Grateful – Discipline for Success

Grateful Heart

How does a grateful heart lead to success? Is a grateful heart really a discipline for success? It really is a discipline for success. This is the discipline that will overcome jealousy which will hinder you achieving your goals.

It is easy to do a search and see numerous studies that support the fact that being grateful will lead to success. This is one of the studies that I read. Looks at all the things there that come from a grateful heart. It is interesting when secular research confirms what the Bible teaches.

Jealousy is one of the heart issues that hinder achieving your goals. What will overcome jealousy? Grateful heart is what is needed to overcome this. Think about it, we are jealous of someone else’s financial situation (usually meaning they have more money than we do), or the amount of time that others or maybe someone else’s health. When we are jealous we are not grateful. So to overcome this hinderance we need to be grateful.

Is a grateful heart a discipline?

Yes, Gratefulness is a discipline. It does not come naturally. A discipline is something that we need to learn and practice. So practice gratefulness.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul writes, ” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Giving thanks is a command. We are to give thanks in all circumstances so there are no exceptions. This is what God wants us to do.

Our thankfulness should come because we know God is in control, that he is working for our good, and when we give thanks we are honouring God. This should not be something that we are doing just to make us a better person.

Grateful Heart

How a grateful heart changes you.

A grateful heart changes your focus. Jealousy focuses at what you do not have but a grateful heart focuses at what you have. Focusing on what you have allows you to enjoy and work with what you have instead of trying to get things. Remember how Ahab looked at Naboth’s vineyard. That became his focus and when he couldn’t have it he pouted. It is after that event that Elijah speaks the message from the Lord telling Ahab what would happen to him. (I Kings 21) A grateful heart focuses on being thankful for what you have. The focus is on what can be done.

A grateful heart changes your attitude. Your attitude is how you think and feel about things. Having a grateful heart will change how you view things in your life. A grateful attitude is a step in getting things done. When you are grateful, your attitude will be the foundation for getting things done.

A grateful heart impacts those around you. A grateful person is happier, kinder, and forgiving. Your relationships with others will impact how you are able to get things done.

As I pondered what it was that would overcome jealousy, a grateful heart was not my first thought. As I sat down to write, I began to realise that it is this that will overcome jealousy.

A Challenge to practice

I am going to challenge myself and each of you to take the next 30 days and each day write down thinks that you are thankful for. So, find a notebook, write it in your planner, create a document on your computer but for 30 days write down the things you are thankful for. See how that changes your life. Begin to make this a discipline in your life.

I think this is written for me as much as anyone else. I have something coming up next week that I need to practice this discipline.

Here are the other Disciplines for Success, self-denial, diligence, and humility.


Difficult to Good – 3 Things to learn and do

We want good things. If we are honest, we will admit that we try to avoid the difficult and hard things in life. We want things that we consider to be good. What if good comes from the hard and difficult? God can change the difficult to good.

Difficult to Good

Abused by his brothers, accused of wrong doing by his boss’ wife, left in prison, and finally famine those are all “bad” things. What good can come from bad things? Yet in God’s economy the bad things can become good things. These bad things reunited Joseph with his family and allowed him to see that his brothers had changed. Through the bad there was good.

A windstorm and waves filling the boat were causing the fishermen to fear for their lives. No one wants to go through a storm like that. Yet, the storm showed the authority Jesus has over nature. This gave the disciples a new and deeper understanding of who God is. (Mark 4:35-41)

A large gathering of hungry people and not enough money to buy food. How can that be good? As a result, the crowd on the hillside learned how God can work and provide with more than enough with just five loaves and two fish. (John 6:1-15) God worked in the hard times to provide good for all the people.

The combination of thinking about goodness and reflecting on Genesis 42-49 this morning had me reflect on how God works through the difficult times to bring good. It might look like I had this all planned as I shared last week about things I learned about God through special needs parenting. Really there was no plan except to write about goodness.

What good can come from hard or difficult?

We learn more about God. Through these difficult and hard times, we learn how God provides, protects, and cares. God takes us through the difficult things so that we can learn and grow in Him.

