A Snow Globe Winter: Turning a SAD day into a GLAD day

snow globe

Has the winter taken a toll on you? Feel like you’re trapped inside a snow globe? There is no escape from the harsh bitter cold winds. Is your life interrupted by the ice-covered roads, slushy parking lots and steady snow showers while you’re waiting for the warmth of bright sunshine to melt through the thick grey colored sky?

Makes me think of a snow globe, being turned upside down and back again over and over. In the beginning, it may look pretty and fun to play with, but after a while, it soon becomes boring, old and wearisome.  Let’s put it on the shelf…let the snow settle and forget about winter.

Winter

For some of my friends, the winter season is taking its toll on their emotions and physical health. They feel SAD. It’s true that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be a culprit of ill-health for many. I can understand why they feel as they do. As a gal born and raised in the deep South, I truly dislike going days without feeling the warmth of sun on my face and because of the bitter cold and wind chill, I miss the enjoyment of long outdoor walks or jogging on sidewalks through my neighborhood. There’s also the hazard of slipping on ice. I look forward to the simple joy of walking with a normal gait down the driveway to collect the mail.

So, in my personal goal of learning to enjoy living life in a snow globe (so to speak) I’m making a choice to wear joy like makeup…and it is turning a SAD day into a GLAD day.

What do I mean by ‘wearing joy like makeup?’ Try this on for size–make an acrostic out of the word, GLAD. For example:

G: Go stand in front of a mirror. Relax your shoulders, check your posture and smile back at your reflection. Hold that smile for a little longer and concentrate on the wonderful feeling of those joy muscles around your lips and eyes, working in unison to reverse the tired frown lines. While looking at your reflection, say out loud ten things that you are GLAD for. Do this several times throughout the day.

L: Load your refrigerator with fresh fruit and vegetables and refrain from eating sugary desserts and processed foods. For me, fighting the sugar craving during the cold months is harder to beat than hot days of summer. Because I know this about myself, I purposefully choose to have fresh produce or fruit to munch on.

fresh fruit vegetables

Load your freezer with protein rich meals, prepared ahead of time. One of the best decisions I made this winter was adjusting my Saturday routine to include cooking several meals that would last us for more than a week. Because the days are shorter and the weather is brutal during the winter, I am more tired than other seasons and coming home from work to prepare a meal can be exhausting. It was easier to throw a frozen pizza in the oven than to prepare a healthy meal. Taking a few hours on a Saturday to make meals such as soup, beef stew, or white bean turkey chili keeps my family feeling quite glad and wearing joy on their faces!

A: Ask a friend to meet you for coffee or to visit a museum, go see a movie together or out to lunch. We need people around us for mutual encouragement and for a joy boost. Hire a baby-sitter for a few hours to get away with your spouse or a friend. Ask another family over to share a meal with your family and spread some joy from those meals you cooked ahead of time. And don’t be surprised when you discover that the people or person you reach out too is dealing with that same “snow-globe” winter effect.

D: Decide to make lifestyle changes, beginning with your attitude towards exercise. Zig Ziglar says it this way, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” Surrendering to the winter blahs is an effect of having a grumpy attitude about a situation (winter) that you have no power over to change. What you do have power over is yourself. For me, my altitude is usually correlated to my exercise habits. I feel better when I exercise and the better I feel, the more apt I am to have a positive attitude. Make a decision to exercise on a regular basis. Many gyms offer winter memberships at a reduced rate, community organizations always offer group exercise classes, and finding an exercise coach via a DVD or internet is not hard to do.

So that’s it…my simple acrostic for turning a SAD day into a GLAD day through this “snow-globe winter.” It has helped me to be intentional about wearing joy and to be glad for this beautiful season of winter.

What are some ways you overcome the blahs of winter or choices you make to be glad?

Winterberry Tree

Always Awake and Always Keeping: God Works for You

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. (Psalm 121:1–3)

Do you need help? I do. Where do you look for help?

Today, I was reminded again that God is the mighty creator over all of our problems. How thankful I am that He never sleeps. God is a tireless worker. He works around the clock to keep our feet from stumbling. God is eager to help and is looking for work to do on our behalf.  “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is whole toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9) [1]

Whatever hardship we are facing, it is not a surprise for God, however much it may have hijacked us. For the Lord is our keeper. He will keep our life. He will keep our going and our coming in this day and forevermore. I am amazed that God is working for us!

