Archive | January 2016

Love Them (even when you don’t like them)! 

You don’t have to like someone to love them. 

That was a game changer for me.

I’m quite certain you’ll relate to this. There are a few people who have treated me poorly, lied about me, hurt me…and I choose to pray for them, bless them, and forgive them. I choose to love them even though I don’t like them

Why? Well, I do this because hating them didn’t work

This is important: Hating them didn’t work. Hating them made ME more upset, more miserable. Hating them didn’t bother them one bit, but it kept me in a prison of sorts. 

So I started praying, blessing, and forgiving  out of desperation. Gradually, I did it out of obedience to Christ. And now I do this out of habit. I’d like to tell you I do it because I’m super holy. Nope. I’m a work in progress.  I do it because I stay happy when I do. I do it because I enjoy peace and joy. I do it because I need mercy and forgiveness on a daily basis. I do it because it works. Love works. God’s way works! Can you say FREEDOM?!? 

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44 

“Jesus said: ‘Love your enemies. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.'” Luke 6:32 & 35

Y’all, it’s taken YEARS for this to become my default behavior. Even now-knowing what I know-I frequently indulge in a day (or three!) of whining, fussing, and cussing before (FINALLY!!) doing what’s right, what works. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV  I guess I’ll chalk it up to my petty, selfish flesh. 

Here’s to choosing God’s way over hurt feelings, over pettiness. As always, I wish you MUCH joy. 

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He Is

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

The simple truth is, He is the only constant in my life, the only thing I can truly cling to. Jobs change. People come and go. My emotions…you know how they are. My Jesus is completely unchanged by my failings, my sins, my accomplishments, my weight, my age, my wrinkles, my health, There is nothing (NOthing!!!) that will change Him, His love for me, His sacrifice on the cross. 

Lord, let me grasp this. You are unchanging. You are Good. Your love never fails. Let me have a fresh revelation of this. Amen. 

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The Cost of Kindness 

Chew on this: it costs me little to be kind, but it gains me everything. 

I don’t have much to say today. I am just pondering this truth and thinking about how to live it out every day. 

I invite you to join me. Please share your thoughts in the comments or in direct messages. 

God’s girls need to love on each other and on this sad, pitiful world, don’t we?

As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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Resolutions Made Easy (Seriously!) 

The new year will be like the old one if you keep on doing the same old things. 

~Jean-Paul Malfatti 

It’s no secret I adore beginnings. Well, here we are! Drumroll please… January 1st!! Our fresh start, blank page, new beginning is finally here. So, what shall we do with it? 

I cannot keep myself from making resolutions, but not everyone is with me.  (You can read about one of mine here.) According to Forbes (January 1, 2013) only about 40% of Americans make resolutions and only 8% keep them. But what if THIS YEAR things were different? I know, I know… Hear me out. 

I’ve listed 52 ideas, one for each week of the year. What if we chose just one idea a week (use mine or create your own list) and by year’s end tried on 52 new behaviors, habits, and attitudes? Weekends are for reflections. Did it work? Could I tweak it and turn it into a habit? Did I hate it and never want to speak of it again? What shall I try next? Of 52, surely at least one will blossom into something beautiful, but we won’t know unless we take this step. C’mon! Let’s give it a try! 

This is a lengthy post, so go grab a cup of coffee and read on. With God all things are possible. May we be encouraged. May we be changed. 

