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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

DIAMONDS ON THE SIDEWALK

When it comes to expressing joy, I'm not as expressive as I'd like to be. When I meet someone who is abundantly joyful, I always wonder how they do it. How do they have the energy to bounce around smiling all the time and saying positive things constantly. It's as if they're plugged into some kind of power source that keeps them "up" all the time.

The bible talks a lot about joy and I know that being close to God is supposed to bring us joy, but sometimes I feel like I must be doing something wrong because I don't feel the kind of joy that some people so obviously express. My joy is more of a quiet joy. It's not part of my personality to bounce around with a constant smile, offering hugs and happy talk. I guess my joy is more obvious to God than it is to people. And that's okay. We all express emotions differently, especially joy.

The things that bring me joy might be things that most people take for granted, like being seated at a table by the window in a restaurant or better yet, being seated next to the fireplace on a bitter cold night. I find joy in my daughter's freckled nose and my son's sudden bursts of silliness. He'll shuffle across the floor or make a silly face and I'll feel joy in knowing that my children are part of my life. In that moment I thank God for them and I feel joyful.

I just read about a woman who said she finds joy in the sparkles on the sidewalk. When the sun hits the new sidewalk near her home, thousands of little diamonds shimmer as she steps across the reflective white concrete. How many others walk across that sidewalk everyday and never notice the bursts of joy under their feet?

Whether our joy is obvious to everyone or more obvious to God, it seems to me that being joyful is a choice. It's not something that we automatically do. We can choose to search for the joyful moments or choose to dwell on the downers. I'm trying to get in the habit of expecting moments of joy as I go about my day. I don't want those moments to pass by unnoticed. I'm learning that by looking for joy and expecting it, I can bring more of those moments into my life.

I guess we can't find anything unless we search for it. Joy is no different. I also remember reading about a guy who looks for joy when he takes out the garbage. He breathes in the crisp night air and always looks up at the stars. A mundane task that most people hate is turned into a moment of joy because of what he decides to dwell on when he gets there.

I believe that some day we will be made aware of all the moments in our lives when we missed the joy. Some day we'll see all those little diamonds that we walked right by simply because we weren't looking for them or expecting them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

IT ALL COMES BACK DOUBLE

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I want to write about love. Actually, in eight minutes it will be Valentine's Day. Where did this day go? I spent the day shopping with my sister at the Colonial Park Mall. It was a good day. The people I came across seemed to be in good spirits. Maybe they were happy just to get out after all the snow. Whatever the reason, I saw a lot of smiles today and I was even on the receiving end of an act of kindness as I stood in line to pay for my purchase. The lady behind me offered a store coupon she wasn't planning to use. She saved me five dollars.

"You know, that will come back to you," I said thankfully. "That will come back to you double." She smiled realizing that she did something nice for someone who really appreciated it. Her simple act of kindness put a spring in my step as I walked away. It wasn't just the five dollars she saved me, it was the thoughtfulness behind it. There are still thoughtful people in the world who reach out and do kind things for total strangers. That's refreshing to see, and it's one moment in my day that I'm thankful for.

I truly believe that the things we do and say always come back to us in even greater measure. I'm just now remembering a day a few months ago when I offered a 40% off coupon to a woman at a children's clothing store. She had several little girls with her and she seemed shocked by my offer, but appreciative. The coupon would have gone to waste since it was only good for that day and I wasn't planning to use it. What happened to me today at the checkout was no doubt part of my pay back for my own thoughtfulness. That's how life works, and it's why we need to be so careful about the things we say and do.

The bible puts it this way..."you reap what you sow." If you speak negative words, those negative words will come back to you in even greater measure. What you get back may not come in the form of words, maybe it will come to you in another unpleasant form, but you can be sure that you will reap what you sow. I believe this is why bad things continually happen to some people. They bring it on themselves by what they say and do. You can't expect a blessing when you send no blessing out into the world.

When I hear the way some people talk, I wonder how they don't get tired of hearing themselves speak so negatively all the time. It's like they are in some kind of addicting habit they can't break. I want to say, "Can you say something positive?" Those same people who have nothing positive to say then wonder why nothing good ever happens to them. Well duh!

Everyone complains at times. What I'm talking about is continual complaining. The constant refusal to see the glass as anything but half empty. Never giving anyone the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they do have our best interests at heart. Seeing the bad side of everything. Always ready to jump down someone's throat, always disappointed, always hurt, always reaping what you sow.

