes, we are beset by very real problems in life, things that tempt us to worry, fret, and fear what tomorrow may hold. Every human has things that they fear. It is only natural. There are, however, things we fear that are harmless, pointless, illogical, and basically all in our heads. I’m talking about those things that we work ourselves up about and when finally faced, turn out to be no big deal. It’s in those cases when the dread beforehand is worse than the actual thing.

Sometimes it could be test results from the doctor, or a confrontation at work, or a family holiday with your least favorite relative. We all have our oh-no-not-agains. Sometimes we begin to act as though the thing we fear is inevitable, and actually cause it to happen. We might treat ourselves badly and squander our health or money or time and have bad news we might not have had if we had been more sensible. We might be belligerent, hostile and plain old hard to get along with at work, which pretty much guarantees us a confrontation with someone. We might even pick a fight with a relative as we think we’re just being defensive of ourselves and our territory, but what if that relative has undergone some major life crises which have altered that abrasive person you once knew them to be?

I have often feared the storms that never came to be. People, it turns out, are on average just as eager to get along and have peace as we are. Most of the time, we make monsters out of mice and make ourselves miserable in the process.

It might not hurt to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes…no not literally, those stiletto heels are murder. If you can manage to take one someone else’s perspective you may see the situation or issue from an angle you never considered before. You may find a new understanding of them, a new appreciation. You may even find a friend where you anticipated only finding a fiend with claws bared, ready to cut you to ribbons. Take heart, your boss, relative, doctor, grocer, mailman, and neighbor are all just people like you with many hidden layers of hopes dreams and cares behind their greet the day face. Next time, don’t go looking for an opponent where you just might find another teammate.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ” Matthew 6:24-34