Monday, November 21, 2016

Small Changes...Big Results!!

“The things we take for granted are dreams to many people.”

Can I suggest a small change in your life that can be life changing? For some of us, it will be easier than for others. Personally, I think type-A’s probably have more difficulty with this concept. It helps, too, if you grew up in a home where it was habitually practiced (too many of us didn’t).
  Let me illustrate this though by going to the polar opposite extreme. Imagine we’re chatting over coffee and I ask, “What are some of the little things that really irritate you?” If we’re honest, most of us have several. It primarily varies because of our background. For most of us, if we’re candid, it can be a substantial list. Not only do we become irritated over small, insignificant things, but when they occur we tend to stew on them.
  Okay, I’ll start. Please don’t think I’m a wicked sinner (though I am L).
  It bugs me when I’m in a fast food restaurant or store and the cashier is having a conversation with his/her co-workers, and I have to wait for them to finish their conversation before they wait on me.
  Someday my right foot will be sanctified (I’ve come a long ways already) but it frustrates me when a driver in front of me drives below the speed limit. The other one is when they stop and nearly park at a yield sign, especially when there is no oncoming traffic.  
  I love children! I even love noisy rambunctious children. But it grates on my nerves when children are running around in a store while their parents are on their phone or simply not paying attention.
  One more, and sadly my list is longer than this, but I don’t want you to vote me off the island for being so carnal, immature and petty…so I’ll stop. People pushing their carts in a store while on their phone and nearly running over other shoppers.
  Here’s what’s life changing and something that by God’s grace, I work at practicing. It’s gotten easier over the years but I’m still a struggler, not an attainer. It’s simply this: Being grateful for the seemingly little things.
  When we notice, pay attention and are grateful for the little things in our lives, our whole world changes…and not some cursory thought, but real reflection. We certainly reflect on those things that irritate us, so why not replace that with reflecting on the things we’re grateful for? Many of these happen every day, yet are so “common,” we take them for granted.
  Remember, too, God owes us nothing. I’m so thankful that God in His grace has not given me what I deserve. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” That simply means every blessing comes from my loving Heavenly Father. So here are some suggestions to help you start:
  Waking up from a good night’s sleep. When I was younger, this wasn’t high on my gratitude list. Since I became a geezer, a good night’s sleep isn’t something I take for granted anymore. The Bible says sleep is a gift from God (Psalm 127:2). If we whine when we miss out on a good night’s sleep, shouldn’t we be thankful when we have a good one?
  Waking up with those you love and who love you. It’s hard for me to sleep when Jane is out of town or when one of our children isn’t home. Oftentimes Charity leaves for work before anyone else. It’s rare for her to not say, “Good-bye” before heading out to her busy day. When she does, it always brightens my day! On top of that, we have these wonderful four-footed beasts who greet us each morning with their wagging tails.
  Being able to get out of bed, walk and move around at will. Consider for a moment how disruptive it would be to have the loss of that ability from aging, pain or an accident. Because I’m grateful for my legs, I try to go out of my way to acknowledge those who must use a walker or wheelchair. I never want them to feel they’re a bother, a hassle or in the way.
  My eyes and my ears. I’m sure that I’m legally blind without my glasses. I can hardly answer the phone without having them on. Can you imagine what it must be like to not be able to see? I’m thankful too that I’m not color blind so I can enjoy God’s rich palette of color.
  And I can hear. I find I read and concentrate better when I’m listening to music. I love listening to film scores. Then, there are voices now gone that I still hear in my memory. After my Mom was killed, I immediately lost any memory of her voice. What a joy that I can still hear my grandparents’ voices in my heart decades later. Though Dad and Mom Cummins are Home, I still hear both of them echoing in my soul. It’s such a blessing!  
  The future. My wife will tell you that I’m a planner. I don’t get frustrated when it doesn’t happen, I just like to start thinking about it early…okay, way early. For example, on our last get-away, I was already looking at options for our next one. Most of us forget that if it’s the Lord’s will, we have a future here. I have friends and loved ones struggling with health issues that challenge their future and they know it. None of us know we have tomorrow, yet thankfully most of us have lots of time left to live, to enjoy this life and its many blessings.
  Seemingly small kindnesses. I’m trying to be much more attentive of evidences of grace in the lives of others. Going to the Wellness Center is not the joy of my day but the staff they have working at the front desk really help. They’re always friendly and glad to see me! If they were grumpy or condescending, it’d be easier for me to rationalize skipping.
  And don’t you appreciate it when you’re in the wrong lane, turn on your blinker and someone lets you in. I always wave an enthusiastic thanks!
  Then, I’m totally lost in places like hardware or auto parts stores. I so appreciate clerks who take the time to make sure I find the right item. Or, when I can’t find something, the heroes in my book are the ones who not only tell me where it’s located but actually take me to the right place!
  I love encouragers! Some weeks back I was dealing with something a bit difficult. A friend knew it and texted me a simple, “I’m praying for you!” It made my day! It’s easy to do digs or jabs (I’m too often guilty). God bless the encouragers! May they greatly increase! May each of us be one! God has blessed me with so many of them in my life. Years ago when I was going through a valley of dark despair, it was the encouragers God sent in my life that got me through it! I hope and pray I’m one for someone else. 
  Do you want to change your life? Look for the many, seemingly small blessings. Then, thank your Heavenly Father and thank others for them! 

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