Creatures of HABIT

The power had been off for hours, yet every time I entered a room (carrying my flashlight) I still reached for the light switch. Whaaaa? 

Every time as I was walking through the darkness I would remind myself NOT to flip the switch. Yet 9 times out of 10 I still did it.  

A few weeks ago we had a major storm and a pole just a couple blocks up my street was struck by lightning and came down, power wires in the wet street and all. We had our power out for 4 days in humid 95 degree weather. July in the South! I can’t tell you how many times I tried to flip fans and lights on! By the third day I started to remember that flipping the light switch would NOT actually turn the light on. 

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I recently had my hot tub removed from behind my house. It sat right by my back door and I used it daily to set things on as I was working in the yard or whatever. It sat there for almost 13 years. After a couple weeks I still walk out the door and automatically reach out to the right as if I am going to set down whatever I am carrying. I’m slowly catching on. (HA!) 

Have you ever checked your mailbox on a holiday when you KNOW there is no mail delivery? You remind yourself as you drive home that there will be no mail…but somehow when you get there you drive or walk right up to that box and check?  

We do function on auto-pilot a lot. Habits can be a good thing because we don’t necessarily have to use our brain power to move through the motions of the day. However, habits, good or bad are very hard to change or break. Let us remember that our habits do not control us, but that we control our habits. So, good habits can be learned and bad habits unlearned.  

The American Journal of Psychology says that, “Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways, but it is possible to form new habits through repetition.” 

I have recently been focused on taking inventory of my daily habits. Are they working for me or against me? How much time am I wasting doing things that are inconsequential? Am I sitting too long at a time at my desk staring at a screen when I should be getting up to move every 20 to 30 minutes? Am I just being busy or am I moving toward my goals? Am I balancing work and play along with properly appropriating my time between myself, my family and my friends?  

All this can be tough to balance, but inventory of your routine can point out strengths and weaknesses. Some of the things we do “without thinking” can be very detrimental to our health, our wealth, and most importantly our relationships. How much time do we spend watching tv or Netflix? How much time do we spend playing games on our devices or on our social media caring about what other people are doing more than what is happening right in front of us? Do you know that a recent study shows that Americans touch their phones an average of 150 times per day? That means for many, it is a lot more. Much of that is necessary now that we do a lot of business and communication this way, but how much of it is wasted time? 

If you haven’t already, may I suggest that if you have an issue with a bad habit (or ten, lol) that you identify it (if more maybe take them one at a time) and begin to work daily to tackle it. Consciously take a hold of it and change it by repetition. Your innate capacity for habit forming will eventually kick in.  

It may be frustrating at first (I know this first-hand, ugh) but like that light switch that we flip when we walk into a room without even thinking, we will begin to form the habits that will help and not hinder us. We will be present and set our devices aside in lieu of the human company before us. We will eat more healthy choices. We will exercise, get more sleep, accomplish more.  

The better we control our habits, the more successful and effective we will be in life.  

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10-11

 

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JUST START

Seems simple enough. So why do most of us have such a hard time doing it?

There are so many factors that go in to starting something new. Many times we have to make preparations for a new project. I know I have a list of “things” I want to do, but I fumble around and keep saying, “I’ll get to that.” All the while, I stay in my rut and keep spinning my wheels, wondering what it will be like “one day” when I finally get to this or that.

Last week I had to let go of my hot tub. I had it for almost 13 years and loved it! However, the money I needed to put into it did not equal it’s worth. I had it removed and looked forward to a fresh beginning.

It was nearly 100 degrees outside and once I saw the mess left behind I didn’t really fell like dealing with it. I knew that the outcome would be worth the effort, but I just figured I could get to it the next day, or the next.

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Instead of settling for this, I decided to take the first step, which was to shovel the rotted wood and debris from the concrete slab.

Once that was gone I figured I would go ahead and get out my pressure washer to clean the area a bit.

Of course once I started that and the cleaned area looked so much brighter than the rest, I had to continue and finish the job. When I saw the contrast between the dirt and the clean, I HAD to press on.

IMG_5603And guess what? Since I just started and took the project one step at a time it wasn’t so daunting. Once I got started I got excited about it and ended up with a fresh beginning for that area of my property.

IMG_5606That’s all it’s about – just taking that first step. Once I grabbed the handle of that shovel I had done the hardest part of the task. Once we start and get momentum we can continue to press forward.

