The Anatomy of a Tender Heart

There’s not a Jesus girl I know that likes being called a tool of the devil.

Yet that’s exactly what I got called back in the spring when I took the step of posting something on Facebook with a biblical foundation but a political slant. There were lots of supportive comments, but I didn’t like being called a tool of the devil. Nope. Not one bit.

With shaky hands (warning sign #1) and a pounding heart (ahem… #2), I hammered a response on my keyboard. I’m telling you people, my reply was rich. It was based in Scripture, filled with facts from the news and let my attacker know in no uncertain terms that I considered her a BULLY. I finished my response. I proofed my response. After a deep breath, I hit “post,” and I was PROUD of how spiritual and smart and strong I was.

Until the next morning.

Actually, the reversal began in the middle of the night as I tossed and turned. As I fumed and agonized. Slowly…very slowly… I began to feel the pinpricks of regret and then conviction. In the midst of God changing my mind, I remembered a social media interaction that I had celebrated on my page just weeks before, and my heart broke.

There was a Twitter feed that went viral in which Sarah Silverman, a comedian, was called the foulest name a woman can be called. Her response was stunning. A woman who is known for her sharp wit replied with grace and opened a dialogue with her name-caller. By the end of the interaction, Sarah had found medical help for the man who was in tremendous pain. Just weeks before I exploded on my name-caller, I had pointed to Sarah’s response as the way Christians should act.

Mercy.

A woman known for her eviscerating humor passed the test while this Jesus girl failed miserably.

During my blogging break, I’ve been thinking, praying and talking to friends. I feel such a passion for addressing the issues of our culture, but God is whispering to me to prepare correctly first. The weakness He keeps pointing to is my heart. I need a tenderized heart. So before I dive into the deep of policies and philosophies, I know I’m supposed to join Him in a work that only He can do.

What is the anatomy of a tender heart?

That’s what I asked two of my neighbors, Crystal and Cookie, as we walked last night. From their wisdom and my reflections, three elements have risen to the top:

A tender heart is a listening heart.

As we listen to God’s whispers… as we listen to the stories of those around us… as we’re more concerned with people’s pain than gathering facts, casting blame or affixing a judgement, our hearts grow tender.

I’m learning to listen, and it’s hard. I want to add my two cents so badly. Instead, God is teaching me to open my ears, shut my mouth and work to understand even when I don’t agree. (Turns out that understanding and disagreeing can co-exist peacefully. WHO KNEW?!) These practices are tenderizing a self-centered, opinionated heart, but they’re really hard for a reforming perfectionist who values deciding what’s right about every issue under the sun!

A tender heart is a feeling heart.

Just yesterday I began the study of Psalms in the First 5 app, and once again I was reminded that David, a man after God’s own heart, expressed his full range of emotions alongside an unshakable faith. The two weren’t mutually exclusive for David.

Truthfully, I’m a little afraid of my emotions. I’ve already confessed to you that within the past six months my tongue has gotten me in trouble over and over as my passion ran ahead of wisdom. The heartbreak of sinfulness makes me wary of the way I feel since I so often get swept away by those feelings.

But doing work that comes from God’s heart requires passion. It necessitates joy and sorrow. God’s work means entering into other’s suffering and bringing the love of Jesus there. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to feel. He just wants our feelings to follow Him.

A tender heart is a meditating heart.

As we walked and talked, my neighbors and I agreed on one key element of a tender heart. A tender heart is immersed in Scripture. That’s the place where God holds up the mirror, shows us weakness and need, and moves us to repentance.

And so we pray like David, “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.” (Psalm 119:33-40)

Do you long to use your voice for God in our culture? Me too. In order to walk into that call,we have to start with tenderizing our hearts so that we can represent Him as He is. Not with an equally loud argument, a political party’s talking points or a stronger philosophy but with LOVE. That’s where I’m going, friends, and that’s where I’ll be leading here from only 1/2-1 step ahead.

 

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When There’s a Missing Piece in God’s Image

About seven years ago, our church asked for volunteers to be on the pastor search committee. Our pastor of twenty-seven years had announced his retirement, an interim was in place, and it was time to look for the new person to lead our church. My response to that invitation? Who would sign up for that? It sounds like the worst job ever.

