Archive for the “patience” Category

God created each of us uniquely – we’re all wired differently. When life causes those wires to get twisted, things inside us begin to go haywire. A few days and we’re just a little out of sorts. A week or two and satan is there at our side ready to capture us with temptations to return to old sinful patterns or try new ones. I’m sure you’ve been there. Too much work, too many crises, too much isolation or too little adventure and you’re ready to jump at change.

Usually that change isn’t following God. Yes, God can bring us to a state of holy discontent which launches us into a new ministry or new level of intimacy with Him. A holy discontent isn’t the same as a life that has gone haywire.

Whether we like to admit it or not, it is routine (which sometimes become tradition) which grounds us, and it is that grounding that we need when our wires get jumbled.

This morning, I returned to my Saturday morning pattern of sitting in my reclining chair alone with God. For a number of years, I have reserved my Saturday mornings for time with God. It was His idea – He began waking me up early on the only day of the week I could sleep in. And I love to sleep in. At first I was frustrated every week when I awoke early no matter what time I went to bed Friday night. Eventually I remembered one of my life rules – if something out of the ordinary happens repeatedly and it’s not sin, it must be God! It’s not rocket science, but sometimes I’m a bit slow at recognizing the hand of God.

So I started getting up when God woke me and going to my reclining chair, sitting, reading, writing and praying. It had become such a special time each week.

Then life got really crazy. I remained consistent with reading and praying throughout the week, but I missed my Saturday mornings with God.

This morning, after taking the dog for a walk, I am back in my reclining chair with my laptop. Ahhhh….I feel grounded in a way I haven’t for a couple of months. Simply being here, reading, writing, and praying has calmed me in a way I’ve been missing. That’s what grounding is. It takes the negative sparks of energy and dissipates them. Ahhhhh…..

My daily reading and prayer ground me, but they are more of a maintenance level grounding. My Saturday mornings are my reboot and refresh level grounding.

Each of us is grounded by many things throughout the day. Here’s just a few of things other than Bible reading and prayer that ground me throughout the day:

  • I like to stir my tea. Most people stir their coffee or tea or hot chocolate once and then take the spoon out and drink their tea. I leave my spoon in and before I take each sip I stir my tea. The motion of stirring the tea is very calming for me.
  • I pause to kiss my husband and tell him how important he is to me.
  • I stop what I’m doing and evaluate my to-do list and schedule. That causes my husband stress. It grounds me.
  • I take a dance break when a great song comes on the radio at work. (Fortunately, I am not subjecting coworkers to my dancing. Typically I am working alone or with my husband in our basement office.)

How about you? What is it that grounds you? Perhaps a date with your husband or dinner as a family are things that calm your world. Maybe it’s reading a good book before bed or exercising or cooking or cleaning. (Man, I wish cleaning calmed me. It doesn’t.) Maybe it’s snuggling with your children at night or sitting on the porch in the morning with your Bible and coffee. It’s important to take time to do the things that bring calm into your life.

It’s critically important that connecting with God be a part of your grounding. There are a number of ways to do that:

  • Read your Bible and pray daily. This daily connection with God, even if it is shorter on some days than on others, keeps you grounded on a regular basis. It needs to be enhanced by those weekly, more intense times with Him, but it provides a minimal safety net when life goes crazy. If I had not maintained this pattern over the past few months of craziness, I can’t imagine how off-kilter I would be today.
  • Meet with God’s people regularly – go to church! Some think that attending a regular Bible study is a substitute for church. I would caution against that. There are few Bible studies that provide the corporate worship experience that a church gathering does. That experience includes worshiping together with other believers and being inspired and instructed through His Word. Each one of those activities are part of our grounding with God. Each provides a different interaction with Him. Most Bible studies provide fellowship and study, lacking intimate worship and inspiration.
  • Enjoy a weekly Sabbath. God created and commanded the Sabbath for many reasons, but one of them is as a gift to His children – a gift of time set aside to reconnect with Him – to become fully grounded before facing the world for another week. Read more about the Sabbath and the joy of keeping it in my series of blogs that start with this one.

