Archive for December, 2008

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight

December 30, 2008

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“Our habits produce fruit. Are you hungry for change? Do you want your life to be sweeter than ever before? Then plant different habits.

“I don’t know what changes you want to make, so I can’t tell you what old habits to discard and which new habits to embrace. But what you and I can do together is figure out how to identify habits we’d love to ditch and those we’d love to keep or develop, and then take a look at some really great strategies for making the switch.”

One of the great things I’ve done over vacation is to read Only Nuns Change Habits Over Night by Karen Scalf Linamen. What a terrific book! It was like getting a dose of myself, on steroids! Whether you are a naturally positive person, or get up in the morning and have to convince Helga to keep quiet all day, you will find this book encouraging, entertaining, and just the crowbar you need to get going on becoming the person you want to be!

Karen puts your brain right where it needs to be to start…or stop new habits.

“In talking about habits, Matthew Kelly writes ‘Addictions are acquired by practicing a certain type of behavior often and excessively. Character is acquired by practicing a certain type of behavior often and excessively.’” (pg.55)

“The next time you face adversity, engage your C.O.R.E….It’s a wartime strategy to win the battle that can wage in our minds when we face any bigger-than-life challenge.

Control the elements that you can control

Take Ownership of your own progress

Don’t let this single adversity Reach into every part of your life and contaminate your outlook or relationships.

Don’t buy into the lie that today’s nightmare will Endure forever.” (pg. 166)

I don’t think I’ve ever read a better chapter on procrastination. In fact, I liked this book so much that I wrote down the books she quoted and am making my way through them as well.

You know a writer is worth the read when she shares her life so well that you feel like you could sit down to coffee with her and not miss a beat. Karen is one of those writers.  She is also a speaker – she is funny, open and really inspiring.

Just in time for the New Year, you can find this book on Amazon.com here: Change Habits.

You can visit Karen Scalf Linamen’s web site at www.karenlinamen.com.

I have two copies to give away. Be one of the first two people to tell me what habit you want to change (add or delete) and the book is yours.

Budgeted Priorities

December 29, 2008

What is important to you?

We make time for what is important to us.  We also make room in our budgets for what we have as a priority.  Even when our budget and/or time is extremely limited.

Having dinner with my family is a priority for me.  For the last two years, we have not been able to pull it off – our dinner table didn’t work, everyone was on different diets, I worked late, I had a ton of excuses.

In the last two months, I’ve discovered how to have dinner as a family – regardless of who is eating wheat, who is eating meat, carbs, etc.   Here’s a quick fix:  Costco has three pork roasts for about $10-12.  They can be done in the oven or crock pot, set to be done when I get home.  Instant potatoes take about 2 minutes.  A can of vegetables, bread if anybody wants it, and a salad.  Cost for six people:  About $6.  Time for prep:  about 6 minutes plus cooking time.  Time for everyone to sit at the end of the day – – just what everyone said we were missing.  It has even helped improve relationships between the kids, and our parent/kid relationships.

This isn’t the only recipe, don’t worry – I have lots, but this is the one that recurs easily with lots of variations.

Now, take this same principle and apply it to time with God, time to study, time to… you get the idea.  I read most of a book the other day – while my family enjoyed the mall – and I even shopped with those who needed me.  I just made a choice to take the book and use extra time to read.

Think about it…we all have 24 hours, we all have obstacles – but some people do so much with their lives.  I’ve read this a lot lately:  Obstacles are opportunities.  Hmmm.

Discomfort

December 19, 2008

There was a young boy who had a great home – a bit dysfunctional, well, a lot dysfunctional. His father favored him. His brothers hated him. He had a delightful place in life… holidays were huge. The entire tribe turned out to celebrate. They would have big events, eat lots of food. Their family had a bit of a favored status in the neighborhood, so they had lots of friends.

Holidays were a big deal – probably lots of pranks – you know how families with lots of boys can get. And the stories. They lived in a story telling culture. So they would sit for hours and tell stories of their ancestors, stories of their own escapades. Stories of their God. Joseph was one of the youngest, but he loved listening and taking part. Being part of a big family was particularly special at the holiday times.

Then, one day, Joseph got separated from his family – actually, his brothers got so mad at him that they sold him into slavery. They thought about killing him, but decided to sell him instead. Joseph’s life took a dramatic turn. There was no more family. No more favored status. No more support system. He was on his own.

