The Choice

I had an “Ah-Ha” moment on the way home from work yesterday. The day had been crazy busy, phones incessant with non-stop needs. I had a headache, terrible tension in my neck and shoulders and I was feeling rather crabby.

Driving home I was revisiting the day, holding on to every negative feeling and still hearing the phone ring, getting grumpier and oh so tired. Then I thought about all the things I had to do when I got home and I was more overwhelmed. I was longing for the next few hours to be over so that I could just go to bed!

 

Then the “Ah-Ha” thought came – IT’S OVER!!

It was not a new thought and certainly not earth-shaking but at that moment for me it was life-changing.

I had a choice to make. It was a choice of whether to allow the ugliness of my day to affect the evening or to change my perspective and look forward, not behind. I could choose to allow my past experiences carry through or I could let go.

And it was my choice. 

I realize we don’t always have the ability to control our environments or our circumstances. We can’t control the attitudes of others or how they act or react to us. And sometimes that can bring us down. We can’t always control our work environment; whether our electronics will act properly, how much the phone will ring or how many problems will be brought to us. Sometimes we simply have to enter survival mode.

What I realized on my way home yesterday is that what we can control is what comes next. When the chaos is over, phones turned off for the day, electronics set aside and people are gone it is up to us to choose what comes next.

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. Philippians 4:8

We CAN control our thoughts. And we CAN control how we move forward.

Here are some practical things to remember and apply when you’re feeling at the end of your rope:

1. Look back and find the good/happy/”smile” moments in your day.

  • It is so easy to see the bad/negative, but I’m sure there are at least one or two good things too. For me it was a patient bringing donuts because he appreciated the ladies in our front office, and the lighthearted moments with my coworkers here and there.

2. Let go of grudges, judgment, etc. 

  • I tend to be quick to analyze the actions, words and attitudes of others. The way I interpret them sometimes lead to judgement and bad attitude on my own part. I discovered the freedom yesterday in letting go.
  • Ask yourself, does it really matter? Or am I being petty?

3. Take a long, deep breath. REALLY!

  • Yes, it sounds a little cheesy. But it does work. We don’t realize how much we hold our breath or have shallow breathing when we are upset or under stress. Stopping and forcing yourself to take a long, deep breath or two will remind yourself to release the physical stress which in turn helps your mind!

4. Look for the good ahead of you.

  • When I allowed myself to think about the beautiful weather around me, the lovely drive home, the fact that I had the next day off, and family and a cute little dog at home waiting for me helped me change my perspective to look ahead instead of back.

I don’t mean to sound simplistic, but my “Ah-Ha” moment is that sometimes it really is.

It’s a choice.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

May blessings and peace be yours today as you choose the best for YOU!

Paula

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What’s The Difference?

Stories of people making a difference in the lives of others are so inspirational. They are everywhere – television shows, news stories and radio spots all about these amazing people. They tell of millionaires who give money to those in need, weight loss coaches training people to lose incredible amounts of weight and others who save lives, remodel homes for returning soldiers…so many who change lives through their actions and deeds. Every time I encounter one of these stories I am touched and motivated to go out and do the same.

But then I stop short.

I can’t make that kind of difference!

I’m not rich, I don’t have special skills to teach others about losing weight or overcoming other obstacles in their lives, and I don’t have the vacation time or the resources to travel somewhere to assist with disaster relief. I could never be like one of those people.

It can be easy to stop there, believing that since I may never be able to impact the world with my difference I am unimportant and shouldn’t even try.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.           1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

We may not ever be in the news for the difference we make. But the reality is that we don’t always know the difference we are making in someone’s life when we allow God to reach through us. When we dismiss our abilities and the way the Holy Spirit can work in our lives because we don’t think they are important enough we are tying God’s hands and hindering Him from blessing people through us. Whatever gifts we are given God can and will use when we release them to Him.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 NIV

And for those of you who are convinced that you don’t have gifts that God can use? Let me ask you a few questions…

1. Can you pray?  Our prayers have more impact than we will ever know, at least this side of Heaven. When we offer a prayer for a friend, family member, or even a stranger we release the power of God through the Holy Spirit to work in their life. Your prayer may be the lifeline for someone who feel they have no strength to go on.

