The 30 Day Attitude Challenge

Words are powerful. They can build up a life through language doused in love, or they can cut a life down like a scythe slicing through brittle grass.

When I recently asked my oldest daughter what she loved most about her two best friends at school, she replied, “I’ve never heard either of them said a bad word about anyone. Ever. They are always kind. Not just to people’s faces, but all the time. It’s hard not to love being around girls like that.”

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Her reflection caused me to evaluate my own life. Jesus told us what comes from our mouth is an overflow from our heart. (Luke 6:45) If I say ugly words about someone, it’s because I have an ugly heart. And this doesn’t just have to be ‘mean’ words. It can be any form of backbiting: the times we gossip about someone (whether the information is true or not), every time we aren’t honest with a person to her face but tell everyone else how much her behavior annoys us, talking to our closest friends about the ‘problem person’ in our life, or however we may try to justify it. We can say we’re ‘venting’, but backbiting is the result either way. Worse yet are the moments we actually share a juicy tidbit about someone and thinly wrap it in the disguise of a prayer request.

Our words should bring life, and only life.

“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” ~Ephesians 4:29

I’ve been keeping a mental note of how often I complain about people who irritate me, whether it be the bad driver in traffic or people I tend to think of as daily “thorns in the flesh”. I didn’t like what I saw, so I spent a day purposefully focusing on using my words only to encourage and uplift. I refused to be drawn into any negative talk about others, gossip or the like. The change in my attitude was amazing.

proverbs 18 21As I’ve continued to discard complaining in my life, I see God softening the hard edges of hearts around me when I respond with gentleness, instead of feeding the monster of negativity. (Instead of being the person folks would come to so they could ‘vent’, I became the person who flipped the conversation and said, “So how can I pray for you in this situation?” Remember, gossips can’t do much damage unless they have a listening ear.)

We’re going into November, the month of gratitude. Social media is usually flooded with 30 day gratitude challenges and posts but I’d like to offer up a different kind of challenge. A 30 day Attitude challenge. No complaining or speaking poorly of others, no matter how badly your nerves are frayed. No yelling at drivers in rush hour traffic. No griping about people during Black Friday shopping. No gossip, venting or negativity. Only love.

You might be as surprised as I was by the amount of negativity creeping into your day. Speak life. Speak love. Are you willing to take the 30 day Attitude Challenge?

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A Word for People Pleasers

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Sometimes I don’t have much to say. Not enough words to fill up a haiku, much less a blog. Life gets busy, my body runs on fumes and caffeine, kids scream for attention…you know the drill.

Yet despite the normal grind of living, the fear never completely goes away. The enemy is always lurking, ever hissing and flinging his accusations, preying upon my darkest secrets and coldest fears.

There are some battles that must be fought over and over again. That’s okay.

If you’re a recovering people-pleaser like me, remind yourself of this truth today:

“Some people will like me, some won’t. Others will love me no matter how many things I do wrong, and some will despise me no matter how many things I do right. None of it changes my worth in the Father’s eyes. I am loved. I am treasured. I am His. Living to please Him is all that matters.”

Rest in Him, my friend. He has already declared you to be more than enough.

 

An Open Letter to My Girls: Here’s What to Look For When You Date

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It seems like yesterday I was welcoming you into the world. I thought you would always be in diapers, watching Sesame Street and learning your alphabet. I blinked and suddenly we’ve traded Cheerios and sippy cups for makeup and iphones. And now, much to your father’s dismay, your heads have begun to turn when a handsome boy gives you a wink and a smile.

Boyfriends will come and go. You’ll face heartbreak and joy, tears and laughter. As someone who is, ahem, a bit older than you, here is what I want you to know, so you’ll have the happiest and best life possible.

  1. Look for a guy who respects his parents.

vinicius-amano-145607If a boy doesn’t respect his parents, he won’t respect any authority figure. That includes God. (Newsflash: Neither will he respect you.)

  1. There is a big difference between a Christian “boy” and a Christian “man”.

I’m using “boy” and “man” in the spiritual sense here. A Christian boy is one who goes to church, who can stomp everybody in Bible trivia and may do all the right Christiany type of things. A Christian man is different. He doesn’t just know the Word. He puts it into action. He treats his family, his neighbors and his enemies with agape love. He’s not concerned with keeping a Christian checklist of “do” and “do nots”. His sole purpose in life is to grow closer to Jesus. There is a world of difference between the two.

