Archives

What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life (1/2)

d163d-joyforthejourney

Have you ever been in a place of raw, unexpected pain?

I have.

Have you ever experienced gut-wrenching, heart-breaking and soul-tearing agony?

I have.

Have you ever wondered how you could get up another day to breathe again … to perform ordinary tasks again … even to live again?

I have.

What does one do at these torturous moments?

What do you do on the very worst day of your life?

The very first thing that I did on the worst day of my life was to cry out to the Lord.

It was the only thing that I could do … that I knew to do.  It was a reflexive and instinctive response.

When there is nothing else to say … say, “Jesus!”

I just repeated the matchless name of Jesus over and over and over again.  I found myself lying on the floor with tears streaming down my face and uttering the most powerful word in all of recorded history, “Jesus!”

I said, “Jesus!”

 

introduction to.jpg

 

I recall that the next thing that I chose to do was that I just held my Bible.  I didn’t open it … I didn’t read it … I just held it and it held me.

Just the simple action of holding that beloved and sacred Book in my weary arms broke through the monstrous shock of the situation. Just touching my Bible ushered in an atmosphere of peace in spite of a horrific and unnecessary storm.

I held my Bible.

(Even now, as I remember the inexpressible anguish of that moment, my stomach is in knots and my heart is in my throat. But somehow I carried on and so can you.)

In spite of the sobbing and the heartache, I knew that the next thing that I should do was to call a friend.  It was impossible for me to trust my own reactions and the raging emotions that were dragging me to panic so I called a dear friend, who was able to minister to me, pray for me and quote the word over my life.

Do you have a friend like that?  Do you have a friend who will drop absolutely everything to stand by your side during a wicked storm?

If you don’t have a friend like that … then be a friend like that!

Cultivate sweet friendships that will have the tenacity and the resolve to love you, to tenderly care for you and to pray for you on the very worst day of your life.

I called a friend.

My sweet friend encouraged me to remember the last miracle that the Lord had done on my behalf. I began to recall time after time after time that God had come through in miraculous and undeserved ways in my life.

He gave me living babies after sending 5 babies to heaven!  What the doctors said was impossible was possible with my God!

I remembered!

He healed me from an all-encompassing 7-year battle with depression. I encountered His presence where there is always fullness of joy!

I remembered!

He stood with my husband I through a season of betrayal in the ministry.  He was faithful even when people were not!

I remembered!

He healed me from an aggressive form of cancer. My God is a healing God!

I remembered!

He brought a beloved son back to the Lord after years of searching. He tracked my son down and tackled him for God’s Kingdom and for God’s glory!

I remembered!

I reminded myself that He has done it before and that He will do it again!

I remembered!

 

Copy of introduction to-2.jpg

 

The Holy Spirit then gently reminded me of the story in the Bible when the Lord had just fed a crowd of 5,000 men plus countless women and children with only 5 little loaves of bread and 2 tiny fish.

It was truly just crackers and sardines that the Lord used as the basis for one of the greatest recorded miracles in the Bibe.

The Bible says that the entire crowd ate and was satisfied! It was a sumptuous holiday feast of heaven’s culinary expertise!

Immediately after this incredible miracle, on that very same afternoon, Jesus sent His disciples into a storm of monstrous proportions.

The Bible describes the disciples as being filled with fear and in a state of panic and terror as the storm raged around them. Jesus, as you know, then came to them walking on the water.

Jesus came to these disheartened disciples on the very waves that threatened to destroy them. Think about that for a moment and then read on …

“Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” – Mark 6:51 & 52

Every time I read this verse written by the Holy Spirit and Mark, my heart stops within my chest and I find myself on my knees in His presence.

There is a hidden detail in this verse that never ceases to perform a quick self-examination of my memory.

The disciples had not learned anything at all from observing the miracle of the loaves and the fishes! Their hearts were so hardened that they had developed spiritual amnesia concerning what the Lord was capable of doing on their behalf!

The next time that you find yourself in over your head, surrounded by seaweed and dangerous winds, remember the loaves and the fishes.

The compass that will lead you out of the storm is your ability to recount the miracles that God has done for you in the past even when you are in the midst of the most horrific moment of your life.

The miraculous God on the shore who provides in abundance is also the God of the storms!

I remembered … will you?

Will you remember the last miracle?  Will you recall the faithfulness of God in your life even though today your boat is being tossed by life-threatening waves?