But God started whispering to my heart and then a woman I respect from our church urged me to volunteer. Since I was a relative newcomer, I was pretty sure I could volunteer and not be chosen. I thought I was safe. Obedience? Check! Being asked to join? Probably not. Win. Win. I wouldn’t have to do that wretched job.

But then I was asked to be on the committee… Bummer.

Pastor search committees are notoriously fraught with in-fighting and known for having criticism lobbed at them, so I braced myself for the worst. I thought it would be one of those times of testings that sometimes follows obedience.

I was wrong.

Serving on that committee was one of the best experiences of my Christian life. Surprised? I was shocked.

It was an amazing journey mainly for one reason. I’ve never worked with a group of men and women with such mutual respect and love. There were four men and two women, and I always felt heard. The guys gave us equal opportunity to pray and weigh in with our thoughts. Truthfully, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it in the church world, but it proves that men and women working together for the Kingdom is both possible and beautiful.

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (NIV)

From the very beginning, God established the necessity of both genders in displaying His image. His perfect essence is shown through the strengths of both male and female. We see this truth woven all through Scripture. While I don’t want to over-simplify and stereotype, here are a couple examples of what I mean:

“The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.” Exodus 15:3  Here’s an example of God being attributed with the warrior spirit embedded in the hearts of my brothers.

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.”  Hosea 11:3  God is also shown throughout Scripture as having the tenderness and nurturing spirit woven into women. (Love, love, love this Scripture portraying God as the parent supporting Israel as she learned to walk.)

Although neither trait is given exclusively to one gender, you see what I mean. When we start to look at the character of God, we’ll see the prominent positive traits of both genders in Him. We humans display His image imperfectly, but it’s most complete when it’s displayed through both men and women. Here’s my conclusion:

That’s why I’m worried about the church world right now. It’s not my desire to debate titles or positions, but I  believe that women’s voices are largely overlooked by the leadership in many churches. Some make light of the problem or deflect blame, but when women’s gifts aren’t maximized and their perspectives aren’t heard, we don’t get a view of the whole character of God. Part of His image is missing. That’s a huge problem.

In our pastor search committee, I got to see what was possible when women are respected and their voices honored. Both genders brought their strengths to the table in amazing ways. From the very beginning, our committee decided that we wouldn’t recommend a pastoral candidate unless we were unanimous. Have you ever heard of such a thing? But God… we prayed, listened to God and listened to each other, and we were unanimous.

Four men and two women had seats at the table, and the result was great love, an amazing working relationship and unity. What a beautiful display of God’s image!

From the start, God has given me a ministry passion for deeper relationships, and I’m writing this because I long to see the relationships that I experienced between men and women on our committee replicated over and over and over again. Representing God’s image through the gifts of both male and female is a topic working talking about. Worth working for. Worth taking a stand on. Let’s lovingly use our voices to help others find the missing piece of God’s image in our world.

Tell about a time when you’ve experienced men and women working together in unity.

ps. Barry Carroll, my love, you make this truth happen in our home, and I love you forever. I hope others see God in the way we work together.

I don’t know if they’ll see this, but a huge shout out to Tony, Tim, Mark and Jim. You four guys, my partners in the pastor search, are exemplary and some of my heroes. Just thought you should know.

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Lies, Half-Truths, and Truth that Sets Us Free

There are some friends so dear that you can’t wait to connect them! My precious friend Suzie Eller is someone I’m over-the-moon excited to introduce to you.

Suzie is both funny and wise which is a winning combination in my book, and she’s written a book that will rock your world. The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith without Borders is about the gift that so many of us have missed. It breaks my heart how controversial the topic of the Holy Spirit has become, dividing denominations instead of uniting God’s people. Suzie takes a Biblical approach that will leave you empowered with all that the Spirit has to offer.

Please welcome Suzie to the blog today! (And don’t miss an opportunity at the end to read two free chapters as well as to win a copy of the book.)

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My friend and I sat on the curb, sweaty after a long walk. For the past few days, we had been studying Romans 8. As we walked, she spoke out loud the words in Romans 8:38-39.

