The Classroom of Peace

oscar-dejean-14868-unsplash

Sitting by a still pond, or relaxing by a lazy river offers a calm and peaceful surrounding to be sure, but these are not the places that God uses to teach us peace.  If we are going to learn what true peace is like, then our classroom will most likely be in the midst of troubles, turmoil and challenges.  Personally, I would love to go through life learning only happy lessons from easy instructors, but that’s not where the best lessons are learned.  Thinking back to schooldays, easy classes were nice, but it was the challenging classes that strengthened me and lifted me to new heights of knowledge and understanding.

The troubles in our lives may lead us to question God.  “Don’t you want me to have peace?  Why do you allow my life to be so difficult?”  I’m sure many of the early Christians felt this way as they faced persecution of all types.  James wrote to encourage them saying, “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.  Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do.  Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need.”

In a troubled marriage, God can develop a peace that passes all understanding.  When a child goes astray, He is able to give us peace.  His peace is available in the midst of cancer, or MS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Peace is barely recognizable in calm surroundings, but it shines brightly in our trials and difficulties.  That’s how we know the peace is from Him and way beyond us. Jesus said, “My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Father, our hearts are prone to worry and fear, but you are the God of peace. Thank you that just as you calmed the restless sea, you can calm our heart and mind. Father we trust you with the details of our life, we look to you for joy and peace to fill our soul. We love you Lord. Thank you for your great love for us and the way you work in our lives beyond what we can imagine. 

 

Photo by Óscar Dejean on Unsplash

Living with Courage

joyce-mccown-791678-unsplash

God is in the courage-giving business. Throughout the Bible we hear the call again and again, “Fear not for I am with you.” God’s message is one of faith and courage, not fear and trembling. From Abraham, to Joshua, to Mary to the shepherds in the field, God has been proclaiming to the generations, “Do not be afraid.” In the Psalms we are reminded, “Even when I walk through the darkest valleys, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” There is comfort in knowing we are not alone, that God is close beside us through our difficulties. What a reassurance comes when we remember God’s voice saying, “I am with you.”

I’m reminded of the encouragement God gave Joshua as he took over the leadership of the Israelites,

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

God wanted Joshua to continually meditate on His commands and to walk in courage. The Israelite leader had to face many difficult battles, but God gave him what he needed for each battle. God doesn’t want us to live in the discouragement of fear, but rather the courage of knowing He is with us.

Powerful Truth

We can replace our fears with faith in God and with seeking His wisdom and direction.

Plan of Action

  • Recognize the fears that lurk in your life.
  • Seek God’s direction and help.
  • Praise and thank God in the midst of your worries and fears.
  • Remember the battle is the Lord’s.
  • Do not be discouraged and do not give into despair.
  • Ask for His peace that passes all understanding.
  • Walk forward with wisdom, patience and faith.

 

This blog is an excerpt from Positive Life Principles for Women

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

Finding Your Flow

robert-lukeman-128791-unsplash

Do you ever get so wrapped up in a hobby or activity  or even work that you lose all sense of time? For me, I often become immersed in what I am writing, and hours can slip away without me even noticing. For others, it may be training for a race or designing a floral arrangement or accomplishing a new song on the piano or working on a creative project at work. Being completely immersed or absorbed in an activity that is challenging, yet geared toward your skills is described as the joyful state of flow.

Contemporary psychologist say that flow is highly correlated with happiness. Furthermore, studies have found that people who often experience flow are likely to develop additional positive traits such as self-esteem, focus and greater performance. Flow is not something forced, rather it is intrinsically motivated. It’s what Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, spoke about when he said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

How beautiful it is to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit to work through our unique gifts to bring glory to God and blessings to others. God has equipped each of us with different interests, passions and abilities, and we can experience great pleasure as we express them in this world. As believers in Christ, we have the joy of knowing that God’s Spirit works in mighty ways through us, as He not only gives us gifts, but enables us to use them.

Jesus said, “Whoever believe in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Invite the flow of His Spirit to pour through you this week.

