Last Spring we had a SHE event titled “Strengthening Her Endurance,” and my topic was “Persevere and Push Through.” As I was preparing for that event, I had certain people come to my mind to ask to share their journeys of perseverance. One of those beautiful ladies was Leslie Molbert Dame, the sister of one of my dearest friends. I shared part of Leslie’s words at that SHE event, but no one had a copy to take home. I am including her email to me in this blog for a few special reasons. Leslie passed away on Thanksgiving Day of this year, and her memorial service touched so many lives. Parts of this email were used that night as a way to share Leslie’s trust in Father even to the very end. My topic for the last SHE event was Best Editing. The last two points I made relate directly to Leslie: “Embrace Your Mission” and “Leave a Legacy.” Leslie embraced her mission, and she left a beautiful legacy. To read more about Leslie, you may also go to www.lesliestrong.org
or like Leslie Strong on Facebook. Please continue to pray for her family. Her loss has been so hard on them and all of us. I pray her words will encourage us on the days we miss her. This blog is in honor of her and her infectious smile.
Love you all,
First, let me say I'm sorry I did not respond sooner! I wanted to have time to really think about and share with you what God laid upon my heart...so I took a couple of days to pray over it! I hope this hasn't messed up your time table! :)
I have been reading a book by Beth Moore called Believing God. I wanted to tell you about it because it has just touched my heart so much. Many of the scriptures I am including God gave to me through this study! I am daily so inspired by the ways He reveals His promises and truths to me. I am more aware of the blessings in my life than ever before...
Habakkuk 2:3: " But these things I plan won't happen quickly. Slowly , steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed."
Romans 5:1-5: " Therefore since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord had done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us- they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."
Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalm 131, Psalm 107:19-21, Ephesians 6:16-17,
Philippians 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Psalm 119 ( this psalm refers over and over to God's word, and all the ways that we as His children are revived, encouraged and given hope in His word), Ephesians 1:3-8, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17. Matthew 7:7-8, Joshua 1:9, Mark 9:23, Luke 1:37. ( I have a new living translation Bible)
The most critical thing I have learned through my circumstances is that in order to endure, in order to be able to hold tight to my hope each day, in order to believe when to others I must seem silly: I must cling to His word. I never before understood the need to study, read and reread His promises- to commit them to memory, to truly hide them in my heart. There are moments each day (a multitude of them) when I am faced with fear, or discouragement, or sadness, or anger. And in those moments, I can call upon the Words of God that remind me to hope, that I am promised a future, that nothing can separate me from His love, that I am precious to Him- adopted into His family, that I can do all things, that His truth sustains me, that His words accomplish what they set out to accomplish, that He heals. I do this all day long. I say it aloud. I think it, I write it. I am learning what it means to meditate on His words. And I am so full of peace and strength when I do this...I wish it hadn't taken something like cancer to open the eyes of my heart. After all, how can we as children persevere when things seem impossible if we do not know what God promises? That He is indeed who He says He is, That He can do what He says He can do, That we are who He says we are, That through Him we can do all things, and That His words- His promises- are alive today, in us. We must know His truths in order to endure. They are there for the taking! And that in itself in a gift.
The greatest thing about our God, to me, is that He is unchanging. He is today who He was yesterday. He fulfills His promises, He never rests, He loves beyond measure, nothing I ask of Him even begins to deplete the strength and power He has. Wow. That is more than enough to sustain me!
I hope this helps, Suzanne. And thank you for using me. I am humbled by you asking. I'm looking forward to coming with Mom and Claire to the next workshop! I think Claire was going to get us tickets! Thank you for the prayers and love! They are felt daily!
Practice makes perfect...
...at least thatʼs what my piano teacher used to tell me. I began taking piano lessons when I was six years old. And from what I remember, I really enjoyed playing but not “practicing.” I liked to play the songs that I liked and the ones I was good at. I guess thatʼs normal. Iʼd venture to say most of us prefer to do the things we feel we are good at as opposed to things that are difficult and challenge us. As I continued taking lessons (for many years), and as I matured, I began to see the wisdom in those words – “practice makes perfect.” As the musical selections became more difficult, more practice was required to master them. Even so, sometimes there still seemed to be a disconnect between my brain and my fingers. It took purposeful effort and concentration, and sometimes breaking down Bach Inventions into one measure at a time, or moreso, one hand at a time, to really play each rhythm and note correctly.
