Being Strong Doesn’t Look the Same for Everyone

beingstrong

I listened intently to Christine Caine yesterday as she discussed today’s Christian women and the challenges they face. And since then, I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head that being strong doesn’t look the same for everyone.

I mean, I have a friend whose husband is working long hours on a job that he really needs. She cares for 4 children at home, doing laundry and helping with homework, making meals and managing a household,  all while volunteering at church and loving on her sweet 4 month old baby. Because we’re friends, I know her past. And man, she is so strong.

Strength looks like being a homemaker.

Then there’s a pastor’s wife I know and love. Heartbroken that her childbearing years were cut short, she made it through to God’s plan of adoption as a means of adding to their family. She works two jobs while her husband is in ministry full-time; they have four children, including their adopted child who has special needs that require going the extra mile. Extenuating circumstances have tried to beat her down, but she keeps going.

Strength looks like being a pastor’s wife.

There’s an author I know and love who has written many incredible books. If you met her in person, you’d never believe the abuse and absolutely crazy life she’s endured, yet she is joy-filled and radiant. It’s hard to believe that depression and distress has gripped her in the past; she is flat-out strong.

Strength looks like being an author.

I know a girl who has worked incredibly hard as soon as she was old enough to get a job. She puts everything into her studies and has made excellent grades for years upon years of schooling. In spite of financial obstacles and hurdles, she is headed to begin her last three years of medical training this fall. As many times as she might have felt like giving up, she didn’t; because she.is.strong.

Strength looks like being a student.

A mama hangs out by the bedside of her dying girl right now. She wanted to say goodbye to her baby at home, but the struggle was so great that they moved to hospice. Each day this week she is counting the number of times she gets to say “I love you.” Her only hope for the moment is that her baby girl who has lived with disease is hearing her whispers. I can’t wrap my mind around her strength.

Strength looks like being a mother.

A speaker stands before a crowd of church people, declaring that women in today’s church need to be recognized as leaders. That the world needs Jesus more than ever and we must tell others about his great love for us. She reads a Bible passage I’ve personally never heard preached and talks about how important the role of women was in the ministry of Jesus while he was here on this earth. (Luke 8:1-3) She boldly declares truth about the need for strong women in today’s society and that these women must be willing to be used of God. And I think to myself…

Strength looks like being a preacher.

A woman I barely know has made an incredible impression on me. Though she is a full-time nurse and well-respected professor, every few months she travels to a far away African orphanage and village. There she has almost single-handedly transformed many lives through providing glasses for those who cannot see and foot care for those who have no shoes. Her personal approach to following through on God’s whispers to her heart is more than admirable- it is strength.

Strength looks like being a nurse.

I don’t know your background, your education, or your career.

I don’t care if you stay at home, work part-time, or work outside the home.

It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do on a daily basis.

If Jesus is your Savior, then you are a daughter of the King.

He promises to provide you with strength wherever you are.

He will lift you up when you are down.

His Word will transform you from a weak woman to a worthy warrior.

Being strong doesn’t look the same for everyone.

You

Are

Strong.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7

Psalm 287

Who do you know that needs to be reminded of his strength today?

Rachel

Questions about God from A Kindergartener

questions about God

Recently my kindergarten girl, Tarah, has been thinking on her own more and more. You know that stage when children start to ask all kinds of questions? She’s there. In the thick of it. Oh, she went through the typical 3 year old stage of questions. That’s a standard age for asking the proverbial “Why?”

You need to sit down on the chair.

Why?

Because you could get hurt standing on the chair.

Why?

Because the chair might tip over.

Why?

Because it isn’t made for standing, you’re supposed to sit on the chair.

Why?

Yep, I know you get it. Some days that loop feels as terrible the local park merry-go-round in 2nd grade when I almost hurled on this mean kid, Jack, who wouldn’t stop when I said. Whew. But I digress.

Tarah’s recent two questions about God are good ones. The first one?

What does God do?

“Well, Sweetie, “What doesn’t God do?” might be a better question.

He holds the planets in space and keeps them in the necessary place so that everything moves in order.

He keeps the sun hot and the moon lit. He gives stars their extra twinkles just so we can stare up in wonder.

In the winter, He freezes the ground and provides beautiful snowflakes. This gives the earth a short rest in order to be prepared to make life fresh and new again. In the spring, He brings all the trees to life with new buds and He delivers fresh flowers right in our yard. In the summer, He keeps the sun shiny and knows just when we need rain. In the fall, He produces good fruits and vegetables for us to pick in the garden.

Not only does He take care of the whole universe and the whole earth, but he also takes care of all the people on the earth. He listens to our cares and answers our prayers. He shares our hurts and He celebrates our joys. He loves us so much that no matter how busy He is, He can never be too busy. You see, God is everywhere. He’s not limited to one place like we are. He can see and hear everything that is happening in the whole wide world and He even knows everything you are thinking. God does so, so much that Mommy can’t even tell you about all the things He does. He is that wonderful.”

