How Are You Spending Your Days?

How we spend our days is important in God’s kingdom.

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should” – Psalm 90:12 (TLB).

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With each passing year, I become more aware of the brevity of life. Recently, I celebrated my 63rd birthday. When a friend phoned to wish me a happy birthday, we discussed how long we’d known each other. We were surprised when we realized it had been more than a decade. Our friendship has grown during that time, making me realize the necessity of having and nurturing those relationships that are important to making life worthwhile.

A recent post on Facebook made me think about the importance of relationships vs. things. Things don’t bring happiness. Both are fleeting. However, we were made for a relationship with each other. The post follows: “I believe as we grow older our Christmas list gets smaller and the things we really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”

Only then will our days really count.

What is more important than to be surrounded by family and friends who love us in spite of our faults and failures? Nothing in my book! No gift can replace the shared laughter, the tears, the disagreements, the heartache, the pain or the victories. Nothing! Money cannot buy the experiences we share.

Money also can’t purchase the kind of friend who won’t agree with you to make you happy. Instead, the best of friends will say what needs to be said, whether you want to hear it or not. I have several friends like that. Whether I complain or am feeling sorry for myself, none of these three let me stew in my pity very long. They love me enough to encourage me with kind but honest words.

How we spend our days is important in God’s kingdom. We can spend our days in pursuit of money to purchase material things for our own gratification, or we can spend our days pursuing what really matters.

Let’s Change the Face of Christmas Commercialism

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” – 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV).

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http://www.laparent.com

Am I the only one who’s tired of seeing Christmas promotions before Halloween decorations have come down? Walk down the aisles at a local store and you’ll be hard pressed to find many reminders of a holiday that celebrates thankfulness in November.

How can we, as parents and grandparents, counter the commercialization of Christmas in an age of spend, spend, spend? Recently, I came across a young mother’s website. Because she wanted her children to experience the true meaning of Christmas, she created a “Random Acts of Kindness Christmas Calendar for Kids.”

“The pursuit of selflessness is truly a noble one.”

She discovered the idea on her Facebook feed last year and really liked the idea of doing something kind each day leading up to Christmas. She writes, “I also thought this was a wonderful way to help instill the spirit of the season in my family. I didn’t want them to think Christmas is all about getting toys.”

Because her children are young, she wanted to create activities that kids could do on their own to emphasize that each of us—no matter how small—can make a difference. Her calendar also includes family activities that include adult participation.

Living a Life of Giving Thanks

“Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect”—Ephesians 5:4 (MSG).

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As I write this, election day is still four days away. I, for one, will be glad when it’s over. I pray that those who have spewed hatred across the airwaves, on social media and through other means of communication will be able to step back and give thanks, whether their candidate won or lost.

True followers of Christ know that we’ve won, no matter who is in the Oval Office. While our country isn’t perfect, I’d rather live here than anywhere else. I’ve visited foreign countries. I’ve seen the oppressed and the poor that make our poorest appear rich in comparison.

Give thanks to the Lord!

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the Apostle Paul writes, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s reminder is as relevant today as it was when he wrote his epistle to the Thessalonians.

What does it mean to live a life of giving thanks? It’s a life permeated by a grateful heart that overflows to others. It’s a life marked by contentment. Although we seem to have more, we enjoy life less. We work harder to accumulate more, but on the whole we’re not happier. We entertain the notion that we’re entitled to more, which leads to a life of discontent.

Are you wrestling with the past?

“No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead”—Philippians 3:13 (TLB).

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Brown leaves crackled underneath my neighbor’s feet as he shuffled across the lawn to deliver my morning paper. Confined to my house after surgery, I was blessed to have Stan and his wife taking turns retrieving my daily paper as well as my mail.

My lawn, carpeted with oak leaves, still revealed a green coat underneath. Even though November was just around the corner, summer hadn’t completely let go. One hot pink flower still bloomed on the Hydrangea bush near my front door while others exhibited their skeletal remains.

While I’m enjoying the remaining hints of summer, they remind me of our tendency to cling to the past—not just the wonderful memories of days gone by, but also the hurts that can leave us brittle and a skeleton of the whole person Jesus longs to heal. For He is the only one who can bring complete healing from the pain of our past.

Instead of wrestling with the past, we can let go with His help.

