Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pretty is as pretty does!

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4)

I have had an image problem every since grade school. It started when I got glasses in 5th grade. Other girls had prettier clothes, curly hair, and straighter teeth. Most of my clothes were handed down to me from my sister who was 17 months older than me. My hair was straight and my teeth were crooked.

My mom always tried her best, though, to focus on what was on the inside but still, the world tried to draw me to only what was on the outside (my appearance).

Two of my mom's favorite sayings were 1)"Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes all the way to the bone" (meaning, just because someone might look nice they could be mean and cruel and that is what leaves a lasting impression with people, not the fact that they looked pretty on the outside) and 2)"Pretty is as pretty does" (that was usually followed up with--and because you just did that, you aren't so pretty right now).

As a mom, I have wanted to instill in my children how precious and beautiful they are. They have all heard the 1 Peter 3:3-4 verses shared above but I try at every opportunity to show them what that actually looks like in the world (even for my boys).

Recently, my daughter's basketball team had a series of basketball games they played in order to compete at the trophy level. All season, their coaches had taught them important skills to play a fair and great game of basketball as a team. In their most recent games, they truly displayed what Peter called "the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet spirit". They played well, they played fair, they knew they were to submit to their authority (coaches and referees), and I truly saw all 13 of them display true beauty.

Yes, it was difficulty when the other team broke the tie and won within the last 20 seconds of the game. The other team along with their coaches had not displayed the same fairness in play and submission to authority BUT I was so proud of how my daughter's team responded. (Not saying there weren't a few tears.) After the game, I game each girl a hug and whispered in her ear how proud I was of her.

We must all answer to a higher authority one day. What is on the inside needs to be the most important thing in our lives. We may look good on the outside but how do we respond to pressure, unfair treatment, stress... Others are watching us to see how we handle things.

Pretty is as pretty does!!! Would others be able to see that on the inside, you are truly a beautiful person by how you interact with others, encourage a friend who is struggling,...?

I want to challenge you to do some self-reflection. True beauty starts on the inside and should ooze out. Are you oozing with beauty?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Competing in the Games

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." (1 Cor. 9:24-25)

Only the best of the best even make it to the Olympics. I love listening to the stories of how various Olympic athletes have persevered and made it to the Olympic games. Often, various members of the athlete's family are interviewed. Stories of races won and races lost have gone into making that particular athlete the best they can be.

Athletic training takes lots and lots of time, energy, and money. It is important to try and get the best coach, spend hours and hours honing skills and strengthening muscles.

As a skier myself, I know a little of what it takes to actually ski down a slolam course (and survive) but clearly not at the top speeds of the world's greatest athletes. As a mom, I am trying to instill the importance of hardwork into my children. As I sit and watch the Olympics with them, we marvel at the precision of each athlete when they are competing.

As a Christian mom, I cannot help but think that ultimately, I want my children (and myself) to recognize that everyday we should be training to share Christ with others, treat others as Christ would do, and build others up in their faith. We can only do that if we have studied God's truths in scripture (just as an Olympian studies their chosen sport).

I desire to get the crown that will last forever and I desire that for each of my children. Teaching them God's Word, teaching them how to study God's Word for themselves, and then living it out daily is important for our training.

I challenge you to not only run the race Christ has set before you but do it in such as way as to win the prize--the crown Christ Himself will give us.

With love and perseverance,

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tuesday Truths-Encouragement

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13

"I can't go any further" said my 8 year old as we were skiing down one of the green/blue (easy/intermediate) runs at a ski resort in Colorado. It was our first time out this year, my youngest son was going through the same emotions that my other 2 kids had gone through also about this age.

I was so proud of my older kids (14 yr old and 18 yr old) for offering encouragement to their younger brother the entire time we skied. It wasn't easy for them though. My oldest loves to ski the black diamond runs (expert terrain) with my husband. My daughter enjoys the nice blue (intermediate) runs and an occasion black run with me. It took alot of reminding for them to realize that they had both been in the same position in years past.

Since today was my daughter's birthday, it was a great time to gently remind her of a time when she refused to ski down the rest of the mountain too when I was pregnant with her little brother. Thankfully, my father-in-law was there to carry her skiis while I gave her a piggyback ride the rest of the way down the mountain. While a few people gave me some strange looks, several women (they had to be mothers) just smiled at me and offer a nod of encouragement as I skied past them with my crying daughter on my back. We made it safely to the bottom of the mountain that day just as we did today with my son.

