Wednesday Wonderment: Do You Know?

This week I finished up an article about discovering our strengths. As I wrote to try to encourage young women to discover and pursue their strengths, I couldn’t help but wonder something. How many adults truly know their strengths?

Even more importantly, if we know them do we utilize them?

Here are a couple of my thoughts:

1. We should encourage the children and youth of our society to actively seek to discover where God has gifted them. Now. Not when they’re “old enough.” Then we should help them find specific ways to utilize those gifts, talents, and strengths. Let’s raise the bar for these kids!

2. Even if you and I truly thought about our strengths when we were young, could it be that there are some that cannot be revealed without age and maturity? What are we doing to continuously explore the giftings God has laid upon us?

What are your thoughts?

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Despising the Old

Last week I shared about a willingness to make a change.

My desk is now reorganized, and I love it! I am discovering improvements I never expected from the adjustment – and this was just a minor one!

But, as I contemplate the improvements, a new thought occurs to me. I must not despise the way it used to be. Yes, that seems silly – it’s just desk organization. But, how clearly does the desk organization reflect my attitude toward my past?

Years ago, Doug and I discovered a new Christian rock band. Their first album was different from anything else in the Christian market, and we grew to love it.

Then the second album came out, and it was just okay.

What bothered me the most about the second album, though, was the attitude of the band toward their first album. They looked back on their freshman efforts and declared them immature and rough. Their new album, they claimed, was a marked improvement.

So, what does that say for the fans who loved their first album? Who liked it better than the second?

Fortunately, the band outgrew that mentality. They even returned to the style of their first album and produced several more phenomenal records before moving on to other things. But I never forgot the impact their second-album attitude had on me.

And I never forgot the lesson learned: Don’t despise what brought you to this place.

Sometimes it can be very, very hard to lay aside something that has worked well for us. When we finally do, however, we see that what God has next is infinitely more wonderful! We wonder why we chose to cling to the old for so long. And we forget that the old really was perfect for its time.

We begin to despise the old. The old friendships. The old responsibilities. The old connections. The old books. The old songs. The old whatever…it’s all just old.

But where would we be without the old?

God uses each phase of life to accomplish His great purpose. Every stage is beautiful. Every stage is important. How can we despise what God orchestrated?

There are old things in my life that I look back upon fondly. I do not regret them. Sometimes I miss them. Other times I am thankful that God moved me forward, just as I am thankful that He had me there at the time.

Other things I do not miss. Stages of life that were not what I would have preferred. Or, even if they were good at the time, they did not end as I would have hoped. So, while the experience was sweet, the aftertaste turned bitter.

But both sets of experiences brought me where I am today. Both have been used by God to shape me and grow me. Both are critical. And neither need to be despised.

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Wednesday Wonderment: What’s Your Translation?

Ready for today’s wonderment?

What’s your favorite Bible translation and why?

This thought came to me earlier this week when I was reading in NLT rather than my standard NASB. A verse jumped off the page at me because of the way it was worded. It made me look at that verse in a way I had never seen it before.

I immediately pulled out my NASB to compare.

The meaning was relatively the same. It was just that the unfamiliar wording made me stop and think twice about the verse.

I love my NASB because it is so literal. I know that even the most literal translators have to make judgment calls, but more literal translations have fewer of those than some of the more reader-friendly translations.

Even so, it is always neat to switch translations for reading purposes. I find myself truly reading verses I might have otherwise skimmed over because of familiarity.

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite? Do you switch around?

And do you remember to be thankful for the fact that you not only have a Bible in your own language, but have multiple versions, translations, and copies?

I am thankful for all of the above. The ability to explore God’s Word is such an incredible blessing and delight!

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Time for a Change

I was about to close my computer and walk away for the night. Actually, I was about to rearrange my desk space a bit. But that plan spurred a thought in my brain that made me turn right back to the computer screen.

I love it when that happens.

I love to find the perfect organizational scheme. The room layout that allows everything to have a place and remain tidy. The schedule that is consistent yet flexible. The pantry organization that displays staples conveniently while allowing space for incoming groceries.

Perfection.

It happens more often than you might think. Unfortunately, perfection is always temporary. Something changes, and the room layout no longer promotes tidiness. A new or increased time demand permanently disrupts the great schedule. A massive grocery stock-up trip requires new pantry organization.

The big problem comes when we neglect make a change in the organization. Perhaps we want to make the adjustment, but feel that we lack the time. More often than not, though, I think we are too stubborn to make a change.

How often is this same reality reflected in the rest of our lives?

We find something that works for a while and we cling to it with all our might – even after it stops working. Think about some of these aspects of your spiritual life:

  • a job
  • community
  • Bible study method
  • Personal devotion style
  • church or community worship format
  • ministry focus
  • service passion
  • giving opportunity

Those are just the ones that come to mind immediately. Looking back at my own life, I could probably think a quite a few more. I have clung stubbornly on many occasions.

