Sunday, December 26, 2010
In Jungle Warfare, Christopher Cunningham mentions that his grandfather fought in the Pacific during World War II. Upon his passing in 1988, Cunningham received his grandfather's old army issue of "The Basic Field Manual on Jungle Warfare" dated December 15, 1941. He uses that issue as a springboard for a series of 22 devotionals which he refers to as a basic field manuals for Christians in sales.
As the daughter of a World War II veteran, I know how precious family memorabilia from that era can be. I certainly understand Cunningham's desire to share gleanings from his father's field manual with the world in some fashion, especially by from it drawing parallels to the Christian's spiritual battle to be righteous in his business dealings. The resulting devotionals weren't exactly the book for me, but I do think that someone of another temperament and in another business setting might enjoy it much more than I did.
Here's my subjective view of the pros and cons of Jungle Warfare:
1) While the Bible makes it clear that the Christian is engaged in a spiritual battle, I am not a fan of overly stretching analogies from books about physical warfare to our spiritual war. I'm also not a fan of applying principles of combat to business. 2 Corinthians 10:4 reminds us that we fight with spiritual weapons, not physical ones. In fact, Jesus teaches us to live by a different code than the world and its armies live by: we are to love our enemies; to turn the other cheek; to go the extra mile; to seek God's kingdom first; etc. In terms of physical warfare, there is evidence early Christians did not participate in war, and one could make a very good case that Christians should not take up arms today. Therefore, a field guide of jungle warfare might not make our best source of advice for drawing up our daily strategy.
2) Some of the analogies drawn from the book seem forced to fit the theme and format of the book. There is a warning about jungle ants taken from his grandfather's books. The following material in the devotional contains some good advice and a scripture, but I'm not sure that the section has a logical connection.
1) Mr. Cunningham does avoid some of the pitfalls that associate either business or a Christian's spiritual battle with physical combat. He does include a lot of material reminding us that our spiritual goals are most important. So, even while I am not personally a fan of this particular format, I think he does a good job keeping it balanced.
2) I think this book would be particularly motivating to a man who is the main breadwinner of the family, or to a single mother who is carrying the main load. Mr. Cunningham offers helpful scriptures and thoughts for staying motivated, even when it might be easy to become discouraged.
I received this book through the Book Sneeze program. My opinions are my own.
Thirty Days of Gratitude in the Home -- Day 9
Thankfulness is a house full of guests for Christmas. Thankfulness is being able to set up a skype connection with dear children who were with in-laws in other towns for Christmas. Thankfulness is being able to connect with other children by phone on the day.
Thankfulness is a really, truly white Christmas. I'm not sure if I've experienced one before or not, though I have seen snow somewhere around Christmas time. Of course, when I was proud of our quarter inch of snow, my son-in-law laughed and opened his front door to show me, via skype, the six inches of Chicago's white Christmas. But, if you have enough white to make things look like a post card, it's a bona fide white Christmas!!
But, the deepest thankfulness is the wonder that God really poured his splendor into the womb of a young virgin in Israel roughly 2,000 years ago and, thus, He brought Jesus, into the world. Immanuel, one of His names, really is God with us, come from heaven to experience a human life, only without sin.
Just thinking about that is food for hours of contemplation and prayer and thankfulness, as well as motivation to be there with others, as Jesus is with us.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
30 days of gratitude in the home....
A reason for gratitude is my new desk in a corner of my beloved hubby's home office. We had two different work spaces in two different rooms, which meant that we couldn't talk to each other or see each other if each of us was working. So, my dearest got the idea to clean out his office, move a desk over into a nook for me, re-position a love seat for us to enjoy sitting on to watch a movie or listen to music, and to paint. My husband is wonderful, but urges to decorate strike me much more often than they strike him. (Would I be exaggerating if I said that he might have been bitten by the decorating bug maybe twice in our thirty year marriage? Hmm...I can't remember exactly. That, in itself, should tell you something.) So, I was most thankful indeed when he came up with this wonderful suggestion.
So, while most normal people have been shopping and decorating for Christmas, we've been re-arranging and painting and decorating work spaces. I will post a photo of my desk soon.
My craft stuff is still in another area, but I do love my new writing/home management center. Most of all, I love my new office mate. :)
Now to catch up on the season...
Sunday, December 05, 2010
30 Days of Gratitude
I've been busy making memories for which to be grateful and have neglected my blog lately. I hope y'all have been having wonderful Thanksgiving times, as well.
This year, we had all our children and children-in-law at home for Thanksgiving. Since we now share holiday times with in-laws, we alternate between Thanksgiving and Christmas as being the time when we have everyone under one roof.
Thanksgiving is my daughter's favorite holiday. She actually prefers it to Christmas. So, I work hard to keep our Thanksgivings focused on a traditional Thanksgiving celebration and wait start Christmas preparations until after our family Thanksgiving celebrations are over.
It seems that Thanksgiving gets pushed aside these days. Many of our neighbors decorate for Christmas well before Thanksgiving day arrives, and I confess to letting that make me feel a little anxious that I need to be keeping up with the rush. However, our daughter's love of Thanksgiving reminds me of what a wonderful holiday that it is in its own right.
Most of us enjoy November and December because of the extra opportunities we have to spend time with our families. This is especially true if we have loved ones who live far from us and who can be brought nearer via holiday travel. Yet, as much as our culture celebrates holiday togetherness, it also recognizes the pain of family tensions that can arise during holidays. There are a number of comic movies that derive their humor from the depressing failure a particular family encounters when it falls short of holiday expectations.
Just as many holiday recipes depend on a secret ingredient for flavor and sweetness, there is a secret ingredient that can ease any holiday disappointment, lessen any family conflict, and reduce any unexpected feelings of December blues or loneliness.
That ingredient is gratitude. If every member of the family maintains a thankful spirit, everyone will enjoy each other no matter what little annoyances might arise. Family members will have no motivation to quarrel over selfish wishes. Even if things do not go as each one might wish, each person will be grateful for the important things: family, love, faith, and time together.
Gratitude is like a sweet, fragrant oil. Applied liberally, it helps the "gears" of the household turn smoothly, without catches, groans, or friction. Best of all, this essential oil is free and if the bottle should run empty, you can always fill it up again.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I was reading some gratitude challenges on another web site. On that site, one day's challenge was to write a short message of thanks for the "negative" things in your life.
