Tag : feelings

4 posts

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Today the Lord impressed upon me again how powerful my attitude is.

Yeah, we all know that happy people are more fun to be around than complainative ones, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that we can CHOOSE to be one of those happy people ourselves! Joy isn’t in our genes; it’s in our minds and hearts.

I worked in an assisted living facility this summer and saw a wide range of attitudes in workers, from lazy to hard-working, from nasty and sour to joyful and sweet. Now you must understand: nursing home work is hard, dirty, and stressful, and it’s so easy to slip into complaining when you’ve just about had all the stress you can take for the day. But there were some aides that chose to look on the bright side of things, and (surprise, surprise!) those were the people I most enjoyed working with!

To be totally honest with you, I am probably one of the least qualified people to be telling you how to act.  As a child, I once made it my quite unkind goal to make everyone in my family mad (or at least unhappy) on this certain Sunday, right after we got home from church. I was in a nasty mood and wanted everyone else to feel the same way I did. To my shame, my scheme worked and within a few minutes of walking in the door, everybody was upset about something or other. In retrospect, they were probably all upset with me for having such a sour attitude that day!

Other Sundays, though, I remember trying to help every family member be happy. This took a little more work than making them mad, probably since we were born with sin natures, and it took some serious self-denial, but choosing joy anyway resulted in a much more restful afternoon and the enjoyment of each other’s presence! These are the days I love to reminisce on. 🙂

Pessimistic personalities are no excuse for not choosing joy, either. I am, by nature, almost (key word there) a full-blown pessimist, but have had to realize over the years that personality traits such as pessimism or optimism are not meant to DEFINE me! Both pessimists and optimists have to work to keep themselves from going off the deep end, and yes, even pessimists can count their blessings!!

Counting your blessings, even the little ones, really does lighten up your day and world! Earlier this year, someone told me about a personal project she was doing called One Thousand Things. She and a friend each got a journal and began to write down everything they were thankful for, numbering each thing and aiming for 1,000 of them. I was inspired, so I bought a cute mini-journal and started my own gratitude book!

One Thousand Things

It’s helped me refocus and count my (VERY many) blessings, and I think I’m going to start carrying it around with me so that I write in it more often. I’m not nearly close to one thousand things yet since I’ve slacked off some in the past couple months, but I’m going to get there!!!

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You know, I’ve noticed that when I make a conscious decision to focus on the bright side of things, and whisper thank you to the Lord every time something happy happens, I suddenly become a lot more joyful! While doing this at work today, I even began to wonder why the Lord decided to bless me so much today! In reality, He blesses me EVERY day, but I miss out on seeing those blessings if I’m wallowing in complaints or self-pity.

What are some things you have been blessed by today or this week? The blessings on my list included hearing a bunch of my favorite songs on the radio at work, being able to have a really neat conversation with a co-worker that I don’t usually get to talk to much, cloudy weather (it makes taking pictures of cars easier because I don’t have to worry about the sun reflecting off of and casting shadows on cars), hot coffee on a cold windy day…. 🙂

This feels like a post more on the random side, not quite as “put together” as I would like, but I hope it makes sense. 🙂 I hereby challenge you to find a way to proactively choose to have a joyful attitude and praise the Lord for the little things, even when it feels like you’re in the midst of a storm. He inhabits the praises of His people, remember?

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

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I miss Jamaica.  This week and the previous one mark my two-year “Jamaica anniversary,” so you can guess where my thoughts have been!  🙂  I am still really hoping to go back sometime, but since I have left the timing in the Lord’s hands for Him to determine, I’m just learning to be patient and to pray.

And you know what?  I’m able through His strength to truly rest in Him, knowing that His timing is perfect!

I actually began the writing process for this post several months ago, hoping to publish it sometime soon thereafter.  However, for me, writing an article about Jamaica is not an easy or quick process, especially when I get lost in my thoughts and memories and journal entries and pictures, remembering the unique experiences with a smile on my face as the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings flow through my brain.  But I also just had to tack on some photos at the end!

If you read the first installment of this Jamaica series, you already know the basics – but if you haven’t read it or forgot (I don’t blame you…it’s been a while), go read it now, then come back to this. 🙂

I was originally casually invited to go to Jamaica in January of 2013, while Grace and I were in Guyana on a short-term mission trip.  I didn’t really consider it then, but when I got an email a month or two later inviting me again (Grace was invited, too, but she decided against going), I started seriously praying and thinking about going.  I had the choice between music camp with Grace or Jamaica by myself, and I knew that music camp would be more comfortable for me.  However, I didn’t really have the same passion for music that Grace did, so I was unsure of what to do.  I made a detailed pros and cons list for each option, and through this list, Mom & Dad’s input, and lots and lots of prayer, I reached the point at which I knew without a single doubt that God wanted me to go to Jamaica.

