Friday, June 19, 2015

The Eleventh Habit and BFFs

Earlier this week, I listed 10 Habits of the Person With the Gift of Shut Up. Last night, I realized that I'd forgotten one very important one----

THINK!


Yes, think before you speak. I guess I forgot because that's the one I always seem to forget when it's important to remember, as in...when I should be doing it!


Last night my BFF and I went out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays, and then to Paint Night, where we surprised ourselves with our artistic talent!



We were relaxing at dinner, joking around, laughing, drinking some wine, and eating, like BFFs do, when I blurted out something unkind (and later promised her that I wouldn't tell the world what I said when I asked her if I could share this story on my blog).

She just looked at me, as if to say, "You didn't really just say that, did you?" 


"Thanks," she said. She always uses fewer words than I do.


I JUST posted a blog about the gift of shut up, and already I forgot it???


I insulted her and hurt her feelings with 8 little words. All because I neglected to think before I spoke.


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs...be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph 4:29-32).


I immediately apologized, and tried to backpedal, but once those words are out, there's no taking them back.


The great thing about BFFs is that they forgive you... 


...forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you (Eph 4:32)


...because they know your flaws, your shortcomings...your stupidity at times. They probably come to expect it. And they love you anyway. 




And the great thing about BFFs who are "of a certain age," is that they forget once you move on to the next fun thing.


My BFF has always been a better friend to me than I have been to her. I've spent years telling her that, yet she keeps hanging out with me. 


Therefore, encourage one another, and build one another up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thess 5:11)


If you can find one person in your life who will do that, then you've found a BFF for life...which is I guess what the second "F" in BFF is for.


If you can be that BFF to someone else, all the better. Just try to think before you speak.


Blessings Along the Path

Mare

Sharing this post with Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ten Habits of a Person With the Gift of Shut Up

Did you know that there is a spiritual gift that is not listed in the bible? It's called the gift of shut up. I suppose it's listed as something more delicate, like humility, gentleness, kindness...take your pick. I like to call it the gift of shut up, as a friend of mine so dearly dubbed it many years ago. She used to say, "I'm waiting for God to give me the gift of shut up."

Oh, if only it was that easy! Losing my words is like losing my footing on a rocky scramble; in an attempt to slow down when I'm already spiraling out of control, my words just tumble over one another, and I'm left at the bottom trying to clean up a mess.

No, the gift of shut up comes only from experiencing the repercussions of not shutting up when perhaps we may have been better off staying quiet. Eating crow. Humble pie. (Why does it always involve continuing to open your mouth and eating?)

If you've been following my most recent posts, you'll remember that a few weeks ago, I got myself into a pickle by insisting that "my way" was better. The Hubs and I were going for a hike, and I was driving. I decided that I knew a more direct way than the printed driving directions, but ended up getting us lost.

The following week, I kept quiet and let the Hubster lead. Except that I didn't like the way he was going and kept thinking that "my way" would have been better.

Well, you know that once we start learning a lesson, God gives us ample opportunity to put what we've learned to the test, don't you?



This past weekend was the 2nd leg of our 72-mile trek across New Jersey on the Appalachian Trail. After working out the kinks the first week, we felt pretty confident that we had this down. This time, I didn't even ask Brian for directions, nor did I ask my phone. I simply followed him (since the AT is a continuous trail, it's always a two car journey that takes a little more time than our typical one car hikes).

I thought I was doing pretty well until he went the wrong way on Route 80! 

Why is he going East? I wondered. 

I quickly grabbed my phone to call him to inform him that he'd gone the wrong way, when God showed up with the gift of shut up! Whattdya know?!

I waited.  The Hubs didn't brake, slow down, or get off at the next exit. He kept going. I still thought he was going the wrong way, but I kept my hand off my phone and reeled my thoughts in.

Shut up! I told myself.

And then I saw where he was going. It was indeed the right way.