I wonder if the ability to be thankful for the "negative" things in your life might not be the most mature stage of gratitude. I am not sure what the author of this series on gratitude means by the word negative. I assume that he or she means something that is or was difficult, a cause of grief or hardship, a limitation of some kind, an emotional or physical wound, or something of the like.
When I meditate on things for which I am grateful, I find it easiest to begin with those things that are obviously positive. I might even move on to a few negative things from the past, if I can look back and see that those things definitely worked for good.
What about the things -- past or present -- that are both negative and beyond my current level of understanding? How quick am I to be thankful for them? Or, at least, how quick am I to be thankful that God is working for good in those things, even if the things themselves might not be good.
The most faithful people I know are able to go through bewildering and seemingly negative things with a thankful attitude. In their suffering, they find things around them for which to be grateful. If they are ill, they are thankful for people who stand by them in their pain, for deeper intimacy with God learned during sleepless nights, and for medical advancements which make them more comfortable. If they lose their home to a weather catastrophe, they are grateful for the people who take them in and for the people who work hard to restore their original dwelling place. People who think in this way have their moments of struggle, but, all in all, they possess great peace.
I, on the other hand, let my gratitude unravel this week when pummeled by several smaller trials. These were "negative" things for which I should have been most grateful! They were actually an answer to prayer. I had prayed to see some things in my character that need to change, and the trials revealed them to me. So, while I viewed them in the moment as negatives, they were actually positives that can bless my life and, through changes in me, the lives of my family members.
Isn't that an extraordinary thing? Things which we view as negative may actually be positive tools that God uses in our lives to bless us. I'm so grateful.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
It's Book Sneeze Time Again! This time I'm reviewing 'The Grace of God" by Andy Stanley.
It's hard not to write a compelling book on grace, because the grace of God is such an infinitely beautiful, life-changing, and gratitude-inspiring subject in itself. Andy Stanley's look at grace is both well-written and engaging. He shows us God's grace through recounting the lives of many of the men and women in the Bible. All were changed forever when God extended grace to them. He chose Bible characters with various backgrounds, and their backgrounds correspond to the different backgrounds and types of emotional baggage that men and women of today might experience. Thus, we readers find ourselves relating to one or more characters and, thus, can grasp that God extends grace to us today -- no matter who we have been and what we have done.
Retelling Bible stories as if you were telling a story to a friend, rather than quoting them from scriptures, is in vogue in the preaching world right now, and Andy employs this method in recounting the lives of the Biblical men and women. One advantage is that this allows those of us who have read and heard these stories over and over again to read the stories with a fresh perspective. It also allows Stanley to make some speculations about what the characters might have been thinking or feeling. Plus, it gives him room to add historical background that enhances or fleshes out our understanding of the events. I do think that adds some impact to "The Grace of God". I enjoyed the author's re-tellings and learned some things about Biblical history, which I plan to research further.
However, I think the reader should be aware that Stanley is telling the stories from his point of view and is interjecting some of his own suppositions. These suppositions make some good food for thought, but can't be taken in the same light as scripture. A reader would do well to read the same stories he cites straight from the Bible and draw his or her own conclusions. Even someone who has heard these stories from childhood would do well to follow along in scripture, just as the Bereans turned to the scriptures to check to see if what Paul said was true. If the reader accepts that Stanley is retelling the stories in his own words and is making some well-educated guesses about the motivations of the persons in the stories, he or she will find much to ponder. I suggest reading the book once through first, just to be moved by the stories of God's grace and, then, going back to study for accuracy.
Also, there is a point at which Stanley includes a prayer for people who have not yet connected with God's grace in order to become Christians. Since there isn't an example of a conversion by such a prayer in the Bible or of a conversion that wasn't nurtured by a teacher of the gospel and/or by the church, this section falls sadly short of helping someone with so momentous a thing as salvation. It also leaves out the message of how God's grace so lovingly and so beautifully reaches down to us in the waters of baptism, which is something about which I'd have like to have seen Stanley include a few paragraphs.
If read with discrimination, Stanley's book makes a great addition to a library of books about grace.
I was given a copy of this book by the Book Sneeze program. My views are my own.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Did you realize that Thanksgiving was officially created as a holiday during the Civil War!? That's probably something that everyone knows, but somehow it escaped my attention. During what was our nation's darkest hour, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday in November be celebrated as Thanksgiving day. (The timing was changed after his lifetime to include more shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.)
I think that's significant. Don't you? In 1863, my fore parents, like most of the country, were still suffering. My great-grandfather was still either a prisoner of war in a northern prison or had just been released in a prisoner of war exchange. My great-grandmother was trying to hold the family and huge farm together in the battle-torn, spy filled, full of commandeering bands from both armies environs of middle Tennessee Tennessee. There was much sickness and suffering about. Tennessee was one of the worst hit places, but it was not the only place in which suffering was still abounding. Mothers on both sides of the Civil War were still receiving messages stating that husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons were either captured, wounded, dead, or missing. Sherman was planning his famous march to the sea, which would leave so much destruction in its path.
Abraham Lincoln delivered his proclamation at Gettysburg, which represents where the war's brutality had been carried into northern land. (This is after his famous Gettysburg speech)
In the midst of all that darkness, the amazing Lincoln wrote a proclamation of such brevity and power of word, reminding us that the God of heaven has blessed us abundantly even though we were engaging in the national folly of Civil War. He was keeping foreign nations from taking advantage of our internal weakness in order to invade us. (What if they had invaded us! Hadn't thought of that! We'd have been easy pickings.) Lincoln goes on to list the many other ways God continued to bless us in our time of quarreling, war, and -- dare I say it --our time of sin. His words humble us, convict us, and remind us that even in our most horrific hour, God's tender mercy was with us. He showed us how to have eyes to look for God's mercy even in the darkest of times. There is always, always a reason to be grateful.
I wonder, did my fore-parents, though they were in the CSA, somehow hear these words and take heart? Were the many people in the union inspired by Lincoln's words? Somehow, his address seems more powerful to me than speeches given by politicians given today. They are more the words of a statesman who appeals to eternal, bankable truths to inspire his people to courage rather than someone who makes short-term promises to try to hype people into believing some sort of position.
Well said, President Lincoln. Well said.
The actual words of his address are in the next post.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Gratitude -- DAy 3
From a Fall Walk
I was out all day long yesterday, so I was happy to spend this morning indoors. I knew it would be somewhat chilly outside. So, when I dressed to take the dog for our usual mile, I pulled on a thick, warm turtleneck top.
