Update on July’s Goals & What I Learned About Faithfulness

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My overarching goal for July was to become more faithful [to be reliable, loyal, and honest] by spending time with God daily whether I felt like it or not, by taking captive every thought, exercising in some form daily, keeping up with household chores, and showing up on time to all meetings and appointments throughout the month. I used a calendar to keep track of my daily progress.

  1. Faith- (I) Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about faithfulness each week, (II) pray every day that God would help me to be faithful, (III) dwell on God’s faithfulness weekly, and (IV) read my Bible and pray every day, even when I don’t feel like it.

(I) During the first 11 days of the month of July I only practiced my verses on three days. It was a bit of a rough start. But then I sat down and came up with a “Quiet Time Schedule” which included practicing my verses, so I became much more consistent the rest of the month.

(II) I remembered to ask God to help me be faithful every day this past month.

(III) I can recall intentionally meditating upon God’s faithfulness twice this past month. The first time was at prayer meeting while singing the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and the second time was at a funeral while listening to that same hymn.

(IV) I did one or the other (read Bible/pray) every single day, but there were a few days this past month I missed out on doing both. The quiet time schedule I came up with was really helpful in keeping my time with the Lord focused and allowed it to be more profitable, too. In case you’re curious, here is the schedule I made:

Quiet Time Schedule 

Memory Verses (2 min): Practice this week’s memory verses

Meditate on One Attribute of God (2 min)

Pray/Sing (5-10 min):

-Praise & Thanksgiving

-Confession of sins

-“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”

Read Christian Testimony (3-5 min): Read short biography or martyr story 

Pray for Missionaries/Persecuted Church (5 min)

Study One Chapter of Bible (15-20 min)

Listening Prayer (5 min): Sit in His presence and wait for Him to speak to you 

Application Prayer (2-3 min): Ask God to help you apply what you’ve learned to your life

Supplication for Resolutions (5 min): Pray over your resolutions for your life

Intercession for John (5 min): Pray for your spouse

Intercession for Others’ Needs (10 min): Pray for people & needs as God brings them to mind

Dedication Prayer (2 min):  Thank God & surrender your day to Him

2. Marriage– (I) Take captive every thought that doesn’t encourage marital faithfulness.

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(I) This goal certainly made me more aware of my thought-life. God helped me direct my thoughts in such a way that they were pleasing to Him and honoring to my husband. I think it was quite fitting that faithfulness was my focus during my anniversary month. John and I celebrated 5 years on the 23rd. Our “theme” for our wedding was the faithfulness of God and now we can look back after 5 years of marriage and see God’s continued faithfulness in providing for us and keeping our marriage strong.

3. Health- (I) Do some form of exercise every single day.

(I) With the exception of Sundays (my day off from marathon training), I did indeed exercise every single day this past month. I counted all the miles I ran and it totaled over 150! Having my workouts planned out ahead of time really held me accountable this past month. There were definitely times when I didn’t feel like running for an hour, but I chose to silence the excuses and run anyway.

4. Homemaking- (I) Keep the home well-kept so John can rely upon it, even on top of other responsibilities (John’s top 4 main concerns: Clean laundry, Clean dishes, Clean toilets, Food to eat).

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(I) July was a fairly busy month with several appointments, meetings, and interviews. Even so, I was able to stay on top of the housework pretty well. I’m grateful my husband appreciates  simple meals and doesn’t mind leftovers. A couple times I left dirty dishes in the sink a little too long… and I could’ve made cleaning the toilet a bigger priority, but overall I was faithful with my house duties.

5. Interactions– (I) Keep commitments even if it hurts, (II) tell the truth even when tempted to tell a “little white lie”, and (III) show up on time to all meetings and appointments.

(I) At the beginning of the month I was planning on continuing to run with John’s younger sister, but I ended up dropping the ball due to my inconsistent schedule. That wasn’t a very good start to the month. I also had to change the time and date of a doctor’s appointment, but I did it weeks in advance, so I think I still maintained faithfulness in the situation. There was also one Tuesday when I asked somebody to cover for me last minute in my volunteer position at the pregnancy center so I could say yes to babysitting that night. I only left two hours earlier than I was scheduled to be there, but was I still being 100% faithful to my commitment?