You may be wondering how in the world this is relevant. Well, at our last event, Stefaney and I referenced a book, The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter. The entire book is based on Colossians 3, taking off the old and putting on the new virtues we receive through our relationship with Christ. Here is an excerpt from chapter five:
“...I believe Scripture is clear that virtuous living requires effort on our part. As Dallas Willard so insightfully says, ʻGrace is not opposed to effort (action)–though it is opposed to earning.ʼ When we take the chisel to the stone of our old natures, thereʼs one piece in Colossians 3:9 that adds practical instruction for us: Paul says to take off the old self with its practices. We practice things all day long without always realizing it. The question becomes not are we practicing, but what are we practicing? Itʼs easy to get stuck in the pattern of our old lifestyles when we donʼt change our practices. Without coming at this from a legalistic perspective, we must make some tangible changes when weʼre learning to walk in the Spirit.”
So, if the statement “practice makes perfect” is indeed true, we could become masters at things weʼd never intend. I donʼt want to be “good at” gossip. I would never consciously select selfishness as a worthwhile pursuit. Or anger. Or bitterness. Or... (you fill in the blank).
We need to be careful and very intentional with what we practice. Knowing what the Scriptures say about the virtues (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love), and that because we have been chosen we can now wear them, doesnʼt always make them easy to put them on. Just like the seeming disconnect between my brain and my fingers while learning a new piece of music, there sometimes seems to be a spiritual disconnect between my brain (knowledge) and my heart (practicing) when it comes to daily wearing my “new” wardrobe, designed by the Maker Himself. I am not a new believer; I came to Christ that same year I began taking piano lessons. Yet all these years later, Iʼm still a work in progress, and with His help, a work in practice.
With Christmas only a week and a half away, letʼs be mindful of what we are practicing. Letʼs practice patience when weʼre standing in the long line at the check-out. And how about practicing kindness to the cashier who may have been on her feet all day? And letʼs try humility when someone cuts us off in traffic; are we really in that big of a hurry? There are lots of practical ways we can show Christʼs love this season, and the benefits will far outweigh any negatives. Come back here and share your experiences as you are practicing. You may just encourage someone else along the way.
I hope you have the happiest of holidays as you spend time with family and friends and as you celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever known – The Light of the World, The King of Kings and Prince of Peace, our Emmanuel.
So, I apologize for the absence of our blogging. We try to blog weekly, but our "stories" have been more time consuming lately. I blogged on November 8th about my very special Mother-In-Law (or as my sis-in-law and I say, our Mother-In-Love) and how she was "moving past pause" and recovering from a stroke. Many of you now know that my incredibly MIL went to be with Jesus on November 29th. It's been a very difficult time for us as her story here on earth ended and as the chapters in our stories that included her with us have ended as well. She will forever be in our thoughts, our hearts, our pictures and our videos, but the reality of her not physically being here is still a difficult one to say the least. Thank you for your support, encouragement and prayers for our family during this time. As my husband said at her funeral - There is a God, He knows and loves me, and in all things He is sovereign even when we don't understand. He also concluded with the words "She was Epic...she was my mama."
One of my MIL's many qualities was her kindness. True Kindness. Anyone who knew her would say that and it was spoken of many times at her funeral. Is that something others would say about you? As we move on to this week's blog, Stefaney Lockwood prepared a blog on Kindness for us this week. Enjoy ...
I am currently reading Kelly Minter’s The Fitting Room for the second time. Bronie and I referenced it during our “Best Wardrobe” lab at Scripting Her Epic. We have also had the pleasure of meeting weekly to discuss the book with two other awesome ladies. This past week’s homework focused on the virtues of kindness, humility and compassion.
Many of you experienced firsthand the Katrina and her destruction. I watched it all unfold from my living room in Alabama. Our family had just experienced Ivan and his wrath, the year before. My family watched and prayed for days for you all, not knowing one day we would have the joy and pleasure of calling many of you friends. While I can only imagine what your experiences were like, I can relate to being without power for weeks, with no food or water except what was brought in by strangers. It was surreal to be on the receiving end of kindness from strangers. A smile or a nod from the ones handing out ice, water and MREs was a lifeline for us.
I was born and raised in the Deep South and kindness comes naturally, or at least I thought so until I read this week’s homework. My momma raised us three kids to look out for each other, and to always help out when we can. But is that all there is to kindness? It is easy to show kindness in the midst of tragedy, but what about every day?