Oops! I discovered when I stepped outside that it's not chilly. It's downright cold. It's only 45 or 49 degrees F, depending on whose weather report you believe! I should have worn a coat. Oh well, the wintry weather kept the dog and myself moving right along.
Taking a walk on a fall day with a beloved dog is an adventure in gratitude. Here are some things that struck me.
catching the exuberance of a dog who loves to chase scuttling leaves
pulling leaves off a cute, cuddly, apricot-cream dog
enjoying a neighbor's artful display of hay bales arranged with colorful ceramic pots of mums
enjoying all of the flowers that are still in bloom, especially the fall ones
noticing the few trees that are already beginning to look bare and are spreading their artful branches against the low clouds
watching the sun break through the soft, low clouds
noticing how soft all the colors look under the soft, low hanging clouds
feeling my blood stir in the cold air
being grateful to have a warm place to come home to on such a cold day.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Day 2 -- Thirty Days of Gratitude in Home
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~G.K. Chesterton
Have you ever thought about the fact that ingratitude is one of the sins that Paul warns will make these last days terrible? 2 Timothy 3. That's sobering to me, as I can easily focus on problems rather than blessings. Yet, ingratitude springs from ugly soil -- selfishness and pride -- and yields such piercing thorns -- faithlessness, futile thinking, complaining, lack of positive influence, and the like. Romans 1:18-25, 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Yet, Jesus teaches us "Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them
without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked." Luke 6:36
I am eternally grateful that this is how God loves me!
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Thirty Days of Being Thankful...
While I'm continuing to organize my home, I'm setting aside blogging about thirty days of organization in favor of thirty days of gratitude. It's November, and I just can't resist using this month to focus on thankfulness.
My personal goal for the month is to overflow with gratitude in thought, word, and action. That will take attentiveness on my part, as well as discipline.
God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" ~William A. Ward
Monday, October 25, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about words lately -- my own and those of others. Beautiful words are like exquisite music;, misspoken ones are like fingernails screeching across a chalkboard. Appropriate speech heals; abusive speech destroys.
Like many people who love to talk, I've opined when it would have been better for me to be silent. I've sent more than my share of needless syllables into the universe. Some of those have been hurtful. It may not have been my overt intention to cut someone's heart, but my inappropriate speech reflected something inconsiderate within me. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Why am I so focused on words right now? As the November elections approach, there are a lot of words flying around right now. We hear about tiffs between various pundits, between pundits and their bosses, and between politicians. We hear pundits and politicians hurl insults at voters, and we hear voters hurl insults at politicians and pundits. We've hear "comedians" and other public figures state that anyone who believes in God must have a deficiency in intelligence. We see people violate the privacy of the grieving by using funerals as a platform to express political and religious statements. We listen to "news" which consists of someone in the public sphere making a "statement" of some kind, which is followed by hours and hours of people judging and analyzing the statement,which is followed by hours of people judging the words of the people who were judging the statement, and so forth, until we forget what the original statement was all about. We watched political ads that attack opposing candidates and hear analyses of these ads. Just to keep things interesting, we are fed our doses of celebrity gossip.
All of us are involved in the "public dialogue" in some way. We chat at work. We blog. We talk to spouses and children. We shoot the breeze with neighbors. We fellowship with friends at church. We vote as members or officers of organizations. Even if we keep our conversations apolitical, as I try to do, we influence others in the topics we do talk about.
Whether we talk to one person at a time or whether we broadcast to millions, our words build others up up or they tear others down. Gossip is gossip whether we dish the dirt about our neighbor or whether we cluck about the a famous celebutante. We do harm when we lash out at our spouse and we do harm when we lash out at political opponents, rather than engage in respectful dialogue. On the other hand, we encourage and influence others through positive, reasonable conversation.
Positive speech is not synonymous with sweet speech. There are times when it is necessary to speak truth, even though someone does not want to hear it, and, rarely, there are times to speak with truly righteous indignation. However, even in these times, we can do our best to communicate our respect and concern for our listener(s).
When under pressure, it's not always easy to engage in speech that both conveys one's own conviction and yet that also communicates respect for someone of an opposing view. It's also not easy to speak always in a way that inspires, ra
So, I ask myself, what would happen if every person in the United States, myself included, paid more attention to these three perfect pieces of advice?
1) Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. James 1:19
2) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4: 29
3) If I speak in the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol....love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. it is not proud. It is not rude. it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protect, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13.
What do you think? What would our lives be like if we all always kept these commands in mind? Would the results be more peace in our world? More love? More respect? Of course, these three verses are from God's word -- not God's word as people imagine it in order to fit some personal or political agenda, but as He actually inspired it.
Taming the tongue isn't easy. I know that from experience. But, it's our only hope if we want to speak in ways that yield results, rather than to create more tension and turmoil. How about you? Are you up for taking the challenge for me? Are you willing to spend the next thirty days thinking about these three commands from God's word and letting them be guides for your heart and your tongue?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Otherwise Known as "Save This Messy Traveler"
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently found myself struggling to find things in a messy suitcase. Though I had packed in what I thought was an orderly fashion, my system of order was no match for the following:
1) During part of our trip we had no room to hang things or put things away in drawers.
2) I packed around the "core wardrobe" theory, which meant that I needed to use key wardrobe items more than once on the trip. So, even though I packed in approximate order of when I would wear outfits, it was impossible to do so completely.
3) We stayed busy (a happy busy), and I fell into bed at night without taking the time to tidy my suitcase each night.
4) My husband and I ended up re-distributing things between our two suitcases a) to make room for a very few gifts we brought back and b) to avoid a baggage charge going back. We incurred on coming down because we were one pound over the limit.
So, what could I have done to have improved things? I'll suggest a couple of ideas. If you have some tips for me, please comment, as well.
1) I could have used dividers, travel bags, packing cubes, or even pieces of cardboard to separate the layers in my suitcase. That way, when I needed to retrieve a garment from a lower layer, I could have set the top layers aside. I could have taken out the item I wanted. Then, I could have simply lifted the top layers back in. Everything would have stayed in its place.
2) Even though I was short on time, I could have found five minutes here and there tidy my suitcase and other cases. When traveling, tidying one's travel bags is the daily routine of life that tidying the kitchen and other daily chores are back home.