Honestly, I didn’t “want” to go to a third-world country by myself for two whole weeks.

I would be on a team of four, without anyone from my family or anyone even less than twice my age.  This didn’t excite my introverted, steady (read: shy and NOT change-loving) nature, but since I knew it was the Lord’s will, I obeyed.  The Lord blessed me in a big way by answering my prayer that I would feel excited about the trip, which was yet another encouragement that I was indeed doing the right thing.

So I made arrangements, packed my bags, and flew off to Jamaica!  I was recently reading through my journal entries about the trip, so amazing memories are floating through my head.  🙂  One of my favorite stories is from our last evening there.  Pastor Kerron Simmonds (the pastor of one of the holiness churches down there – he actually went to Union Bible College in Indiana for a few years) took Neena and I, along with his mom and aunt, to an expensive restaurant, Little Ochie, down at the southern tip of Jamaica.  It was a two-hour drive, and after a few stops, we finally got there around 8:00 PM.  The restaurant was directly on the beach, so we ate…..(drum roll)….seafood!  They stored the fish in deep freezers, and customers would pick out their fish and bring them to the cooks.  The sight and smell disgusted me, so I was thankful when Pastor Simmonds’ mom chose the fish, and even more grateful when they offered to cut the head off of mine before serving it!

I was apparently showing my apprehensive feeling toward the whole situation, and P. Simmonds decided to take advantage of it.  We were inside a dimly lit open-air building, with rock music blaring so loud my heart throbbed and a mixed smell of raw fish and salt water in the air.  He snuck up behind me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and shook me as he shouted in my ear.  I jumped and shrieked, and Pastor Kerron laughed SOOO hard at me (and for the rest of the night)…I think he had the time of his life just watching my face.  🙂  He also teased that I “didn’t want the fish looking at me” – which, of course, was true.

It was a really good fish, though!  Its unexpected deliciousness may have been partly due to my ravenous hunger (it was 9:00 at night..), but I’m pretty sure they told me that it was one of the best kinds of fish around, “jerk fish,” I think it was called.  The blaring rock music and the obvious impurity of some of the late-night restaurant-comers did quite a bit to dampen the mood, but it was an enjoyable and most certainly a memorable evening!

Little Ochie

We dubbed this the worst photo that we took down there, but this was taken after supper that night. 🙂

One night as I was journaling my adventures and thoughts, I realized that God brought me there to pray.  Anyone can pray, but we all know how much easier it is to pray when you have some specifics.  There are soooo many needs in Jamaica, and so few prayer warriors fighting for them!  I wrote down all the people and things that I noticed needs in – a list I still have and use, though sadly not as much as I should.

I miss Jamaica a lot, but I’m thankful that God knows what He’s doing and He knows what is best for me.  It’s a little ironic, actually, since my time in Jamaica was not at all luxurious, and I can’t say that I enjoyed it to the fullest, due to sickness, homesickness, out-of-my-comfort-zone assignments, and more.  But for some reason I feel like I left a bit of my heart there….perhaps with the children.

One thing I know – God brought me to Jamaica for a reason, and He taught me more in those two weeks than I could have learned at home in several months.  I am soooo thankful for the opportunity I had to go, and how gracious my team members were to a naive fifteen-year-old girl!

I appreciate you reading my heart through this extended article…but since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I figured I should silence my words for now and just save y’all some time by using pictures instead! 🙂

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Sister Street leading a Bible School song

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This was taken on July 4th – I even unintentionally wore red, white, and blue that day!  It’s unusual to be in a foreign country on the July 4th, though. 🙂

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Giving my testimony publicly for the first time at the 400-member primary school!

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Now THAT is a hairpin curve!

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Neena and I among some of the many photogenic kids at a school

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These two guys were characters.  🙂  Kevin is on the right and Nathaniel on the left.

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We made hundreds of balloon animals for the daycares!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks a lot for reading!  🙂

{John 14:27}

 

 

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Remember the little book, Teddy’s Button, from the Lamplighter’s Rare Collector’s series?  The young boy, Teddy, is a naughty child who accepts Jesus into his heart and struggles to fight for his heavenly Captain.  He soon realizes his worst enemy is himself, and names that “old self” Bully.  Teddy tries hard, but finds that he sometimes loses the fight with Bully, and learns to lean on his Captain for assistance.

