Today in Science the kids were asked, What are two kinds of energy?”  The answer: “Two kinds of energy are potential and kinetic.”  We talked about what that meant and then played several crazy-fun rounds of the all-familiar game Duck-Duck-Goose, only in the form of “Potential… Potential… Potential… Potential… KINETIC!!!”
As I tapped on their heads, I thought about this blogpost.
In the first post, I landed on Peace being found in God’s Presence.  God with you.  His faithfulness to BE.  We can rest in the purest Peace, knowing that unlike our personal opinions, He will not be tossed about like waves on a sea; nor will His Character change like a shifting shadow.  So, God has smacked me in the face over this Promise of His faithfulness to walk with me as I look at life, people, and good/bad situations each day through the “Whatever is…” list.  Those words also are characteristics of the God we serve, and help me to think on the things that reflect His image.
Let’s look at the words again:

true
noble
right
pure
lovely
admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think on these things.

Now think on this:

“God’s character is like the summer sunrise—resplendent in beauty and utterly dependable.  To fully appreciate these qualities, however, one must be a consistent or long-term observer.  A solitary dawn, no matter how glorious, cannot demonstrate faithfulness.”  ~George Otis, Jr. in God’s Trademarks

God’s faithfulness will bring a steady-kind-of-peace, as we are faithful to look to Him, and keep on looking.  Often we settle for less, looking for peace like it’s a quick fix, a fleeting event, or a momentary breath of fresh air.  And even though the jewelry, the tee-shirts, the icons and imagery show off peace as “all-the-world holding hands, side-by-side, singing campfire songs,” peace is truly meant to be much deeper.  Steady.  A constant.
Peace is found in thinking/focusing/acting with the people and circumstances around me through the “Whatever is…” list, and other things that captivate my thoughts to the attributes of God’s Character.  In order to allow God to present Himself in the relationship or situation, it takes, first,  a focus-change in me… and for me to know what I am even looking for!
Have you seen people who face serious trials and seasons of unrest while maintaining extraordinary and unshakable peace?
Peace is not getting the doctor report that every cell is free of cancer.  Peace is in knowing that no matter what happens, God will be present to hold and to guide, and to be completely Personal through each day’s trial.  Break-ups, job loss, poor health—all of these things can be faced with peace.  We’ve seen those people who live that way, and thought to ourselves, “How?” and even better, “How amazing!”  These people make us curious and we are drawn in like a magnet.
Then there are people who have so much blessing but only look at a mountain of critical.
The “if” of good is often not even noticed, and guess what happens?  The life is sucked out of those friendships, work relationships, and even marriages.  There is always something that needs to be fixed, made better, isn’t good enough.  The “Whatever isn’t” list is always getting their attention.  These people repel us, and like a magnet turned around, we cannot get close… unless we change ourselves and join in the criticisms.  I regret that there have been times when I have done that, and without realizing it, our critical group got very small, and we didn’t even notice that soon, we stood alone.  Curious people will move toward the good magnets!
So here’s what hit me:  When I am critical, I am assuming that I can do something better.  My thoughts surround what he or she should improve or even worse, my thoughts surround what I think *I* could do.  How does that way of thinking create any space for “the God of peace to be with” anyone?  I am not inviting help, nor looking at how that person can reach beyond his or herself to BE something new and greater.  Self-reliance will always give God-reliance a magnetic push.
Personally, this thought IMMEDIATELY convicted me in how I raise my kids!  Of COURSE there are things that they do that they shouldn’t.  Of COURSE there are areas in need of critique, especially as we walk this challenging home-school road.  I have to focus on “Whatever is…” and know that this is much more than mere “positive thinking!”  They need to be equipped to face any life-challenge that comes their way.  I want “whatever” to create an openness in my kids to “be more than they believe they can be” and try things that seem impossible—accomplishments in need of God with us!  So as a Mom and as a teacher, I am opening up a together-reliance on the God of peace Who is immediately there to help!
So what would happen if you and I were walking around the world with a surety of peace (God-reliance), and not hanging our heads in a spirit of despair (God-at-arm’s length)?  Could we do a world of good if we looked for the “if” (what He can do in us with tough people and tough situations) and chose then, to celebrate?  Everyone has an “if”… they are most likely innumerable… and no one got here alone.  So, as I said in Part 1, there’s your “if-starter.”  Start counting with One.  The One Who made him/her is worthy of your praise.    And in regard to tough situations, there is One far more able to carry you through.  He may seem silent, but He is not absent.  Yeah, there is always an “if.”
I will end upbeat, but first here is something sobering to simmer:  What if the people who talk bad about you watched you actually BECOME what they said, shared, think or believe… what good on earth would that EVER produce?  And if  you focus only on the negatives of certain people, what if they only ever became that?  You just destroyed some immeasurable greatness!  And in regard to the life-stuff, you cannot let painful circumstances kill your hope and then leave you there.  Thinking on the “whatever” will protect you through to the other side… making you even stronger.  Search out the “if” (even if “if” is hard).  Start there, think on that, build that up… Then maybe—JUST MAYBE—you will invite the opportunity for God to walk into that conflict and make some changes.
Let’s leave this post with the verses found in Philippians 4, JUST BEFORE the “Whatever is…” list!:
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness (your controlled strength) be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition (praising God for Who He is, thanking Him for what He’s done), with thanksgiving, (giving Him praise and gratitude for all He will do with current and future things) present your requests to God (be honest about what’s going on).   And the peace of God (God with you), which transcends all understanding (His present, sustaining, “doesn’t-make-any-earthly-sense” kind of steadiness), will guard your hearts (keep your emotions from flying all over the place) and your minds (protect your sanity) in Christ Jesus (the One, the Rock, the Storm-Calmer, The Sure Foundation, Who will always be faithful, and never ever run away).
Largest human peace sign (2500 people). Imagine the Potential!
I hope that we will see a world of people who face life in a way that draws us in like a magnet, causing us to give praise to the God who sustains them.  I hope that I am one of those people, and not the person who grumbles, whines, gossips, and walks as if already in defeat.  I think we ALL have a lot of “if”–ing to do!
So this is how I want to spend MY ENERGY: I want to tap the people’s heads in my life-circle and know that they can BE so much more than they ever believed.  We can duck and dodge or we can reach out and believe. And everyone (even the big kids) want to get picked in this game.
Potential… Potential… Potential… 

Peace.