Nothing can separate you from God’s love. 

Then it became personal.

Wait, nothing can separate me from God’s love.

These were words that, until that moment, felt like they were for everyone else. Have you ever had a moment when truth is suddenly clear? You’ve tried to figure it out on your own, perhaps for years. It feels as though everybody else “gets it” except for you. That’s how my friend felt until the message in Romans 8 leaped from the pages and settled into her spiritual DNA.

Why did she believe it?

The reason that any of us fall for a lie is that it feels true.

For my friend, a lie had led to an assumption, which become a belief, which produced actions (or inactions) that impacted her life and identity.

This is one lie we often believe.

You can never change.

Maybe an adult spoke that over you. Maybe you started to believe that lie because you tried to change, and it didn’t work. Perhaps that one mistake still haunts you, even though you have changed.

So you begin to tell yourself: This is just who I am. That’s the assumption. It settles into your identity as truth. You hear scripture that tells how much God loves you, and you point out all the ways you don’t deserve it. You try to do everything well, but you make a mistake so you beat yourself up. Or maybe you just give up entirely.

How do we counter these lies?

We counter them with truth. The lie might be, “You can never change,” but this is the truth:

We are free to be exactly who God says we can be.

When I was younger, I didn’t let women get too close. If I was in a grocery store and saw someone I knew, I’d make a beeline for the dog food aisle, hoping they’d go the other way.

Why?

Because of a lie.

The lie was that I didn’t have a lot to offer. I didn’t have anything important to say. I worried that I’d say something goofy. I was shy. I was introverted. . .  the list of my beliefs was long.

Some of these held some truth. I was a little shy. I am an introvert. I might even say something goofy (that can still happen). The problem is that I had accepted the lie that I didn’t have anything of value to add to a friendship. That somehow I was “less than.”

The truth is I am free to be who God made me to be. Sometimes shy. Mostly introverted. But also a really great friend. Loyal. Fun (that’s the goofy part). As I confronted the lies and assumptions with truth, my belief system shifted and so did my actions.

The words I spoke over my own heart changed. As I accepted me, I was able to accept others as sweet friends, because the truth is we all have quirks or differences, and we all have strengths. There is no perfect friend, or perfect woman.

What is that half-truth or outright lie that has weighed you down?

Ask God to help you recognize it. Confront it with truth. As you do, it will begin to shift the way you think, which shifts the way you live, for when you know the truth, you are free to live the truth.

Suzie Eller

Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries writer, a bestselling author, speaker, and blogger. Suzie has written a new book, The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without Borders. This book shares that we have a Helper. We have what we need to live with a Spirit-led heart.

Download two free chapters at www.tsuzanneeller.com/spiritledheart

 

The Giveaway

Today we have a treat! Bethany House and Suzie are giving away a copy of The Spirit Led Heart. To enter, simply leave a comment sharing a truth that you’ve used to combat a lie or say “The Holy Spirit leads me to truth!”

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The Simplest Way to Pray Powerful Prayers

There are a handful of people that I know that are known for prayer. I’ll bet you’ve got a list too.

Mona, one of the mentors you’ve heard me talk about often, leads those that I think of as “prayer warriors”, those who approach prayer with confidence. There are others– Jean, Rey and Tara just to name a few– but they all have one thing in common. These are women whose prayers are a fabric of scripture.

Just last night, I spent time praying over an upcoming conference in my area with Tara’s team, and her influence was obvious. The team prayed with their Bibles open, repeating God’s Word back to Him with faith and expectation. They aren’t women who think they can demand and manipulate God with His own words (I’ve seen that version too!). Instead, they’re women who know that God is faithful. His promises are true and dependable. And they know that praying Scripture keeps them solidly in His realm, the place where His will reigns.

I listened, and I participated. The prayers laced with Truth rose to heaven, but they soaked into my bones too. With 2018 being the year of “Pray”, I paid attention and longed. Can I confess to you? I’ve known this truth for a long time.

I’ve known this truth, but I haven’t implemented this truth. This morning I had to take a look and ask why? Here are the wrong beliefs rooted in insecurity that have kept me from praying more powerfully as I integrate God’s Word:

Prayer isn’t my gift.  