Well, today I feel like Teddy.  My “Bully” has been appearing much more and fighting much harder than I want him to.  And over the past few days, God has been dealing with me in many areas that I haven’t been wholly devoting to Him.  Conviction is setting in, and it isn’t a pleasant feeling.

But because of that conviction, I’m back to where I always should be – at the feet of Jesus begging Him to empty me of myself and fill me up with His Spirit.   I’m back in the little valley of self-realization, where I begin to realize the foolishness of my “wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:25), the selfish motives of my “service,” and the limit to my knowledge compared with the Almighty God.

I’ve messed up.  Instead of aiming to point others to Christ through every conversation, I constantly wondered about their opinions of ME.  I’ve kept silent while passing strangers when a cheerful “Good morning!” could have made their day that much better.  I have not taken “every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5), but instead let words flow out of my mouth without thinking of the effect they might have on their hearer.  I’ve wasted minutes throughout the day that could have been used to guide my heart back to its Maker, and I’ve allowed material things just a little bit more priority in my life than they deserved.  But every little thing does matter, and little things build up.

I’ve willingly exchanged SO MUCH – the Lord’s strength and power over sin – for SO LITTLE – the temporary gratification of my flesh.

Yesterday, I listened to a message that related us as Christians to a broken piece of mirror.  A mirror is not a source of light, but if clean, can reflect the light of the sun into dark places.  As children of God, we are just the same.  We are not the light, but if we are free from sin’s stain, we can reflect the Son’s light into darkness.  But as my pastor pointed out a couple of weeks ago, we cannot radiate Christ unless we have spent time in His presence.

I’ve heard so many messages about building our days around our time with the Lord and NOT the other way around, yet I’ve been tumbling into bed exhausted after another busy day, spending only as much time in the Word as I had to in order to support my claim that I do read my Bible every day.

But the Lord is emptying me once again of myself and all my follies, so that He may fill me up with His Holy Spirit.  Pain may be involved in the process, but the result will be more glorious than I can imagine!!!

O Jesus, come!  Reveal to me who You are; show me what it means to radiate with Your love, joy and peace!  Meet me in my weakness and be my strength.  Guide me as I walk the road of life, and help me to always do everything to Your glory.  I truly want nothing except what brings glory, honor, and souls to You.  Keep me on Your path, Lord – I am sooo imperfect and I need You to help me through.  Draw me ever closer to You! 

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I don’t always feel like smiling.  I don’t always feel like being polite.  I don’t always feel happy.  And I definitely don’t always feel like praising the Lord for and during the trials.  But often, those periods of trial are the most important times to praise Him.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

-James 1:2-4

Praising the Lord is important even when we don’t feel like it.  Praise is not a feeling – just like love, it is an action.  We can praise God anytime, regardless of our feelings, simply because we know that He is God and that He is worthy of our praise and adoration.  So on those rainy days when we just feel like giving up, when nothing seems to be working the way it’s supposed to, and when we’re just plain tired, we need to lift our heart to Jesus and, through the carnal feelings of despair and discouragement, tell Him that we love Him, and that He is an awesome God…because He really is!

Not too long ago, my pastor pointed out that even if we come out of a time of true worship, out of a pure heart, with absolutely no feeling of a spiritual experience, we can still rest in the knowledge that we have worshiped the Lord.  Isn’t that cool!?  We can worship Him no matter how we feel!

So a few weeks ago, I decided to try it.  I was at work and feeling pretty blue and ready to go home, being tired and a little stressed.  I had to force myself to put a smile on my face and thank Jesus mentally as I worked.  As I began to thank Him for every little thing that crossed my mind, my smile slowly became less forced and more real.  He gently gave to me a joy like no other as I simply told Him what I was thankful for.  Though I don’t always feel a burst of energy as soon as I start to praise Him, I do know with all of my heart that He has heard me.  And, as the old song reminds us, counting our blessings always helps to cheer us up!

So why do I smile?  Not just because I feel happy…I smile because Jesus loves me!  Because He died for me, He’s given me a beautiful day, and He answers prayer! And even the because of the little things, a cup of hot coffee on a cold day, or a safe trip in the bad weather.

Sometimes, we just need to smile and thank God for the simple things. Praise Him not only in the moments of peace and contentment, but also in the moments of despair, discouragement, and confusing moments.  It is then that He desires and enjoys our praise the most. And it is then that He rewards us with unspeakable joy.  So come!  Let us worship the Lord together!

“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”  

Psalm 32:11

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