God loves to show his tireless power and wisdom and goodness by working for people who trust him. And why shouldn’t we trust him? He is the unsleeping ever-keeping God.

Mountains and hills

[1] God Works for You, Daily Devotions by John Piper, May 21

A Prayer for More Grace

A Prayer for More Grace

“He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us. But he gives more grace…”  James 4: 5, 6.

Gracious Father, It’s hard for me to believe that you are jealous over us, desiring that we worship you more than anything else. You are jealous for our love and affection because you are consistent with your love.

You cannot love us any more than you already do and you will never love us any less.

Heavenly Father, you have given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. You promised never to leave us or forget about us. With an everlasting love you have compassion on us, for you are our Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:8)

Please, Lord help me to worship you in spirit and in truth. I don’t understand how to truly worship you. Please change my heart to learn.  Please keep my heart from growing dull and my ears from barely hearing the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  Father, I pray that You would open my eyes to your truth and in so doing, I will turn to you and be healed. I need more grace. ( James 4:6, Isaiah 6: 9, 10)

Gracious God, you are the giver of grace. You have rescued me with your grace.  Please, Heavenly Father, give more grace to love you more.

I submit to you as my Prophet, Priest, and King. You are our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption from God (1 Corinthians 1:30) With the eye of faith, I set my gaze on you, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

In Jesus name, I pray. Amen

Living A Better Story

A Better Story

I recently returned from a glorious week at the beach with my family. There is nothing better than waking up when the sky is dark to wait for the sun to paint the colors of a brand new day. With a flashlight in one hand and the palm of a three-year old in the other hand…we walk together down to the shore. She shines the light on the waves splashing our feet as the sun begins to peek over the horizon to swallow the darkness. We shield our eyes and we say, “God is good. He is good. He is good!”

Experiencing God’s goodness with a three-year old holding a flashlight makes for a better story.

I’ve been creating and writing my storyline…a timeline of my life thus far, mapped out with dates and a few words describing significant events and memories. Spilling those words onto paper has stirred my emotions like ocean waves rolling in, rising and falling till it meets the sandy shore, only to begin again. I wipe away tears of joy and taste the saltiness of regret and sadness…and hope for a better story.

A living hope is needed to get through life and endure suffering. A living hope enables a better story of both sorrow and joy. This living hope is an inheritance achieved for us by Christ. (a living hope…1 Peter 1: 3 ESV) [1]

Writing my storyline has been a challenging exercise, yet beneficial because it has forced me to unpack a trunk full of tattered and worn out memories…some that I’ve tried to patch-up or forget with a quick fix of self-medication. I find it easier to put messy things that aren’t very pleasant in an “out of sight–out of mind” place.

Writing a better story has the power to change us. It tells us we must change and it tells us how we must change. We learn from our lines in the script. The gospel of grace does that.

Of course, my storyline begins with the day I was born and that date is marked with an image of a rock. There are many rocks–stones marking light-hearted and significant events on my storyline but the first image of a boulder was placed on the date of my ninth birthday…the beginning of a remarkable deeper story of learning what it means to be rescued. [2]

A storyline with God as the rescuer is a better story.

We all have a story…a story worth remembering…a story worth passing on. A better story is to preserve knowledge and a legacy of God’s goodness over many generations. I chose to use stones or a boulder as a visual reminder of pivotal moments that are life changing and undeniably God working. There are many references about stones in the bible. For example, Joshua’s pile of stones is a story prompt, by which a new generation could understand the power of God. [3] [4] For me to live a better story is to take all of those stones and boulders—chiseled, hammered, cut and etched with scars—and learn from the tears, celebrate the joy, and never forget that my human heart is so hard like a stone, so self-absorbed, so filled with anger and self-pity and pride, that nothing but God’s power can cut it, change it.  [5]

Living a better story is to belong in God’s storyline…this is a very good story!

What is your story? How are you living a better story?

This song is about the goodness of God. Written and composed by Seth Irby and sung by Phil Kirk. Enjoy!