If you are living through the very worst day of your life … my simple wisdom to you today is to say, “Jesus!”

If the storm is raging around you … my tried and true advice to you today is to just hold your Bible.

If you are frightened by what the future may hold for you … my input into your life is to remember the last miracle and to praise Him for it.

(This blog, “What To Do On the Worst Day of Your Life” will be continued next week on October 11.)

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Advertisements

Autumn Prelude

d163d-joyforthejourney

The squirrels have started to gather in my yard this week … filling their little cheeks with the nuts that linger defenselessly under my trees.

The geese have begun their pilgrimage back to places sunny and warm… I hear their determined cries as they bravely wing their way south.

My flowers are now “September flowers”.

Do you know not what “September flowers” are? They are the flowers that were brilliant and young in June but now they are dismally weary and completely worn out. They are still “my” flowers – but they just look so bedraggled now.

The change of seasons is knocking at my door.

Autumn awaits me while summer scurries silently away without even a polite wave good-bye.

Change … the only thing that never changes is that everything always changes.

Seasons come and seasons go … the years turn insistently to a new page. There is a bittersweet beckoning to the new, which in truth, has been seen many times before.

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest;

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above;

Join with all nature in manifold witness –

To Thy great faithfulness mercy and love.”

How I have loved the long, spectacular days of summer! How I delight in sitting on my deck and watching the birds dash across my back yard singing and chattering for all of creation to hear!

There is nothing that a glass of iced tea, a back deck and a summer afternoon can’t cure!  Nothing at all!

But summer has bid a dreaded adieu once again to this girl who delights in the brief season of green grass, the buzzing of the bees and those brilliant fireflies sparkling in the evening’s closing chapter.

I must now prepare my winsome heart to welcome autumn.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God.” – Browning

I actually have nothing against autumn – I just shudder when I consider that the months of September, October and November are singing the prelude for the frigid days of winter.

September, October and November have my complete attention as they prepare to play the glorious symphony that uniquely belongs to autumn.  This yearly triumvirate harmonizes in rich tones of glorious color, frosty mornings and pumpkins ripening on the vine.

“You have crowned the year with Your bounty,

And Your paths drip with fatness.

The pastures of the wilderness drip,

And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.

The meadows are clothed with flocks

And the valleys are covered with grain;

They shout for joy, yes, they sing!” – Psalm 65:11 – 13

But I know what comes after the autumnal prelude … winter comes next.

The stark, cold days of winter always follow the splendor of harvest-time.  Always.

Summer whistles … autumn resounds … and winter is silent. Absolutely silent.

“While the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease.” – Genesis 8:22

Now … I believe that I shall divert from my autumnal ponderings to reach the point of this missive.

Believe me – I am going somewhere with this.  I really am.

How I have loved being a mom!  I have loved the days of holding and rocking … and the years of potty-training and two-year-old tempers!

I delighted in the season of sidewalk chalk drawings … basketball balls bouncing on the driveway … and long afternoons of reading books out loud.

During that season of my life, I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to plan new adventures … to engage in new activities … and to make up new songs! I couldn’t wait to tell the daily story in which one of my children was the hero or heroine in a fantasy tale woven by their mom.

I found unmatched pleasure in the family games that we played … in the endless questions that they asked … and in the long walks that we took.

It was all just glory to me!

And then came their senior year in high school and I fell into an early melancholy.

I could barely enjoy the memorable events that are unique to one’s last year in high school because I so dreaded what the following year would bring.

I couldn’t live in the present because the future was knocking loudly and unapologetically at the door of my heart.

I couldn’t relish in the defining moments of their last year at home because of the foreboding of what came next.

 

Sept 27 blog pic 1.jpg

 

After crying my way through two entire senior years, I finally took the time to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit … the One Who never changes.

And He will be the stability of your times,

A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;

The fear of the Lord is his treasure.” – Isaiah 33:6

When the Lord deposited that valuable verse into my heart, I changed my tune rapidly.  I regretfully realized that my children were never meant to be my stability – only the Lord could provide that.

And so I began to enjoy the season that was a prelude to the greatest change of my life. I loved each senior year that followed and was fully engaged emotionally and spiritually in every event, every memory and in each sweet finality.

Although I miss my children daily and deeply – there is joy in this new season of life that I have never before experienced. My children have become 5 of my dearest friends and each one sings a melody that is solely his or her own.