I would like to share with you Kelly’s words on kindness. Kelly says, “ I’ve become so familiar with the word kindness that I’m afraid I’ve tempered it a bit or maybe even stripped it of its power...because out of all the virtues it’s the one that seems pretty doable in most settings...everyone can tap the hammer of kindness, right?” The words kind and kindness have begun to lose their power. We tend to use them like we use love, “I love coffee’, “I love that blouse” or “I love to read”. Kindness doesn’t mean a whole lot as a compliment except that a person is really nice. Now please bear with me, I am not saying that kindness is not important, but let’s look at what the Bible and Kelly both say about kindness. Kelly goes on to say, “When kindness is fueled by the Holy Spirit, it is set apart from the cheaper version of friendliness or adrenaline-based sympathy. It’s when the easy-to-come-by smiles and patient attitudes that are fueled by self start to run out, and you realize that sustainable kindness is energized by something far more enduring and powerful than the common grace of mankind- by the Person of Jesus."
Think about the people in your life that you consider to be kind. What makes them kind? A few observations might be: they listen, draw others out, express genuine interest or concern, are gentle, and are able to speak a hard truth in love. Kind people don’t gossip or focus on unflattering stories about other people. They aren’t short tempered, self- centered or explosive. Of course, no one is a perfect example of kindness, but that type of kindness originates from the heart of God. Christ was focused on the interest of others, and if we want to be Christ-like then we must shift our focus too.Jesus deals a blow to the Pharisees’ “outer“ righteousness in Matthew 12:34-35 by saying, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”
In Philippians 2:4 Paul writes, "Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others." While we search for what authentic kindness looks like, we need to be aware that one of its enemies is selfishness. God doesn’t ask us to neglect our own needs or desires. Looking out for others is about the position of our hearts. In Philippians 2:20-21, Paul writes about Timothy: “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Timothy was not interested in others to make himself feel better or to impress God, he was interested in what interested Christ.“Christ is interested in the welfare of people, and kindness is one of the greatest ways we can show this selfless interest” (p 138, The Fitting Room) If we want to attain authentic kindness, then our speech and actions must reflect Christ. True kindness may be the only picture of Christianity that some people see.
Be Kind, Be Authentic, Be Blessed!!
It's a new post!! :)
How have you been? We've been running wild, as I'm sure you have been, too!! It's crazy to think it's been 3 weeks since Scripting Her Epic, too! It's been a busy 3 weeks, getting all of our small groups going, but it's been a good 3 weeks.
SO, have you been more intentional about your story? More intentional about Scripting your best Epic? Has it felt daunting? Has it been easier to slip back into the same ole routine? OR, have you been focusing on your best wardrobe, your best editing, your best supporting cast...???
It has definitely been an interesting past week for me personally. My mother in law, who I'm VERY close to, had a massive stroke last Wednesday morning as well as a heart attack. She was at MD Anderson in Houston, TX for her Dr appointment after her tests (she has sarcoma cancer). She had her tests on Tuesday and was on her way Wednesday am to the Dr, was in the elevator heading to the office when she began coughing and went limp.
The Drs were saying she was not expected to walk or talk, respond to complex commands, move her right side, or really communicate again. In fact, one cardiologist even went as far as asking if my husband and father in law wanted to just give her morphine to keep her comfortable, as if this was the end of her life, her story. OBVIOUSLY the guys were making plans for her to recover and rehab - and oh, what a weekend she had. Long story shorter :), she is moving her head all over including nodding, is squeezing hands with her left hand in response to questions and her family, and even whispered the word "yes" yesterday! Regardless of the situation, we KNOW GOD IS SO GOOD!!! We are truly thankful, though, that mom is responding this much in such a short period of time. That cardiologist came back to see her yesterday after being off all weekend. He was absolutely SHOCKED when he saw her progress! She is so alert and responsive. She has a long way to go, but is making huge strides every day. And, just so you know, she is on her way back to Slidell as I type this.
SHE IS EPIC!
Even in such a short amount of time, she was UNWILLING to just sit back and let life happen to her. She decided, with whatever effort she could muster, that she would keep fighting.
SHE MOVED PAST PAUSE!!
Remember, that? MOVE PAST PAUSE!! Are YOU moving past pause? Have you refused to sit back and let life happen to you? Are you fighting for YOUR best epic? YOUR best story? Are you being intentional AND proactive?
My Mom's stroke is now part of her story, she couldn't script that and wouldn't, BUT how she responds to it is making it EPIC!
How are you responding to the situations in your life? PLEASE take time to consider all we talked about at the conference just a few short weeks ago. PLEASE - MOVE PAST PAUSE! You will never know what authentic life is out there, you will never know what God has for you, you will never know all you can be, you will never experience all you were created to be if you don't move past pause and let God move in your life. And this world, our lives, our stories will be lacking because YOU are part of our supporting cast and we can't wait to see all God created you to be come to pass as you Script Your Best Epic!
Here's to moving past pause ...