I realize this is a simple example, but the visual is good and it makes a greater point that can spill over into all areas of our lives.

What is that “thing” that you really want to accomplish that you keep putting off?

JUST START. Take the first step. Then the next.

Before you know it you will have that project complete, or at least be well on your way to creating that new space, or writing that book, or learning to paint….whatever that “thing” is.

May we all run with endurance in our lives spiritually, emotionally and physically. May we press on and not grow weary in doing good or in improving ourselves and the lives of those we care about!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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Listen More, Speak Less

I struggle with this one. I am doing better the older I get, but I sometimes have this drive to win my case or be right above listening, understanding, and being compassionate. It is something I have to consciously fight against. Even if I am not right, I sometimes fight until I can make my case seem plausible. I am ashamed to admit it.

We are meant to listen to one another and show love and compassion to one another, not to constantly criticize and judge one another.

It seems that these days a lot of “Christian” organizations use a lot of time and expense to “fight” against issues that really should not concern them. We are all free to have our own opinions and causes, but I don’t believe God wants us to use our time and resources to fight against things that are truly not our concern while also putting Him and his people in a bad light.

Our energy should be put toward showing love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control: the fruits of our beliefs. It is by showing these things that we change the world. We don’t win by judging and criticizing, we win by listening, loving and caring enough for others to want what we have.

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Time and time again I see people and groups lashing out at other people and groups with whom they disagree. This takes so much energy! And it’s a waste. It’s a total veering off of the track set before us.

Billy Graham once said,“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and our job to love.”

Obviously the groups I am referring to are extremists and do not represent Christ or his true followers. But, I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we may see that in some small way we all do a bit of this. We may pick fights or take the time to side with fights that really give more ground to the enemy than gain it for Christ. (The NC bathroom law situation and Target stores for instance.) We may do this on a larger scale, and/or with the ones closest to us.

The main goal in the life of a Christ-follower should be to show love and compassion to others – to ALL others, even those with opposing views – and to live a life of example. Spending time and money to picket an abortion clinic for instance is not showing the love of Christ. Those women have been through enough and what they need is a hug and to know that Jesus loves them as much as he loved them before, and that nothing can change that. Those women know what they have done. What would it look like if we showed God’s love by standing outside a clinic to give hugs and share information about support groups? What if we invited them to come to church with us the next Sunday? Perhaps this behavior would show them compassion and cause them to make a different choice in the future, or influence an onlooker to make another choice. Then they would know there would be someone to love them through their choice, whatever that may be.

What would that look like? I think you get the idea.

None of us knows exactly what another’s set of life circumstances is. Our job is to listen,  show love and compassion. Period. God doesn’t “need” us to put people in their place – he knows our hearts, and that job is His.

How about this quote from Dale Carnegie in his book How To Win Friends & Influence People: “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”

If we want to show people another way, we do that by example and with love – not by spouting hate and judgment.

And even better, I’ll close with a few scriptures straight from God’s Word:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:1

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1

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Equally = UNIQUE

Last Sunday morning the most deadly terror act since 911 happened on U.S. soil in Orlando, Florida at a dance club. 49 people were fatally shot and that many more wounded. Can you even imagine the terror? I was supposed to write a post for Monday, but I have been paralyzed all week due to my feelings about this senseless tragedy, and honestly my lack of faith in all humanity. How do I turn that into “Life Words?” Well, I’ve been aching and praying over it, so I’ll give it a shot. Please bear with me.  

I had already planned on writing about how unique every human being is – how utterly special and irreplaceable each one of us is. I have touched on this subject before as it amazes me how different we all are. Just like each snowflake, each blade of grass, each sand dollar. How amazing the variety that God has allowed within His creation since He started this earth spinning. Thousands upon thousands of years of DNA and gene pools mixing and changing, creating billions of unique human beings, each with special skills and a special purpose. Each created in the very image of God.  

Photo credit: Kristin Coke

Photo credit: Kristin Coke

So, through my tears of anguish after last Sunday’s events, I am connecting that thought of individual uniqueness with the aftermath of such an evil event, while doing my best to represent my God, myself, my family bloggers, and all groups of humankind with dignity and grace. That is my deepest intention as I sort through this array of emotion.  

First, I must say that I have been happy to see many people who generally spread hate against the LGBT community empathizing with their fellow humans who have lost loved ones and the terror that the survivors must endure. Progress. However, I have also seen people jumping on the anti-muslim train as that must be the “worse of the evils” in this scenario. However you look at it, it’s all stemmed from hate, fear, and ignorance, not love.  