We learn about ourselves. It can often be in these hard or difficult times that we realise how much we need God. These disciples were fishermen they had been in numerous storms but in this storm they learned that they needed Jesus and they could not rescue themselves. We learn that we need God.

We can point others to Jesus. How we respond and react can be a testimony to God’s working in our lives. People can relate to difficult experiences and it can be a time of sharing God with them. People need to see beyond the circumstances and see God not just for the help in the specific but for eternity.

How do you view the hard and difficult things in your life? Do you see God working in your life? Joseph understand that God was working good. Keep reading Genesis 50:20. It was not just for Joseph’s benefit only but also for the keeping others alive.

The hard and difficult for each of us is different. God is working in each of our hard and difficult things. He is showing us who he is. He is working for good.

Sometimes it is good to reflect and see how God is good in our hard and difficult.

Reflection Questions:

Think of something hard or difficult in your life. How has God shown that he is good through that?

What have you learned about yourself through this hard or difficult time?

How does that help you as you face other hard or difficult times in your life?

Fourteen Years of Special Needs Parenting

Yesterday we celebrated Miss K’s 14th birthday. She looks forward to that day each year with excitement. About six months ago she began saying, “it is almost my birthday.” Her birthday means that I now have 14 years of special needs parenting experience. Next year I get my 15 year award. Oh, it is not like that in parenting is it.

Special needs is a general term that expresses itself in so many ways. Some children can look “normal” but have special needs. Other children the special needs are evident looking at them. I don’t know which is easier. In many ways I am thankful that Down Syndrome has features and that helps in understanding Miss K’s abilities and setting expectations. (I could get into the whole expectations vs. ability but will save that for another day.)

My experience is based on raising Miss K and I will just reflect on some things that I have learned about God. Fourteen years ago as I held a tiny baby with small ears and purple fingers (those are the two things I remember about her when she was born), I didn’t realise all that I would learn.

So with 14 years of experience what I have learned? There is so many things that I have learned — medical terms, therapy options, expectations, and many other things. I will focus on the things that I have learned about God through this experience.

14 Years Special Needs Parenting

What have I learned?

God is sovereign. That was and still is a truth that I cling to, this was not a surprise to God. God knew we were living in Asia, God knew she would need two major surgeries within weeks of birth, God knew. Today that truth still holds, God knows.

God is the provider. Twenty six days in NICU, two major surgeries, and numerous tests and procedures at a cost of less than US$300. A physical therapist who donated her time to evaluate and recommend exercises for the first two years. (I so wish I could go back and find all the doctors, nurses, and therapists.) Moving to a new country and just happening to live in the same village as a speech therapist from the US when we were ready for speech therapy. I need to remember today that God is the provider as we wait for a school placement.

God is faithful. Just as each year has a 12 July so God has been faithful through all these years. Day in and day out He has been faithful to us.

God is the healer. I know that God is the healer. She was in God’s hands the night that we were told to go home and prepare ourselves as she would not make it through the night. As we left the NICU that night, I looked at the doctor and said, “she is in God’s hands.” I went home and went to sleep. The next morning we called the hospital. Three days later she had open heart surgery.

God cares. In big and in little ways through these years I have seen that God cares. He cares about Miss K and He cares about her family.

These are just a few of the things that I have learned about God in new ways these past fourteen years.

Happy birthday Miss K. You are a precious gift from God, loved by God and those around here.

2018 World Down Syndrome Day

Chats Over Coffee Special Needs Parenting

Self-denial Disciplines for Success

Practice self-denial. Disciplines for Success overcome self-indulgence

Deny myself, are you serious? Is that really something that I want to do? Denying yourself is saying no to yourself. Why should I do that? That is the opposite of what the world tell us to do. Yet, this is what we need to learn self-denial.

As we look to grow and achieve all that God is calling us to do, we need to overcome the heart issues that hinder us reaching our goals.  To overcome the hinderance of self-indulgence we need to learn to deny ourselves.

As I began to think about what is the discipline that we need to overcome self-indulgence, I was thinking that it was self-control.  As I thought more about this while I was baking chocolate chip cookies, I began to think about self-detail.  I was trying to have self-control but with warm chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter it was difficult. Self-control is good virtue and we will look at that as we work through Fruit of the Spirit but I think the discipline that will overcome self-indulgence is self-denial.

