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Thriving in These Scary Days

27 Aug

I (Dawn) have received several emails lately talking about fears of a recession. My favorite ones had funny one-liners about the bad economy like these:

  • I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
  • CEOs are now playing miniature golf.
  • Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children’s names.
  • Motel Six won’t leave the light on anymore.
  • Fed Ex is expected to join its competitor UPS to become Fed Up.
  • McDonald’s is now selling the “1/4 Ouncer.”
  • If the bank returns your check marked “Insufficient Funds,” you need to call them ans if they meant yo or them!

S.O.S.With the stock market going up and down in recent weeks, the temptation is to get really, re-e-e-ally scared for the future. Many Americans are in “SOS” mode, sending out a distress call.

I read one article that described “How to Survive a Breakdown of the Social Order” that sounded like we were all going back to the dark ages!  The article said to stay calm, but to consider storing two weeks to three months of items and build a “small community” of support (not a bad idea, actually) ~ but the point is, many people are considering ways to “survive” if society breaks down. I used to laugh at this kind of thing until I saw the rioting in London!

Add to that news that 24,000 of the Pentagon’s files were hacked, and reports that a woman tried to  smuggle a “dummy bombs onto a plane (reportedly to see how good our security really is)….

Add to that the startling statistics about the home, and especially that “women are falling away from religion” …

I start saying, “Yikes! What’s going on, Lord?”

It’s easy to get into “survival” mode instead of considering how we can thrive in these tough days.

I wanted to share some practical ideas for “thriving” ~

  • Finances: Get smart and think positively about budgeting. A smart spending plan is one way to ease stress. Whether you go with Ron Blue or Dave Ramsey or another godly financial planner, get some help and make some wise financial choices. Work on getting rid of debt, saving, giving, etc. [Also, our friend Ellie Kay has some great books: The Little Book of Big Savings, 1/2 Price Living, A Mom’s Guide to Family Finances, and others, all available at her bookstore.]
  • Food: Eat smart. Eat well. Cut grocery bills by eliminating junk and fast food, and eating and storing high quality food. Use coupons. Maybe share bulk foods with others to split the cost. Maybe plant a garden.
  • Health: As new stresses come, we need to be as healthy as possible to deal with them. This means sleep, exercise, wise food choices, nutrient supplements, etc. Dr. Carrie Carter’s book, Thrive! A woman’s Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle, has some great ideas.
  • Creativity: Some things, you can do without. Other things, you can get creative, and make homemade substitutions for expensive items. Make gifts, if possible. Give necessities in pretty packaging.
  • Downsize with Purpose: Downsizing doesn’t have to be a “downer.” Think positively ~ how can simplifying your life give you more time and energy? How can the stuff you “release” be a blessing to others, and maybe meet essential needs?

I’m sure there are many other things you can do to cope with these scary days.

My friend Judy Scharfenberg wrote a book called Secure Families in a Shaky World.  In the introduction, she wrote about the joy we can have as God helps us cope with the changes in life. “You see, the Lord is the Author of joy,” she said. “He made a way so we would not despair. He knows that even in the midst of turmoil and sorrow, we can experience great joy.

“If Jesus lives in our hearts, then He helps us cope. He helps us see life differently, and He helps us take our eyes off ourselves and focus on the important things. He gives us a plan that’s worth following. Sometimes the things that burden us are weights God has placed in our lives so we won’t miss Him.”  (1)

You see, beyond the practical things to do that are listed above, it is crucial that Continue reading

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Feeling Inferior? Embrace Your Purpose!

11 Aug

Humorist Steven Wright once said, “I have an inferiority complex, but it’s not a very good one.” (1)

Pebble on BeachPeople often try to overcome an inferiority complex with the help of counselors. A young husband with an inferiority complex insisted he was just “a little pebble on a vast beach.”

The marriage counselor, trying to be creative, told him, “If you wish to save your marriage, you’d better be ‘a little boulder.’

Whether you believe an inferiority complex is a psychological malady or just too much focus on self, the truth of scripture is that every person is valuable ~ created with purpose.

We are not accidents. The Bible says believers were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Furthermore, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God has saved us and called us to a holy life; it’s part of His purpose and grace, “given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9).

