How Gratitude affects attitude

 

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Gratitude makes for a great attitude

Last year I made a commitment to stop whining about winter.   I dreaded winter every year because I don’t like the cold, dark days it brings.  I prefer the warm, long, sunny days of summer.  God began to convict me of my sour attitude and I vowed to change.  After all, He made winter and it has its purpose.  Who was I to grumble about it?  So I made a list of everything that was special about winter and even blogged about it here on my site.

This year, as winter rolled around, to my surprise,  I wasn’t dreading it!  While in years past, I became depressed because of the approaching winter, this year I’m naturally accepting it and am even looking forward to those cozy evenings by candlelight.

What a difference a change of attitude makes

By forcing myself to think about and appreciate the wonderful attributes of winter, my mindset has changed and now I naturally appreciate it – without a struggle! I’m no longer dreading the cold or even the sometimes endless gray days that December through February bring.

I wonder where else in my life that I need to make the mental change from complaining to appreciating.

If you find yourself constantly complaining or dreading something or someone in your life, especially if it is something you cannot change, try listing out all the good that that situation or person brings to your life and focus on that instead.  Be grateful and thank God for those things.  Perhaps you too will be surprised at how much your attitude will change toward that person or situation.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8

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Moments in Time

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Time is moments once spent never to be returned again.    We may be at the same physical location and even with the same people, but each day and every moment within that day is unique to its own.
One summer my husband and I met up with my daughter while she was in Orlando for a business trip.  The three of us drove over to Daytona Beach for a few days of relaxation before she was to head back to London where she was lives.
Since we don’t see her a lot, we treasure each moment we have together.  We had a great time just hanging out, walking the beach, catching up on happenings going on with our family and each other.
How beautiful she looked standing against the ocean backdrop for a picture.  Her soft white coverup flowing in the wind, wearing a straw hat and that gorgeous smile.
 The next day after she had left, while sitting on our balcony overlooking that same spot on the beach, that particular image was still so fresh in my mind that it felt like I could reach out and touch her.  But that moment had fled.   She was now across that vast Atlantic in another part of the world.  My husband and I were still there, the beach was the same as well as the condo, but the moments the three of us enjoyed together those two days were gone forever.
Oh, there would be more moments.  We were already looking forward to her return to visit us at our home in Tennessee in October with the rest of our family and my husband and I were looking forward to our remaining two days on the beach as a couple; yet those two special days would never return again.
I often think back to my childhood.  I can see my mother standing on the front porch of our small frame house.   Some of the sights and sounds  of that simpler time are etched so vividly in my mind that I feel I could go back there.  It was a real place, a real time, but it is no more.  The house is still there,  though aged from weather and time, but mother has passed on and I’m no longer that child.
Looking back on home movies when our children were small brings  back a lot of laughs, and tears.   Those little kids with their cute, smiling faces are now all grown up and passionately perusing their careers and raising their own families.  Those special days too, are lost forever and remain only a memory.
Lord, help me to treasure every day as the gift from you that it truly is.  Never taking anything for granted and always appreciating whatever unique blessings or trails that  today may bring. For every day is unique, a special blessing to be spent wisely and treasured for the gifts it alone offers.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

Hiking

I’ve never thought of hiking as a dangerous sport.  You’re just walking through the woods right?  Yet, for one day in this past summer, that proved surprisingly not true.

Middle Tennessee has so many beautiful parks with mountain trails that are just challenging enough for a good workout.  The trees are gorgeous any time of year, budding with new life and colorful flowers in the spring, lush and green in the summer, and filled with amazing oranges, yellow and reds in the fall.  Even in the winter time when the trees are bare, sometimes its warm enough to put on  a light jacket and enjoy even greater views of the barren forest.

This was a particularly hot and sunny summer day with not a cloud in the blue sky.  In fact we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go to the pool that Saturday or hike.  Finally we decided we’d go hiking to get some exercise and then go relax at the pool.  Even though it was very hot that day, it seemed a little cooler up among the shade of the trees than out in the open sunlight.

We were walking along the dirt trail talking about life, our goals and dreams as we often do on our hikes.    My husband was out in front as we made out way down the mountain.

Then it happened.   I didn’t pick my foot up enough and tripped over a root in the ground flipping me forward. In a nano second my head hit the ground with the left side of my face splatted firmly against the hard dirt.  I had no time to break the fall and I’d never hit my head that hard in my life.  I thought I had broken out every tooth on the left side of my head and I felt like my left eyeball had exploded.

