Turning Daily Hassles Into Blessings

A week has passed since my small, quiet town experienced the horrible tragedy of a high-speed truck crashing into Walmart killing 3 people and injuring two more. Everyone awaits updates creating stories in their head about what caused the accident while the officials continue to say it appears to be a tragic accident.

Stories are beginning to surface of near misses or God interventions happening as a result of daily hassles changing plans. I had a friend share the following story with me.

Michelle had been at her mother’s house the weekend prior. She had forgotten to restock her diaper bag and found herself with no diapers for her infant son. Not wanting to make the half hour trek home to get diapers or pay inflated convenience store prices she opted for the only other option: find someone in town who had an infant about the same size. She contacted a girl and was able to get a few diapers to last until she returned home.

Michelle of course wanted to repay her kind friend with a package of the same diapers. She had planned to make a trip to Walmart and purchase them Thursday morning. Yes, the same Walmart and the same Thursday of the accident.

The day before her trip to Walmart, Michelle had taken her older son to get his immunizations. The shots caused him to be crabby and not sleep well the night before. Starting the day having pushed snooze a few extra times, the plan was still to make the trip to Walmart. As Michelle was trying to get out the door, her older son was dragging his feet resisting every step to get ready still grouchy from the immunizations. Michelle’s frustration continued to rise as she checked the clock one more time increasing her stress.

Michelle’s cell phone rang. It was her mother asking her if she was at Walmart. After recounting the morning’s events setting her behind, her mother told her of the tragedy at Walmart.

I wonder how our life would change if we thanked God for our daily hassles knowing these hassles are part of God’s plan. Instead of stressing we could look expectantly for what the daily hassles changed in our favor. Live out 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

by Becky Watkins

 

Overcoming Daily Perfectionism

Perfectionist. Surely I am not one of those. I do many things wrong. I mess stuff up continuously, so that means I’m not a perfectionist, right?

Then why do I find it so difficult to get things started. Whether it’s cleaning, a project, a hobby, even visiting a friend or family member, that first step seems to get pushed out. Often I tell myself “there isn’t time,” or “not enough money,” “timing isn’t right” or “it’s not good timing for the other person involved.” Most of the time, it’s perfectionism.

What is perfectionism? Dictionary.com asserts, “Any of various doctrines holding that religious, moral, social or political perfection is attainable.” Not exactly how I would state it but pretty much covers all the areas I struggle with. I could add perfect to all of my excuses above: “there isn’t enough time to do it perfect.” “Not enough money to do it perfect.” …etc., identifying them as an issue of perfectionism.

How does one overcome perfectionism? You change your belief that perfect is possible. That’s obvious from the definition, but how does one go about changing a belief that is supported by culture?

First, think in terms of continuums. Focus on moving toward the end mark. When cleaning your house, instead of thinking everything has to have a home properly labeled and every speck of dust gone, focus on clearing the clutter off the counters, whip the counters down and vacuum. You can quickly get this done and you have moved the continuum bar toward a clean house.

Second, set incremental goals. Break what you need to do down and determine to complete part of it. By having this picture in you mind (I actually recommend writing it down), there is an end point. In the example above the incremental goal was clutter, counters and vacuuming. Set goals moving you toward the desirable end of the continuum forgetting what happened yesterday, how you failed earlier, or didn’t accomplish what you wanted to. Paul encourages us in Philemon 3:13-14 (NIV) “…forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…”

Then when you accomplish a goal, celebrate! Be a person of celebration. Not in a bragging boastful sense. You do not need to post it on Facebook or brag to your best friend about your accomplishment; but give yourself the chance to feel the inner sense if accomplishment, relish it and thank God for it.

These three steps will move you away from perfectionism and give you a sense of accomplishment in its place. Give it a try!

By Becky Watkins

Springing from the Heart

“Hi!” I cheerfully greet my mom as I walk into her room. I don’t refer to her as mom as that would confuse her. She smiles and her face lights up recognizing me as someone she enjoys. I begin to tell her about things in my life.

Soon she asks, “Have you seen Mom?” She is referring to her mother who died about 20 years ago.

“No, I haven’t.” I respond. “Have you?” To correct her would be confusing and cause unnecessary grief. She responds that she sees her every now and then.

She gets a panicked look on her face and asks if I know where the kids are. “I need to take care of them,” she adds with urgency, anxiety rising in her.

“Don’t you think Paul would take care of them?” I respond in a calming and comforting voice. Paul is 52 and has a family of his own as do the rest of the “kids.”

“Oh, yes,” she replies. “He is a good boy.” She continues on to ask if I have seen Becky. My heart sinks and a wave of grief rushes over me. You see, I am Becky and this is confirmation that she has no idea who I am.

