Tag Archives: strength

Messy House

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.

1 Peter 2:1-3 (MSG)

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My house is normally pretty tidy with things picked up and a clean kitchen to work in. But I hire a couple of girls to come in twice a month to “deep clean.” The other day I walked into the house after lunch and it looked like a whirlwind had hit it.

Because of the holiday, my cleaning girl brought a couple of extra friends to help her catch up on the missed day. All the furniture was pulled away from the walls. One girl was on a step-stool wiping down bookshelves. Another had the kitchen torn apart and was spraying and wiping the counters and cupboards. I heard others in the back of the house making noises with vacuums and mops.

You would think that I was messy and dirty. On the surface, the house looked fine, but underneath the furniture, behind the books, in the nooks and crannies out of sight, dirt and dust lingered and multiplied.

It made me wonder about the state of my heart and life. I can put on a good face and attitude and people observing will think all is well. Not much cleaning up for her to do. But is my heart and mind free of fear, prejudice, frustration, anger, pride, and selfishness? Honestly, no. If I had to clean them up all by myself, I would fail miserably. But God took the giant vacuum cleaner to my life when I confessed my sins and weaknesses to Him and accepted His offer of love and forgiveness. Jesus’ blood cleansed me and gave me life eternal.

Yet, this world still leaves our feet dusty as we walk the roads of life. The news indicates that things are hardly tidy and free of grime. We have experienced a week with the murders of police officers in Dallas, rallies in cities across the nation to protest racism, lies and distortions by politicians. And that is only in the United States. The rest of the world is hurting, too.

We will never live in a perfect world, this side of heaven, but we have help and hope from God’s word, The Bible. When we spend time reading, meditating, journaling, confessing our sins, and praying over the truths that we read, God promises to grow us up into mature people. Just as my grandgirlies had to learn to walk one step at a time, so do we. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are a result of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only then will:

  • Anger on the streets be replaced with love.
  • Racism be replaced with acceptance.
  • Rudeness be replaced with kindness.
  • Pride be replaced with humility.
  • Fear be replaced with hope.
  • Division be replaced with unity.

The disorder and disarray in my house? By the time they left, everything was back in place, the sinks sparkled and the floors glistened. Maybe it’s time to check the corners and pockets of your hearts and minds for dust and grime. Give Jesus the opportunity to clean up your mess and make your life clean and whole, ready to be a light and witness for Him to a darkened world.

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I can’t. I CAN.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

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Most of the time I have a pretty good handle on the ups and downs that enter our lives. I’ve called the ambulance four times for Mark in the past 10 years. (Thankfully, not recently.) And when that happened, I put on my big girl panties and dealt with the crisis. Calm, cool, collected. I have had friends comment that I was so in control when making those necessary calls to family and friends.

But recently, another blow was leveled. I had awakened at 2 AM with this foreboding hanging over me. I hadn’t wanted to spend time thinking about something if it was not going happen, but then it did. The worst thing I could do was search google for answers instead of God’s Word. All it did was add to my fears.  I prayed and read my devotions and Bible, looking for God to speak to me. But the peace was missing. I kept hanging on to the problem and possible outcome and scenarios. I fell apart at 4:30 AM and all I could say through my tears was, “I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do it anymore,” shaking my head to confirm my words, as I sobbed on Mark’s shoulder.

Tears spent, I got up and dried my eyes. There was no more sleeping for me so I opened my iPad to scroll down Facebook. My eyes landed on the picture posted at the top of the blog. A light bulb went on. For sure, I CAN’T. But JESUS CAN. He didn’t expect me to carry this burden by myself with my measly strength but was there to carry the burden and me as we walked the path forward. I don’t know if you have read the poem about the footsteps in the sand but this is exactly the comfort that I needed.

Ahhh. Peace.

I look back over the paths I’ve traveled and see the pile of stones stacked up by the side of the road to show the times where God met me in my need. I’m still human but learning faster that I can’t fix it — only Jesus has that power. He’s the one to turn to when the way is bleak because He knows where to go and how to get there. And His plans for me are good.

