I Put God First in My Life

It’s hard to believe I am already at the end of week 12–I have worked with the power thoughts from the Joyce Meyer book Power Thoughts for all of 2011!  Twelve thoughts in twelve weeks–all powerful. 

Power Thought 12 had a special, and somewhat unexpected impact on my thinking. 

As I come to the end of my 12th week of power thoughts, and my final power thought, I put God first in my life, I have done quite a bit of reflecting.  I thought (naively) that this would be one of the easy ones for me because I am already in the habit of having my quiet time with God and studying the Bible first thing in the morning. 

What I came to realize over the course of the week is that putting God first in my life means putting him first in everything.  That means saying what he wants me to say instead of what I am bursting to get out.  That means spending money on what he wants.  That means spending time doing things that are important to him.  When what I want and what he wants are in conflict, God comes first.  Ouch! 

The quiet time is the easy part, absolutely.  The hard part is swallowing the juicy tidbit on the tip of my tongue, and speaking godly words instead.  The hard part is giving money to meet a need when I would rather keep that money for myself.  The hard part is giving hours in service to a friend or family member instead of pursuing my own recreation.  The hard part is giving up my personal preferences bit by bit in order to honor him and put him first.  Putting God first isn’t just spending the first thirty or sixty minutes of the day with him.  Putting God first means putting his way of doing and being right above everything else.  Needless to say, I did not master it in a week!  I am still learning all of the ways I can show my love for him by following through with this especially powerful power thought:  I put God first in my life.


First Things First

     The final power thought in Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts, #12 is the most important one of all:  I put God first in my life.  That means that God, his will, and being obedient to his word is our top priority.  We give him the first portion of all that we have–spending the first part of the day with him, giving, going to him first for advice instead of turning to a friend or the Internet. 

     Unlike the other chapters, this one is not sprinkled with lots of “think about it” questions.  At the very end, there is a simply stated question.  We are admonished to be honest with ourselves, and then Joyce Meyer asks if we have allowed anything to get before God in our priorities, and if so, to fix it.

     I realized in doing this exercise that I have put myself before God–only it looks a little more spiritual than that–I think of it in terms of improving myself and my life.  The (wrong) thinking here is that once I am improved and have my life really together, then  I will pursue God wholeheartedly!  This is such a fallacy–I have fallen for it before, and I am dismayed that I fell for it again.  I may long for transformation on many levels–but none of it can happen without God.  He changes us and improves us and enriches our lives as we pursue Him, love Him, and put Him first.

More About Discipline & Self Control

     My Struggle.  Here we go: 

          Well, today…The word “ironic” comes to mind.  This morning, I was celebrating discipline, thinking of how far I’ve come, scoffing at the idea that “no discipline is pleasant at the time.”  I was feeling successful and happy with all of the new disciplines I have added to my life over the course of the week, and I was also happy about the other areas in which I am usually pretty disciplined. 

     This week, I started exercising every day right off the bat.  By the second day, I was drinking 64 ounces of water daily.  Then today, I ditched my usual sugary breakfast and had eggs with low fat cheese mixed in.  Doing so well.  Establishing new habits!  Even if I am only almost a week in—still, that’s victory!  Yay!

     In the midst of these changes, I have not hit the dieting hard-core, but I’ve been trying to watch it, and not go crazy.  Of course, today was all about the crazy.  I just got off track in my day, and started eating.  Then, I ate some more.  Sigh.  Sadness.

     I still did the other things—I had my healthy breakfast, I exercised, and I drank my water…but, I feel so remorseful about the area(s) where I still do not use discipline and self-control.  It might be nice if we could compartmentalize our lives, but discipline and self-control need to be part of everything we do, think, and say.  Without discipline and self-control, all of our plans can be derailed and it can change the face of a day from good to depressing.  Discipline and self-control are virtues that help us to be at peace with ourselves and to accept the blessing that comes with boundaries.

     One of my favorite portions of scripture is in Psalm16.  In it, the Psalmist says, “The boundary lines have fallen or me in pleasant places.”  That tells me that discipline is a safe guard, and it is pleasant.  It keeps us safe, and happy. 

