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Some of the best advice I received as a young girl came from my father. The lessons I learned from him have carried me through some hard times. No matter what circumstances he faced, he tried to take a positive approach to life. At the age of 47, he was diagnosed with cancer, and eleven months later, lost the battle. I have so many fond memories of my dad. He had a great sense of humor, was full of energy, loved his work, and chose to be happy. Today, I’d like to share some of the advice I received from my Dad. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me through the years.
Life Lesson #1: “You only live on this earth one time – don’t be miserable doing it!”
I often hear people complain about their current situation as if there is nothing they can do to make things better. There is always room for improvement, and instead of complaining, why not decide today to do something about it? Example: If you are self-conscious about your weight, choose a healthier lifestyle. Eating right and exercising will not only reshape your body, it will also give you a better outlook on life. What about your job? You may be doing an excellent job, but have no enthusiasm in your accomplishments. Sometimes a change will do you good. And other times, you may just need an attitude adjustment. During the Christmas holidays, I was talking with a friend about her new job. She “likes” what she is doing, but “loves” direct deposit and benefits. Be grateful that you have a job. If you simply cannot enjoy your job, no matter what, then it’s time to make the necessary changes by looking for something different.
Is your current life direction based on your expectations or someone else’s? Our dreams are sometimes put aside to pursue the world’s definition of success: “It’s tragic to think that people will work all of their lives doing something they moderately enjoy for the sake of someone else’s approval. Some people wake up every day with no desire to go to work and feel empty most days because they realize they never pursued their passion. They have a house, two cars, and all that the world has to offer materially, yet miss the most important element of life- inner peace. In addition, they follow other people’s expectations and mistake them for their passion. They get married because they think it is the right thing to do. They have children after marriage, because they think it is the right thing to do. They miss their little league games to make ends meet, and rationalize it’s the right thing to do. They drop them off at child care so they can make enough money to give them what they never had. When they finally give it to them, they realize why they never had it; their parents knew it wasn’t what they needed. They replace a bedtime story with 30 more minutes on the computer. They replace breakfast with a Pop-Tart. They replace talking to their children with a chat room. When the next technological wave of inventions arrives, they buy all of them. They have no satisfaction until they have them or so they think. They complain of debt and how tight money is, yet they own two cars and both of them are financed. They purchase new shoes, but never discard the old pair, and never wear them again. They skip breakfast, lunch, and eat fast food for dinner. Their lives are in the fast lane with no exit ramp in sight. They do it because everyone else does, and live beyond their means to support someone else’s meaning.” – Enjoy the Ride, Steve Gilliland
Take some time today to reflect on your current situation. Instead of complaining, remember that you have a choice. I hope you will choose to be happy, and strive to make the most of every opportunity. Why? Because you only live on this earth one time, don’t be miserable doing it!
Thought for the Day: Climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, watch more sunsets, laugh more, and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along!
Life – live it to the full! Let’s do our part to make this world a better place by taking a positive approach to life! So many people are in the habit of looking for reasons to complain. If whining seems to be the favorite pass time for you and your co-workers, or friends, I’m afraid you’re precious time is being wasted. Sometimes it’s not even the people around us that are filling our heads with reasons to whine. We are bringing it on ourselves. I like what Ellen Miller has to say about this…”We don’t have to be diagnosed with schizophrenia to know that we deal with a barrage of nasty voices. Things we literally make up, conclusions we jump to, and fantasy “showdowns” with the person who harmed us; the venting that happens over and over – but only in our head. Spending time dwelling on hurts, wrongs, and misfortunes is a waste of time. How many hours each week do we squander, pondering how we’ve been wronged and should defend our honor? Consider the outcome if we took that same amount of time and did something useful with it. Like maybe read a book; call someone who makes us laugh; listen to upbeat music; or better yet- pray. Imagine the positive energy we would gain by putting a stop to our negative thinking.” I like her way of thinking, don’t you?
I have found that when I focus in on something or someone who has “wronged” me, my enthusiasm is drained, and my spunk is zapped right out of me. There’s a better way! When I replace my pouting with positive observations, I am joyful; I am at peace; and I’m pretty sure I am a lot more fun to be around! And, if I take a few minutes to “Stop and Think” about the many, many blessings in my life, there is no brain space left for a pity party.
It’s not always easy to “Stop and Think”, but the effort is definitely worth the try!!
Choosing the positive over the negative will always be the better way!!
Thought for the Day: Do a periodic “values check.” Don’t let your drive or ambition bring you to a place you wouldn’t want to go.”
Proverbs 20:22 Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong,” wait for the Lord to handle the matter.