God says we are valuable, and He has not blessed us haphazardly. He gave us special gifts (Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:9-11, 1 Cor. 12) to accomplish His purposes. He has an everlasting plan, and we are part of it!

If we feel we are inferior, it is because we have not fully grasped the love and purposes of God for us, as unique individuals.  Those things that we see in ourselves as handicaps and hindrances, God may well have designed them for His glory!

I think of Nick Vujicic, the Austalian born without arms or legs ~ just a vestigial left foot. He is a Nick Vijicic, speakingpowerful evangelist, traveling the world and sharing the gospel and his unique take on life.

In 2007, Vijicic told a group gathered at Gateway Fellowship Church, “By the end of this service, you are going to be jealous of my life… You can’t undo my joy, you can’t undo my faith.” (2)

The inspiring young evangelist tells people about God’s purpose for their own lives as he shares his own: “God has a purpose for you,” he says, leaning intently forward. “God has a purpose for you to love. To love people… Do you know how to do that? That is what the church is for.”

Vijicic is fulfilling God’s purpose for his life because he is using what the Lord has given him ~ spiritual gifts, knowledge of the Word of God, his personality, and even his so-called “handicaps.” He doesn’t have time for an inferiority complex that would come with comparisons. (Comparisons are never wise ~ 2 Corinthians 10:12.) Though Vijicic  admits to down times, his resolve to live in hope is powerful.

That day at Gateway, Vijicic spoke of the desire to fall in love, marry, and have children. The audience began to sense that there was more to life than what they understood. He spoke of not being able to  dance on a wedding night or put an arm around a crying child. But his understanding of the real values in life came shining through. He said, for example, that it really doesn’t matter that he couldn’t hold his wife’s hand someday. “You don’t need hands to hold her heart,” he said.

There are many reasons for an “inferiority complex” ~ perhaps valid ones born in abuse, depression, or other life circumstances; but with God, there is always hope. God’s plans include “a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, “Why… are you downcast? [down in the dumps, crying the blues, feeling inferior] … Put your hope in God” (Psalm 43:5). Hope can transform the heart and motivate change, as it did for Nick Vujicic.

You are loved and created with a purpose, Friend. Embrace and apply that truth today.

(1) http://quotingquotes.com/20028/

(2) http://www.religionnewsblog.com/17383/nick-vujicic

I Had Every Intention …

3 Aug

Did you hear about the dog who wanted to please his master so much that Dog with Good Intentionswhen the man threw a stick, the dog fetched it … only it wasn’t a stick? (See photo!) Good intentions, but…!

When I was 21, I (Dawn) had every intention to memorize huge passages of scripture. Now, I struggle to remember the verse I memorized last week.

When I was 21, I had every intention of living in a “millionaire’s mansion” by the time I would retire. Now, I look at my bills and can’t afford a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” game.

When I was 21, I had every intention of living the neat, organized Martha Stewart lifestyle. Now, I try to keep boxes in the garage from falling over onto the car, stuff scrapbooking tools into a closet for “someday,” and create under-the-bed storage for shoes that I’ll probably never wear (especially those spike heels that don’t match my “cankles!”)

When I was 21, I had every intention of having a Wonder Woman svelte body and high-fashion wardrobe. Now, I tuck cellulite into Spanx.

Are you laughing at me? OK … you’ve got to identify with at least one of those so you can laugh with me!

Our friend Sue Duffield wrote on Facebook:  “‘I had every intention….’  Four words when, stated like that, will keep you stuck forever. Be intentional today, by doing.”

I am struck by the uncomfortable truth that my good intentions of yesteryear went absolutely nowhere because I didn’t back them up with intentional, daily choices!

I didn’t develop and maintain a scripture memory program that would service me well today and allow  me to better encourage and teach others. I didn’t sock away nickles, dimes, and dollars; I didn’t make many sacrificial investments. I didn’t learn organizational skills. I didn’t exercise or eat nutritious, health-promoting foods.

In short, I didn’t make wise choices day-by-day.

It’s been said ~ and this appears on a bumper sticker ~ “Good intentions make the most noise.” I’ve had a lot of “noise” in my life ~ good intentions ~ but Continue reading

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