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Here’s this week’s TimeOut!
by Texas Stready
Christmas stockings. One of our family traditions. When we were young, whichever sibling woke up first would wake the others, and then we’d rush to the living room to discover our stockings stretched fat with untold treasures. So exciting. Still makes my heart glow in appreciation for the gift of good parents.
My family’s a loud and talkative bunch—to say the least. Very opinionated as well. The holidays. No one’s at school or work, even the stores are closed. Downtime. That’s what they call it. But the six weeks of insanity that take place between November 22nd and January 2nd, sure makes you appreciate your regular schedule.
Taste And See
From house decoration to food preparation, it’s a busy time. Then there’s the personalities—so many of them. And we all live our lives from our own perspectives. Of course we do, how the heck else would we do it. If we’re not careful, all these flavors mixed together can end up more bitter than sweet.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my people. Sure do. But too much interpersonal activity once brought an element of danger with it. If I wasn’t careful, the sideshow of various, and often controversial, emotions could make me feel like I was on the high dive looking down. A spooky encounter.
Until I learned the fine art of empathy. What’s that you ask? This, my friend, is the active formula that guarantees success.
Step Right Up
When it comes to forgiveness we’re way more capable than we recognize. One of the most beneficial practices I’ve learned is to place myself in the other person’s shoes, or at least realize that I cannot feel what I have not lived. Think about it. Have you ever stopped to consider that most people have experienced hardships you know nothing of? It’s true.
We all have a past. Some good, some bad—no matter—our individual personalities dictate how we perceive things, and our perception determines our reaction. We are not commanded to get what others go through; we are called to love them anyway. Not begrudgingly, but out of our appreciation for the forgiveness we’ve been given.
We’re all a mess. Apart from the reconciling love of God, we’re emotionally clumsy and spiritually silly. A bunch of clowns saved by grace. My sins not more ridiculous than yours, because all our hangups are formed from a circus of unhealed wounds. Appreciating this reality, insists our opening act be filled with kindness and patience.
Don’t Hesitate To Appreciate
Finding a reason to complain is a simple search. If we think too long or figure too hard, we can always find fault. What we need to work on is how to cultivate our ability to appreciate. God’s goodness is always with us. That’s how our Heavenly Father operates. Always and forever kind. Our rescuer, healer, protector, provider. God’s all that—and then some.
The way He works doesn’t always make sense to us but certain things are undeniably necessary—whether we get it or not. Reminds me of a sewing machine. If you thread your machine and happen to miss a small step in the process, the darn thing won’t stitch right. It’s amazing. Funny thing is, you don’t have to know why this is true to sew well. You just have to be willing to follow the mandatory guidelines. Get it?
God’s always up to something. Even in the middle of unexplainable, heart-wrenching circumstances. I know, I touched on this in my last blog—but I don’t think we get it. Life gets ugly, and that alone can make this concept difficult to conceive, but God not only knows it all, He uses it all. Don’t believe me? Try skipping a step and watch how quickly your life becomes a tangled mess. Been there, done that.
When will we learn to appreciate our family dynamics enough to know our Father is trustworthy? It’s a privilege to be a part of the family of God, and the “Will you believe?” thread is always on the spindle. So let’s practice the procedure until we trust God’s process implicitly. Then we can create a whole new look for our lives. One that fits perfectly.
by Texas Stready
Definitely an upbeat person. Anyone who knows me can vouch for this. But that’s not always true. My mental state can get as marred as anyone else’s. I get scared, hesitant, and discouraged too. Emotions. They can get—the best of—the best of us.
This time of year can be great, or it can knock you on your backside. That’s what I’ve discovered anyway. Christmas and then the New Year. They bring a sense of excited anticipation and a mountain of regret, all at the same time.
Don’t you ever wonder how this “Living on Purpose” deal works? I do. How will I ever make a living writing and speaking? If it’s my “purpose” shouldn’t it come easily? Sure seems like it.
A Radical Difference has grown, and I’m proud and excited to see what it is shaping up to be. Remaining in the process has unveiled hows, whats, and whys all over the place. But there’s so much to be done and so much I lack. Not just financially. Mentality and spirituality are just as important, and every day I see how lacking I am in all three areas. Disheartened. Sometimes that’s how I feel.
Can’t help but wonder if choice is a blessing or a curse. I mean, if we make the choice to submit to Christ, why can’t that just be the end of it? I realize I’m not God, and I assure you this is a good thing, but often I think my plan would be much more beneficial to Him.
As best I can figure, choice is power, and as creatures who are created in God’s image we crave it. So God, in His kindness and wisdom, gives us the power to make our own decisions. Not only that, dictator’s aren’t known for there kindness and our King most definitely is.
One of the things I’ve taught myself to say is, “Oh, that’s just how I feel.” Feelings come and go, and can never be solely relied on when it comes to good decision making. No way.
