The Kindness Challenge

As I was driving to Wal-Mart I heard a story on the radio about “The Kindness Challenge”.  I was intrigued.  I didn’t hear the whole discussion – but the gist of it was a woman had done a study about how 30 days of kindness could transform a relationship, even if only one person in the relationship was doing the challenge.

I love a challenge.  And I love an easy model to follow. #JoinKindness

Once I got home I did a little more digging and found the 30 Day Kindness Challenge online. (Disclaimer, I haven’t read the book so I don’t know all the details). According to the website:

The 30-Day Kindness Challenge is a much-needed movement of kindness led by many influential organizations.

 89% of relationships improve if you pick a person with whom you want a better relationship; then for 30 days:

1. Say nothing negative about that person – either to them or about them to anyone else.
 
2. Each day find one positive thing you can praise or affirm about that person and tell them and tell someone else. 

3. Each day, do one small act of kindness or generosity for them.

I signed up!  Interested in joining me?  Sign-up here.

I am starting on June 1, 2017 and the recipient of my kindness will be my husband.

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So right now I am trying to get prepared by brainstorming small acts of kindness (and doing Pinterest research because honestly, outside of doing laundry and making his favorite dinner, I’m having a hard time coming up with ideas for a man who doesn’t ask for much).

But even more so, I am praying for God to help me with #1 on the list – not saying anything negative. I nag my husband. Probably more than I realize. My tone of voice can be not so pleasant. When I am displeased everyone in the house knows it. I complain about stupid stuff – how he folds the laundry, him buying chips when I am trying to eat healthy, him letting the kids watch too much TV, etc.

So my big prayer right now is for God to help me prepare and that I will rely on Him for the kindness and loving words. And that He will help me keep my mouth shut when needed.

In my Bible reading this morning there was some great stuff as I get my heart (and mouth) ready for the challenge.:

1 Corinthians 2: When Paul came to tell people at Corinth about Jesus he was timid and trembling. He didn’t have the words to say. But instead of trying to come up with impressive speeches, he relied on the power of the Holy Spirit. Mentally, he focused on Jesus only, and then let the Holy Spirit speak through him. Wow. That is what I want. There is no one who loves my husband more than Jesus, and Jesus would much rather have me covering my husband with love and kindness than nagging about how to fold the towels. When I open my mouth I don’t want my words to come out, but the Holy Spirit speaking through me.

Proverbs 12: So much incredible stuff here about the words I speak to my husband:

  • A worthy wife is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4)
  • The words of the godly save lives (Proverbs 12:6)
  • The family of the godly stands firm (Proverbs 12:7) (OK, not exactly about my words, but I have two daughters listening to everything I say. Are my words and my tone godly?)
  • Wise words bring many benefits (Proverbs 12:14)
  • A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted (Proverbs 12:16)
  • The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth (Proverbs 12:22)
  • Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging words cheers a person up (Proverbs 12:25)
  • The godly give good advice to their friends (Proverbs 12:25)
  • Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.(Proverbs 12:18).

My words have the power to heal or destroy, and 95% of the time I open my mouth without really thinking through what I am going to say. I really need God in this area of my life. I need to think before I speak and filter everything I am saying through the Holy Spirit. And I probably need to keep my mouth closed a lot more often.

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Generosity

Lessons on Generosity from Proverbs

I’m reading through the Bible using the Skövde Pingst reading plan on the YouVersion app. Click here to sign up and let me know if you are reading along. I’d love to have you join me in reading!

Most of my posts tie into what God is teaching me in my daily reading, which is also part of my S.O.A.P journal. Here are some past posts on S.O.A.P. journaling – Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer:  Reading Through the Bible and The Divine Mentor. I highly recommend making daily Bible reading and prayer a top priority.  Even if you only have 10-15 minutes a day; I promise it will be a life-changer!

Today’s reading included Proverbs 11. The Bible talks a lot about Generosity, especially in Proverbs. God wants us to give not because giving benefits him; but giving benefits us.  It changes our hearts. Where we spend our time and money is where our heart will be focused.

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Personally, I am trying to make a conscious effort to have my life focused on what matters most – my walk with Jesus, my marriage, my kids, serving others and collecting memories over collecting things.  Where I spend my money and time reflects these things.  Where we chose to spend our time and money also changes our heart to make those things a higher priority.

For example, if I am giving my money to a certain non-profit or church my heart will be more inclined to care about that church or cause.

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Generosity goes beyond just money. For me, it is very easy (and tempting) to get busy with my career and to-do list.  I find it helpful to regularly take a few minutes to contemplate where my heart is in the areas below.  If I am getting off track I need to make a purposeful decision to change my focus by giving more generously.

  • Time Generosity: How am I spending my time?  How many hours a day am I looking at social media or watching TV compared to how many hours a day am I spending doing something meaningful that has eternal value, like volunteering at a homeless shelter or praying and reading the Bible?