Boy, was I ever glad I didn't act in haste. God showed up with that gift of shut up!
In quietness and trust is your strength (Is 30:15)
A second opportunity arose when Brian got into my car after dropping his car off at the end point. He thought I had directions to the starting point, and I thought he had them. We could have allowed the situation to overtake us, and blame each other. But he took the lead and said, "That's okay. I can get them on my ipad." And he did. 

Of course, another opportunity arose. I thought that he had the wrong starting point, but I shut up and followed his directions, and it turned out to be the right place. I'm learning.

As I'm learning, I've discovered ten habits of one who has the gift of shut up:

  1. Being quiet (the obvious) when we would prefer to speak.
  2. Having a right attitude while we decide not to speak.
  3. Not acting hastily, recklessly, thoughtlessly, or selfishly (which leads to speaking hastily, recklessly, thoughtlessly or selfishly).
  4. Allowing others to be who they are.
  5. Allowing others to take the lead and/or take control.
  6. Allowing others to make mistakes, and giving grace when they do.
  7. Allowing others to be right...and wrong.
  8. Choosing not to argue, complain or offer our opinion.
  9. Using discernment, wisdom and tact to determine when to shut up and when to speak up.
  10. Accepting the outcome (and possibly the benefits) of shutting up.
  11. See my blog The Eleventh Habit and BFFs

Yes, this is New Jersey!
When we choose to accept and use the gift of shut up, it may feel stifling at first (because we're not getting our way), but eventually, it's like coming out of the woods to an incredible vista, like this one.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

Sharing this post with Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness,  Crystal at Thriving ThursdaysWinter at Me, Coffee and JesusSusannah at Faith and Fellowship, Laura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His Beauty, Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa Linkup

Monday, June 8, 2015

When My Way Isn't the Right Way

You may remember my post a couple weeks ago about failing to be optimistic...to be honest, it was more about my trying to do things my own way, which led to an argument with the Hubbles.

I know I said I was taking a break, but I just HAD to share this story with you, because of the irony.

In case you missed that post, or have forgotten, I'll give your the condensed version.

Two weekends ago, the Hubs and I took a hike. I decided that there was an easier, more direct route to the park than the directions the Hubster had printed out, so I went that way...only it wasn't easier and it wasn't more direct, and we ended up lost and arguing. 
An actual sign on a trail in Puerto Rico
Well...this past weekend, Brian and I began our journey on the New Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail...72 miles. It's our summer project.



We were very excited to begin, and I pretty much left the planning up to Brian. He's the map man. Since the AT is a continuous trail, each section we hike would be a two-car trip. One car is parked at the end, then we both travel in the other car to the beginning. 

Things were going along just fine the morning of the hike. After a healthy and filling breakfast, we set out. Only I didn't know where we were going, so I asked him. 

"Just follow me," he said.
"Well, what if we get separated? Shouldn't I at least know where I'm going?"
"Sure," he replied. "I'll be taking 287 to 23 North..." 
He rattled off a whole bunch more directions. But I'm not auditory, so after "Route 23," I was lost.
"Huh?" I said.
"Just put Waywayanda State Park in your gps."

I told my phone to find directions to...yeah, that weird place with the Indian name. It tried to give me directions to Way, way yonder...which could be anywhere, quite frankly. So I typed it in.

"Hey, guess what?" I said to the Hubster.
"What?"
"It's telling me to go the same way I went last time." 

I just grinned.

The Hubs didn't find it so amusing. He started to balk, and I cut him off.

"Don't worry, I learned my lesson. I'll go your way."

Well, don't you know that little Google lady tried to get me to turn left at EVERY side street along the way in order to go that "other way."

She was clearly taunting me!

When we got stuck in traffic, I got antsy. Why was there so much traffic at 8:00 am on a Saturday? If we went that "other way"...MY way, we wouldn't be stuck in this traffic and going through all these lights.

The whole way, I thought, My way would've been quicker. My way would've avoided all this traffic.

My way...my way...my way...I was still at it! I had most definitely NOT learned my lesson!

