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Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

positivity-is-the-key-to-success

There was a time, not that long ago, when one of my daughters was driving her brother nuts with the message

“positivity is the key to success.”

Lets just say that he had approached adolescents (or it had invaded him), and he was struggling with the surges of testosterone which resulted in flashes of anger, sarcasm and negativity.

His sister thought he needed a mantra that would quickly replace his negativity with positivity …

lets get real …

she also wanted to drive him batty!

(mission accomplished)

Is positivity the key to success?

According to an article on cnn.com (from the Mayo Clinic), there are health benefits from positive thinking, such as :

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It is believed that thinking positively can have such beneficial affects on reducing stress that over-all health can be improved.

Maybe we ought to start viewing

smiling

encouraging people

opening doors for others

taking a bubble bath

reading an enjoyed novel

dreaming of a snow day 😉

as exercise, for the soul, heart, mind and body.

Oh, and what about …

counting your blessings?

You know … the old hymn with the words,

“count your blessings, name them one by one”

Counting our blessings or thinking positively in no way indicates that we are to get in touch with our inner ostrich … burying our head in the sand, and pretending that the ‘curses’ and negatives are non-existent. Instead, to look at our blessings and think positively involves a choice to not allow the negative to rule our hearts, our minds and our days.

… it’s good for our health too 😉

 “Reflect on your present blessings,
on which every man has many,

not on your past misfortunes,
of which all men have some.”

Charles Dickens

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duck++nighty+night

It may seem a rather odd thing to awaken to a message titled, “Nighty Night” … and yet, here it is.

I am not a lover of form prayers (although I do love the Lord’s Prayer), but when I saw the one, below, I felt as though I heard the heart of the one who wrote it … no, I felt the soothing words being whispered into my heart, like a child being lovingly tucked into their bed at night by one who represents love and security.

Sometimes, when the day is long, when the pressures are mounting, when the ‘to do’ list for tomorrow is longer than the hours in the day, when relationships are not right, and money is tight and your car’s in the shop, and your head won’t stop spinning sleep may seem elusive and rest a waste of pressure hours.

But today … tonight, at the end of this week of

work and schedules
blessings and disappointments
dirty toilets and cleaned out refrigerators
taxiing kids and sitting through boring lectures
paying the bills and not being able to pay them

whatever you have been dealing with this week …

b94f1ecf4261bed6f4665bfd43d1e6d5

Don’t let the weariness steal from you a night time blessing of assurance that you are not alone.

Nighty night!

Carole

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I have a secret shame … but, I guess it will soon no longer be secret …

It all started about eight and a half years ago, when we had company over for dinner in our new house. We had experienced quite an exciting process in the purchasing of this current house, and selling of our previous place (in the order … sigh), and we truly felt that God had provided this little piece of heaven on earth for us.

20130611-171131.jpgFrom the moment that the couple arrived, until they left hours later, the wife of the couple was constantly making comments about how big the house is, how excessive the house is, how extravagant the house is. By the time they left, later that evening, my joy of our new home had been popped like a helium balloon.

big

excessive

extravagant

For the thrift shopping, Scottish heritage bearing, tightwad in me those descriptors of our home were enough to make me feel shamed.

As I look back now, my desire to move, to downsize, started with that evening. I could not bear to imagine people thinking that I, that we, wanted to live in excess.

This story came to mind the other day when I was planning a party at our home, and I pulled one of the people invited aside and asked him to please not judge me on our over-sized house. Each word I communicated to him, I did so with the similarity of a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs after being caught ripping up the baseboards (not that that has ever happened with our beast). What I was really communicating to him was not humility, but shame.

But now, as hubby and I are looking at ending this season in this house I am remembering that, although I have referred to it as an albatross, although I have referred to it as the original Money Pit, although I have referred to this house as owning us (and let me tell you, it does), I am remembering how, originally, we looked at it as a blessing, from the hand of God …

It is what we have done with that gift … allowing it to own us, allowing it to dictate how we spend our time … our money, allowing the words of one person to cast a shifting shadow on the gift that God delighted in presenting to us.

May we learn from this secret shame … may we overlook the shadow to see the light of God in the blessings … all of the blessings … that He has given.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

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“My heart will choose to say273875221061192505_k4upYWa7_b
Lord, blessed be Your name”

Worship is a beautiful, action to participate in … in the sanctuary, under our roof, out in the open of God’s creation.

Some days our worship is ritualistic … I do it because I should.

“When I’m found in the desert place”

Some days our worship is intimate … I do it intimately, even in a crowded room.

“In the land that is plentiful”

Some days our worship is robotic … I do it, hoping the outward becomes the inner.

“When the darkness closes in”

Some days our worship is joy-filled … bursting from every cell in our body.

“When the world’s ‘all as it should be”

Some days our worship is loud and proud … I do it with a party in my soul.

“Where Your streams of abundance flow”

Some days our worship is silent … I am a face in the crowd, but I cannot open my mouth.

“On the road marked with suffering”

Some days our worship is against our will … through the clenched teeth of an angry heart.

“When the darkness closes in, Lord”

Some days our worship is saturated by the tears of our heart.

“Though there’s pain in the offering”

Worship is not limited to where we are, when we are there, who we are with, how we feel or the circumstances of our lives at that specific time. Worship is an act of love, respect and honor and it is received as that. Worship is good when things are going well, but it is even better when we can worship our Creator through times of difficulty, suffering and pain.

As I sang the words,

“You give and take away”

It, that which I lost, that which I loved, came clearly into my mind, and for a moment the sorrow of loss weighed heavy on my heart. For a moment that common heart response emerged into my thoughts … why?