Some things that do work well for me:
1) Some time ago, I bought pink flannel and sewed several shoe bags. I use those to not only protect my shoes from scuffing, but also to protect my clothing from shoes. My luggage does have pockets specifically for a pair of shoes, but not enough for a second or third pair.
2) Some experts suggest rolling clothing rather than folding items. I use a combination system in which I roll some knits and fold some other things.
3) I make a packing list for each trip. I plan by the day. I consider what items of clothing I will need, what accessories, shoes, outerwear, etc. I think through what I will likely be doing each day of the trip. If I do not know what I will be doing, I pack items that can be dressed up or dressed down. Of course, I also consider climate, whether we will be outdoors or indoors, etc. I also consider the trip as whole and work each day into a core wardrobe. In that way, I can mix and match key pieces and take as few items as possible.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Let's Get Organized...
In the midst of having fun, I met the organizing challenge that got away from me. My husband and I were presented with the opportunity to extend a necessary business journey in both time and distance in order to visit church friends living far away from us. This required packing for two continents and three climates, counting the one from which we started. For some reason, I was indecisive about what to take, but I finally came up with what I thought was a fairly minimal packing scheme. I organized it all into layers as I planned to wear items and toiletries into makeup cases and the like.
Four days into our week long trip, my scheme for organizing my clothing, accessories, and toiletries had gone away. I ended up with a jumble of things. Though I attempted to re-pack a few times, I never got it all put back together the way I had organized it.
Obviously, when we travel, we operate from a small space. Most often, we have room to do some unpacking. We can hang up items and put other items in drawers. Sometimes, we may have to literally live out of a suitcase. We do not, however, usually have as much space as we have at home.
This works in some people's favor. They thrive on the need to pare down to essentials and to keep those essentials in tight order. I'm not the world's neatest traveler, however, and this trip wasn't my finest hour in organizing. So, next time, we'll explore ways I could have avoided making a suitcase mess.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
It is with great pleasure that I am reviewing Love and Respect for a Lifetime by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs through the Book Sneeze program. I am literally book sneezing today, as I am suffering from a late summer chest cold and am a-chooing as I type. I don't think that's what the lovely folks at Thomas Nelson had in mind when they set up this opportunity to read and share about what you've read through the blogging community. In case you are not familiar with how it does work, you select from a list of available works and are sent a free copy. You then write a review of 200 words or more, both on your own blog and on a public site. Your opinions and words are to be your own, and you may express positive or negative views as freely as you see fit.
I selected the gift book version of Love and Respect for a Lifetime. I was intrigued, because this is a meaty topic for a gift book. Yet, I found that this format is actually a great one for reinforcing the author's central topic: for men, respect is the doorway to feeling loved and for women, love (and romance) is the doorway to feeling cherished and respected. Men and women need both love and respect. However, men have a special craving for respect and women have a special craving for love.
This central point is expanded by sub-topics, written illustrations, memorable sayings, and practical tips. The material is driven home by attractive photographs and graphics. The result is a book that is somewhat deeper than the usual gift book, yet not quite as complex as a longer book might be.
I know many couples who suffer in their marriages because they fail to understand that there are basic differences in how most men and most women think and communicate. This book can help you and your spouse explore these general differences to see how they might apply to you. It can also help you determine how the two of you, in particular, think and comminicate.
This book can be used in many ways. It can be given to engaged couples, to newlyweds, as anniversary gifts. I suspect that more women than men will be excited about reading it. However, a man might enjoy thumbing through it if he is visiting in a home in which it is left on the coffee table.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Let's Get Organized....
When was the last time you....
emptied your medicine cabinet of out of date medicines, vitamins, and over the counter remedies?
stocked up on new medical supplies, such as cold remedies; allergy medicines; gauze; rubbing alcohol, tissues, remedies for digestive ailments, suntan lotion, etc.? (Fall is a good time to prepare for potential colds and the like, while spring is a good time to update sunscreen and things to take care of bites and scrapes.)
put a magnetic strip on the inside of your medicine cabinet to hold tweezers, clippers, etc.?
caught a sale to stock up on toiletry items such as soap, paper, etc.?
inventoried your medicines and toiletries?
had a physical, visited your dentist, visited an eye specialist?
Tip: Do you have chronic health problems that are either hard to diagnose or require regular monitoring? If so, start a journal to keep track of symptoms or use a second calendar totally for jotting down how you feel on a particular day. Take note of when you are feeling especially well in addition to when your symptoms are flaring. Note any trends that may be clues to when you do and don't feel better, such as things you eat or how much activity you've had or what season it is. Keeping a journal not only helps you keep track of your condition, but it also frees your mind from the burden that illness can be. Rather than stressing about not feeling well, write down how you feel and pray about it. Then, turn your mind to other things and make the best of your day that you can.
A health journal can also be handy for those who are healthy, but who want to improve their fitness level or sense of physical well-being.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Let's Get Organized!
"Many people I've worked with say that they don't have the energy to get organized. That is because clutter steals our energy....Eliminating and organizing your life will give you more energy, lift your spirits, and make room for better things and experiences to come into your life. It's a tremendously freeing and liberating experience. You will be able to find everything you need when you need it and finish projects and tasks on schedule. As with everything, practice makes perfect, so the more you practice organizing, the easier it becomes."
Excerpt from Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Berry
If you are one to whom organization comes easily, you have internalized powerful motivators that help you stay on track. You may or may not think about these motivators consciously. But, they are in your psyche nonetheless.
Others of us may have to put some more time thinking about our reasons for ordering our surroundings and our internal lives. If we understand the benefits, we will be more motivated to act.
What are your top five reasons for bringing order into your life?
Today's challenge: The closet -- specifically shoes, hangers that aren't straight, etc.
Do you live in an area where cooler weather is on the way? Do you need to take any items, such as winter coats, to the cleaners for a freshening before the season changes?
Do you store seasonal items in a place other than your closet? I live in an area with long, hot summers and comparatively mild winters. During the winter, we have warm spells alternating with really cold ones. (Well, they seem really cold to us, anyway!) So, I usually store away only my most summery things in the winter and my heaviest winter gear during the summer. Other than to stop wearing summer whites after Labor Day, I haven't switched clothing for a new season yet. But, I have been thinking about what I have on hand and what I will need for cooler weather. If you live in an area with seasons, have you prepared for the next one yet? It may not quite be time for the weather change, yet, but it's on its way!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Let's get organized - Day four
Challenge: Organize books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines.