And right there in my car, I had my first epiphany of the day:

I didn't like not being in control. 

I wanted my husband to take charge, but I still wanted to have control. It doesn't work that way. I can't have both!

If I let him take charge, I have to let him have control too. When I attempt to take that away from him, I am telling him things like, 

"You're not doing it right. I don't trust you. You're not good enough."

Essentially...

"You're not man enough...You're not enough." And that is a horrible message to send to your husband.

That was an ugly epiphany.

When we got to Waywayanda State Park, which really did seem like it was way, way yonder, I had my second epiphany. It wasn't as ugly, nor nearly as complex. It was simply this:

We got here, didn't we?


The Hubbles at the starting point (Abram S. Hewitt State Forest)
looking for the blue trail marker
(which was on a tree higher up, hidden).
The blue trail (which was about 1.25 miles...straight up!)
would eventually bring us to our beloved AT
"Allowing" my husband to lead down the rock scramble...our first obstacle...
Brian got us here, didn't he?
From the other side. It was only about 6',
but from above it looked more ominous.

It may not have been the way I wanted, but we got here all the same. It doesn't matter how or what route we took. We got here and that's really all that matters. It doesn't always have to be my way, and I don't always have to make a big deal about it. 

Why can't I just let people be who they are?

Control...ugh!

I learn an awful lot on these hikes (often before they even start)! I have a feeling I'm in for some serious summer lessons! I'll be sure to keep you posted with tales from the trails.

Blessings Along Your Trails,
Mare

If you have time, please watch Frank Sinatra, as he sings my (former) theme song...My Way

Sharing this post with Winter at Me, Coffee and JesusSusannah at Faith and Fellowship, Laura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His Beauty, Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa Linkup, Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness,  Crystal at Thriving Thursdays

Friday, June 5, 2015

Taking a Break

In case you didn't know:

Today, Friday, June 5, is National Donut Day. If you overindulge, don't worry...



...because tomorrow is National Trails Day. You can walk off your guilt. Why do you think I hike so much?



Now, on to the topic at hand.

When I first started blogging about a year and a half ago, I had so much to say. I was seeing spiritual life lessons everywhere. I love how God pours Himself into us when we open our eyes, ears and hearts.

I don't think that God has stopped showing me these powerful and awesome life lessons; they're still there. Rather, I think that I've become too used to seeing them, and the newness has worn off. And my blogging has started to go in a different direction.

If you're a fellow blogger, you know how much time goes into one blog post. Hours. If you're a reader and not a blogger, I hope you enjoy what you read, as well as the pictures and memes. I'm so very grateful for your support, and I love your emails and comments!

Unfortunately, because of the time a regular blog demands, I just can't keep up. Working full time takes up a huge chunk of my time. On top of that, I've been working on other writing projects, so my posts have dwindled considerably.

At the end of July, I will be attending my very first writing conference...a Christian one too! I'm very excited, and hope to learn a lot about writing, editing, and publishing a book (my other writing projects).

Because I will be pitching my projects to agents, editors and publishers, I need to take the next few months off from blogging to work on proposals, and other pieces of the books in order to pull it all together. I want to bring my best work with me!

I hope you won't forget about me! Whenever I get inspired, I will post, but I don't want to post for the sake of posting and have it be something not worth reading.

In case you're curious about what I'm writing...well, I'll tell you!

1) a non-fiction book, loosely titled, Overcoming Negativity. This is based on my post series, 31 Days to Overcoming Negativity.  I naively thought I could just pull all the posts into a book and boom, there ya go! I discovered that it's not that easy. Not at all!

2) a 30-day devotional book to accompany the above book. 

3) a short novel called The Brothers Oulda: a parable, a story about three brothers named Shoulda, Woulda, and Coulda who take up residency in a man's head, creating havoc and eventually being evicted. The story is followed by the explanation of the symbolism in the book in Part II, and the third part is a short bible study or challenge questions (still working on Parts II and III).