  1. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Now, go! Spend that time doing something you loathe or have been putting off-dusting, ironing, decluttering, going through mail, deleting emails….When the timer sounds you’re done! I usually find I want to set it at least once more, but even if I don’t I’ve still accomplished something in a short amount of time. I love this tip and use it regularly. 
  2. Make commercials work for you. This is similar to the timer trick and I’ll even do it when I’m using the DVR. When the ads begin, I go.  I load the dishwasher, fold laundry, or pay a bill. It’s a painless way to stay caught up. 
  3. This week, replace one soft drink a day with water. If you already do this, find one other unhealthy treat to replace. It’s only once/day for a week. We can do this. 
  4. Delegate. Could Hubby start picking up the dry cleaning? Maybe the kiddos can take out the trash and check the mail? Try it out and see what works for your family. 
  5. Do one load of laundry and one errand or household chore every evening. You’ll thank me Saturday. 
  6. This week, do NOT buy xyz from the grocery store. Is it a bag of chips or doughnuts that defeats you week after week? Whatever it is, just don’t buy it this week. My sister always says it’s far easier to say no once in the store than to bring it home and do battle daily. 
  7. I tend to map out my week. (Read about that here.) Ideally, I plan errands, chores, clothing, and meals every weekend. It really helps. Try it! 
  8. Evaluate your marriage (or any relationship). Is it helping you grow? Do you serve one another? Do you express appreciation and affection? Are you having fun? Are you a good partner (or friend or parent)?
  9. I’d encourage you to commit several act of kindness this  week. They don’t have to be huge deals. Plan to call a loved one while driving home. Write a card or two to friends who are  struggling. Buy coffee for your favorite coworker. Bonus points if you buy one for your least favorite. You get the idea. (More ideas can be found here.)
  10. Practice gratitude. You know I go on and on about this, but it’s because it’s changed my life. Find a way to practice the act of giving thanks, the act of noticing the blessings in your life. You can do this for 7 days. Who knows?! Maybe this will become a habit. 
  11. Dream. We tend to get too busy with the mundane and forget to dream. Carve out time this week to let your mind wander, hope, and imagine. Get up 10 minutes earlier, use your lunch break, take a long bubble bath … This week spend some time with your head in the clouds. 
  12. Start your day with God. We know we should. We intend to. This week we are going to make it happen. Plan ahead and get up earlier if necessary. If mornings are impossible, make it a bedtime ritual for one week. 
  13. Go one week without buying fast food. 
  14. Cut one “little” expense this week. Do you grab a coffee every morning or a soft drink every afternoon? I have a daily $2.00 dairy-free candy bar habit I need to cut. Put the money aside and evaluate at week’s end. 
  15. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night this week. 
  16. Exercise daily this week.  It can be as simple as walking (parking far away helps the steps add up!). Take a class. Hop on the treadmill after work. Grab the family for an after dinner stroll or bike ride. Lift weights while dinner is cooking. Gardening and housework also burn calories. 
  17. Plan for emergencies. You’d be wise to keep your gas tank full, tires properly aired up, and trunk stocked with blankets, a flashlight, and such.  Keep your phone charged. Have extra gallons of water and food items on hand. And always have a little cash on hand. Don’t go crazy, but be smart. 
  18. Before you buy ANYthing, ask yourself if you need it or love it. If the answer is no, walk away. Trust me on this. If it doesn’t delight you today it certainly won’t tomorrow. 
  19. There’s something you’ve been putting off, dreading. Do it this week. 
  20. Start putting away a little money this week. Set goals. Emergency fund? Vacation? Christmas? 
  21. Forgive. Oh boy, this is a tough one. I encourage you to actively think (possibly journal about) the people you need to forgive this week. Pray. Ask God to help you forgive and let the bitterness go. Ask Him to bless them. Oh, I know! Trust me-this brings freedom. The act of forgiveness if for YOU and your well-being. 
  22. Get the best employee award this week. Don’t leave work until your desk is clear and your tasks for the next day are laid out. Read an article, blog post, or book that will help you on the job. 
  23. Clean out your pantry this week. Check expiration dates. 
  24. Turn all of your hangers backward this week. I’m sure you’ve read about this. It’s so easy and it really shows you what you wear. As you wear an item, you hang the hanger normally. At the end of a season or of a year you’ll know what to donate.
  25. No grocery shopping this week! Search your cupboards, fridge, and freezer to create meals and snacks out of what you already have in the house. (You may need fresh produce, though.)  
  26. Gather old magazines and drop them off at the hospital, nursing home, or salon. Do you have any old puzzles, games, or movies? Your local Ronald McDonald house, elementary school, or shelter for abused women (and their children) could use them. You’ll feel better by getting rid of this stuff and you’ll bless others. Win-win. 