Pare down to what you really want to keep. This can be a difficult choice today, as we can afford and have access to many books, yet we also can find information about anything and even many novels on line and in public libraries. If you are a book lover, as I am, you may have a particularly tough time tossing out any form of the written word. Yet, the very books and magazines that bring us so much joy can become a source of stress if we let them get out of order. Save only those reading materials that you treasure, and don't be afraid to pass along the rest to new homes.
Some ideas of books that you might want to keep:
current personal journal
Bible reference books
Good book about marriage
Good book about parenting
One good cookbook (Remember, we can get a lot of recipes on-line today, so keep a cookbook only if a) you really use it b) it has sentimental value to your or to your family or c) it is a manual for how to cook, how to keep a kitchen, etc., rather than just a collection of recipes. Some people use one cookbook as a personal journal by jotting down when they first try a recipe, what they might alter when making it the next time, who ate the meal, a little bit about the time together, etc. If you are going to keep a cookbook, consider turning it into a personal heirloom in this way.)
any book that you particularly enjoy and turn to time and time again, whether it be a book with lovely photographs in it, a reference book, a novel, or any other type.
If you are a book lover as I am, your reading areas may get out of shape easily and frequently. Make appointments on your calendar to periodically re-organize these areas.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Organize your Mind:
Some goals for this week: 1) Keep your thoughts on things above; things that draw you higher in your walk with God -- Philippians 4:4-8
2) Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you have a new baby or some other circumstance which interferes with a normal sleep routine, work out a plan to get extra rest when you can. You will be more productive, happier, and more focused if you take care of your need for sleep.
3) Somewhere near the beginning of your day, set specific goals for that day. If you have already set daily schedules, weekly schedules, and monthly schedules in place, you shouldn't have to spend a lot of time thinking about what needs doing with regard to the daily running of your life. However, it is still wise to spend a minute or two tailoring your schedules to fit the uniqueness of each day.
4) Don't become frustrated with interruptions. Look at them as unforeseen opportunities. Take care of them and get back, as best as you can, to the schedules you have set in place.
5) If an extra opportunity to spend time with husband, children, extended family, people to whom you are reaching out presents itself, consider grabbing that chance -- even if it means delaying the next thing on your to do list. You don't want to be so happy-go-lucky that you never accomplish anything on your agenda; yet, you don't want your agenda to become an inflexible idol. Consider what's eternally important in your thinking.
6) Say a quick prayer and think for a moment before saying yes or no to something that arises.
7) Limit the amount of television you watch. Think to yourself, "Do I really want to watch this program, or have I turned on the TV out of habit or as a mindless escape?" If the show will add concrete enjoyment to your life or enrich your life in some way, it might be worth watching. If, however, you're merely going to "veg" in front of the T.V. without really enjoying it, you might find that something else will be more satisfying.
8) Eliminate energy drainers from your life. Are you depressed by the sight of clutter? An overwhelming stack of unfinished projects? A to do list that seems to go on and on and on? One way to take care of these things is to allot 15 minutes here or an hour there to work on the extras in your schedule. When the time comes to work on a project or whip out two or three items on your overall to do list or de-clutter a particular space, focus on that with full attention. Otherwise, pray about these energy drainers and give them to the Lord. Let the worry go.
9) So often, it's not our to-do list that gets us down, but our attitude toward it. We may not trust that the Lord will help us accomplish His purposes for our lives, and we may fret needlessly about getting everything done that we need to get done. Or, we might -- with or without good reason -- resent some of our responsibilities. We may divide our mind so that when we are doing one thing, we worry about something else that needs to be done, and when we do that something else, we worry about even something else that needs doing. Surrendering our life and time to the Lord and focusing on what He has put in our path at the moment eliminates a lot of joy-sapping, energy-draining fretting.
10) Learn from others, but don't feel defeated if you can't do all that they do. Some women have a great gift for organization and productivity. Others have a high physical energy level. Some are in stages of life where they can accomplish a wider variety of tasks than women in other stages of life can. Whenever we see a faithful, energetic, vigorous, and fruitful woman, we learn much. We are inspired, convicted, and invigorated by her example. We make changes in our own lives based on what we learn from her. However, at the same time, we must realize that the schedule of a woman with several young women at home won't look exactly like that of a woman who is an empty nester or who has never had children. Nor, will the woman with physical challenges do in her day exactly everything that a vitally healthy woman will. We must learn the secret of learning from others without becoming discontented with our own present circumstances.
Today's task: Go through your email and sort ones you want to keep into files. Eliminate old files that you no longer need. Eliminate emails that you no longer need. Unsubscribe from any mailing lists that you no longer wish to hear from.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
This passage likens our life to a race with eternity with God being the end goal. As our example of persevering in doing God's will until the very end, we have Jesus, who endured the cross and raised to life again.
Imagine running a marathon with heavy weights tied to our ankles, wrists, and race and while carrying a suitcase full of junk. Sounds hard, doesn't it? True long distance runners don't want to be weighed down with anything. In a long distance race, they don't even carry water bottles with them, but pick up water as needed at special stands. Similarly, this passage tells us to throw off anything that would hinder us as we run the course of life.
In our race, sin is one weight we certainly don't want to be shackled with. As vitally important as it is to confess and turn from the sins that can dog us, however, that's not my focus in this article. I am thinking more of the things that hinder us. Some of the weights we carry around in life are not actual sin, but are hindrances such as misplaced priorities; worries; sorrows we have not mourned and dealt with; painful memories that, again, we have not resolved, indulging in habits that lead to poor physical conditioning, and the like.
For me, clutter can be a weight that hinders me in the race of life. So, too, can be disorganization. When I am disorganized and when I allow my surroundings to become cluttered, I spend way too much time doing things like looking for lost keys and papers, making up for deadlines and appointments I missed, regretting not having answered an invitation in a timely manner, having to to emergency cleaning before having people over, shoving clutter out of the way so someone will have a place to sit or eat or work, snacking too much instead of doing my work, over-booking my schedule, under-booking my schedule, etc.
When I am organized, I can handle the details of life efficiently and have more time to spend on my relationship with the Lord and with others. I feel better physically and emotionally and have more energy for activities that I love and cherish. I know where things are, and I can put my hands on them quickly. I can lend things easily, because I don't have to hunt for an hour to find something that someone needs.