He probably experienced what a lot of people experience when they are suddenly in situations that are less than desirable. First, there is fear. Then anger and then despair. Joseph was a person, just like you and I. He wasn’t super human. He experienced normal emotions, but he rose above.

He learned to survive in this new environment. Learned how to find his way, but there were times – on his birthday perhaps, or at a holiday, when the echoes of home were so loud in his head that it hurt. There were years when he lost track of time all together. Then something would remind him of home.

Joseph didn’t have Christmas. His holidays were different. But annual celebrations are important to people. His traditions were as important to him, as ours are to us. The loneliness and isolation that we can feel at this time of year can sink us into despair, or help us rise to new places of security. We can learn from Joseph how to deal with it well.

  1. Joseph lived today.

When he got up in the morning, he paid attention to what was in front of him. He had been a powerful young man. Now he was a servant. He became the best servant he could be. You can’t become the best at today if you are attached to yesterday. You have to let it go, and be the person God created you to be today.

2 Timothy 1:7 (Amplified Bible)

7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), (What about me??) but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

2. Joseph fled wrong doing and short cuts.

In life there are lots of opportunities to relieve our pain. Joseph remained true to the giftings God had given him and didn’t try to make it on his own. He let God open opportunities for him, even when it made things more difficult for a while.

3. Joseph ministered to others.
a. Joseph found people who he could minister to.

b. While he was in prison, he used the gifts God had given him. Here is the thing that blows my mind: Joseph didn’t give up faith in God – God had given him a dream that hadn’t come true – in fact, he was far from having his family bow down to him, yet Joseph still had faith that God would use him to interpret dreams. Joseph was able to minister to others because he didn’t give up his faith in God.

c. If you have lost your faith, you need to ask God to return it, to restore it.

Joseph wasn’t the only one in the Bible to be completely removed from his element and put in a foreign place. The whole reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus left heaven – he left a place of peace, joy, love – he left his position of strength and security – to be born in a barn, as a vulnerable baby – to live and walk like you and I – He was isolated – he went away to pray regularly, a little different than sitting next to God on a throne and yacking it up.

He became Immanuel – God with us. God took on the form of a person – in a way that was so personal – he took on the role of isolation – so that He could understand us, feel with us, communicate with us. He knows you and what you are going through. He won’t leave you, and He will comfort you. When Jesus returned to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit. When you accept Jesus into your heart, you receive the Holy Spirit – God living inside you – not with you when you’re good, but in you, not leaving. You are not alone this Christmas. God’s not leaving.

However, what is reality, and what we feel aren’t always the same thing. That is when we come back to walking it out. Joseph knew how to walk it out.

  • He did his best today,
  • fled from doing wrong and didn’t take short cuts,
  • and he ministered to others along the way.

God had him there for a reason. He was building character in him. He was getting him ready to lead a nation. Look forward. Don’t look back. Get ready for what God is preparing you for. Get excited for what God is preparing you for. Get excited that you have a purpose. God wouldn’t be preparing you if you didn’t have a purpose. He’d be letting you sit in a lazyboy the rest of your life. God cares too much for you to let that happen.

Joseph didn’t know when his day was coming, and he certainly didn’t expect it would mean standing before Pharaoh and governing a nation. He just wanted out of prison. Preparation = perspiration. This is hard work. Keep your eyes on the goal – God is perfecting your faith, he is perfecting you for the jobs He has made you for. When you feel isolated this Christmas, reach out and find someone else to encourage. Don’t be tempted to take a shortcut – keep facing forward because your day is coming.

Opportunities

December 11, 2008

I was reading today in Jeremiah. Did you know that when Babylon took over Jerusalem, the paupers that were left in the land were given vineyards?

Bad financial times for a country don’t mean bad financial times for everyone. In this case, it meant better times for some. Upheaval is often no fun, but it is just upheaval. God is still on the throne.

Jeremiah 29 tells us God’s instructions to those in captivity – to enjoy life anyway. The story of Daniel shows us that some really thrived under the circumstances. The key isn’t having everything as we want it – the key is having God on the throne of our heart and letting Him be in charge of today.

I pray that you find God’s joy in today and His peace is constantly in your heart – no matter your circumstances.

Giving Freely

December 7, 2008

lake1When he sent his followers out on a training mission, Jesus gave them these instructions: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

Most of the time, when I read this passage, I am awed by all the things they were able to do. Healing people is mighty fine work!

Today I am challenged – ‘freely you have received, freely give’.