Footnotes

Remembering the story of a nine year old child:  “God doesn’t dress you in dirty clothes”

[1] Our Living Hope, 1 Peter 1:3-5  |  [2] Living Stones, Peter 2: 4-52  |  [3] Joshua 4  | [4]  Our CornerstonePeter 2: 6-8  |  [5] The Alter, Tim Keller

Help others — Help Yourself

Help Others--Help Yourself

Somebody once made the observation that the person who is wrapped up entirely in himself makes a very small package–and the package contains an unhappy person. Think about this: Have you ever known a genuinely happy, self-centered person?

Research indicates that those who consistently (help) show kindness to other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health. They may even live longer. Students who performed five acts of kindness a day increased their happiness and providing emotional support to others significantly decreased the harmful health effects of certain kinds of stress. [1]

Everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s about being helpful and showing kindness to other people.  As Luke records it, Jesus told this parable in the context of a teacher of the law who, “wanting to justify himself,” asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus confounds him by suggesting that God requires us to love our “neighbors” in a way that transcends ethnic boundaries. [2] (Luke 10:25-37) Sadly, we often fail to meet Jesus’ ideal of neighbor love.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”  Philippians 2:3-4 (The Message) [3]

When helping people, find out what’s actually valuable to them. Make an effort to ask them where they need help, and keep that in mind when you see an opportunity. And there are many opportunities to help others. Just don’t make it all about you.

The more you make helping others all about you, the more disappointed, dry and weary you’ll become. And the more you understand that this is about Jesus, and his kingdom, and his crown, and his glory, the more freed up you are to help others.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:16-20 (NIV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

Footnotes

1] liveyourlifewell.org │[2] [843 Acres] The Park Forum│[3] Philippians 2:3-4, The Message │  Photo Credit: sweetmusingsfromthecove.wordpress.com

 You may like this: HelpOthers.org — kindness is contagious. Welcome to a portal dedicated to small acts of kindness.

Leadership: Seeing The Big Picture: The Story of The Three Stonecutters


What leadership quality would be at the top of your list? For me, I would say the ability to see the bigger picture. I recently discovered this parable that powerfully illustrates the importance of perception regarding my approach to work. This story demonstrates that there is great value in thinking positively and in seeing the bigger picture.

The Three Stonecutters

One day a traveller, walking along a lane, came across three stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “Can’t you see? I am cutting a stone!” Still no wiser the traveller turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that its square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.” A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveller turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: “I am building a cathedral.”

Seeing the Big Picture

This story illustrates a key leadership quality — seeing the big picture. All three stone cutters were doing the same thing, but each gave a different answer, which revealed the difference in their attitude towards their job. The first stonecutter is simply doing a day’s work for a day’s pay, for the material reward he receives in exchange for his labor. The substance of his work, the purpose of his work, the context of his work do not matter. The second stonecutter is a perfectionist that receives satisfaction from himself…consumed with individual ambition to be the best. This individual is blinded to the fact that there would be no stones to cut if not for the community building a cathedral.

What set’s the third stonecutter apart? This person embraces a broader vision. It’s interesting that he can visualize the end result…a cathedral, knowing that he will not live long enough to see its completion. (Building a cathedral may take years and years and years…) This stonecutter is giving a lifetime of work that will connect the present and future with generations to come. He may not live to see the total results of his labor, but he knows that his labor is not in vain. He has the ability to see significance in work, beyond the obvious. He has a vision, a sense of the bigger picture.

Leadership

Understanding that a legacy will live on, whether in the stone of a cathedral, or in the impact made on other people, is the reason I am called to ministry to children and families.  I am grateful to be connected to a community of people with a passion to teach the gospel to the next generation. To tell them that Jesus will love them forever and they can trust God no matter what!  Though there are difficult situations in ministry and managing the administration can be burdensome but I will trust God to keep the big picture in focus and trust Him to provide more stone cutters to serve and lead.

We have an opportunity while serving in a church to produce not just leaders who make a difference in the world but leaders who make a difference for the world–for the Glory of God! 

We may not need more cathedrals but we do need cathedral thinkers, people who can think beyond their own lifetimes. ~Author Unknown