     Tomorrow, it will be time to begin looking at a new power thought.  Today, I am thinking about this big area where I still need the work of discipline and self-control—eating.  What to do?  I think I need a more concrete idea of the boundaries I want to observe in my eating, and I also need some ideas for things to do when I am tempted to eat emotionally.  It’s a little overwhelming to think of all the areas in my life where I need to use more self-control, but I have made progress  this week.  Tomorrow is a new day.

     One challenge I have faced is that I am on spring break this week.  It doesn’t sound challenging, but it means that I have lots of unscheduled time, which I am not used to.  I love the idea of waking up and just meandering through the day getting a few things done here and there, but I am realizing (reluctantly) that I need to make some kind of schedule or plan for the day so that I stay busy and productive and do not get off track with my eating or anything else.  I have tried to avoid planning to much because I want to enjoy my break without a big “to do” list hanging over my head, but I am now thinking that I blueprint for the day with some productive tasks and fun mixed in is the way to go.  Blessings!

I am Disciplined and Self-Controlled.

 It is that time. Time for a new power thought from Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts

I am one of those people.  One of those people who is always trying to lose weight, get in an exercise routine, get things done at night, drink more water, say only kind things, focus on uplifting thoughts, and keep the house tidy.  I am one of those people who has really good intentions, and then ends up eating the chocolate cake, skipping the exercise, spending the evening plopped on the couch, drinking too much coffee, saying things I shouldn’t, letting my mind wander and letting the house go.  My intentions are good, but in the past, I haven’t exercised much discipline.

There are areas in my life where I am very disciplined—I get up the second the alarm beeps every morning, I work hard at my job, I pay my bills on time, I take my contacts out every night, I send birthday cards on time, I feed and water the dog at the same time every day, I fix dinner for my husband every night and do the dishes right away.  I prepare our lunches and the coffee pot the night before…  So…I know I am disciplined…I just need to exercise it in a few more areas.

After a day of feeling very undisciplined in my eating, and pretty discouraged in general, imagine how timely it was to flip open to this week’s Power Thought:  I am disciplined and self-controlled.  The first step in being disciplined and self-controlled is believing that I am.  If I don’t I am disciplined, I won’t be.  God’s word says I am disciplined and self-controlled and that is the kind of behavior he expects from me.  This week, I am committed to adding new disciplines to my life, and I thank God for Power Thought #11.  I am disciplined and self-controlled.

Why Is This So Hard?

    If you want to know the truth, I am more than a little embarrassed at how hard this week’s Power Thought has been for me.  I actually found myself thinking, “is it time for a new power thought yet?”  Nope, I havet today and tomorrow still with Power Thought #10:  I live in the moment and enjoy each moment.

     My goodness that has been a challenging thought for me.  Apparently, I need lots of practice living in the present and enjoying each moment.  I do not dwell on the past, but I do have a tendecy to focus a lot on the future, and I don’t have a lot of balance in my life.  I do my work.  Then, we get a free moment, I feel lost trying to figure out what to do with it.

     I have had some notable, memorable, lovely moments this week, but I need to learn to have them and savor them and appreciate them every day.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Sunday night, I decided on a whim to make homemade potato soup and get into the fancy sausage, cheese and cracker set we got for Christmas.  Yum–it was something different and my husband and I really enjoyed the meal.
  • One day this week, after class, a student stopped me to tell me that I am doing a great job teaching, and that I motivate him and make him want to come to class.  Those things don’t happen very often–took my breath away.
  • Maybe the best moment of all was coming home and finding out that my husband had gotten us peeps (baby chickens)!  I am enjoying them so much.  While I am looking forward to fresh eggs, I look forward to picking up the babies, thinking up chicken names (Chicken-Lickin,’ Chicken Biscuit, Chicken Little, Crunchy Chicken, etc.), and watchign their feathers come in.

