Any Grinches Out There?

Proverbs 23:7:

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

I pray that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, but I know that not everyone did. Some because of circumstances out of their control and some because they chose not to.

WHAT???

Who would choose not to have a wonderful Christmas? Probably not many of us would choose to do that consciously. Though there might be a few. But just because we’re unaware doesn’t mean we didn’t make that choice just the same.

Count me among the unawares.

I’ve beein going around telling people that  I love the Christmas season but not necessarily Christmas Day. I mean really! Talk about a bad attitude. I’d already planned to not have a good Christmas.

And I didn’t mind talking about it either. Talk about being a Grinch. That was me! Just because I’d had not perfect Christmases the past few years, I’d decided I would never have another one.

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My attitude and my words were ensuring that I wouldn’t have a good Christmas—this year or any other one.

But God is good!

God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit a week or so before the big day reminding me that everything’s not all about me. I know! Shocking as it was, it was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I decided to smile and enjoy the day for the people around me—because it was their Christmas, too!

And…. I had a good Christmas! And everyone around me seem to have one as well.

It’s amazing how when you focus on making other people happy, you get a little more happy as well! Well, actually, it’s not all that amazing. That’s another one of God’s principles–you reap what you sow. If you sow grinchiness, then all you reap is more grinchiness. If you sow Christmas joy, then you’ll reap more Christmas joy.

And I’m already excited about next Christmas.

An interesting point is that Proverbs 23: 7 has been one of my anchor verses these past few years as I dealt with my brain tumors. I would remind myself over and over that my thoughts had power when it came to my health. But somehow I seemed to forget all about that principle when it came to Christmas, and especially my attitude about Christmas.

Mmmmm…. I wonder what other unaware attitudes of mine need adjusting….

So, what have you been grinchy about lately?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Guest Writer–Stephanie Prichard

 My guest writer today is Stephanie Prichard. She is an army brat who lived in many countries around the world and loved it. She met her husband at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she majored in English/Literature. She and Don have lived in Indianapolis, IN, for forty years, and in retirement have turned to co-authoring novels now that their three children are busy raising a beautiful crop of grandchildren for them.
Stephanie and her husband have recently released a book, STRANDED. To learn more about the book and to enter a giveaway, hop on over to Tiaras & Tennis Shoes.

Bully Birds

 Proverbs 19:3

“The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the Lord.”

 

My husband barely dared to breathe. He sat immobile at the picnic table on our Aussie host’s deck, surrounded by thirteen wild Sulphur-crested Cockatoos perched at one-foot intervals along the railing. The size of barnyard chickens, snowy white except for their black beaks and the yellow feathers crowning their heads, they didn’t move either. Aloof, regal, their agenda clear, they stared at him and waited.

Finally, my husband oh-so-slowly extended his right arm across the tabletop and deposited one sunflower seed after another toward him. The Hansel-and-Gretel trail ended with his hand as the gingerbread house. He opened it wide to reveal a tantalizing, come-hither pile of seeds.

Within seconds, a volunteer hopped from the railing to the table. Step by step, the cockatoo followed the trail, gobbling up the seeds until he was within a neck’s stretch of the gingerbread-house cache. He halted. Looked up at my husband. Looked down at the cache. Ever so slowly, he stretched his neck toward the pile of seeds. My husband’s lips quirked into a smile of victory. Then, with lightning speed, the cockatoo nipped my husband’s index finger and scurried backwards.

My husband’s smile disappeared, but he didn’t move. He pressed his hand all the firmer onto the tabletop and tightened his mouth into a straight line.

The cockatoo crept cautiously forward. He stretched his neck again and latched onto the same finger. This time he bit so hard an electric current of pain shot through my husband’s body. Suddenly it wasn’t so cute that he was surrounded by thirteen combat-ready, sharp-beaked aggressors who coveted his sunflower seeds. He dumped the pile onto the table and left. Chagrined, he stood beside me at the sliding glass door and watched the other twelve cockatoos swoop to the table to join in the feast.

That wasn’t the end of it. A few days later, at a small zoo of native Australian animals, we stopped at a cage labeled Cockatoos. My husband clutched the wire fence and peered inside. Immediately, a Sulfur-crested Cockatoo flew straight over to him. “Well,” my husband said, “at least there’s one friendly cockatoo in Australia.” He grinned as the bird replied with what sounded like a mighty affable “Aaaark.”