 

Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

Three Tips to Being an Effective Volunteer

cristi-tohatan-675311-unsplash

Are you currently using your gifts and talents to serve in your community? This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and it is the perfect time to talk about finding a place to plug in and be a  blessing to others. Last week, I blogged about how our happiness tends to increase when we genuinely serve others. This week, I want to talk a little bit more about how to jump into volunteering and serve effectively.

There are countless volunteer opportunities around us. Whether you are a busy parent or a business person or an empty-nester, there are simple and meaningful ways each of us can reach out and help.

Begin by considering the issues that tug at your heartstrings. What is your passion? Ask the Lord to lead you to the place where you can best use your God-given abilities to make a difference. You may want to consider serving together as a family. There is no better time than the present to make a decision to step out of your comfort zone and into the lives of others in need.

Certainly we want our time of service to be worthwhile and genuinely helpful. I want to offer three ways to increase our effectiveness as we volunteer.

  1. Consistency – Let’s show up on time and be there each time we are scheduled to serve. We are not just volunteers, rather we are an important part of the whole process. Our help is valuable and the organization in which we serve depends on us to be there. Also, it is easy to do a one-and-done service project that makes us feel good for a moment, but true change (both for us and those we serve) happens when we commit to being there on a regular basis.
  2. Humility – Pride says, “I’m going to go in and fix these people because they are broken.” Humility says, “I’m broken. They are broken. We all are broken in different ways. We all need love.” When we serve with a heart of humility, we help others recognize their value, rather than making them feel like “a project” or helpless.
  3. Connectivity – We build a connection and give dignity to others by listening to them. Ask questions and pay attention to their heart and their pain. We must also be vulnerable and real and be willing to share a little of our own struggles as well. Relationships are developed not only by what we do, but by the way we listen and the way we speak.

True service is not simply to make us feel better about ourselves, but rather to impact the lives of others in a positive way. The apostle Paul wrote, “Each of us should not only look out for our own interests, but also the interest of others.” May each of us find the place that we can joyfully give a little of our heart to elevate and love another person.

Engage Header 2-01

For more information about joining the amazing team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative go to: www.EngageParenting.org

Photo at top of blog by Cristi Tohatan on Unsplash

Increasing Happiness through Cultivating Kindness

brigitte-tohm-69300-unsplash

Do you have a genuine desire to help others and improve the world around you? Research tells us that people who demonstrate kindness through acts of altruism or volunteering on a consistent basis generally experience a higher life-satisfaction and even show fewer depressive symptoms. Whether you get involved through an organization or club as a volunteer, or simply reach out to a co-worker or friend who is struggling or lonely, caring and compassion has multiple benefits.

Certainly, our motive in volunteering is not just to make ourselves happy, but a sense of satisfaction and contentment is a welcomed outcome. Typically those who are required to volunteer (for a school assignment, college application, etc.) do not feel the same sort of satisfaction as those who are intrinsically motivated. A sincere desire to help others is one of the keys to experiencing a sense of contentment and well-being.

It’s difficult to give love if we don’t feel loved. Demonstrating a true compassion and love begins in our heart, when we recognize our own brokenness and need for redemption. When we know and receive God’s love, we are better able to pour out that grace-filled love toward others. John (the beloved disciple) put it this way, “We love because He first loved us.” As we draw close to Him and embrace His love, we can allow that love to overflow into a life of care and service.

Additionally, studies show that the recipients of acts of kindness who are encouraged to participate or cooperate in some way experience a greater level of happiness than those who simply receive the benefits with no participation. I found this research particularly interesting, since the parenting outreach I started several years ago invites parents to participate in the classes and empowers them to discover their own solutions, instead of simply being told what to do.  And yes I’d love for you to consider joining our team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative! For more information go to www.EngageParenting.com

So where do we begin? Prayerfully ask God to lead and guide you to a place where your gifts and talents can be used to help others. He has equipped each one of us with unique abilities to care and serve. The apostle John reminded us, “Let us not simply love in words or in speech, but in actions and in truth.” May we be faithful to step out of our comfort zone and into the lives of those who could use a helping heart.

Paper bag Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Engage Header 2-01

Next week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. It’s the perfect time to join the team at Engage Parenting! Find out how at: Engage Parenting Volunteers