(II) I only recall lying twice this past month. The first time, I lied to my doctor. I hadn’t been taking one of the medications he had prescribed for yeast, but I led him to believe I had been. I realized this isn’t the first time I’ve misled my doctor- no LIED TO my doctor (let’s call it what is really is). I’m thankful God opened my eyes to this and made me more sensitive to the temptation to tell lies the rest of the month.

The second lie was to my husband. I justified it at first because I hadn’t actually said anything to him… I was withholding information, which is deceptive and by very definition, lying. I failed to tell him right away about how I had rear-ended a car in my recent travels. I intended on telling him… eventually. I told myself I was “waiting for the right timing.” Well, his parents ended up pointing out the damage to John and he asked if I realized somebody had backed into me. Thankfully, I told him the whole truth right at that moment, but I felt ashamed for not telling him sooner. He made me promise I’d tell him about future incidents right away.

(III) I would have been on time to my interviews if it hadn’t been for mapquest… TWICE in one week mapquest led me astray. Thankfully I had left an extra half hour early for each interview, so I was a mere two minutes late for both. But, that still doesn’t look very good for a potential job candidate. I think I was on time to other meetings, but I could’ve done better about leaving earlier for work on a couple occasions. Leaving earlier definitely prevents me from having to rush (aka speed).

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6. Books to Read- The books I hoped to read during the month of July were:

  • Boundaries in Marriage (Cloud & Townsend)

I haven’t had a chance to pick this one up, yet.

  • The Relationship Cure (John Gottman)

I started reading this book, but have not finished. Even though it’s clearly not written from a Christian perspective, it’s still been insightful and an enjoyable read.

  • Flawed but Faithful Ebook (Pastor Joey Bauer)

I never even opened my Kindle during the month of July.

  • The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee)

I started reading this book, but haven’t gotten far. Once again, I’ll put it on my “to-read” list for August.

  • Ministering Cross-Culturally (Lingenfelter & Mayers)

I never even cracked the cover of this one.

  • On Being a Servant (Warren Weirsbe)

This book was geared more toward full-time vocational pastors, but I still gleaned some good insights from it. It was short, not too deep, but challenging.

  • No Grain, No Pain (Dr. Peter Osborne)

I really liked this book and continue to go back to it for reference. I learned that grains like rice, quinoa, and oatmeal can cause similar problems in gluten-sensitive individuals as wheat can. My dad has Celiac disease and has recently been having issues despite being on the typical “gluten-free” diet. I learned that regular, ground coffee can cause issues for people like him and that it’s best to use only organic whole bean coffee. Ever since he made the switch he’s been feeling MUCH better. I too had gastrointestinal issues this past month and when I realized my supplements could have added ingredients like “rice flour,” I purged them and my symptoms have almost completely cleared up. I definitely recommend this book if you think you might be sensitive to gluten.

WHAT I LEARNED THIS MONTH

Since being voted “most dependable” in 8th grade, I’ve had an inflated view of my dependability and faithfulness. But, as Chip Ingram says, “Past successes are no guarantee for future faithfulness.” I can’t depend upon a label given to me 14 years ago, believing it’s a guarantee I’ll continue to be faithful now that I’m 27 years old. Looking over my goals and the ways in which I fell short this past month has made me realize I don’t possess as much faithfulness as I thought, after all.

Faithfulness is time-consuming. It takes time to sit down and be quiet before God as I study His Word and pray. It takes time to workout every day… especially when you’re training for a marathon. It takes time to clean the house, make dinner, fold laundry, etc. There are no shortcuts. If I want to know Christ and become like Him and be faithful to Him, it requires me to prioritize spending time with Him, which may mean making sacrifices.

I had decided early on in my marathon training that I was going to keep God first by reading my Bible and praying BEFORE running every day. This has not been a convenient commitment to make, especially this past month. I prefer to run in the mornings because it’s still cool (and I like to get it out of the way as soon as possible). However, I had to leave my house by 8:20 am several weeks this past month in order to teach at Vacation Bible Schools. So, if I wanted to have my quiet time AND run before 8:20 am, I would have had to wake up by 5:30 am. One day of this schedule may not have been too bad, but if you have ever taught at a VBS you know how much it can drain you by day #3. I ruled out waking up at 5:30 am and instead, slept in an extra 1.5 hours and opted to do my marathon training later in the afternoons. This definitely made for some grueling workouts in 80 degree weather, but I don’t regret putting God first. How could I expect to feed God’s Word to children if I myself wasn’t getting filled up, first?