And with that, the cockatoo promptly reached over and bit the same sore finger the other bird had chomped. “Aaaark,” he squawked, and with a distinct Aussie accent said, “Good boy, good boy.”

Aren’t we just like those cockatoos? Territorial: “Hands off, God. This is my space. My life. Just dump what’s good on the tabletop and leave me alone.”

…Until something bad happens. And then guess Who gets questioned for His lack of goodness?

If you’re like me, you recognize when you fret against God. But do you recognize the territory where you’ve drawn a line and said, “Hands off. This is mine”?

Thanks, Stephanie, for writing this devotion for us. Congratulations on your new book, STRANDED. Don’t forget to hop on over to Tiaras & Tennis Shoes to learn more about her book and to be entered in the giveaway.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

HOW’S THINGS GOING?

Hebrews 6: 12

We do not want you to become lazy but imitators of those through faith and patience inherit the promises.

So, how’s things going for you? Is life good or is your life an example of Murphy’s law? You know, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t have problems. Sometimes, serious life-altering problems. Does that mean God doesn’t love you? Of course not.

God loves us and He wants us to have a good life here on earth.

The Bible is filled to the brim with advice and wisdom about anything and everything. Including how to have the best life possible–in spite of the circumstances we find ourselves in. And today’s verse is only one of many examples of that advice.

imitators of those through faith and patience inherit the promises.

There’s another verse in the Bible that tells us to be imitators of Christ. If we only follow that one bit of advice, it will take us far on our spiritual journey. But God always gives us more… and here it is. Find other Christians who have what you want–whatever that is. Then imitate their life.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

In other words, learn from other people’s experiences. We all know that we learn from our own mistakes but that can be quite a painful way to learn. Instead, find other Christians who have already inherited God’s promises and then imitate their life.

Having marital trouble or just want a happier marriage? Go talk with some long-married Christian couples. Find out their secets then put their advice into action and see what happens.

Having serious health issues? Go talk with someone who’s gone through it and discover what helped them.

Having trouble with your kids? With addictions? With your job? The list could go on and on, but the good news is that none of it’s new. Life has always been filled with problems. If you look around, you’ll find someone who’s aleady experienced it. And most Christians want to help make someone else’s journey in that area a little easier by sharing what they’ve already learned.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

THANKSGIVING

Psalm 100: 4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

 

Gratitude is focusing on what you have, not what you want.

Gratitude is a lifestyle.

Gratitude is a choice.

Gratitude is the key to a joy-filled life, no matter the circumstances.

 

I have brain tumors, but they aren’t malignant.

I’m partially deaf, but I can still hear my husband when he tells me that he loves me.

I had to retire from a job I loved, but I don’t have to worry about paying my bills.

I’m not a rich and famous author, but people read the stories I write—and like them.

I’m not as healthy as I used to be, but I’m healthier than I was last year.

I don’t live in a fancy new house, but my house is filled with love and laughter.

 

Life changes and not always for the better.

Some might be tempted to grumble and complain.

Some might be tempted to give up and give in.

I choose to give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his love endures forever.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

My list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

What’s on your list?

How’s Your Walk?

Romans 7: 15

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. The good news was that they were benign. So no big deal, right? Wrong! Benign has two different meanings. One meaning non-cancerous and two meaning harmless. My tumors were non-cancerous but there was nothing harmless about them.

And I definitely didn’t want to deal with it but I had no choice.

The choice I had was how was I going to deal with it. With anger? Self-pity? Bitterness? Or would I choose to face this adversity in a godly way?

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is our choices. As Paul said in Romans 7: 15, the things he wants to do, he doesn’t; and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does. We’re all like that.

We’re all spiritual beings but we’re also a physical being. Our physical self doesn’t necessarily want the same thing our spiritual self wants. In fact, most of the time they are at war with each other. That’s the source of much of our conflict.

Anyway…I’ve been meditating on how once we know something spiritually we can’t go back and “unknow” it. We might be able to ignore it for a time, but in our heart we know what we need to do because of God’s truth inside us.

Think of it like a baby learning to walk. First they scoot around on their rear end. It’s slow but it’s better than not moving. Then they discover crawling on their hands and knees. Much faster, but it might be a little uncomfortable at first so they revert back to the scooting.