I read of two older men who were talking about their health problems. “My new doctor doesn’t just treat the symptoms, he treats both the mind and the body.” “Hmmm,” the second man grunted, thought, for a moment, then asked, “Does he give a discount if the mind is already gone?” This story makes me laugh. Has anyone ever asked you if you’ve lost your mind? Or have you asked the question of yourself: “What was I thinking?” When asked these questions, the answer usually reverts back to how we felt at the time…Do any of the following phrases hit a sour note within you?
“They hurt my feelings!” “She embarrassed me.” “He did that on purpose, just to get back at me!” “I get no respect!” “I work just as hard as he does, why didn’t I get the promotion?” “He is so mean to me!” “She doesn’t consider what others want, she is only looking out for herself.”
Did you notice the common thread throughout each phrase? Words like – me, my, I, feelings, and want?Sounds pretty self-centered doesn’t it? I totally understand what it’s like to experience the pain of deep rooted hurts. I do not take these things lightly when they happen to me or someone near and dear to me. What I have discovered, however, is that when I step back from the situation, and look beyond the moment, I avoid regrets. When I “Stop and Think”, I realize that most of the time, it wasn’t about me anyway. We live in a society where we are taught to look out for ourselves, and to do whatever it takes to make ourselves look good. If we’re not careful, we all get caught up in the “me” cycle, and fail to consider the long term outcome of our actions.
I have learned a better way to deal with such things. I still fall off the wagon from time to time, but luckily, do-overs are allowed! Here’s what I do and I encourage you do this too….Before you say something you will regret, or do something irrational, like slashing tires, knocking a hole in the wall, fighting in front of the kids, or damage a relationship beyond repair – do this instead! Shut up and Pray! I know that sounds so simple, but in the heat of the moment, it can be the hardest thing to do. It really works. When you pray, you need to set your feelings aside, and ask God to show you how He wants you to respond.
I would venture to say that the times when you’ve lost your mind and have done something stupid, you had not taken time to pray.
Practice makes perfect! Next time something begins to fester, and you feel your blood begin to boil, “Stop and Think”, Shut up and Pray, and you’ll be amazed at the results!
It takes a strong person to walk away from a fight. It takes a strong person to set their feelings aside. It takes a strong person to love unconditionally. With God’s help, you can be that person!
Proverbs 21:23 If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble.
Proverbs 17:27 A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.
Stop and Think! You’ll be glad you did!!
How did Day 1 of the “Stop and Think” Challenge go for you?
“Stop and Think” of ways you can be a blessing. When you learn to think and act on behalf of others, you will lighten your own load, and your frown will turn upside down. Try it!
Wanting everything to go according to our plan is an unrealistic view point. If we try and force others to do it “our way” or immediately react negatively to anything or anyone that opposes us, we can become very lonely people. Go with the flow, and accept the fact that God is in control, not us!
Jon Gordon writes, “If you’re concerned about the future…I know how you feel. I lost my job in 2001…the company sank faster than the “Titanic”…I thought it was the worst event of my life. I was two months away from bankruptcy. I’d a wife, two children, a mortgage, no health insurance, and very little savings. I was a paycheck away from losing it all and…I had to make some important decisions. Eventually they led to the work I now do as a writer, consultant, and speaker. I went from Fired to Fired Up! My lay-off led to my life’s mission…what I thought was the worst…led to the best…When the wave hits we have a choice…allow it to crush us, or learn from it and ride it to a positive future. We can move forward with determination and faith that our best days are ahead.”
“A hothead starts fights; a cool-tempered person tries to stop them.” Proverbs 15:18 (nlt)
“Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” Proverbs 15:23 (nlt)
Keep it going – Stop and Think!!
What do you do when you see a flashing sign, warning you of danger ahead? Are you the type of person that ignores the warning, and pushes through anyway? It’s human nature that peeks our curiosity when a warning is given. How many times have you been tempted to touch the bench when a “wet paint” sign is taped to it? When a server tells you to be careful because the plate of food is very hot – do you touch it to see if it really is hot? When the roads are icy, and you’ve been warned to stay off the roads, do you risk it anyway? A coworker of mine ignored the warnings last winter, hit some black ice on the road, and lost control of her car. Her car flipped over, and she was trapped in the car for 20 minutes before anyone came by to help her. Fortunately, she walked away from the accident, with only a sprained wrist. At work, your boss warns you about your attendance or unsatisfactory job performance. Instead of heeding the warning, and respecting the bosses’ position, the behavior continues. The next thing you know, you’re brushing off your resume’, and looking for another job. Why can’t we learn from others mistakes and save ourselves and others from unnecessary frustration, pain, and suffering? I believe it’s because we react based on feelings instead of thinking beyond the moment.
I want to invite you to join me in a challenge this week. We’ll take it one day at a time. Should you choose to accept the challenge, one must take time to breathe, think out-side the box, and look inside one’s self. I will never ask you to take on a challenge, I am not willing to do along with you. Invite others to join us. Nothing worth having comes easy, and I assure you this is worth having. Are you ready? Here it is….