I’m going to war on this lie! Prayer is a gift to all of us because it’s simply talking to God who gives us full access. I do believe that some are given a special ability to pray so that they can lead us. Wendy Blight, for example, writes out the most annointed prayers for our Proverbs 31 team, but I don’t have to allow myself to be intimidated by her gift. I want to learn from it! As we pray, God doesn’t expect us to sound like anyone else. In fact, since He created us and knows us better than anyone, He’s probably surprised when we do!

Those people are more spiritual than I am. 

I’ve fallen into the wrong belief that some gifts are more “spiritual” than others. Mine run more along practical, get ‘er done lines, and I’ve considered them less than. Paul tells us, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (I Cor. 12:4-6 NIV) Let’s stand secure in our own natural God-given gifts while growing in others. Prayer is my growth gift this year!

I don’t know scripture well enough. 

This really gets to the root of what has held me back, and there’s some truth to it. I don’t have enough scripture memorized. But I took note of the women last night with their Bibles open. I need to start somewhere, so praying with my Bible open is where I’ll start.

Here’s how I’m fighting those insecurities:

The last two days I’ve written out prayers based on my morning First 5 study. Here’s what it has looked like:

II Kings 18: 5-8, “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory. (NIV)

My prayer: Lord, I want to be a woman who trusts You completely. Make me stand beyond compare in my place in Your story. Help me to held fast to You, never ceasing to follow You and obeying Your commands. I want to be successful in all that I undertake for Your glory. Empower me to resist my enemy, Satan, and give me victory against him. Amen.

II Kings 19:30, “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.” (NIV)

My prayer: Lord, make me part of your remnant with deep roots below and abundant fruit above.

See how that works? I’m just getting started, but I love how God is teaching me simple ways to pray that are do-able for me right where I am!

If you prayed a prayer based on scripture today, I’d love to hear it.

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A Powerful FREE Event You Can’t Miss

Hi, friends! Just a quick post to tell you about an exciting online summit that I’m part of next week. Feel like you were born for more? Discover your Divine Purpose with this FREE training. 

I’ll be sharing “How to Grow Into Your Calling,” but I’m also super-stoked to hear interviews with other leaders like Glynnis Whitwer, Lori Wildenburg, Lynn Cowell and many, many more! Click on the graphic above today.

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Three Sure Steps to Embrace Simple

What are your memories of Kindergarten?

Even though my long-term memory resembles Dorie’s, I have clear pictures of swinging at recess, Kool Aid and cookies at snack and carrying baby dolls around the house-keeping center.

Kindergarten has changed a lot since the simple time when I was there. Kids today are expected to start reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, but in my generation, there was a philosophy that play built an important foundation for children. Teachers filled our 5-year-old days with the basics to develop our small-motor skills like coloring inside the lines and cutting paper hearts. The wee people circulated through centers “cooking” plastic foods and putting together puzzles. It looked like pure fun, but all the activities were designed to ready our minds for learning in the upper grades.

Kindergarten was a wonderful place. And as Robert Fulghum has famously said, everything important starts there. Kindergarten is a wonderful place… until you get sent back there from college.

Even though I believe that foundations are important, it has felt uncomfortable and a little demeaning to get sent back to the beginnings of my spiritual schooling. In the last five years or so, it’s as if I’ve been hearing God whisper, “Go back, Amy. Relearn the things you used to know.” God lovingly sent me back to Kindergarten.

I’ve gone back to the simple things. God loves me. Life is best when I trust Him. Belief is the bedrock for everything else. These simple beliefs are where I’ve experienced being re-schooled by God, and it’s been good. But honestly, it’s been hard too. It’s hard for a woman who has loved Jesus for 40 years to admit that she needs to understand Jesus’ love. It’s humbling for a Bible teacher to go from meat back to milk.