Does God know His numbers?

“Oh, wow. That’s a great question. Yes, God surely knows His numbers. He knows His numbers so well that there is no number too far for God to count. The Bible tells us specifically that God knows every hair on our heads and how many are there. Remember that day you cut your hair without asking Mommy? God knew about that the very moment that you did it. But you know what else? There is something that God doesn’t keep track of. Once we have asked Jesus for forgiveness of our sins, God doesn’t count them. He doesn’t even remember them. He loves us so much that He stops counting our sins. Instead, He counts how much He loves us. There is no way we could ever count that high.”

And the sweet Tarah had more food for thought…

For You

When was the last time you stopped counting your sins…or maybe someone else’s sins… and you started trying to count how much love God has for you?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:14-19

Oh how I love this passage. Sometimes I think we, as grown Christian adults, resort back to thinking like my kindergarten girl. At least I know I do. I forget that God is never too busy for me. In fact, He craves time with me. Little ol’ me! And no matter how much He is doing, He can’t stop being who He is. And He’s not counting my sins, mercy, no. He just wants me to ask him for forgiveness. His love is just that big and bigger!

Are you feeling like you just can’t understand what God is doing in your life? Maybe a few moments of reflecting on the passage above is just what you need to remember who God is.

God does so much for you, yet He is never too busy for you.

He craves time with you and loves you far more than you can ever count.

His love for you is so huge that you can’t wrap your mind around it, yet this is the very fact that offers the strength to keep going.

May you begin to know and feel the warmth of His love wrapped all the way around you today.

Rachel

Victory Belongs to the Lord

Welcome to Friday and the weekly Bible reading challenge check-in! When I first introduced the 2015 Bible Reading Challenge, I explained how I felt the Lord was directing me to focus on the book of Proverbs. Since then, in the last two weeks, my pastor encouraged the church to read Proverbs 3:1-15 every day for a week- more Proverbs. I began The Best Yes Bible study by Lysa Terkeurst and the focus is on wisdom, centered in Proverbs. I have been reading Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman and a portion of her book is focused in Proverbs. Pretty incredible!

This week we read Proverbs chapters 16-22. It’s going to be tough because these passages are so rich; but let’s take a look at the highlights this week, shall we?

Proverbs 16

Chapter 16 provides two contrasting views throughout the chapter. One is who God is and what he does; the second is who man is and what he does. Throughout the chapter, we find reassurance of God’s character. I had a conversation with my brother-in-law about the book of Proverbs and he mentioned a term I hadn’t heard or thought of before. “Proverbs is often referred to as “bumper sticker theology.”” Not because it’s cheap talk. It’s just packed full of message in a few words.

Which verse was your focus verse of this chapter?

Proverbs 17

This chapter seems to focus on wisdom in relationships. How we treat others and how we communicate with others were noted throughout the verses. I highlighted a few different lines from this chapter. Let’s see if ours match:

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. v. 5

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. v. 9

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. v. 22

Did any of these verses jump off the page into your heart?

Proverbs 18

Wow, this chapter seems to be another one focused on controlling our tongues and using our words wisely. The second verse immediately wraps up the largest problem of a fool- he loves to express his own opinion, before he pauses long enough to understand a situation. (I had to wonder if Solomon might have been predicting future social media. But then I remembered there is no new thing under the sun. )

Proverbs 19

I could see a recurring idea of the importance of disciplines, both mental and physical. Solomon is admonishing his son to focus on getting understanding. And he mentions that oversleeping is a bad idea too. Chapter 19 is chocked full of tidbits of wisdom. My husband and I had a conversation about this today and he mentioned, “I feel like you could study one Proverb a day.” Hmmmm. Thinking on that still.

Proverbs 20

Chapter 20 mentions character traits Solomon wants his son to develop. Faithfulness and purity are emphasized in this chapter. I honed in on verse 24:

A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?

As humans, our understanding is limited; we simply aren’t going to understand everything God does or allows in this world. What is your takeaway from the above verse?

I also loved verse 28:

Prov

Proverbs 21

I read the first verse of this chapter right after the State of the Union address:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

What reassurance that no matter the political power, God is in control. The last phrase of the last verse of this chapter was personal reassurance for me:

…the victory belongs to the LORD. Prov. 21:31

That habit you want to break…discipline you want to make…test you never wished to take? All completed through Him.

Chapter 22

Chapter 22 is incredibly full of witty sayings and wise word offerings. If I HAD to choose a theme for this chapter, it would be the simple summary: Choose your friends wisely. But there is so much more included in this chapter!

Summary

I’ve been reading and re-reading each chapter of Proverbs and really, we could reflect on one verse a day. For that reason, I hope you won’t be bored when I say that for the month of February, we are going to read through the book of Proverbs again. I realize there are only 28 days in February, so for the last three days we will double up and read 2 chapters a day.

I can’t wait to hear what you think! How was your week of reading and study? Choose one of the questions above and let’s keep one another encouraged to continue reading each day!

Happy Friday!

Rachel