But not for long.

They deal with the uncomfortable in order to move faster. Then they discover standing and walking. Much better but, again, uncomfortable at first so back to crawling.

But again not for long.

Our spiritual walk is much the same. In fact, that could be why they call it a spiritual walk. Once we understand a spiritual truth, we might be uncomfortable for a time living that truth. But it also speeds up our journey.

That’s the choice we face again and again on our walk with God.

Stay comfortable or speed up the journey.

I was faced wtih that choice when my brain tumors were diagnosed. Actually, I made more than a choice. I made a commitment that I would do my best to keep my eyes on Jesus and not on the brain tumors.

The following two and a half years have been filled with doctor’s appointments; treatments; side effects—some very serious and permanent; more physical pain than I’ve ever experienced or ever wanted to experience. It hasn’t been easy but God has brought me through it. Not only brought me through it, but gave me peace and joy along the way.

 

WANT MORE JOY?

Matthew 22

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Life nis not nearly as complicated as most of us make it. Here’s a quick and easy to remember formula that will bring more joy in your life. If you want more JOY in your life, then focus first on Jesus, then on Others, and finally on Yourself.  The first above says exactly the same thing. Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Focus on Jesus. Jesus said the first and most important commandment is to love God with all your heart and mind. It’s not enough to say that you do, you must show that love to God. One of the ways to do that is to spend time praising and worshiping God and I don’t just mean in church on Sunday. From the beginning, Jesus was meant to bring joy to those of us on earth.

Luke 2:10

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Focus on others. Jesus talked of love again and again. He wanted His followers to show God’s love to others. Loving others is not a suggestion, but a commandment. Again, loving others doesn’t have to be complicated. Smile at people; be friendly, when  you can help someone in need, help them. Talking about loving others includes loving your spouse and your family. Sometimes we spend all our energy helping people outside of our house. That’s wonderful but save enough energy to be sweet and kind with those you live with.

John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Focus on yourself. Yes, we are to focus on first on Jesus, then on others but don’t think that we are not to focus on ourselves. God doesn’t want us to be selfish or self-centered but He does want us to enjoy our life. He does want us to take care of ourselves in a healthy and balanced way.

We shouldn’t put ourselves first all the time but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t put ourselves first sometimes. We need to take care of our own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as well as others.

 

So there you have it. Want more joy in your life? Then follow God’s greatest commandment and the second as well, and you’ll suddenly have more joy than you can imagine.

Until next time…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Do You Recognize Jesus?

Luke 24: 30-31

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.

Do you recognize Jesus when you see him?

As Christians, we would hope the answer to that question would be a resounding yes! After all, who would want to miss a moment like that? Not me!

But yet, I’m afraid I’ve often failed to recognize Jesus. Too busy. Too many things on my mind. Too much time spent on worrying about me and my problems.

The minute things start going wrong in our life, we go in a panic. Where is God? Why is He letting this happen to me? What did I do to make God mad? Life isn’t supposed to be like this–it’s supposed to be easy, right? Wrong.

Jesus never promised us we wouldn’t have problems but he did promise he would never leave or forsake us.

If you aren’t recognizing Jesus in your present circumstances, take some time and reflect on your past. As you do, you will begin to recognize that Jesus was there, guiding you, supporting you, and loving you even in the toughest of times. And even that many of the things that were hard when we were going through it, actually was a good thing in the long run.

A few years ago, my part-time position as a speech pathologist was eliminated. And it was the PERFECT JOB for me. I loved the kids, the teachers, even the principal was a nice guy. I was not a happy camper, but a few months later I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors.

Now, I know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t have quit the job on my own, like I said, it was the PERFECT JOB. Instead, I would have kept the job while I was undergoing treatments and side-effects from the treatment and…all that wold have done was cause me stress!

God knew me well enough to know that too.He smoothed out the rough road ahead of me by making sure I could concentrate on my health instead of stressing out about responsibilites that I could not have fulfilled.

God is so good!

I didn’t recognize Jesus at the time, but he was with me anyway. If you are in the midst of a tough situation, pray for God to open your eyes so that you can recognize Jesus. He is with you!

I’d love for you to share a time when God was with you even when you didn’t recognize him.