Shine, Brave One. But Not On Your Own.

22 12 2009

Sometimes we’re asked to do some very brave things, things that we would never choose to do on our own but because of circumstances we are called to step out of our comfort zone for a greater good.

Have you been in a situation, perhaps recently, where your capacity for coping has been stretched to the max?  We reach a point where we collapse and ask God how we can possibly have the strength to continue.  What is the point of this trial, this suffering?  Why can’t things be easier, why must this time or situation or problem be so extremely difficult?  Whether its troubled teenagers, a hospitalized spouse, financial uncertainty, a strained marriage, or depression -life can be overwhelming.

Ladies, I cannot help thinking of Mary.   She graciously accepted one of the most challenging things ever asked of a woman.  Then again, the peace of God must have rested in her heart as she moved forward with the responsibility of being the mother of God’s son.  Despite the ridicule and shame of being an unwed mother, I imagine that she had a quiet confidence as she carried Jesus in her womb.  With her belly swelling in the passing months, perhaps she had unshakable faith that ,as part of God’s will, everything would be fine in the end.  Personally I would have been rather freaked out knowing that I was responsible for God’s son.  But Mary, I think she was made of firmer stuff, even at such a young age.

The lesson I take away from how Mary responded to God’s request of her, being the mother of Jesus, is that I need to have faith that these brave things we are called to go through are ones we are not meant to face as Lone Rangers.  We are not left alone and abandoned -not by God- when Goliaths or floods or affliction or challenges come.  I know Mary did lots of leaning during her time as a mother, leaning on God’s promises and his character.  She realized that, especially as a parent, she had her responsibility and God had his -and unlike how I often act- she wasn’t going to try to take over God’s job or tell him how he ought to be doing things.  She just trusted.

Mary was brave, not just when she carried the Son of God as an unwed mother, but all through raising him and on through his brutal crucifixion.  Hers was a life of faith.  She was constantly called to be brave, to trust God’s plan, to hold on to his promises when she saw her baby ridiculed, hated and mocked -even tortured.  Her reward?  Seeing her son raised from the dead, resplendent in glory, and receiving the gift of eternal life.

I want to be like Mary.  A woman who shines through adversity, one who trusts and leans on God during heartbreaking and patience-exhausting times.  God knew that Mary could handle this awesome task -but not alone.  He stuck by her even more than she stuck by him.  Can’t you just imagine Mary leaning into God, asking, “How can I do this?”  Wrapping love around her, he tells her to rest.  He’ll give her the strength, he says.

He tells the same thing to each of us.  In this heartbreaking or exhausting time, my dear sisters, you are called to be brave, but -more importantly- you are called to rest and be refilled.  May God shine through you during this time as you release your worries, your need for control, and most importantly  your fear as you let God be God and you his daughter.

Merry Christmas, all of you  Uncommon Women.

With Much Love,



He Is With You

12 12 2009

Shonda Taylor shared this beautiful and inspirational video with me and I just had to put it up for each of you to be touched by.  Mandisa, a stunning woman of God and gifted singer, shares from her heart the rock-solid truth that NO MATTER WHAT is going on in your life, no matter what you are facing, God is with you through all of it.  Her message is real, not sugar-coated, and will speak directly and honestly to your heart.  Thank you, Shonda, for sharing.

He Is With You

Love First

11 09 2009

love first quote 1In the movie “Cocktail,” Tom Cruise’s character is given a college assignment to write his obituary in an attempt to direct his current goals.  That’s something to think about.  When you are on your deathbed and you reflect on your life, what will you see?  Who will remember you and for what?  Are you full of regrets or full of satisfaction?  The things I will most treasure on that day will be the result of life lived in –motivated and infused by- love.

An uncommon life begins with love.  A life of love shapes, flavors, inspires and influences more poignantly and powerfully than any other character trait or ambition.  In order to live with true purpose and greater zest we must make our first goal to seek and pursue love.

We’ve heard often enough that if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others.  We’ve been encouraged by motivational speakers, pastors and self-help gurus to “fill up our tanks” regularly so we aren’t trying to operate and give on empty.  But how often do you follow that advice and what does it look like to take care of ourselves?