 

We’ve all had our fair share of emotional and mental hurt. We’ve suffered at the hands of friends as well as family members. The pain of betrayal can leave us with invisible scars, but scars nevertheless.

However, we have a choice. If we choose to hold on to the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness, these will surely hinder our walk with Christ.

Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us to keep no record of wrongs. “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!”

In “Every Day with Jesus,” author Selwyn Hughes writes, “This passage provides a vivid description of a life damaged by past hurts—a life that has become a wasteland, a desert. Dwelling upon a record of wrongs weighs us down and heavily burdens us. But the Lord’s instructions to forget these former things and not dwell on them, comes with a beautiful promise. Letting them go releases streams of living water into our life and enables God to do a new work in us.”

The greatest new work that Christ does in our lives is to bring us to a place where we can forgive those who have hurt us. It is such an important aspect of our daily Christian walk that Jesus even included it as part of the Lord’s Prayer. In Luke 11:4, we read the following: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

Instead of wrestling with the past, we can let go with His help. And, when we refocus our energies on the present, we can look forward to what Jesus has in store for our future. Letting go is the answer to healing and a peace-filled life.

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at carol@carolaround.com.

Seven Ways to Discover More “Awe” in Your Life

“Who is like you among the gods, O LORD? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?”—Exodus 15:11 (NASB).

fireflies

www.fireflyexperience.org

Twinkling lights filled the dusky evening skies. Filled with excitement, I exclaimed, “Fireflies,” to the friend on the other end of the phone line. While many might take the sight for granted, I’d not seen fireflies in such large numbers in many years—at least more than a decade.

I was awestruck by their beauty as they flitted around my backyard. As the daylight continued to wane, the intensity of their flashes increased.

 

“Feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness.”

 

After my exclamation of excitement, my friend replied, “Yes, they seem to be more plentiful here at the lake.”

Growing up in Louisiana, my sister and I would capture the insects, also known as lightning bugs, and place them in jars. After punching holes in the lids of the Mason jars, we’d set them on our bedroom windowsill and watch their tail lights flash on and off as we drifted off to sleep.

Almost 50 years later, I find myself, once again, in awe of these florescent insects. I wanted to grab a jar and recapture my childhood memories. I thought, “When was the last time I’d been impressed by such simple, but elegant beauty.”

Are you the hands and feet of Jesus?

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality”—Romans 12:13 (NLT).

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“Roll it, Carol!”

It was yet another reminder from a friend to follow instructions. The metal walker I have to use after knee replacement surgery is outfitted with wheels for a reason. Rolling instead of lifting the contraption is actually easier and safer. I couldn’t figure out why I was having trouble with this simple task.

Discharge instructions from the hospital required I have someone with me at home 24/7 for at least the first four to five days. Living alone for the past 15 years has led to a very independent lifestyle. Even before then, I lived under the burden of feeling indispensable. I thought I could handle everything that life threw at me. I also felt empowered, thinking others couldn’t make it without me.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

However, since Jesus got ahold of me in 2001, I’ve learned some important lessons.

First, I’m not in charge of the universe. I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Second, I must allow others the pleasure of helping me when I’m in need. I don’t have to pretend I can do it “all by myself,” like a stubborn two-year-old seeking independence from her parents. I’ve learned it is okay, at times, to “roll” instead of lift.

And here’s the Good News!

“Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; and it is this Good News that saves you if you still firmly believe it, unless of course you never really believed it in the first place”—1 Corinthians 15:1-2(TLB).

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http://thepoisedlife.com

Tired of the negative news? Me too. You can’t watch television, read a newspaper or peruse social media without being bombarded with bad news. Depressing news. Sad news. News that leaves us wondering why and how our world has become so dark.

Then, good news happens. A story on television, a newspaper article or a post on social media reminds us that there is still light in the world, a light that reflects the goodness still alive and well bringing hope to our weary souls and our heavy hearts.

Trust God where you cannot see Him.

At the heart of the gospel message is hope, hope of better days, a better future and a better life awaiting us once we leave this fallen world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, not man. That is, if you ever believed it in the first place.

Even if we have believed and placed our hope in Him, our steps falter when we become weary and want to quit because we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities. We take on too much. We’re too busy. We don’t have time to stop and listen for that still, small voice reassuring us, guiding us, speaking to our spirits and inviting us to take refuge in His arms.