Author Archives: Paula Davis
The Christmas season is here!
Lights and decorations are going up on homes and businesses. Cities and towns are festively decked as trees are lit and lightposts adorned. Here in Central New York snow blankets the ground. For most it is a time of wonder and anticipation. There is a magic in the air as people seem more willing to believe in the goodness of others and the possibility of miracles.
Unfortunately for some the excitement and anticipation is laced with sadness. They may be dreading the coming days. In retail shops this season brings longer hours and less time for family. Some are alone or struggling to make ends meet and Christmastime reminds them of their solitude and what they are lacking. Celebrations are sometimes laced with sadness and regret.
In our merriment and preparations it can be easy to look inside, focus on our little circle of family and friends and overlook others.
So this year I’m issuing a Christmas Kindness Challenge to myself and anyone else who will accept.
Every day from now until Christmas I will post a challenge on my author Facebook page. (you can “like” it here: https://www.facebook.com/pauladavispeace ) Most of the challenges require little or no money, but help us to think of others differently perhaps. Here’s the first challenge:
This is the time of year we celebrate the gift God gave us when His son Jesus came to earth to take away our sins and create a way for us to join Him in Heaven some day. We can give the gift of kindness to a friend or even a stranger each day.
Join me, won’t you?
Feel free to share this with others as well. Let’s make kindness contagious this Christmas!
Blessings and peace…
Today we paused to give thanks for all we have, for all we’ve been spared, for blessings that abound.
At my house the turkey is now leftovers and we are all stuffed. Our family has gone on home…only the memories remain of treasured time together. Now we will move on from Thanksgiving.
As I settle into the quietness I am reflective.
I am grateful…
I am blessed.
And I wonder…
As we move on from Thanksgiving will we also move on from being thankful?
Will our days become filled with wants and must-haves as we put up our trees and lights, filling our homes with gifts and treats?
Please don’t misunderstand. I love Christmas and so much that comes with that precious season. I love the time to focus on the gift of Christ coming to earth as a baby. I love the sense of magic in the air as people seem a little kinder and willing to believe that the would can be good.
But I still want Thanksgiving to live on every day.
I want to live a life of gratefulness. To focus on the good…the blessings…every little thing.
I want to look at the world through a gratitude filter, finding good all around me, and bringing good to others.
Most especially I want to live a life filled with thankfulness for God’s great love for us.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
It may seem like an exaggeration, but I don’t care.
Will you join me?
Let’s see if we can help the spirit of Thanksgiving live on all throughout the year.
blessings and peace to you…
I chuckle when I see or hear the phrase, “It’s the time of year to be thankful.”
Of course we should be thankful all year-long, but with Thanksgiving around the corner our focus bends towards being thankful more than other times of the year. As Black Friday sales press in on us from every side concentrating on thankfulness brings into focus what we have more than what we have not.
I’m wondering, though. Does your thankfulness ever come reluctantly?
We are human and our lives are sometimes laced with circumstances where it isn’t always easy to be thankful. Our family’s festivities will be mixed with sadness as we are without a very special uncle who went to Heaven earlier this year. Maybe you face a similar situation or something even more difficult.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 The apostle Paul encourages us to
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
That’s a pretty tall order!
In fact it’s easy for me to read this and see it as impossible. How can people be happy all the time and never grumble about circumstances we are in? If I don’t always rejoice and pray or have trouble giving thanks am I outside of God’s will for my life?
Let’s look at this verse with perspective.
I believe God doesn’t ask us to be thankful for all circumstances, but as the verse says, be thankful in all circumstances.The reality is that it is difficult to be thankful for some things. God knows this. However in the midst of the difficulty we always have something worthy of thanks.
This request is much easier when we follow what precedes the instruction…pray continually. When we pray and put ourselves in God’s hands we will find a strength we didn’t know we had and joy hiding in unexpected places.
If your thankfulness comes reluctantly this year, or if you’re struggling to be thankful at all, please be encouraged and seek God’s strength to get you through. If you need some earthly encouragement please let me know. I would be honored to stand with you in prayer.
