Philippians 4:4-9

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

For years, I’ve been encouraging my clients to keep a Beauty Journal – a journal used to physically record all the things that went right in a day.  Why do I think this is an important exercise?  Well, just take a moment and look around you.  How much of your world is full of negativity and sadness, destruction and despair, heart ache and heart brokenness?  These things are everywhere!  They surround us.  And if there aren’t enough of them in your own, personal life the media will make sure that you get your fill.

It is amazing that more people are not swept away in the depths of depression when experiencing this fallen world.  I know that many chose to ignore the pain that surrounds them and they are able to “create” a world that is more comfortable by denying the reality of the world and relationships.  (i.e., “My husband really isn’t physically abusive.  He just had a bad day.”  “My daughter really doesn’t have a drug problem.  She’s just going through a phase.”  “I really do not have a drinking problem.  I just need a drink to relax after work.”  “I really want this new high definition television and paying off the credit won’t take that long.  I work hard, I deserve it.”  “I really don’t work that many hours.  Money is important.  My wife and kids understand.” …)

It is important to develop some honesty when looking at what is going on around you.  Take an honest look and take it in.  The reality of our fallen world is heavy.  But don’t stop there.  I challenge you to look deeper – for the beauty.

In and amongst all that is fallen, God provides so much that is rich and beautiful.  We just often times miss it because of all the negativity that surrounds us.  Did you know that research has revealed that it takes nine positive things to undo the impact of one negative thing on our human psyche?  It is almost as if the negativity in our world has a powerful magnet drawing our attention. It is as if we are automatically pulled to what is negative and the power that the negativity has is 9 times more powerful than a moment of joy.  It is because of this that we must become more proactive in seeking out all that is good.

If we stop looking toward those things that suck the life and  joy out of us and start looking to those things that are “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable” and claim them as the God-given gifts they are, we would begin to enjoy more moments with God’s peace filling our hearts.  The peace that passes all understanding can be ours…it can be yours!  God has placed all that is beautiful in our world to fill us with the experience of his love.  We must seek out the beauty, claim these things as the gifts they are and hold them in our hearts.

This is where the Beauty Journal comes into play.  The negativity in our lives is a habit of thought.  Change the habit!  Actively seek  out the beauty!  The Beauty Journal is simple.  It only takes three simple steps to complete.  You can handle that!

1) Look for 10 Beautiful Things

I challenge you to start looking for 10 things a day that bring lightness to your heart, a smile to your face, a peace to your mind.  What are 10 things that are gifts that God is bringing into your day…just 10!  They can be as simple as your car starting with the first turn of the key all the way to something as glorious a beautiful sunrise.  I don’t care what they are…I know they are there.

2) Claim Them As Your Own

Write them down.  Get a journal (get a piece of paper!) and write them down – EVERYDAY – into your journal.  By writing them down, you are claiming them and making them your own.  Have you ever thought about claiming a sunrise as your own?  If not, why?  God could have made the sunrise without all of the beauty that comes with it.  He could have been practical and just made the sunrise simply functional.  But he didn’t.  He made it beautiful – for you!  He wants you to be reminded about how crazy he is about you!

3) Hold Them In Your Heart

As you write these 10 things down, day after day, hold them in your heart.  Read the list, every  day!  As you read over the list of gifts that are given and you’ve claimed, the gift of the beauties literally multiplies right in front of your eyes.  You will visually see the power of God’s gifts as reminders of his presence in your life.  As you daily reflect on these gifts and praise God for them, the peace that passes all understanding will fill you.  It can’t help but happen.

What is the catch?  There is one!  You have to be an active participant.  You have to do your part.  God provides the beauty.  You have to experience it.  If someone gives you a beautifully wrapped and carefully selected birthday gift and you never open it – what’s the point?  The same is true with the gifts from God.  You have to do your part and receive them!

You must look for the gifts, claim them as your own and hold them in your heart.  When you do, you may be surprised at how the  negativity in the world loses its power and how the gifts start filling your days and your heart.  It will become a habit to look for these things.  It will become part of you.  God’s love will fill you and you will experience God in every beautiful thing.  From the pen that has ink in it to the awesome show of a lightening display to the song of a bird to the laughter of a baby – God’s love will flow through the gifts he is giving you and the peace that passes all understanding will fill your heart and mind – negativity will have no room!

Change your life – look for God’s gifts of beauty!