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A Lady

Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful.  Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (CEV)

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I have five granddaughters, ages 16-3. Watching them grow and mature is a joy and privilege even though I am a long distance Nana. But it is possible in this age of digital devices with texting and FaceTime.

Girls have a tough time growing up these days. The winds of change are sweeping our nation with political correctness that is both confusing and complicated. The norms and standards we were taught and passed down to our daughters have been tossed aside in an effort for each person to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. But as Christians, we have the ultimate guidebook, the Bible.

How many times I remember my mother reminding me to “be a lady.” Some things can be taught but being a lady comes from the inside and works its way out as a result of the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

I ran across a blog post by Kristen Dalton Wolfe, a former Miss USA, entitled 30 Characteristics of a Modern Lady. She began the blog with “Being female is a matter of birth, being a woman is a matter of age, but being a lady is a matter of choice.” 

Some would question the validity of her statement but I believe that God intended girls to grow up to be ladies. That statement takes nothing away from their strength or abilities but rather adds to their worth and dignity. The characteristics she offers are both common sense and biblical.

Here are a few of the 30 listed:

  • 1. She is gracious: A lady is never above thanking someone, no matter who or how small it seems. She is sincerely thankful and always expresses her gratitude in a meaningful way.
  • 2. She is a leader: A lady sets the precedent in any given situation. She knows that she has influence and uses it to lead people to good.
  • 3. She is steadfast: A lady is consistent across time and circumstances. When she makes a commitment to herself, she doesn’t allow pressure or trends to cause her to waver.
  • 4. She promotes moral excellence: A lady does the right thing even when no one else is looking. She takes the time to find a trash can rather than leaving it on the sidewalk.
  • 5. She is honest. She says what she means and means what she says. A lady is direct, never passive aggressive, she does not leave room for interpretation.

I sent a copy of her list to my two older granddaughters. Manners, morals, and values are not high priorities with the average teenager but my girls are ladies in the best sense of the word. They are growing up with hearts of love, service, loyalty, and kindness.

As women, whether mothers or grandmothers or single, modeling good manners, kind words, strength of character, and moral values are needed. Don’t let society dictate what and where your strength comes from. Encourage the girls in your life to not just be strong women but be women of strength:

A strong woman works out everyday to keep her body in shape,

but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything,

but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of fear.

A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her,

but a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone.

A strong woman walks sure footedly,

but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls.

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face,

but a woman of strength wears grace.

A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey,

but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong. 

 – Author Unknown 

Remember that a special beauty comes from the heart and is given by God. Value it highly.

And be a lady.

 

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Finish Well

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

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As much as I like the beginning of a new season whether that is the season on the calendar, school, Bible Study, MOPS, or even the elections, there comes a moment when the end is in sight. I spoke last night with my grandgirlie, Kate, and she had finished a week of very hard finals. A big sigh of relief could be heard all the way from California. Another, Tori, is graduating from eight grade in a few weeks, looking forward to entering high school. Her good news came via text: I MADE SRV CHEER!!!! New school. New adventures.

Sometimes, we slog it out and are glad it’s over. Other times, sadness hits when the last hour ends. But I try and remember advice I received many years ago from the teacher of our Bible Study class. It had been a year of hard study and we were approaching the final few weeks. She encouraged us to “not finish somehow” but to “finish well.”

It’s all about attitude. I want to leave nothing on the table, spend every last ounce of energy, holding nothing back, so that God is glorified and the task completed. Integrity, honesty, and balance enter the picture, particularly if a leader, but also for our own personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Who wants to leave the movie fifteen minutes before the end?

But what if the end is not in sight? the battle is not won? That’s the hard part and the point where endurance begins. Giving up is not an option and this side of heaven, it may never end. But God. He promises strength and courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Looking back over the roads of life, you may see gravel pits where you stumbled, boulders blocking the path, ditches of despair, sand of entrapment, or slippery paths of temptation but God never let go of your hand. You stand erect today with sins forgiven, new mercies, hope for tomorrow, and the joy of a home in heaven.

