The Power of a Positive Attitude

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

Living in a Fallen World

I am disturbed.  I’m a bit upset.  My mind is whirling, trying to come up with answers to its own questions.

Why?  Because all around me, Christians are failing.  And I, in my humanness, don’t know what to do about it.

I learned yesterday of Josh Duggar’s confession that he has been secretly unfaithful to his wife over the past few years, even while he was promoting family values for a pro-marriage and pro-life organization.  He resigned from that organization recently, however, due to the publicized report of his previous failures as a teenager.  Those failures, I understood, were forgiven by all affected parties, but this news shocked me.  To clarify, though, this post is not about Josh Duggar and I do not wish to either defend or bash him by this writing, but I am using his situation as an example and a learning point.

How can this happen to a family who has done their best to do everything right, and has strove to train up their children in the way they should go, teaching them to trust in and obey God??  Why did he choose that sinful route?  How can I prevent this from happening to me???  These questions are just some of the few that are swirling around in my brain, and I am realizing that even the “best” of all Christians (which honestly, there is no such thing – God has no partiality: Romans 2:11) are not and never will be infallible.  We are all susceptible to temptation.  We will never get away from it, either, as long as we have breath.

But Josh is not the only example I know of.  I have cousins, close friends, many acquaintances, and knowledge of people with big, powerful ministries that have backslidden and chosen sin above the Lord.  I have watched families split up, young people abandon the Lord and go their own way, and soooo many others choose compromise over full obedience.  It’s heartbreaking, to say the least.

Seeing conservative, homeschooled, well-trained, Christian children allow themselves to fall into such worldly, horrifying sin such as affairs and whatnot makes me wonder and worry….if they did it, how do I know I won’t?  Or my siblings?  Or my close friends?  But as I sat in the car staring at the sun today, thinking, Jesus’ sweet voice whispered to my heart.

“You trust me, child.  I’m the only One who can keep you from this, so there’s no need to worry about it.  Just keep following Me and obeying my voice, and I will keep you safe from the raging storm.”

Then I realized – He’s right!  Of course…He always is.  🙂  It’s not just something that “happened” to these believers so that they were uncontrollably pulled down into the deep pit of immorality or rebellion!

They chose that route themselves.

But we all know that nobody just wakes up one morning and decides to rebel against God.  Rather, it happens slowly, one compromise after another; one “little sin” after another.  I know this all too well from my own experience!  Give Satan an inch of wiggle room in your life, and he’ll take a mile.  It’s so easy to talk yourself into one insignificant wrongdoing, but most of us are deceived that that one little thing will lead to destruction!  Yet Jesus has given us a way out of every. single. temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

As I pondered these things, I realized that it doesn’t matter how tight and extreme I may have to make my boundaries – the most important thing is to cling to Christ and to flee sin, even the appearance of it!  I don’t want to risk succumbing to the devil….yet I know that my flesh is weak and there is no way I can keep myself from sinning.  But Jesus can, and He will!  Remember Hannah, trust the Lord and obey His quiet, steady voice, and you needn’t worry about a thing.

Maybe you have to limit your fiction reading and movie watching and spend more time focusing on God.  Maybe it’s social media that is distracting you and luring you away.  Maybe it’s your constant internet surfing, or maybe it’s some friendship or relationship that isn’t honoring God.

Whatever your spiritual hindrances may be, they need to go – and that’s not an option.

1 John 1:5-7 tells us,  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

It’s way too easy to pretend the Christian life.  But don’t do that – set your standards high and aim for them!  Don’t be satisfied with half-way Christianity or just being “better than THEM.”  We live in a fallen world, and we can only rise above it with the AWESOME POWER OF JESUS CHRIST.

I and all of heaven are cheering you on!  Do hard things and follow God with your whole heart, Christian!  There’s nothing more truly satisfying.

🙂

Why I’m Thankful for the Privilege of Modesty

I was waiting for my sister Beth to come back inside the college building so we could return to our evening STNA class when I heard the door slam.  I turned around and noticed a 30-something year old man walking inside.  He stopped when he saw me by the sign board and asked, “Are you Baptist?”  I smiled as I told him I wasn’t, knowing the reason for his seemingly random question – my loose blouse and floor-length denim skirt.