So, I am not sure what’s next.  I am sad that this Power Thought was so hard for me.  When I really think about it, it might be that in order to really enjoy the moment, it’s necessary to let go of the future–trust God with it.  I have to let go of life, stop trying to fix everything, and just be.  In this light, maybe my issue isn’t an enjoying life difficulty so much as it is a trusting God difficulty.

     I tried to take pictures of the peeps, but I am having technical difficulties.  I hope I can post some pictures of them soon.  Speaking of soon, I have another day and a half to really focus on living in the present and enjoying each moment.  Oh, God, renew my mind, and help me to enjoy the abundant life you desire for me!

3 Ways Be Present & Enjoy Life

Here we go.  Another week.  Another powerful thought. 

Reading the chapter in Joyce Meyer’s Power Thoughts on Power Thought #10:  I live in the present and enjoy each moment, brought to mind my Grandma.  She is 85 years old, and every morning, she says, “This is that day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).  Grandma also told me once many years ago that when she goes to bed, before she falls asleep, she thinks of one work thing she wants to accomplish the next day, and one fun thing.  Grandma has had this all figure out for a while—we are meant to enjoy this life God has given us, and that is much easier to do when we live balanced lives.

     There are three other big lessons for me in this power thought.

  1. Enjoy the mundane. 

I think this is an awesome lesson because frankly, much of life is made up of mundane tasks—getting dressed, brushing teeth, grocery shopping, driving, paying bills, doing laundry, running errands, returning phone calls—you get the idea.  These activities take up a huge amount of time every day and every week.  If we see them as “stuff I have to get done,” they are not going to be enjoyable.  If we focus on the moment with gratitude, we can enjoy even the most tedious tasks.  I am thankful for hot water for baths, thankful for clothes to wear, thankful for money in the bank to pay the bills, and so on.

  1. Enjoy your work. 

If you separate your life into work, which is a have-to and a drag, and time off, which fun and what you look forward to, it’s going to be difficult to enjoy all of your life.  We spend so much time working; we must make up our minds to create fun in our work. 

  1. Don’t wait to enjoy your life.

I don’t consciously put off enjoying my life.  Yet, certain thoughts and attitudes creep into my mind:  I will enjoy life when:  when I have a better job, when I lose 20 pounds, when the house is looking better, when my commute is shorter, when the weather is warmer, when everything’s paid off.  There will always be those things that exist in some hazy idea we have about our future—that time when we will finally allow ourselves to enjoy life…but then, new things always pop up, and enjoying life gets put off again.  Let’s stop with the conditions that begin with “when.”  Let’s start enjoying every moment of life today!

I Pursue Peace with God, Myself, and Others

I am continuing on to do the mind renewing work in Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts.  Power Thought 9 is:  “I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.” Meyers indicates that the most important part of this power thought is the fact that peace must be pursued.  It doesn’t just fall in our laps.  We have to go after it.

I also think it’s important to notice the order in this thought.  Before we can have peace with ourselves, we have to have peace with God, and before we can have peace with others, we have to make peace with yourselves.

Being at peace with God means being honest with him about our sins and weaknesses, making confession and asking God for his help.  When we are able to accept God’s love and forgiveness, we are able to begin to really love and accept ourselves.  Often the way we treat ourselves is refleccted in how we treat others.  This isn’t always true though.

I am aware that I don’t always have very high expectations of others, but I do hold myself to high expectations–sometimes very unrealistic expectations.  One of the things that wastes my energy the most, is my tendency to go for days being angry with myself for my perceived failures.  God accepts my weaknesses and loves me anyway, but it is hard for me to do the same.  I realize from studying this chapter, that peace with myself isn’t going to just happen. 
     I must make an effort to change by pursuing, or going after peace with myself.  It helps me to compare the way I treat myself or think about myself with the way I treat and think about others.  This helps me recognize right behavior.  I am learning (slowly) to relax my expectations and to trust God to help me in my failures and shortcomings.  As I relax about myself, it is easier to live at peace with others as well.

    My goal this week is to come up with some specific actions to take so that I can stay on track with Power Thought #9:  I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.

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