If you feel inclined, I would appreciate prayer for the completion of these projects. I will return to the blog world as the Lord leads. 

Until then, go eat some donuts and then take a hike!

Do you need to take a break from something in order to concentrate on something else? Why not give yourself permission to do that?

Blessings, as you traverse your path,
Mare

Blessing CountersWeekend BrewSunday Stillness

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Is "I am" more important than I AM?

I didn't wake up well this morning. I was tired and grumpy. We've had a lot of rainy and dreary days lately, and I really don't do well with that kind of weather.

But Lucy and I took our morning walk anyway.

As I was walking, I thought about my moods lately. They haven't been good. 

I've been having phone issues. To make a long story (that you don't want to read about) short, I was told that the phone company would replace my defective (new) phone, BUT it would be a reconditioned (used) phone. 

When I received said "reconditioned" phone last night, I opened the box to see a phone with a dirty screen saver, full of air bubbles and not even placed correctly on the phone. This was not a reconditioned phone. This was clearly used.  I went to bed frustrated and mad. So I woke up the same way.

As I walked, I started to talk to God. 

And I remembered the book I'm supposed to be writing---the one that is based on my 31 Days to Overcoming Negativity posts.  

The antidote to negativity is found in Philippians 4:8----the Whatevers.  



Ah, I thought, that's it! I just need to think about whatever is right and good and noble (I can never remember the order of all of them) and true...

I stopped mid-thought. What is true? I asked myself.

"Well," I said out loud. "It's true that I got a defective phone. It's true that they sent me a used one. And a dirty one. It's true..."

No, I heard. The Holy Spirit interrupted my diatribe. What is True? (with a capital "T")

Oh...

I'll admit, I was kind of speechless. I was trying to think and couldn't come up with anything. I'd been so focused on me and my problem, I couldn't come up with what was True about God.

"That's pitiful," I heard myself say.

But that wasn't True! See how insidious our enemy can be?

"I am NOT pitiful," I said. "I am a child of God and a co-heir with Christ. I am deeply loved and forgiven. I am valuable.  I am important..."

I AM is important. There it was again, cutting into my thoughts.

It was still about me, wasn't it?

"I am" had become more important than I AM.

"I am angry, frustrated, tired, sad, and entitled" simply became "I am loved, forgiven, valuable, and important."

Those things are true...and even True...but that's not what the Holy Spirit wanted me to focus on. There are times when we need that validation, but this wasn't one of those times. What I was dealing with were feelings, not wrong beliefs. 

I simply needed to choose new feelings.

As long as I keep focusing on my problem, my feelings, my "I am," I will lose my focus on I AM. 

I cannot follow my own desire for resolution and my need for restitution, and expect to hear God's will for me at the same time. 

Sure, God wants to help me resolve the issue, and there are times when He gives us favor in a frustrating circumstance, but my point is this: 

We cannot make our problems our focus. 

When we do that, we lose our patience, our peace and our joy.

Over a phone?

So not worth it.

When we pray, we are to pray TO the Father, THROUGH Jesus, not pray ABOUT the problem.

When I realized this and repented, my problem was quickly reduced to simply an issue that needs to be addressed. It no longer occupied that valuable real estate in my head.

Yes, I still had the problem, issue, but more than that, I still have Jesus. And He is the one who stills my heart to a place of calm. It is only when I am calm will I be able to think clearly.

How are you confusing your "I am" with "I AM" today?

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

PS: After work, I went to the phone store (carrier shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) and the store manager told me that the dirty screen saver was just any old one they found that they put on to protect the phone during shipping. Thankfully, I hadn't made a scene, or I would've felt pretty stupid. The phone dropped a call several times this evening, so I'm not sure the issue is resolved. However, I did discover some pretty neat things while setting it up, that I didn't know before. So maybe there's hope. I'm just glad I kept my peace. Oh, and did I mention...the store manager's name is Emmanuel? God With Us.

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