In addition to praying for family, friends and other known needs I have formed a habit of praying when I hear a siren. I don’t always know if the siren comes from a police car, fire truck or ambulance but I pray for the people who are helping, and the people being helped. Truly someone’s life may be saved because of your prayer.

2. Can you smile? I work in a medical office at the front desk. I spend most of my day answering the phone and checking in patients. It’s not the kind of job where I’m changing lives or making life-altering decisions that impact others and it is easy to slip into the attitude of thinking my role is unimportant. But that thinking would be wrong. I can smile. I can be kind to those I encounter. This is not a small thing.

Think about the difference when you go to a store, medical office, etc. and the person at the counter is crabby, just doing enough to get through the day but certainly not happy about it. Now think of the last time the person in this position smiled at you and was pleasant throughout your interaction. What kind of difference did that make in your day? We in turn can make this difference for someone else.

3. Can you write/type? The art of letter/note writing is fading fast. It is fun to get an encouraging note via “snail mail” as too often the only thing we find in the mailbox is bills. But whether you handwrite a note or use e-mail or Facebook to deliver your message, a few minutes to say, “hi” and let someone know you are thinking of and praying for them can lift their day and make a difference.

Some days we are blessed by being told of the difference we are making in our little corner of the world. But even when we aren’t told we need to trust that God is at work in us and through us when we allow Him. The ultimate reward will be when we stand before Him one day and hear:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!                                                                                             Matthew 25:21 NIV

blessings and peace to you as you make a difference today!

Paula

Bucket Full of…

This summer I have becoming very familiar with buckets. Mind you I haven’t filled one with berries, used one to build a sandcastle or to carry worms to the fishing hole….yet. I have however put many under the eaves of the house while praying for rain to fill them.

Our water supply comes from a well and every summer we have bouts of running low, or out of water. This requires creative solutions such as ‘showering’ from a bucket and heating buckets of water on the stove for dishes. Activities that my parents recollect from their childhood only in modern times. We are thankful for laundromats, bottled water and family and friends who have enough water to spare.

I don’t tell you any of this for sympathy. It’s really just an inconvenience and reminds us of all the blessings we have and perhaps how much we take for granted. And it’s fun to play in the rain when the buckets are filling up and need to be emptied into jugs so they can catch more! For me it’s also nostalgic, reminders of trips next door to the farm for showers as kids and learning from my grandpa to brush my teeth using a glass of water instead of water running from the faucet.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about buckets, and being filled. I’ve been thinking about how each of us needs to be filled every day. Not only our physical needs but mental, emotional and spiritual spaces in our hearts and lives that need filling.

How do I choose to fill these voids?

Am I filled by what others believe about me, or say to me each day?

Am I filled by what I read, listen to or what I watch on television?

Am I filled by what I believe about myself?

To some extent the answer to all of these questions is, “yes”. Our lives are impacted by outside influences every day. The question is how much do we rely on them and how much do we depend on the Lord and the truth of scripture to fill us from within?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6 NIV

No one can know everything about us except God, and no one understands our deepest needs the way He does. God gave us others for friendship and fellowship but He did not intend for any human to take His place in meeting our deepest needs.

Our friends may abandon us when we’re going through a rough time because they don’t know what to say or how to ‘fix what’s wrong’ with us.

God promises that He will never leave us. (Deuteronomy 31)

Family and friends may say hurtful things to us that make us question their love. But God tells us:

“I have loved you with an everlastinglove;

I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

We need others around us to support us, to challenge us and to bring joy to our lives. But the truth is, when we rely only on humans for our needs we will ALWAYS be disappointed.

The Lord is waiting to fill you with whatever your needs are today….a listening ear, a pat on the back, or the assurance that you are loved more deeply than you can know. May you reach out to Him and allow Him to fill you, pushing out the noise around you that may go against His truth.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV

May your bucket be overflowing with His love, blessings and peace today!!

Paula