I have discovered that the a warm cup of hot chocolate after a hard ski day "hits the spot" for children as well as adults.

Throughout scripture believers are told to encourage one another. Why you might ask. Everyone needs occasional encouragement. At various times in our lives, we all go through periods of physical, emotional, or spiritual tiredness. It is at those times we need to hear words of encouragement from others. Encouragement can come in the form of a smile, a hug, a note in the mail from a friend, an email, a posting on their FB, blog, or twitter account.

The Lord can also offer us encouragement during times of prayer and reading His Word. If you have memorized scripture, sometimes, God brings a scripture to our thoughts at just the right time during the week. There are so many ways God can offer us encouragement.

My first challenge for you (and myself) today is to pray for God's sensitivity for others regarding the area of encouragement. Since there are no coincidences only God-incidences, ask Him to put you in the right place at the right time to be His instrument of encouragement to others as they need it.

My second challenge for you it to allow others believers in Christ to serve Him by encouraging you on those days when you need encouragement. Too often, we want to give to others but we feel funny being on the receiving end. Let others be obedient to God's direction to them. Let them minister to you when you need it.

Be encouraged today. May God's peace fill you with hope, love, and encouragement.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Treasures-Family is Sacrifice

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." (Matthew 1:18-19)

In the movie Spy Kids 2, Carmen and Junie try to protect their parents from being killed by destroying a homing device that their father implanted in their teeth. While Junie is uncertain about destroying the device, Carmen assures him it is the only way to save their parents. "Family is sacrifice" Carmen tell her brother. They are willing to sacrifice themselves to save their country but do not want their parents to be killed too.

I cannot image the sacrifice that both Mary and Joseph made some 2,000 years ago.
Mary's sacrifice:
To be willing to have Joseph and her parents question her character, loyalty, and virginity;
To be willing to have people in her town ridicule her (and her family) because of her condition;
To be uncertain about what her future would hold.

Joseph's sacrifice:
To be willing to have his family and the town ridicule him for still wanting to wed Mary;
To be willing to wait to be intimate with his wife Mary until after Christ was born;
To be willing to raise a son (his wife's first born) who was not his biologically.

Christ's sacrifice:
To be willing to leave His Heavenly home to come to earth in the form of a baby;
To be willing to live in a sin-filled world, see sin with his own eyes (upclose and personal), forgive the sinner who repents, and die on the cross for each and every human-being on earth so that we would not have to pay the price of our sins.

The lists above could go on and on.
To Sacrifice-to risk something; to be willing to give up something for the sake of another; to help someone by giving up something of value.

Christ loves us so much that He was willing to give up His Heavenly home for a period of time in order to show us how to become a part of His family. Mary and Joseph opened up their hearts and their lives to God's perfect plan of what a family looked like. They received Christ, the perfect sacrifice, into their family with love, awe, wonder, and a knowledge that God had a plan to save the world.

On this wonderful Christmas morning, my prayer is that you feel a part of God's family. Family is sacrifice!!! If you are in God's family, what sacrifice do you need to make in order to welcome others into the family of Christ? Will it be the sacrifice of time, money, or your talents to let others come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior?

If you are not a part of God's family, my prayer is that you are willing to open up your heart to allow His love for you to enter in. Becoming a part of the family of believers in Christ is simple, pray and ask God to forgive your sins, let Him know that you need His love and guidance, and ask Him to take control of your life (to be your Lord and Savior). Thank Him also for coming to earth in human form, for dying on the cross for your sins, and for sacrificing so much for you to become a part of His family.

Family is sacrifice!!! Welcome to Christ's family,
Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday Truths-Jealousy

"Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 'Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?' they asked. 'Hasn't he also spoken through us!' And the Lord heard this." (Numbers 12:1)

The Christmas season is a season filled with joy, laughter, gift-giving thoughts, and feasting. But if we are not careful, it can also be a season filled with jealousy. Jealousy over whose house in the neighborhood has the best Christmas light display, whose tree has the coolest decorations, who has hosted the funnest holiday party, who has gotten their Christmas cards out by the first week in December (clearly, not me), and who has created the most wonderful Christmas cookie delights at the local cookie exchange. The list is endless.