For me, one hindrance to getting rid of clutter is attaching too much sentiment to things. We all enjoy some keepsakes. However, if we are too sentimentally attached to things, we can wind up keeping things that we don't really like simply because someone gave them to us. We can take the warm feelings that we have for a person or for a person's memory and attach them to an inanimate object.
Likewise, we can even hold on to things that make us feel sad, guilty, or depressed, rather than letting them go. For example, if we started a project some time ago and have yet to finish it, we may hang on to it rather than simply admit, "My priorities have changed. I don't want to complete that project." Every time we see the unfinished work, we will feel slightly guilty or uneasy. It would be more freeing to keep only those things we really intend to complete.
Similarly, we may keep an object out of sentimental obligation, even though the sight of that object only stirs up feelings of mourning or memories of painful events within us. A true keepsake might invoke bittersweet feelings, particularly if it belonged to someone who has passed on, but the sweetness of the memory should far, far outweigh the pang.
In the same way that clutter can weight us down, holding on to emotional baggage can lead to more clutter! When we drag around with heavy hearts, we are not as likely to make the kinds of focused decisions necessary to stay organized and clutter free. We allow our surroundings to become disordered.
That's not to say that we shouldn't feel sorrow or go through times of mourning. Only the most shallow of hearts lives in a hurting world and feels no pains of compassion. Additionally, we all must work through times of personal loss and suffering. We do no kindness to ourselves or our loved ones if we force ourselves to march along through life without taking time to deal with our feelings. When depression and anxiety rule us, however, we will become bogged down with life. We will feel weighed down, and we will drag through the race that the Lord has prepared for us. If that is the case, it's time to seek help from the Lord and from others so that we can be freed of these shackles.
Some people, through no fault of their own, will face a chronic tendency to feel sluggish or depressed or anxious. In such cases, it's still vital to seek help so that we can run the best race that we can.
The irony is that when we are in a funk, we feel like doing anything but organizing ourselves and de-cluttering our spaces. However, the longer we go without attending to these things, the more clutter builds up and the more scattered we feel -- which, in turns, makes us feel even worse. Sometimes, the cure for a long-standing bout of the blues begins with taking small, measurable steps to clear away the mess and to keep to a schedule.
Some practical tips are
1) Think about what things hinder you in your relationship with the Lord. What things keep you from running the course He's marked out for you? From the perspective of the finish line, are your priorities in order?
2) If you are a clutterer or if you are disorganized, think about why. Do you clutter because it seems easier to throw something down where it is than to put it away? Are you a closet perfectionist who figures that if you can't make it perfect, you won't do anything? Are you lazy at times? Afraid? Sad? Bored? Overly sentimental about material things? Imagine what your life would be like if you eliminated some clutter from your life and if you were more organized. Would you be happier? More productive? Would your family members be happier? Can you see yourself improving in these areas.
3) Are you convinced that adding a little order and structure to your household and to your life will accomplish wonderful things? Or, do you think it's not that important?
4) Tackle one chore over which you've been procrastinating.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne
I am not one of those people whom organizing experts call "born organized". The truly organized stay organized through the ups and downs of life. I, however, let life get me off track, so I need periodic times of organizing myself and my life.
In one sense, we can never fully organize life. Part of being like Jesus is being open to God's will in the moment. We can plan our days all that we want, but we must also be willing to stop and take care of the need of the moment. If we are too regimented in our organization and daily routines, we will miss opportunities to serve, as well as unexpected opportunities to enjoy life and the people we love.
We need to remember Jesus, who, on his way to raise a little girl from the dead, stopped to meet the need of a woman who had been bleeding for many years. Then, he went on and gave the girl her life again. Wherever Jesus went, crowds followed, every person of which had great need. How did Jesus meet interruptions with poise? I personally think it was because he ordered his life on earth by one foundational principle: He came to us in the flesh to seek and save the lost and to bring glory to the Father. To do the Father's will, he tells us in the book of John, is his food and drink. Because he had a unifying principle, he knew when to stop and when to move on to his larger goal. What might have looked like a chaotic situation to others was fully in Jesus control. His unifying principles and his ultimate faith in the Father gave him peace and order and poise in every situation.
Often, we organize for the wrong reason -- or, at least I do. I get serious about organizing when I feel that my life is or has recently been beyond my control. Then, I start organizing in an attempt to make life go more smoothly, safely, and comfortably. In and of themselves, there's nothing wrong with those goals. In fact, they are nice by-products of organization.
However, I can take it too far and want to take control, rather than surrendering to God's control. When we take this too far, it can lead to anxiety, because we will never be able to order our days just the way we envision. There will always be the unexpected in life -- either in terms of challenges or surprise joys.
Likewise, the wrong motivation for organizing ourselves and our homes and our lives can cause us to start trying to organize other people in an attempt to protect our ordered world. When we are too push about this, we cause strife in relationships, as well as a feeling of uneasiness in ourselves when we can't make people fit into our agenda. If we have children in our home, it is our job to help them become organized adults, and, along the way, we will have to do some organizing for them. However, once people are adults, we cannot and should not expect that their lives will always fit neatly into our own day planner.
So, why be organized then? Here are just a few reasons I think about:
1) God is a God of order and beauty, and we are made to reflect his image.
2) We are stewards of the things God has given us: life, family, home, eternal life, the gospel, etc. In order to be the best stewards possible, we need to lead thoughtful and organized lives.
3) Being ordered does help us fulfill our responsibilities more easily.
4) Being ordered does add peace to our family, to our households, and to us. It reduces stress.
5) Being ordered allows us to take care of the daily necessities of life and also to focus on the big picture.
6) If we are organized by principle and habit, our lives will likely be better able to handle the unexpected. For example, the woman whose house is generally neat and clutter-free can take an afternoon or two to help a relative with a new baby and not get completely thrown off track. She can easily put the little surface disorder that accumulates during those two days to rights. The woman whose house is a deep mess will only fall that much further behind when she takes time to help someone. She will find it harder to set to rights any disorder that has accumulated atop the general mess of her home.
7) If we keep our homes in order, God's word will not be blasphemed. Titus 2. People are drawn to a home which is basically ordered and peaceful, but they are not drawn to chaos.
Whether you are born organized, or, if like me, you have to work hard to keep things in order, come alone with me as I explore this topic for the next thirty posts. We'll be looking at organization from the heart, as well as following practical exercises.
