I have a friend, we’ll call her Tracy…mainly, because that's her name, and she gave me permission to share this story.
Tracy’s job between now and June 6 is to get me in "mother of the bride" shape. This is no small task, mind you. I really can’t think of anything I dislike more than exercise, except maybe surgery without anesthesia. Though I haven’t tried that, I’m pretty sure it would beat out exercise for my least favorite thing.
Anyway, the other day, as I pulled into her driveway and parked, Julie, another friend was headed to her car.
“She’s in A MOOD,” Julie informed me.
I felt a panicky feeling begin to rise up in me. What does ‘in a mood’ mean, exactly?
“She almost killed me,” Julie continued as she climbed into her car.
“Well that’s just great,” I thought to myself. Julie is in much better shape than me, so I knew I was sunk. There was no way I could survive if my friend who runs for fun almost died.
As I headed to the front door, my mind began messing with me. When I reached the front door, which is a big, heavy door, I realized that the doorknob was higher than the normal knob and it was gia-normous too… which made me feel intimidated and small - like Alice in Wonderland.
When I opened the door she was standing there, smiling.
“Are you in a mood? Because Julie said you were…” I started.
“What? No,” she assured me as she waved me off with her hand and headed for the stairs. AND I followed her.
As we made our way down the stairs to the basement she said, “You’re really not going to like me after today.”
Well, there it was!
And the hot flashes started.
I am in that delightful stage of life where my internal thermostat is struggling. There are a few things that set the hot flashes off. One would be heat, which is problematic because I live in the south and I own a blow dryer. And the other is anxiety, which I was in the full throws of.
Now listen, I have known Tracy for all of my adult life. I have never picked up on any “sinisterismness”. She has always been friendly and kindhearted. I have never been afraid of her…until now.
For the next hour, she made me do things I would never do left to myself. She wanted me to strengthen my core. “I don’t think I have one,” I told her.
She would say things like, “I know this is hard…you only have 50 more.” Evil I tell you, just evil. And she smiled the entire time.
She corrected my incorrect posture, showed me how to do certain things, and explained how each exercise was beneficial to me even though I was convinced each one was going to kill me.
She told me to do things that in my mind were just too stinking hard and then wouldn’t let me not do them.
Just a little side note: exercise also brings on hot flashes.
At one point, she opened the door to let some cool air in. My mind screamed, “RUN”, but the rest of me said, “It is just so not going to happen.”
To Tracy’s credit, she was very encouraging. She would say things like, “Good job”, and “I know you can do this.”
When I got in my car to drive home, I had two thoughts.
1. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
2. “Where is my ibuprofen?”
As I drove home another thought occurred to me. Just as I need Tracy to come along side me with my physical conditioning, I also need friends to come along beside me with my spiritual conditioning. I need to put myself under strong Godly instruction. I need to seek out those wiser than me and learn from them. I need to surround myself with friends who are also in training. The Bible calls those kinds of relationships iron sharpening iron relationships.
I had asked Tracy for help, and she was doing exactly what I had asked her to do, and she did it well. Truthfully, if it weren’t for her presence, I would not have finished. Okay, while I’m being honest here, I would have cheated on counting the reps, too. It’s true. Sad, but true.
As much as we desire to follow Christ, the truth is, there are times when we face things that just seem too hard. There are times when we just want to do what we have to do to get by, or we just flat out want to quit.
We need sisters standing beside us encouraging us. But we also need them standing beside us lovingly pointing out when our spiritual posture is not correct or when we have become lax in our training and conditioning. Not so we feel beat up, but so we become stronger and healthier in our spiritual walk.
I am blessed to have such sisters.
If you don’t, let me encourage you to consider finding some for yourself. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Seek out a wise Godly woman.
2. Ask her to help you – just like I asked Tracy.
3. Give her full permission to speak truth into your life – even if it is hard or it hurts.
4. Trust her, listen to her, follow her guidance.
5. Meet with her on a consistent, regular basis.
6. Let her see your weaknesses and struggles. Drop the mask.
You will be amazed at the transformation.
Have a great week!
Yesterday, I was led to share something about my past that I didn’t want to share, especially because it was in front of someone whose approval is very important to me. For the rest of the day, my heart was heavy. I found myself struggling with why sharing this particular part of my story was causing so much hurt in my heart. I have shared parts of my story many times before, and though it has never been easy, I've never experienced emotions quite like this.
