Tag Archives: Joyce Meyer

Book Review: Crash The Chatterbox

UnknownI’m in a season of profound books with strange names.  Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All the Others is the latest installment.

This book was really helpful. I’m on a quest to keep my eyes on God as I go about my life, rather than the circumstances I see around me.  This can be tough, as often there are these thoughts that wander through my mind that I’m pretty sure don’t come from God. They say things like “You’re pathetic,” or “No one cares what you think,” or “Nobody even likes you.”  Those thoughts are SUPER fun to hang out with.

Crash the Chatterbox is filled with candid stories about how author Steven Furtick fends off this kind of chatter in his own mind. And he has some great points about what this battle is, and how much work it takes to stay ahead of it.

Perhaps my favorite moment comes midway through the book, where he shares about the day he was out in the yard with one of his children and the wind hit a pile of trash & recycling his wife had stacked against the side of the house. Garbage flew everywhere, all over the yard.  And he completely lost it, yelling a wide assortment of unkind things about his wife in front of his son. It was one of those moments where he really, really blew it. I won’t tell you how he resolves the horrible feeling this left him with – but I’ll recommend the book so you can find out.

This is the second Furtick book I’ve read, and I really admire his humility, along with how he brings out more nuanced meaning from Bible scenes than I’d thought of before.

If you’ve ever been helped by Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind (or if you’ve ever felt like your mind is a battlefield) this is a good book to add to your collection.

Oh (Expletive) It’s the Holidays.

It’s November!  I always forget this month is coming. Then I’m whammy-ed with daylight savings time and walking the dog in the dark at 4:30 each afternoon.  The high temp most days is suddenly in the 30s, and my Facebook feed fills up with two sorts of posts:

images-11. It’s the HOLIDAYS!!!

2. God save us, it’s the holidays, AGAIN.

I’ll confess, I’m solidly in the second camp. I hold my breath from early November through the end of the year, just waiting for it to be over.  A holiday centered around cooking bird for 20 people while making hours of polite small talk plays to none of my strengths, and Steve and I aren’t great at buying gifts for each other. If there is a two month stretch designed to make us feel like losers in life, this is it.

Don’t get me wrong, we  love our families and friends and seeing them at other times of the year is fantastic – like the impromptu lunch we had at my mother-in-law’s house the other day when Steve’s brother & his fiancee were in town. Or our friend’s birthday party we went to on Saturday night. Those were So. Much. Fun.  But the holidays? God save me.

I don’t think I’m alone here. There’s a reason 12-step recovery programs have 24 hour marathons with meetings every hour during the holidays: for many people, the holidays are awful, and any means of escape from the focused disappointment – in yourself, the relationships you wish were better, the life you thought would look more like a Sears ad and less like a warning pamphlet – seems like it might be worth the cost.

I’m a fan of escapist survival tactics, but I don’t think they require drugs or alcohol (or binge shopping or record breaking consumption of pie). I think it requires something bigger to focus on.

Every November, it feels like the world gets very, very small, and everything is all pointing towards these two dates where there are cultural expectations that your life look a certain way. But this narrowing? It’s a lie. I’m not sure why it took me so long to learn this, but a couple years back I realized that I could go through November & December the same way I go through the other ten months – with one eye on daily life, the other on the big picture. I can smile at my friend’s pictures of their children grinning (or sobbing) on Santa’s lap, and then move onto other things. I understand how, when you have children, this season does require you to narrow your focus to keep all the balls in the air. But if that’s not your season in life, it’s okay to make these months about something else.

images-2I have to bring up Jesus here, because ostensibly, Jesus Is The Reason For The Season.  Would that it were so. If Christmas meant a gathering in each town for an hour or so around a manger scene, singing Silent Night off-key and being reminded that hope is worth the effort, I’d be all for it.  And perhaps this year I’ll find a donkey trough to stand beside and warble some hopeful little songs to God (although here in Cambridge I’m probably have to find an antiques store to break into).  But that’s not what it’s about, usually, and that’s what makes it so hard. And perhaps that first Christmas was hard too, as the few people who recognized the birth of the Savior they’d been praying for thought, “But that’s a BABY. How is he going to help anything?”

I realize that this isn’t a happy post. Feel free to ignore it if this doesn’t apply to you. But if it does, if you’re one of the people fighting off the inward cringe of “Oh sh*t, it’s November AGAIN,” know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to reclaim and redefine these months. Sixty-one days a year is too much time to spend just getting through. I mean, how could anything be good about giving up two whole months of your life, every single year? That’s just silly. Let’s not.

Need suggestions? I’ve got a few!

National Novel Writing Month started a few days ago – there’s totally time to jump on board. Write something ridiculous or scary or unexpected or hopeful and see if you enjoy the process. You might be surprised at how it turns out.

