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Simple steps to peaceHave you ever wondered what to do when peace seems elusive?

Three women emailed me recently to ask how they can find peace.

One is struggling with an ex husband who won’t pay child support. Another lost her job. And a third is waiting upon God for a husband.

Like joy, which at times feels elusive, peace is not about our circumstances. Peace is about leaning into the One who controls our circumstances, and trusting that He knows exactly what He’s allowing.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us how we can experience peace regardless of our circumstances:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (NLT).”

Did you notice the three-step formula for peace that is found within that verse?

Step 1: Don’t worry about anything. God’s Word tells us straight-out not to stress, worry, or be fearful in any situation. Instead we are to…

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I got cut off on the road the other day by an inconsiderate driver.

I found myself saying aloud “I didn’t deserve that.”

It got me thinking about how we tend to go through life thinking about — and insisting upon — what we believe we deserve. As a woman and wife, I hear these things often, and at times, I think them myself:

I deserve health and happiness

I deserve better pay

I deserve to have a fairy tale romance like I see in the movies

I deserve respect because of my education and experience

I deserve better treatment on this job

I deserve not to be questioned when it comes to my opinion

I deserve only the best

And yet, as I go to Scripture and learn of God’s unconditional love, His unending faithfulness, and His unfathomable grace, I am reminded of the many things I have that I don’t deserve:

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Blog quote 11As Thanksgiving nears, I am reminded of my blessings. And you, my readers, immediately come to mind.

I am remembering you, and praying for your heart to be encouraged for the many ways you have blessed me throughout this past year:

  • You have asked great, thought-provoking questions that have forced me to go to God’s Word to find adequate biblical answers for you.
  • You have left encouraging comments on my blog and through emails that have kept me going on days when I wondered if what I write really makes a difference in anyone’s lives.
  • You have talked up my books and are the reason so many of them are still in print, and more are still being written.

Now, I’d love to know how I can encourage you. 

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MTL-CindiMcMenamin-610x305With the holidays coming, it’s easy to get stressed, so all the more reason to be a person of gratitude rather than bad attitude.

I’ve found in my own life, that when I’m praising God in the pain — or just thanking Him during the mundane — it helps me become a person of gratitude in any circumstance. And that keeps me healthier and happier, over all.

Here are some simple prayers you can begin saying now to practice gratitude when the bad attitude starts seeping in to steal your joy, harm your relationships, and attack your health: (You might also want to read a few of these around your Thanksgiving dinner table this year.)

Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds me that You know what’s best for me, even  when my opinion differs from Yours.

Thank You, Lord, for the things you have withheld from me. You have protected me from what I may never realize.

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blogquote_gratitudeHow healthy are you going into this holiday season?

While you can try to steer clear of germs, pump up the antioxidants, and even get your flu shots, three of the healthiest things you can do have nothing to do with germs and everything to do with attitude. That’s right. Numerous studies exist that show a direct relationship between improved health and a positive, happy attitude toward life.

So here are three things you can start doing now to ensure you have a happier, healthier holiday season:

1. Cultivate a Grateful Heart

I’m sure God had our physical, as well as spiritual, health in mind when He inspired the Apostle Paul to write: “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Did you catch that? In everything give thanks. In the good times, as well as the bad. In the pleasantries of life, as well as in the pain. During difficult times, trying times, and frustrating times, too. When we’re thanking God, we’re focused on our blessings, rather than the bitterness of whatever else might be going on. And that keeps us positive.

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My 40th birthday with my daughter, Dana — 9 years ago!

I celebrated my 49th birthday this week.

Notice I said “celebrated”– not “shrugged at.”

Ok, originally, my thought was that 49 doesn’t have quite the ring to it that 29 had…or even 42! But then I remembered something I heard years ago as I approached 30: “If you don’t like getting older, consider the alternative.”

Women younger than me are dying every day due to some kind of cancer. So I am truly blessed to have another year of life. By complaining of my age, I’m complaining about a privilege …being allowed to live another year and enjoy life. That kind of complaint doesn’t make sense to me. And so, instead of complaining about the inevitable effects of aging (like more body aches and pains, diminishing eyesight, and the 1- to 2-pound weight gain that the average woman experiences yearly after age 35!), I thought I would focus on what I am thankful for as I grow older.

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These are hard times. thankful

I’m reminded of it every time I have to put gas in my car, or the grocery bill was more than I expected, or the promised check in the mail didn’t come.

Yet on any given day of the week, I hear of families who are experiencing more difficult times than I am. I still have a roof over my head, a car that runs (actually, our family has three of them!), and I’ve never known the pangs of starvation. In addition, Scripture says I have some spiritual blessings that will blow my mind if I really think about them.

I got to thinking about those “spiritual blessings” today and it changed my perspective on these ‘hard times’ I’m living in:

  1. I have a home. Not only do I have shelter and a place to lay my head at night, but I have an eternal home waiting for me someday. Jesus called it a mansion…apparently a place big enough to blow away any type of dwelling I could afford or acquire here on earth (John 14:20, NKJV).
  2. I have a family. Not only do I have a husband and daughter, and parents and siblings, all of whom are still living, but I have a spiritual family as well. The church (both local and corporate) is made up of believers that, at times, can be closer than family. What a blessing that, even if you don’t feel you have family around, if you are connected with other believers, you have family.
  3. I  have a husband. In a day and age when divorce claims 1 in 2 marriages, and adultery, abandonment and abuse run rampant, I have much to be grateful for that my husband is  still honoring his commitment to be faithful to me in every way. Maybe you are not in a position to say the same. Yet you can. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 54:5: “For your husband is your Maker, the Lord God of hosts.” When you are trusting in His Son, Jesus, for your eternal life, He has committed Himself to never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He husbands you in a way that no earthly man ever more

woman-and-aweDo you ever have one of those moments when a truth  stops you dead in your tracks and makes you think Wow….I didn’t realize what I have!? 

I’m wondering this morning how much I’ve been affected by what Author Byron Forrest Yawn calls “Suburbianity.” In his book by the same title, he says our life in the American suburbs greatly affects how we perceive and relate to the gospel. He says we are so wrapped up in our own story — our own trivial pursuits — that  the real story –what Christ did for us centuries ago “is gagged and bound by our self absorption.”

In a very convicting paragraph, Byron stirred my soul, when he said “We shove our need for personal value down the Bible’s throat. Nearly every passage we touch somehow magically turns to us. This is such a shame. The real story is so amazing.”

I got to thinking of the real story….

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I got to thinking about how Thanksgiving might be much more meaningful this year if I focused on thanking God for the things He rarely hears thanks for. What if I thanked Him, not just for the food on the table and the “blessings for this past year,” but for all the ways He has not performed according to my liking. For all the times He has said “no” and for all the ways He has worked in and through my life, perhaps without my even knowing it.

Will you try it with me this year?

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