Yet it’s the path God’s had for me, and there are three things I’ve learned that I hope will help you go back to the basics too:

  1. Simple truths aren’t insignificant truths. Just because our babies lisp through “Jesus Loves Me” with trilling voices doesn’t mean we can skip this essential belief. The simple beliefs of our faith are usually the foundational beliefs. Just like with houses, sometimes our foundations need shored up after years of the wear and tear of life. Sometimes foundations need straightened from the weight of what gets piled on top. Our spiritual selves are the same. Revisiting the beginning can leave us “straightened” and refreshed.
  2. It takes humility to go back when we want to forge onward. I could have ignored God’s beckonings back to His simple truths, but where would I be today? I’d be more numbed and my faith would be more wrecked than it was a decade ago. It’s not fun for a speaker and writer to disappoint the “spiritual crowd” with simple truths, but any disappointment I’ve caused along the way has been a result of a soul that’s more well-fed than when I started this journey. This reminder from Paul makes it all worth it, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) I was missing love, and it required humility to admit it and go back to receive it.
  3. When we return to the basics of faith, we aren’t dumbing down. We’re leveling up. When Cheri and I were recording Grit ‘n’ Grace last year, she painted a word picture that has stuck with and comforted me in my journey back ever since she explained it. If you watch kids play video games, you’ll know that upward levels may look the same while being more difficult. Conquering each increasingly challenging level, no matter how similar they may look, is called “leveling up”. The journey through simple truths is the same. Each time I revisit the simple truth “God loves me,” I learn a little more about His love. I believe it a little more deeply. What looks like regression to others–and may even feel like it to me–is actually progress.

Simple has been hard for me in some ways (!), but I’m so glad I’m learning to embrace it. God’s simple truths have brought deeper love, greater trust and bolder belief into my life. My 2018 word is “pray.” I’m re-learning simple prayer, and I’ll share some of my early insights next week.

How about you? What’s your word for the year? What are you learning so far?

 

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Walk in Victory

Today I’m welcoming my friend Wendy Blight to share from her new Bible study on 1 John, I Am Loved: Walking in the Fullness of God’s Love. There’s lots of exciting information at the end of the post about how you can participate in a study of this wonderful book plus she’s giving away a copy to one of my readers below! 

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My husband and I began our marriage in a difficult place. Eleven months before we walked down the aisle, I was the victim of a horrific crime. For years, I lived in a prison of fear. It consumed my every waking moment. I avoided being alone at all costs.

Monty became my safe place. Being home alone terrified me. So, I never wanted him to leave me. When he chose to play basketball, or go to dinner with friends, I pouted, whining and complaining that he wasn’t putting me first.

This fractured our marriage. Days were hard and nights were long. Soon I began to imagine Monty looking elsewhere for the companionship he lacked with me. I demanded to know when and where he was at all times. When I couldn’t get a hold of him, I panicked.

Jealousy infiltrated my heart.

I knew these feelings were wrong. Even destructive. 

But I didn’t know how to overcome them.

As jealous thoughts took root, they became a mental obsession that fed me lies.

I felt my marriage, and my husband, slipping away. Completely at a loss to know what to do, I dropped to my knees and begged God to help me.

Thankfully, God made a way to release jealousy’s grip on me – and it was through loving Him. As I came to know God more intimately, my jealousy subsided.

God opened my eyes to see Christ in a new way … as my Savior and my “first love.” Until that time, I had found that love and security in my husband. I had confused love and need. I needed Monty so desperately that he became my savior. He was my defender and my protector from the evil in the world. I needed him more than anything else. If I was with him, I felt safe.

Monty sat on the throne of my heart; not God.

This, sister, is the perfect recipe for an unhealthy, destructive relationship. We should never “need” our husbands, our children, or anyone else more than Christ.

We should have only one Savior, and His name is Jesus.

We should have only one first love, and His name is Jesus.

This knowledge put my marriage in perspective. Jesus replaced Monty as my “first love.” Jesus is now my Defender, my Refuge and my Strong Tower. It was in Him and Him alone that I overcame all my fears.

And, Monty became the gift God had given me on this earth to reveal His perfect love to me. As God took His rightful place on the throne of my heart, Monty took his rightful place too.

God’s love left an indelible mark on my heart. His is a distinctive love that, when allowed to blossom and mature, becomes a driving force that nothing can contain.

