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Entries in Attitudes (9)

Thursday
May302019

Joy: The Key to Unlocking Love for Your Relationships

Pam Farrel, relationship specialist, is always on the lookout for Word-based insights to encourage stronger, healthier relationships to the glory of God. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she shares a special “key” to unlocking greater love.

Love and joy are intricately connected—like a hook and eye, peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, or keys of ebony and ivory,” Pam says.

“Love and joy pour into each other until our life plays the beautiful melody of happiness God intends for each of us.”

I (Dawn) think this is a truly special insight. We tend to only think about love in relationships, but link that to sincere joy and an amazing thing happens. Love blooms.

Pam continues . . .

Mother Teresa said, “A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love."

And Mark Twain believed, “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”  

During the last year, while writing Discovering Joy in Philippians, I pondered how joy positively impacts a person’s life and relationships.

Most people see Philippians as primarily a book about joy, but as I plunged a bit deeper, I easily saw some relationship best practices revealed in this short, but powerful book of the Bible.

One of the keys to unlocking health in relationships and producing more joy is revealed in a simple equation:

The more of the Word in you, the more love and joy in you AND the more love and joy you will have spill out into your relationships.

Here’s how the Word empowers us to have healthier and happier relationships.

1. Wash In the Word

To keep my attitude positive and to stay more attuned in all my relationships, I like to integrate various study techniques so the Word washes over and through me, delivering positive life improvement.

One way to gain a new mindset is to allow God’s Word to play the soundtrack to your life.

You can do this in the daytime by layering God’s Word throughout your day:

  • Play Christian music,
  • Post verses,
  • Hang scripture art,
  • And place devotionals and Bible studies throughout your home.

At any time, the transformative Word is in sight and within earshot. 

While writing Discovering Joy In Philippians—and in the next year, now that I am teaching it online—I fall asleep to the audio version of Philippians, or a play list with worship songs about joy.

By listening to God’s Word, my fears are calmed, I am infused with joy and courage, and my heart is refined.  

2. Walk Out the Word

This priority on relationships is reflected in the letter of Philippians:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (1:3).

People can tell when you feel thankful and appreciative of them.

We want to live in such a way that when people recall us, or someone even mentions our name, they light up with praise and delight.

Also, by thanking God for someone, our “attitude of gratitude” builds a sense of deeper respect, honor and gratefulness toward the person. 

always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” (1:4).

Praying for someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a person.

Knowing someone is praying for you, with JOY, draws us to people because they express gladness and sincere excitement when they see us. 

“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…”  (1:7).

My husband, Bill, and I use this verse as the theme to our book, The Marriage Code. We love how God gives the goal of living as “partakers of grace”, then He shares HOW to do that: “hold you in my heart.”

This means we choose to NOT make a relationship about a list of behaviors.

To “hold on your heart” means carrying someone with constant love while giving the benefit of the doubt to their intentions.

When a relationship is based only on behaviors, NO ONE can stay good enough, long enough to succeed at a relationship.

Love gives the grace that trumps human imperfection.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (1:9).

3. Wade into the Word

Another way to gain a fresh appreciation of a verse and how to apply it is to read it in a few translations or paraphrased versions. 

I appreciate the expanded vocabulary definitions included in verses 9 and 10 in the Amplified version:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight, so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin]” (1:9-10, emphasis mine).

I also cherish these verses in The Message as it is a wholesome challenge for how to live out love and joy to positively impact relationships:

“So, this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…” (again, emphasis mine).

As we wade deeper into the Word, we can often gain fresh insights and anticipate God working. 

Are joy and love overflowing out of your heart and into your relationships? Of the ideas shared in this blog on how to process the Word to raise the quality of what you have available to pour into your relationships, which idea can you begin with to have to biggest positive impact?

Pam Farrel is the author of 46 books including many bestsellers like: Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience .  She also enjoys co-authoring with Jean E. Jones and artist Karla Dornacher, and their next book, Discovering Joy In Philippians: A Creative Bible Devotional Experience , releases May 2019. Pam also loves mentoring and coaching women online; and she and her husband, Bill, stay active speaking and writing on marriage, family, relationships and on Living Love-Wise.  

Graphic of graffiti wall adapted, courtesy of Angela Yuriko Smith at Pixabay.

Thursday
Sep012016

Why Do I Do What I Do Wrong?

