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Entering the Conflict Zone: Peace-loving vs. Peace-making

Recent, marked the first of ten classes that I’m leading where we’re studying a book titled, Pleasing People: How Not to Be an “Approval Junkie”.

Okay, time for truth here. When I first read/reviewed this book some years ago, I thought, well, I’ve got lots of struggles…to be sure…but being an approval junkie isn’t one of them.

Wrong.

Once I read this book through, I realized I am definitely not immune from this insidious disorder as the author puts it.

So, as I’m rereading the text and highlighting the sections that stick out to me (or more accurately grab me by the throat) I’ve realized how much of an approval junkie I am…with certain people, mind you.

Below I’ll list some thoughts people pleasers inwardly fret over that author Lou Priolo says are common characteristics of being an approval junkie (aka a people pleaser).

Take a deep breath…you might even see yourself in a few of these surprising and heart revealing scenarios.

Writes Priolo —

The love of man’s approval is inextricably bound to the fear of man’s disapproval. When a people pleaser interacts with others, his thoughts immediately and instinctively run in the direction of selfishness, anxiety, and fear.

I’m not prepared to meet this person.
What does he think of me?
I’ll probably make a fool of myself.
I can’t reveal too much of myself or he will know what I’m really like and reject me.
I can’t bear the thought of being hurt again.
I have to get away from this person as quickly as possible.
I have to be careful not to say anything that might get me into a conflict.

A people pleaser is not a peacemaker, but rather a peace lover. A peacemaker is willing to endure the discomfort of a conflict in the hope of bringing about a peaceful resolution. A peace lover is so afraid of conflict that he will avoid it at almost all costs. He is essentially a coward at heart.

I don’t know about you, but when I read this section I realized how often I am the cowardly peace loving person rather than the brave peace making person. 

And that, my friend, has to change.

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Dwelling on These Good Things

During a discussion on panic/anxiety and the like; I read a specific portion from the book we’re studying on the power of the mind and how the thoughts we mull over pertain to our general outlook on life. 

What I found the most helpful in this section was the authors’ statement that each of us has to learn to discipline our thoughts (take them captive) in such a way that we do not, ever, ever, ever, take on tomorrow’s responsibilities (burdens, worries, and fears) today.

For when we do start down that dismal road of “what if’s, what will I do, and what will happen if?” There’s no turning back (at least not without lots of concerted effort and back-tracking hard work.)

Read what famed theologian, C.H. Spurgeon preached to his congregation back in the 1800’s.

Many of God’s people are constantly under apprehensions of calamities which will never occur to them, and they suffer far more in merely dreading them than they would have to endure if they actually came upon them. In their imagination, there are rivers in their way, and they are anxious to know how they shall wade through them, or swim across them. There are no such rivers in existence, but they are agitated and distressed about them… They stab themselves with imaginary daggers, they starve themselves in imaginary famines, and even bury themselves in imaginary graves. Such strange creatures are we that we probably smart more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which do actually come. The rod of God does not smite us as sharply as the rod of our own imagination does; our groundless fears are our chief tormentors.

I don’t know if you can relate to this vivid description of self-imposed mental torment, but I sure do. Going back to our class discussion (and from what various people shared,) I’m not the only one. 

Which is why I keep coming back to the this single statement found in Philippians 4, “Be anxious for nothing.” 

And last time I looked, the definition of nothing means just that…nothing. Not worrying about 80% or 50% or even 99% of a problem…nothing means zero.

So what should we set our minds’ focus on?

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, what is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute…dwell on these things.” 

I like that.
I will aim for that type of mindset because the alternative is, well, just plain scary.

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Living Bravely Makes Another Reader Happy

“JD is enjoying his new devotional book!!!! Thanks for writing this kids’ devotional! I love that each entry is one page and gives both practical application and thoughts for his racing mind to ponder. First thing JD was drawn to was how colorful the pages are! Thanks for providing one more tool to help us train our kids and pass down our Faith. We pray our son lives bravely in an increasingly hostile world.” 😍😍😍😍

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All Loaded Up with Love

Max Lucado has a way with words…it’s no wonder he’s been called America’s favorite storyteller.

Let his words of encouragement sink deep into your heart, mind, and soul. 

I did.

