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.
- 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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
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?