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Fragrance or Stink: What Do You Smell Like?

1 Oct

A woman, trying to control her dry hair, treated her scalp with olive oil before washing it. But then, worried the oil might oliveoil_margenauer_pixabaylinger, she washed her hair several times.

That night, as she went to bed, she leaned over to her husband and asked, “Do I smell like olive oil?”

“No,” he said, sniffing her.

“Do I smell like Popeye?” *

I once read that if you lick your wrist and wait 10 seconds, and then smell your wrist… that’s what your breath smells like!

Is that true? Oh wait … Yikes!

There are sweet smells and offensive smells, right?

  • The smell of a newborn baby (minus a soiled diaper).
  • The smell of old books.
  • The smell of exotic perfume.
  • The smell of a bakery.
  • The smell of a wet dog.
  • The smell of honeysuckle vines.
  • The smell of an angry skunk.

But the smell I’m considering today is the aroma that lingers from my attitudes. 

Even if you are not aware of it, you are leaving behind a fragrance wherever you go.

Encouraging, godly attitudes will bless others, but when our attitudes “stink,” it will affect everyone around us in negative ways.

Although sin grievously affects us personally, we don’t sin unto ourselves—others are affected. Our “stink” can rub off on others! One example is the stinky attitude that comes from an unforgiving, bitter attitude that “defiles many” (Hebrews 12:15).

The story is told of an old homeless man, taken in by a God-fearing couple who wanted to help him. They took him home where he showered and cleaned up. But then he put on his old, dirty, stinky clothes! He didn’t realize the loving couple had laid out fresh, clean clothes for him.

This is what we Christians do sometimes. We are “washed” by the Lord when He rescues us and makes us His own (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26) and God wraps us in a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10); but then we keep righteousrobe_stinkygarments_lolwithgodputting old “stinky” garments over that robe!

Our hearts are changed, but we still resort to stinky thinking patterns that lead to stinky actions.

When tempted to put on those stinky attitudes, we need to lay them down and pick up the attitudes the Holy Spirit has “laid out” for us.

What are these attitudes?

Sweet-smelling attitudes arise from the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and goodness (Galatians 5:22-23). They include behavior that shows we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4-7).

And our thoughts help us focus on these attitudes. We need thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). We need to think these kinds of things and practice sweet-smelling habits that flow from those thoughts.

We all sin. Every day. If we say we don’t, we’re deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). But that doesn’t mean we cozy down with our sins. We should hate our sin as God does, and confess it to Him in repentance (1 John 1:9) so we can move forward in His grace to thoughts, words and behaviors that please Him (Ephesians 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 12:1-2).

We need a “daily washing” to make sure the aroma of Christ is what lingers, wherever we go and in every situation;

“For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15, Amp).

King David, after committing terrible sin, cried out to God, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity [wickedness], and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:2). In essence, David was saying, “Scrub me clean. Soak out my sinful attitudes and actions, and let me be pure again.”

Determine that your aroma will be the fragrance of Christ, not the stink of sin!

How can you know what “aroma” emanates from YOUR life? By others’ reactions and responses? Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit? From the Word of God?

from * Adapted from The Cybersalt Digest, Issue #4177, 9-1-16

~ Dawn

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5 People Who Need Your Quality Time

21 Oct

How do you create quality time?

Comedian Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating.” Why?

“Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book!”

I’m LOL-ing at the remark, but also the word “set.” (Can you tell what decades Marx lived in?)

But Marx brought up an important concept. How we use our time is important. We want to choose wisely. We want Quality Time.

Today as I thought about the people in my life, I accessed just how much quality time they’re getting from me. Have you ever done that?

I discovered five areas in my own life (you may find more), and I am sharing some books that I’ve found helpful. Perhaps you’d like to share resources that help you with quality time. (I do not get any compensation for mentioning them.)

1. Quality Time with God[Note: More accurately, God doesn’t need your time, but He loves you and desires your time.] You’re either smiling or cringing right now, depending on how much time you’re spending with God and whether that time is “quality.” Some women don’t spend much time with the Lord at all. Others spend time and make moments (hours?) together  times of powerful  intimacy and study. Most of us are somewhere in between.

