Throughout my marriage I spent my time trying to please my spouse. I did whatever he asked. I went wherever he wanted to go. I cooked what he wanted. But sometimes that just wasn’t enough. I was making myself miserable by only being happy when I was able to please him. Looking back I now see the problem. It wasn’t him. It was me. I was trying to be who he wanted me to be rather than who God wanted me to be. When we try to please others, we will never be happy. However, when we live to please God, we will always be content and have joy.

If you are living a life where you are trying to please man, or woman, and you are finding you just can’t do it, know it’s time for a change. Whether it be at work, at home, with a friend, etc. Know that it’s time to change and focus on pleasing God by living in obedience to Him. When you decide to make that change, you will find many rewards. Here’s how:

GOODBYE OLD

It’s time to clean house. This doesn’t necessary mean the things where you live but the things in your mind. What old thoughts keep bringing you back to where you feel bad about yourself? What old ways do you need to turn from? Remember God is all about helping and renewing us but we have to be willing to get rid of the old. Ask God to help you change your thoughts.

HELLO NEW

Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the things of the world but to let God transform us into new people by changing the way we think. Then we will know God’s perfect will for us. Only God can give us the right things to think and do. His will is perfect and He will help us by transforming us into the people He created us to be. Go to Him and submit your life to Him.

MAKE IT STICK

Changing our thought patterns is not a one-time process. To make a change that sticks, we have to be committed to that change. Commitment comes with new habits, new thoughts and new ways. To live a life pleasing to God and not man we need to get into God’s word, read it daily and talk to Him all day long. He is our new best friend. He wants us to live by His commands because they are good for us. To make our new ways stick, we need God every day.

Thinking back on my marriage, there were a lot of things I could have done differently that would have made it a better marriage. However, through my mistakes I learned much. Because I failed at so many things, I succeed now. If you struggle with something in life, don’t look at it as a failure. Look at it as a learning opportunity and thank God for what He is teaching you.

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Growing up I was always quiet and shy. I had a hard time making friends. I think it was because I moved around a lot since my dad was in the service. So when we finally settled in one place after he retired, I had to learn the skill of friendship around age 12. It was rough. Kids were mean. I was shy. Every day someone poked fun at me or ignored me. That went on through high school as well which didn’t help my self-esteem at all. I decided I would watch what I said to others because I didn’t want anyone to feel like I had felt growing up.

Many times we don’t even realize when we are treating someone wrong. We may not intentionally ignore someone. We may just be focused on what we are doing or thinking. We may not realize the look we have on our face that is serious or sour. But those around us do see it. What they see is an unhappy person. What they see is someone who doesn’t seem to care about them. That is why we need to be sure when we are with others, we are thinking about them and showing them we care. Here are some ways to do that:

BE AWARE

So many times we are wrapped up in our own world. We are thinking about what we have to do. We are looking ahead at tomorrow and what all is going on. We aren’t focusing at all on the moment we are in right now. We can change though. We can be in the moment. We can notice our family is in the room with us and put the phone down. We can observe someone who is standing next to us in line at the store and speak and smile at them. We can think about someone who is going through a hard time and give them a call or visit them. When we are more aware of the needs of others and take action, they will know we care.

LISTEN

We are people who tend to talk more than listen. Usually when the other person is talking we are thinking about what we are going to say next. Listening is a skill. It requires effort. Listening to others means to take the focus off of us and put it on them. When we listen to someone, we can get to know them, their needs and determine how we can help. When others are talking, let them finish. Then ask questions that help them open up so we can determine what they really need.

PRAY

I have recently learned that if I want to remember people’s names and make friends, I need to pray for them. This helps me focus more on them and their needs and helps me show a more caring attitude toward them. Praying for others is something we can do that doesn’t take long but pays out big dividends. When we pray for someone, we are showing God we care about them and want to help them.

There are people in need everywhere we go. When we are more aware of those around us, when we listen to them and when we pray for them, God is going to help us know how to best help them. We should make a list of people who we know and begin to pray for a better relationship with them trusting God to answer and show us what we need to do next.

