For we are His handiwork…Ephesians 2:10
After I finished the supper dishes tonight, I asked my son Jason what I should write tomorrow’s blog about. He grinned and said, “Why don’t you write about how awesome I am.” I laughed and said, “Ok, tell me three things that make you awesome.” He declined. He said through his goofy little laugh, “You have to think of them cause if I do that would just be bragging.” I thanked him for his sudden burst of humility. An hour later, here I sit and I can’t seem to move past the topic. It’s important for everyone to understand that our Jason is and has always been the “funny guy” of the house and he is going to be completely stunned when he sees this blog and realizes he gave his mamma the perfect idea.
Not wanting to sound like a gushing mother, I went directly to Jason’s little sister Shannon for an objective perspective and told her what I was planning to write about. She smiled and said, “That will be the easiest blog you’ve ever written.” She went on to tell me that Jason was the funniest, friendliest, most patient guy she knew. She also added that he was a great teacher, he wasn’t spoiled or worried about showing off and best of all, he always talks to everyone including his little sister in the hallways at school.“He’s someone I look up to...he's my role model.” she said sweetly. WOW! I’ll admit it, my eyes leaked a few tears! Everything she mentioned had to do with how her brother treated others and not about his personal talents or gifts. If I was a bettin’ woman, I would bet if I ask Jason to tell me about Shannon, he would come up with a similar list. Dave and I have been blessed with three great kids but their goodness or “awesomeness”as Jason would say comes not from us, but from the God who shared them with us. They seek and share the positive.
Yesterday I spent a terrific day with a group of school staff and parents from all over the Lansing area learning about Virtues based school discipline. One of the many, many great things I took from that day was a powerful reminder of the value of looking for the good in others and focusing on the positives. We began with a sharing circle and we were asked to speak about a person who had been an inspiration to us. It was a very powerful experience leaving us all realizing how blessed we were. Many times a training like this would have begun by asking us to share our biggest problem or issue with student behavior. Automatically starting with something positive framed the attitude and atmosphere for the entire day. We discussed the three Theological Virtues which are Faith, Hope and Love. If we were to speak and act with those virtues and look for those virtues in others the world would change in an instant. We were reminded of the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who when asked what needed to change most in this world, she simply pointed to herself and said, “I do.”
Living a virtuous life is putting the Gospel message in action. Treating others with kindness, compassion, love, patience and humility is the stuff Mother Teresa was referring to. Treating others that way gives us hearts and eyes to see God’s handiwork in others, especially the ones that are difficult. What do you suppose would happen if the next time that challenging person in your life entered the room you IMMEDIATELY began to think of three positive things about them instead of the things about them that frustrate or annoy you. That’s virtue in action. What if instead of pointing out your hard work and effort you made it a point to recognize the work and effort of someone else first. What if we each made it our mission today to purposely make someone else look good. Give it a try.
If you made a list of the people you enjoy being around most, chances are those are the people who are positive and demonstrate virtue. Those kinds of folks are like MAGNETS because we all seek them and what they freely offer. Instead of seeking that person…why not BE that person...BE THE MAGNET! We are His handiwork so that means we have all the equipment necessary…we simply have to ask Him to show us which virtue to begin practicing first.
A seed to plant: Take ten minutes to do a search of virtues or read Colossians 3:12-13. Pray over those words and ask God to show you where to begin.
Blessings on your day!
Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for
others. Colossians 3:23
Not long ago I had two little boys in my class who were cousins.These two boys were good friends who laughed and played with everyone. One day we were playing sight word bingo and one of the boys won a new pencil from the treasure box. A few games later, his cousin was still without a win when he was lucky enough to win a second pencil. He returned to the table and without saying a word pushed the pencil across the table to his cousin. Their eyes exchanged a silent thank you and we all continued playing. Later that day, I mentioned to the generous cousin that I thought his actions had been very kind. He just looked down at his shuffling feet and said, “I can only write with one pencil at a time and besides, Jesus would have given His extra pencil to His cousin I think.” There just wasn’t anything more to say so I just winked and told him I thought he made Jesus smile.
