One Good Thing

 

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. –Proverbs 4:23 (GNT)

I’d just graduated from college and had gotten my first job teaching junior high English in Punxsutawney. Mom had wanted me to get a job in the Mon Valley and live at home.

“Think of all the money you’ll save,” she said.

Sure, I wouldn’t have to pay rent or cook (I didn’t know how anyway), but it would mean losing the independence I craved.

I did consider it, though. We were both still reeling from my father’s death the previous November. But Mom and I were too much alike, and when we were together, the sparks flew.

So, knowing not a soul, I pored through the “For Rent” ads in the local paper. Although I grew up in a town, my dream was to live in the country. I found a second story furnished apartment in a village about a mile out of town. Not as country as I wanted, but for now it would do.

My fiancé helped me move in – then drove out of my life, shattering my heart and unleashing a flood of grief I’d held in since Dad died.

At night the pain was the most intense. I awoke in the morning emotionally raw. But I didn’t have time to withdraw from life and give full vent to my sorrow. As a first-year teacher, I was learning the school’s curriculum, planning lessons, and dealing with teenagers. I was barely out of my teens myself. I turned 21 that November, a year after Dad died.

I also had my own place and all the responsibilities that went with that. Which included driving three miles every day to my landlady’s for water.

Who in their right mind, you ask, would rent a second story apartment with no water? A 20-year-old, fresh-out-of-college girl desperate to begin her life, that’s who. Who believed her landlady’s promises that she’d have water “tomorrow.”

After a month of lugging the day’s water up the outside stairs, I found another apartment. In town. Furnished. With water.

When I informed my landlady, she dangled what she thought would be a temptation: “What if I rented the apartment across from you to a nice, single state trooper?”

No dice. Through all the heartache, upheaval, and broken promises, I’d done some growing up and had learned a few lessons.

The most important was the attitude of my mind: that what I focused on – what I chose to think about – determined my attitude and consequently my life.

I could choose to wallow in grief, bewail broken promises, lament lugging water, and feel sorry for myself. After all I was going through, I certainly earned the right.

Or I could choose to find one good thing in each day and dwell on that. Just one good thing . . .

I chose the latter. And it turned my life around. By Christmas, I had a comfortable apartment, contact lenses, a new piano and guitar. At the end of January that first year of teaching, I met the true love of my life. Together we built our dream house in the country.

Another, and probably the most important, thing I chose was to go back to church. Eventually that led me to a deeper, higher, more meaningful relationship with my Creator.

It was only years later that I discovered what God’s Word had to say about the attitude of our minds and the quality of our lives:

Our lives are determined by the way we think (Proverbs 4:23).

When we change the way we think – renew our minds – we are transformed from the inside out (Romans 12:2).

We choose the way we think by taking our thoughts captive and making them in line with what God wants us to think (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We are what we think (Proverbs 23:7).

What about you? What do you focus on?

Thank You, Lord, for being with me, guiding me, and showing me the way to a fulfilling life. Amen.

Read and meditate on Philippians 4:8.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Terrible or Terrific?

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. – Ephesians 4:23 (NKJV)

What a morning! It was cold, cold, cold!

So I stayed in my warm, cozy bed until 8, then got up and got busy. I usually make the bed, set up my writing room for the day, make my tea, feed the cats, put in a load of laundry, add a log or two to the fire in the wood stove, and get dressed before I have breakfast.

I say my prayers before I get put of bed because once my feet hit the floor, my brain lasers in on my ambitious to-do list for the day. As you can see in the previous paragraph.

On my way to the kitchen that frigid Tuesday morning, I stepped in cat puke. Ever try to clean smashed, regurgitated cat food out of a braided rug and from the treads of your favorite slippers? Which in my case were my comfy, wear-all-day-every-day moccasins.

My mind was already labeling the day “Terrible Tuesday,” and the day had barely started. What I needed to combat the stinkin’ thinkin’ was a good, positive, encouraging quote from the file of inspirational quotes I collect on my computer.

I found the perfect one: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!” (Zig Ziglar)

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I determined it was not going to be “Terrible Tuesday” but “Terrific Tuesday.”

It was a good thing I nipped that negative attitude in the bud because I could have had a real good pity party later on when the UPS man delivered only one box of three containing my newly released novel. When I checked the tracking numbers of the two missing boxes, there was no record of them. With a list of book orders from folks who were patiently waiting for the novel to be released, I could easily have defaulted to panic mode.

But I knew God knew where those AWOL boxes were, so I asked Him to please send them on their way. Soon.

Every time I thought about it, I just shot a few words up to heaven. Sometimes only one—“please.”

Life is full of setbacks, disappointments, and plans gone awry. We choose how we’re going to deal with them.

“ALWAYS be joyful,” the Apostle Paul advises in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18. Not only when things go your way. Even when—especially when—they don’t.

“NEVER stop praying.” You don’t have to resort to long, repetitious prayers. In fact, Jesus said not to (Matthew 6:7). There have been times my prayer was simply a whispered, “Oh, Lord.” Our heavenly Father knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).

“Be thankful in ALL circumstances.” Not only when the whole order shows up. Not only when things go according to plan. Even when—again, especially when—you don’t feel thankful.

“Be thankful IN all circumstances—not “for” all circumstances. Be like Paul, who “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

The two missing boxes arrived on Thursday. The rug is clean (but not the moccasins only because I figured dry vomit would be easier to clean out of the treads, and I haven’t gotten back to it yet).

The next time you’re tempted to think “terrible,” stop, change gears, and think “terrific” instead.

You’ll be surprised how good life could be.

The next time I’m tempted to think “terrible,” stop me, Lord. Help me to focus on the “terrific.” Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18


GMPM1 bookcover frontGetaway Mountain, Book 1 in the PennWoods Mystery series is available on Amazon for your Kindle and as paperback.

Kindle edition $2.99

Paperback $14.99

Personally autographed copies may be ordered for $20 (tax and shipping included) by emailing michelehueybooks@gmail.com or by clicking on the CONTACT tab above.

Thank you for being such faithful, encouraging readers!

Blessings,

Michele