1) Where are you on the scale from being too inflexible with your scheduling and organization to being too lackadaisical? Where do you think the right balance is? Spend some time thinking or even writing about that.
2) Where is your Bible and a notebook and a pen? Do you have a set ready to carry with you when you need to? Do you have quiet time materials in one place in your home so that you can read and pray? Set up a space for your quiet times with God and also fill a bag with spiritual materials to take with you to church, a study, on a trip, etc.
Monday, August 09, 2010
1) If I am married, how prepared was I to become a wife(and mother, if applicable)? What have I learned during my years of marriage? Of motherhood? Am I passing practical skills and also my heart for my home along to my children? What about to young ladies outside of my home?
2) If I am married, what do I need to learn now to be a better wife and mother? Whether I was prepared to step into the role of a keeper of the home or whether I wasn't, how can I improve? Are there older women and peers I can look to as role models? Do I know someone who has a gift for nurturing others? How does she do it?
3) If I am not married, what do I need to learn to either serve God as a single woman or to prepare myself for marriage and family? How can I nurture families around me? What children in my immediate family, extended family, or outside my fammily can I become a "favorite aunt" to? Do I have a gift for seeing good in others, even if it seems hidden, and do I have a way of encouraging others to flourish?
4) Am I warm and nurturing by nature? If so, how can I grow even more in these qualities? If I am not a natural nurturer, how can I learn to be more nurturing? Some women have to work harder at this than others do, but we can all grow in this.
5) While men and women may express the quality of nurturing differently, they are both called to be nurturers. How am I training my sons to notice the needs of others and to influence others?
6) Do I nourish my husband? Do I love him, respect him, and bring out the best in him? Do I see and encourage his best qualities? Do I follow his lead and work with him, rather than pulling against him? Am I positive or negative in my conversation toward him?
7) Do I nourish my own spiritual life? Do I have set times for prayer and reading the Bible? Do I take time to be quiet with the Lord? Do I nourish my physical health and appearance -- not obsessively, but in order to feel my best? Do I nourish my mind and heart?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
30 Days of prayer in the home -- Day 30
30 days worth of prayer practicals
1) Call a friend and set a time to pray together.
2) Memorize a scripture about prayer
3) Fill a pretty jar with thirty praise verses or thirty reasons you praise God or thirty names and descriptions of God; pull one out every day and praise God each day.
4) Write a letter to God describing why you love Him and why you are thankful to Him. Spread your letter before you and pray about it to God.
5) Write a journal entry or a note about how you see God. Describe how your upbringing, your past, or your present circumstances might be influencing your view of God for good or for ill. Pray through what you have written. Ask God to help you see Him as He really is and as He wants you to know Him. Ask Him to reveal and heal any misconceptions you have about Him.
6) Pick a particular passage from the Bible for each member of your immediate family and pray that passage periodically for them. For example, you can use Psalm 112 to pray for a husband or a son. Or, you could use the qualities of an elder to pray for a husband or son. Whether or not he become an elders, you can rejoice if God places these qualities in your husband or son. You might choose Proverbs 31 for a daughter, or you might pray that your daughter has a heart like Tabitha's, who was always doing good to others. Choose something that speaks to the desire of your heart for your loved one.
7) If you tend to worry, create a worry box. If something crosses your mind that troubles you, pray about it. Then, jot it down and put it in the worry box. If the worry comes back to you, tell yourself that you have already prayed about it and have give it to God, who cares for you. Open the box once a year or so. Clean out any worries that did not come to pass. If something you did fear did happen, write down how God got you through it. Sometimes, the act of physically putting your worry on paper and then tucking the paper away will allow you to release that worry mentally. Plus, when you clean out many papers of worries that never came to pass will strengthen your confidence that God does take care of you.
8) For one day, devote two hours to thanking and praising God.
9) For one day, devote two hours to praying for your family members.
10) For one day, devote an hour or two to praying for the church and also for those who do not know Jesus.
11) Start a journal of thanksgiving with your children. Jot down things that you are thankful for. A bonus will be that you will be recording many precious memories to savor when your children are grown.
12) Pray about what it means to be God's daughter. Thank God for being your perfect Father.
13) Ask someone to pray with you about sin in your life. Be open.
14) Study the books of Luke and Acts and take special note of references to prayer. To whom was . Ask yourself questions of the text. Who were the original hearers of this passage? Who were the original people in the passage? Does this passage tell how they reacted in the situation? How would I have reacted had I been there? What happened? When? Where? What can I learn from this passage about God? What can I learn from this passage about myself? Is there a command for me to obey in this passage? Are there good/bad examples? How does this passage strengthen my faith?
15) Study the passages that tell us about heaven. Pray about these passages.
16) Read Luke 15:8, Luke 19:10 -- How did God search for you? What did He do to find you? What did it cost him to find you and to save you? Pray about that, with thanksgiving.
17) Read Luke 15:20 -- Do you see God as opening his arms to you, with compassion? What does that mean to you? Pray about that, with praise and thanksgiving.
18) Read Luke 15:20 again. To whom are you throwing open your arms? Who are you searching for? Is there anyone you find it hard to forgive, just as the older brother in this parable found it hard to forgive his younger brother? Or, are you broken-hearted, waiting for someone to come home? Whatever is the need, pray about it with passion.
19) Load Bible verses onto your MP3 player or similar device so that you can listen to the word of God throughout the day. If you don't have a player, jot the verses down on note cards and carry them with you.
20) Pray with your children every morning and every evening every day for a week.
21) Take a nature walk with your children and talk about the beautiful things God made. Take pictures. Pray about your walk that evening with your children.
22) Ask your husband if he would pray with you or for you today. If you like, ask him to pray for a specific request.
23) Think back through your life. Praise God for how He has taken care of you.
24) Think back through your life. Praise God for people He has put in your life who have shown you special kindness or were a good example in some way or who taught you something about God. Write a note of thanks to any of those people you'd like to thank.
25) Learn the name of your congressmen, if you don't already know, and pray for them periodically.
26) Skim through a gospel and praise God for the miracles that Jesus did.
27) Draw a little map of your block or neighborhood in your notebook. If you live in a rural area, the closest houses might be some distance away. Even so, draw at least ten of them. Pray for the people in each home. If you don't know the people in the home, God does. But, you can also pray for an opportunity to meet your neighbors if you don't know them. Take a walk through your neighborhood and pray about it.
