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Posts Tagged ‘intentional’

It random-act-of-kindnesswas a saying my mom used to tell me when I complained in junior high about people being mean to me. Looking back, I cannot remember anyone’s actual actions or words toward me that I would consider mean…but I certainly do remember my mom’s advice, “Just be nice to them, Kris. Kill them with kindness.”

Most of the time, I think I’m a kind person, but I also realize that plenty of times I’ve chosen what felt good to me over what may have been kindness extended toward someone else. The times I could have allowed someone in front of me at the WalMart check out lane, held a door open during a walk instead of hurrying on myself, or getting Don a cup of coffee while I was up getting my own…I could go on. So could you.

Today I’m grateful for kindness. I’m also grateful for the POWER of kindness, because I believe if we, all of us, make the intentional choice to be kind to others, we’ll help inch our society in the opposite direction of where it is currently heading.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)

Here’s my intentional kindness action plan for this week:

Day 1 – Baby steps: smile at everyone I meet, even if they are grouchy or frowning. This includes while I’m driving (my biggest challenge) and when I answer the phone. I don’t know about you, but I can tell when the person on the other end of the phone says “hello” with a smile. I’m weird that way.

Day 2 – Everything from Day 1 PLUS…within the course of the day, choosing kindness in the little things. This could include holding doors, making coffee, running errands, doing a favor, extending grace, being generous, laughing at dumb jokes.

Day 3 – Day 1 + Day 2 + taking note of my body language and tone of voice so I exude kindness with more than just words. Walking the walk, not just talking the talk, as they say.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Day 4 – Everything from the past three days PLUS adding in kindness to those who don’t like me.

NOOOO!

This one is the hardest, of course. Who likes doing nice things, being nice, showing kindness to people who do not deserve it? Not me.

But…

That’s what God has asked us to do…and in fact, it is what He did (and keeps doing) for us. We don’t deserve God’s love…we never deserved Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but He did it anyway. Because He loves us more than we can imagine. And if we really want to show the world a better way…the BEST way…we must demonstrate God’s love through our actions. Kill them with kindness.

“Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” Romans 12:20-21 (The Message)

I once heard a message from a guest speaker about kindness. A person sitting near to me scoffed about it afterwards – “What a stupid topic for a sermon!” I guess they thought it wasn’t spiritual enough. But in actuality, showing kindness is one of the most spiritual disciplines you can aspire to reach. By showing kindness, you are showing an unbelieving world the unconditional love of our Father God. We are proving His love for them, and using us as instruments of that love. What is more spiritual than being a tool in the hands of the Master?

“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,[a] and by our sincere love.” 2 Corinthians 6:6

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today_grateful

In this first day of intentional gratitude, I want to remind you of those unexpected blessings we all receive…and when I say unexpected, I mean, never-in-your-life-thought-this-circumstance-would-turn-out-to-be-a-blessing blessing. Like being unemployed.

If you know my husband and me at all, you know we recently spent six years with no full time job and very little income. It was tough – for my husband, because, you know, men look at having no job as having no meaning in life. He struggled a bit (I’m kidding, he struggled a lot)…and had quite a few conversations with God about the whole thing. But that’s his story to tell.

It was a tough time for our kids because everything they relied on appeared unstable. They weren’t sure where we would live, how we would live, where they would finish high school, and how we were going to pay the bills. Now that I think about it, those were mostly my worries – I’ve never asked what concerned my kids back then…I should probably do that.

Nevertheless, looking back, that whole six year time period was full of God’s blessings. He provided finances for every single obligation (we paid every bill and always on time). Out of the blue, people would stop by the house to give us money saying, “God told us to give this to you today.” God blessed us with the emotional and spiritual support we needed. I read and studied the Word, and prayed on my long walks, crying and begging God to give us something, something to put our hope on…and He never let us down. Don and I had more and deeper conversations. God gave us supernatural health during a time when we had poor insurance coverage, and then provided a way to get better coverage, for the whole family, right before our son started travelling with his band. I could go on and on with story after story…not the time or place.

We learned a lot about ourselves. We learned about humility, and trust, and faith, and grace. We learned that we don’t know very much, but that God knows the beginning and the end. We learned that some people will stick with you, no matter what, expecting nothing in return. We saw God’s hand at work in our kids as He provided funds for college and travelling, when we had nothing. We cried buckets of tears – in frustration and sorrow, rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Am I glad we were without a job for that long? I’m not sure. It was rough. Our Christmas’ were sparse. We ate at home, took no vacations, purchased no new clothes. We had no church to call our own, but we were privileged to help a couple of congregations transition to new pastors. We learned a great deal about what is really important. Family. Real friends. Health. Our own relationship with Jesus, away from ministry.