I often find myself comparing what others have to what I have. Their house seems nicer. Their clothes look better. They aren’t as heavy as I am. The list goes on and on. As a writer and speaker, I am always looking for ways I can learn from other writers and speakers. Which leads me to comparing myself again. It seems to be a habit that we can easily get stuck in. So I did a little research and have come up with some ways to stop comparing and start learning to be content with who I am and what I have.

Be Grateful

This is probably the biggest way to stop coveting what others have. When we stop and show gratitude for what we have, we will realize we have way more than we need. We will realize we are very blessed. When we are grateful for who God made us to be, we can focus on our own strengths and talents and strive to use them for His glory.

Understand Differences

No one is the same. Everyone has something a little different about their background, experience, relationships, etc. Just as snowflakes all have differences, so do we. We can’t have exactly what others have because God did not intend it to be that way. And there are some things that we surely don’t want that others have.

Take Inventory

We have so much. Just looking around my office I see things I never use, I don’t need and I need to get rid of. How could I want more when I don’t even use what I have. Same with our talents and skills. God gives us unique abilities to use and sometimes we just leave them lying dormant inside us without developing them into what He intended us to use them for.

The Plan

So here’s the plan. When I feel as if I need something someone else has, I am first going to look around at what I have and be grateful. Then I will understand there are things others have I don’t really need. Finally, I will take inventory of my things and my abilities and ask God to show me what to do with these blessings from Him so that I can help others.

Taking the focus off of me and putting it on helping others will definitely help me to be more content with what I have and give me the opportunity to share God’s blessings with others.

I woke up laughing. Never can I recall a morning that I woke up 30 minutes before the alarm and laughing! That was this morning. Although I had stayed up past my bedtime last night watching an instructional video. Although I made a large purchase for what they were selling when I am in extreme debt. Although I had a crazy dream that should have woke me up screaming, I slept through it and dreamt on. Although I have had anxiety attacks for the past 3 months and usually wake up scared with my heart racing, this morning I woke up laughing. Only God knows the true reasons why, but here is what I think happened…

GAMING OFF

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t play computer games before going to bed. I guess since the first computers came out 20 years ago I have been play some form of solitaire, blocks, Farmville, Candy Crush, Bejeweled Blitz or another type of game. I would spend endless hours trying to get a high score with nothing really to show for it but fireworks for completing the games, blinking lights or moving up to the next level. So I decided to limit my game time to 20 minutes last night.

LEARNING ON

For about two hours before going to bed I watched or listened to successful women and men talking about how they were able to market products, advertise, stop being distracted, etc. I made notes. I set some goals and I even took action, yes at 9:00 p.m. at night, on one of those goals by doing something new I had never done before…I got brave and did something new and different and uncomfortable.

WATCHING OFF

Television. What a joke. I will say there are inspirational things on it at times but during prime time hours the new shows are just not worth my time. Too much drama or sex or profanity. Many shows are just vulgar. So how do I waste my time watching television? Reruns. I watch shows that are good and clean and I could probably quote every word so I decided to mute the TV so I could focus on putting new and good information into my brain.

READING ON

Before going to bed, I read some of a devotional book that ended with a prayer. This book is about prayer and how to have a conversation with God in all we do. It’s about how to pray in all areas of our lives. This devotion is only two pages long and offers much information about various prayers and how to pray. Reading just a bit and letting it sink in every night will make some positive changes for the future.

AHA MOMENT

You see, when we continue to do the same things expecting different results, we will be what the dictionary calls crazy or insane. I was doing that every night. I was playing computer games, watching reruns or (even worse) lifetime movies and then going to bed. But for the last few nights, I decided to read something motivational, watch an inspirational video, set some goals, think about life, read God’s word and pray. Yes, that is why I believe is the reason that this morning I woke up laughing.