And may I just say … I love each melody that they contribute to my life.

So … autumn … bring it! 

I welcome you, harvest season, with my arms open wide and a heart that is completely yours! I will drink of your fruit and will dance in your beauty!

 

Sept 27 blog pic 2.jpg

 

Life has taught me that even that which has been formerly dreaded brings a rare treasure all of its own.

I will rejoice in the golden days of autumn because He, indeed, is the stability of my times.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Four Words to Change Your Life

d163d-joyforthejourney


I often drive by myself across the country!

Now, not many woman of my age are brave enough to undertake such an epic pilgrimage but I find myself fully engaged in the experience.  I am invigorated by the scenery, encouraged by the music I am playing, strengthened by the books on CD to which I am listening and fascinated by the weather that I am encountering.

Last year, in early January, I was once again driving across this great nation from southern Oklahoma to my home in Western New York.  I was only a couple of hours into my 20-hour drive when I wondered if I should continue or not … the weather was wintery and white.

I have found that on this frequent trek, I often stop at the same hotels, the same restaurants and the same gas stations.

Or, as my grandmother would observe, “The same old … same old!” 

I am definitely a creature of habit if nothing else!

One of my favorite places to stop on such a journey is Cracker Barrel!  The bathrooms are spotlessly clean and the food is always mouthwatering in this country girl’s estimation.

Honestly – what is there not to like about Cracker Barrel?!

I was battling a terrible cough and cold on this particular day and the weather was cold and icy.  I decided to take a break, stop at my oasis of choice (that would be Cracker Barrel!) and run in to go to the bathroom.  I honestly didn’t feel well at all and wondered if I just needed to stop for the night.

I was tired of being by myself and weary of the weather and my hacking cough.

As I walked out of the bathroom, an elderly, toothless woman was walking into the ladies’ room.  She grinned at me but her daughter quickly ushered her past me.  I held the door open for them and the cheerful grandmother continued to grin at me as they walked by.

Do you want to know what kind of grin it was that I encountered from this wrinkled face? 

It wasn’t a grin that merely was born in her facial muscles but it came from the very depths of her very soul.

As she passed by me with a limp and a smile, I noticed that her coat was too big for her and that her daughter was impatient with her. But I continued on to the hostess in Cracker Barrel intending to order a hot tea to go.

When I finally had my hot tea in hand and decided that it was time once again to brave the elements, I found myself exiting the restaurant at the same time as my new, yet ancient, friend. Her daughter was in front of her racing to the car and ignoring this sweet yet fragile piece of humanity. I walked beside her, quietly visiting with her, until I opened the door of her car for her.

I closed our conversation with the words, “Well … have a good day!”

She looked at me, grinned once again, and declared, “Thanks … I always do!”

Her daughter slammed the car door and roared out of the parking lot as I stood there shivering in the frigid temperatures.

I’ll never forget her words, “Thanks … I always do!”

 

1.jpg

 

Do I always make it my goal to have a good day regardless of what I am going through?

Do I always attempt to make every day a good one when people don’t treat me well, when the conditions are inclement and when my circumstances don’t quite fit the life I want to live?

Oh! That the words of my life would be, “Thanks!  I always do!” 

Do I always endeavor to have a good day when I am by myself, when the journey is long and when I am coughing up disappointment?

“Thanks! I always do!” 

Those four memorable words refuse to leave my heart; I have thought of those four life-changing words so often over the past year.

“Thanks! I always do!” 

What does it take to make every day a good day?  What are some simple disciplines that you and I could incorporate into our ill-fitting, impatient life?

Will you indulge me as I share a short but sweet list with you today?

Here are some things that you and I might consider if our goal is to turn every day into a really good day!

I like to call it my “Thanks! I Always Do!” list.

1 – There is nothing that impacts your life like who is in your life so choose your friends wisely and prayerfully.

 

2.jpg

 

2 – Take the time to fall in love with the life you have been given! Enjoy the scenery as you travel through your epic existence!

3 – Listen to music and even sing along! Turn your life into the rich and rare melody of your favorite song! Remember that music can turn the worst day into the best day!

4 – Remind yourself daily that it is not about what life has to offer you but it is about what you have to offer life!

5 – Discover your gifting and calling and then live enthusiastically in that place!

6 – Remind yourself often that it is impossible to live in a place of selfishness and joy at the same time.  Absolutely impossible.  Selfishness and joy are mutually exclusive – they cannot exist in the same heart or in the same home.