  1. Tread carefully around the guy who “wants to make his mark in the world”.

This may sound like a good and noble thing, and it can be. It can also be a huge pitfall. As someone who spent ten years in the Christian music industry, I’ve seen horribly sad stories of souls who gave their lives away for the pursuit of fame, even though they slapped a Christian label on it and declared their desire would be so they could help others. Yet, when their ship never came in, they wallowed in bitterness, anger and despondency.

Dreams are wonderful things. The problem is they can become idols if we let them. If a guy is primarily focused on going pro with his athletic skills, being known for his musical talent or any other sort of fame, be careful. He’s probably got some growing to do.

  1. Look for someone who exemplifies 1 Corinthians 13.

anne-edgar-119383If a young man is seeking God, truly following after Him with all he is, these traits will be present: patience and kindness. He won’t be jealous, a braggart or prideful. He won’t try to make himself look good but will be focused on lifting up those around him. He’ll be sweet-tempered, not angry, nor will he keep a record of the times you were crabby. He’ll stay as far as he can from evil. He’ll protect you, always trust in God, always hope and always persevere.

I know what you’re thinking. “Uh, problem. No one can possibly measure up to this.” You’re right, and that’s kind of the point. No human can fulfill your needs. No one except Jesus.

Don’t look to boys to fill the longings in your heart. The only One who can fill it is the One who made it. Romantic love is a beautiful thing, a God-ordained thing, but I promise, there is no rush. Spend your time getting to know God. He is crazy about you. And then, as you seek His heart, He’ll bring along a guy who is doing the same. One day, you’ll realize this friend of yours is more than just a friend and BAM! It’s kismet.road

Whenever that niggling urge digs at you that says, “You need a boyfriend. You’re missing out. All your friends have one,” pray for your future husband. Keep a journal to give him one day. Tell him how much you’ve prayed for him. Write down verses. Tell him your dreams. More importantly, talk to God about him. Ask Him to reveal His perfect plan in your life.

Enjoy each moment and cover it all in prayer. You have plenty of time.

 

Las Vegas and God

As I watched the footage of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, my heart ripped a little further. Senseless. I can’t understand the hate that would fill a mind and heart so completely that they would shoot into a crowd of happy, oblivious people. Not just one shot, not two, but over and over and over again. vegas shooting

My chest aches and my throat swells as I relive the terror captured on screen.

No sooner had I posted my condolences and prayers then I saw it. Wave after wave of posts along these lines…

“It’s Sin City. Sin always exacts a price.”

“This is what happens when we take God from our land.”

On and on they went. My grief soon turned to anger. Why? Because such sentiments indirectly assign the blame to God instead of where it belongs…in the hands of a cowardly murderer.

Satan is the great accuser. Not only does he accuse us before God, but he accuses God before us. We are the reason for the hate and violence in this world. We are the reason cancer and war and disease exists. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey, they flung the human race onto a collision course of chaos and destruction. And where chaos reigns, it’s hard to distinguish the still, small voice of Truth amid the screams of panic.

Jesus loved you, loved me so much He willingly let Himself be stripped, whipped, beaten and crucified to die for the very sins we wallow in. He died for you and me. He died for those who attended the concert. He died for Jason Aldean. He died for the shooter. He paid the price for any who are willing to come to Him. Such love is incomprehensible.

We have had murderers from the beginning. (All the way back to Cain, in fact.) To lay the demonic, evil actions of a psychopath at the nail-scarred feet of the Savior must grieve His heart. I know it shreds mine.

In the face of tragedy, a plethora of thoughts and comments will abound. Things like, “This is terrible, but good will come from this.” Sometimes that’s true, although we often wonder what kind of good can possibly be birthed from something so crushing, something so horribly evil. A wise pastor at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro challenged us yesterday.

“Perhaps, instead of looking for the good when tragedy strikes, we should focus on looking for God.”

Those are words to cling to. Search for God. As we do that, our attitudes will change. The same heart that climbed on that cross to give His life for a world of uncaring people will shape our hearts to be like His. Bitterness and vengeance will dissipate. Peace will replace chaos. Hope will replace anger. Love will replace hate.

Don’t look for the good that might come. Look for God.