I found a quiet space to just sit still before my Father, and I asked for help. As I sat there, the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, gently shed light on what was happening.
A good bit of my story revolves around things that happened in my life before I came to a saving knowledge of my Lord and Savior. But, this particular part of my story happened after Jesus saved me from my wicked and sinful self.
Before Christ, I sinned against a God I didn’t know, but now, when I sin, I sin against a Father I do know, and that makes the sin all the more grievous to me. I thought about the disciple, Peter. What incredible heartbreak Peter felt when he looked into Jesus’s eyes as he realized in full whom he had sinned against. I was feeling that heartache.
I want to make sure you understand that my struggle was not with whether or not I had been forgiven. When we repent of our sins, God takes them and throws them as far as the east is from the west, and He remembers them no more. I believe that with all my heart, so I knew that there was no place for condemnation.
So why the broken heart?
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. No one knows with certainty what that thorn was, but Paul explained that it had a purpose:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (verses 7-12)
I found myself agreeing with Paul. I will be glad for my thorns. The pain reminds me of who I am apart from Christ and let me tell you…that keeps me in a humble place. It reminds me that His grace is precious and all I need. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to be strong on my own; that when I am at my weakest, He does His most powerful and amazing work.
I found myself gladly embracing my broken heart. In fact, I always want my heart to be broken when I am called to revisit those dark places because on the heels of the heartache is the sweet reminder that I am a cherished child of the Most High God. I always want to be amazed that He would saved one as wretched as me because when that reality sinks deep into the inner most parts of my heart, I find myself loving Him more and more.
Who is like our God?
This blog is from my young friend, Ben Jackson. After reading his blogs and hearing his story, I wanted to share one with you. He is a testimony to the powerful influence of Godly mentors and to the incredible influence of a Godly mother who pointed him toward Christ and who never gave up on him, even during the tough years.
Instant gratification and contentment are daily stumbling blocks in my life.
Boy, that was a depressing first statement, wasn’t it? Let’s try that again.
When I was a little boy, I always wanted to be a big boy. When in middle school, I couldn’t wait to be a high schooler. In high school, I couldn’t wait til I graduated. The X’s and O’s changed through the years, but the desires never did. I’m going to try and assemble my thoughts as well as I can here – what the Lord is showing me in my life currently – and it is a strange blend of rest, seasons, thankfulness and his holiness.
This past year brought more challenges than I bargained for. The physical, earthly things were manageable – full time job, full load of college classes, volunteering with Young Life – but I battled contentment inwardly. I did not want to live in Sumter this year. I was unhappy, and felt like I was missing out from all the “big college” fun that so many friends of mine went off to experience. It doesn’t sound like I battled too much – it may sound like I was simply feeling sorry for myself (which I was). But what I came to realize is this: for weeks and months into this year, my sin was dominating me.
And then comes Jesus.
“His master replied, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many. Come and share your master’s happiness.” –Matthew 25:21
In a study I did recently I was to write the names of those people who influenced and encouraged me in my faith. One of the persons I quickly wrote down was my step-grandmother who we called “Granny”. I have the best memories of going to her and Papa’s house in Georgia. My cousins and I did everything from climbing on giant rolls of hay, to taking dried tobacco leaves off the sticks from which we got 2 cent per stick! After our days work, Papa and Granny would take us to an old country store at which I would buy a Yoohoo chocolate milk and a moon pie with the money I earned. I remember “pulling candy” during a cane grinding at which a wonderful, thick cane syrup was made before our eyes. And I remember hunting for easter eggs behind the chicken houses on a place mom called “steep hill”. Steep hill was covered in violets and live oak trees. After the hunt we would ride in the back of my Papa’s truck and eat some of the eggs we found. My cousin always brought the salt shaker and we shared our eggs. She ate the whites and I ate the yolks. Oh my goodness, the sights and sounds in my memory are so rich from those days! Some of you may have memories just like these.
The memories of those days that shaped my life the most were not of syrup and moon pies though, they were of watching my Granny live out her faith. Every night she would come in the rooms my brother and I were sleeping in and pray over us in her loud yet loving voice. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t value it at the time. In the mornings, I remember waking up to her vibrating, heavy footsteps entering the bathroom and then having the headboard rattle when the door shut. A few moments later, Granny’s voice would begin reading scripture out loud. I could hear it clearly through the walls of that old farmhouse as it echoed around my bedroom. I remember thinking that reading scripture is nice but wouldn’t God be okay with it just as well a little later in the day… like when I was awake! The mind of a child through the generations has always been about “me, myself and I” hasn’t it!