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At the end of July I began studying the book of Jonah during my quiet times. I also began studying the story of Joseph as I prepared to teach it at VBS during the first week of August. I was struck by the contrast of Jonah and Joseph’s attitudes. Even though Jonah did obey God the second time God commanded him to go to Ninevah, his heart was clearly not right before God because the moment God relented from sending calamity upon the great city, Jonah became angry and threw a pity party. What’s more, he showed more compassion toward the plant that provided shade for him than he did toward 120,000 perishing souls. Joseph, on the other hand, endured great suffering without complaint. When his brothers showed up years after selling him into slavery, he repaid them with good by returning the money they’d used to buy grain. He didn’t withhold love or forgiveness from them and he had an eternal perspective on his circumstances. He could’ve just as easily gotten “payback” and treated his brothers with contempt, but he chose to show them kindness, instead. Joseph remained faithful to God, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Jonah, on the other hand, never displayed true faithfulness.

Sometimes I display a Jonah attitude more than a Joseph attitude. My loyalty to Christ can be so fickle sometimes! I have a few car troubles, experience a little joint pain, face a couple disappointments and all of a sudden I’m doubting God’s goodness. Why does it take such little things to shake my faith? Perhaps God was trying to test me during July.

This month didn’t go quite as I’d planned it would. I had expected to work quite a few hours this past month so my husband and I could get our savings up. But after returning from my two-week CYIA training, my boss didn’t schedule me any hours until the third week of July. At first I was upset, but then I tried to see the positive side to not working and took advantage of volunteer opportunities. I felt like God was telling me, “Be faithful in the little things.” 

The first week I had free I ended up teaching two Bible lessons at a VBS and filled in one day for the client services manager at Carenet Pregnancy Center. Then, that weekend I was able to go camping with my parents, two younger sisters, and their children. It was a really special time. On another weekend I was able to visit my friend overnight in Rutland after attending a meeting. Since I had so much free time on my hands, I also decided to bless my sister by cleaning her house and folding her mounds of laundry while she brought her kids to a doctors appointment. In addition to this, I was also able to say yes to teaching the Bible stories at second week-long VBS due to my open schedule. So, all-in-all it ended up being a far better month than I had anticipated. I learned that God will use me if I am just available and willing… if I’m faithful.

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In addition to job troubles, I experienced some car troubles, too. First, I rear-ended a car (as I explained earlier in my goal updates), which led to overheating issues. (It literally took me over an hour longer to get home from a VBS one afternoon because my car kept overheating and I kept pulling over to let it cool down). After John’s dad graciously replaced our radiator, we didn’t have overheating problems anymore, but our wheel-bearing needed to be replaced. After picking up my car from the garage and using it ONE day, the very next day it wouldn’t start. It’s frustrating for sure, but I know that even in all this, God has a plan and purpose. God seems to be asking, “Will you love Me even if you continually face hardship after hardship? Will you remain faithful to me? It’s easy to say a definitive “YES!” when the sun is shining and you’re sailing smoothly through life. But when trials come my prayer is often closer to a whispered, “Lord, I want to love You and I want to remain faithful. Please help me…

Perhaps one reason so few people exhibit faithfulness is because it often goes unnoticed and is underappreciated. Most the time nobody notices if you show up on time, never miss an appointment, or do what you’re supposed to do day in and day out. Usually it’s the off day they take note of: forgetting a meeting or showing up for work 10 minutes late. Where’s the incentive for being dependable? Thankfully, for the Christian we DO have incentive. One day we will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant… I don’t know about you, but I long to hear those words from my Savior. The key is keeping our eyes on eternity, and not remaining fixated on the fleeting tasks of the here and now.

 

 

My Goals for August

gentleness

Focus for August = GENTLENESS

My goal for August is to become a gentler person [to show restraint coupled with strength and courage] by serving those whom the world deems “below” me, bearing offenses without complaint, allowing John to lead, and by daily stretching my muscles. I will use a calendar to keep track of my daily progress.