One bad, misguided (probably confused, lonely and isolated) man took innocent lives and lost his own. Yes, we MUST reform our gun laws properly in order to get a handle on this violence. But, we MUST NOT fall into the trap of lumping groups of people into categories. Jesus would not do this if he were still here walking the earth. What would Jesus do?  

People love to spout out Scripture verses and speak on behalf of God. So many people do that to try to back up whatever they feel passionately about. We see this all the time. (In fact, the only groups that Jesus actually got angry with when he walked the earth were those who used Scripture to back up their own agenda of religious rules rather than being compassionate and loving their fellow man).  

Let’s look at some of the red letter text attributed to Jesus himself rather than haphazardly spouting out laws and regulations pulled from various books of the Old Testament without context. Perhaps we can gain some insight into what he would do, and what he expects us to do.  

In Luke 6:27, 28 he says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” 

In Luke 6:37, 38 he says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you….For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

In Luke 6:43-45 he says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit….The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

From that I get that even a person who “claims Christ” but speaks hatefully toward any other human being is a bad tree who bears bad fruit. The fruit speaks for itself. And the commandments say that hatred in our hearts is equal to murder. 

He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 

No matter what terror we face on earth by other evil humans, we must not live in fear. We must not return hate for hate, but we must do what we can to live in and at peace.  

Even on the cross as he was about to die for the sins of ALL MANKIND Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23: 34  

Nowhere does it say that Jesus died for SOME of us. ALL of us were made in His image, ALL of us fall short and are sinners, and ALL of us are able to receive his gift of eternal life if we want it. 

And what did Jesus say was THE MOST IMPORTANT thing – he says it many times, and here in one passage he says it twice:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love…. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: LOVE EACH OTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:9-13

Then he says it again in John 15:17, “This is my command: Love each other.” 

So, through these few passages attributed to Jesus himself, we see his nature, we see how he treats others and expects us to treat one another. He clearly states that we will not all agree on everything as we will have enemies and friends, but that we must love one another equally. He NEVER qualifies his statements of love. He never excludes any person or group. He clearly COMMANDS that we LOVE EACH OTHER, refrain from judgment, live at peace, bear good fruit, pray for one another, and give selflessly to one another.  

Nowhere does Jesus say to shun those who live a different lifestyle than we do, or believe a different way than we do. God gave us all the freedom to choose. Why are we so threatened by people with whom we disagree? We should all find security in our own relationship with God and peace within ourselves and the way we treat others. The judgment of each individual heart is up to God and God alone. Tolerance does not mean we have to agree with everyone, it just means we need to treat everyone with the same respect and dignity that we want to be treated with.  

Don’t you remember? DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. 

Again, no qualifier listed. We are all created equal and deserve to be treated as such. 

I heard a pundit say yesterday that if all the peaceful muslims of the world would get together, we could end radical islam within months. Oh, if that were only true. Evil people have always existed and always will – within every creed, race and social structure. 

What about the hate that is preached from so many pulpits? How about the pastor in Southern California who said from his pulpit just hours after this tragedy of death and violence that, “the real tragedy is more of them didn’t die” and “Orlando is a little safer today because 50 pedafiles died.” WHAT? Statistics show there are more pedafiles amongst “straight white ‘Christian’ men” than there are in the LGBT community. How did he even make that leap? To invoke fear and hatred amongst his congregation. Those people should be taking a stand and not supporting that ungodly man. If you want to see sexual deviance you need not look further than higher-ups hiding inside of some of the church community of the world. Where is the outrage from Christians against that?  

This does not represent the God of love that I serve. And why don’t all the Christians of the world unite to end that radical hatred that so many are preaching?  

Do you know how many gay and transgender people in the world suffer from overt hatred and exclusion? Do you know how many muslim people are ridiculed and shunned by “Christians” especially after events like this where one evil extremist man terrorizes innocent people?

Jesus never excluded any person, and he never will. He welcomes all to enter into relationship with him. By his example, we must set aside all our fear and hatred and treat EVERY human with love and respect. We are all on our own path and God is ultimately in control. If we truly believe that, we can set aside our differences, be kind to one another and love one another as we love ourselves.

NO EXCEPTIONS. 