THE DREAM

I was in my home with a lot of other people. We were doing a Q&A about a Bible story. I had given them parts to read about the story and asking questions. It was fun and interactive. There was a part in the dream where I went outside to walk along the beach (guess I had a beach home) and I saw walrus and some sea creatures. After walking a while I realized I was waist deep in the water. I immediately begin to panic that the sea creatures were going to get me so I thought about my relaxing techniques and the next thing I knew I was back in my home with my friends. As they would answer the questions correctly, I would say “you got it!” and we would move on to the next question. After they had all left, I saw myself lying in bed dreaming again about what could have happened to me in the water and my phone rang. I said “hello” and I heard a familiar voice on the other end who said, “you got it!” and a laugh I will never forget. It was my youngest daughter. I had dreamed she was calling me even though she wasn’t but she literally woke me up laughing.

I can remember growing up and wanting to fit in. I never really gave my opinion about anything because I was afraid of controversy. I never really expressed my feelings because I wanted to agree with everyone else. That led me to start smoking, drinking and cussing. That led me to doing the things of the world rather than of God. I was raised in the church; however, I wanted to fit in with the world.

As I grew up, I continued to attempt to please others. It was hard. When I would please one person, another person would be hurt. When I would try to please them, another person would disagree. The more I strived to please others, the less good I felt about me.

There was even a point in my life when someone asked me if I ever had an opinion. They asked if I ever stood for anything. I was shocked that they even dared to ask. Because I did stand for something. I stood for the opinion of whoever was with me at the time. I agreed with them. I supported them. I did want they wanted us to do. Doesn’t that count for anything? I was hurt and then mad at myself for not standing for anything.

I think I had really decided that I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything enough to stand for it. I wanted to be easy-going. I wanted to go with the flow. You can’t go with the flow and stand for something because that would stir things up. I was not a stirrer-upper. So all through my life, for over 40 years, I did what others thought was best.

I quit college and went to work. I got married because I was supposed to have children and a family. I got a job that I didn’t like. Everyone had so many plans for me I just stayed busy for them. I had forgotten about God. Well, not completely, but enough to push Him in the background of my life because I was so busy trying to do what I could to fit in and be liked. But what I was really doing was blending in so much that I wasn’t making a difference at all to anyone. Especially not to God.

Then a few years ago something changed. After trying to please so many people, I found myself alone with many messes that I had created along the way. I had financial troubles. I had relationship issues. I had problems in just about every part of my life. Everyone else had found someone who they wanted to be around more than me. I didn’t have friends. Only people who wanted things from me. I had made so many mistakes and done things I never dreamed I would ever do.

One morning I woke up like I always do. I woke up worried. Worried about life. Worried about family. Worried about money. That is the day I got on my knees and prayed. I asked God what I had done wrong. I asked Him how I could get back on track. I asked Him what He wanted me to do. And He answered. He told me to get back into His word. And I did. I began reading His word every morning and praying. I began writing.

Since then, I now stand for something. Since then, I now know what God wants me to do and am no longer concerned with what others think. I no longer am obsessed with the things of the world. I read His word every morning. We have conversations and He helps me write. He helps me share His word. He gives me direction. And no matter what anyone else may think, I am standing for Him now. My opinions are based on His word. My actions are based on His direction. My help comes from Him.

And when others tell me I need to leave His word out of my writings, I just keep doing as He tells me to do. And when others tell me to stop being so nice and good to others, I just keep doing as He tells me to do. And when others tell me to get involved in their worldly actions, I just keep doing as He tells me to do. I now stand for Him and my opinions are based on His word. And I am so thankful and grateful that He waited on me all these years to draw me close to Him again.

And He is waiting for you. Won’t you call on Him to draw you close to Him again?

“Draw Me Close To You”
Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace

Help me find a way
Bring me back to You
Bring me back, oh Jesus.

Want a closer relationship with God? Go to Him today and ask Him to draw you closer to Him. And He will.

UDT-Waiting_roomEver sat for a while in a doctor’s office or been waiting too long on something but you find yourself getting to know those around you while you wait? Sometimes you start up conversations, find you have things in common and enjoy the time even though you are being delayed in your day because you are waiting.

Our relationship with God is a lot that way. We wait for answers from Him about issues we have in our relationships, in our finances, in our careers or health. But while we are waiting, we have the opportunity to talk with Him and get to know Him better. If we choose to take advantage of our time while we are waiting to draw closer to Him, we will find that our waiting helped us to become stronger and we grew as a believer.