I reply with a pseudo-cheerful, “She’s doing great!” And because I can’t resist, I continue on, “Tell me about Becky?”

Mom smiles and with a sparkle in her eye replies, “She’s really a pretty good girl.” There is my much needed affirmation for the day.

I turn on her CD player. Johnny Cash begins to sing a church hymn. I skip the player forward to a more familiar song, “Just as I Am.” Mom’s face lights up with a radiant glow. She begins to sing the song not missing a word as if she was standing in church many years ago reading it out of that old church hymnal. I am overwhelmed with joy. I long for Johnny Cash to keep singing it over and over again like an overdone church service alter call because you see, in this moment, I got my mom back.

I think of Proverbs 4:20-23 (NIV) “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.” How often it has been preached to filling your mind with the things from above. It makes sense now; these things are stored within our heart. When the brain begins to fail, what’s in the heart springs forth. Not even Alzheimer’s disease can steal the health and life from from one who has filled her heart with the Word.

by Becky Watkins

Living by the Rules

I went to bed with a heavy heart. I knew I had to once again say that prayer of forgiveness. You see, I had messed up again. I was unkind, impatient, swore, even said nothing when I was given too much change back at the store. I once again had that inter-yuck feeling from not performing as I had promised God I would in my prayer the night before. So here I go again, asking for forgiveness and promising to somehow do a better job with that daunting list of “rules” for may Christian life.

Do you feel as though you are on a Ferris wheel of messing up, asking for forgiveness, promising to do better, only to find yourself back at the same place 24-hours later. Sometimes I just give up. This is impossible so why try. Life as a Christian is supposed to be joyful, so why do I constantly feel this inner-sickness gnawing at heart.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) Jesus teaches that He assumes our sins and God imputes our sins on Jesus. So what does this mean? Jesus takes responsibility of all the bad things we do and so our sins are not seen as something to be judged. This frees us up to focus on loving. Loving our God and others.

So you might say, if my sins are imputed (points for using the new vocabulary word) on Jesus, then we can do whatever we want with no worries, right? Not so! Jesus takes the responsibility for our sins so we can focus on loving, loving Him and loving others. Remember what it was like to be a child. We wanted our parents’ approval so bad; we wanted to catch them bragging about us to other adults. Was this accomplished by acting like we were asleep when mom came to check on us at bedtime only to get up after she left the room? Did we sneak an extra cookie after we were told we could only have one? As we got older, did we lie to our parents about going to a church event when we were really attending the concert they did not approve of? No, most of the time we did what they asked because we wanted the relationship to grow.

So if we are a Christian, we should be striving to let Jesus know how much we love Him by doing things we know please him, not because we have to, but because we want the relationship to grow.

By Becky Watkins

Am I Salt & Light?

What does it mean to be the light or to be salt?  I am not talking about a light bulb or the white crystals in the shaker on your table. What did Jesus mean in the sermon on the mount when he said we are to be salt and the light?  This was the question from church Sunday.  I pondered this.  I am not a prestigious person in the church, I have not given great sums of money to ministry in fact, I have a time or two been the recipient of benevolence.  So can I be salt or light?

Yes!  It may be the smile I give someone in passing that needed the encouragement. It may be the compliment I gave to stranger who was down on herself.  It may be the door I opened for the lonely person who was thrilled have someone notice her.  It may be the recovering addict I went to coffee with not caring what others thought.  Or is it the child that I bent down to notice in the store.  Maybe it was the stranger I met and had a conversation with who was so desperate for someone to listen.  Or the neighbor whose child I babysat when they were in a pinch.  They are all over.  People with needs, hungry for someone to notice them, listen to them, affirm them.  So often I respond without giving a thought.  Oh, I long to have money to give gifts and random monetary blessings, but maybe my salt and my light comes in the form of compassion and giving to others in a different way.  Whose to say what is important.  What did Jesus give?  His interactions with people most often involved teaching, time spent, or healing. Should I not do as Jesus did?

I am salt.  I am light.

Matthew 6:1-4 warns us against doing things for show.  When these acts are done purposefully and talked about, you are not rewarded.  So many people do “good acts” because they want to be a good Christian. They want others in the church to see that they are a good Christian. We are actually warned against this.  Don’t get me wrong, if you are not used to being generous or serving other people, you may have to think about it and maybe even have an accountability partner for a while, but eventually, you should do it automatically.  When God is living in you and through you, you will be attuned to other people so much that you will see their needs and spontaneously act before you look around to see who will notice or do it through the church so you “get credit for it.”  There is nothing wrong with volunteering at the church or even being employed by the church, but we should be spontaneously participating in benevolent acts if Christ is real in our lives.