For me, the above three activities are non-negotiable for staying grounded in God. Do I miss reading my Bible some days? Yes. Do I miss church some weeks? Yes. Do enjoy a weekly Sabbath every week? No. I’m not perfect in anything yet. Still, I protect each of those activities pretty fiercely, committing to them even when it’s inconvenient or I just plain don’t feel like it. Because God is faithful and will meet us when we make the sacrifice to meet with Him.

So, friends, I ask again: what is it that grounds you? Is God in the mix? Does He play a prominent enough role in your grounding routines? Let me encourage you to find those things that ground you, and especially those things that connect you to God, and make them part of your routine. Then fiercely guard those routines. Because life without grounding isn’t pretty or fun!

Symptoms that you need more grounding:

  • Impatience – When I’m in the car and all the drivers around me seem to be out to get me or determined to make me late, I need more grounding.
  • Quick to become annoyed or angry – When clients call with routine inquires and I get annoyed, I need more grounding.
  • Always tired – When everything seems a chore because I’m just so tired, I need more grounding. (You might think it’s sleep that I need – it is – and when I’m well grounded, I sleep well.)
  • Lacking in creativity – When I have no solutions to the challenges of life, I need more grounding. It means I’m just going through the emotions and grounding dissipates the negative energy and infuses us with positive energy. Positive energy brings creativity.
  • Seeking escape – When all I can think about is getting away or vegging in front of the television after work, I need more grounding. Grounding is our escape and takes away the need for an escape.
  • Always making excuses – That’s called sin. “The woman you gave me caused me to do it.” Those were Adam’s words to God after he also ate the fruit of the tree. He was blaming both his wife and God with that single statement. When I am well grounded, I am able to call sin “sin.” I am able to confess my sin to God and others and enjoy forgiveness and freedom.

If you looked at this list of symptoms and recognize that you experience many of them (and perhaps made excuses for why you experience them), you need more grounding in your life. Yes, your life is hectic and crazy; and yes, there may be others in your life that impact your ability to develop your grounding routines. But God – those magically inspiring words – but God can change that when you ground yourself and your life in Him. Find those grounding patterns, create those grounding patterns, and fiercely protect them.

You will be honoring God and He will honor you. You will begin to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. Perhaps not tomorrow – because some of us need a major rewiring before we can become grounded – but God can and will do it! He’s that creative with solutions and He’s that good!

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Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.
Psalm 57:1 (NLT)

This verse from today’s Resting at the River’s Edge readings caught my attention. It was the last phrase that made me stop. “I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings until the danger passes by (emphasis mine).

I wonder –

> how often do you cry to God for help – “Lord, have mercy on me. Lord, I look to You for protection.” –

> then hide yourself in Him

> and then fail to stay there until the danger has passed?

How often do you come out of hiding long before the danger has passed only to get beat up by the storm?

I’m sure there are many times I do that. It’s both a symptom (the coming out of hiding too soon) and a result (getting beat up by the storm) of a nature that hasn’t matured in patience and effective prayer.

What does it mean to “Hide Beneath the Shadow of [God’s] Wings?”
Most typically, it means that we remain engulfed in God because of the continual, effective prayer we offer. I am safe within God because I am not allowing the world and its influences to pull me into temptation. That temptation might be to worry or to respond in an ungodly manner. Either way, I have removed myself from the shelter of God’s protection by stepping into the world’s way of doing things.

It also means following His ways, including His approach to the situation at hand. Knowing what God wants us to do means knowing His Word and knowing how to hear His voice.

If you’re like me, sometimes you cry out for help “Lord, protect me!” and then immediately leave His presence to go about your day. Sometimes I don’t wait to hear what God has to say about it and sometimes I leave my prayer time and immediately attack the situation in worldly ways. (Lord, forgive me.)

So today’s Scripture is a reminder to:

Cry out to God when I am in trouble…

Wait on Him to hear His plans for my deliverance…

Stay under the shelter of His wings until the danger has passed.