Next time we are waiting on an answer from God, let’s use that time as growth time where we did into God’s word, journal about our blessings, praise His name, do good for others and share His word. That will keep us busy while we are in the waiting room of life.

Write down three things you can do today to better know God, serve others and share His word with them.

Use today as a way to do something nice for someone who usually gets on your nerves.

Know that God is with you all day today and be open to hearing His voice.

Read and repeat a Bible verse all day and ask God to reveal His meaning to you.

Pick up an extra gift for someone who is in your life that you normally overlook and thank them for what they do.

Write down ten small things you can do this month that will make a big difference to someone else.

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After three days in the mountains with some new friends, I have resolved that we can have close encounters of a third kind when we choose to let go and let God be in the midst of things. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the close encounter I am referring to.

I had a great encounter this weekend with seven other women (six who I did not know until this weekend). We met in the mountains on Friday. We ate, shared, ate, laughed, ate, relaxed, ate, shopped and ate during those three days. Our time together was precious and made me realize the importance of true friendship. I had the pleasure of sitting back and watching these women who were friends in high school reunite and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

I didn’t have many friends growing up. It seemed we moved too much due to my father being in the Air Force. So once he retired and we settled down, I began to make friends. The friends I made, however, were poor choices on my part because of my shyness and insecurity. I was eager to please and didn’t really understand what true friendship was. So for many years I lived with the fact that friends will let you down, use you and only be with you if they had nothing better to do.

As I grew older, I found out that there are true friends. There are true friends who you can count on no matter what. These friends are there to support, encourage and laugh with. These friends are positive, motivating and inspiring. True friends don’t bring others down. They lift them up.

What a great time we can have with our friends when we are looking to help one another and not pull each other down. There are friends who we can rely on. There are friends who we can share with. There are friends who will take our encouraging words and use those words to make great things happen. There are great godly friends who can help when you need it and who you can share with without judgment.

If you haven’t had a chance to encounter with great godly friends, that is my challenge to you. Find some people who you know or you don’t know very well and decide to spend time with them to encourage, motivate and learn from each other so you can experience a close encounter of the third kind.

 

Sleeping doesn’t always occur when our eyes are closed and we are in bed. Sleeping can occur as we walk through life. Missed opportunities are due to being asleep. When we forget about our purpose and decide to sleep through life, we are not only missing out on opportunities but we are not helping others the way we should.

When we sleep through life, three things happen: we lose focus, we get distracted, and we become selfish.

The first issue with sleeping through life is that we lose focus. Where we were alert and awake with what we needed to do to stay on track, we become lazy and uncaring. We lose focus on the reasons we began to live on purpose. We lose focus because things don’t seem to be going as we planned them to go and we began to look at other things to bring us satisfaction.

Second, we often get distracted. It isn’t that we don’t want to do what needs to be done but other things come up where we have to get off task. We are tossing and turning in our sleep so we can rest as well as we would like to. We are distracted with worry and doubt about what we are doing, with guilt about what things we are not getting done and with impatience that could lead us off track seeking more immediate but temporary pleasures.

Finally, when we become selfish we forget the reason for us pursuing our purpose is to help others. We fall asleep when we want to and get up when we want not caring about the needs of others. We seek the things that will help us rather than helping them. We seek recognition from anyone so we can feel a sense of accomplishment but we have to be careful we aren’t seeking selfish gain.

Those who choose to sleep through life for whatever reasons are simply making excuses not to be responsible. We all do need our sleep but choosing to sleep through life rather than take action will lead to a life not fulfilled, a dream not lived out and an opportunity to help others missed.

While the world sleeps, let’s not get caught up in what is making them sleep. Let’s continue working toward the goal God has put before us. Let’s continue to run the race so we don’t lose focus, get distracted or become selfish which could cause us to lay dormant and sleep with the rest of the world.

What is keeping you from focusing today?
What distractions continue to cause you to not get things done?
What selfish things have you done rather than working for God?