7 – Every day is a sacred gift given to you by your Creator – a day that is both holy and beautiful.

8 – Until further notice … celebrate everything!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is! 

An Unquenchable Song

JoyForTheJourney.png


Oh!  How I try not to be deemed as old-fashioned!

Oh!  How I ache to be at least in touch with the needs, the thoughts and the trends of the younger generation!

Oh! How I desire not to come across as out of date … out of touch … or over that infamous hill.

But let’s face it – at this age – I do indeed have a lot of years of living under my belt.

At this point in my life’s journey – I know a thing or two about life … about marriage … about parenting … about choosing well … about waiting … about wisdom … and about prayer.

At least I hope I do.

I try to dress fashionably youthful yet not come across as that older woman in teen-age clothes.

I like to think that my style is “timeless” rather than “yesterday”.

I sincerely attempt to sprinkle my speech with well-chosen colloquialisms of the day without seeming inconsequential or sarcastic.

I am certainly not “hip” … but neither am I antiquated.

I often read what my 20-something daughters and their friends are reading so that I will keep my fingers on the pulse beat of those incredible people known as “millennials”.

I follow young moms … young authors … young pastors … and young thinkers on all types of social media.

I even know what Reddit and Tumblr are … do you?!

However – I do believe that the place where the numerous years of my life is perhaps the most obvious is in my choice of music.

Sigh …

I am a musician and I have raised all of my children to love music.  Three of my five children majored in music in college.

We McLeods know our music

I will be the first to admit, however, that I am hopelessly outdated, old-fashioned and vintage when it comes to the music that I enjoy.

First of all – I’ll take a waltz over hip-hop, a sonata rather than rap and a concerto over electronica any day of my life!

Chopin, Gershwin and Debussey are on my playlist rather than Beyonce, Maroon 5 and Drake.

(As a matter of fact – I don’t even know who Drake is. I had to look up who had the #1 song on Billboard.)

And, when it comes to Christian music, it’s true …  from time to time I do enjoy Bethel, Hillsong, and gifted contemporary musicians such as Lauren Daigle.

However, the Christian music that truly inspires me is at least decades old!

Music has always had the rare and rich ability to touch my soul in the very deepest place of me.

My heart aches with unmatched joy when I hear these lyrics:

“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold … I’d rather be His than have riches untold.

I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands:  I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.”

I am forced to the altar of my heart as I evaluate those challenging lyrics.  Would I?!  Would I really rather than Jesus than silver or gold?!  Would I truly rather be His than have riches untold?

And the whisper of my heart cries … I would!  I would rather have Jesus than anything!

And then, there are times that I sit and reminisce over the legacy I have been given due to a family that valued the church and loved the Lord. In those sweet moments, I can still hear my father’s voice singing:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest Name that I know!

Fills my every longing – keeps me singing as I go!” 

Oh, Dad!  You were right!  Jesus is the sweetest Name that I know! He fills my deepest desires and He has never failed to give me an unquenchable song! 

And I must admit that one of the unarguable perquisites in judging a song to be a truly great composition is that it must hold solid theology and undeniable truth in every line –

“Great is Thy Faithfulness – Oh God, my Father.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee!

Thou changest not – Thy compassions they fail not!

As Thou has been thou forever wilt be!” 

I want to know Jesus better because of the songs that I sing.  I want to declare Who He is over my circumstances as I sing my songs of faith that the saints in every generation have sung before me. 

And, finally, who can resist the triumph that springs forth in an ordinary person’s soul when these words are proclaimed with the power of the accompanying melody:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee! God of glory, God of love!

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the Son above!

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness – drive the dark of doubt away.

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!” 

You might judge me as “old” due to the music that sings perpetually in my soul … but I believe that it is music that has kept me young!

The unmatched song that continues to dominate the soundtrack of my life has given me a spring in my step and a sparkle in my eyes.

How about you? What is your favorite song?  I’d love to hear from you … and sing a stanza or two together!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Mirror Image

Have you ever wondered what God’s will for your life is?

Should you go to college?  Get married?  Have children?  Go on the mission field?

Should you spend money or save money?

Should you wear the blue dress or the red one?

Should you call your mom or read a book?

Should you exercise or pray?

Should you change jobs or stay where you are?!

Discovering the will of God for one’s life can be daunting … unless, of course you decide to read your Bible!

