Ants and Application

Ants love sugar water, but they hate chalk.

For years, I fought an army of ants crawling down the chain that holds my hummingbird feeder. Drowned ants floated in the sweet liquid, clogged up the tiny drinking holes.

When I read that ants won’t walk over chalk, I decided to draw a line of chalk around the nail that holds my hummingbird feeder.

Sure enough, the chalk acts like a barricade. I also outline the area around my cat bowl with chalk….no more ants crawling in the leftover food.

Here’s my point.

Last weekend, I allowed disappointing circumstances to put me in a melancholy mood. My emotions took precedent over rational thoughts.

I cried. I vented. I wallowed in self-pity.

And when I’d had enough of ME, I applied what always works for me.

I rejoiced in the Lord, and asked Him to use my circumstances to teach me.

And because God draws near to those who seek Him, the Holy Spirit showed me 2 Samuel 18 & 19.

King David’s son Absalom leads a revolt against his father in order to seize the throne for himself. As civil war breaks out, David and his family must flee Jerusalem. In the ensuing battle, King David’s men win and Absalom is killed.

Despite Absalom’s treasonous act, David is overcome with grief. He mourns the death of his son instead of rejoicing in victory. But Joab, David’s military commander, holds him accountable. He tells David to “snap out of it” and recognize the people who fought for him.

 These events happened centuries ago, but “scripture is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12)

Rather than read the Bible for content….I search for personal application.

One brings head knowledge.

The latter brings heart change.

In this case, I had two options.

Allow my emotions to become a stronghold which leaves me like King David …. in a funk which robs me of joy.

Apply Biblical knowledge to my circumstances and achieve victory over self.

Like drawing a chalk line, I chose to apply what the Bible says.

I took “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Because thoughts precede emotions which determine my mood.

And in the process, I was changed for the better.

Why Not Smile?

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Lined up, engines running, we sat in our cars at the intersection waiting for the traffic light to change. To my left, a middle-aged male driver stared ahead with a dead pan face. On my right, the female driver scowled reminiscent of my cat. 

What do people see when they look at me? Does my face appear frazzled or irritated because I’m running late today?  

I studied my tired face in the rear-view mirror and intentionally SMILED!

Like magic, my reflection became prettier and younger looking.

When the traffic light turned green, the other drivers sped ahead, but I got a wild hair and challenged myself to…

SMILE, all the way to my destination.

Can I smile for twenty-minutes with no other reason than to look happy?

Here’s what I discovered.

It takes fewer facial muscles to smile than to frown, but after five minutes, my cheek muscles ached. Maybe I should exercise those babies more often.

I glanced in the mirror at the fake smile pasted on my face. How do those beauty pageant contestants smile throughout a contest even when they lose?

 To keep smiling, and look genuine, I had to think happy thoughts. “What a lovely day. The sun is breaking through the rain clouds; the field grass is turning green.”

Sure enough, my smile grew bigger, brighter.

If  I allowed somber thoughts to slip into my mind, my lips instinctively sagged. So I HAD to control my thoughts.

Whenever a car passed me in the left lane, I’d turn my head and flash my pearly whites hoping someone would return the smile. But people didn’t look my way … which my husband would say is a good thing … because that meant THEY were concentrating on the road.

My concentrated effort to smile paid off.

I showed up to my destination ten minutes late. But, instead of resembling Dwarf Grumpy and making excuses when I walked into the room, I smiled and greeted everyone as though I’d won the lottery.

So why am I surprised?

God knows my thoughts affect my moods, perspective, my words and actions.

The Bible says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Don’t wait for the feelings to come. Think about such things.

And when necessary, choose an action that will lift thoughts heavenward.

IMG_2642An action as simple as a SMILE can make all the difference even in this…..