I need that reminder every now and then, how about you?

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February 13-19, 2012 is RAKWeek – that’s Random Acts of Kindness Week for those of you who missed the memo.

I am a big fan of random acts of kindness, although I confess to not doing them as often as I’d like. I think they are a great way to soften people toward the Gospel. Christians are frequently viewed or portrayed as judgmental or negative (we shouldn’t be either, of course). Random acts of kindness combat that stereotype. That’s a good thing.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading Proverbs 11 and learned that kindness has another great benefit:

Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.
Proverbs 11: 17 (NLT)

We can nourish our souls in many ways, but being kind has a double kick – when I practice kindness (whether planned or random), both my soul and the recipient of my kindness are benefited.

I love the word “nourished.” It has the connotation of caring for something so that it becomes healthier and more beautiful. Wilted or brown edges are restored. Strength is revived. Flowers bloom and fruit grows.

In the context of this verse – that is, nourishing our soul, it also carries the connotation of bringing an inner peace and joy – a resting from toil and strife. Say it with me…Aaaaahhhhhh.

All that can be yours and mine through the simple act of kindness. Want some creative ideas? I’ve included a few below, but check out the Random Acts of Kindness website for more.

Lack of kindness is a spiritual issue. It is conceived when one sees the world through earthly eyes instead of the eyes of Christ. It takes root when we focus more on ourselves than others and is watered by impatience, jealousy and pride. Each of these things is called sin. Each keeps us from stepping outside ourselves to show kindness to others.

Yet that’s exactly what we need to do –remind ourselves that we are not the center of the universe, ask God to allow us to see others through His eyes, and commit to reaching out to others in kindness. It doesn’t take a lot of money, and it doesn’t even have to take a lot of time.

Show some kindness. Here are some ideas:

  • Smile – REALLY smile – at strangers.
  • Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk or cut their grass.
  • Cut flowers from your yard and give them to someone.
  • Buy two pizzas the next time you order and give one to a friend.
  • Pay for the Starbucks of the person behind you in line.
  • Invite the child of a friend to help you create a scrapbook for another friend.
  • Leave a generous tip the next time you eat out.
  • Pick up a candy bar for your coworker the next time you hit the vending machines.
  • Pick up trash from your neighbor’s yard.
  • Play with your neighbor’s children for an afternoon.
  • Call someone who needs to hear from you.

God has lots of ideas – ask Him! He’ll bring them to your mind.

My mom (Happy Birthday, Mom!) lives in a heathcare facility and has been for more than a decade. Yet she finds ways to be kind to other residents every day. Often they can’t reciprocate and sometimes they can’t even show any appreciation. But mom knows that when you give kindness away, your own soul is nourished. She laughs every day in the midst of very difficult living circumstances. I know that her laughter comes from a well-nourished soul.

What fools we often are! We hurry through life and worry about so many things, when slowing down just a bit would enable us to see the needs of others, respond in kindness and receive nourishment for our own souls in the process.

The New King James Version translates our key verse with a slightly different slant:

The merciful man does good for his own soul,
But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.
Proverbs 11:18 (NKJV)

Kindness and mercy go hand in hand – showing mercy is showing kindness. Both require seeing someone’s need and moving to meet it. God has shown all of us tremendous mercy. He’s forgiven our sins – all of them.

Lord, help us to respond to others as you have responded to us. Help us to show mercy – kindness – to those around us.

Let’s nourish our own souls – let’s perform random acts of kindness – not just this week, let’s make it a lifestyle! Feel free to share your ideas for random acts of kindness as a comment or on Facebook.

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Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?
Romans 2:4 (NLT)

Perhaps there are times when you can’t think of anything to be thankful for. Life has come crashing down upon you and your “thank you” muscle is at least temporarily silenced. I was reading Dr. David Jeremiah’s book Captivated by Grace and he pointed out how thankful we ought to be for God’s kindness, patience and tolerance. Without it, we’d be toast! Even when life crashes in, in the midst of the sad, discouraging or hurtful circumstances, we can be thankful that our God is a kind, patient and tolerant God.