  1. Faith- Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about gentleness each week, pray daily that God would make me a gentle person, and meditate upon Christ’s gentleness weekly.
  2. Marriage– Overlook minor offenses and allow John to lead in our marriage (by not questioning or micromanaging him, not telling him how to drive, etc.)
  3. Health- Stretch muscles daily and reward myself with a small indulgence once a week (things like stevia-sweetened chocolate, zevia soda, extra reading time, etc.)
  4. Homemaking- Don’t consider any household task “below” me or a waste of time, take on tasks that John usually performs, and tackle a home project I’ve been putting off for years (… cleaning our back porch).
  5. Interactions– Serve somebody the world considers “below” me each week and bear all offenses without complaint.
  6. Books to Read- There were several books I wasn’t able to finish during July, so the books I hope to read in the month of August are as follows:
  • Boundaries in Marriage (Cloud & Townsend)
  • The Relationship Cure (John Gottman)
  • The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee)
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (John Piper)

 

What goals do you hope to accomplish this month?

 

 

 

June: Practicing Goodness & What I Learned

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Focus for June = GOODNESS

My goal for June was to exhibit more goodness [moral excellence; upright conduct] by filling my mind with morally good things, saving more money in order to give to needy families, smiling at strangers, and being friendlier at church. I used a calendar to keep track of my daily and weekly progress.

  1. Faith- (I) Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about goodness per week, (II) ask God daily to fill me with His goodness, (III) listen to Christian music daily, and (IV) think about at least one morally good thing every single day this month.

(I) The first 2-3 weeks of the month I only missed an average of one day per month. But then CEF training came around and I got busy with studying and preparing my lessons, so I kind of dropped the ball with going over my verses the final couple weeks of the month. But, traveling back and forth to Rutland (2 hour drive one-way), did give me opportunity to refresh my memory of the book of 1 John that I had memorized last year.

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(II) I did ask God daily to fill me with His goodness. Writing down my prayer every day really helped hold me accountable.

(III) I’m grateful I made this a goal. Listening to good, wholesome, godly music both encouraged and refreshed me. Making the effort to listen daily made me more aware of the lyrics, too. Sometimes you can sing along to familiar songs without thinking about what the words say. But I found myself pondering the messages that were being sung this month and it was really quite edifying.

(IV) I think it was fairly easy to think of just 1 morally good thing per day. It was just a matter of “thinking about what I was thinking about.” Confusing? Maybe. But we have so many unconscious thoughts throughout each day. This month helped me to reign in my thoughts- to take captive every thought and make them obedient to Christ. I found on many days my morally good thoughts simply centered on the beauty of God’s creation and how intricately He made everything. Other days I had the privilege of thinking deeply about Biblical sermons I listened to or just snippets of Truth God revealed to me in my daily quiet times.

2. Marriage– (I) Commit to pray for John and our marriage at least 15 minutes every day and (II) serve him in at least one way per day without expecting a “thank-you.”

(I) 15 minutes is a lot longer than one may think. I often use the time while I’m running to pray, so he was my main focus during that time. I prayed for him daily, but I don’t think I prayed 15 minutes for him daily. But then there were other days when I spent a lot more than 15 minutes praying for him and our relationship. I’m thankful for this exercise as it reminded me of the importance of keeping John lifted up in prayer not just once a week, but every single day. It also improved my attitude toward him on several occasions.

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(II) I think serving others is one of my spiritual gifts, so this goal was fairly easy for me. Of course, I was away for about a week and a half at the end of the month, so I couldn’t really serve him from afar, but I put in extra effort in making his meals and labeling them ahead of time before I left. The last part, “without expecting a thank-you” was my struggle. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated? Yet, if my motive is to receive praise, am I truly practicing goodness? So I had to be extra conscious not to fish for compliments or to hint at the work I’d done for him.

3. Health- (I) Practice being “good” on my medical diet by eating only anti-inflammatory foods this month.

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(I) Other than eating way more fruit than I really should have, I did pretty well with my diet this month. Staying away from inflammatory foods has done wonders for keeping my joint pain at bay. And I’m slowly learning how to make tasty alternatives to the dishes I used to love.