We are all created in the image of God. We are all on our own journey and path in this life. We cannot force our own beliefs on others. If we believe in love and peace, then our own words and actions will reflect that and others will see our beliefs in action, prompting them to inquire about the source.

Respect all human life. Don’t allow bullying or hatred to be spoken or shown without taking a stand against it when you can. This is our great challenge, and it is imperative to showing the true nature and love of Christ.  

Use your uniqueness as your platform to stand for love and truth in this troubled world. You are one of a kind, and your story matters. There are people who will cross your path that only you can reach with God’s love.  

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10

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I CAN, I WILL!!!

As I was pondering what to write this week, I came across something I wrote many years ago and stuck in my Bible. I have been struggling a bit with some self-doubt, discouragement and disappointment lately, and this was PERFECT for my spirit at this time – I love it when stuff like that happens. I hope it encourages you today…

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:12-16 NIV

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.
Philippians 4:11-13

  • GIVE EVERYTHING TO THE LORD every morning and ask for help with choices and completing the tasks assigned
  • DO NOT SHORT-CHANGE YOURSELF. Taking shortcuts will only hurt you in the long run. Do the little things consistently daily to build your foundation for the future.
  • PUSH YOURSELF EVERY DAY. Challenge yourself to work harder and smarter each day. Some days are better than others – do your best for each given day.
  • GIVE YOURSELF GRACE from time to time, but not so much that you allow it to keep you from reaching your goals and pushing yourself further every day.

YOU CAN DO IT!
YOU WILL DO IT!
YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DO IT!

You are amazing, beautiful and worthy of improving your lifestyle in order to improve yourself, help others and make yourself ready for what the Lord has for you to do!

ONE DAY AT A TIME. THIS DAY I WILL WORK AS HARD AS I POSSIBLY CAN WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE AND CONFIDENCE!

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Blessed Are The Flexible

In honor of Mother’s Day, coming up this Sunday, I thought I’d share this post.

My Mom says this to me often (and she tells me that her Mom said it to her),
“Blessed are the flexible, for they will bend and not break.”

I have wasted too much effort in my lifetime being fixated on things I could not control. As in all other areas, being flexible and unbreakable is for me a work in progress.

There are several things that happen in life that we have no control over. Two examples are: weather and getting sick – at the most inopportune times!

Have you ever planned an outdoor party, or even a wedding, and then it rained and stormed so badly that you couldn’t have it? You had to have a plan B somewhere inside? We can plan all we want to, and we are supposed to make a plan, but we can only work with the factors given us when the moment comes. We have to choose to see the good in it and believe it’s for the best.

I actually had a trip planned to Florida at the end of January to see my Mom and my Aunt Tami who was going to visit from California. I don’t get to see either of them as often as I’d like. I had been planning this trip for months!

Then, a trifecta of uncontrollable circumstances occurred at the same time that prevented me from taking this trip. My car broke down a few days prior requiring me to make rental car reservations. Then, I caught a bad cold the week leading up to the trip. I can’t remember when I was that sick! And finally, wouldn’t you know that we got an ice and snow storm in Charlotte the day before I was to drive! Ice is very treacherous when driving, and Charlotte basically shut down. Not only was I ill, but I could not get anyone to pick me up to take me to the rental car place, and even crazier, the rental car place closed due to inclement weather. When does that even happen? And all at the same time? I was so frustrated.

I actually got forced to decide not to go on the trip and forfeited my time with my Mom and Aunt all together. It took all I had to buck up and be flexible, believing that there must be a reason for this change of plan.

All these were things that were out of my control. There are many things in life that happen that way, and there is absolutely nothing we can do but resolve to learn a lesson and be flexible with our plans. God’s plan does not conform to ours! Try as we may, we are only human and cannot control all the factors in our lives. The example I gave was mild – we all face major circumstances in this human life that require us to be flexible. We must be so that we can be strong. The strength comes in the ability to bend, not in being so rigid that we can snap.

I am not known for being a very flexible person, but I continue to grow in this area the older I get. Fortunately for me, I have role models in this skill! My Grandmother was a very calm and flexible woman – she always believed that God knew what was best and rather than being irritated or rigid, she would “roll with life” and be open to where God was taking her moment by moment. My Mom has exhibited this skill, and continues to remind me to be flexible and teachable with her words and with her actions.