That is means instead of limiting my cookies I need to say “no” to the cookies. Not easy, but it is worth it. We don’t like to say no to ourselves.

What does the Bible say about self-denial?

Jesus told his disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24. (ESV) This passage is included in all the Synoptic Gospels. That gives us an indication of how important it is. The context for this verse is Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. Then after telling the disciples that they need to deny themselves he is putting it in the context of eternity.

Denying ourselves is not for glory but so that we can follow Christ. We need to deny those things that are making it difficult to follow Christ.

Another reason to deny ourselves is for the benefit of others and not to cause others to stumble. Paul was willing to deny himself eating meat if that was going to cause his brother to stumble. (I Corinthians 8)

Fasting is a form of self-denial. We are saying no to something so that we can draw closer to God.

Learn Self-denial

The discipline of self-denial is learning to say, no. We need to be walking in the Spirit and listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit so we know what things we are to say no to.

I challenge you to practice saying no to yourself. Maybe it is saying no to warm chocolate chip cookies or saying no to spending money on something you don’t need. Learn to say, “no”.

Look at your goals. Are there areas that you have been self-indulgent and need to practice learning self-denial.

What areas do you find that you are tempted to self-indulgence?

Learning to deny yourself is not easy but as we grow in the discipline we will see God in new ways. We will grow. It might be that we see him provide as we deny ourselves.

Practice self-denial. Learn to say no, overcome self indulgence

The other disciplines for success include humility and diligence.

Tasting God’s Goodness

I like good food, fresh baked bread with butter that is melting or rich chocolate cake with creamy frosting. The bite of pudding that causes you to lick the fork and have another bite. Good tasting food is a delight. The food that after eating you think about and remember how it tasted that is good food.

Then there are the  times when I create dinner from whatever we find in the refrigerator and it tastes like it was all the things we discovered and needed to eat. Those are not the meals we remember. That meal might have given nourishment but it was not full of pleasure. It would be a stretch to say it was good.

Tasting Gods Goodness

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!  Psalm 34:8

Have you tasted and seen that God is good? Can you say that God is good? Can you say that God is good to you?

Do you allow God to define good or do you try to write the definition? God’s good might take us through some difficult and hard things because he wants to show us his goodness. We might not see that unless we went through those times.

What is good?

I have a list of things that I consider good. The books on my list of good books might be different from what is on your list. My daughter considers shrimp good but others do not. We judge and decide what is good. The quick list of good things is filled with things I like, pleasant things, easy things but as I sit and think a bit more about good things I also list some things that are hard and difficult.

Why do I list hard and difficult things on a list of good things? It is in those times that I really see God’s goodness.

There was a situation that we were in and honestly I had no idea how I would survive. It was horrible. It was hard. At just the time that we needed it, God worked and moved us out of the situation. God’s timing was good. If I didn’t have the difficult situation, I might not have seen how perfect God’s timing is.

Living Good

God is good. It is who he is. So if we are to be reflecting God and his goodness in our lives? How do we do that?

Believe that God is good and what he does is for our good.

Speak of God’s goodness to others. When you share the hard bits and stories of your life, share how God worked good. Give God the glory and praise.

Do good to others. How can you serve others and do good? It might be giving of your abundance to someone in need. It might be something simple like a glass of water. This is not just to those we like but also to our enemies. (Luke 6:35)

Journaling Questions

Here are some questions for you to ponder. Take some time and look in your life and reflect on God and his goodness.

What are some areas where you have seen God’s goodness in your own life?

Do you see how God has worked good in your life?

What are some areas in your life that you struggle to say God is good? Look at those areas. How do you see God working? What is God teaching you about himself and his goodness? How can you learn to say that God is good even in those area?

This is a bit of a rambling post about God’s goodness but I trust that it will encourage you today. More on the topic of good and goodness can be found here.