4. Homemaking- (I) Chop my grocery bill by $80 in order to bless others with the money I save.

(I) I wasn’t quite able to cut my grocery bill by $80, but I did give $60 away and was able to still maintain our grocery budget. (John picks on me because no matter how much we seem to increase our budget for groceries, I always manage to go over, but this month I did it!). I found out later that one family I gave to wanted to use the money to bless somebody God had laid on their heart. Talk about goodness! Whenever I’m given money my first thought has never been “Who can I bless with this?” Instead, I usually think about what I can purchase or how it will increase our savings.

5. Interactions– (I) Smile at one or more strangers per day and (II) practice being friendlier and more outgoing at Church functions.

(I) I think I did a fairly good job at this even before the month began, but I especially enjoyed smiling at strangers through out the month of June. There is a typical running route I took this past month and almost nearly every morning I saw the same elderly couple walking down the street. We always exchanged hellos, smiles, and waves. I’ve never officially met this couple, but I feel like I know them and I really looked forward to greeting them.

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(II) I think I did pretty well at this, except for the last Sunday of the month. I was sick with a cold and exhausted (probably due to a combination of 2 hours of exercise the day before, being sick, and recovering from a week of teaching at a CEF training program). I’m finding it so much easier to talk to people now that I’m not so sick with Lyme. It’s amazing what a difference having energy and feeling pain-free makes!

6. Books to Read- The books I wanted to read this month: (I) The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee; (II) The Genius of Generosity, by Chip Ingram; (III) 31 Days to a Happy Husband, by Arlene Pellicane; (IV) Knowing God, by J.I. Packer; (V) Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, M.D.; and (VI) Cooking by Color, by Trish Davies.

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(I) The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee: This is the only book on my list I didn’t get a chance to pick up. But hopefully next month I’ll read it!

(II) The Genius of Generosity, by Chip Ingram: I read this book aloud to John, mostly as we traveled together in the car various places. I think it was a timely message for us as we recently decided to be more diligent about getting our savings up. Chip Ingram encouraged us to continue the pattern of giving above and beyond the 10% tithe, despite wanting to increase our savings- after all, you can’t out-give God.

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(III) 31 Days to a Happy Husband, by Arlene Pellicane: I enjoyed this book, though I feel I went through it a little too quickly. She encouraged her readers to read one chapter per day for an entire month, but I chose to read several chapters in one sitting. I plan on skimming through it again so I can better apply what I already read.

31 Days to a Happy Husband

(IV) Knowing God, by J.I. Packer: I started this book months ago, but it’s so deep you kind of have to read it slowly to fully benefit from it. It was definitely a good book to read during my month-long focus on goodness. Who better to read about and emulate than God Himself? I highly recommend this book and I plan on re-reading it somewhere down the road.

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(V) Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, M.D.: I liked this book a lot, though I thought it’d talk more about grains in general rather than mainly gluten. According to Dr. Perlmutter, simply being gluten sensitive can cause a huge range of health issues from migraines to autism.

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(VI) Cooking by Color, by Trish Davies: This was a quick, easy read. I think it was written in England because of the spelling used for many words. I learned that you can group fruits and veggies into groups according to their color and the various colors provide different benefits. For example, if you need a mood boost, eat purple and blue foods.

 

WHAT I LEARNED THIS MONTH

. I love J. I. Packer’s words from Knowing God:

…God’s truthfulness and trustworthiness, His unfailing justice and wisdom, His tenderness, forbearance and entire adequacy to all who penitently seek His help, His noble kindness in offering believers the exalted destiny of fellowship with Him in holiness and love- these things together make up God’s goodness in the overall sense of the sum total of His revealed excellences.

This past month God convicted me about how I portray my husband John to others in conversation. One of my goals this month was to serve him in at least one way every day. At first I viewed this as merely physical acts of service like making his lunches or taking out the trash for him, but then God revealed to me that I can serve him in the way I talk about him to others. Lately I haven’t been overly pleased with some of his decisions and while I’ve been trying to take it to the Lord in prayer, I’ve allowed my discontent to overflow into the way I talk about him.

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I was reminded of Proverbs 31:12 of the wife who brings her husband “good, not harm all the days of his life.” Oh how far I have fallen short in this area! If I am to be a wife of noble character, I need to speak highly of my husband, no matter the situation; I need to support him, encourage him, and spur him on toward love and good deeds.

