Friday, November 21, 2014

An Attitude Check At the Holidays

So, it's almost here and I can feel the tension rising in my body.  There's groceries to be bought, rooms to be cleaned, and, what's this here?  An attitude that creeped in somehow!  Why isn't my sister making the food?  Why does it always have to be at my house?  I just can't stand being around that man for more than an hour!  There's just too much going on and I'm overwhelmed!  I'm so lonely this time of the year, why doesn't someone want to be with me?  Maybe you can relate to one of more of these feelings as the holidays blow in.  But take heart!  God spoke to my heart this week about my attitude.  (Here's my blog, if you're interested)  So, I will rest in Him knowing He has me covered:)  I know life will get a bit crazy over the next week and I may not have time to check in, so be blessed this Holiday season and may you experience a God breath to carry you through.  Here's some words of wisdom by Charles Stanley that bring it all in perspective.

Gratitude impacts every area of our lives. – By Dr. Charles Stanley

By giving us the command to always give thanks, God is not rubbing salt in a wound or calling us to set aside reason. He knows that being thankful in all circumstances has a powerful impact on every area of our Christian life. Here are ten lessons I’ve learned:
1. Gratitude keeps us continually aware that the Lord is close by. Even though gratefulness doesn’t come naturally in difficult circumstances, a decision to thank God for walking with us through life makes us more sensitive to His comforting presence.
2. It motivates us to look for His purpose in our circumstance. Knowing that the Lord allows hurt and trouble for His good purposes takes the edge off the pain. Even if we don’t understand why we’re going through suffering, we can thank God because we know that in His time, He’ll work it all for good. In the meantime, we can rest in the knowledge that He’s using every hardship to transform us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-29).
3. Thanksgiving helps bring our will into submission to God. When the situation we’re experiencing is the last thing we’d ever want, thanking the Lord is a giant step toward being able to follow Christ’s example and say, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Gratitude helps us acknowledge that God’s will is best, even if it’s hard; in that way, we are able to release our hold on what we want. Although the circumstances may remain the same, submission changes our heart.
4. It reminds us of our continual dependence upon the Lord. Pride, adequacy, and independence evaporate whenever we’re trapped in a situation that leaves us helpless and hopeless. If there’s no way out, thanking God for His control over all things reminds us that He alone is our strength.
5. Thankfulness is an essential ingredient for joy. There’s no way to “rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16) without giving thanks in everything (v. 18). That’s why ungrateful people are so grumpy. Joy is an inner sense of contentment, which flows from a deep assurance that all God’s purposes are good and He’s in complete control of every situation. With that kind of supernatural joy, it’s easy to be thankful.
6. A grateful attitude strengthens our witness to unbelievers. The world is filled with people who are angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed with the difficulties of life. But a believer with a grateful attitude is like a light shining in a dark place. The people around you will want to know why you don’t grumble and complain the way everyone else does. Then you can tell them about your amazing Savior.
7. Thanking God focuses our attention on Him rather than our circumstances. The key to a grateful heart begins with understanding the Lord’s character because knowing His awesome attributes motivates trust and gratitude. He knows exactly what you’re going through, loves you unconditionally, and understands you perfectly. When you thank Him in tough times, He gets bigger, and the circumstances become smaller.
8. Gratitude gives us eternal perspective. The apostle Paul is an amazing example of a man who suffered extreme hardship yet remained thankful. That’s because he was able to see life from God’s perspective. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, he says our present suffering is “momentary light affliction.” If you’re going through a really hard time, those words may sound ridiculous. Maybe you’ve been dealing with pain your entire life, or a difficult trial has dragged on for decades. It hardly seems momentary or light. But Paul is comparing our situations here on earth with what’s awaiting us in eternity. For him, a 40-year stretch of pain and hardship was no match for the “eternal weight of glory” awaiting him (2 Cor. 4:17). What an amazing thought—your present pain has the potential to produce incomparable glory for you in heaven. Now that’s a big reason to thank God!
9. When we’re wearied by our circumstances, thanksgiving energizes us. Most of us can handle short trials, but if they continue for a long period of time, the emotional and physical strain is exhausting. Should ongoing illness, unresolved relational problems, or continued financial pressures become more than we can bear, it’s time to start thanking God because He has promised to give strength to the weary (Isaiah 40:29). He’ll release His supernatural energy within us so we can patiently endure the trial and come out victorious on the other side.
10. Gratitude transforms anxiety into peace, which passes all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). I learned this principle through a very difficult experience. When I was feeling anxious about the situation, I discovered that complaining, getting angry, and arguing with God didn’t change my circumstances. Finally, in desperation, I began thanking Him. Only then did I receive His incomprehensible peace. My situation didn’t change for quite a while, but God’s peace guarded my heart all the way through that trying time.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The End of Football Season

The end of my son's football season for the year is culminating today at his state championship game.  I am just amazed at the growth that has taken place in him this year (his freshman year).  It was just last year that we struggled so much with attitudes and anger issues, respect and responsibility.  I wondered what kind of an adult this kid was going to turn out to be, because where we were at wasn't looking so good.  I remember feeling that we just had to get him some help or his issues were going to get the best of him.  I looked into counseling, which just made him angrier and resentful to me.  I looked into Tae Kwan Do to learn respect and honor, but he pleaded and begged not to go that route, promising to make a change.  But what were we going to do?  I resolved to take it to the Lord, as I asked a friend of mine to pray with me that God would give guidance on this issue.

I was a little unsure at the beginning of the school year whether to sign my boy up for football with a local homeschooling team, IHS.  The cost was pricey and practices were going to require an everyday commitment from August to November.  But, something inside of me knew he needed the interaction of other kids and the exercise would be good for him, so we took a leap and signed him up.

It has been a big commitment to get him to said practices everyday, but I have watched him learn so much more than just football with this team.  I really noticed it as we were heading to his friend's birthday party last night.  Somehow we got in a discussion about a man's/father's responsibility to take care of his family.   He was telling me that his coaches discussed with the team that, as men of God, we have a responsibility to our family and, in the future, our wives and children.  We need to provide for them and this is done through working hard and following through with the things we work for.  I have to say, I was blown away!  My boy was getting it!  He was learning that the world isn't just here to serve him, but that he was here to be a part of something bigger!  And he was willing to be that man!  I am so thankful for IHS and Ric Mitchell's vision for this sports organization.  I know there are big things ahead for this group and I'm honored to be a part.  I'm so thankful the coaches were willing to invest in my son, not just to play a sport, but to guide him spiritually and to help him become a responsible adult.  I look forward to the next few precious years we have with this team, but for today, LET'S GO LIONS!