Would you have a story of thankfulness to share with us today? We would be encouraged by the experiences of others.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and peace, and blessings galore.
‘Tis the time of the year to celebrate occasions. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and Christmas will quickly follow. In my family we add a couple of birthdays in between as well. So much to do in preparation and anticipation, then the day comes and goes and what do we have left? Memories, both good and bad. Scrapbook worthy moments, and unfortunately often moments we wish we could do-over.
Occasions are often seen as times to look back. We remember holidays of the past, what has changed and traditions we still treasure. We remember special times spent with ones we love. These are precious memories to be held in our hearts.
I’m afraid too often – especially on our birthdays (although other occasions as well) we may look back with regret for things we have done, or perhaps opportunities we feel we have missed. It’s easy to look in the rear view mirror of our lives and play the would’ve, should’ve game. And while we can learn from our past, we should never dwell there.
Truly nothing can be gained by dwelling in the past. If we settle in times gone by for too long our focus begins to change. We either long for those good times that are now just memories, or we lose momentum we’ve made in our lives moving forward from times we wish we could go back and change. In Philippians 3:12-14 the apostle Paul gives us a great example to follow.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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.
Throughout the books Paul has written we never see him settle for less than God has for him. While he certainly may have had regrets of how he treated God’s people before he was saved by the grace of Christ’s salvation, once he accepted the forgiveness offered he only looked ahead. We read of Paul stating that he was content in his life, but we never see him stagnant. He continually looked ahead towards the ultimate prize of Heaven…and did all he could to take others along with him.
As the occasions of the next few weeks and months come our way, treasure them. Remember the good of occasions gone by and allow God to take away any regret for those that you wish had been different. Focus on making new memories for yourself and those around you.
Remember we have the opportunity to make every day and every encounter an occasion in itself. When we focus on staying in touch with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through us we can touch lives and change each moment into an occasion. It may not be one for the history books but may leave an impression that makes a difference to someone else.
There is a wonderful movie called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (created from a book by Suzanne Weyn) I leave you with my favorite quote and hope you’ll carry it with you:
Blessings and peace to you on this occasion called today.
How do you eat an elephant?
So goes the commonly quoted encouragement to conquer big projects.
It’s clever, but somehow I rarely let it encourage me. My response was usually something like, “sure, but it will NEVER get done”. What does one little ‘bite’ matter?
This state of mind allowed me to remain stagnant and not push myself to overcome things in my life that seemed overwhelming and more than I could handle. It wasn’t comfortable, but I couldn’t believe that some teeny tiny change could make much of a difference.
A scripture came to mind that previously I had mostly glossed over, thinking it applied in Jesus’ day but not for us today.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
I was convicted and realized I needed to give it a try.
Last year as I set aside the excuses and adopted the elephant-eating philosophy I completed and published my first book! You can learn more about Cherish This Christmas here: http://pauladavispeace.com/2012/11/01/exciting-announcement/
This fall I adopted this concept to living a more healthy lifestyle. Finally admitting this year to being middle-aged I thought about the future a little differently before. I realized continuing current eating habits and the mostly sedentary lifestyle I was living would lead to even more difficulty over time. Always before I had jumped into a change like this ‘all in’, believing that I had to cut out all foods that weren’t healthy for me and exercise for hours a day.
Always before I had failed. This time making small changes has me 10 pounds lighter in 4 weeks and feeling less sluggish and craving less of the fatty, high calorie foods.
Small changes really do matter.
- If you save 25¢ a day, after a year you would have almost $100
- Completing one chore each evening (dusting, vacuuming, laundry, etc.) leaves most weekends free of housework.
- Spending just 20 minutes a day walking, cleaning the house or grocery shopping burns about 500 calories a week.
What elephant(s) are you facing today? Do you look at them the way I used to…does one bite really matter?
I encourage you to change that thinking!
Choose one small change to adapt this week. Then add another.
Give it time…at least a month before giving up. (this may be the toughest part!)