“Teresa, are you alright?” I heard my husband scream as I lay on the ground.  “No, I exclaimed, as I lay there unable to get up.  He came over and helped me to my feet.  There had been a small jagged tree stump sticking up and the tip of it had sliced my skin open right beneath my eye.”  Blood was running down my face and my eye had already began to swell.  Realizing how close I had some to putting my eye out by the jagged tree stump, he was thankful it missed my eye, yet extremely concerned that I needed to get to the ER for stitches.

My vision was blurred, My head was excruciating, my face was bleeding and then suddenly out of nowhere came a torrential  downpour.  What?   How could this be happening.  There was not a cloud in the blue sky when we started out.  How could it be raining like this now? Where did this rain come from?  We were at the top of the mountain and on the back side.  It would take us at least 30 to 45 minutes to get down.  I kept my hand over the cut the best I could to try and keep the rain from hitting it but it was coming down so hard, my efforts were futile.  I couldn’t see and now it was hard to breath, too, with the rain falling in my face.

God, did you have to let it rain just now, I thought?  Surely, you saw what just happened to me and now I have to deal with this rain on top of it.   It was a miserable hike to the bottom and by the time we got there our clothes and  shoes  were soaked throughout.  We got into the car and then immediately it stopped raining.  Are you kidding me?

Fortunately,   we had beach towels in the car since we had planned on going swimming later that day.   Bobby pulled out his backpack and said, “You know, I don’t know why but for some reason I put two shirts in here this morning.”  Normally he would just bring one to put on after swimming.  I changed my shirt right there in the car and we headed to the hospital.

After a brief visit they sent me away with an antibiotic, and a few pain pills.  Turns out I didn’t need stitches after all, but  had a mild concussion had fractured my orbit.  I didn’t even know I had an orbit, but learned it is the bone that holds the eye in place.

Later that day when my thinking became clearer, I realized that the rain that I had despised, had actually been a blessing.  The cold water had surely helped keep the swelling down from the broken bone and kept me cool as well.  As hot and humid as it was that day, I could have easily passed out on top of that mountain.

It reminded me that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge God when things happen we don’t understand or expect.  We see in part, but He sees the whole picture.  Our heavenly father is always looking out for us, even when we don’t realize it.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand.  Psalm 121:5

Things I’ve learned

When I was a child every day when I got off the school bus my mother would ask me what I learned that day.  Looking back, I probably didn’t give her very good answers.  Sometimes I would say “nothing,” which surely couldn’t have been true.   I was just done thinking about school for the day and  wanted to go play  outside or watch The Match Game.

Today as an adult I see the benefit of learning  something every day.  It’s a big, interesting  world out there and God designed our brains so that they are never full.  We can always take in more information or learn a new concept or skill.   My mom is not around to ask me what I’ve learned at the end of the day, but I can ask myself.

I love lists.  They are a great at helping us remember to do something or be something.   Of Opinions blog on list making inspired me to  start a list of  one most important thing I learned each  day.

I love to learn from other people’s experiences and knowledge through reading, listening to podcasts, etc. and hardly a day goes by that I don’t read something  that enriches my life;  however, when I started this list, the most note worthy addition seemed to come from something I had experienced that day.    Although I have been tempted to throw in a few of my favorite new quotes from other sources, it seems life’s most lasting  lessons come from our experiences.

It makes me wonder if Solomon in all his wisdom didn’t write some of those amazing Proverbs from personal experience.  For instance, when he wrote,”If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16)   He probably gorged himself on it one day and suffered the consequences.  I can see him eagerly chomping down on the sweet honeycomb and afterward feeling extremely nauseous and possibly saying to himself,  “I need to warn people about this.”

Not that I’m in any way comparing my humble list to the wisdom of Proverbs, but here are few  things I’ve learned or been reminded of recently.

  1. If you drive through a subdivision where construction is going on, you could very possibly get nails in your tires.
  2. If you follow a link from a text message offering an unbelievable  sale, it is probably not a trusted site.
  3. The more outgoing and friendly you are to others, the more friendly they will be with you.
  4. When things aren’t communicated well, confusion, misunderstandings and hurt feelings can result.
  5. You are much happier when you are thankful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have.
  6. When you have a change in attitude that causes you to act differently than people are accustomed, it can upset them, even if it is a positive change.
  7. Two weeks is the perfect vacation time.  After one week, you’re sad it’s over, but with two you’re ready to get back to routine and work.
  8. Sometimes you just need to take a day and dedicate it to a project you’ve been putting off.
  9. A heating pad and whirlpool really helps lower back pain
  10. Its easy to slip away from a close your walk with the Lord.  The Isralites did it often and so can we if we don’t continually guard our heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Life Seems Out of balance

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My husband and I enjoy biking on the weekend. The greenway near our home is a beautiful place to ride. The paved trail runs along a long, winding river, complete with water falls and lined with lush flora and beautiful green trees. The air is fresh, smells wonderful, and feels great blowing in our face as we peddle along the paved trail.

