Monday, January 21, 2008

Women of Joy, Pt. 5

Years ago I was reminded of my need to practice praise more regularly. Nancy Campbell, a respected Christian teacher, suggested a very practical approach to instilling a habit of praise in our hearts and homes. She recommended use of a kitchen timer.

Now don't check out on me. I know it sounds gimmicky and trite. But if you are not able to develop the habit of praise in any other way, try this. Set the timer for every hour or two. When it goes off, simply stop what you are doing and have a "praise the Lord" break. Enter into thanksgiving, song, and declaration of His goodness for an allotted amount of time (5 minutes is what I did.) Then reset the clock for another hour or two. You will be amazed to find that this can train your soul to focus on Him more readily. Soon, even without the bell ringing, you will discover that your thoughts are more filled with praise, that He has become magnified in your life.

Let me tell you of a particular experience which occurred during a week when Mom and the kids were involved in this practice. With bi-hourly regularity, we set the timer and had our praise sessions. Wherever we were when the buzzer went off, we stopped what we were doing, yelled from room to room (which is usually not allowed), "The timer went off! It's time!" And we would offer thanksgiving and praise to Him.

Life during this particular season had been very busy for several weeks. I had been getting farther and farther behind in my duties around the house. With many young children and a nursing infant, I was not seeing a way to catch up. Stress had become the order of the day, resulting in a less than patient mother. Perhaps some of you can relate.

The smallest of things were getting the best of me. For example: in the girls' bedroom a window shade, notorious for lack of cooperation, had finally found a resting place in a heap beneath the window, having been pulled completely from the wooden dowel. One of my daughters had fought with it and it had won. For days now it had laid there, smugly toying with me, taunting me to find time to repair it.

I woke up one morning determined that today was the day. I would find 20 minutes to tack that silly shade back in place and get it functioning once again. I settled the baby, occupied the toddlers in play, and assigned duties to the older crew. Finally, my opportunity had come. Armed with gumption and a trusty stapler, I tackled my job and soon stood back, viewing my finished project with great satisfaction. "Well, at least I can check one thing off my list..." I muttered to myself.

Back to the laundry I went. Later that afternoon I popped into their bedroom to put some folded clothes away. A quick glance over to the window sent me instantly into a tirade. There was the shade, defiantly laying in a heap once again. Another battle had been fought and won - already. "What!! Who pulled this shade so hard?!! Don't you know I just got this fixed!!" Right about then I was wishing I was a woman who used expletives. As I felt my temperature rising and took a breath for the next outpouring, a buzzer was heard from the distant kitchen. "The timer went off. Time to praise the Lord!" was the cry I heard from below.

Sigh. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I pulled my thoughts together. I focused on Him, feeling a bit foolish. Suddenly a shade getting the best of me seemed more than just a little ridiculous. In fact, suddenly it didn't seem to matter at all. Another sigh was followed by spoken repentance. Then came worship and praise to a God who was graciously showing me how to live above all of this "stuff and nonsense". Genuine thanksgiving poured forth from deep within this young mother's heart. "What a good God I have."

You could say I was "saved by the bell." Maybe. But I do know this: that day I got the point. Now when I am ready to lose it, I pause, take a deep breath and remember Him. "How does this look in view of eternity? Does this thing actually deserve my emotional energy, or does He? What should be magnified right now, my emotional response to some negative thing, or Him, my Lord and Savior?" I think we all know the answer.

If you are having a hard time practicing His presence throughout the day, maybe you should consider trying this simple scheme. It doesn't seem so different from others I have observed in varying cultures and histories. I ponder Daniel's dedication to set times of prayer. And the Psalmist who wrote that he would remember Him in prayer seven times a day. Perhaps a disciplined approach to focusing on Him is not so new. Maybe those people who have nailed down such simple practices know their fickleness of heart and recognize their need to be reminded. And it just might be that we should try it ourselves.

Thought for the day:
People who have joy have learned to praise Him.
I want joy, I want the strength that comes with joy, I want His presence - therefore I figure that whatever it takes, it's worth it.



Blogger Quinne said...

Right :)

What a joy and encouragement you are, Darlene! Practicing His presence is a life changing thing - one that is critical. Love you! Q

1:23 PM  
Blogger thisrequiresthought said...

you mean:
"Of COURSE right!"

with love from your road-trippin' partner...

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am enjoying this series!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great teachings, Darlene!

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... I think this may work wonders with cranky older children as well! Thank you for sharing again!

7:41 AM  

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