So, Jesus says that they have received healing and deliverance – and that they should extend it to others.  Yet when I look inside the human heart (mine too), I find a tendency to withhold that from others.  What if I give grace to someone and they aren’t nice back?  What if …

There is a conduit of giving that starts with God and ends at the world.  It can flow through you if you want it to – because of this statement – ‘freely you have  received, freely give.’

Have you been hurt when you tried to give?  Your tendency is to stop giving – but the grace isn’t yours to stop – freely you have received – it is free, others don’t pay for it by responding well.

Out of 10 lepers, only 1 returned with a thank you to Jesus.  The guy that was healed at the pool told the Jewish leaders on Jesus.  Giving freely means just that – not for repayment, but because it was freely given to you.

However, this too seems to be a spiritual principal – if you give freely what God has given you, He will give you the ability to give more.  You won’t lack for resources of more grace, love, joy, peace.  The fruits of the Spirit seem to grow in the fertile soil of a flowing river of grace.

I pray that your life and mine will be a river flowing with healing grace to those around us today.

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

December 5, 2008

blog-picI have a confession.  I’ve been hoarding this book, enjoying it, and not sharing.  Even my oldest was totally impressed with the resource this book is – but I haven’t figured out how to tell you – I wanted to show you.

Imagine that you want to write a note to a friend who needs encouragement.  You want to bring just the right scripture to the card.  You wish you could just find a time that Jesus talked about that topic and give a broader picture.

Or, you need to give a 10 minute talk on God’s Will, Healing, Greed, or Spiritual Priorities.  This is a great book!  I have found a resource that isn’t cheesy.  It is not like those little devotionals – this is a resource that pulls together all the words that Jesus spoke by topics.   Then, it doesn’t just give you the reference, it has the NIV version right there.

Here’s what the back says:

For the first time ever, all the statements Jesus made in the New Testament have been brought together under more than two hundred practical, easy-to-find topics. “

The book is broken up into sections:

  • What Christ Tells Us About Himself
  • What Christ Tells Us About His Father in Heaven
  • What Christ Tells Us About the Third Person of the Trinity
  • Life After Death, Heaven and Hell, Forgiveness, and Other Crucial Eternal Matters
  • What Jesus Said to Those Who Believe in Him
  • What Jesus Said About Our Nature, Our Struggles, and Our Future
  • What Jesus Said About God’s Tireless Efforts to Save Humanity
  • What Jesus Told Us About Starting and Deepening a Relationship with God
  • What Jesus Said About Succeeding with Other

If you’d like to look into it, you can find it on Amazon, here:  Greatest Words

I noticed they have a Kindle version as well, here:  Kindle Version

Power and Weakness

December 3, 2008

I have often thought about Jesus walking the road to the cross on purpose – it starts about halfway through the book of Mark – He turns deliberately and there is almost a drum beat in the background as Jesus purposes to do what He came  to earth to do.  As Peter chops off the ear of the man in the garden – a man there to arrest Jesus – Jesus heals.  Jesus, who was under attack, takes time to heal.

But then, on the final walk to Golgatha, something different happens.  Jesus couldn’t carry his cross.  The scripture doesn’t have him doing anything at this point but surviving.  The centurions pull someone from the crowd to carry his cross.  Jesus understands what it is like to be so far down you can’t give, you can only receive.

However, He didn’t stay there.  Within a few hours, he was again in himself enough to refuse vinegar and extend love.

No matter where you are in life, the Holy Spirit will give you the ability to extend love today.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms”

Eph. 1:17-20

Standing in the Gap

December 1, 2008

These were my morning scriptures:

And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. Ezekiel 22:30

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-2, 14

Christ Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8

God looked for someone to stand in the gap and found no one.  Jesus came and became the One who permanently stands in the gap so that we have instant access to the throne room of heaven – a relationship with the Maker of all creation.

Here is my question.  What difference is this making in your life today?  What difference will it make tomorrow?

Looking for Deals

December 1, 2008

Okay – so I’m having lots of fun looking for deals. Here are some ideas:

Here is a blog that is giving away stuff and showing you where deals are this month:

24/7 Moms

Also, you wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve gotten off of Freecycle this month – also, it is a fantastic place to find people who need the stuff you don’t need anymore. Sign up for your neighborhood here.

Also, I’ve discovered that if you sign up for emails from whatever stores you shop, they will send you coupons.

Okay, my Monday morning brain is going in many directions, that’s it for sales.