I’m no early morning girl, in fact, if I were the one who created the world the sun would never rise before 8 a.m. Years ago, when the kids were younger I got up long before the sun on a regular basis, and spent quiet time with the Lord. Honestly, at that stage of my life, it was early or never. As the kids got older, life got busier and nights got later and my early morning time got later and shorter. Amazingly, my peace and joy shrank in direct proportion to the time decrease. Then one day, I got “the email” asking me to review a book called “Early to Rise,” this great little treatise on the value of rising early led me to read further, which convicted me that the first part of the day could really be the best part of the day. So, I pulled on my big girl pants and set the alarm for 5 a.m. What a difference an hour makes!
Keys to Finding Your Secret Place
- I have everything ready the night before: coffee set, cup out, Bible
and other study tools and a notebook handy. Be sure to set your alarm.
• Pick a quiet comfy spot free of distractions.
- For the first 15 minutes I just sit and still myself and try not to let me mind run down my chore list for the day. Then I thank Him for all the great things in my life. My family, home, ministry, car, everything I can think of, nothing is too small to be grateful for! This helps to minimize problems and it maximizes joy and gratitude.
- I read my Scriptures for that day, a Proverb, a through the Bible schedule, or whatever I want to study.
- I journal what God is showing me as I read.
- Next, I have a confession list of what I believe God wants in my life with the Scriptures to back it up that I speak out loud each day.
- (example) God has great plans for me. Jeremiah 29:11-13
- Lastly, I make any requests I might have and thank Him for hearing me.
If I can do it, so can you. I promise it will change your life.
Don’t you hate it when you lose something important? If you’re like me, you’re always losing things – keys, money, notes, glasses, your Bible, umbrella, and how about the most frustrating thing we lose…the TV remote control! Then, there are other less tangible things that we lose – our temper; our patience; our memory; and possibly most importantly, our joy.
And losing things can really mess up your day. So, if joy is a fruit of the Spirit, how in the world do we lose it?
Here are 4 simple steps to losing your joy – guaranteed.
- Refuse to forgive. In the words of Goob from Meet the Robinsons, “Don’t let it go!” Hold onto the bitterness until it turns into a venom that eats away at the very core of your soul. Just keep blaming the other guy, you’re the victim here!
2. Think negative thoughts. Forget all that Philippians 4:8 stuff, you’re a realist after all. Just let any thought that floats through your mind rattle around and snowball into a torrent of negativism.
3. Let your circumstances dictate your feelings. Grab onto the bar of that emotional roller coaster and ride baby ride. And maybe the best way of all . . .
4. Allow the busyness of life to cause you to chose the good over the best. Say yes, to every activity that comes your way and fill your calendar up every minute of every
day. With all this busyness, who has time to read the Bible much less pray?
I promise, you will have the opportunity to fall into all these traps, and if you take the bait, you’ll find your spiritual tank empty and your joy dried up.
Remember the words of Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” May you find your joy and strength in Him.
Perfection is over-rated. An idea doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be implemented.
Are you like me? You get a great idea and then it never gets implemented because you spin your wheels trying to get it just right before you do it. I’m learning to start somewhere, because somewhere is better than no where. Once I get it started, then I can improve it as I go. It saddens me a bit to think of the trail of great ideas that have fallen into the ditch of inaction, but it encourages me to change my ways and stop the bleeding. How do you get things implemented?
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the source of true joy. Jesus said, if you want to be great, you need to be the servant of all. Apparently, inherent in achieving joy, is dying to self. I remember a wise person once told me that you never know if you have a servant’s heart until someone treats you like a servant. Has anyone ever treated you like a servant? I choose to think of it as a heart check, and if I find any resentment lurking, I find a way to go the second mile. It never fails to turn resentment into peace and pride into joy. True joy comes not from what we get, but from what we give. What are some other ways that you jump start your joy?
“Forgiveness is a secret that is hidden in plain sight. It costs you nothing, but it’s worth millions. It’s available to all, but used by few. And if you harness the power of forgiveness you will be sought after and regarded highly and not coincidentally, you will also be forgiven by others.” Abraham Lincoln
“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open.”
— Thomas Dewar
Have you ever seen an idea or a plan and thought, “This is the most awesome logical thing I’ve ever seen,” only to have everyone you share it with shoot your concept full of holes? When as a culture did we stop dreaming? When did we become naysayers and closed minded dream stealers? Aren’t we the nation who led the way on out of the box ideas and thinking? I guess for some a closed mind feels safer, or maybe they’ve been numbed by the programming of our society. As a culture, have we grown to embrace the security of mediocracy?
As for me, I’m ready for a little limb walking. I never want to tell someone their dream is crazy or impossible. I want to be their cheerleader and shout, “You can do it!” I want 2014 to be my most out on a limb year ever, and I want to encourage those who are crazy enough to dream new dreams with me. This year, instead of a resolution list, why don’t you allow yourself to create a dream list? Dare to dream again! It’s not too late.