We worry a lot about what we should do, say, wear and buy. Many of our decisions, even the simple ones are balanced against some invisible social scale. What will others think if I do that or if my kids do this or if I show up
wearing those? Every now and again life has a way of wrinkling up the rug and tripping us. This weekend as I was doing some grocery shopping I
saw the Salvation Army bell ringers. I thought, man, it’s only November 24th and they are already posted outside every doorway of every store. I am always overcome with guilt if I pass by one without putting in some change. I guess I don't want others to think I'm stingy. I was completely ashamed of my attitude as I walked into the store. As I was trudging through the produce section, I thought of those volunteers who brave the cold and wind and snow to help those in need and I was embarrassed that I was "small" enough to be grumbling about it. I remembered the story of the widow and her coins and realized I needed to think about things differently. She gave not from her surplus but from the only three coins she had, all for the love of God. As I was thinking about that three small children took the pennies they were saving to ride the store pony ride, and decided to put them in the Salvation Army bucket instead. The bell ringer thanked them and said in a loud cheerful voice, “May God bless you!” Those were the perfect words, they were the reminder I needed, those four words contained the whole meaning of "doing and giving". The three little kids smiled and skipped all the way to their mini-van.
The whole situation caused me to think about this verse from Colossians in a new way. I’m not supposed to do things so someone will notice or not notice me. I’m supposed to be generous with my time, talents and resources because I want to serve the Lord, not man. Those little kids who turned over their pony ride pennies weren’t excited because other shoppers had seen what they did, they were happy because they had done a Christ-like thing. As I was driving home, I wondered what life would be like if I based all my actions on one simple thing…how much can I love and please God today. What if I worried half as much about what He thought as I did what my neighbor thought? And just to show off, God reminded me of this verse using the one thing guaranteed to get my attention…children! The cousins and the three kids with pennies…He used them to show me where I need to work! Once again God, we were led by a child!
A seed to plant: Before you turn the calendar page to December, prayerfully ask God to show you what you can do to serve Him. We finish November giving thanks; now let’s get ready for December by planning to do something for the Lord with love.
Blessings on your day!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gifts. 2 Corinthians 9:15
I have enjoyed all the gratitude posts on Facebook this month. Some days I read them and say, yup…ditto that. Other days I read them and think; oh yeah, that’s a good one, haven’t said thank you for that in a while. On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m sitting here writing and wondering what it is I am most grateful for. That’s a big question! Faith in Christ is obviously the list topper but the list would be a mile long if I wrote down everything I was thankful for…I am SO blessed!
I think the things I am most thankful for this year are the little things that bring me joy! Things like the laughter of my students or a loving wink from my husband or maybe a quick thoughtful text from one of my teenage children. Those things mean more to me than a pay raise or a new car.
I’m truly thankful for lots of big things like the beauty of creation and my sight for instance but noticing the little things is the best. Those little details are like God’s exclamation point to prove his emphatic love! I find joy in seeing others being grateful and noticing the little things. I’m thankful for those God puts in my path who remind me how much I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful when people recognize their need for God and share their excitement when they see Him at work in their life.
Twenty Thanksgivings ago my oldest son was born. After 32 hours of labor I was VERY Thankful to be holding that 10# 2oz 24” long baby boy in my arms! That was my best Thanksgiving ever. One of the things I remember was the nurse who had been with me since 7 am that morning and stayed late that night till the very end. She was a mother of 8herself and instead of going home to be with her babies, she stayed with Dave and I until we welcomed our baby into the world. She told us that if we wanted to make the world better, more loving, more grateful and more holy, it started with one baby at a time. She told us to love hard, pray harder and teach him to do the same and the world would be richer. It was simple, sound loving advice that I try to remember to follow.
When I count my blessings, most of them are people! People, who inspire me, strengthen me, support me, love me and teach me what it means to live as a child of God. Thank you for the gifts! Happy Thanksgiving!
A seed to plant: Write a note to 3 people you are thankful for. Be sure to tell them how they have blessed you and why you’re grateful for them. Gratitude is always in fashion.
Blessings on your day!
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