“Stop and Think!”
Sounds simple enough, right? We’ll take this one step at a time. For today, let’s just take a look at how we treat others and why. Our feelings dictate our actions most of the time. If someone says something that makes us “feel” angry, the immediate response is to lash back at them in anger. If we are busy, and someone makes us “feel” like they are wasting our time, the immediate response is to rush them along so we can get back to our busyness. If someone makes us “feel” special, the immediate response is to want more of what they have to offer. As you go through this day – stop and think about what triggers your immediate actions.
Thought for the Day: Only some of us learn by other people’s mistakes; the rest of us have to be the other people.
It has been said that LOVE is the universal language. Love in any language speaks to the heart. When you truly love someone, it shows in everything you do. There are certain characteristics that accompany love. When you are in love with someone, you always want what is best for them. True love puts the other person’s desires before their own. When someone you love is going through a tough time, the best thing you can do for them is love them through it. You can’t change the past for them. You can’t fix the problem. But…you can love them unconditionally.
It can be difficult to describe the meaning of love. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul, describes love in terms that are easy to understand: If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
How do you measure up with the Apostles Paul’s description of love? Years ago, I had a teacher who asked me the question I just asked you. He said, “In order to answer this question, insert your name everywhere you see the word “love” or “it” in the passage, and see if it describes who you are. If not, what characteristics do you need to work on?” This was an “eye- opening” experience for everyone in class that day. I encourage you to take some time today for the same exercise (starting with Love is patient…). It will become a mirror for your soul. It can change how you relate to others. It can change your life!
I don’t know about you, but I know there is always room for improvement in my life. When selfishness rears its ugly head, I need to take time to reassess, and make sure my character reflects love. Why? Because LOVE is the greatest gift of all!
Thought for the Day: Some people continually change jobs, mates, and friends, but they never think of changing themselves.
“The best gifts are tied with heart-strings…yours.”
How are you today? Is life good for you right now? It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, and to start feeling cheated. So in order for you to have a better outlook on life, let’s just get this out-of-the-way right now….admit out loud that life’s not fair! Take a look at the list below, and claim the statements that apply to you:
I’ve Been Cheated and Mistreated!
_Cheated out of a happy childhood.
_Cheated out of a loving relationship.
_Cheated out of the wonder of motherhood.
_Cheated out of a corner office.
_Cheated out of good health.
_Cheated out of financial security.
_Cheated out of _____________.
Sometimes we were cheated by people who intended us harm, but more often we were cheated by people who were oblivious to the destruction they caused. People who weren’t taught any better. People who were previously cheated by others and knew no other way to act. People who were just plain stupid. The list goes on. We blame the people who hurt us. We blame the people who didn’t come to our aid. And sometimes we blame God.
There is not a man, woman, or child walking on the face of the earth who has not been or who will not be betrayed. The question is, have you let your anger and disappointment fester into bitterness? Will you let the past or present define your future?
Feeling cheated results in anger, and over time, anger turns into bitterness. Bitterness is a poison that slowly eats a hole in your soul. Forgiveness works as your antacid.
(Italicized section of today’s blog comes from Inspiration for Girlfriends, by Ellen Miller.)
Life isn’t fair! So instead of allowing the hard times, and the hurtful times to bring you down, use them to make you stronger. Remember how you feel when you’re cheated, and do your best not to do the same things to others. Choose to take the high road, even when others don’t. When you’ve been wronged, forgive! As Joel Osteen says in Your Best Life Now, “Forgiveness is a choice, but it is not an option.” You need to forgive those who cheat you for your sake, as well as theirs. When you hold on to the bitterness and anger, it eats away at your ability to experience joy, happiness, and peace. Don’t let anyone have permission to do this to you.
When I feel cheated, I pray. I pray about my attitude towards the other person. I pray for the other person. I ask God to help me see them through His eyes and not my own. I pray for strength to forgive, and to love them in spite of the way they have treated me. There have been times in my life when I have prayed this prayer for days and months, before I regained the right attitude. But I’m here to tell you, it was worth the time spent in prayer, and forgiveness finally came.
We all make mistakes, and there will come a time when you will hurt someone. You may even be oblivious to the circumstance that caused their pain. Instead of having them harbor anger and bitterness against you, I’m guessing you would want them to forgive you. Why not do the same for others?
Thought for the Day: God will never lead you where his strength cannot keep you.
Life is short – don’t give anyone permission to ruin your day!