I believe that the Bible offers a strategic blueprint for living an abundant life!

I believe that the Bible holds wisdom that is still applicable for our very lives today!

I believe that when the Bible is read daily that it has the potential of giving you the life of your deepest dreams.

I believe that God’s specific will for your singular life is found in the Bible.

I believe in the power of … the wonder of … and the miraculous results of the Bible!

I believe the Bible!

So … now that we have settled that … let me share with you the ‘”guts” of this week’s blog …

One day, several years ago, when I was having my daily quiet time, I read this significant and powerful verse from Ephesians, “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children.” – Ephesians 5:1

In an instant I realized that this verse was telling me exactly what God’s will was for my personal life!  I was called, by the voice of the Holy Spirit, to imitate the very actions, the thoughts, the words and the emotions of God.

And then, I hunkered down and went digging for the priceless treasure that I was certain to find in this verse.

The word “imitators” is the Greek word “mimetes” from which we derive our English word “mime”.

What God doeswe should imitate.

What God speakswe should echo.

What God thinksshould be our very first thought.

What God feelsshould be our immediate response.

Aug 16 blog pic 1.jpg

 

As believers in Jesus Christ, it is indeed God’s perfect will for each one of our lives, to mimic those things that we see in the character of God.

We are called to carefully and intentionally model our lives after the life of God.

As I pondered and prayed over this verse the following week, I realized that this verse is, in effect, calling me to be an actor and that I am taking on the role of God the Father.  What?!!  How can that be?

When I look into the mirror of God, I should mimic every single thing that He does!

Every single day of our earthly lives, we should be more like God than we were yesterday!  Think about it!

Every event that I encounter … every person that I meet … and every circumstance that I endure … should craft me more and more into being exactly like Him!

I should decrease in me and He should increase in me! (John 3:30)

Difficult people … and adverse conditions … and disappointing events … should only have one influence in my life … they should make me more like Jesus!

It is our goal this side of heaven to imitate God.

It is our reward this side of heaven to become more like Him.

It is our focused life calling to act like Him.

It is our daily assignment to mimic Him.

If you have ever wondered what God’s will for your life is … this is it:  To become like Him!

In order to imitate a person, you must study that person and watch how he or she acts and how he or she reacts.  You must know what this person likes and what this person doesn’t like; you must observe how the person treats people and what this person spends his or her time doing.

 

Aug 16 blog pic 2.jpg

 

Let me get specific …

When I was in college, a woman by the name of Ellen Stamps became my role model.  She had traveled with Corrie ten Boom for 10 years and had then married the beloved chaplain at the Christian university that I attended.

I loved absolutely everything about this blonde-haired, thirty-something Dutch woman!

I spent time studying her and asking her pertinent questions about the Lord, about life, about love and about marriage.

I observed the way that she treated people and how she responded to her husband.

I noticed that she always had fresh flowers in her home and made it a habit to play classical music while she was entertaining guests.

I was amazed that she never seemed flustered by difficult people but handled them with wit and with grace. I drank up her uncommon wisdom and I flourished as her joy splashed on my life.

Even today … over 40 years later … not a day passes by that I don’t ask myself,  “I wonder what Ellen would do in this situation?”

If you long to live in God’s perfect will for your life – you must imitate Him … you must know Him …  you must observe Him … you must listen to His uncommon wisdom and you must splash in the joy of His presence!

As well-loved children, every day we spend on earth, our goal must be to become more like our Dad!

We are constantly in the process of becoming more like God!” – Ephesians 5:1

41 Lessons in 41 Years

JoyForTheJourney.png


It was a hot, humid, sticky day during the summer of 1977.

I was 22-years-old and had met the man of my dreams! We were going to be married on this glorious Sunday afternoon in the country church in which I had grown up.

The church, that held about 180 people, was filled to overflowing with 250 of our closest friends and family members.

I waited in the tiny women’s bathroom with 8 bridesmaids dressed in all the colors of the rainbow. I was about to become a wife …

I didn’t know that day that we would, over the course of our marriage, experience infertility, cancer, repeated miscarriages, financial challenges and depression.

All I knew that miraculous day was joy… the joy of loving and being loved.  The joy of choosing and being chosen.

unnamed.jpg


Where has 41 years gone?
  It has disappeared like a vapor in the reality of all that life has brought to us.  I blinked and 4 decades has passed by …

In honor of our 41st. wedding anniversary, I thought that I would share with you 41 tips… 41 words of wisdom!