Because I believe this is true, when I recognize my emotions are running off, my first rational reaction has become to start reviewing all that’s good in my life. Wow, does that switch things up. Make yourself a list—here’s mine.
- I’m fully convinced that everything about who I am matters to God.
- I’ve been clean and sober for almost 5 years and have no desire to use drugs. Miracle.
- My family relationships are through the roof (in a good way).
- I’ve sold 700 plus books this year and have 44 five star reviews on Amazon.
- I’m traveling and speaking with three separate ministries and that’s not to mention my personal speaking engagements.
- I was given a red Cadillac CTS. Awesome huh?
- I have almost 300 subscribers to my website and a small but dedicated following on A Radical Difference Facebook.
- I get weekly messages from people who’ve been enlightened by reading my book.
- I’ve left approximately 30 books in different prisons in the state of Florida.
- My life and my ministry have been featured in two newspaper articles, two magazine pieces, and two radio interviews.
…shall I go on? See what I mean? I get encouraged every time I read this part of the blog. This is my purpose and it’s working—almost in spite of me.
This time of year is good. A time when all of creation demonstrates to us how we should behave. The weather encourages closeness, the animals are in a restful state of regeneration, even the foliage is shedding the effects of the passing year—all in hopeful preparation for what’s to come.
With all that goes on in the human realm, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle. My intention is not to discredit this monumentally important holiday season. Not me. I only want to help you keep your emotions in check. We don’t need to control every detail—more than we can handle. We can, however, learn to celebrate now, well. If we don’t, we’ll get beat up by the past and fearful of the future.
Don’t get carried away. Financially, spiritually, or emotionally. That’s not what it’s about. Don’t let your mind worry with all that needs doing or fixing. Instead, make a matter-of-fact decision to enjoy the simple moments as if they’re spectacular events—cause they are.
by Texas Stready
My grandson Solace spends most of his time with me. No doubt he’s one of the greatest joys in my life, but as a three-year-old he’s still fully convinced that whining gets results.
All you have to do is surf the net, or watch T.V., to conclude that temper tantrums are a typical reaction in our society. Even when our age says we’re adults, we act like children when we don’t get our way.
As far back as the Garden of Eden we were complaining. What begins as a shoulder shrug often ends in a full-fledged fit of rage. Not a pretty picture.
As Americans, our grumbling’s gotten way out-of-hand. We take life for granted. Everything from public transportation to Ted talks. And let’s not forget the vast spectrum of technological inventions we possess. We’ve got it all. The greatest country in the world. So why all the bellyaching?
Complaining and fault-finding are poisons that affect everyone they come in contact with. A negative thought or comment does more damage than a positive one does good. Sad but true.
Don’t believe me? Think back to a time when you worked your tail off to do something special for someone. Detailed your wife’s car, prepared a holiday dinner, or maybe charted out the optimal vacation. One “Why didn’t you?” can bring clouds to the sunniest of intentions.
Watch Your Mouth
Telling someone what they could’ve or should’ve done, means you’ve lost sight of what they did do. Could and should, have to do with yesterday and tomorrow. NOW—that’s all we’re guaranteed—and keeping in sight what’s right today rescues us from wrong thinking and heals our injured emotions.
Remember our attitude is formed by what we think, and our thoughts are made evident by what we speak. The Bible tells us, a person full of goodness in his heart produces good things; a person with an evil reservoir in his heart pours out evil things. The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart. Luke 6:41 VOICE
We are responsible for what we say, but we are also in control of what we choose to believe. This tells me that if what I rehearse in my head is filled with hope and life, than one silly comment won’t have the power to break me.
We spend an incredible amount of time whining about what’s wrong instead of working to make things right. Well guess what? Change doesn’t just happen.
*Ask God to show you five truths He says about you—write them down. *Ask God to make these truth’s real to you—watch for them. *Ask God to remind you when wrong thoughts go against these truths, then stand up and read #1 out-loud—walk it out.
It all comes down to this: do you want different bad enough to do the work?
Snap Out Of It
I realize the above phrase can be taken as a harsh statement that lacks mercy. This may very well be true when it comes from another person, but I’ve found that being matter-of-fact in my self-talk helps me believe that change is possible. If I can’t see it, I can’t be it.
I mean come on, stop the whining already. Instead of habitually believing the lies, fight back by repeating what’s true. This habit well absolutely transform you from a cowering, thumb-sucking Christian into the spiritual giant you’ve been called to be.
by Texas Stready
The other day, while standing in line at Publix, I was chatting with a lady about losing the fog light on my car. (Darn it! Still can’t figure what happened.) How we got on this subject is beyond me. The conversation was an accident of sorts, and losing the fog light was definitely not on purpose.
Life’s full of accidents. Things that don’t happen on purpose. I’m not just talking about situations that happen to us, I mean the huge disasters that occur when we don’t take time to look for God’s purpose in our circumstances.
Look Both Ways
The gentleman behind us overheard our conversation and informed me that he worked at a salvage yard. “I have hundreds of cars and I’m sure I’ll be able to find you something, if you’ll come see me.” Then he handed me his business card.