Kathy Collard Miller is an author and speaker who encourages women to apply practical principles from the Word of God. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she explores some ways to find the underlying causes of destructive responses.

We’ve all said things like, “He makes me feel…” or “I feel bad when she does that.” But the truth is we are responsible for our own choices," Kathy says. "Putting that into practice can actually diminish unwise choices."

I (Dawn) think that is fascinating because so many people think they can grit their teeth and swear to never respond hurtfully again. I've done this—haven't you? Kathy's insights help us consider the "why" behind our responses.

She continues . . .

It’s easy to blame a person or circumstance for the way we’re acting, but the truth is our wrong reactions have a long history.

It’s true for all of us. We see the pain we cause others or even ourselves, and it seems like we should just grab God’s power and never do it again. But there are reasons for our continuing ungodly choices.

Heres how to discover and correct the underlying causes.

 1. Look to the past to see the beginning.

When painful things happen to us as children, we blame ourselves. We “hear” a message that somehow “I’m the cause. I must be hopeless, unloveable, incapable," etc.

When I was molested as an eight-year-old, I felt like a shameful little girl who should have prevented it from happening:

“I better act perfectly to hide my dirtiness.”

Of course those were lies, but I believed them.

Anytime someone implied I should do a better job at something, I became angry— blaming them; I didn’t want to be exposed as imperfect.

As an adult, by seeing the lies I was believing, I replaced it with God’s truth:

I wasn’t responsible for the abuse, and God loves me even though I’m imperfect.

Author Mike Wilkerson writes,It’s not our raw experiences that determine our lives but the meaning we make of them—the stories we tell and the stories we believe.”

2. Look to the present to see the threat.

Every time we react sinfully (anger, contempt, procrastination, passive/aggressive, etc.) we feel like someone or something is threatening our good self-image, our comfort, our finances—anything we value.

Many times what we value become “idols.” We “worship” those rather than looking to God to define, comfort, or provide for us.

James wrote, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (4:15-16).

The most difficult thing is surrendering to however God allows people to treat us or circumstances to assail us.

That doesn’t mean we never share our opinions or take action. But instead of automatically reacting, we must seek God first. Just because it seems “natural” to respond our usual way, we may not be reacting “supernaturally” in God’s power. Blaming, worry, defensiveness and other ungodly reactions seem to protect us but don’t bring glory to God or fulfill His will.

3. Look to God’s perspective of the person or situation.

When we overreact, we take other people’s actions personally. We feel like were back to being blamed, labeled or attacked like we were as children.

But most of the time, that person is just trying to protect themselves. It’s not about us, it’s about their insecurity or lack of trust in God.

And any difficult circumstances is God’s gift of transforming us, not to destroy us. Instead of fighting off the “threat,” we can look through God’s eyes of love and grace.

One perspective is to have “godly sorrow.” Godly sorrow sees another person’s attack as hurting them, not us.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:1-3 ESV).

Can you imagine that kind of surrender?

Paul didn’t take their attacks personally; he wanted the best for them.

God can empower us to have that kind of reaction. We can be gracious as we speak the truth in love.

Which of those three insights would you like to concentrate on so that your “natural” reactions can turn into “supernatural” reactions?

Kathy Collard Miller loves to help women trust God more through her 50 books and her speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Visit her website/blog and discover more about her speaking ministry here. Kathy has authored many magazine articles and more than 50 books, including Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries and her newest book Choices of the Heart, a Bible study, available here. The insights in this blog are based on her book Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today found here.

Graphic: courtesy of PourquoiPas, Pixabay.

Thursday
Jan142016

A Scriptural Attitude Adjustment

In this Attitude UPGRADE, Liz Cowen Furman, a speaker, author and artist who also runs a motel in Wyoming, tells how she changed her whole outlook on life by doing two simple things.

“I wantedno, I neededa serious attitude upgrade," Liz said, “But I didn’t know how to make it happen.”

Do you identify with her words, like I (Dawn) do? Have you ever needed a change of attitude but couldn’t summon the wisdom to make it happen?

Liz continues . . .

I used to read the Bible dutifully.

But our pastor suggested that, instead of making a bunch of New Year’s resolutionsas good as they might bewe consider a new approach.

He said “Get yourself a blank journal and start reading your Bible in Psalms. Read it with an eye for something that speaks to you. Then jot that verse in your journal and write a few lines about how it affects you or ask God to reveal something to you.”