God convicted me of this last year, and I made some radical changes to spend more time with God. The enemy conspires to steal our time away from the Father, so we need to be proactive and schedule time, if necessary. The more we spend time with God, the more it will be times of delight rather than duty. Some powerful books in this area are Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s books, The Quiet Place, A Place of Quiet Rest, and a study she wrote with Tim Grissom, Seeking Him, a book designed for personal revival.

2. Quality Time with Your Husband (if you’re married) – In the busyness of life, we sometimes forget how special our marriage relationship is (or can be). I have many, MANY marriage books on my shelves, including a number by Bill and Pam Farrel  (including A Couple’s Journey with God; Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti; Marriage in the Whirlwind;  Red Hot Monogamy; and 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband ~ all available at love-wise.com).

In Marriage in the Whirlwind, the Farrels describe the whirlwinds that come into marriage and how to survive these stressful tornadoes. They say, “Many times it seems couples long to cry out, ‘Stop the world ~ I want to get off!'” They talk about how unexpected circumstances, the busyness of technology and life just moving too fast, emotional storms, financial struggles and other whirlwinds can destroy a marriage if a couple isn’t wise about using their relationship in positive ways. Quality time together can help to combat stresses.

Quality time in marriage includes listening, simplifying the calendar to make time for each other, setting goals together and taking time to build physical intimacy. [Besides the Farrels’ books, which are meant for men and women, I also recommend Kathi Lipp’s The Husband Project and Arlene Pellicane’s 31 Days to a Happy Husband to women.]

3. Quality Time with Your Child (or children) if you have them (or Grandchildren) – One of the statements that always bothered me is that children need quality time, not quantity time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children need both! They need to be near their parents in order to feel loved and learn from them. But quality time is certainly important.

First there are the simple things: cooking and baking together, planting seeds, enjoying art and music, sharing the how-to’s of life, and helping them see how things work. More important ~ seeing how LIFE works with wisdom principles from scripture.

Then there are times of more focused teaching. One of my recent joys is sharing A Girl after God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George with my oldest granddaughter. A book I wish I’d had when raising my sons is Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, which is all about “Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. For busy moms who wonder how they can be more proactive in pointing quality time toward spiritual truth, I highly recommend Carrie Ward’s book, Together: Growing Appetites for God.

4. Quality Time with FriendsI tell women that no one friend (except Jesus) can be all for us. We need a variety of friends who encourage, challenge, teach, and help us. We need some friends to kick back and LOL with.

One of my biggest regrets is that I waited so long to build friendships. They don’t just happen. It’s rare that God just drops a friend into our laps. The Bible says that is we want friends, we need to show ourselves to be friendly). That takes planning. It takes time. We need to listen when we’re together and not just talk about ourselves.

This is my weak area and I’m working on it. I go on Friendship lunch dates (and need to plan some Friendship activity dates to help me get some of the lunch dates pounds off! LOL!) I’m writing a book on friendship based on some of the things God is teaching me. (Do you have some good Christian books on friendship to recommend to me and others?)

5. Quality Time with YourselfThis may seem like a strange one, but the Bible says we are to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31), so this presupposes we are properly loving ourselves. Kathi Lipp has a helpful book titled The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You’ve Always Wanted

When it comes to quality time with ourselves, we can be more proactive when choosing our activities ~ either (1) doing things that build/improve our lives, (2) leave us pretty much the same, or (3) tear down/hurt us in some ways. (When I speak to women, I call these Climbing, Coasting, and Collapsing choices.)

Pursue Climbing choices; they’ll always be the best. As you plan time for yourself, think of things you can do that will challenge you mentally, physically, and spiritually. Do things that energize you, encourage growth, build your confidence and please the Lord. These are things you won’t regret, things that make you feel better about your life and, at the same time, bring glory to God.

These are choices like reading a good book, listening to music that blesses, enjoying a sport you love … anything that inspires you. For stories that are inspiring and missional, I recommend any of Kathi Macias’ books.

To find more time to pursue Quality Time relationships with yourself (and everyone), check out Marcia Ramsland’s books about simplifying your time and organizing your life at organizingpro.com. Choose Climbing choices that build all of your relationships!