Through it, God equips us to live distinctively different lives. First, by eradicating our old self through Jesus’ death on the cross. Second, by bestowing upon us a new self through His resurrection.

We express our appreciation for God’s abundant blessings most beautifully when we love others and live a life marked by love.

Some may be loveable people … those are the easy ones to love.

Some may be difficult people … those are the challenging ones to love.

Some may be invisible people … those are the uncomfortable ones to love. Who are the invisible? The disenfranchised. The voiceless. The forgotten. The rejected. The unpopular.

Friend, as you seek to live out the love God has implanted in you, remember these truths:

You have been born of God.

God loves you.

You love God.

You are a child of God.

In Christ, you have blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ.

Knowing and believing these truths equips you to live loved and spill that love into this dark world.

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I Am Loved: Walking in the Fullness of God’s Love is for every woman who craves to truly understand, walk confidently in, and live out God’s unconditional, extravagant, lavish love because His love truly changes everything. Watch a sneak peek of the Bible study and download a sample week’s lesson for free here. 

The Giveaway

Comment below and one reader will win a copy of Wendy’s I Am Loved Bible study book and teaching DVD. U.S. Addresses only please.

All comments left through Sunday, January 7th will be entered to win. The time is short, so make sure to enter today. We want the winner to receive her book before the Online Bible Study starts!

 

An invitation for you!

Join us for our Online Bible Study of #IAmLoved at Proverbs 31 Ministries. It kicks off January 22 and you can sign up here.

 

Wendy Blight is a wife, mother, author, Bible teacher, attorney, and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministry’s First 5 app. Her desire is to help every woman know with confidence she can tackle any problem life presents through God’s Word. Wendy is the author of I Am Loved, I Know His Name, and Living So That Bible studies, and Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner. She lives with her husband, Monty, in Charlotte, North Carolina and loves most when her two children, Lauren (24) and Bo (19), come home to visit and fill their home with lots of love and laughter!

 

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Standing in God’s Sufficiency

Following my 50th birthday in October, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying about aging well. It’s my prayer that as my body  weakens that my spirit and character would strengthen, becoming increasingly beautiful!

For years I’ve been studying the older women around me to see how they’re meeting that goal, and I’ve been inspired by so many.

The excerpt below is from the book proposal I told you about in this post. This is a different Ruth than I wrote about in this post, but I’m starting to think that there’s something powerful carried in that name! 🙂 Here’s an important lesson that I learned from Ruth that I want to attain in my own life:

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I watched our passel of energetic children run outside, and then turned to seek out Ruth.  I found my gray-haired, sparkly-eyed friend in the kitchen cleaning up the mess of our extended families with the rest of the women.  I waited for a moment alone after all the work was done to speak with her.  Ruth, a dear family friend in her eighties, had lost her husband and life-long friend, Sam, the previous October.  I was concerned about her despite her happy demeanor.

“Ruth,” I asked, “how are you really doing?”  She smiled as she explained how she missed Sam every minute of every day, but then she went on to quote her sister who had become a widow years before.  “I have stood in front of my Sunday school class for thirty years and taught about the sufficiency of God.  If I can’t live it out now, what did it really mean?”

I love Ruth.  She’s a woman with a lot of spunk just like me, and she is a person of strong convictions.  She is confident and decisive, but she is weak in all the right places.  She is reliant on God and has found that He is all she needs.  Ruth has practiced depending on God throughout her life, and now she finds her provision, companionship, comfort, and purpose in Him.

How do we become dependent on God?  How can we experience the truth that He is enough in every stage of our life?  How can we battle our culture’s self-fulfillment, me-time, do-what-feels-good, self-actualizing mentality in our quest to become godly women?  In actively observing the lives of women around me, there are some patterns that begin to emerge that are worthy of emulation. These women have found that God is enough.  They have discovered that God is sufficient in every season to help meet every life challenge.

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God alone is sufficient. That’s the way I want to live until my last breath!

What lessons have you learned from the older women around you that you want to live well?