 

  • Attention Generosity: Where is my attention?  I often catch myself multi-talking when my children or husband are talking to me.  For example, when my daughter wants to tell me all the stories about recess I’ll often listen while also swiping through Instagram photos.  I need to stop.  Put the phone down.  Make eye-contact. Really listen.  Nod my head. Ask her questions. Have a conversation with her and give her my full attention, rather than having half my mind elsewhere.

 

  • Energy Generosity: I only have so much energy to expend every day.  Am I using it on activities that really matter? For example, how often am I “too tired” to have sex with my husband? Is my schedule so overbooked that I don’t ever have time to go on a date with my husband? Am I running myself ragged with so many commitments that my daily time with Jesus and my family get put on a back burner? These can even include good and healthy activities – volunteering, reading, exercising, cleaning, kids’ sports and activities, etc. But if my schedule is so booked that I get to the end of the day and just want to collapse into bed, I need to take a good hard look at my priorities.

 

  • Financial Generosity: In my life I know that the more I give the more I am blessed. Whether I am giving to my church, a non-profit that helps orphans or a cause that helps feed the poor; giving fills my heart. But there are times when I am looking at my budget and cringe. I don’t think I have the financial cushion to give. Giving money can hurt . . . for a season.  But I’ve never given money and then regretted it. Do your research on who you are giving to (for nonprofits you can review their financials at Guidestar) and then make a decision to give.  You will be blessed.Proverbs 11-26.jpg

 

 

Finding My Mission

I’ve been married for 13 years this August.  I’ve been a mom for over 11 years.  These are very important roles for me – loving my husband and children, taking care of them, providing for them, etc.  But sadly, they have often taken a back seat to my career and the busyness of life.  Several years ago God started to put on my heart that they are more than just my family.  They are my mission field.

In August 2014 I was sitting in a Bible study on Gideon (by Priscilla Shirer) at the Gretna United Methodist Church and I was praying for God to reveal his grand purpose for my life (and I was convinced it was grand) and it suddenly hit me:  My purpose was to be a missionary.  In my house.  To the man I married and the two children I love.

And I’m embarrassed to say, since then I’ve had a million excuses not take that mission seriously.  But God keeps bringing me back.  I keep looking for my grand purpose in my career.  Or a grand purpose through other “mission” work – service projects, church volunteering, humanitarian organizations, christian ministries, etc.  And while all that is important and good, God keeps bringing me back to that calling I heard several years ago.  He closed the door to my old life as a political fundraiser, so I took another full-time job in a non-profit organization.  He closed that door.  He is telling me over and over that my mission field is right here.  In this house.

My number one priority is to spend time with him every day and follow him.

My number two priority is to minister to my husband and children.

I get it.  I finally get it and accept it, but it is still a struggle.  I’m learning what it means to be a missionary; usually by way more trial and error than success.  I’m learning to resist the daily temptation to start chasing a “mission” that looks a lot more exciting than Mom/Wife.  But I feel at peace that I am finally in the place God wants me.  And I know he’ll give me the strength to run this race and will guide me to the end.

P.S. I’m reading through the Bible in a Year – using the YouVersion or Bible.com app.    My reading today was a good reminder on my keeping my priorities straight, following God’s direction, and the importance of observing the greatness of God and passing on that message to the next generation.  Psalm 48:12-14:  Walk around Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.  For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.   (NIV)

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Three Easy Steps for Controlling Your Temper

My temper gets me all the time.  Even if I don’t explode I can feel irritation creeping up.  90% of the time my irritation is toward my husband and children.  The rest of the time it is toward the telemarketer that keeps calling my cell phone or the person at customer service whose service is pretty crappy.

Earlier this week I heard a radio program as I was driving to the gym – it was James MacDonald talking about a simple discipline to help me not give into temptation or lose my temper.   I’m testing it . . .and so far results are pretty good.

Example A:  My husband and I are both currently working from home.  I am so happy to be working from home and believe 100% that it is where God wants me.  Even so, it is an adjustment.  We haven’t both worked from home, together, for several years.  We are sharing an office.  We have very different work habits.  And very different philosophies on how the office should be organized (his style includes piles on the floor).  Yesterday as he was dropping our daughter off at school I could feel my irritation level getting higher and higher as I tried to find an organized and clean place in the office to work.

I have found that starting my day with daily Bible reading and prayer makes a huge difference, but often in the moment I still lose my temper.

When faced growing irritation with my husband I tried the steps below.  And it really seemed to help.  I didn’t handle the situation perfectly and I am sure I was more irritated than I needed to be, but it could have been a lot worse.

  1. Stop and say:  “I am Dead to That.”  Out loud.  (I did it in the bathroom, looking in the mirror.)  I love this concept – thank you James MacDonald!  
  2. Pray:  Ask God to give me grace, peace and His love in dealing with the situation.  
  3. Meditate:  Over and over in my head say the verse Romans 6:11 “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

I’m going to keep trying this and see if it helps . . . as I need all the help I can get!  But bottom line as we just celebrated Easter, Jesus didn’t just die to save me from hell, He died to save me from a life of sin.  There is freedom in Him.  I just need to grasp that freedom.