He…loads me with love and mercy. Psalm 103:4

It’s time to let God’s love cover all things in your life. All secrets. All hurts. All hours of evil, minutes of worry.

Discover along with the psalmist: “He…loads me with love and mercy.” Picture a giant dump truck full of love. There you are behind it. God lifts the bed until the love starts to slide. Slowly at first, then down, down, down until you are hidden, buried, and covered in his love.

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Me and My Gang — Never Travel Far Without Them

I have an ongoing inside joke with one of my closest friends where we jokingly text each other on “one of those days” with one of two words.

Thelma
Louise

Depending on the day (and our mood) we become one of these infamous fictional female gun-totters. Of course, it’s just a joke but it clues both of us in on how the other is doing that day and then we react in kind to support each other.

That’s just one of the great things about female friendships…you don’t always need a lot of words to convey a lot of meaning. In fact, sometimes just a look will do the job. (Or a single word text.)

Which is why I’m so grateful to have a small “gang” of my own to call friends. 

Fall, winter, spring, or summer…doesn’t really matter what season we’re in or what holiday we’re celebrating…rejoicing in the friendships we share with others is always the “gift that keeps on giving.” This is especially true for females.

Women and our friendships: Their solidarity is confounding, given they often agree and disagree in equal measure yet their loyalty pronounces a unity that can’t be disputed. Good friends won’t let each other fall too far. They have each other’s backs. They feel each other’s pain. They sometimes feel like a pain, true enough. And still, when the losses tally up, women rally to one another’s sides and they secure the gap with a commitment so tenacious it can be startling to onlookers as well as the women themselves. 

Women reach out and secure one another. They reach under and lift up. They reach around and hold tight. Surrounded by such a safety net and secured by unconditional love, no wonder that women fare better than their male counterparts in wake of similarly devastating circumstances. It’s true; there is indeed safety in numbers.

Author Sarah Zacharias Davis observes how even after traumatic loss, the language of friendships can offer something precious, not to replace the loss mind you, but to circumvent some measure of the hurt. 

“Friendship love speaks of listening, honesty, forgiveness, giving the benefit of the doubt, and sacrifice. It is standing and declaring publicly, ‘This is my friend.’” 

Real friends make a woman feel safe, in season and out. 

Safe.
Secure.
For sure.

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Thanksgiving….Giving Thanks Every Day, Especially Today

Remember that a grateful heart is almost always a happy one.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. Psalm 28:7

Life’s Little Instructions

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Today, especially today, I am thankful for —

loving family
good friends
the strength to make a meal (and clean it up) 😉
a warm house
living in the United States
the conversations we’ll share today
delicious smells and yummy tastes

and….

gentle reminders all day long that Jesus Christ is the Giver of all good gifts and I am a thankful recipient of His forgiveness and grace

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Thankfulness: It’s a Beautiful Thing

I have a friend who is my ultimate example in the “giving thanks” department since she consistently expresses a grateful, thankful heart no matter what she is experiencing. 

Since we have been friends for over thirty years, I’ve watched her react to good times…bad times…and everything in between times.

I also remember that she passed her habit of expressing a grateful spirit to her children…and it showed. My friend’s five children remain to this day some of the most thankful young adults I know. And it still shows.

As I sit reflecting upon how my friend has influenced my life, I recognize that she has taught me many lessons that have challenged my thinking, challenged my way of living, and challenged my default response mode.

Out of everything I’ve learned from her…the supreme lesson of all has been to give thanks in everything…

“Give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

I like how Puritan pastor Richard Baxter says it, 

Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can…Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.

My friend is right.
Baxter is right.

The more I resolve to express (and internalize) a thankful heart (no matter what)…the more it (the thankful heart) transforms my attitude (and my circumstances.) Which in turn transforms the ugliest situation into something of rare beauty…and that (the ability to transform trial into triumph) is in and of itself perhaps the most spectacular transformation of all.

So the question is…for what (and for whom) can I give thanks today (right now?)

And, how can I express that thanks (in practical, tangible ways) so that others can be encouraged too?

Out loud.
To others.

Because…

Gratitude is not the quiet game. It begs to be expressed, both to God and to others. “Silent gratitude,” Gladys Berthe Stern said, “isn’t much use to anyone.”