Strength in Weakness

It is early morning. I am feeling a bit paralyzed by thoughts racing through my mind of everything that needs done today at work and home.  I have been working long days and feeling a bit exhausted at the moment.

I need to catch my breath, to be still for just a little while longer.

Times like these, I rely heavily on the lists that I make to keep myself organized and sane. I love lists, only lists can become overwhelming if you keep adding to them and never seem to put a dent in removing items.

Sigh…

It seems fitting this morning that the passage I read is this…

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul is talking about this thorn in his flesh. We are never clearly told what this thorn in his flesh is, but it seems to keep him grounded in his dependence upon Christ.
What is your thorn in the flesh?

None of us like to think of being weak. That is so contradictory to what the world values, but it is our weakest moments that can cause us to draw closest to Christ. Think about your own life. When have you been most aware of your brokenness and your need for Christ? Your weakest moments.

I think of these stomach ailments I live with in the form of ulcerative colitis. Most days, I  am relatively okay, but I have learned to redefine what it means to be okay. Social eating is not as fun as it once was. I also struggle with fibromyalgia. Most people close to me personally and professionally at work have no idea I deal with these things except for my strange eating habits. I tend to push through the pain. I am aware of my dependence on Him.

Anxiety? Yes, another thorn in my side. I am learning to trust God through the fear and anxious thoughts. I am acutely aware of my need for God to work through the anxiety.

It seems like a contradiction. Power in weakness. Much like joy in the pain. My greatest times of growth have been during valleys where I knew I needed Him.

I heard a song at church on Sunday…. don’t tell God about your mountain, tell the mountain about your God.


When we are weak, He is strong. Being dependent upon Him is a very good place to be.

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Character

In Sunday school, our teacher shared that he had read there are three things that can tell you a lot about a person’s character…

1. What makes a person laugh?

2. What makes a person angry?

3. What makes a person cry?

Those are questions that have me thinking about myself. What about you?

One of my catch phrases that I   am known for telling my family when having to do something they don’t like is this…it builds character.

In Romans 5:3-4, it says…we glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope.

Can we truly experience hope without having experienced suffering?

Think back on some of your most challenging times. These may just very well have also been some of your greatest moments of Hope and Blessings.

Hope even in the smallest dose is still hope.

The smallest step is still a step.

Character is built of the stuff in us that refuses to give up and keeps pushing forward.

Settle me…

Every day, I journey to work via an hour commute. And of course, at the end of my long day, I journey back home that hour route.

That’s a whole lotta thinking time.

I have come to really, really appreciate this quiet time. It is me, my Christian music, and my thoughts. The drive is easy with little traffic and my mind has the opportunity to reflect.

I have needed this time. Over the past several months, it has become my prayer time. During these moments, I am not distracted by the busyness of the world. Yes, I pay attention to the semi trucks around me, but the noise of the world is quiet. 

This time settles my anxious soul before work. It settles my racing mind after work.

God is around us and alive in our everyday lives. He is working, speaking, breathing truth. These quiet moments in the morning and in my commute are welcomed moments to be still.

I am learning to still my mind. 

But may the God of all grace who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10

Settle…to become or make calmer, quieter, adopt a more secure, steady life

Life is full of challenges and change. Life is full of people who are challenging. God is bigger than all of this.

Being a Christian does not mean life is easy, but it does mean never having to be alone.

Lord, settle me. Calm my racing, anxious mind. 

Sometimes, I allow my mind to travel to my favorite places of calm…


This calms me as I recite Scripture from memory.

Lord, settle me.

I encourage you to find some moments of quiet. Carve out some whitespace in your day.

And, Trust God to settle you.

Community

Some people have neatly put together living rooms. As I look around mine, it is a collection of mismatched furniture. I have an off-white love seat. I have a brown leather ottoman and chair. I have two recliners of slightly different tans-one a hand me down leather one, the other a soft microfiber design.

I think they come together okay, but I’m not one for interior design. I am more about what’s practical. If it still works, then why replace it?

Mismatched furniture. Slightly used. Heavily used. Each piece has a different story, a different origin yet it all comes together to create my safe place of home.

I am reflective this morning in my quiet living room filled with mismatched furniture. My thoughts are on people, the events of our world.

What about people? You and me? Do we accept people who are different from us? Those whose stories don’t match ours? 

I think of Jesus and how he reached out to those whom society called misfits and outcasts. He welcomed them, gave them hope and healing. It didn’t matter if they were mismatched from those whom society said were the acceptable group. Do we do that? Do our churches do this?