Chats Over Coffee – Cleaning Schedule & Knowing Yourself

Chats Over Coffee

Friday is a bit of a more personal post. It is a time for you to get to know me. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s sit and chat. I have a cup of coffee in my Starbucks England mug. I have a collection of them and enjoy traveling back to places I have visited. Wonderful memories!

Cleaning Schedule

In case you are wondering after reading this, I did get my kitchen floor washed. Then my kitchen is clean for about 10 hours of which 8 of those we are sleeping.

I have a schedule for cleaning. It is what works here for this house and at this time. I doubt that this schedule for would work for every house. I like small bits that I can easily get done. Yes, the whole house might not be clean at the same time but it is tidy and we can vacuum and it will look neat.

I don’t have to think about what needs to be done. I know it is Monday and so I clean the bathroom. Not having to think makes it easier. Yes, I am about easier so I can spend more time doing other things that I enjoy.

Do you have a cleaning schedule? I have a number of suggestions of cleaning schedules pinned here. Use those for ideas and suggestions but create one that fits you and your house. You know your house, your family, and yourself.

Knowing Yourself

If you were to ask me one thing that I think it important, as you plan and execute your plan for growth, I would say knowing yourself. I am thinking both in your spiritual and your physical.

Why? God has created us each different we have unique strengths and weaknesses. We are in different stages of life and our family is different. Yet while we re created different our goal should be the same to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. . .”  (2 Peter 3:18)

How does this help? When you know yourself you know things that will work and things that won’t work. You are not comparing and swayed into the something that won’t work for you.  The more you know yourself the better you can plan and work your plan.

What are some things to know? Your strengths and weaknesses. Your preferences and how you function. Some people really need a tidy house to function while others work if they can see it. Your house and the way things work and don’t work there. I don’t have a dryer so I need to allow time to dry clothing on the line which is fine when we have days of sun but when it is cold and damp out that impacts laundry.

Here is a bit written looking at yourself as you begin to think about the year.

How well do you know yourself?

I know I like paper and pencil so I have a paper planner. We eat 95% of our meals at home so that means I need a meal plan. (I really need to work on that.)

Diligence – A Discipline for Life

Diligence Disciplines for Success Godly Character for Growth

We life in a world of distractions and getting the job almost done is acceptable but it that really how we are called to life? To overcome this we need the discipline of diligence. So what is diligence and how to we develop this in our lives?

This post introduced the hinderances and we want to look at each one and learn the discipline that will give growth. The goal is to put aside the hinderances and embrace the disciplines. When we do that we are growing and doing and being all the God is calling us to be and do.

Diligence is the opposite of laziness.  Proverbs speaks about a sluggard. The sluggard stays in bed, the sluggard gets nothing, and other truths. Don’t be a sluggard, be diligent.

Be diligent in what God has called you to do. 

Diligence is careful and persistent work or effort. Diligence requires hard work,  focus, and perseverance.

Three Elements of Diligence

Hard Work – Sometimes you just need to dig in and work. It might be tackling the disorganised closet with all kinds of things piled on top of one another. You might need to take the time or learn a new skill. Diligence requires that you be willing to do the hard work.

Focus – “Oh, look there is a rabbit.” Off we go down a rabbit trail. Focus is putting aside the distractions and working on the task at hand. We all know about the bad distractions — all the notifications on our smartphone and Facebook. Not all distractions are bad some are just good things but not the thing that we should be doing at the moment. Writing this post is a good thing but if I should be focusing on making dinner then writing has become a distraction. I read this book earlier this year and have to say that it did challenge me to focus.

Perseverance – Perseverance is a combination of hard work and focus but adds the element of  just continuing until the job is done. Even now as I am writing this I have my kitchen 95% cleaned (It is Wednesday and that is the day that the kitchen gets really cleaned.) I am tempted to just say it is done but I need to wash the floor. Then I can say it is done. Perseverance can be completely finishing the job and it can also be the enduring when it is hard and we are ready to stop.

Elements of Diligence

What do you need to do?

How would you rate your diligence? Do you find it is easy to work hard? Are you easily distracted? Do you struggle to finish the job? Take some time and evaluate your diligence.

So the challenge is to be diligent. Work hard, focus, and persevere. All of this will overcome the laziness and you will be achieving what God has called you to do.