 

And most of all, we learned God’s promises are true: He will never leave you or forsake you – even if you don’t have a job, even if you are struggling with poor health, even if you are in a difficult circumstance. He is your Rock and your Redeemer. He will turn your mourning into dancing. Ask Him to show you the unexpected blessing of this tough time and watch Him show up. God will never fail you.

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Hello, long lost readers! I’m back. Once again, for the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to write a short (promise) blog for each day of Lent (minus Sundays – cuz Sunday is a day of rest and most Sundays, I’m pooped by the time I get home from church).

Today is Fat Tuesday. I’m not going to explain it because it’s easier to just use Google. Go ahead…I’ll wait. (tapping toes, humming tunes, taking a short stroll to get in my steps)

So by now, you also know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start to the Lenten season. Once again, I’m not going to explain Lent so check it out on the search engine of your choice.

Lent is a season of preparation. Many denominations have their followers “give up” something for this 40-day period of time. I did that two years ago – I gave up some bad attitudes, behaviors, mindsets…see year 2015 if you are curious. Last year I “added” some things – good mindsets, food, routines, attitudes.

So what to do this year?  I’ve decided to take the 40 days of Lent and be intentionally grateful. If no one but me gets anything out of it, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do…because truly, my blog is, first and foremost, for me. I need to be disciplined (at least once a year) and writing during Lent is my attempt.

bigstock-gratitude-37954498Intentionally Grateful – I’ve been greatly influenced in the last few years by author Ann Voskamp. Her book “1000 Gifts” caused me to write down my own list of 1000 beautiful gifts for which I’m grateful, but that was a couple of years ago and it’s time to revisit the discipline…because that’s what it is….I wish I was the type of person who was just naturally grateful, but I’m not. And you probably aren’t either. We take so much for granted. When I whine about my bad back (hallelujah – I’m healed!), I forget the years of great health I’ve enjoyed, and enjoy today. When I lament about being tired, I forget to rejoice that I have a job which pays me a pretty decent wage, tutoring students I enjoy, and a church family who loves and supports us.

In the last month I’ve read a book called “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I’ve tweeted about it, but Jennifer’s book (and subsequent Facebook book club), showed me that by increasing my level of gratitude, I naturally increase my level of happiness. She published a chart called “30 Days of Gratitude” which I’m going to use to direct my blog focus…starting tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath – it won’t be the best writing you’ve ever read. May even be pretty cheesy most of the time…but it’s my way of being intentionally grateful as I prepare throughout Lent for the greatest day on the Christian church calendar – the celebration of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Now, that’s something to be grateful for!

See you tomorrow.

Kris

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

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Five_Love_Languages

A number of years ago I helped Don teach a Marriage and Family class for his Masters Commission students. We used the book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” as the textbook. Written by Dr. Gary Chapman in 1995, the Five Love Languages has become a classic, and not just for married couples. Due to the success of the principles in the original, Chapman has re-written the book in relation to children, teenagers, men, singles and people in the military. If you look on the amazon.com website, there are scads of books and other resources using the Five Love Languages premise.

Dr. Chapman’s premise says we, as humans, have a need to be loved and not all of us receive love in the same way. We are all wired differently and speak “love” differently. His five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts and physical touch. This blog isn’t meant to be a summary of these languages. If you really want a good read, pick up a copy. Easy read and possibly life-changing material for improved relationships…

You can’t help but read the book looking for your own personal love language. It didn’t take me long to figure out that my “love tank” was best filled through acts of service. And I come by it honestly. It was my mom’s favorite too – even though she never read the book. My mom felt most loved and appreciated when she could do things for us or when we did things for her. She would come to visit me with her car loaded with food – a large pan of lasagna, cookies, Texas caviar, bags of fruits and vegetables. If she knew we were coming to visit, she made sure she had watermelon ice cream on hand for her two little grandsons or took time to take those same guys for rides on the Gator or play outside with her dog, Keely. Once her health declined, I knew I could make her day by cleaning her house, taking her for a haircut, helping her load up on groceries or visiting her favorite restaurant.

I’m fortunate to have a husband who does so much for me. Most weekday nights he has supper ready when I get home. He cleans and vacuums, does the laundry and dishes, and empties the trash and recycling. Does he love this stuff? No (except maybe the cooking part)…but he loves me, and he knows I feel the love when he does these chores for me.  He knows it “fills my love tank.”

I enjoy showing my love for others by doing small acts of service. Sometimes I don’t feel like it, but that’s when I really need to do it. Because love isn’t easy, it’s intentional. Make the choice to do something you don’t like doing, just to show the love. You’ll be surprised – you’ll be filling someone’s love tank and topping yours off too!

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