However, there is one section that I don’t particularly enjoy. It runs underneath an interstate bridge. There is a concrete wall on one side of the trail and on the left is a gulley of water. It is also not very well lit. While the paved trail is just as wide as it is out in the open, the dimness of the light and the concrete wall on one side with the water on the other always causes me to lose my balance and I end up getting off the bike and pushing it through the tunnel.

I find this is true in my spiritual life as well. When I’m not reading my Bible or praying as I should, life tends to get a little darker, I get a little wobbly, and I’ll  be unkind, make a bad choice that I later regret, or just start to have less peace.

God’ word is a light that guides us through this uncertain and scary world helping us to make decisions that are best for ourselves and others.

If your life seems a little off balance lately, try spending more time in God’s word and watch the light of God’s wisdom glow brighter in your life, helping you to see more clearly to smoothly navigate through this sometimes crazy but wonderful life.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  Psalm 119:105

 

Why I blog

I’m a natural encourager.  I can always see the good in people – their great qualities, characteristics and abilities when sometimes they can’t see them for themselves.   Actually, I’m pretty good at seeing the good in any situation, especially bad ones.  Maybe that’s because I tend to look for them.

I love the Word of God because to me it’s like an owners manuel for Life.   I believe there are answers in there for every situation we encounter.   The Bible is like a well that never runs dry, bursting forth with new insights.   They don’t always jump out at you, (although sometimes they do), but often you must dig and study to discover the truth.  God seldom makes things too easy for us.  We are designed to work for the best things in life and studying the scriptures is no exception.

My previous three posts: Confessions of a Winter Whiner, Are you a Worrywart, and Our Limited Time on Earth, are all life lessons I’ve learned through the scriptures.

I want to share what I have learned along my life journey with others by taking situations that we often deal with and applying a scripture to that situation.  I figure that if I have dealt with it and found a scripture to encourage me, that it can possibly help someone else.

Our limited time on Earth

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Photo by A Sanders Production

It was the last act of love from my father to me and my siblings, the remnants of everything  he had worked for his entire life, handed to me on a piece of paper.  We had just closed on his house and property and we each received a check as our portion of the inheritance.

Dad had passed away a few years earlier.   After his funeral, I stood in the bathroom looking out the window over his back yard and into the fields behind the house.   For almost ninety years he trampled around these grounds. As a young child he would no doubt run and play and he also told stories of plowing the fields behind the house with a mule.  Then as a grown man, he worked those same fields with a tractor, plowing and planting rows of corn, potatoes, and other vegetables; I can still see him carrying food out to the pigs, chickens and cows.   In his later years, he would sit on the back patio, drink coffee while watching the sun set, and feed his pet squirrels or chat with visitors.

The land had been in our family for generations. Dad had grown up in the house just two doors down.  My great grandfather owned hundreds of acres which was divided up between his children.  Then my grandfather’s land was split up among his five children when he passed, leaving my dad with several acres on which to farm and raise his family.

As a child, I would ride my bike along the country roads past my three aunt’s houses.  I always I had a sense that this was our little corner of the earth.  With relatives living all round, It just felt like it belonged exclusively to us.

But that day after his death, realizing that after almost ninety years, my father would never walk these grounds again, the reality set in that we really don’t own anything on this earth.    We only get to use it while we are here and then we must leave it for someone else.  This is not our permanent home. We’re just passing though.

“For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”  1 Corinthians 10:26.

How to not be a worrywart

Do You Worry?

I find myself getting anxious over many things. When I’m running late, struggling to reach personal or professional goals, family matters, the affairs going on in our nation. There is plenty to worry about in today’s world, yet God tells us,  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Philippians 4:7

Really?  Anything?

I confess, some verses are just hard to obey. “Do not kill,” I get, but to never worry about anything? This one seems almost impossible.

I tend to get anxious about situations that I want to go a certain way because, frankly, I want control, but many times I’m anxious about things over which I have  no control.  What I’ve found is that being anxious actually just complicates the situation and makes it worse.  Worry never helps.

What can we do?

