Open Hands, Open Heart

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Retail store checkout lines are dangerous for me. Yes, I’m one of those people who succumb to “last minute” purchases on items that are so conveniently located near the cash register. Case in point, recently I ran into Hobby Lobby to grab a few party decorations, and I came out with three new books – which of course, I didn’t really need.

Well actually, maybe I did need one of them.  It was a book by the owner of Hobby Lobby, David Green called Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again, The Way of Living Generously. It is the powerful story of how he started Hobby Lobby, but more importantly, it is about living with open hands and an open heart.

As I read his story, I began to think about the many things that I tend to hold a little too tightly to in my life. Things like my time, my plans, my money, my stuff, my opinions, my resentments.  Just like Jennifer Garner so eloquently says on the Capital One commercials,  “What’s in your wallet?” I suppose we could all ask ourselves, “What’s in my clenched fists?”

The interesting thing is, if we are going to reflect God’s attributes in our lives, we are compelled to be generous because He is generous. He is generous in love, in wisdom, in grace and in mercy. He is generous in giving us good gifts and blessings every day. Most important He is generous in salvation, giving His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Oh what a generous God we serve!

Here’s what’s truly beautiful – God is generous with His Spirit who enables us to live generously. Admittedly, I’m not so great at loving and giving in my own strength and will power, but God is! We can ask Him to open our hearts and our hands to living in a giving way.

Three practical and positive action points to ponder:

Realize: God is a generous God. His Spirit helps us to be generous. Realize that everything belongs to Him anyway.

Repent: Let’s begin to identify the things that we are holding with clenched fists (time, talent, treasures, unforgiveness, anger, opinions, plans, etc…). Confessing these things to God helps our heart begin to change.

Release: Finally, let’s open our hands and release those things. Let’s ask God to fill our hearts with generosity and  also ask Him to show us where to love, serve and give.

Make it a generous week this week!

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Engage Note:  There are many opportunities to give of your time, treasures and talents. If you would like to give to Engage Positive Parenting Initiative, reaching families in adverse circumstances with discussion-based parenting classes, you can click here to donate. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website at www.EngageParenting.com

 

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

We Can Make Our Plans, But…

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Breaking his foot on the first day of our Italian vacation was not exactly what my husband had planned for our trip. We spent our first day in Florence in the hospital ER.  Fun! Normally on a trip like this, we would be walking around the city, taking pictures of Renaissance chapels and sculptures, but instead we were waiting for hours for a picture of my husband’s foot.

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After three hours of thumbing through old Italian magazines in the waiting room while Curt was waiting in another room for his X-rays, I finally decided to explore the hospital. I found a spot to sit outside and enjoy the Italian sunshine. As I soaked up some rays, I happened to notice a couple of tourists who looked like they were on a hunt for a hidden treasure.

I watched them walk through a small, inconspicuous wooden door behind me. Hmmm….where were they going? I just had to find out and see what they were up to.  So, like Alice chasing the white rabbit, I followed the tourist through the little door  – and to my surprise I walked into a magnificent 15th century chapel. Inside the hospital! Who knew? I was truly taken by the beauty and reverence of this sacred place. For me, it was a bright spot on our less-than-spectacular day.

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Although our trip didn’t start off on the right foot (no pun intended), we weathered the twists and turns and persevered. And we learned to discover the beauty along the way. Italian lesson number one: we can make our plans, but then we must be willing to adjust and find the simple joys in Plan B. And if you ever find yourself in the ER in the middle of Florence, check out the chapel behind the wooden door!

 

Five Ways to Boost Your Confidence

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How many times have you said no to something simply because you lacked the confidence to do it? Granted, we don’t need to say yes to every crazy opportunity that presents itself, but there are times when we ought to step forward and have a little faith in our own abilities. In fact, that’s what the word confidence means – with faith. So how do we increase our belief in our own abilities? Let’s consider five ways:

Try New Things – You never know until you try. Your belief in yourself grows when you try something new and grow from the experience. Don’t be afraid of mistakes – they happen. What is important is that you step forward in courage and face the fear of the unknown.

Grow from Every Blunder – Instead of beating yourself up and thinking of yourself as a failure, use every mistake as a growth opportunity. Allow errors to make you smarter and stronger. Most success stories are built on the foundation of lessons learned from mistakes.

Build on Your Strengths – What are you good at? Take stock of the things you do well and continue to strengthen those areas of your life. As we learn, grow and build in our areas of giftedness, we continue to get better and better at what we do and of course our self-confidence grows as a result.

Manage Around Your Weaknesses – Just as each of us have areas of strength, we also have a few weak spots. Don’t let them get you down, rather learn to work around them. Figure out ways to delegate or get the help you need so that your limitations don’t stifle you or impair you from doing what you do best.

Stop Comparing with Others – It never helps to think of yourself in relation to other people. Comparisons only breed pride or poor self-esteem. Be thankful for the unique way that God has created you, and use your gifts to serve and help others.

Ultimately our confidence is built on a belief system. If we believe that a loving God designed us, formed us and created us for a purpose, then we can walk in confidence knowing that He has a plan for our lives. We can also have the assurance that we do not walk alone. His Spirit leads us and guides us each step of the way as we look to Him for wisdom, strength and hope.

Where do you lack confidence? Ask God to help you face your fears. And remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

For more on Confidence check out my book, A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.

Living with Courage

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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

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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