I also learned that what I allow myself to watch, read, and listen to has a profound impact on my life. I had surface knowledge of this, but this past month when I committed to listening to Christian music and purposefully dwelling on that which is good every day, I gained experiential knowledge of this concept. Just the other day I started off my day with Christian radio and I was amazed at how it put me in such a good mood (normally I’m not a chipper morning person). Even the children’s songs from CEF 5-day clubs were an encouragement to me.

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Sometime during the month of May I had started watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” I don’t know why, I was just curious and felt like I needed something to help me relax. But throughout the month of July I stopped watching the show and realized just how depraved it is. I should be filling my mind with good things, for “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…” (Luke 6:45). The more I dwell on good, the more my life will overflow with goodness. But in the same way, (as my mom used to say), “garbage in, garbage out.” If I am filling my mind with garbage like “Grey’s Anatomy,” well, my actions are going to follow suit. Needless to say, I won’t be watching that show anymore.

One of my favorite goals this past month was smiling at strangers. I already mentioned the sweet elderly couple I saw often on my daily running route, but just the act of intentionally smiling really did make me feel more cheerful. I’m definitely going to keep this up.

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As I tried to focus more on prayer this past month, I realized it is the bedrock of goodness. I often pray during my daily run and it’s always so refreshing to pray for whoever God lays on my mind. When you pray, you connect with the Lord and start to notice and really care about the things He cares deeply about. It’s impossible to be filled with goodness without spending time with the One Who is good. His goodness overflows into my life the more I seek Him.

I love these questions from J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. They were timely questions for me to consider as I sought goodness:

Do I daily dwell on the love of God to me?

Do I treat God as my Father in heaven, loving, honoring and obeying Him, seeking and welcoming His fellowship, and trying in everything to please Him, as a human parent would want his child to do?

Have I learned to hate the things that displease my Father? Am I sensitive to the evil things to which He is sensitive? Do I make a point of avoiding them, lest I grieve Him?

Do I love my Christian brothers and sisters with whom I live day by day, in a way that I shall not be ashamed of when in heaven I think back over it?

Does the family likeness appear in me? If not, why not?

 

What are your thoughts on the attribute of goodness?

My Goals for the Month of July

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Focus for June = FAITHFULNESS

My goal for July is to become more faithful [to be reliable, loyal, and honest] by spending time with God daily whether I feel like it or not, taking captive every thought, exercising in some form daily, keeping up with household chores, and showing up on time to all meetings and appointments throughout the month. I will use a calendar to keep track of my daily progress.

  1. Faith- Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about faithfulness each week, pray every day that God would help me to be faithful, dwell on God’s faithfulness weekly, and read my Bible and pray every day, even when I don’t feel like it.
  2. Marriage– Take captive every thought that doesn’t encourage marital faithfulness.
  3. Health- Do some form of exercise every single day.
  4. Homemaking- Keep the home well-kept so John can rely upon it, even on top of other responsibilities (John’s top 4 main concerns: Clean laundry, Clean dishes, Clean toilets, Food to eat).
  5. Interactions– Keep commitments even if it hurts, tell the truth even when tempted to tell a “little white lie”, and show up on time to all meetings and appointments.
  6. Books to Read- The books I hope to read in the month of July are as follows:
  • Boundaries in Marriage (Cloud & Townsend)
  • The Relationship Cure (John Gottman)
  • Flawed but Faithful Ebook (Pastor Joey Bauer)
  • The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee)
  • Ministering Cross-Culturally (Lingenfelter & Mayers)
  • On Being a Servant (Warren Weirsbe)
  • No Grain, No Pain (Dr. Peter Osborne)

 

What are your goals for the month of July?

My Goals for June

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Focus for June = GOODNESS

My goal for June is to exhibit more goodness [moral excellence; upright conduct] by filling my mind with morally good things, saving more money in order to give to needy families, smiling at strangers, and being friendlier at church. I will use a calendar to keep track of my daily and weekly progress.