Reserve the Coasting choices (those you might make when you really don’t feel like making any choices!) for those days when you want to relax and unwind. These are happy choices that may make you feel good and won’t tire you out, but they really aren’t designed to move you forward, either. A massage would fall into this category, or reading a good mystery novel, or spending some time on Pinterest. These are things that are easy to do. (But beware – too many Coasting choices and you’ll begin to waste time.)

Avoid Collapsing choices (negative, destructive, or hurtful options) like the flu! Collapsing choices may seem good at the time, but they don’t build us up. This would include watching bad television, pigging out at a buffet, or anything that prevents you from being your best. Basically, it’s doing anything you’ll regret or be ashamed of later.

So … what category needs some improvement?

Where are you not spending enough Quality Time? What can you do TODAY to change that? Can you think of others who might need your Quality Time?I’d love to hear about ways that you spend Quality Time in any of these areas, as well as any resources you would recommend.

– Dawn

Those Pesky Idiosyncracies

27 May

It’s been said that married men should forget their mistakes. There’s no sense in two people remembering the same thing.

It’s also been said that marriage is a relationship where one person is always right … and the other is the husband.

Those jokes are funny, but not too kind to the menfolk!

Unfortunately, marriage is a sea of challenges that requires graceful navigation!

I was recently encouraged by a book about this complicated relationship. Elaine W. Miller wrote We All Married Idiots, a book that examines three things we will never change about our marriages, and then she offers ten things we can all work on to improve the husband-wife relationship. (1)

In one chapter, Elaine talks about learning to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies.

“Since living with idiosyncrasies is a part of marriage,” she wrote, “You might as well treasure those peculiar habits. One day you might miss them. I know I did.”

Elaine’s husband Dan was a tapper. He tapped on things. “I think in his mind the whole world is his trumpet as his fingers play a perpetual tune,” she said. “He taps the table when he eats, the steering wheel when he drives, the newspaper when he reads, the pulpit when he preaches, and my shoulders when he puts his arms around me.”

The tapping got hard to take. “If I let it,” Elaine said, “his tapping gets on my nerves. Many times I have said in an irritated voice, ‘Would you please stop tapping!’

“However,” she added, “when he was hospitalized and I was uncertain if he would live through the night, those words weren’t on my lips. I stared at his silent fingers, held his motionless hands, and pleaded, ‘Please, God, let me feel his fingers tapping.’

“Funny how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances,” she said. “Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss the most when their loved one is gone.”

I remember reading about a woman who hated her husband’s snoring. She complained and poked him through the night. But after the man died, she told a friend she’d “give anything to hear that man snore again!”

Those pesky idiosyncrasies are simply more proof that we are all unique, and the truth is, every marriage has them. It is our attitude that makes the difference. Elaine explains that love is kind (according to 1 Corinthians 13:4). And what does that look like? “Being kind to your mate means overlooking those oddities that sometimes drive you crazy. The next time your love does the idiotic, remember this ~ you married an idiot and so did your spouse.” (2)

Elaine points out that the words “idiosyncrasy” and “idiot” both come from the same Greek root word (idio) meaning “common man.” In other words, we all do things that are a bit eccentric or peculiar from time to time.

As I thought about this, I realized how many times simple kindness and grace ~ and especially loving words ~ have acted like soothing oil in my own marriage. (Sometimes I can’t believe that my husband has put up with me this long!)

Rather than focusing on each other’s quirks, we’ve chosen to concentrate on what is good, pure, lovely, etc. (see Philippians 4:8). Some of those pesky idiosyncrasies remain, but they aren’t “issues” anymore. We’ve learned to love and accept each other and try to see each other through the eyes of the Redeemer we both love.

When I stop to think that God created me with unique idiosyncrasies ~ and He loves me ~ it encourages me to share the same kind of love with others, especially my spouse.

How about you? When you think about your spouse (or if you’re not married, a boss or a parent or someone else you have a relationship with on a regular basis), is there something that the person does that really bugs you? Could love, acceptance, patience and mega doses of grace ease your frustration?

(1) Elaine W. Miller, We All Married Idiots (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2012), p. 7.

(2) ibid, p. 7.

Elaine Miller is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and has authored two other books, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives. http://www.splashesofserenity.com.

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