Getting Along During the Holidays

element5-digital-RPjyNMHDrFY-unsplash

The holidays are a time of cheer and joy as we gather around the table and enjoy festive food and delightful fellowship – right? At least that’s the way it looks on Instagram, but the reality is that sometimes the holidays can be hard. There may be strained relationships and different ways of viewing life, politics and God. So how do you make it through both Thanksgiving and Christmas with more love and less tension?

Recently, I read the following passage from the apostle Peter. Although written many years ago, these words seem to be a wonderful antidote to some of the rough spots in relationships. Think about how you can apply these words.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Just think if we followed these few positive principles penned by Peter. Simply put:

  • Love deeply
  • Offer hospitality without grumbling
  • Use your gifts to serve others

I love how Peter calls us “faithful stewards of God’s grace.” That’s what we should be! We ought to be conduits of His love and grace with every person we encounter, whether it is the person next to us in line or the person sitting next to us at the dinner table. Since we have received God’s grace, then by the power of His Spirit within us, we can freely reflect His grace toward others.

God is glorified when we practice these things. Ultimately isn’t that what the holidays are about anyway?  It’s not about us, rather it’s about celebrating the goodness of God and glorifying Him. Our fervent love for one another shines the light on Him and the powerful, grace-filled work He has done in our lives. May this season be filled with forgiveness, grace and love as we honor Him in what we say and do!

 

Want to share a holiday gift that focuses on God and His glorious attributes? Check out this month’s $5 special, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places. Limit 10 per household.  Click Here for more info.

 

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Three Ways to De-stress Rather Than Distress

court-prather--5_sGvilNME-unsplash

It’s summer and life is carefree and blissful – right? Well, unless you live in a cave or under a rock, I’m guessing that you have a fair amount of stress in your life. We all feel stretched at times, but the key is not to move to a desert island to get away from it all, rather our goal should be to deal with these challenges in a healthy way. Here are three tips to help you de-stress rather than distress.

  1. Create a Positive Plan. What are the biggest sources of stress in your life right now? Is it your overloaded schedule or never ending email inbox or perhaps its taking care of the kids non-stop during the summer. It is important to identify where your tension is coming from in order to begin to deal with it in a manageable way. Perhaps you need to rethink your schedule or daily routine and set some boundaries at work or with people in your life. Maybe you can create a time each day where kids are having quiet play to give you some rest. Could it be that you need to change the way you deal with emails and social media, only checking them several times a day instead of being constantly distracted by them. Make a deliberate plan of action to help you feel less stretched and more in control.
  2. Be Intentional About Relaxing. Consider activities that genuinely rejuvenate you, not only physically, but also emotionally. Each of us have our own ways that we tend to unwind. Maybe it is reading a book or taking a walk or watching a movie or playing with your dog at the park. Interestingly, studies show that spending time in nature actually has a positive effect on our attitudes, so consider getting outdoors each morning before it gets too hot. Make a list of the top five things that you find relaxing and schedule a time each week (or each day if you can) to do at least one activity on your list.
  3. Allow Stress to Work for you. Can stress be a good thing in your life? Possibly. As we walk through stressful situations, our confidence grows, and we become wiser as we learn from each experience. Just as stress on our muscles makes them stronger, so stress in our lives can make us stronger. Difficulties and challenges allow us to learn new skills, grow in empathy towards others and become better as a result. So as you face obstacles or stressful situations, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this situation and how can I grow?” Look for ways to help others in similar situations which also helps you take your focus off of your own challenges.

Most important, stress leads us to seek God’s help and direction. The apostle Paul did not experience a stress-free life by any means, yet he was able to remind all believers to “not be anxious about anything.” Instead, he wrote that we should, “Pray about everything with thanksgiving.” The result is not a stress-free life, but rather a peaceful heart and mind, which surpasses all understanding.

Check out my book, A Positive Plan for More Calm and Less Stress, for more ideas on overcoming your challenges.

Narrowing Our Focus

ankush-minda-547827-unsplash

Ever feel slightly scattered? Do you have days when you run in twenty different directions, yet never seem to accomplish anything on your To Do list? Between the distractions on our cell phones, interruptions of the unexpected and overloaded schedules, most of us find it difficult to simply move from Point A to Point B of our daily agendas.