  27. This week is easy. Smile! When you’re driving, walking into a store, answering the phone, speaking to someone-smile! 
  28. Do one new thing this week. There was a time I would’ve scoffed at this idea, but I’ve learned doing new things invigorates me and my relationships. Your new thing can be big or small. Try changing date night from dinner and a movie to a picnic and walk or museum and cocktails. Drive home from work by a different route. Window shop in a new store. Try a new recipe. Sign up for a photography class. 
  29. Call your family and friends this week. Limit text messages. 
  30. Evaluate your clothing (and shoes and jewelry).  Everything that makes you feel great stays. Everything that’s for a different weight or that makes  you feel “less than” goes. If something in your closet isn’t you, get rid of it! When I was younger I joked that “I would totally wear that on my yacht”.  I live in the Texas panhandle and couldn’t be more landlocked. The yacht clothing (unrealistic clothing unsuited to my lifestyle) needs to go. 
  31. Talk to strangersthis week.  Ask the cashier how her day is going. Chat up the guy carrying your groceries to the car. Tell the receptionist how much you like her jewelry. 
  32. Express appreciation this week. You are surrounded by people who deserve your thanks. Mail carriers, custodians, secretaries, teachers, health care workers, waitresses-they’re all deserving of a sincere thank you. Don’t forget to thank your kids, coworkers, bosses, and spouse. 
  33. Give. Prayerfully consider your giving, whether time, money, or goods.  Seek out ways this week to give. 
  34. Say the words this week. I love you. You did a great job. You are so thoughtful (or handsome or kind or funny or …). My life is better with you in it. You are the best! 
  35. Go! Go to the showers, weddings, parties, and funerals. Live your life. Don’t get bogged down with the dailiness of this life. 
  36. Do something sweet for someone this week and do it anonymously. Don’t let anyone else know either. Scattering kindness is FUN! Here are a few ideas. 
  37. Clean out one drawer every day this week. Bonus points if you clean more then 7 this week.
  38. Go one week without complaining. This one’s a game changer!
  39. Consider your friends. We tend to become like those we surround ourselves with. Start evaluating. Who do you want to be? What do you want your life to be? Are your friends helping you or holding you back? Are there people you need to spend less time with? Is there someone you can ask to lunch? 
  40. Buy cards and gifts in bulk this week. I’m a teacher, so I do this in the summer. I buy birthday and anniversary cards for the entire year every July. I buy thank you and sympathy cards to keep handy. I have a gift closet, so I always have things on hand.  I even buy a few Christmas gifts in the summer. 
  41. Lavish praise this week. See how many sincere compliments you can give this week. Let the store or restaurant manager know of an employee’s excellence. My school district has an A+ Award given to everyone nominated. I make it a point to nominate people every year. We all need to feel valued, don’t we?
  42. Close. Your. Mouth. This week try waiting before replying. Swallow the criticism or snarky retort. Listen more than you speak. 
  43. Turn off the TV for one week.  (Unthinkable? Then cut the viewing time in half.) if you’re not a TV or Netflix junkie, try going without (or limiting) social media this week. 
  44. Quit rehearsing hurts. Bad stuff happens to everyone. Let this be the week you stop talking about your childhood wounds, your ex, your yucky commute, and your aches and pains. 
  45. This is the week your phone is put away for every meal, every meeting, and every conversation. Your family will love this
  46. Think about your thinking this week. Do you have negative, unrealistic, or self-defeating patterns? Retrain yourself. Replace thoughts that aren’t serving you well.  As a man thinketh…
  47. Time is ticking away. You’ve heard of food diaries and how they help identify  patterns…Keep a time journal this week and notice how much time you spend working, sleeping,  playing on your phone, etc. Do you need to make any changes?
  48. Love the unlovely. I feel certain you have at least one person in your life that is a challenge. Spend this week praying for them and loving on them. 
  49. Reconsider your music and viewing choices this week. 
  50. Tidy up as you go. Load the dishwasher as you eat and cook. Clear the bathroom counter as you finish getting ready. Fold and hang the laundry immediately. Open, read, and deal with your mail -snail and email- daily. (I’m terrible about this one!) I’ll be surprised if your weekend isn’t nicer. 
  51. Fun!!! Do something fun this week. Big, small, free, or expensive-treat yourself this week.
  52. Set up 3 boxes in your laundry room or garage this week. Box 1 is things you’re donating. Box 2 is stuff to sell. And Box 3 is stuff you need to repair or think about.  Spend your week filling the boxes.  

So, what do you think?  Remember each idea is intended to be practiced for one week. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying too many at once. That’s usually my downfall. I’d love to hear your ideas, resolutions, and results. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

Got TWITTER? Tweet with me! @julielclarke

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