Grandma, Tami and Mom on Mother's Day 2007

Grandma, Tami and Mom on Mother’s Day 2007

So, on this Mother’s Day – I thank you Mom and Grandma for the wisdom you have bestowed upon me. It may be taking me a long time to grasp it, but you instilled it inside me! And here’s a shout-out to a great Mom, my Aunt Tami, and my very flexible and unbreakable cousin Nikki! Oh how I wish I could have mastered this skill as early as you have! You all inspire me daily! XOXO

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Tiny Nuisance

Last week there was an alarming situation with a huge tree at my Dad’s house!  

The wind was blowing, and there was a loud creaking sound coming from this tree that was over 100 feet tall! My brother was mowing the yard near it and heard this sound, and noticed the trunk twisting and buckling. He could actually see some daylight through it! NOT GOOD! 

Our tree dude rushed over to take a look.  

It needed to come down immediately before it came down on it’s own on top of a car, or even part of the house! 

How in the world did this mighty tree become so frail? It didn’t look that way at a glance. It looked strong and had a full canopy of fresh new spring leaves. What could take down this giant?  

Ants.

black ant isolated on white background, Carpenter ant

 

Black ants over a period of years of tunneling and growing a colony. Little stinking black ants. 

One ant one day, years ago, found a cool little spot to get in by the roots. He brought his friends and they thought this would be a fabulous home! And so the colony grew. One ant poses no threat, but anything in large numbers surely does! The whole root system was rotting on one side, and about three feet of the inside of the bottom of the tree was completely hollowed out. That tree had been conquered from the inside out!

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See the two tiny black ants on the stump?

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Of course, this makes one think about the little things that we let into our minds, our hearts, our lives. The little things that on their own are relatively insignificant, but that left to multiply and colonize, can become huge destructive forces that can eat us alive from the inside!  

One little seed of doubt left to fester. One little negative comment that you allow to sink in. Negative things you say to yourself inside your head about being ineffective, insignificant, or ineffective. One tiny bit of false doctrine that you entertain and open yourself to, that over time grows further from Truth.  

It is like Paul said in the letter to the Galatians. A little yeast indeed works its way through the whole batch of dough!  

“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.” Galatians 5: 7-10 

What tiny thing are you allowing to harbor itself inside you and fester? Seek it out, sequester it and SQUELCH it before it eats you from the inside like that mighty tree!

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WHO AM I?

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

We all know the Ten Commandments. But how do you interpret this one?

I think many of us are taught that it just means we must be careful not to use the Name of God or Jesus Christ when we are swearing or talking casually. Of course we should be very conscious about how we use His Name in our daily speech and dialogue. We must respect the Highest Name by not misusing it. Totally agreed.

My Pastor was speaking one weekend about this commandment. He made me think of it in a totally different way. I already knew that this commandment held a deeper meaning as my parents had taught me that long ago. However, the way Pastor Steven explained it really resonated with me and changed my perspective forever. Here it goes….

When Moses asked God what His name was, He simply said, “I AM THAT I AM.”

God’s Name is “I AM” – which means He is everything and lacks nothing. When a couple gets married it is customary for the wife to take the name of the husband. As the church we are the Bride of Christ, and therefore we bear his name.

I have always understood that because we represent Christ, we must act accordingly. However, Pastor Steven pointed out something much deeper than that.

Do you have a problem with calling yourself names? Bullying yourself? I have an issue with this, and I’m sure that some of you do too. When I fail at something, sometimes I mutter to myself, “You’re an idiot,” or “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you pull it together? You still have this issue at this stage of life?” Or… “Why are you so stupid?” I put myself down for not being in the best shape I can be in, and for my inconsistencies.

And on and on… you get the picture.

Pastor pointed out this great truth:
If I have taken the Name of Christ as mine, and I call myself by names that He is not, then I am taking His name in vain. Simple.

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His Name is “I AM.” So…. If I say to myself, “I am an idiot,” then I am saying something about myself that is not true. That is, I am saying something about myself that God Himself says I am not.

If I say, “I am insufficient,” but God says of Himself, “I AM sufficient,” and I have taken His name – then I am saying something that is offensive to Him. I am misrepresenting Him and what He has done for me by covering me with His name. I AM TAKING HIS NAME IN VAIN.

WHOA. This weighed heavily on my heart. For the past couple of weeks it has become clear to me just how often I put myself down. Sometimes I say something out loud, but just the things I say to myself about myself inside my head about how I am not good enough or always fall short in some area are frequent. Way too frequent.