In times like this as our country braces for the uncertain impact of Hurricane Irma, there is one thing I am certain about. Tragedy brings us together. It won’t matter who is different or who is an “outcast” because Irma will not be selective. 

We need each other. Life is hard. 

I have been on my knees. I am burdened for Florida and others in the path of Irma and Jose who follows close behind. I have friends and family in Florida. Those in Texas are still recovering from the aftermath of Harvey. There are forest fires and earthquakes.

God never promised life would be easy but He has blessed us with the community of others to come together to support, encourage, and lift up one another despite our differences.

Maybe we’re not so different after all. We all have hopes and dreams. We all have fears. When mismatched people come together to lift each other up, He is there in the midst.

Let’s pray for others and lift one another up. Life is hard. We don’t have to do it alone. God never leaves our side. Reach out and love those who are hurting and need someone to be there. 

Bring some hope to a hurting world.

#prayerchangesthings

How big is your God?

Recently, I had a conversation with someone who told me that at her age, she was done growing. She did not see any need within herself to continue to grow.

It struck me as very sad and very prideful. I think that when we stop thinking we have opportunities to grow then we resign ourselves to a place of stagnant stuckness. We become stuck with the mindset we are enough. 

Having read Draw the Circle, the 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson three back to back times, I decided I needed to start something new. My friend bought me another one of Batterson’s books…In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. 

This morning, I read something about growth that really captures the essence of growth…”the more we grow, the bigger God should get. And the bigger God gets, the smaller our lions will become.” Mark Batterson
God is bigger than my fears. God is bigger than the barriers that seem to stand in the way of my dreams. God is bigger than my problems. God is bigger than the people who oppose me. God is bigger than anything or anyone I face.

In the midst of trouble, conflict, or anxiety, do I allow God the Glory to be bigger than all the odds that seem stacked up against me or do I shrink back in fear?

We all face lions in our lives. 

For me, the lion last night was the anxiety that awoke me from my sleep. Taking the advice of a dear friend, I pulled out my Bible and began to read the Psalms. This morning, I praised God for His peace and my ability to fall back asleep last night.

In the book of Joshua in chapter 1, three times in verses 1-9, Joshua is instructed to be strong and courageous. The Lord your God goes wherever you go.

Life is not perfect. There are obstacles out there. Not everyone is kind. Hurricanes are real. Jobs are lost. No, life is not easy, but when you have trusted God with your life, He goes with you. When we trust God with the challenges we face, He presents amazing opportunities for us to grow. If we are open to growing, He will grow us.

How big do you allow God to be in your life?


Living Stones

To linger here for just a few more minutes…

I love mornings tucked under a blanket with tea or coffee in hand. It is my quiet time to reflect on life and the Word before the day begins.

Last night, we attended our county Fair. The weeklong event draws upwards of 300,000 people to our small community. We walked the fair, visited with people, and rounded to our favorite fair food vendors. It was too much for me…the noise and crowd…I just wanted quiet. My husband and I agreed that the older we get, the less we enjoy crowds.

So, this morning, I am especially enjoying the quiet. In between devotional books to guide my morning time with God, I started to read 1 Peter and found myself fixated on the second chapter…living stones.

Stones can be used to build something up. Stones can also be used to tear someone or something down. We don’t usually think of stones as having living qualities, but figuratively, I like this analogy.

Stones. Are we living stones… building up others and encouraging them? If Jesus is the cornerstone of our lives, then we should be the living stones to share his goodness with others. First Peter 3:15…but sanctify the Lord your God in your hearts and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you. 

Today,  may we be living stones sharing the love and hope of Christ with others!!

Also, if anyone has suggestions for a devotional, please let me know. I just finished reading Draw the Circle, the 40 day prayer challenge, for the third time. I like devotionals that challenge me, are filled with spiritual truths, and incorporate Scripture reading. If you have not read Draw the Circle, I highly recommend it!!


The Power of our Belief in Prayer

When we start believing what we pray…

When we pray seeking what God desires for our lives and stop trying to figure everything out on our own…

When we seek Him first in prayer instead of turning to worry as our immediate response…

When we pray with a surrendered spirit and a trust in God’s goodness…

Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:24

Prayer is our communication with God. He wants to hear from us. He desires that connection with us. Prayer takes practice. Not sure what to pray or how to pray? Ask God to reveal to you what you need to be praying about. He will. He honors a faithful heart.