In closing, I love section from James MacDonald, found here:

I know what you might be thinking. If I’m dead to sin, why do I feel so alive to it? Dead is the last word most of us would use to describe our experience with sin. Forgiven, maybe. Or cleansed—even changing. But dead?

First consider what dead to sin does not mean. It doesn’t mean sinless perfection or that our old nature is gone. And it doesn’t mean we’ve merely identified theoretically with the death of Christ.

It means that because Christ died in our place, we are dead to the power of sin. It’s as if we used to live in an apartment with an awful landlord who would burst in whenever he wanted, but now we’ve moved to a new apartment with a new landlord. We have new locks; we owe the former landlord nothing. He can’t get into our new apartment unless we open the door and invite him in.

Unfortunately, some Christians still open that door and listen to the old landlord. But he’s no longer in control. In Christ, the power of sin is broken and defeated. Sin is not in charge. You have a new Master.

Praying for my Husband

Several years ago I purchased The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian at the Goodwill and it was one of the best purchases I’ve made.  I love this book.  It helps me direct my prayers for my husband and each prayer is so personal and powerful.

I especially loved today’s prayer that started more for me than my husband:

“God, I proclaim You Lord over my life.  Help me to seek You first every day and set my priorities in perfect order.  Reveal to me how to properly put my husband before children, work, family, friends, activities and interests.  Show me what I can do right now to demonstrate to him that he has this position in my heart.  Mend the times I have caused him to doubt that.  Tell me now to prioritize everything so that whatever steals life away, or has no lasting purpose, will not occupy my time.”

This is my prayer for today – and hopefully every day.  I want to prioritize everything in the order it should go and keep my time and energy focused on what matters most.

P.S. One slightly embarrassing, though related, side-note:  when I was a kid we had Stormie Omartian “Exercise for Life” workout tapes.  Not VHS tapes.  Actual cassette player tapes.  I’d get my leg warmers on and do these tapes every day.  I found a YouTube copy of the cassette.  Just listing to this 80’s Christian techno makes we want to workout!

 

Respecting my Husband

Scriptures and Observations:

Growing up I witnessed women being demeaned.  Treated like lower class citizens.  Acting like doormats.  Basically being treated like crap.  And mainly being treated that way by men in the church.  I saw so-called Christian men demanding “respect” from their wives as part of marital duty, but these same men seemed to ignore Jesus’s command for them to love their wives.

I never saw a true demonstration of love/respect in marriage the way it was meant to be.

And from those early experiences I decided never to submit to a husband.  And only respect a man if he really earned it.

Fast forward thirty years.  I’m in my second marriage and “respecting my husband” is still a very difficult command and concept for me.

But I know it is something that God wants me to do.

Today’s reading (and if you are reading along in the Life Journal Reading Plan, yes, I am behind):

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1 NIV

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:7 NIV

And not from today’s reading, but a passage that convicts me over and over:

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her Lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:1-6 NIV

Most days I feel so far from this image of the woman with “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”.  I’m much more apt to nag, complain and criticize than to be full of reverence.

So, how do I become a respectful wife?  Is if fear (1 Peter 3:6) that is holding me back?  Or a lack of knowledge on how to do it (because honestly, I haven’t seen it modeled much in my life)?  Or lack of discipline?  Or selfishness?

If you have any ideas on how to show your husband respect, please comment!

Doing some research on the topic here are a few articles I found:

Action Items:

  • Send at least one loving/encouraging text to my husband a day
  • Thank him at least once a day
  • Schedule date nights . . . and keep them nagging free

Prayer:

Jesus, please help me to respect my husband and be full of unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.  Help me not to nag, complain, criticize or disrespect him, but to be full of love, honor and respect.

 

 

 

 

Submission and Respect

When I started getting more serious about my spiritual walk over four years ago I was very focused on my career.  It took almost all my energy just to get done with my daily to-do list.  And though I hate to admit it, my husband and children were often another item on the list that needed to be tended to and maintained.  And reading the Bible was something I did if I had the time and energy at the end of the day.

Through a Bible study I felt a whisper: my priorities were all wrong and my identity was in the wrong place.  I was putting my worth in my professional accomplishments.  I needed to put God first.  Then my husband (and I needed to respect him, something I am TERRIBLE at).  Then loving my children and demonstrated to them how to live a godly life.  I’ll be really honest, the thing I was most concerned with demonstrating to my children was how to be a hard-working, driven, successful woman.  Demonstrating to them how to submit to God’s will wasn’t on my radar.  And demonstrating respect to my husband didn’t cross my mind.

Now, almost five years later, I still have the same struggle.  Today I read in Romans 7.  Most of the time, I feel like this chapter sums up my spiritual life.  I want to do good,but I don’t.  I don’t want to sin, but I do.  

So what is the answer?

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5 NIV

The answer is where I set my mind.  The more time I spend reading the Bible, studying, praying, memorizing verses . . . the more my actions change.  The more I submit to God.  The more I respect my husband.  The more I love my children.

I can’t change on my own.  But the more time I spend with God the more my life is transformed.