Obviously, jealousy issues began thousands of years ago as we can see from Miriam's example. The Lord does not like it any more today than He did back then. Miriam and Aaron were jealous of the ministry God had given Moses. Their thoughts of jealousy gave way to conversations of jealousy.

So it is with our thought life also. When we allow jealous thoughts to be entertained in our mind, Satan wants nothing more than to encourage us to take the next step. Thoughts of jealousy turn into to words and actions of jealousy.

I have changed the words of a popular children's song just a bit. I hope you find it to be as thought provoking as I did:
Oh be careful little mind what you think, Oh be careful little mind what you think, for the Father above is looking down in love, Oh be careful little mind what you think.

Oh be careful little mouth what you say, Oh be careful little mouth what you say, for the Father above is looking down with love, Oh be careful little mouth what you say.

The key to combating the problem of jealousy is to ask God to take every thought of ours captive to His good and perfect will for our lives. Jealousy pits one person against another. During the season of Christmas, our focus should be on uniting with fellow believers to share Christ with the world.

During this wonderful, joyous season, others are watching for our responses, our actions, and our words to see if they line up with the Christ that we say we follow all year long. I know for myself, I need to daily ask God to take every thought captive so that it is pleasing to Him. My children are watching. My family members and friends are listening.

Who is watching and listening to your words and actions this Christmas season?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday Wisdom-Do you gloat?

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls, when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice" (Proverbs 24:17)

It never fails to amaze me when I watch a movie with an obvious "villian", that my heart begins to do a "you deserved that" dance when the good guy prevails and the villian gets his due. We are continuously told in society that "justice will prevail".

What I have discovered is that, while it is ok for justice to prevail (the robber getting caught and going to jail for stealing a car), it is not ok for people to mock and call out not so nice names to the person who did the wrong.

The word gloat means "to gaze or think with malicious pleasure" (Webster's New World Dictionary, 4th ed.). Wow. Malicious pleasure sounds so mean and evil.

When someone at work gets caught doing something unethical, do I automatically think-well, they deserve whatever punishment they get OR do I wonder, what made them make that choice? Do I pray for them and ask God to reveal Himself to them? Is my reaction simply an inward reaction or also an outward reaction so my peers also know how I feel about the situation?

How you and I respond to situations when other stumble often reveals alot about our character also. Do you show compassion, kindness, forgiveness, or gentleness toward those who have been not so kind to you?

Sometimes the best way to win someone to Christ is to show them character qualities of Christ (pray for the fruit of the spirit). Only through prayer and humility (quiet and gentle strength-->not doormat status for those who might be confused about what that word means) can any of us respond in a Godly way.

My prayer for you (and myself) is that God will help me to not gloat when an enemy stumbles or falls but to see them through the eyes of Christ. May He give each of us His perspective. What situation (work, family, or community related) do you need to lift up to Him in prayer?

In His Service and with much love,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday Wisdom

"Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you." (Genesis 13:17)

The first thing I remember doing after we bought our first home was walk into each and every room of the house. I wanted to really get to know each room. I studied the closets, the windows, and doors,... I wanted to know every square inch of it.

I did something similar when each of my three children were born. I must have studied their faces, their hands, their breathing noises, and little sounds they made for hours upon hours. I wanted to get to know them deeply for they were mine (or at least they were on loan to me from God).

In Genesis 13, when God told Abraham that He was giving him all he could see to the north, south, east, and west, Abraham knew it to be true. God told him to walk the land's length and breadth. God wanted Abraham to get to know this land He was giving him. I think that is when the idea of "prayer walking" got it's start.

I cannot imagine walking every piece of that land and not doing anything but daydreaming. Abraham had to be singing the praises of God, thanking Him for all that He had just given him.

As I thought about that, I wondered, have I walked every area of the property God has given to my family? No. I have not. Have I praised Him for all He has given me? I earnestly try to do so. Have I praised Him for my husband and my kids? You bet!!!

Well, I have a new idea of were to go hiking now. We have several acres and a few barns on our property. When the weather allows and there is a bit of free time, I will be hiking the length and breadth of what the Lord has given me and my family.

Consider your property (whether rented or purchased). Do you know it well? Have you praised God for it? If not, don't delay. Getting to know your property (land, house, car,and family) and praising God for it and praying over it is a great way to connect with God.