“You can change your life by changing your thoughts.” –Denise Cunningham
I’m still benefitting from my retreat. In fact, look at me. It’s been a week, and I’m STILL talking about it.
This thought-changing lesson is one that God is really drilling into my brain lately. First, it came up in the book I’ve been reading, Unglued, by Lysa Terkeurst. Then Denise brought it up at the retreat.
The importance of our thought life cannot be overstated. It will change who you are! I used to look at any mess in my house and think, “I am such a mess,” allowing that mess to define me and weigh me down.
Why must I be my own worst enemy? Forget that mess. It’s not ME. It’s just stuff. I’m raising four children here. That mess is just a chore and nothing more.
“Boys! Clean up this floor before you even think about going outside.”
There. Done. My floor is no longer a total mess, and neither am I. I wasn’t a mess before they cleaned it up either. I was just doing that stinkin’ thinkin’ thing.
Let’s be done with that.
What thoughts do you need to turn around?
Let’s level with those thoughts, focus on what we can fix, and pray about the things that we can’t fix.
Figure out what is stealing your joy, and go to war with that. Sometimes we can only pray. Don’t count that out, though, as a small contribution. I have felt powerless about so many things, where all I could do was PRAY. Yet it turned out to be exactly what was needed, and God solved those problems FOR me.
For example: I pray crying babies on airplanes to sleep. Laugh all you want, but crying babies bother me. I know. I know. I can’t help it. I pray them to sleep. It’s never taken God more than a minute or two to get a baby to sleep that I was praying for on an airplane. Now you may snicker and think that’s small beans. It is not. As a mother of four who has flown more than my fair share with all of my babies, I can tell you that crying babies usually elevate stress in the mother the most. Past that, it aggravates those with flight anxieties, headaches, etc. Therefore, praying babies to sleep is a precious gift to many. We all need a little more peace and quiet in our lives, right?
Sometimes we can take practical steps too. One thing that was stealing my joy was the complaining or negotiating that my boys would do at school.
I have one son in particular that complains and negotiates. That had to go. I can’t live like that. We’re still working on it, but the little chart I made is paying off!!! Big time! Now when a student whines, instead of increasing my heart rate and beginning to unravel myself, I just say, “Go and remove a check mark.”
No need to let someone else’s problem ruin my day. Perseverance is winning this race.
I set up that chart so that every time some one obeys WITHOUT whining or complaining, I give them a check mark. Once they get 17 check marks, they get a prize. They’ve all already earned their first prize: going to see a movie with Mom.
We saw Hotel Transylvania 2. (You can safely skip that movie.)
For the next completed chart, we’re going to Cold Stone Creamery.
I read somewhere that giving toys as prizes increases materialism, so I’m choosing activities instead. This sweet boy is the only one that has already earned his second prize:
My thoughts are still very much a work in progress, but this is not something I have to fix by myself. When we belong to God, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us along. We need only to rely on that help.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
“But when they arrest you [for your faith], do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20
God will always answer our cries for help, when we are asking him to help us with the right motive. It is definitely his will for us to have positive thoughts, tuning out the lies of the devil, and living happy, productive lives– lives that benefit not only ourselves but also minister to others. Therefore, we know that if we ask God for help with our thoughts, he will be faithful to send exactly what we need.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
This is the kind of stuff I repeat to myself over and over on days like this, with multiple tutoring sessions, play dates, soccer practices, and meals to get on the table. Phew! Life is exhausting, but if we rely on God and even enlist others to help us, we can feel renewed rather than weary! No one ever said that we need to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. I will no longer be ashamed to reach my arms up and out for help.
“We pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with joy.” Colossians 1:11
It took going away for a weekend for me to see my life for what it actually is:
My life is adorable!!! No, life isn’t supposed to be easy, but gracious, it ought to be FUN!!
Sometimes we all need to take a step backwards to look at the whole picture. Wow! What a lively, large, laughter-filled, lavish, light, liberated, lovely, lucky, Lord-honoring lot that I have in life!
Today I am thankful, and being thankful brings joy, and joy cannot help but spill over.