Many times, I would get to the end of a chapter and realize I hadn’t heard a word of it, and would have to reread it.

Since I started this approach, I have fallen in love with the Scriptures. I started in the Psalms but have been through the whole Bible a couple of times now.

Reading the Bible, listening for something that spoke to me, made it feel like a letter written just to me.

Talk about attitude adjustment! A total game changer.

The second thing I did that fostered a new attitude happened quite by accident; except that I had been praying for help in this area, so maybe it was by design.

The members of the Bible Study I teach chose to study One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. As part of that study we were instructed to write down 1,000 things we are thankful for.

We all thought this exercise would be an easy assignment.

I purchased blank journals for us to write these “easy to identify” blessings, and we began. The first couple hundred came easily, then we really had to start looking to write them down.

We asked ourselves, “What would you miss, if everything you didn’t thank God for was taken away?”

By the time I reached 1,000, I saw a blessing in almost everything in my life.

I have continued the exercise. I write five things a day I am thankful for, and plan to continue until Jesus calls me home. Knowing that I will be logging five every morning keeps me on the lookout for things that I appreciate. And, since whatever we focus on increases, this has been an amazing exercise.

I now see the silver lining in situations I would have thought terrible. I now notice and appreciate the many blessings showered on me daily by a God who loves me (and you) so much! Plus, I have a legacy of thankfulness to leave to my family.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

If your attitude needs a tweak as we start the New Year, as mine did a few years ago, may I suggest you try these two exercises, pray for help, and then watch what He will do to transform your outlook.

Start now! What are five things you are grateful for today?

Liz Cowen Furman is an author, artist, encourager, mentor, teacher and speaker. Writing is like the balm of Gilead for Liz. When she is not working on a book, she is writing articles and blogging. She has published three books, is a member of AWSA (Advanced Writer Speaker Association) and a graduate of Christian Communicator’s Conference. She has written humor for The Christian Pulse magazine and for AWSA’s Suicide Blog. Liz’s new Bible Study, Trusting God in Everything: A Bible Study for Women Who Wonder If They Can, released May 20, 2015

Wednesday
May272015

Need to Upgrade Your Disposition?

A woman's disposition plays a big part in the atmosphere of her home. In this Relationship UPGRADE by Dawn Wilson, we'll look at how this is true.

Yes, a husband and children have parts to play too, but if you are a woman in a home full of people, your attitudes figure in as a big part in the nurturing atmosphere of your home.

Your attitudes can either resemble a dreary, gray day  –putting a damper on everything that goes on – or a sunny, cheerful day. Attitudes permeate all the relationships in the home and office. A disposition can have great influence for good or harm.

Parents will soon discover good attitudes are "caught" long before they are taught. And attitudes can sow seeds of destruction or strength in marriages too.

Years ago, I read this story* in the book Your Marriage–Duel or Duet? by Louis H. Evans:

A young man asked a Dr. Edwards for the hand of his daughter in marriage. Dr. Edwards refusedquite a setback for a young suitor. He said, "Why can I not marry your daughter? I love her."

Dr. Edwards replied, "I think you do."

"I can support her."

He replied, "I suppose you can."

"Then why can't I marry her?"

To this, Dr. Edwards answered, "My daughter has a miserable disposition--nobody could live with her and be happy."

To this the suitor replied with great gallantry, "But you know, Dr. Edwards, there is always the grace of God."

Dr. Edwards smiled and replied, "When you are as old as I am, young man, you will realize that the grace of God can live with some people that you can't live with!"

Evans commented, "... I wonder if the grace of God lives with anyone who cannot live with other people. Paul said, 'Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him' (Romans 8:9)."

What kind of disposition enhances the home and does not tear down relationships? The disposition that reflects the Spirit of Christ. We're instructed to pattern our lives after Him (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus had a humble spirit. A loving and unselfish spirit. We observe His strength in scripture, but also His  peaceable, forgiving spirit. He lived according to the Word of God and the will of the Father (Matthew 4:4; John 4:34; 6:38).

God wants us to have a spirit that lives according to the truth of scripture rather than being driven by feelings.

Evans made this important observation:

"Why is it that some of us are so difficult to live with? Why are some women so short-tempered, so mean in disposition? Many times it lies in the fact that we are simply God-hungry."