So how do we keep from being anxious or worrying about circumstances or situations that are important to us?  God tell us in the next verse that when we bring our petitions to Him in this way, “The peace  of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7  When we do our part, God promises to do His part!

We do live in perilous times, but God promised in His word that He will remain faithful to all generations. That includes us!

To never stress or worry is something we can strive for every day.  We won’t reach perfection, but we certainly can become better at it day by day by bringing all our  concerns to Christ, with thanksgiving, and learning to trust Him.  Just like anything, the more we practice, the better we become.

Whenever you find yourself worried or getting anxious about a situation, repeat  Philippians 4:6-7  to yourself to remind you to trust God.  Then see how your mind and heart become transformed in that moment.  It helps!  God knows I have to do that often!

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26.3

Confessions of a Winter Whiner

I confess, I’m a  a winter whiner.  I prefer the long, bright,  warm, sunny days, of summer with colorful flowers everywhere, green grass and lush trees, flip fops, and sun dresses.

Winter, on the other hand, gets me depressed.  Not just the cold and short days, but the many cloudy, dreary days. Sometimes in Tennessee, where I live, we go for weeks with grey, cloudy days and no visible sunshine.

Recently though,  I’ve felt convicted of my blasphemy of winter and vowed to make a change in my attitude.  After all God made winter for a purpose, and I doubt it was just to torture us!  To help combat my sullen winter attitude, I’ve compiled a list of all the blessings winter has to offer that summer can’t bring:

  •  Winter Saves our skin – The summer heat dries and burns our skin.  If we’re smart we’ll use sunscreen while outside, but even with that our pigment darkens to try and protect it from the sun’s intense rays.  Having a few months when the sun is less strong and we’re covered up provides a much needed rest for our skin so that it doesn’t wrinkle as much or get cancer!  Now that’s a good thing.
  •  Candles – You can’t burn candles in the summertime.  It’s too hot.  But the scented fragrance and soft glow that fills the house on cold, winter evenings brings warmth, coziness and comfort to the home.
  • Snow –  When adults hear a snow storm is on the way, we usually get anxious about how we’re going to get to work and from work, or to the grocery store.  Why can’t we just enjoy the beautiful, peaceful, blanket of white like the kids do?  We don’t get a lot of snow in Tennessee, but next time it comes, I’m going to try and not to be anxious about getting to and from work but to just enjoy the view and maybe throw a snowball or two.
  •  A warm fire in the fireplace.  No one would think of building a fire in the summertime.  It has to be cold so the fire can warm you up!  I love reading or chatting by the fire, or having dinner by a warm fire.  It seems to not only warm the room, but warm your soul as its crackling reminds you that you are safe in the shelter of your home out of the elements.
  •  Christmas – Jesus wasn’t really born in December, but I’m thankful the early Christian church choose December 25 as the day to celebrate His birthday.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s appropriate that Christmas comes in December because it’s the darkest month of the year with the shortest days.   Around Thanksgiving, Christmas lights start slowly appearing on houses.  I get to enjoy them every evening on my drive home from work.  The minute I walk into my house from work,  I can light up my own tree to enjoy white light every evening for the next four or five weeks.  Along with the lights, the gifts, Christmas music, shopping and parties all make an otherwise dark and dreary December a glorious month.  Can you imagine how boring December would be without Christmas!
  • Rest – Have you noticed that you tend to sleep more in the winter?   During the summer, I can easily get by on seven to eight hours,  but in the winter it’s more like eight or nine hours.   Winter is a time when the trees and vegetation rest.  Most go barren and don’t bare leaves or fruit for three or more months. They are resting.  Perhaps God gives us more night so we can have  extra rest that allows our bodies time to heal.  By forcing us to slow down, God may be helping us to stay healthy and live longer.

I am learning we can do ourselves a big favor by being grateful for the season God has given us instead of complaining about what we don’t like, especially when it’s something over which we have no control.   As I write this it’s cold, cloudy and drizzling rain outside.  The trees are bare and at 3:00 in the afternoon, I know there’s only about an hour of daylight left.   But my candle is burning in my cozy, warm home and I’m enjoying its cinnamon fragrance.  I can see the lights on my Christmas tree.  Life is good.

Jim Rohn once said,  “You can’t change the seasons, but you can change yourself.”  We can’t grumble and worship at the same time.  The next time I’m tempted to grumble about the cold, I hope I’m able to be grateful for the day instead.

“This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it!”  Psalm 118:24

Still the number one thing I love most about winter… is that it’s only 3 months!

What are some your favorite things about winter?