Jeremiah reminds his reader that God knows our every intention (see 1 Chronicles 28:9). Not only our actions, but our intention. He knows when we’ve done that good deed not to show Christ to the world, but for some personal prestige or gain. He knows when our thoughts are the polar opposite of our actions. As Jeremiah puts it:

“The Spirit of God dwells among the file cabinets of your mind…Truly understanding the implications of that, we would be taken by uncontrollable fear if His character were not kind, patient, and forbearing. Who else could we trust with the contents of those file cabinets? Who else but someone with absolutely perfect, infinitely unconditional love?”
from Captivated by Grace by Dr. David Jeremiah, p. 76

I’m thankful that God is kind. Kindness can sometimes be a rare commodity in this world.

I’m thankful that God is tolerant. The word used means “self-restraint.” God restrains Himself from punishing me as my actions and thoughts deserve.

I’m thankful that God is patient. In some translations, it reads “longsuffering.” Having looked up the word “tolerant,” I thought I’d also look up “patient” as well. I didn’t expect to find anything interesting, but you never know. I was wrong! I found it quite interesting. Strong’s Greek dictionary defines the word translated as “patient” or “longsuffering” as “longanimity.” OK, I didn’t know what that word meant, either. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary to the rescue again – longanimity means “a disposition to bear injuries patiently.” God is not only patient, He is pre-disposed to bear injuries patiently. That’s quite different from waiting patiently for the light to turn green. He bears injuries patiently. (Hmmm. Makes me consider how I’m doing in that department lately!)

Friends, there is always reason to be thankful, and I am convinced that thankfulness is a key to experiencing the joy that God’s Word promises.

Don’t allow the busyness of the Christmas season to overwhelm you. Each day, be thankful that God is kind, tolerant and patient toward you and your loved ones.

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

God is changing me! (And for that I am eternally thankful!) I am finally realizing that my “job” as a Christian is to bring the Kingdom of God into every place I go and every situation I face. Further, I’m realizing that the way I do that is not so much with my words, although as a speaker and writer, I place great importance on words. Before the words can have impact, though, the atmosphere must be one in which they can be heard.

Phil and I met my aunt at a restaurant recently to catch up. We’d heard good things about the restaurant and none of us had been to it yet. Boy did we pick the wrong restaurant! There was so much ambient noise in the restaurant that we couldn’t hear one another across the table.

Often, the ambient noise in our lives is like that of the restaurant – our circumstances scream so loudly that we can barely hear what others are saying to us. I suspect that the ambient noise for many who don’t know Christ is several decibels higher than for those of us who have the relief valves of prayer and worship. At least we have the opportunity to open the relief valve and let the noise drain into quietness and peace of God. (The more we abide in Christ, the more that relief valve is constantly open.)

When we bring the Kingdom of God into places and situations, we change the atmosphere from being highly charged with screaming voices to being highly charged with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood
John 1:5

People may not understand the light we’ve brought into the darkness (to mix metaphors), but they can’t help but notice it.

What a wonderful opportunity we have! All we have to do is be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient! Piece of cake, right? OK, maybe not. So let’s start by focusing on kindness.

In preparing for this blog, I did a search in the NIV translation of the Bible. I was surprised to find the word kindness used 56 times, mostly referring to the kindness of God. Author and speaker Graham Cooke often describes God as the kindest person He knows. Clearly, the Bible places great value on kindness. American culture – not so much! Our definition of kindness has deteriorated to the canned “Thank you shopping at WalMart. Have a nice day!” Nice sentiment; meaningless when expressed in a toneless manner and unaccompanied by a smile. If we are to imitate Christ, if we are to be “practicing Christians,” our lives will be different from those around us. One of the ways it should be different is that we ought to become “the kindest people others know.”

I’d sure like to get better at it, and the holiday season is the perfect time to begin.