Dear Lord, help us today not to sleep. Help us to remain awake and alert seeking out what good You call us to do. Show us Your way, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

As we watheadshot Frances A Plusch small children play, they go from one thing to another just wanting to touch something because it is there in front of them. They see things with new eyes and nothing to them is old and boring. They love change and learning how to do things. They delight in showing off what new thing they have learned. They aren’t afraid of doing something that will help them learn and grow.

As we grow older, we begin to become comfortable. We get used to certain foods. We get accustomed to doing certain things every day. Our routine sets in and we enjoy the safety of doing thing the same way. It feels good. It feels safe. It feels comfortable.

What happens after that is we tend to shy away from new things. We shy away from change. We shy away from learning. We stop growing. We stop doing different things. We soon become boring and lazy. We soon lose that fun and spontaneity we had as children. Life sets in. Work is a hassle. Bills come. People get sick. Life gets hard.

If only we could return to that state and mindset of a child, where everything is new and exciting. What happens to us to make us turn from loving life to just living it.

We need to return to God. We need to look at every task we do as new – whether we have done it once or a thousand times before God gives us the ability to have a routine but He doesn’t want us to make it a routine that is boring and lifeless. He wants us to live life with purpose and know that all we do is for Him.

We can decide to get up every morning and believe in God. We can believe He will be with us through day and we can decide to take on every challenge and every boring routine task as an opportunity to praise Him and have true joy we are able to do what He has allowed us to do.

When we decide to do all we do as if we were doing it for God, we will have purpose. We will have meaning in life. We will have love and excitement to share with others. God’s plan for us is not to simply go through the routine of life. His plan for us is to have life and have it more abundantly.

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV)

What change can you make today that will give more meaning to your mundane tasks?

1 Timothy 6 6There are so many people who don’t like being around positive people. People who are always happy, always looking on the bright side of life and encouraging others. It really surprises me there are some who find positive people annoying. However, I can think of a few reasons why some may feel negatively toward positive people:

Reason #1 – Positive Outbursts

Positive people smile. They do. They smile a lot. Some of them burst into songs or whistles or shouts. They can’t seem to contain their happiness so they have to let it out. That annoys those who are wanting to be focused on their problems. The people who are dwelling on all the issues in their lives and worried about this or that don’t want to be interrupted by a positive outburst.

Reason #2 – Always Grateful

Positive people are grateful. They look on the sunny side of life. They see opportunity in all things. When others say how bad things are, the positive person says it will be okay. The positive person mentions all the good things in the situation. The positive person talks of blessings and opportunities to learn. That annoys those who are really trying to be in the moment of ungratefulness. They want to be discontent and upset about the situation and don’t want the positive people to bring up good things which will distract them from the bad.

Reason #3 – Excited Energy

Positive people have energy. They are excited about anything. The sun is shining. Yay! The weather is turning from summer to fall. Can’t wait! The birds are singing. Woo hoo! Isn’t that annoying to most negative people? They don’t want to focus on the good and be energized by the little things in life. They want to stay focused on the big problems around them in their work, in their homes and in the world. How can anyone be energetic and excited about such little trivial things when the world seems to be crashing down around them?

Yes, negative people tend to stay away from those who are positive. And if they are forced to be in the same room with them or to run into them at an event or even have to work with them, they will turn up their negativity dial a little higher so they can be sure they stay negative and don’t catch that positive vibe from those positive people.

It’s really funny to watch a negative person encounter a positive one. They negative person tends to look at the positive one as if he or she is crazy. First comes the stare that says why are you so happy? Then comes the grunt when greeted by the positive person. Finally, the funniest thing about the encounter is how the negative person is determined not to smile and often avoids eye contact.

Observing the traits of both positive and negative people is really interesting. I can tell you first hand I have been both negative and positive in my life, at times, but I tend to be the one who looks on the bright side of things.

That is why I know how those negative people like to avoid me. And it’s okay because I am sure that one day, they will choose to live on the sunny side of life. I just know it! One day they will count their blessings, smile, and be energetic! But until then, I can continue to allow happiness and joy fill my life so when it overflows it will be shared with those who need it. And I know you can, too!

Ephesians 5:18b-20 “Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NLT)