Now I am going to go and finish the kitchen cleaning. I need to persevere and avoid distractions.

What do you need to go and do? Just do it.

Humility – A Discipline for Growth

Fruit of the Spirit – Goodness

What does goodness mean? It is listed in the Fruit of the Spirit. All the major translations, KJV, ESV, NIV and NASB, use the word goodness so that doesn’t give us any clue as to what good means. As we continue our study through the Fruit of the Spirit, we are now at goodness.

Fruit of the Spirit Goodness

Think of all the ways that we use the word, good. It is a greeting, “good morning.” It is used to describe an event, “good times” or a meal, “good food”. We want to hear “good news”. “Good job” are words of praise for how a job was done. While we use this word often, do we think about what it means?

How does the Bible use good. The word Tobh used in the Old Testament means abundant in goodness, plenteous in mercy, abundant in loving kindness. In the New Testament the word used is chrestotes which means riches of his goodness, useful, kind. Finally, good also has the idea of excellence.

Maybe it sounds like I am repeating myself but then again, I am. Each of these fruits of the Spirit are things that God is or shows to us. God is not asking anything of us that he has not already done. Did you catch that?

Understanding Goodness

God is good. Good is the very essence of God’s nature. “For you, O Lord are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” Psalm 86:5. Good is a definition of who God is.

God does good. “all things work together for good,” (Romans 8:28 ESV) Joseph tell his brothers this. Even though they sold him as a slave Joseph knew God had a plan and worked all the bits for not only Joseph’s good but even beyond him.

God’s creation is good. The first mention of good in the Bible is Genesis 1:4, “And God saw that the light was good.” We see good repeated throughout the creation story. All that God created was good. It was excellent.

The fall in Genesis 3 brought sin into the world. That has impacted our lives and creation but it has not changed God is still good.

Goodness in our Lives

Understand God is good. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” Psalm 34:8 I think the word taste is such a descriptive word for what we are to do. Think about how you taste something. First, you might take a small bite and then a bit more. You slowly chew it savouring the flavours. That is the picture that we need here as we taste and see that the LORD is good.

Believe that God does good for you. The hard and difficult things in your life, do you believe that God will use those for good in your life? The hard and difficult might be different for each of us but God is still good to each of us. Do you see God’s goodness in your own life not your friend, your parents but in your life?

Do good. Our doing good should be a reflection of God’s goodness in our lives. Doing good is not just to those who are doing good to us but even our enemies.  “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” (Luke 6:27)

Have you tasted and seen that God is good to you?

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good

This is part of A Fruitful Year.

June Review

I am actually writing my June review in June and not two weeks into the next month like I have done the past few months.

June 2018 Review

June is a great time for the Mid-Year Review. Did you do one? I listed my goals and then wrote down some of the things that I have done under that goal. I spent some time thinking about what could be done yet this year. It help give me some focus which I need to regain.

At the beginning of June I put together a list of various things I wanted to do this month. I wrote the list on the calendar page of my planner. As I planned my weeks, I looked at the list and worked on some of those items. Now at the end of June as I look at the list I got most of those items finished. That is a great feeling. I need to do that for July.

Here is a quick review of some of my goals:

Grow Deeper in my relationship with God – There are things that I find easy but I want to keep pushing myself to go deeper in my relationship. I don’t want to settle but grow.

Grow in health and strength – I am struggling to find time in the week to go out and exercise. I am continuing to watch carbs as for me that is the key. My latest love sautéed spinach with a bit of garlic as a base instead of rice. I got tired of cauliflower rice.

Grow in my relationships with others – This includes family and friends. This requires planning and just doing things. It can be thought through or just a last minute action. This is an area that I need to keep working on.

Grow in efficient and effective use of our home – I worked to get rid of some more home school things. I am also organised some other areas.

I usually have 2 or 3 books that I am reading. It is a combination of fiction and non-fiction.

In June I read Take Heart. It was an easy book to read but had a big challenge of how to live in the age of unbelief. It also had a bit of a surprise ending. I know normally you don’t think of a surprise ending in a fiction book but it did.