“Pentecostal?”

“No, I’m actually Holiness.”  I said. 

“Oh, that’s what I was going to ask next!  I appreciate the way you dress,” the man said with a smile.  I thanked him and he walked on, but when Beth came back in and we started walking as well, he turned around and called, “More people should dress like you do!” 

But I have occasionally wondered why I dress modestly like I do. 

I mean, besides the fact that I grew up with it and that Mom and Dad wouldn’t let me out of the house wearing something even slightly inappropriate.  Why does it matter what I wear?  Before I delve into the reason that I’m actually grateful for the opportunity and privilege of dressing modestly, I want to make the purpose of modesty clear.

The reason I choose to wear clothes that are modest and cover my body is to help out my brothers in Christ.  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  This is true for both men AND women (and guys don’t need to forget modesty for themselves); however, from what I’ve heard, guys are much more visually stimulated than girls are, and therefore have to fight much harder to avoid lust, especially when a girl is showing off what she’s got. 

I am very aware of the debate going around in Christian circles of why it is a girl’s responsibility to keep a guy’s mind pure toward her, and just to make things clear, I believe that it is ABSOLUTELY the guy’s responsibility to keep his mind and thoughts pure, and I could point you to guys that say the exact same thing.  But look at what Romans 14:13 & 19 say:

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way…Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”

Instead of concentrating on myself and whining about I have go to all the trouble to find modest clothing, I want to remember that I am doing this to avoid being a stumbling block for guys around me.  Modesty is a way that we girls can help and bless our brothers in Christ, edifying both each other and them by pointing them toward the Lord instead of our physical features.  Paul, in 1 Corinthians 8:13, showed how far we should be willing to go to help a brother not to stumble: “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”  Wow – there’s a challenge for you!  If something you do all the time causes someone else to stumble spiritually speaking, would you stop doing it just for the sake of that other person’s relationship with the Lord?

Yes, dressing modestly is hard sometimes, and we might struggle with having the right attitude through it, but we must remember that by not drawing attention to our bodies, we are serving the Lord!

But for me, modesty is more than just an act of obedience – it is a privilege.

Let me give you an example.  A recent example that, in fact, inspired this post.  I recently started working part-time at a local assisted living facility (which is almost a nursing home), and the dress code is a provided navy polo shirt and khaki pants, though they allowed khaki skirts as well (yes, I asked. 🙂 ).  To be honest, I really wanted to just find some loose scrub pants instead of a skirt, mainly because pants tend to allow for more movement and have more pockets (both VERY convenient in a nursing home).  However, Mom thought it’d be better and more modest to wear a skirt, and even loaned me one of hers until I could find a better one for myself.  So I wore the skirt.

I still wasn’t sure that this was the best plan, but God had other things in mind.  Co-workers and residents alike commented on my dress for the each one of my first six days of work, asking why I wore it, complimenting me on it, and asking what denomination I was.  One guy even asked to make sure that I wasn’t Amish and that we did indeed have power in our house!  These questions and my answers to them led to deeper things, like brief conversations about God, the Bible, my 10 siblings (news which is a literal jaw-dropper), homeschooling, and my unusual beliefs on many different subjects, both spiritual and non-spiritual.  I didn’t say everything right, and not even all that I probably should have regarding who God is to me, but I was amazed at how open these people were to talking about “religion,” and how it seemed to stem from the fact that I was different in an unusual way – and just because of a simple skirt!

I don’t mind wearing a skirt to work anymore – in fact, I appreciate the privilege I have in doing so, to not only stay covered and keep guys from lusting, but also to represent the Lord in the midst of a secular environment!  I feel very different, and I know I am, but God has called us to be holy, which means set apart from the world.  Jesus didn’t fit in either!

Modesty is a unique opportunity to show co-workers, neighbors, friends, and strangers that I am different.  I’m thankful that God uses it to open doors to talk to others about Him, and to explain why I do things differently!

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version.