28) Is there a high hill or a mountain near you? Can you see your area from the top? Drive or walk to the top and pray about your area as you look out over it. Take someone with you, if you like. If your children are old enough, involve them in your prayer.
29) Keep a prayer list for the sick and those in any other kind of trouble. Also keep a list of those who have a reason to rejoice, such as the arrival of a new baby. Church and neighborhood bulletins are useful to help you. Get your children to pray with you about needs and joys. Then, help your children to write notes to the people you have prayed for. Or, involve them in preparing and taking a meal to someone who could use it.
30) Dream about what you'd like your life to be like in five years. Dream about what it will be like five years from now, when your children have developed even greater love for God and greater character. Think of something daring you'd like to do, such as go on a medical mission trip. Lay out your dreams before God and surrender them to Him, asking that His will be done. Ask God what His dreams are for you. Dream with God!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
30 days of prayer in the home....
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4
A Lifetime of Prayer -- How many of us remember grandmothers or older women in our lives who were a godly influence on us? Perhaps, we were seeing the outward influence of their prayers. Our intimacy with God becomes in our life the fragrance of Christ, which to those who are being saved is a sweet savor. It's never to late to become passionate about the time we spend with the Lord. Even when age has slowed our body down, we can pray. And, the God who hears our prayers can do more than we can ask or imagine.
Throughout our lives, we can pray prayers that are
Prayers of Passion and Compassion:
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheves with him. Psalm 126:5-6
Prayers rooted in Dependence on the Lord
But blessed is the man who trusts in teh Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its root by the streams. It dose not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:5-8
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Praise
I will exalt you, my god the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2
Prayers that are Mighty and that open doors for mighty service to the Lord:
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than tehse, becaue I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14
Prayers that Influence The Leaders in our Land, including
those who will influence our families:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honest. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. I Timothy 2
Prayers of a devoted life:
Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?" declares the Lord. Jeremiah 30:21
Prayers that look forward to Heaven
"Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed em the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. Revelation 21:9
Prayers of humility
"But, who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. I Chronicles 29
Prayers of Godly Fear
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaiken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29
Prayers of Joy
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace." Isaiah 55:1-2
Prayers of intimate, childlike trust
He tends hs flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11
"Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them." Daniel 10:12
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
30 Days of prayer in the Home
Unanswered prayer? Part II
What are some other reasons that we might face unanswered prayer?
1) Some prayers will be answered in God's good timing, not ours. Acquaintances of mine knew a woman who shared her faith with a young lady who was not, at that time, ready to become a Christian. Sometime after the first woman died, the young lady began searching for God. She pulled out a scrap of paper that the first woman had given her and tracked down the church that the first woman had gone to. The young lady became a Christian after the first woman's death. We must never give up!
2) Sometimes, our prayers are answered in the affirmative, but we are not alert enough to recognize or to be thankful for the answers. We all can grow in gratitude! One way to increase your faith and your thankfulness is to write down your prayers and jot down answers to them. Others may not find this to be useful. Whatever works for you, be sure to be thankful. :)
Sometimes, we may not recognize the answer to a prayer until later. For example, the woman who prays for a friend may not realize that the unfriendly neighbor who moved in next is the answer to that prayer. Only after persisting in love to and prayer for her neighbor, does the neighbor's heart thaw and the two form a deep friendship.
3) We may not really be abiding in God or asking according to his will.
John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
1 John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
Monday, July 19, 2010
30 days of prayer in the home -- Day 27
Unanswered prayer? Part I:
Have you ever been mystified because your prayers were not answered in the way you thought they'd be at the exact time you expected? This subject -- akin to why God allows us to suffer at times -- is a) larger than the scope of a few blog articles and b) one that I'm sure others are more qualified to speak to than I am. However, I would like to throw out a few thoughts as a starting point for study.
What are some reasons why our prayers might not be answered exactly as we envisioned?
1) God is a loving Father. Fathers must sometimes say "no" or "not yet" to some of their children's requests. Any of us who are parents have been faced with choosing what is best for our child in the long run versus what our child wants in the moment. How much more does our Heavenly Father, who is all knowing and all wise, have our eternal best interests at heart?
Once, out of the blue, my husband was offered a job doing exactly what he loves to do, along with a large salary and a big signing bonus. The more we prayed about how much we wanted this job, the more circumstances pointed us in another direction. My husband declined the offer, and we moved to another town for family and spiritual reasons. Less than a year later, the company that had made the offer was re-organized, and the position my husband would have taken was eliminated. What had at first appeared to us to be "a dream job" probably would have been a nightmare if my husband taken it. We also have many other reasons to be thankful that we were directed down another path. Our Heavenly Father always knows what is best!
2) Our Heavenly Father cares about our attitudes and relationships. Sometimes, our prayers are hampered by sin that we have not dealt with either in our hearts or in how we treat others.
James 4:1-3 says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
I Peter 3 teaches husbands to be considerate of their wives so their prayers will not be hindered.
Mark 11 tells us, "Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe you will have it. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in Heaven will forgive your sins, too."
James Chapter I teaches us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
This calls for prayer in itself. We can ask God to show us anything in our hearts and our lives that would hinder our relationship to him. Generally, we tend toward one of two opposing poles: 1) We are oblivious to our own faults and blame God and others when things don't go as we imagined they would or b) We assume that if a prayer is not answered in the way we thought it would be that it is because God is angry with us or disappointed with us. If we tend to be either under-sensitive or overly self-condemning, we will need help from God and, perhaps, from godly friends to help us put things in true spiritual perspective.
Likewise, we must be cautious about presuming that we know exactly what God is working out in our or another person's life. Job's friends, for example, sought to comfort him when he experienced a string of tragedies. They ended up being poor counselors, because they assumed they knew exactly why Job was suffering, and they voiced their theories in lectures. They failed to give Job true support. They placed undue blame on Job. God was not pleased with their presumption.
There is a time to lovingly confront others about sin in their lives, provided that we stick within scriptural guidelines for doing so. Though we are called to help each other, we must do so with gentleness and humility. Many a sensitive soul has been burdened because someone said to them, "Your prayer wasn't answered because you didn't have enough faith or because you must have some hidden sin in your heart." Oftentimes, when we say or even think such things, we are making a judgment that we should not make. Sometimes, we do so because we don't know what else to say to someone who is hurting. In such cases, it is better to listen and give a hug or pray with the person than to offer a hasty platitude.