This voice of self-doubt. This voice direct from the enemy of my soul. This ungodly voice meant to distract me from representing my God the way I was intended to. This self-insulting habit that holds me back from striving toward my potential.

ENOUGH.

So now what?

Bullying oneself is a habit. Therefore it has to be broken by adopting a new habit in it’s place. I have not yet broken it, but I am working on it. Awareness is the key to starting a new way of thinking. Here is what I am doing.

Some people call these affirmations. Affirmations are great, but they are a bit ego-centric. Perhaps realizing that my name is literally joined with God’s name will make the difference. I am believing it will.

I AM sufficient. (Because God is sufficient and lives in me)

I AM capable. (With God’s help because with Him all things are possible)

I AM beautiful. (Because He made me in His image and He is without imperfection)

What does God say about you versus what you say about yourself? Will you join me in breaking this habit of self-bullying?

WE CAN DO THIS!

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LIGHT of LIFE

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

We had a windy, very cloudy day last week. Above all those fast-moving clouds was the sun shining brightly. As I sat day-dreaming and looking out my window at a bright green cedar tree, I noticed the change in my perception of the color as the light dimmed and brightened. I know this is a simple concept, but I have just been pondering it and wanted to share it. Sometimes it’s the simple things that penetrate our hearts – so bear with me.

The brighter the light, the brighter our eyes perceive color to be. As the sun begins to set, all the colors soften and begin to melt together until they completely disappear into darkness. At night, with a tiny bit of light, we can see some objects defined, but they are in grayscale. We no longer see the color. Darkness dims everything under it – we no longer have a clear long-view, and we become limited and “boxed in” to the small space in which we stand.

This is also true spiritually. Without Light, our view dims and life can look gray and grim.

We are to be light on this earth to shine into the darkness. We are to be light to everyone we meet, for we do not know what darkness abides in their life. It is Jesus in us that shines and shows the color of life that surrounds us all. It is this Light of Life that helps others to see beauty in high-definition and brilliance and attracts them to Christ.

So…..

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Photo: Kristin Coke

Photo: Kristin Coke

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GROW, Don’t PLATEAU!

I am fabulous at reaching goals! I was an A student all the way through college, an athlete, and I led various clubs and even my sorority one year. Give me a goal or a deadline, and I’ll reach it, GUARANTEED. I have always refused to give up until my goal had been reached.

This has served me well in many areas. But, for some reason I have never learned to be consistent. That is my word for 2016. CONSISTENCY. I talked about it several weeks ago. Somehow, I never learned the skill of making changes in my life consistently and persistently on a daily basis that would keep me on a constant path of growth.

In listening to a CD put out by Success magazine in September 2015, I heard an interview with the great leadership coach, John C. Maxwell. He said, when he coaches someone, he tries to teach them to be growth-oriented rather than goal-oriented. That is not to say we should not have goals, for goals do need to be set in order to be successful. But, he mentioned he had seen countless people achieve their goals and become successful, but then plateau and eventually take a downturn.

This struck a chord with me because it could sum up my life! I would achieve a goal and then reward myself by coasting. If someone was constantly giving me new goals, i.e. teachers and coaches, then I was constantly appearing to grow and become successful.

However, when left to my own devices, I would plateau and then downturn. My life has been a rollercoaster in that way! I realize there is a natural ebb and flow to life and reaching success. But, we must be consistent in doing the mundane everyday things that will keep pushing us forward. We don’t just get to the “top” and stay there – we must continue to practice the same habits that got us there to begin with in order to continue to grow and reach new “heights.”

Here I am, now at 41, learning things I wish I had learned long ago. I can’t really blame anyone for it, though no one specifically tried to teach it to me. I never did take the initiative to figure out how to become consistent and constantly grow. Mr. Maxwell says that if you remain growth-oriented, you will hit all your goals and then some because you will constantly be learning and improving.

So this is where I am… learning to grow every day. Learning to be coachable and find the coaches for each area of my life that will push me ever forward. Learning to humble myself and ask for help when I need it. Learning to coach myself when possible. Learning to share immediately with others what I have learned in the hopes of spurring them on to be the greatest they can be as well.

It really is about the journey rather than the destination. The destination will come, if we focus on one step at a time in our growth-oriented journey.

Here’s to your GROWING!

Multnomah Falls, OR Photo: Kristin Coke

Multnomah Falls, OR
Photo: Kristin Coke

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7-8

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