So here goes…

“41 Ways to Love the Marriage You Have Been Given!”

1 – Forgive frequently and easily.  Craig and I have often said that the first one to forgive is the one that wins!

2 – Find joy in the little things in life.  A shared cup of coffee in the morning … watching a sunset together in the evening … a phone call from a child who lives far away.  This is the stuff of which life is made! The little things in life are actually the big things.

3 – Pray together. Mountains move when a married couple takes the time to pray together for their children, their finances and their concerns.

4 – Serve together. Serving side by side is one of the building blocks of a great marriage.

5 – Listen more than you talk.

6 – Never even allow yourself to think about the “D” word.  If you don’t think it… you will never say it. If you never say it… you will never pursue it. (If you are wondering what word I am talking it… it starts with a “D” and ends with “ivorce”.)

7 – Remind yourself that it is not your job to “change” or “fix” your spouse. Love your spouse exactly the way they are today.

8 – Invest yourself in your spouse’s interests.  When we were first married, I realized that my husband loved watching football on Sunday afternoons.  Rather than feeling second place to a “pigskin,” I began to read the sports section so that I could be prepared for the Sunday afternoon ritual.  He was amazed! I love amazing this man of mine…

9 – Look at each other when you talk.  Make eye contact.

10 – Never raise your voices.

11 – Never call names.

12 – Don’t compare your spouse to anyone else’s spouse.

13 – Believe with all of your heart that this one person is your priority above everything and anyone else.  Then act like it.

14 – Don’t go to bed angry.

15 – Realize that your spouse is not God.  Your husband or your wife can never be to you what only the Lord can be.

16 – Don’t ever talk about your spouse behind his or her back. Only give good reports about your spouse to your parents, his parents, your children and your friends. Be respectful of your spouse – in private and in person.

17 – Say “I love you” often.

18 – Hold hands when you go for a walk.

19 – Say an encouraging word to your spouse when the tension is high.

20 – Choose to be a happy person.  It takes two happy people to build a happy marriage.

21 – Leave the past in the past.  Don’t bring up past failures, mistakes or wounds. It’s like bringing last week’s garbage back into the house.

22 – Read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and then apply it to your marriage.

23 – Make worshiping the Lord together a priority.

24 – When you are most frustrated with your spouse – that is the moment when you should choose to be the kindest to them.

25 – Be kind to your spouse’s parents and siblings. Include them in holidays and in family gatherings.

3.jpg
26 – Have devotions together at least once a week.  This doesn’t mean you need to sit down together and read 10 chapters in the Bible together… just talk about the Lord and what He has done for you. Share a thought with your spouse that you had during your personal quiet time. Talk about the things for which you are thankful.

27 – Have your own personal quiet time every day.  This one simple discipline will deliver a strength to your marriage that can never be measured.

28 – Smile at each other across the room.

29 – Share the responsibilities of the home.  Talk about expectations and figure out who gets to do what!

30 – Learn the power of compromise!

31 – Never lie to your spouse. Be a person of honor and tell the truth.

32 – Never correct your spouse in front of other people – especially in front of your children.

33 – Don’t expect your spouse to be perfect because you are not perfect either.  Together you might make a perfect couple… but alone, you are simply not perfect.

34 – Give your spouse the grace that you wish he or she would give to you.

35 – Remember why you fell in love… recall favorite memories… laugh about yesterday’s challenges.

36 – Remember that the covenant you made is not only with each other but it is with God!

37 – Laugh at his jokes even when you have heard them 1,000 times or more!

38 – Remember that your spouse is your partner and not your enemy. You win together and you lose together. When only one spouse wins … marriages loses.

39 – Keep the minor things minor.

40 – Act like adults and not like children.  Tantrums are not allowed!

41 – Choose each other anew every day.

Happy Anniversary, Craig! I love being your wife!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

What it Takes to Make a Difference

JoyForTheJourney.png

 

If you have read my blog more than a time or two, you know by now that I am a list-maker … a list-lover … a list-idolizer.

Lists simply help me to organize the thoughts that tumble haphazardly through my brain; they enable me to give boundaries to the roller-coaster emotions that fly helter-skelter through the caverns of my heart.

Lists … I love them.

And may I just say … there are lists in the Bible!  If it’s good enough for the Holy Spirit … it’s good enough for me!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” – Galatians 5:22

This week … I am making yet a new list for you and for me.