What leads to un-kindness?
Unkindness says a great deal about the person practicing it (yes, unkindness is a practice just as kindness is). It says things like:

  • I’m more important than you are and don’t have time to treat you with respect.
  • I don’t value you as an individual so you are not worthy of my kindness.
  • I’m selfish and self-absorbed in my own issues – I don’t care enough about you to show you kindness.
  • I’m impatient (which is a whole lot like selfish and self-absorbed) and don’t have time to be kind to you.
  • I’m lazy and don’t make the effort to be kind to you.
  • I’m ignorant, believing anything or anyone who is different from me is just wrong and/or inferior. You happen to be different from me so I will treat you with the contempt you deserve instead of the kindness God commands.
  • I am disobedient to God’s Word which tells me to treat you with kindness, and my actions demonstrate that deep down inside, I’m unappreciative of the kindness God has shown me.

Ouch! The truth is that I am all those things without Christ. Each one of those sinful qualities can be found in my heart. I am thankful that I am forgiven and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is, however, the constant urging to become the woman of God that He created me to be. There is the constant urging to beome the man or woman of God that He created you to be. So let’s look at the positive and turn our thoughts toward practicing our faith by demonstrating kindness toward others.

How might we show kindness in every day life?
Kindness is a virtue that has largely gone out of fashion. Let’s bring it back! Try these things:

  • Smile! Genuinely smile! I’ve lived most of my life not smiling at people and I’m ready to change that. I’ve found that when I do genuinely smile at people, I love the results! I feel better about myself and about life. And the people I smile at are often encouraged – they respond with surprise and their eyes light up.
  • Say “Thank you!” and mean it. Our response to the WalMart employee can easily be as automated as their thank you. When they say “Have a nice day!” don’t just mumble “thank you” as you pick up your bags and walk away. Pause and say “Thank you! I will. You have a nice day, too!” You’ll be surprised at some of the responses you get. It might even open up an opportunity for you to pray for them.
  • Do helpful things when you see people in need.
    • When you see someone struggling with something – carrying too many bags or wrangling children and groceries or about to drop the many papers in their hands – offer to help.
    • Have a co-worker that is suddenly under a pile of work? Offer to help.
    • How about taking time to help a neighbor rake their leaves or pull weeds?
    • When the snow begins to fly, don’t just shovel your walkway, do your neighbor’s (especially if you have a snow blower and they don’t or if they are elderly or a single mom).
    • Get into the habit of asking “How can I help?” At first, people will usually say that you can’t, but if you keep at it, many of them will become comfortable enough to let you help in some way.
  • Don’t respond with rudeness –no matter how rude they are to you!
  • Share your life. This season, invite others to become involved in your life. Here are some ideas:
    • Put up your Christmas trees together – first at their house, then at yours.
    • Go shopping together.
    • Share a soup & salad dinner during the week. Soup & salad is easy and fast, but gives you an opportunity to share life with someone who just might need a friend.
  • Use your talents to show others kindness. I have a friend who makes special memory cards when a family member dies. Another friend makes personal greeting cards for special occasions. If your strength is in business, mentor someone who is just getting started.
  • Be thankful for the kindness God has shown you.

Well that exhausts my list – at least for now. What suggestions do you have for making kindness a part of your every day life?

Let’s become better at being PC! Challenge yourself this season to show more kindness each day.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Romans 2:4

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Is patience your strength? No? I would have guessed that! It’s not a strength for most of us. Here’s a great post called “There is a Time to Wait.”

It won’t hit you over the head with guilt, but will help you think a bit about our incessant need to have it NOW!

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So I’ve been really sick this week. Really sick. But my brother’s son was coming to town for the first time in years and he was bringing his new wife with him. We were meeting at mom’s nursing home for a lunch get together. I had secret hopes of making it a special late wedding celebration, but knew I’d only be able to pull it off if I got a lot better. Praise God! I finally began to feel a little better last night, and I actually woke up early this morning. It was one of those mornings where time seems to wonderfully drag by slowly (“I can’t believe I still have an hour before I have to leave”), then all of a sudden it disappears (“How in the world did it get to be ten minutes after I wanted to leave?”).