When we lose something we love, when our life takes a u-turn, when plans change, and loss is what we feel most profoundly, it is then that why comes crawling back. The word without a consoling response. The word with no bandage effect. The word that causes festering, more pain, more sorrow.

Then came the next line, the one with the salve that gives healing, comfort, consolation …

“My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

To choose to say, in the pain, in the suffering, in the darkness, in the sorrow, in the loss,

Lord, blessed by Your name

That is the only covering bandage that will make what is lost to not be the end of the story.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

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A good day for me might involve a wonderful conversation with a friend, or a time of deep belly laughter with my children, or morning coffee on a day off with hubby, or a walk on the trail with the beast.

images-2A bad day can take many forms, but would often include rain … especially anytime from November to March, when the monsoon season is upon those of us in the Pacific Northwest.

Just as rain falls on us all, so suffering comes to us all.

Matthew 5:45 tells us, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Now I do not mind the idea of sharing the sun with the evil, but do I really have to share in the rain? Shouldn’t life be, well, easy for those of us who are good, and righteous, and more difficult for those who are evil and unrighteous? Isn’t that only right, only fair?

I sometimes think that my biggest problem in living this life is that I am looking for fairness, for goodness, for ‘payback’ here in this life. I think that I am looking for the rewards of following Christ to be handed out here and now.

I read verses like those of Deuteronomy 11:25-26, “see, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods,which you have not known,” and I figure that the blessing is for me for today, for now.

And maybe it is for now. Maybe I am being blessed on a daily basis (and indeed I am) but I am not even acknowledging the blessings that are mine. Each day I can enjoy the greatest blessing, that of walking each and every step, not alone or on my own strength, but with my God, and the power to live my life being energized by His strength in my weakness.

But maybe, just maybe, the blessings are for another time, another place. Maybe here on our God-created, but sin-soiled planet we cannot even receive the perfect blessing that God has for us.

Maybe the rains of suffering, given to all … good and evil, righteous and unrighteous, are to remind us that we are not good, or evil, but we are what God’s grace has transformed us into … blessed creatures, living under the grace of our perfect God.

191895634092241202_IfNiXHvb_b

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As I arise on this final day of a two week long break, I open my eyes to all that has been accomplished, as well as all that has not been completed.images-1

Two weeks away from work, away from school, commitments, pressures and deadlines will end tomorrow (Monday) morning when the alarm rudely rings at 5:55am.

It has been a time of celebrating, both Christmas and New Years. It has been a time of cocooning within our own four walls, with times spent with friends, and times spent with only our Fab 5. It has been at time of intense cleaning, purging and sharing of our stuff with others. It has been a good time.

As the two weeks of celebration and relaxation come to a close, as the New Year is barely underway, thankfulness fills every part of my being. It has truly been a blessed break.

Time is a gift that is so sweet, so very, very sweet. It is something we all have, although often is short supply. It is something that we love to give, something that we give grudgingly. It is something we either have too much of, or not enough, and never the right amount at the exact time we need or want it most.

When our children are young and demanding we desire more time for ourselves, more time away from our children. When we grow old we desire most to spend our time with our children, we dream of the days when the demands tired us, we regret that the busy years are gone.

When we are young we count sleeps (okay, some of us do not outgrow this stage … but, I digress) to the times and events that we look so forward to, when we are elderly we awaken and count the blessing of awakening for “one more day.”

I regret the end of this time of break, yet I have lived long enough to know that I am blessed to have been given the gift of this time. I was also blessed to have been away of the gift that is was before the break began, resulting in a return to work with less regrets and more sweet memories to take into this work week, and new year.

Christmas break 2012, and Christmas itself, has been the sweetest Christmas in my memory. I will leave this house, and separate from hubby and the kids with delightful memories to sit back and ponder with great thanksgiving.

It has been …

… yet there is so much to be, if I can appreciate every day in this intentional, thankful heart of blessing of the gift that this time is for me, for we.

Your life
is like the morning fog–
it’s here a little while, int
then it’s gone.”
John 4:14

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The first day of classes is now behind me 😀 and many other adults and students, and we all breath a sigh of relief that we made it through the day. A number of times colleagues would ask, “how is your first day going?” My response each time was, “I just want to get through it.”

Then, this evening I sat down to catch up on emails, notes, and other communications, with tunes cranked to put me into a delightful state of bliss. The first song must have been mistakenly put on repeat, and so it played over and over and over again.

Maybe, though, it was providence, fate or divine message from God that caused it to play again and again.

Now I am hoping that it will play again and again in my head, until I get the message of it’s words.

I really love it when a song speaks to me, makes me wonder, teaches me, or reminds me of something I have forgotten.

That is what the song, Good to be Alive, sung by Jason Gray, does for me, it reminds me of something I keep forgetting … remember, I was the chickie who “just want to get through it (the day)” … that it is good to be alive, and that we live best if we keep this in mind, in the exciting and the mundane of life.

If I look at my life I am so blessed. I have been made fully and completely alive by my Creator. I am healthy. I have a great hubby and amazing kids. I have a job AND I love it. I have friends, family, home, etc., etc., etc. I have so much to live for that should make every moment of every day be seen by myself as a gift. I should NEVER be viewing any part of my day as something to get through!

Check it out, maybe it will put a spring in your step too.

“Good To Be Alive”

Hold on
Is this really the life I’m living?
Cause I don’t feel like I deserve it
Every day that I wake, every breath that I take you’ve given
So right here, right now
While the sun is shining down

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive, yeah

Hold on
If the life that we’ve been given
Is made beautiful in the living
And the joy that we get brings joy to the heart of the giver
Then right here, right now
This is the song I’m singing out

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive
[x2]

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived, to say “thank you”

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be, it’s good to be alive

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