Thursday, December 17, 2015

I want to do something. Something significant. 

Not for recognition or pride. 

I want to do good for goodness sake. 

I want to be life giving, empowering. 

I want to point people to their loving Creator. 

But something paralyzes me. 
It's not fear. 
Not complacency. 
Not confusion. 
Not even comparison. 
It's a debilitating need to be different. 

A mental battle with conformity.

And sometimes it causes me to talk myself out of His work in me.

I can love people. But so can countless others. 
I could start a movement. 

But so many people are already moving in bigger and better ways. 
I have gifts. 

But they aren't unique. 

They are gifts shared by any number of humans everywhere. 

I'm just not that special. 

But this is what separates the humble from the holy: 

offering your simple gifts for His sacred purposes. 
Trusting the talents He has given. 

And knowing they were given to be offered back. 
What He makes of them is not for your concern. 
How and when He transforms the common into the consecrated is His secret alone. 
And even if I'm not in on the secret, I want to be a part of the whispered glory revealed in it. 
My talents aren't unique. 
But they are offered back. 
And the offering makes all the difference.

  1. What is your most overwhelming mental battle?  How does it cripple your effectiveness?
  2. What does it mean in your own life and with your own talents to offer your gifts in the way God plans to use them rather than the way you think they should be used?
  3. In what ways does offering yourself require strength?  In what ways does it also require weakness?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Do you think all women are desperate?"
His question surprised me because I had no idea where it was coming from.  
And the Super Girl in me bristled.
"Desperate for what?" I asked.  I'm pretty sure I also scowled a little.
"I was just listening to a radio program on the way home from work today and it was talking about the emotional desperation of all women."  
He looked right at me, waiting for my response.  He knows me. And he knew this wouldn't sit well.
I got up from the floor where I had just completed my third set of 20 push ups.  Red faced and feeling the blood pumping through my arms I answered him simply, "no".  

Before I was even born, I was fatherless.  The world just isn't a safe place for children.  Maybe that's the real reason that we are all born with fisted hands.  
We have to come out ready to fight.  I came slowly and painfully to my first breath of life and into the arms of a mama who loved me completely and grandparents 
who saw me as their gift of joy and repayment for all the pain the world had inflicted upon them.  I was cherished and treasured and adored.  But I was never 
Daddy's little girl.  I'm sure I babbled on and on about "dadadadadadada" in my first year, as most babies do.  But there was no dada to light up with joy and puff 
his chest out with pride at the sound of his name emerging from my drooling lips.  And even though I was surrounded on every side by people who poured love out 
to me in such great amounts that I could have very well drowned in it if they weren't also the people who carried me through deep waters, there was a part of my 
heart that felt forsaken.  A part of my tiny girl soul that cried out for his strong arms to wrap around me and the stubble on his chin to get caught in my hair when 
he leaned down to kiss my forehead.  I needed daddy.

Thirty seven years and countless challenges, disappointments, joys, emotional pits, and life lessons later, I realize the strength that follows need.  
There is a deep need in you to be valued.
There is a deep need in you to be loved.
There is a deep need in you to be cherished.
There is a deep need in you to be connected.
These are not weaknesses.  They are human needs.  Placed there by the God who carefully crafted every aspect of your heart.
In you there is also strength. 
In you there is also resilience.
In you there is also the ability to peer down into the well of need in another heart, pull your own bucket from its depths, and pour into their emptiness.  
And through some miracle that we may never fully comprehend, to see life giving water rise to the brim of your own well as a result.
Strength, for the woman of God, isn't what gives you power over another person.  Strength is what gives you the power to lift another person higher.
But how do you turn a need into the ability to meet one?
By seeing yourself in others.  

Being a woman of strength requires a willingness to use that strength to benefit others.
Using your gifts and grit for another's growth and good.

  1. Are your life experiences solely for your lessons learned, or are they useful for bringing strength to others?  Have you been using them for that purpose?
  2. Are there areas of your life where you are still letting old scars tighten the skin around your heart?  If so, how is that working for you?  And how can you, instead, let God make those scars work for Him?
  3. In your weakness, He is strong.  Daily remind yourself that weakness is not failure or punishment, it is a beautiful opportunity for the Spirit of God make you more dependent upon Him.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

I've been contemplating recently what it means to be a woman.
Specifically, a woman who is a follower of Christ.
Scripture talks about women having "a gentle and quiet spirit". 
Many of us read this and our hackles go up. 
We fear that "gentle" means "weak".
But I'm quite sure that it doesn't.
Gentleness is spiritual fruit.
Spiritual fruit comes straight from the Spirit of God.  It is His character being fleshed out in our lives.
Therefore, God is gentle.
And God is not weak.
So, gentleness and weakness are not synonymous.
I believe it's actually the opposite. 
Gentleness is the height of strength.  
It is a characteristic of Christ, and not counteractive of leadership and confidence.
True gentleness is a rarely found mix of fortitude and nurture.
It's a choice to acknowledge your power, but to make that power submissive to your love.
There is a beautiful courage in the gentle spirit.

Imagine something known to be strong.  Like wildfire.  It possesses power and strength.  But it lacks control.  There is no gentleness.  

Now picture a tame horse. Think of how this powerful beast allows her handler to lead her, discipline her, direct her.  Consider her gentleness with riders and the delicate manner in which she takes an apple from the hand of a child.  Is it because she's weak?  Not at all!  A horse is strong, her presence commanding and her power potentially intimidating.  She knows her strength.  And she chooses gentleness.  

Acknowledging your power to harm or heal is a choice.
Awareness of your actions and responsibilities is a choice.
Doing your very best to be gentle is a choice.
But ultimately, true godly gentleness isn't yours to choose or achieve.

Gentleness is not inherent to my human heart.
But it is inherent to the Spirit living in me.

My inclination is to exert my power and will.
His invitation is to give me the gift of living in His power and will.

Gentleness is one of my weaknesses.
A place in my heart where Christ in me makes all the difference.

  1. How have you defined gentleness?  As a weakness or as a strength?
  2. What do you believe about the Spirit of God?  Does allowing the Spirit to be strong in your weakness make you feel weaker or stronger?
  3. And the big question, HOW do we let God produce spiritual fruit in us and what role does our own will and choice play in it?