  1. Faith- Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about goodness per week, ask God daily to fill me with His goodness, listen to Christian music daily, and think about at least one morally good thing every single day this month.
  2. Marriage– Commit to pray for John and our marriage at least 15 minutes every day and serve him in at least one way per day without expecting a “thank-you.”
  3. Health- Practice being “good” on my medical diet by eating only anti-inflammatory foods this month.
  4. Homemaking- Chop my grocery bill by $80 in order to bless others with the money I save.
  5. Interactions– Smile at one or more strangers per day and practice being friendlier and more outgoing at Church functions. 
  6. Books to Read- This is a new category, but to hold myself accountable, I want to share the books I hope to read throughout the month of June:

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  • The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee
  • The Genius of Generosity, by Chip Ingram
  • 31 Days to a Happy Husband, by Arlene Pellicane
  • Knowing God, by J.I. Packer
  • Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, M.D.
  • Cooking by Color, by Trish Davies

 

What are your goals for the month of June?

My Month of Practicing Patience

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Focus for May = PATIENCE

My goal for May was to become a more patient person [persevering and enduring unexpected situations with grace and peace] by allowing people and cars ahead of me, not getting upset about messes in the home, not getting upset at John when he made me wait, and striving to finish the Run for Jesus in under 22 minutes. I used a calendar to keep track of my daily progress.  

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My Goal Chart for May

1. Faith- (I) Memorize and meditate upon 3 appropriate verses about patience per week; (II) Ask God daily to increase my patience, and (III) Write down my current struggles and submit them to God.

(I) Well, I think I improved on memorizing Scripture this past month over last month. I still missed 12 days out of 31 this past month, but I persevered!

(II) I did ask God daily for an increase in patience… and He gave me plenty of opportunities to practice (see the What I Learned section)!

(III) I never did write down my struggles, but I definitely poured out my heart to God several times this past month verbally and through silent prayer (and sometimes tears). He definitely showed me patience this past month!

2. Marriage– (I) Be patient with John by not snapping or getting upset at him when he fails to listen or makes me wait at the dinner table.

(I) I think I did a pretty good job with this. There were at least two times that I recall being impatient with him, but the Holy Spirit revealed to me many times opportunities I was being given to choose to show my husband grace… and He helped me follow through with a godly response.

3. Health- (I) Practice perseverance by pushing myself in training for and finishing the Run for Jesus 5K race in under 22 minutes.

(I) Well, I definitely trained hard for the race (probably too hard the week of). In addition to running 6 days a week, my husband and I started a BeachBody workout routine together. But I think I tired myself out too much the week before, as my legs felt really tight throughout the 5K. I did not end up meeting my goal of finishing under 22 minutes.. I did it in 23:07. I was disappointed in myself at first, especially since I think I was faster last year, but since May’s focus was patience, I extended grace to myself. Now, I’m on to much bigger things: training for a marathon which will take place on November 5th!

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The first two days after starting this routine I was so sore I could hardly walk (and I had been working out consistently at the gym for 3 months beforehand)!

4. Homemaking- (I) Be patient with messes in the home by not stressing over them and (II) Practice perseverance by not complaining about housework.

(I) Many of you are looking at this goal and thinking, “Why in the world did she want to do that?” Well, if you ask my husband he’ll tell you there have been plenty of times I couldn’t relax at night or go to bed until I had tidied up the downstairs (or at least the kitchen). So, I decided to show a little patience to some slight messes rather than stressing over them this past month. And I did well. It was actually quite freeing to show myself grace in this area.

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My slightly imperfect kitchen… believe it or not, I used to get uptight about even a few dirty dishes left in my sink overnight.

(II)  There were a few times I complained in my mind, but I did well with not voicing my complaints. There was one day when I told my co-worker I didn’t mind doing dishes at work but dreaded going home and doing my own, however.

5. Interactions– (I) Practice patience by putting somebody else’s needs before my own daily, including not interrupting people.

(I) I think I did fairly well with this, though there were definitely times I could have done better. Many times I found myself thinking after the fact, “Oh, that could’ve been an opportunity to let someone ahead of me.” But there were other times when I let several cars pull out in front of me in busy traffic. There’s definitely room for growth in this area, still.

 

WHAT I LEARNED THIS MONTH

Many years ago I watched the movie Evan Almighty. There is a line in that movie that has stuck with me ever since: Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? At first hearing this made me weary about asking God to give me patience any longer because the last thing I wanted was to be put in situations where I’d need even more patience! But this month I prayed every single day for an increase in patience and God certainly answered by giving me an abundance of opportunities to practice this Fruit.

evan-almighty

In our time-driven culture, patience seems to be in short supply among the U.S. population. We are so used to instant gratification with our drive-thru fast food, high-speed Internet, one-day shipping, Smart Phone texting, and microwave dinners. The word wait is not popular in our fast-paced culture. And the phrase, “Be patient,” seems to be a phrase we throw at our toddlers yet fail to practice ourselves. And like everybody else, I too struggle with patience.