I was driving down the road the other day and noticed a car coming up on me that made me laugh out loud. The front end of this car looked like a clown with a giant Botox induced smile. Don’t the designers look at their own designs before they put them into production? It was the most bizarre thing I’d seen in a while, a car with a grill that made a huge creepy grin. I thought, “Who would buy that?” Obviously, the guy behind me. I hope he got a great deal. Then a thought occurred to me, “Do I do that?” Like an artist splattering paint on a canvas, each day, we are creating our life, our parenting, our marriage, our career. How often do we take the time to stop, stand back and look at the big picture we are creating? We can get swept up in the act of living and forget the art of living. There was a time when I felt that life was just running away with me and I was just along for the ride. After much prayer, tears, and resistance I finally got it through my head that if I wanted something different, I needed to start a new routine. This has really helped me slow down and let my creativity catch up with me and ironically increase my productivity. I get up earlier and just quiet myself for about 15 minutes. I just sit quietly and reflect and journal. Then I pray, read, and prepare for my day. It’s like looking in the rear view mirror ahead of time. As a result I’m finding that I start my day with more joy and peace and with clearer direction. It’s helping me own the creation of my life by the power of the Spirit. What routines do you have that help you keep the big picture of your life in focus? Do they allow you to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly and make adjustments to keep you on track, or get you back on track? Don’t let your life create you when you can create your life.
Have you ever felt like your life was out of control? At the end of the day do you have more tasks than day? So, do you try to fix it by working late into the night trying to catch up, but you’re not, and falling behind just is not an option for a type A personality. It’s like standing on the shore and watching your priorities set adrift and you can’t swim, or at least you think you can’t, so you just watch them sail into the sunset as you stand on the shore with that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Lately, I’ve been praying about the course of my life for 2013, I want it to be a better year than 2012. Not that 2012 was bad, I just want to keep growing, I want to be a better me. I want to touch more lives, impact people in a more meaningful way, and make a bigger footprint in the sand. The problem is, I’m out of time. I feel like I’m running from the time I get up until late into the night. So, how can I ever get to this better me? Well lately, the Lord keeps bringing vessels my way with what I believe is the answer. I always think of myself as a “night person” I hate, let me repeat that for emphasis, hate getting up early. Well, that is about to change. First, I listened to a blog by Michael Hyatt on why you should get up early. It struck a cord in my heart, but I resisted. Then, I got the opportunity to review a book for Andy Traub called “Early to Rise.” It was a fun and compelling case for being an early riser that broke it down into easy to follow steps. It was one of those “Ah Ha” moments. I realized that if I were going to regain control of my shipwrecked priorities it was going to require some change, so this is the first day on the way to the new me – the early riser. I invite you to sail with me on this journey and see what exotic ports we discover. I’m expecting to find some beautiful places called peace and joy!
When I was a little girl life rolled along at a dull steady hum. A big time for me was getting to go to the grocery store with a parent, or making mud pies in the backyard. But Christmastime that was a different story, it was a special and magical time for me. It was filled with lights, the aroma of fresh cut evergreens and activity like parties with ladies in sparkling sequined gowns and gentlemen in handsome tailored suits. And the food . . . oh my! Appetizers were the centerpiece all our holiday festivities. My favorites were the smoked oysters. Yes, I know I was a strange child. But like any red-blooded American child, the highlight of the season was getting to visit Santa at Macy’s to deliver my wish list. I was not a greedy child, I usually just told him that I would love anything he brought me, but it was always good to touch bases with him to make sure he didn’t forget me altogether. On Christmas Eve we always had a big party. It was one of the best days of the year for me because I got to stay up extra late and my father always came. My parents were divorced and I never gave up on the “Parent Trap” syndrome. After the party, I would get in my jammies, and put out Santa’s cookies and milk, then I would go to bed to wait. At least my parents thought I was in bed, but as soon as the lights were out, I leaped into action and took my place for “the wait.” My room had a glass door that led to the patio and you could see into our living room from certain angles. I remember kneeling by my door peeking into the living room waiting for Santa to arrive. What a thrill when I saw a tiny light dancing around the Christmas tree! “Santa!” I strained as hard as I could to catch a glimpse of the jolly fat-guy, but he always alluded me. But knowing he’d been there allowed me to hop back in bed for a peaceful night’s sleep knowing my gifts would be waiting under the tree for me in the morning.
I remember when I discovered that Santa was not real, I was absolutely crushed! When we had children of our own, we elected to let Santa be a part of our celebration on a more honest level. We wanted our children to know that Jesus was the reason for Christmas. We felt if we lied to them about the jolly fat guy that they might think we were lying about Jesus as well. Our children never felt slighted and they always knew they could trust our word.
What are some of your favorite Christmas rituals?