The reason these memories are in the forefront of my mind today is because I just received a facebook notification from one of my cousins that Granny isn’t doing well. Hospice has been called in and the usual loud, loving voice has become quiet and weak. I haven’t seen her in a very long time and for that I have regrets. She influenced my walk with my heavenly father more than I had ever realized to this point. I wish she knew that. I wish I had visited more and told her how much her early morning readings meant to me during my childhood and now. Somehow I have to believe she knows that though and when she enters the pearly gates the Lord will greet her with the words “Well done my good and faithful servant”.
We may be having a lasting effect on someone listening to us right now … let’s make it count.
A wise friend once told me that the biggest adjustment a mom has to make in child rearing comes when she has more kids than she has hands. After that, it’s all over.
“Throw sanity out the window,” she told me.
She was right.
Two little ones were doable. It wasn’t always easy, but it was doable. Then came number three. “Have mercy, Lord,” was prayed under breath a lot in those days.
My wise friend also told me, “Once who have more than two, you might as well keep going because four is no harder than three.”
What kind of idiotic theory is that? But, much to my surprise, number four came, and I found that she was correct. In fact, it might even be easier because by that point, you are more seasoned and much wiser. Yeah, and truthfully, by that point you’re tired and just don’t really care anymore. You come to realize that God knows you are completely worn out and He assigns an angel to protect your children because goodness knows you aren’t capable anymore.
Not long after my first son was born, I remember sitting in the nursery rocking him to sleep when out of the blue I realized that one day, I would have to give him away. It felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I still remember the sadness that fell over me as the reality that one day some “bad girl” would take my boy from me sank in. Seriously, I already didn’t like her and I didn’t even know if she had been born yet. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that.
A little later, I confessed my struggle to a mother whose son had just married. She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “You better start praying about that now, because it will happen.”
“Where have all the heroes gone?” That question was posed to me not too long ago.
I tried to remember my childhood heroes, but I drew a blank. I guess men in capes and tights just don’t stick with you for long. Even into teenage and young adult years I couldn’t recall many.
When you think about a hero, who comes to your mind? What are the qualifiers?
Adler Felix said, “The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.”
I know this is something that we have all shared about before but I have really been pondering this lately. Dickie Jones, our Sunday school teacher, has taught a few lessons on this topic for the last couple of weeks and it got me to thinking. I do think we should share our stories with each other, sometimes our failures are much easier to share because who wants to sound “braggy” with our successes? As a body of believers, we should be there to build up each other in failures and also celebrate our victories. How will we know what’s going on if we don’t “post it”, “pin it”, or “pass it on”? It’s all about making connections just as Jesus did when He shared His stories and parables. So, if we are to be like Jesus… it’s all about our relationships and making connections with other people. The Lord has blessed each of us with a story to tell; He gives us all different experiences to share. Then when we go out, like the disciples, we try to make our connections. We glean something from each story that is shared and then we pass that on to someone else. All of this to build our Christ community and to be His hands, feet, and voice to everyone we meet.
We recently had a few friends over for the holidays. The house was decorated and my husband wanted to cook so we invited a few people over for dinner. Everything was very last minute, nothing really planned. Most of the guests who came were called the day of the dinner party. We used paper everything - please don’t tell my mom! I didn’t even have a dessert ready; we just ate the delicious treats that our guests graciously brought. Truth be known, I did not even vacuum or sweep the floors (gasp!) and guess what, despite the lack of planning or cleaning we had a great time. We enjoyed visiting and fellowshipping with our friends and not one of them minded the unswept floors or the last minute invitations, or if they did they were too sweet to say anything. I love my friends!
We love to tell stories in our family. Not the “lie” kind of stories - though we do have issues there. The stories I’m talking about are more like the retelling of something that happened kind of stories. Some of us are so good at it that we can take a mediocre event and turn it into a jaw-dropping story to end all stories. In fact, if you were to be present at the event and then at the retelling of the event, you might not even recognize it.
To say we exaggerate is somewhat of an understatement. And no, we do not consider exaggerating to be lying. The thought is this; if you’re going to make people listen to your story, at least make it worth their while.
I love telling stories, except for the ones that are less flattering.
Welcome to our blog page! We hope you will find stories here to encourage you.
We would love for you to share your story with us. Click the button above to send us a story about what God is doing in your life.