And be encouraged! (If you need help with encouragement, send me a note.)
blessings & peace to you…
We’ve all heard the labels…Negative Nellie, Debbie Downer…names to describe people who can’t seem to find anything good to say or see the positive side of a situation. No one really wants to be around these people as they make it difficult to really enjoy life.
But let me ask you something.
Is it possible you have someone like this living with you all the time? Perhaps inside your head?
Do you put yourself down more often than you encourage yourself?
Is it easy for you to help someone else see the positive side of a situation but when it comes to yourself you are critical and pessimistic?
This came to my mind the other day as I hit the snooze button one too many times and didn’t get up early enough to exercise before work. Many days this is my only opportunity and I found myself grumbling and putting myself down first thing in the morning. Phrases like, “you know if you had gone to bed earlier you could have gotten up on time” and “how do you expect to get healthy if you can’t even get up in time to exercise for 20-30 minutes in the morning.”
While there was some truth in these thoughts it was no way to start the day. I asked myself what I would’ve said to a friend who told me the same thing and realized my answer would have been very different. I would have encouraged them not to give up or to allow it to ruin their day.
Philippians 4:8 says:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I don’t believe this passage is saying that we should live life with rose-colored glasses or never evaluate situations for improvement. However we should not fill our minds with these kinds of thoughts.
Imagine how different things would be if we fed ourselves the same words we would tell someone else.
“Don’t worry about slipping up on that goal. Try again. You can make it happen.”
“Nice work. You’re really good at this.”
Being positive is not the same as being arrogant or self-serving. Finding the good in yourself also helps you find the good in others and look for the blessings all around. We can’t fully love others unless we love ourselves as well.
As you begin your weekend think about how you look at and talk to yourself. Catch yourself being negative and turn it to positive. Find things about yourself that are admirable, excellent and praiseworthy and thank God for creating these things in you. You’ll be surprised at the peace that will fill your heart and life through this small change in thought.
blessings and peace to you…
Fall is a challenging time for me.
You see, I love Summer.
Oh, Spring is nice. It’s exciting to watch the world wake up. It’s great to rediscover relationships with neighbors and friends whom we only saw from beneath our hats and scarves while operating snowblowers or shovels. I enjoy planting flowers and seeds, digging in the dirt and watching things begin to bloom.
But Summer. Ahhh…the sun shines down it’s warmth and life is more relaxed somehow. People look for excuses to spend time together. Friendships are made or strengthened around picnic tables, bonfires, or lounging on the back deck. Fairs, Festivals and Farmer’s Markets are everywhere. I love Summer.
So as the leaves begin to change and temperatures begin to cool I begin to panic.
This year I wondered what stirs up these feelings in me. After all, there is much about Fall I am fond of.
The colors are brilliant.
The scents are delicious.
The flavors of pumpkin, apples and spice are wonderful.
Why the melancholy?
I began to realize that in my mind I have been skipping over Fall and worrying about Winter.
And then a verse came to mind:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
Instead of enjoying the fun of Fall every year I dread the cold weather and snow (both of which I am not fond) that are ahead. I worry about something months away so I don’t enjoy the beauty all around me.
I realized I do this in my personal life as well.
Sometimes I worry about problems in life that may never materialize and I begin to despair. By looking ahead at what challenges may present themselves in the future I am pulled away from the blessings of today.
And it steals my peace.
This year I’m working on enjoying the beauty of the changing colors and the crunch of the leaves under my feet. I’m breathing in the sweet smells and relishing the special flavors that are only available this time of year.
And I’m not worrying about the “s” word right now. The ground will be white soon enough. I don’t need to rush it. Who knows, perhaps this year I can find something to enjoy about Winter as well.
What is your favorite season?
Do you share similar struggles with the changing seasons?
Blessings and peace to you this beautiful Fall day…
When will I learn that life is not a competition? Sure, there are many who would like us to believe that it is. Our world pushes us up the ladder of success, telling us to climb our way to the top even if it means stepping on others in the process. Social media has added a new dimension to the ladder as we see the accomplishments of friends and strangers (embellished or not) in photos and status updates day after day.