As I pushed the grocery cart towards my car I was slapped in the heart when I re-noticed the gaping whole in my front bumper. Yuck! Not a good look for any car. Then I thought to myself, “Thank goodness for that chance encounter. Maybe dude can help me.”
Around The Corner
Most of us overanalyze—especially when it comes to cause-and-effect. If you’re anything like me you could easily spend the next hour analyzing why your so analytical. This problem stems from being caught up in the effort rather then the effect.
Why things are happening around us is far more important than how they happen. No one’s reasoning is the same and this means our actions and reactions are understandably different. That’s why it’s so important that we stop thinking we know everything. I mean, it doesn’t require a professional life-coach to teach you to never dive head-first into such a shallow perspective.
Take A Chance
A few days later I headed down to the salvage yard to see what could be done about my car’s missing eye. I was blindly certain that losing that light served no purpose. As my new-found friend and I sat looking at the computer screen waiting for the parts man to return, we began to talk.
His niece just moved into his house because she has nowhere to live. She’s a meth-head who’s burned all her bridges. I could tell by many of his responses he has no idea what he’s getting into. But I do. So I told him where I attend church and gave him my business card.
By the time Sunday rolled in on me, I’d forgotten all about him. Until I noticed this waving motion from the corner of my eye. There he sat, a few rows back to the left of me. What do you know! The missing fog light was no freak accident.
Let It Happen
Admitting we have no idea what God’s up to, places us in the perfect position to witness the miraculous. We can’t just hang out expecting purpose to plop into our laps because discovering what I’m here for is a lifelong process. One that requires interruptions in the neatness of life.
As much as we act like we are, we’re not self-sufficient. We did not create ourselves and therefore cannot unveil our purpose without consulting our Creator.
Now Is The Time
Although we’ll never fully comprehend our existence, embracing where and how we find ourselves brings a sense of security and satisfaction that can’t be touched.
Taste, touch, see, and hear your life. It’s the only one you get, so notice everything. Even when it doesn’t add up or look ideal—right there in the midst of the mess—you have what it takes to live on purpose. Come on. I know you can do it. One extremely exciting, under-analyzed, step at a time.
by Texas Stready
Last week while walking through the mall I heard a teenager say to her mom, “This outfit just looks like me.” When I glanced her way she was wearing a huge smile that went quite nicely with her high-waisted, bell-bottom jeans.
No doubt we live in a society that cares about appearance. We determine all kinds of things by the style of someone’s clothes, hair, or car. Tattoos, piercings, or the color of their skin as well. But trust me when I tell you, this can be a damaging practice.
I Think I Can
It sure seems as if it would be a relief to all of us to say, “It doesn’t matter what it looks like.” But it does. And in many instances it should. I mean no one wants their husband picking up prostitutes and driving them to their desired destinations.
Thinking we can do or say whatever we want is sure to leave us in a pickle. Our behavior speaks volumes, even when we wish it didn’t. As parents, neighbors, and friends, we are—like it or not—people of influence.
Decision-making can get hectic when it comes to the outsider. I mean few people want their 14 year old wearing shorts that show too much cheek. But the “Does this matter?” question takes a sharp turn when it comes to people outside our sphere of influence. I mean what if your daughter brings home a friend who’s dressed that way. Should that matter?
As followers of Christ, it can’t. This shifts the question from, what it looks like to what’s my role in this. There’s a reason this girl is in my home. You catching my drift?
The longer we live the more we find ourselves in situations we have no control over. This truth is another reason our constant communication with Christ is necessary.
It is vital that we learn to love completely, without being harsh, and judgmental. That’s what Jesus looked like, and as Christians we are called to be reflections of Him. Think about it— Jesus didn’t say to the woman at the well, “Get up, pull yourself together and stop acting like a ho.” Often, even though we may never say this, our behavior screams it.
What’s The Matter?
Wisdom is a critical variable that must be used appropriately if we hope to be successful in any walk of life. If we aim to be beneficial parents, neighbors, and friends, open and honest communication must be on the top of our have-to list. Hopefully your hubby already gets why the prostitute deal is not a good idea, but in many instances discussing subjects in depth brings clarity and promotes alternative thinking.
Who we are matters far more than what we look like, but the richest parts of our character are always reflected in our appearance. Not just what I wear but what my body language speaks and what My words reflect. We do not need to fit some stereotypical criteria but we do need to fit the Jesus mold.
Do It Right
The thing to remember is this: God has placed me in authority over certain people. But while I must take that responsibility seriously, I can’t change or fix anyone else. The only person I can do that with is me. That’s a good thing because the fastest and easiest way for other people to learn is by example.
The privilege of speaking into someone else’s life is something we must earn. And the best path to accomplishing that goal is found by loving that person right where they are.
So does it matter what it looks like? Yes, but what matters most is that my response is one that’s appropriately dressed in love.