Don’t give up.

Finish well!

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Speak Up

Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)

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Go with the flow, don’t make waves, just let it go, no big deal – sound familiar? Maybe you have even said or thought it yourself occasionally. It is easier to follow the crowd to make a problem disappear than to take the lonely hard position.

However, character stands up when tested – even to the point of pain. Gen. Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps got it right when he said, “The true test of character comes when the chips are down, when your gut starts to turn, when the sweat starts to form on your brow, when you know the decision you are about to make may not be popular … but it must be made. That’s when your true character is exposed.”

We don’t have the same luxury enjoyed by previous generations where moral conduct, good manners, and respect for the law and property are supported by parents, neighbors, churches, and even the government. Simply, turn on the television or read the Internet and you will find the news is overwhelming. Our children and grandchildren’s security and future compel us to get involved.

In an election year, I encourage you to pay attention to the local news, go to a school board or town council meeting, attend a candidate forum, and don’t forget to vote.

It is not easy or fun but character demands it and then you, too, will make a difference.

   “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

 

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Shiny Clay Pot

Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.

Proverbs 26:23 (NIV)

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I stopped and paused while reading Proverbs the other day. I know what silver is and I like silver (other than I hate to polish it), but what is silver dross? The dictionary tells me it is the scum formed, usually by oxidation, on the surfaces of molten metals; worthless matter; waste.

I also know that earthenware chips easily and breaks to smithereens when dropped. (I’ve done both.) So why would you coat or glaze a clay pot with something shiny but worthless?

To hide the fact that it is a fake. It looks pretty but underneath it is weak, and in some ways false. You think it looks like long-lasting stoneware but it has not gone through the fire to harden and strengthen it, one of the main differences between the two.

A fast-talking salesman or sleazy politician may come to mind, or maybe the neighborhood gossip that likes to pass along juicy tidbits so that they look better in comparison. Hollywood is classic for the smooth and shiny until the their sordid lives comes to light for all to see in the latest scandal.

But God is not finished with this lesson and offers an alternative to that smooth talk. He wants us to be strong and speak truth so as a result, He may use the refiner’s fire to accomplish His purpose.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)

Aren’t you glad God promises that these trials are only for a little while? And, in the process, we grow, our faith remains strong, and one day we will be honored along with Jesus. We have endured the fire and been strengthened in the process. Now our words bring truth and life to those we meet each day.

Shine!

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Practice x3

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Grandgirlie, Tori, is in North Carolina this weekend with her Cheer Squad competing for the championship at the National Finals. Last year, the team won it all so there is a bit of pressure to finish well.

The old adage, “Practice, practice, practice” resonates in each team member when they run onto the floor knowing they have done the work to win. They even got a little extra practice at the airport while they waited for a delayed flight.

But it also comes into play when the unplanned happens. I watched Tori (via live streaming) move right where she was supposed to be even though she had been unintentionally struck in the eye during the routine. She never missed a beat. She may have a shiner tomorrow but that is for another day.

We watch and learn from a little girl’s endurance under trial and see from her actions the strength of character to carry on.

I thought I had everything all planned and organized in my life until a doctor’s prognosis tripped me up this week. It’s not life threatening but it will change my life. I have macular degeneration and it’s progressing more rapidly than I would like. I watched both of my parents struggle with it, especially my dad. Things that I take for granted now, such as driving, will become impossible. I think the loss of independence is what I will miss most.

Yet, last year has taught me again and again that my dependance must be on God alone. He’s not going anywhere and I know I can grab His hand whenever I need it. However, it changes my perspective: Live each day to the fullest. Don’t put off something that I want to see or do. Love extravagantly. Be grateful for little things. Show appreciation.

In His great mercy, God is developing my character, giving me strength and confident hope in all that He has for me.

Way to go, Tori!

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