January Challenge

January seems like a great time to start something new. I’m not talking about a resolution that’s forgotten next week. No, this is more along the lines of forming new and better habits that are life changing and long-lasting. Just imagine, December 31, 2014 you look back on the year and count 12 significant changes you applied with purpose and continue to see affecting your life. Each month, has its own challenge. 30 days of focused attention. Bite size changes that grow with momentum. As I move through the calendar, I want to see old thought patterns crushed, unhealthy choices tossed away, and good moving in to stay.

This month, January 2014, I’ll be focusing on removing negativity from my life. Actually, more than removing something (that I often don’t even recognize), I’ll be adding something. My goal is to fill my mind with what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute. If there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, I will let my mind dwell on these things. (Phil. 4:8)

Easier said than done, I know. (Hence, the reason this is a 30 day challenge, not a 365 day challenge!) What happens when life hits? The kids are grumbling, your neighbor makes a rude comment, your credit card statement arrives, you get sick, your spouse says or does something thoughtless, your relatives can’t get alone, and on and on it goes. How do I fill my mind with good when there is so much garbage around me? Here’s my plan.

First, I’ll start and finish each day with the reading of God’s Word. Before I check my email, before I look at fb, while I’m having my coffee, I’ll open the Word of God. (Want some encouraging words? Check out Psalms or Philippians or Colossians.) This doesn’t have to be a long prayer session, but a time of connecting with our Heavenly Father. Getting some good “meditation” material into my head so I can think on it throughout the day. Then, at night I’ll reread a verse (or passage) from the morning and thank God for His Word that encourages me.

Second, I’ll take every thought captive. (1 Cor. 10:5) Let me warn you, this is a mentally exhausting procedure in the beginning. Most of us are so accustomed to letting thoughts freely come and go through our heads, we never realize we can and should control them. If I allow any and all thoughts to enter my head (and hang around), I’ll never be able to fulfill this challenge. Several years ago, a friend challenged me (unbeknownst to her) to recognize my thoughts, grab hold of them, analyze them, and determine which ones would be allowed to stay and which would be destroyed. Told you it was exhausting. An amazing thing happened in this process, I began to recognize evil, bad, unproductive thoughts before the thought had a chance to completely form in my mind. Pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, I got lazy and all that mental training faded away. I quit guarding my mind and garbage thoughts began to run amuck, again. So here I am, trying to renew my mind once again.

Third, I will let praise be continually on my lips. I know I can only learn this important skill through trials that don’t naturally result in praise coming from my mouth. Oh, this is going to be painful, but the result is worth the pain.

Maybe this isn’t an area of struggle for you. But, if it is, I’d love to walk this journey with you for the next 30 days. Not because misery loves company, but because I could use the encouragement and the accountability. I’d love to hear how God is working in you and bringing your thoughts into alignment with His. So here’s to RIGHTFUL thinking, everyone.

~ Regina

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