My first stop was the grocery store to buy a pseudo-wedding cake, hoping they’d have time to personalize it. Hurray! They did. While waiting, I noticed these cutest little cupcakes that I absolutely had to buy for my mom. Their frosting was stringy and hair-like, and they had eyes on top. My mom would love them. It was about this time that I realized my emotions were much more fragile than I wanted them to be. For whatever reason, I nearly started crying while I stared at bakery! I have no idea what that was about…I’m blaming it on being sick for the past week. (I figure I’ve got about one, maybe two more days in which I can blame being sick last week for everything. After that…)

Anyway, I paid for my bakery, along with the wedding and gift cards. I then pushed the cart out the door where there were three young girls trying to raise money for some worthy cause. As I turned the corner to exit, the little bag with mom’s cute cupcakes fell from the seat into the basket of the cart landing on their eyes & hair. “Oh, noooo,” I cried in this high pitched voice that really isn’t mine. The three young girls all turned and looked at me. I looked at them, paused half a second, and then said “I’m having a bad day” as I tried to salvage mom’s cupcakes.

And that’s when God got my attention. What kind of an example was I setting to these three young girls by showing them that cupcakes falling from the basket to the cart is worthy of being considered a bad day? And was I really having a bad day?

Lately I’ve become more aware of how teens seem to pick up the attitudes and actions of the adults around them, and then imitate those attitudes and actions to seem more adult themselves. I see it in teens valuing being overly busy and in complaining about how stressful life is. I had just acted out that the simple misfortune of having your cupcake get a bit smushed is worthy of being considered a bad morning. How foolish is that? And how wrong?

I wasn’t having a bad day (my weakened emotional condition not withstanding). I was physically feeling better than I had in days, I was glad to have the energy and time to get a cake (and doubly blessed to find cupcakes to amuse mom with), I was going to see my nephew who had become an adult since I last saw him, and I was getting to meet his new bride. Not to mention I was going to have pizza for lunch! (Always worthy of celebration in my book.)

I corrected myself almost immediately. The three girls probably think I’m a bit crazy, actually, so I’m still not sure the example I set was a good one, but I corrected the record, anyway. I said something like “That’s not true. I’m not having a bad day, I just dropped my cupcakes. Oh well!” I guess I’m glad I don’t know the girls or there would be rumors all over town that I’m losing my mind!

Seriously, God is speaking to me about how easily I blow negative experiences out of proportion and willingly proclaim my sorry state to others. I’m sorry for that! Lord, help me change that inclination. I want to be pre-disposed toward joyfulness and finding the humor in the situation.

How about you? Do you tend to over-exaggerate the negative and allow it to spill into more of your day than it ought to? If so, I invite you to join me in trying to do better. We’ve been living a lifestyle that isn’t consistent with our faith. Scripture assures us that we are incredibly blessed. When I forget that it’s because I’m looking at the cupcakes as a tragedy instead of a minor mishap hardly worthy of consideration. And it probably means I’m not looking at Christ as much as I ought to be.

Father, we want to see Jesus more today. Thank You!

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No one will ever know the full depth of his capacity for patience and humility as long as nothing bothers him. It is only when times are troubled and difficult that he can see how much of either is in him.
          Saint Francis of Assisi

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A friend e-mailed me after my last blog saying that it was just the message she needed that day. She had a great line in her e-mail, though – much better than any of the lines in my blog.

“…your blog message said what I needed to hear,” She wrote. “It changed my perspective. God was not testing my patience. He was growing my patience.”

I love that line – not testing my patience, but growing it. What a great way to look at it. Thinking and saying “God is growing my patience” carries a hugely different message than “God is testing my patience.”

God has been speaking to me about perspective a great deal over the past four months or so. There is ALWAYS more than one way to view the circumstances around us and we ALWAYS have a choice about how we will view them.