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How to Build Belief on an Unshakable Foundation

Belief is a tricky thing. If our belief rests on our outcomes, we’ll be shaky and doubts will sprout. But if Jesus Himself is the foundation of our belief, we’ll be unshakable with a thriving faith. That’s the core of today’s devotion, “What Is True Belief?”

When our beliefs are anchored to our circumstances, we anxiously wrestle. When our beliefs are fettered to Jesus, we confidently rest. Here’s a free download as a gift for you that you can print to remind you of this truth:

What we believe shows in the way we act, the decisions we make, and the choices we pursue. Over a decade ago, I learned this important lesson from a winsome woman I met at a women’s retreat. Her name was Ruth.

Ruth stood out in the retreat crowd not only because of her lustrous gray hair but also because of the cluster of younger women around her. They were talking with her, doting on her, and soaking in every word she said, so I headed over to meet this woman who drew in like a magnet.After listening to this delightful woman talk for a while, I asked her, “What’s your secret?  Over the  years, how have you continued to grow in the Lord, stay positive and exude joy?” Her answer was simple yet profound,

“Be today who you want to be tomorrow.” 

As she spoke, I remembered a conversation from a girls-night-out with some women from my church.  Conversation  flowed freely from one topic to the next as I got to know the women across from me.  We talked about our kids, our homes and our work.  Ironically, both women had done specialized nursing with geriatric patients.

I started to question them about their work and their patients.  Finally I asked, “Why do you think that so many older people, particularly women, seem to struggle with negativity as they age?”  Both looked at me in surprise and said that I was incorrect.  They were unanimous in their theory of how aging affects personality.

“Aging only magnifies who you already are,” my friend said.

“Yes,” chimed in the other, “If you are kind when you are young, then you’ll be even kinder as you age.  If you think positively when you’re young, then you will also have that habit as you age.  But if you are a complainer when you are young, then you’ll get worse as you age.  If you are unforgiving when you are young, then you’ll become very bitter as you age.”

They explained that occasionally diseases that affect the brain will change a person’s personality, thinking and actions. Generally, however, through stories and comments of family members about the early days of their elderly patients, they had found that their original hypothesis held true.  Ruth’s answer to my question about the secret to aging well was completely consistent with my friends’ observations.  “Be today who you want to be tomorrow.”

I’d like to propose a corrolary truth to Ruth’s today:

What you believe determines who you’ll be.

Aging magnifies what we believe. If we believe that Jesus commands us to use words to build up, then we’ll develop the habit of encouraging words.

If we believe that God is good despite our circumstances, then we’ll develop the pattern of praise in the midst of hardship.

If we believe that He is the provider and healer, then we’ll cultivate patient, expectant waiting (without complaint…ouch!) as we wait for His provision and healing.

If we believe that the fruits of the Spirit given to us are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then we’ll pursue portraying those traits.

Ruth’s beliefs shone brightly because of the kind of woman she had become. Who she had become reflected what she believed.

Do you desire to be a godly, older woman like Ruth? I do! Then, we’re called to pursue knowing Truth (belief is part of truly knowing!) and living the Truth. It really does change everything– including our aging.

 

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Dream-Reviver Giveaway

I’m so glad you’re here today because I have a treat for you. A special welcome to those who are visiting from Encouragement for Today!

In today’s devotion, When God Seems Late, I expressed my sometimes-impatience with God’s timing and shared how I’m learning to wait for His appointed, just-right time for His promises to be fulfilled.

Knowing Sarah’s story has strengthened my ability to wait, but sometimes it’s really, really hard. In long journeys, we need refreshing and reviving along the way for our dreams. That’s why I’ve gathered some encouraging resources for we who are waiting. There’s even enough inspiration here to share with a friend or two!

If you’re the winner, you’ll receive:

  • Breaking Up with Perfect by Amy Carroll
  • Doing Busy Better by Glynnis Whitwer (she’s got a guest post coming that I can’t wait to share!)
  • She’s Still There by Chrystal Evans Hurst
  • Wait and See by Wendy Pope
  • A beautiful embroidered clutch from India (where half my heart lives)

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment telling where you’re from. I get so excited about seeing the hometowns of all my visitors here. If you’d like to share a story about your wait or what you’ve learned while waiting, I’d love to hear that too!

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