One way to help us stay focused and on task is to apply what I call the “Principle of Three.” Generally speaking, our brains find it easier to remember things in threes. In writing, the “Rule of Three,” suggests that a trio of three characters or events are more satisfying, effective and even funnier than other numbers (The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Three Blind Mice). And of course, every preacher knows the power of a 3-point sermon. The Principle of Three is seen throughout nature: three primary colors, three parts of a human (body, mind and spirit) and three beings in the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit).

If we apply the Principle of Three to our daily lives it can help us narrow our focus, build on the essentials and reduce the distractions. Here’s a few ways to put it into practice:

  • Write out your To Do List each morning (some prefer to write it out the night before), then choose 3 priorities from the list. What 3 things are essential to accomplish for the day? Use a highlighter to designate your top 3 priorities and work steadily to accomplish them. With a focus of 3, you are more likely to remember and accomplish the essentials for each day.
  • Instead of writing yearly goals that fizzle by March, consider creating a list of 3 objectives that you want to accomplish in the next 3 months. Having a quarterly focus will allow you to stay on target and keep your aim in sight.
  • For each of your quarterly objectives, write out 3 doable action steps. For example, if one of your objectives is to lose 5 pounds, you may want to list your action steps as:
  1. Exercise 5 days a week
  2. Cut out sugar and white flour from diet
  3. Eat before 6:30 pm every night

 

There are many other ways to apply the Principle of Three to your personal life. Start each day with this combination of 3: pray, read, and count your blessings. You will find that your perspective is clearer and your outlook on life is brighter.

In what ways can you apply the Principle of Three to your daily routine?

 

Contact Karol to speak to your group on the “Principle of Three” – positivelifeprinciples@gmail.com

 

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

Flow

flow

Every January I choose a word on which to focus throughout the year. I actually take time to ponder, pray, listen and consider the direction the Lord is leading me. This year I kept coming back to the word flow. Now that may seem peculiar at first glance, but let me explain. Often when I am writing or speaking, I ask God to allow His love to flow through me and touch the lives of others in a powerful and personal way. I want to be a vessel used by Him, inviting the flow of His Spirit to work through me. That’s why flow makes sense.

Funny thing, but every year as I choose my word, I instantly start noticing the word everywhere. As I’m in conversations with friends or reading a book or listening to a podcast, my mind is more attentive to the word, and I tend to perk up and pay attention when I run across it. Just in the first few weeks of January, I’ve discovered stories, quotes and Bible verses all referring to flow in various ways.

One important aspect of flow, is that it implies movement. It’s not stagnant, but dynamic. It reminds me to never grow stagnant in my faith or my relationships. Flow stimulates me to be thankful for the blessings I have received and to look for ways to be a blessing to others. Certainly there is a time to rest. To be clear, flowing doesn’t necessarily mean we are busy all the time. It simply means we are a conduit of God’s love and grace no matter where He places us. As we lay down our lives we invite God to flow through us. This week, let’s be intentional about allowing God’s Spirit to flow through us bringing rivers of blessings to others.

John 7:37-39 New International Version (NIV)

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 

If you haven’t already done so, take some time to consider and choose a word to ponder this year.

Over the next few days, I’ll share on my facebook author page, some of the ways the word “Flow” has been showing up in my daily conversations and study.

Your “Most Treasured” List

typorama

What are some of the things you treasure most in life? For me, it’s time with family and friends. I treasure times of laughter and shared life experiences. I treasure the relationship I have with the Lord – His presence, His grace, His salvation and His Truth. I treasure wisdom, realizing it is one of the most valuable pursuits in life. I treasure taking long walks with my husband, savoring a good book and enjoying a little bit of alone time to write.

What about you? What would be on your “Most Treasured” list?

All too often we rush through our days, without really considering what it is that makes our heart feel rich and full. I believe It’s important to consider what we treasure, because it helps us think through our priorities and what we want to pursue in life. Sometimes it is difficult to identify what we value most in life. It takes contemplation, thoughtfulness and prayer.

This week, take some time to create your list. Perhaps it will make you want to readjust some priorities or re-look at some of the reasons why you treasure what you do. Let’s not assume that everything we treasure is necessarily best for our life. Maybe there’s a few things we shouldn’t treasure so much – areas that may have gotten our lives a little out of balance.

I also want to encourage you to start a discussion this week with those who are close to you, and ask them what they treasure in life. It will allow you to enter their world and open your understanding of their heart’s desires.

Finally, let’s reflect on what Jesus said about treasures.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21

What does Jesus mean by treasures in heaven? Ponder and reflect on His words this week, and ask Him to guide you as you consider what it means to lay up true and lasting treasures.