Have you heard people say, “I just wish life came with a set of instructions?” There are numerous self-improvement books available for purchase. They come in many forms. I have lots of them on my shelves at home, and on my Kindle. As a matter of fact, I have authored a few of these books myself. But the one book that stands the test of time, and is the greatest self-improvement book of all, is The Holy Bible. When reading devotional books or self-help books, it is a good idea to measure them against the instructions in The Ultimate Guide…The Holy Bible.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (nlt)
By nature, most people are inclined not to follow the instructions. We would rather produce excuses instead of providing results. Living this way makes life very complicated. Following instructions requires discipline. At first, it can be difficult to change. To master any problem is to master you. If you’re feeling frustrated about things in your life right now, assess the situation. Step back and look closely at your life. Could it be that you have been seeking your advice in all the wrong places?
The source of life is God. The Holy Bible is inspired by Him. I encourage you to take time to pray, and read His holy word. Unleash the power within you to make the right choices and seek your guidance from the true source of life!
Heavenly Father, Show me what you want me to see today.
Reveal my sins to me, and cleanse me of them.
Use me to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
In your son’s name, I pray.
Have you heard the old saying, “When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade”? How about this one…”When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” This is sound advice. It sounds easy, but it can be difficult to do when you feel your world is crashing down around you. I learned a long time ago that I am not in control. I cannot control the weather. I cannot control a two year old. I cannot control my husband. I can’t even control my dog! It can often be hard to control my own behavior, appetite, attitude, and outlook on life. But in spite of it all, I have learned from my own mistakes to depend on “The One” who does control it all, and that is God!
When you put your trust in God, He will give you the strength to carry on during hard times, and to dance your way through the struggle! Last year at this time, I spent an amazing weekend with my mother-in-law. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and only had a few weeks to live. The situation was totally out of her control, but she put her trust in God, and knew she was going to a better place. In spite of it all, she still had her sense of humor and was confident about her future.
Look for the rainbows in every situation you face today. If you have a chance to change a negative into a positive for someone today, do it! Instead of allowing little things to put you in a bad mood, make a choice to stay positive and don’t give anything or anyone permission to ruin your day. Be flexible. If your plans need to change, it’s okay. If your son or daughter leaves their clothes on the floor, its okay. If your boss gives you an unexpected project, it will be okay. One thing I’ve learned is no matter what situation arises, it will all work out! Practice saying this over and over until you can accept it….ready? “It will all work out.” It will all work out.” It will all work out.” Choose to enjoy life no matter what is going on around you. Why? Because it will all work out!
This week’s challenge: Be the kind of person who looks at a cloud and says, “There’s a rainbow coming in just a little while.” Then kick off your shoes and dance in the puddles until the sun comes out again!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Back in 1943, Oscar Hammerstein, II, wrote the lyrics to a song entitled, Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’. Then Richard Rodgers put the words to music. Even if you are not a big fan of old-time musical movies, like Oklahoma, you’ve probably heard the song. When I hear the song, it immediately takes my mind to a beautiful scene from the movie, and brings a smile to my face.
A smile given or received can diffuse a stressful situation. It can bring comfort to a troubled friend. When walking into a new place, if greeted with a smile, it can calm our nerves. I’ve heard it said that, “A smile is the light in the window of your face that shows that your heart is at home.”
This morning, I pulled out one of my journals from 1997. At the top of one of the pages, I had written – Things that bring a smile to my face…then I proceeded to list the following…watching children love to learn about Jesus, my husband’s sense of humor, the beautiful scenery here in Nashville, hearing my mother singing in her apartment and knowing she is happy and well provided for, families in restaurants giving thanks to God for their meals, the television show – “7th Heaven”, the women’s class on Sunday mornings, teaching piano lessons, watching my children continue to grow in their walk with Christ, beautiful music, phone conversations with my friends, walking, hiking…I filled the entire page with things that brought a smile to my face. My list could have been longer, but I ran out of room on the page. Funny thing – it is now 2012, and most of the things I listed in 1997 are still bringing a smile to my face today. And I have even more things to add to the list.
Take time today to list the things that make you smile. Tuck your list away, and when you’re feeling down, pull it out, and reflect on all the good in your life. Before you know it, you’ll have a smile on your face, and a song in your heart!
Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’
Music by Richard Rodgers, lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II
Copyright 1943 by Williamson Music
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow.
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.
An’ it looks like its climbin’ up to the sky.
Chorus: Oh what a beautiful morning.
Oh what a beautiful day.
I’ve got a wonderful feeling.
Everything’s going my way.
All the cattle are standing like statues.
All the cattle are standing like statues.
They don’t turn their heads as they see me ride by.
But a little brown mav’rick is winking his eye.
All the sounds of the earth are the music.
All the sounds of the earth are the music.
The breeze is so busy it don’t miss a tree.
And an ol’ Weepin’ Willer is laughin’ at me.
What songs or movies bring you joy? Sing the songs, watch the movies, and smile!! Have a Fun-filled Friday!