And … have I got a list for you!

This is a life-changing, wonder-working, destiny-setting, mind-blowing list that will turn you into the person you always wished that you were but sorely knew how often you fell short.

This list will enable you to become the friend that you always wish you had been … the spouse that you always wish that you had … the parent that you dreamed about becoming … and you might even become the disciple of Jesus’ dreams!

First of all, the reason that I made this list is because I realized that at the core of anyone of us, what we truly desire in life is to make a difference.

Sure … stamps in the passport would be nice … a substantial savings account wouldn’t be turned away … education never hurt anyone … but the most valuable and sustaining desire that any of us have is to simply make a difference.

I long to be remembered after I leave planet earth for a kindness done.

I deeply desire to live beyond the dash in my tombstone with the invisible legacy that I have graciously bestowed in the lives of my family and friends.

I want acquaintances who don’t even know my name to say, “Remember that girl with the smile? Didn’t she just walk in a room and light it up?”

I want to cross my finish line and hear the Lord say, “Carol! You did good!!  You were a blessing to history! You made a difference!”

So … what does it take to make a difference? Do you have to have your picture on the front of a well-known magazine?  Must you be the host or hostess of a daily TV program?

Must you write a book that is a perpetual best-seller in order to be recognized as a truly impactful person

Is it a pre-requisite to travel to China and feed the hungry for in order for you to be considered for induction into history’s “Hall of Fame”?

I think not.  I think that perhaps the quest to make a difference begins with the simple yet eternal habits that one establishes in life.

So … here it is … you asked for it … well … maybe you didn’t ask for it but you are getting it anyway!

What It Takes to Make a Difference : Living Beyond Your Dash

1 – Smile.  The world is aching for someone with your smile.  Smile at babies … at strangers … at your family … at your enemies … at your best friend … at your spouse.

Smile in line at the grocery store … smile at the mailperson … smile at church … smile at stoplights … smile at work.

 

Aug 1 blog pic 1.jpg

2 – Say something kind to someone every single day. When you lay your head on the pillow at night, if you haven’t said something kind to someone, get out your phone and text someone a word of encouragement.  Then, turn your phone off and go to sleep!

“What is desirable in a man is his kindness.” – Proverbs 19:22

3 – Be faithful.  If you say you are going to do it, do it.  Don’t make up excuses or try to wrangle your way out of a commitment.  Just do it.

4 – Tell the truth.  Don’t exaggerate, fabricate or fictionalize your words.  Be a man of woman of integrity every day of your life.  You will never regret it.

5 – Give something away once a month.  Buy a mug for friend … a book for a child … a bakery goody for a widow … a gift card for your pastor … a flower for your neighbor.  If you can’t afford to buy it – look through your stuff and find one of your favorite items and give it with joy! Your generosity will out live you!

6 – Laugh often and laugh easily.  Don’t be Scrooge, the Grinch and Cruella deVille all rolled into one prune-faced Christian.  Be a delight to be with! Be the kind of person that others just can’t get enough of.  My friend, John Mason, calls this being a contagious Christian!  I’m in … how about you?!

7 – Don’t talk about yourself.  Ask questions of others. I have learned that others are far more interesting than I will ever be.  Be an involved listener rather than a self-absorbed talker.

8 – Figure out what you do well … and then do it! If you are a writer, write.  If you are a gardener, garden well. If you are a servant, serve others with gladness.  If you are a giver, give liberally. If you are a mentor, gather young friends around you. If you are good with money, help others who aren’t.  Live in your sweet spot in life!

9 – Scatter joy wherever and whenever you goI would much rather be known for having too much joy than too little, wouldn’t you?! When you are going through a trial, it is then that your joy becomes the most valuable commodity that you own.  Don’t let anyone steal your joy!!

 

Aug 1 blog pic 2.jpg

 

10 – Read your Bible every day and apply its principles to your life.  Your Bible is God talking to you!  It is your Creator revealing His heart to you!  It is the will of God unfolded on the written page!  If you want to live a great life … then read the greatest Book ever written!  The Bible is not a “flat” book but it is a Book of miraculous transformation. The miracle begins the instant that you open it and begin to read!

11 – Pray more than you worry. Praying is NOT “worrying on your knees”.  Prayer is worship … it is communication … it is declaring the promises of God!

What’s on your list of how to make a difference?!  I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!