Learn something new. Reading this article in Fast Company convinced me that next November, I want to learn to play the keyboard, even though I have no musical talent (I’ve had the shaker egg taken away from me at sing-alongs). It’s been awhile since I learned something new, and I think it would be…well, character building, if nothing else. But it might be fun.

Pick an obsession. A friend of mine used to do this, although at the time I didn’t realize what she was up to. One year she trained for a marathon. Another year she subscribed to Cooking Light & challenged herself to cook a dinner other than cereal every night. Our other roommate was inspired and kept her nails perfectly manicured for two straight months.  These weren’t world-changing efforts, but they were so much fun. Highly recommend.

Laugh. Behold, I give you: Awkward Family Christmas Pictures!

Pray.  A few years back, I did a blog called 40 Days of Faith, focused on asking God for big things. I wonder if I shouldn’t reprise it, stretching it to something longer, like 67 days, so as to get us all solidly through into the New Year?  Considering.  But you can design your own time to spend with God during this season. Pray through the 150 Psalms, one or two a day. Get a notebook and write out your own prayer-of-the-day. Buy a devotional (Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind is a good one, as is the classic, My Utmost for His Highest, if you’d like your butt kicked in a spiritual way.) Remember, the goal is to shift this time: from something that gets hijacked by outside expectations, to something that reclaims these months as functional, thriving parts of your life. Involving God in the process might be a good idea, indeed :)

A Question for the Weekend

A quote I’m thinking about this morning:

“I feel that if I believe for a lot and get even half of it, I am better off than I would be to believe for nothing and get all of nothing.” – Joyce Meyer

Agree? Disagree? Think there’s more to it than this?

Something fun to ponder this weekend :)

 

No Wonder

UnknownAbout every three years, I re-read Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. It helps me stop the busy swirl of life churning around in my head and organize things a bit. I’m in the midst of one of these re-reads now.

One of her recommendations is Stop wondering. Wondering, she points out, is “to be filled with curiosity, puzzlement or doubt.” Not an optimal state. In her blunt, no-nonsense style, she says:

“I have come to learn that I am much better off doing something positive than just wondering all the time about everything imaginable. Instead of wondering what kind of grades my son will get, I can believe that he will make good grades. Rather than wondering what I should wear to a party, I can decide what to wear. Instead of wondering about the weather or about how many people will attend one of my meetings, I can just turn the matter over to God trusting him to work all things out for good regardless of what happens.”

Believe. Decide. Turn it over. Trust. Those are some good options.

Since this caught my attention a few days ago, I’m STUNNED by how much I wonder. It’s all over my writing like measles (I can’t even bring myself to do a word search to verify the numbers), and I say it all the time in conversation. I spend hours in the middle of it, just mulling things over and telling myself I’m preparing for different possibilities when the truth is that most of these mullings don’t prepare me at all.

One could say that I’ve discovered how wonder-full I am! Too bad it’s not a good thing :)

The most egregious use of wonder I’ve discovered in myself is a conversational tic I picked up in church circles. I realized a few years ago that I never said, “I think” anymore. Ever. I started all opinion or suggestion sentences with “I feel like” or “I wonder if.”  It was ridiculous. I think (see, I’m getting better!) I picked this up from being in places where identifying and owning your feelings was given a lot of play, and conversations were rarely straightforward.  Saying, “I think it’s a mistake to go on a second date with the guy who stole your credit card to buy new rims for his car,” was seen as pushy and bossy, whereas saying, “I feel like maybe you should consider a different choice…” or my go-to, “I wonder if God has something better for you?” was not, because it suggested that what I said was just my feeling or wondering, not me expressing a contrary opinion about the loser felon with the blinged-out car.

Don’t get me wrong – these conversational choices probably steered us all around all manner of aggravations and fights. Christian culture has a grim through-line of strong personalities bashing people with their take on how one should be. It’s good to be a little bit aware of your word choice. But I think we overcorrected.  For me, this lead too much wondering: about what to say and how to say it, how not to offend anybody, ever (as if any sentence structure could save me from that).  And a persistent feeling that I was being dishonest, or at least not very forthcoming. It was a mess.

And it didn’t work. People see right through this sort of subterfuge. So I decided (!!!) to to stop hiding my opinions under a pile of feelings or wondering and say what I think, no frills attached. And to believe that if my opinion of the person I’m talking to really is respect and love, they’ll know that from the entirety of our interactions, and it won’t be crushed by a disagreement. (And, as my friend Pascha taught me, if my opinion of the person ISN’T respect and love, perhaps I should shut up and trust God to either change me or send someone else to speak.)

I’m not great at this yet, but I’m working on it. And now I see that the wondering has seeped into other areas of my life.  Think of me today as I open the draft of my latest manuscript and go on a wonder-hunt, swatting and smushing that silly word and scanning thesaurus.com for better options! Because a little bit of wonder goes a long way.