I also read this book on sleep. Let me just say that the author believes in evolution so throughout the book you read about how man has evolved to this point, or how in our evolution we have moved to this point in our sleep. I spit out a lot of bones but did get some meat. Lack of sleep has the same effect on driving as drunk driving. Sleep plays a big role in fighting infection. Sleep also plays a role in emotional healing. It has given me something to think about in regards to sleep. I want to spend some time looking at sleep in the Bible so you might see a bit on that topic in the next few weeks.

Three things I did this month:

  1. Made lemon curd – I didn’t realise how easy that is to make. We made some in a small group to sell at the school summer fair.
  2. Darned a sock – I remember my mom doing this when I was young. She would use the egg from the L’eggs pantyhose. (That is a memory that might just date me.) Anyway one of my favourite Solmate socks got a hole and I just couldn’t throw them away so I did what I have not done since a child and darned my sock. It might not be pretty and win any awards but it means I don’t have a hole and can wear the sock.
  3. Ate strawberries from our garden – that really is a big accomplishment that we were able to grow and enjoy the fruit of our labour.

That is just a quick wrap up of June. How was your month? Are you making progress?

Don’t be nice – Have Genuine Kindness

It is easy to be kind to nice people. Being kind to someone who is kind to you is easy. It is easy to be kind when it does not cost you or require much time. Is that really genuine kindness? I want to challenge us to think about genuine kindness.

Understand Genuine Kindness

An example of this is seen In 2 Samuel 9. David gives Mephibosheth land that had belonged to his grandfather and then invites him to eat with him. Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father and David were friends. David had made a promise to Jonathan and that carried to his offspring.

Who is Mephibosheth? He was Jonathan’s son, King Saul’s grandson.  Remember Saul had tried to kill David about 10 times. Mephibosheth was disabled. When he was five years old, his nurse took him and fled as news of the death of Saul and Jonathan came to her. In her haste to flee Mephibosheth fell and became lame. Now 15 years later Mephibosheth is living in Lo Debar which in Hebrew means “no thing”. So basically he is living nowhere. No one seems to know him. He was most likely trying to stay hidden and just stay alive. While hiding out he is summoned to come before the king. Maybe this will be the end?

David gave him protection, provision, and position. Mephibosheth went from living in hiding to eating at the king’s table because of what David did. How can our actions change other’s lives?

What can we learn from David?

The motivation was to show the kindness of God. David had made promise to Jonathan. In 2 Samuel 9:1 he is looking to show kindness for Jonathan’s sake. Jonathan had helped to save his life. David’s motivation was to show God’s kindness. What motivates your kindness?

The recipient of the kindness was an enemy or a rival. This was Saul’s grandson. David was now the king and some of Saul’s family had tried to keep the throne. Ish-bosheth had been king of Israel. David’s kindness was risky. David was able to take this risk because he was secure knowing that God had promised the throne to David. Are you willing to take a risk and be kind?

Kindness is for the other person and not our gain. Mephibosheth was disabled. He did not have much that he could offer to David. It was not like he could return the favour. There was nothing that Mephibosheth could do for David. Kindness is done not for what we can get but for what we can give. Are you kind without expecting something in return?

Kindness can be costly. David returned all that belonged to Saul to Mephibosheth. Furthermore, he ate at David’s table. So this can cost you. It might be money or your time. Are you willing to give what it takes to be kind?

David is a model, a shadow of what is to come. This story of David really gives us a picture of God’s kindness.

God’s ultimate kindness is seen through Christ

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:3-5

The motivation for God’s kindness is who he is, God is love. In this passage Paul calls us foolish, disobedient, slaves. We were enemies of God. Yet he showed us loving kindness. We have no righteousness. There is nothing that we can do, we have nothing to offer but depend on God’s kindness. Finally, this was costly. It cost Christ his life.

Don’t confuse being nice with being kind. Understand what it really means to be kind. As you understand who God is and what he has done for you, how do you reflect that to those around you.

As I think about this in my own life, I like to fit kindness into my schedule, when it works for me. After this study, I have been challenged to be willing to take risks and pay the cost. It is worth it.

This post has a bit more information about this topic.