It's easy for women to get God-hungry. Women today have so many roles. Sometimes inner resources dwindle as we try to nurture and encourage others or just keep up with all our responsibilities. In our busyness, we forget to nourish ourselves so we will have inner strength for the demands of life. 

We feed our souls with snacks–little spoonsful–when what we really need is large scoops of God's Word.

Does God need to change your disposition? When was the last time you lingered in the presence of God for strength and sustainance?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Ministries, is the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices TodayLOL with God(with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is the Director of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in MInistry (NEWIM San Diego). Dawn is the co-author ofLOL with God and contributed "The Blessing Basket" in It's a God Thing. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

* Louis H. Evans, Your Marriage–Duel or Duet? (Spire Books, Fleming H. Revell, 1972), pp. 47, 49.

Monday
Mar162015

Anger Expert or Patience Pro?

Kathy Collard Miller is an author and speaker who encourages women to trust God. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she helps us trust the Lord with an attitude that can be destructive:  Anger! 

“Why do I keep getting angry?" Kathy said. "I want to be patient, but life and people are aggravating."

I (Dawn) used to think anger was other people's problem. I didn't have a problem losing my temper.

But if we have an undercurrent of anger, it can burst forth in other problems like bitterness, an unforgiving spirit or even something as simple as avoiding people.

Kathy continues . . . 

Life and people are aggravating. We pray for patience, but as someone has said, “Don’t pray for patience; God will give you many opportunities to practice.”

That was certainly true for me.

For many years, I was an anger expert. It was my “go-to” response. I prayed for deliverance but I still was destructively angry. In moments of temptation, I felt helpless and believed I didn’t have a choice.

But the truth is, anger is a choice.

Holding ourselves responsible rather than excusing our destructive reaction will lay a foundation for slowing down our reactions and allowing God to show us alternatives.

How can we “slow down”? When life (or someone) throws something aggravating at us, we need to literally take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “What’s going on here?”

Here are three causes of anger that you can consider in that moment.

1. Anger comes from having a goal blocked.

When we desire a certain thing and someone does something or says something that blocks that desire, we react in frustration. Unfortunately, this only means that that “certain thing” has become more important than God. We are choosing a destructive reaction to make sure we receive what we think we need and we’re not trusting that God can provide it for us.

We don’t have to force anything to happen when we truly believe God will provide what we need. He promises in Philippians 4:19:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

In that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “Is there something I value that I think is being withheld? If so, can I choose to trust that God will provide what’s best for me according to His plan?”

2. Anger’s source could be a fear of being seen a certain negative way.

Since childhood, I’ve been very sensitive to not appearing stupid. That seems horrible to me. So when someone treats or responds to me with what seems like a suggestion that I’m stupid or don’t know something, I can become angry.

Why does anger seem like a solution? Because my anger points to something they do wrong and it takes the focus off of my “stupidity.”

Sometimes, my husband, Larry, will sincerely ask me, “What were you thinking when you did that?” What do I “hear”? “You must have been stupid to choose that.” I’m embarrassed and feel shamed. So what do I do? Point the finger back onto him with an angry response by rehearsing some way that he did something wrong. But I can choose differently in God’s power.

In that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “Is there some way I don’t want to be seen right now?" Regardless of how I’m viewed by others, God views me as His daughter through my inheritance in Christ, as Ephesians 1 says.

3. Anger may erupt from not knowing what else to do.

For instance, when my two-year-old disobeyed me, I felt helpless, not knowing how to respond. But forming a plan beforehand empowered me to have options. I wrote down in a column the primary ways my strong-willed daughter disobeyed me. Then in the opposite column, I wrote out one consequence I could give for each disobedience. I then posted the paper where I could see it. Having options removed my helpless feeling, and my anger.

Of course, we can’t anticipate every situation of life that might come our way, but we can try to plan as much as possible with God’s wisdom.

Then in that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “What options do I have? Lord, enlighten my thinking right now. You promise in James 1:5 to give me wisdom.”

God used an awareness of these three possible causes of anger to transform my responses. I actually did become more patient . . . and wise.

Which of those three sources cause your anger most often and how does God want to use that knowledge to empower you to be more patient?

Kathy Collard Miller loves to help women trust God more through her 50 books and her speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Kathy’s latest book is Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood) from which this article has been adapted. Check it out at http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy. Visit Kathy's website/blog at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.