I write like I know because I do know. I know exactly what it's like to be that way. I was once the queen of sowing and reaping. I sowed so many fields of crap I could have fertilized an entire harvest. And when it came time to reap, I reaped twice the crap I sowed.

Thank God I've been set free from all that. I finally realized what I was doing and changed my ways. Now I'm very careful what I say to people. I'm not perfect. I do speak words that are less than positive. I get angry at times and I can deliver a cutting comeback if provoked. But overall I'm more aware of what comes out of my mouth now and I'm more aware of the things I do that might hurt people. I'm much quicker with an apology. I'm better at extending grace to others, and I've gotten better at just saying nothing. Because sometimes it's best to just keep my big mouth shut.

I'll never forget the day when I realized just how good I had become at holding my tongue. I was the target of a verbal assault that included more than one person and it seemed to go and on. Everything in me wanted to defend myself. I could feel myself wanting to blurt out the most hateful things. But I didn't. I let them have their say as I stood there saying nothing. When it was over, I'll never forget the look on both their faces. It was a look of shame and regret. By holding my tongue I made them realize their own folly. They reaped what they sowed right before my eyes. It was priceless.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Choose life. Choose love.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

JUST THE WAY I AM

She Speaks Conference

By Danelle Carvell
Sometimes I think that being organized is over-rated. People who are very organized almost seem to get no joy out of life. They are never spontaneous and they are so into precision and perfection that they miss the human side of life. There are days when I wish I could be more organized, but when I see the people who are, I kind of like me the way I am.

Although I know all the tips and tricks to being organized as I've shared a few in my past blogs, my husband tells me that I have no management skills. Yesterday he woke me from a nap after I stayed up all night making pillows. His important question was, "Do you want this magazine? It's garbage night." Disturb a sleeping person for the sake of one less magazine in the house. Sorry, I can't relate to that kind of thinking. It wouldn't even cross my mind to wake someone just to ask them about potential garbage.

I guess we all have our quirks. My husband is too rigid and I'm too carefree perhaps. Could be why God put us together. But our differences are often a source of contention in the home and it leaves me feeling less than adequate. Right now I have laundry to do, the refrigerator to clean, and a long list of things I should accomplish today, but my heart is here at my keyboard. I woke up this morning and read the Bible but I couldn't really focus on God's word. My brain felt restless, unable to concentrate on any one thing. I told God that I feel like a mess sometimes and I asked Him to help me be more organized and disciplined so I could feel more together.

Do you know what His answer was? "I know you completely, Danelle, and I love you just the way you are." Oh I want to cry right now. That is love! In a world where people are so critical of each other and always focusing on the negative, I have a God who loves me just the way I am. Yippeeee!!

When I was younger, I was very influenced by what others thought of me. I needed the approval of my husband and everyone around me that I cared about. If someone said something hurtful to me, I could go into a depression that would last for days. But since I've been putting God first in my life I've been set free from all that. His opinion of me is the only one I care about. Sure it's nice to receive compliments and know that people approve of the way I am, but I don't need it anymore. All I need is God's approval. And I think He's more impressed that I sat at my keyboard today and shared this than He would be if I cleaned the refrigerator.

My sister just called. We are so much alike. She told me that she has so much to do and doesn't feel like doing any of it. She wants to go shopping. I just love her and I love that she's spontaneous like that. I can't imagine her being any other way. I love her just the way she is.

I think we get into trouble when we expect others to be like us. When we push our personality traits on other people and expect them to be like we are, it's almost as if we are questioning the God who created them. I will never be super-organized and ultra-disciplined. I have a daily schedule on my bulletin board that I try to follow, but some days it just doesn't happen. I can't be like my husband and he shouldn't expect me to have the management skills that he has.

When he told me I have no management skills, I shot back, "Well I wouldn't want to manage anything if it meant I had to be like you!" I even went so far as to suggest that the bulb in his sun lamp must have gone bad because he's been crabby lately. See how we tear each other down with our differences. But God never does that. He cherishes our differences.

When you feel like no one appreciates who you are and no one seems to have a kind word, remember that God knows you completely and loves you just the way you are.

The She Speaks Conference is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God and that your heart is to serve Him and His daughters, as He leads.
http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/how-christians-create-art-she-speaks-scholarship/
http://shespeaksconference.com/