Here’s a another example of God adjusting my perspective: A few weeks ago I laughed out loud at myself while working. I have a big honking computer monitor on my desk. In my “real job,” I sit at my desk all day, every day, and I use software that can take up more than a third of the screen with menus and options. So about a year ago we invested in a large monitor. It’s wonderful. I love it. It makes my life so much easier. Most of the time. A few weeks ago I was working from a typed list of numbers to the left of my keyboard and monitor, looking for the number in a list of numbers displayed on my monitor, putting my cursor on that number, then moving to the far right of my monitor to click on an option. An easy process, but because my monitor is so large I was moving my head back and forth like I was watching a tennis match, and I was finding it difficult to keep my place on the sheet of paper and in the document on my screen. After doing this for awhile I was starting to get frustrated. That’s when I laughed. Here I was getting annoyed because I have this wonderful monitor that is so big I actually have to turn my head to use it. Upon realizing my foolishness – that I was becoming annoyed at a blessing – I changed my approach to the job at hand and went on about my business rejoicing about my wonderful monitor instead of being frustrated by it.

About the same time, I read an article by Jeffrey Gitomer about viewing problems as “Wow!” opportunities. It’s a short article and worth reading. Near the end of the article he writes:

“WOW! is now a thought changer, and a mental refocus from a negative that forces a positive response or action. If that’s not a WOW!, what is? And here’s the cool part: you can begin to WOW!, NOW!”

“Thought changer.” If I remember correctly, that’s what being in Christ is all about:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Romans 12:2a (New Living Translation)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2a (New International Version)

God has allowed things into your life and mine to help conform us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and transform our thinking. It is when our mind has been renewed, when our thinking has been transformed…

Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
Romans 12:2b (New Living Translation)

That is when we begin to see the world through the eyes and mind of the Lord. That is when we laugh in the face of difficult circumstances, knowing that they have already been overcome by the Lord and that they are meant for our good.

Lord, continue to change my perspective when it needs to be changed. Keep me looking upward in the face of all frustrations and challenges the day might bring.

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I was talking to an appliance last night when God decided to enter the conversation. It was a short conversation, but I thought blog-worthy.It was late, I was tired, and the appliance wasn’t cooperating. I had taken some of the gadgets off and was trying to put them back on so I could put it away. Like I said, it wasn’t cooperating. That was when I started talking to it. To my credit, I suppose, I only said something like “Come on….I don’t have the patience for this.” And God decided to respond for the appliance. It was a simple sentence. “That’s when you need patience,” He spoke into my head.That’s all. “That’s when you need patience.” It had several affects on me.

First, it relieved my stress immediately. I had been a bit harried, wanting to be done with the day so I could relax a little before I needed to go to bed. His simple act of speaking to me said as much as His words. “Chill out; relax,” was the impact that His words had. It reminded me that He was there and that He was in control.

Then, of course, there was the content of His words. I’ve been thinking about them quite a bit. Yes, it was a simple sentence, but you don’t want to gloss over it when God speaks to you.

It didn’t take long (I was still sitting with the disassembled appliance) for me to realize that you don’t need patience when you don’t need patience. Duh! And you don’t learn patience when you have all that you need. Actually, in my having-just-been-spoken-to-by-God state, I was kind of awed by this. Maybe I’m just easily impressed when I’m tired, but it’s pretty fundamental that the only way to grow in patience is to be taken beyond the point where we are comfortably patient. Fundamental, yes…but so easily forgotten. I don’t usually go through life with that perspective in the front of my mind. Even when I read those great passages about patience, they seem to have such a “supernatural” perspective to them. Like God will just bestow me with supernatural patience. Well, He might, at times when supernatural patience is required. But most of the time, learning patience is a process of regularly being taken beyond the level of patience I have so that I learn to have more.

There was one other thing about God’s communication. It made me realize (again) that God uses the everyday things and people in our lives to help us to become more like Jesus. That’s blog-worthy and praise-worthy.

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