Good nutrition, adequate sleep, regular exercise, relaxation –these are the familiar “musts” of proper self care.  They are all necessary and good; we should be doing these things because it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves, just as must as it is our responsibility to care for our family and be productive employees.  But what comes before all of these good things is filling up on love on a daily first quote 2

So, does that mean snuggling teddy bears, petting puppy dogs, getting smooches from our loved ones?  Hey, maybe!  For some love is found by connecting with an inner peace or a positive power during a quiet moment.  I believe the true source, the most powerful and purest form, of love is found in relationship with God.

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Check out Psalm 103 for another phenomenal look at love.

I have done my best to pursue my dreams, desires and ambitions on my own only to find victory tasteless and hollow.  This June I found myself sitting in my lovely home, surrounded by my lovely family, and my lovely lifestyle and I thought, “Is this it?  Is this life?  What is it that I really do, and to what purpose –to what end?  I know there’s more beyond seeking a comfortable lifestyle and I’m desperate for more!  I want to live for a greater purpose, not just daily survival, a functioning family life and physical comfort.”

love first quote 4The first thing I did was pursue God and when I reached out for him I was met by His overwhelming love for me -the abundant, never-ending, always present love –more passionate than a parent’s for their children or a lover’s for his beloved.  More steadfast than the turning of the earth.

I know there are lots of questions in regards to who God is and how he is loving, but for now I’m just going to state as fact that he is the ultimate, purest form of love and it’s readily available through him for each us every day.

If a life is not lived in love, what is it lived in?  What substitutes do we fill in it its place?  I easily live in selfishness, apathy, complacency, jealousy, yearning for affirmation.  Why do we marry, have children, invest in friendships?  We yearn to love and be loved. But our love is not enough.  It is imperfect, a hazy mirrored image of what pure, true and abundant love is.  We cannot fully love on our own, nor can we be fully loved by others.  Therefore, we must seek the pure source of love -God- and, boy, is he desperate for us to allow ourselves to be loved by him and to know the fullness of that love.

When I live on my own strength and draw from my own reservoir of love I am easily frustrated, hurt and unable to freely give my love and energy to others without expecting something back.    When I spend time with God and let his love for me sink in, I am full.  I am not desperate for affirmation and jealous of others or things that may pull my loved ones away from me.  I can rest in the confidence and fullness of God’s love, and from that overflowing well I can freely give to others without expected reciprocation or feeling resentment.

Why love?  It is the only thing truly worthwhile, the only thing that means anything when given and received. When you are on your deathbed, what will mean more to you- a list of accomplishments, a record of money earned, or a legacy of love?  People remembering you for your beautiful spirit and the loveliness created by someone who is filled with love?

My father, a successful business man, died at the age of 46 from a battle with cancer.  At his service I constantly heard his work colleagues speak a testament to my father’s character.  They spoke of his ethical business stance, his humility, his keen mind and prudence, and his evident love for his family.  Though he provided very well for us, it isn’t the comfortable house or the financial investments that I remember him for.  The memories of his love are what fill my heart in his absence.  Love is the only thing that truly lives on.

To live empowered lives of greater purpose we need to be filled with love.  It is the most beautiful and treasured characteristic we can pursue.  In order to be filled with love, we need to spend time with God, experiencing his love for us on a daily basis, getting to know him, he who is the very definition of love.  Love will energize, infuse and direct our goals and passions to reach fuller potentials than we could ever dream.  It will beautify you like no other treatment or make over.  It will heal, blossom and nourish relationships.  Love leads to peace and fulfillment, to wholeness and fearlessness.  It is what empowers us to reach our fullest potentials and lead the most enriching first quote 3

This week I want you to spend just a few minutes each day focusing on love and getting your “tank” filled.  Do this in the morning before your day starts and remind yourself of love as your day continues.  You don’t have to block out a large chunk of time if you, like most of us, can barely find time to sit down during the day.  Use your time in the shower or on the drive to work or during your workout to focus on God and his love for you.  If you haven’t begun a relationship with him, reach out today.  If you’ve let other things crowd him out of your life, make your relationship a priority right now.  He is patiently waiting to lavish you with his love, all you have to do is accept it.

By taking time to daily recharge with God’s love you are going to notice a phenomenal difference in your satisfaction with life.  People will notice the joy and peace you have because you truly are taking care of yourself and giving out of God’s rich reservoir of love instead of on your own.