Unfortunately our faith in God does not make us immune to the challenge and even in Christian circles we see people lifted up for their abilities as authors, speakers and musicians. While this whole concept is fodder for a separate conversation the fact remains that wherever we go we are faced with the idea of ‘measuring up’. Jealousy often rears its ugly head when we feel like we don’t.
This is not the way God desires us to live, but it’s not a surprise to Him either. After all, the first person born on earth was so jealous he killed his own brother out of a jealous rage. (See Genesis Chapter 4)
The saddest part of this story to me is that Cain believed God liked Abel better and favored him when the truth is that God wanted them each to give the best out of what they were given. God wasn’t asking Cain to measure up to Abel. He only desired Cain to give the best of his own gifts for the glory of God.
This has always been a challenge for me from trying as a young girl to measure up to my sister’s ability on the piano to watching people change to living healthy lifestyles and others who develop successful ministries.
God has given me many gifts and talents yet I still find myself looking at others and lamenting that I can’t be more like them. It may be silly but at times it is reality for me, and I suspect for many of you as well. I see posts of others’ activities, book promotions, speaking engagements, service projects and athletic endeavors and question how I’ve spent my day/week/weekend.
At these times I need to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with questioning my accomplishments or how I’ve spent my time IF I am measuring myself against God’s desires for me, not against others. It’s important to remember what God says in Colossians 3:23-24:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I want to encourage you to look within, not around you when you deciding if you ‘measure-up’. Ask God to show you where you’re doing your best for Him and not how you compare to others. I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how your perspective changes.
God longs for each of us to see how we fit into the puzzle of life. Each piece is different yet very important. The puzzle isn’t complete until they all fit together. If we try to be someone else’s piece the puzzle will lack our unique part.
Wishing you peace in life’s puzzle… Paula
Yesterday a friend of mine challenged us on Facebook:
Consider as you walk today and for the weekend:
“..if you love those who love you, what reward will you have?”
There’s value in loving those who are difficult to love.
As I read it I contemplated just how well I do with this as I go through the mundane sameness of every day. I thought about the difference between putting myself in a position to love someone who is difficult to love and choosing love or acceptance toward someone who crosses my path in everyday situations. I actually think the latter is more difficult.
Challenge accepted, I began my day and headed to the orthopedic office where I work at the front desk. I prayed that God would give me the proper responses to those around me and that I would react as Jesus would when placed in difficult situations. As I got to work I encountered:
- The impatient caller who was worked up because she didn’t get the answer to the message she left quickly enough.
- The inefficient drugstore clerks who can’t seem to get people through a check-out line in a timely manner.
- The grumpy patient checking in who didn’t have his insurance cards and didn’t want his time wasted signing forms.
- And my favorite…the pickup truck who barreled out of a parking lot and almost hit me on the way home.
There were others of course, too many to list here. In my job we talk to so many needy patients on the phone and in person that there are numerous opportunities to choose. And I will admit I didn’t always choose love when someone was ranting on the other end of the line. I was reminded just how difficult it can be to not fall into the trap of grumpiness, sarcasm and gossip. Thankfully there were several times I caught myself softening my responses mid-conversation or looking that grumpy person in the eye with a smile.
When I changed my responses to a more loving, accepting tone I saw a change in the other person as well. It was sometimes subtle but to me it was significant. I knew I had made a difference, however small.
Bestselling author Harvey Mackay said,
“Little things don’t mean a lot, they mean everything!”
Take a minute right now to reflect over the past day or two and the little things others have done for you that brightened your day or lightened your load:
- Did someone hold the door and let you walk through first?
- Did a stranger smiled as you passed?
- Perhaps a co-worker shared your workload…or a sweet treat!
….you get the idea.
If these little things made such a difference to you, imagine the difference you might make to others.
And in these situations it’s not a stretch to consider you are making a difference for eternity.
Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40
So today I am issuing the challenge to you. As your weekend begins and you encounter the grumpy, impatient and rude people who are a part of our everyday life, make a choice, and make a difference.
Please come back here and share with us how your encounters made a difference. I’d love to hear about them!
blessings and peace to you!