There are four specific areas I perceived to be particularly troublesome this past month.

The first area in which I struggled with patience this past month was traffic. Okay, it wasn’t just this past month… I admit I don’t like when drivers go under the speed limit, when pedestrians take their sweet time walking across a crosswalk, when the driver in front of me fails to pay attention when the light has turned green, when I have to drive through construction or accidents, when I hit nearly every stoplight while driving through the city… ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. Can you relate?

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Phew. Looking back over what I just wrote… I have A LOT of pet-peeves in the area of driving. Or perhaps I should call them “opportunities to practice patience.” I caught myself several times this past month grumbling under my breath about the various circumstances I just outlined above. But does it help to complain or get upset about these things?

What if instead of getting worked up about them, we used the time at every stoplight to pray for the people in the cars beside, behind, or in front of us? What if we extended the same grace to slow drivers or walkers that we extend to ourselves unconsciously? And what if, instead of being in a hurry all the time, we left 5 minutes earlier to get to work or to the grocery store or anywhere else we needed to go so that these situations wouldn’t cause stress? This last one was a real eye-opener for me. God revealed to me that the majority of my impatience would cease if I wasn’t constantly running late all the time or just in a hurry to get places in general.

The second area in which patience was an issue was in regard to my health. As many of you know, I have been chronically ill since June of 2009. I was misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis for 2 years until I got tested by IGeneX for Lyme Disease and started on antibiotics in June of 2011. Five years later I am still driving 2.5hrs one way nearly every month to receive treatment for my chronic Lyme. I’ve made HUGE strides and am convinced that I am currently in remission, but there were several times this past month when I experienced unexplained joint pain, causing me to doubt whether I’d ever truly be fully well. This led to a couple tearful breakdowns (one right before lunch on a Sunday afternoon that my poor husband had to endure).

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All the prescription medicine bottles I’ve used in the past 10 months…

So, when I make the trek to my appointment with my Specialist this past month I told him I wanted to go off my medication. When he asked me why I responded, “It’s been five years…” He quickly retorted that length of treatment is not the determining factor for when a patient is well. So after explaining the possible consequences of stopping my medication at this point in time he gave me two options: 1) Start the spring/summer meds or 2) Cease treatment and risk relapse. With a big sigh I gave a mumbled, dejected reply, “I guess I’ll start the spring and summer meds…” I felt like God was telling me, “Patience, child. Your timing is not my timing. I have a plan.” 

The third area I experienced a lack of patience in is linked to my health situation. I desire to start a family. John and I have gone to great lengths to avoid conception these past 5 years of marriage. The first couple years (maybe even the third) were almost easy because married life was so new and we greatly enjoyed having just the two of us. But the older I get, the more difficult it is for me to wait.

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I’ve been collecting slightly imperfect and worn baby clothing for the past several months for free…

 

Since October of 2015, six babies have been added to my Church family. Six babies in 8 months… One of them was my sister’s third child. On top of that, I have four friends who are currently expecting. I have felt God’s overwhelming peace many times when struggling with this issue and have confidence that He’s promised me I will have a family some day. It’s the unknown “some day” that I have trouble with. Hence, another lesson in patience. I’ve asked God many times, “How long, Oh Lord? When will it be my turn?” But because I know He is good and that He never withholds good from those who walk uprightly and that He fulfills the desires of those who delight in Him, I can continue to trust that His timing is perfect. 

Finally, the fourth area that I have had to practice patience in has been my physique. As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I started an intense eight-week workout program together the second week of May. It’s been nearly 4 weeks and I still haven’t gained a single pound of muscle. What’s more frustrating is the fact I can literally see my husband developing a six pack while there are no such signs on my own body, despite the fact I do an additional 10 minute ab workout every morning!

Patience. Every area of life requires it, doesn’t it?

Lord, help me not to check patience off my list as though one month of practicing it is enough. Let me continue to press on, to face every situation you send my way patiently. Allow me to be still and wait upon You. In Jesus’ Name.

 

What has been your experience with patience (or lack-there-of)?