Do Good.

Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good. Learning-Grace.com

This is long overdue. It’s just taken me awhile to get this one together.

2015 came to a close with the feeling that evil was running rampant. Peruse my blog a bit and you’ll see my thoughts on the goings on of the world these last few months. Then, just days after Christmas I learned from a childhood friend that her sister (also close to me in childhood) lost her battle with depression, leaving her family, her three young children bereft. In the current culture of mud slinging and blame, hate and bigotry, it certainly feels like evil is getting the upper hand. And while I know that this is not true in the end, it is easy to be overwhelmed.

Then, the other morning I read this: “Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Romans 12:21, NLT).

Do good. That’s it. There’s no grand gesture required to overcome evil, just to do good. And so alongside my word for the year, discipline, this has become my prayer for this year: God, help me to do good.

As the mother of two small children I can’t just drop and volunteer, I don’t have tons of money to donate, but I can seek opportunities to do good. I can help a friend who needs childcare in a pinch, send a note of encouragement, stop and hold the door, just pay it forward. I’m not naïve. This will not bring an end to institutionalized racism. It will not bring ISIS to its knees. It will not make Donald Trump humble and speechless. It will draw me closer to my neighbor and it may help them to do likewise.

And really, that’s all we can do—seek opportunity to do good and go from there. The people who spearhead charities and start programs and ministries that make incredible impacts on their community and the world —you know, the ones featured in documentaries and movies—all began with someone looking for an opportunity to do good and then following through with it.

Visit the website of your favorite charity and check out the history and you’ll see it. Feeding America is an organization of 200 food banks, the first of which was started by a retired business man who, while volunteering at a soup kitchen in the 1960s listened to the suggestion of a woman struggling to feed her children to organize the food grocery stores throw out so that others can use it. Save the Children, which is active in 120 countries, began after World War I when Eglantyne Jebb was arrested for handing out leaflets showing how children were suffering in blockaded countries. The judge was so impressed with her mission that he paid her fine, which Jebb turned into the first donation to help starving children in Europe. And the stories could go on. These were regular people who just had their eyes open for ways they could do good for others.

Go forth and do good. It may not change the world overnight. But you won’t know until you try.

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Discipline

It’s only through discipline that things become truly fun and enjoyable. But first comes the work. Learning-Grace.com

Discipline. It’s not a fun word. In fact, discipline is not fun at all. But it is the key to a lot of life’s rewards. To be truly good at anything, it requires discipline: disciplined eating, disciplined exercise, disciplined learning, disciplined practice. It’s only through discipline that things become truly fun and enjoyable. But first comes the work.

This is why discipline is my word for 2016. There are so many things that I want to accomplish, but haven’t for lack of discipline. I’m kicking it off with disciplined eating. I’m currently on day 20 of the Whole30. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a 30-day eating plan to change your relationship with food—no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no alcohol, no sugar (even honey or maple syrup), and here’s the kicker: no snacking. And, I need to change my relationship with food. I love it a bit too much and I treat myself way too often. I’m so thankful that Ken decided to do this with me, for the most part. It’s helped a ton to have some extra support. And we’re reaping great rewards for our discipline. As we near the end of our 30 days, we’re thinking of what parts of this do we want to keep and what parts do we want to change.

In February, I’m going to work to keep the healthy eating going while adding getting up at least 30 minutes earlier (and going to bed earlier, too!) to my list. I need some time to pull myself together before the kids wake up. This is also when my creative brain is at its best, and when I do this I have a much more productive day. So, I need to make this a habit. March will be exercise. I don’t know what April will bring. This is as far as I’ve gotten.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I’m all for reflection. And as I barely survived the marathon that is December and thought about what needs to change so I can begin accomplishing all that unfinished business that I feel like is out there, I realized that my biggest stumbling block is discipline. I can excuse myself out of almost anything and it’s time for me to get it together and start making some changes. So, now that I’ve told you, you can hold me to it.

Discipline. It feels like a drag, but I know it’s going to open a door to some incredible freedom.

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