We tend to believe that if something is right for us once, it is always right for us. And, there are times that is true. Marriage is a prominent example. But, just because we claim that truth for one aspect of life does not mean it is true for every aspect of life.

Even our deep-seated theological convictions cannot remain unchanged. Yes, even those must grow and change as the Holy Spirit illuminates God’s Word with increasing clarity as we mature in Christ.

What fit perfectly at one stage of life might not fit in the next.

The question is this: How stubbornly will we cling to what used to fit? How willing are we to accept the fact that even the most wonderful fits change sometimes?

As I look around me, I realize that my desk organization still needs to change. What once was perfect now needs some tweaking. I made a huge change to get to where I am right now. This time I only need a small change. But, it is still an adjustment. Come to think of it, I made a tweak a few weeks ago that will make this adjustment possible. I would not have even thought about this current change had it not been for that last little one.

The perfect structure for our spiritual lives is the same. It flows. Each change, each growth, each tweak builds on the one before. Some are major changes. Some are just little adjustments. But all are necessary.

What changes do you need to make this week? Don’t be stubborn. Take the plunge and enjoy the delight that the new structure brings…until God nudges you to change yet again.

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Wednesday Wonderments: Cold-Weather Recipes

I’m having a hard time with Wednesday blog posts.

I want to make a commitment to posting here three days a week. But, I do much better when I have a general theme for each day. Marriage on Mondays. Faith on Fridays. (Alliteration – isn’t it grand?)

The original idea was to make Wednesdays my “around the web” day. Yeah, that hasn’t worked so well.

So, here is the newest idea: Wednesday Wonderments. (I love that word – wonderment. I don’t know why. Can you tell I’m feeling a little random and scatterbrained right now?)

Anyway, I am going to try to post whatever my most recent wonderment is. It might be organizational. It could be homeschool or work related. Maybe it will be something from a Scripture reading that has not quite formulated enough to hash out in a blog post. Or, maybe I will share something I have thought through but want your ideas, too.

Here’s the catch. I need your input! Will you comment? I have no idea how many readers I have. I don’t know if I know you or if you are a stranger. But, I woudl love to interact with you. And, I would love for some of you to get to know each other. I have met some fantastic people through dialog in blog comments!

Let’s start with an easy one.

The weather is getting cooler, and I need new recipe ideas. So, what are your favorite cold weather recipes?

Here is one of ours: pasta e fagioli soup (Even better than Olive Garden, in my opinion!)

Your turn!

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Marriage Monday: That Thing He Does

During our last three years in the Memphis area, my husband worked for UPS. He had the lovely task of loading trucks every day. Not the lovely brown trucks that deliver wonderful packages to your house. No, he loaded the feeders that make sure those packages get from their point of origin to the lovely brown truck and on to your house in two days.

You have probably driven by the huge distribution centers lined with trailer bays. Now imagine working inside one.

Unfortunately, for those three years all I could do was imagine. I never got to see the inside of the UPS hub where Doug worked. I had to rely on descriptions.

That was hard for me. You see, all of our married life, I’d known Doug’s work. I’d known his coworkers. I’d seen his work place. In fact, I visited it regularly. But not at UPS. I knew only one coworker. And I relied on stories.

Fortunately, Doug told stories. He described. He tried to paint a picture for me so I would know what his work day and place looked like. He laid the groundwork from day one. So, when day 483 (along with many other days!) was especially trying, he could share his thoughts with few words because he knew I understood the background.

That has been phenomenal for our marriage. He knows that even if I have never experienced his work, he can still talk to me about it.

I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who really have no clue what their spouses do. Oh, they know the general environment. They know some names of coworkers. But, they have no idea what a typical work day looks like. They don’t understand what causes stress. They know little about what creates a good or bad day.

When we cannot turn to our spouses with our successes and frustrations, where do we turn? To the people who “get” us. To the people who understand. Our coworkers. Others in the field.

Where does that leave our spouses? Out in the cold.

Where does that leave our marriages? Growing cold.

It is so vital that we share the details of each day with our spouses. Let him know what your work entailed today. Let her know about your interactions, successes, and failures.

Doug and I still have to work at this, even though we share an office now. Even sitting across the room from one another, it is easy to get focused on our own screens, our own work, and our own online interactions. We still have to actively share. We still have to talk. We each still have to be intentionally involved in the work of the other.

How interested are you in the daily life of your spouse? How much do you know about the challenges and successes that define each week? I encourage you to take it up a notch today. Be involved. Show your spouse that you are a safe place for understanding and sharing. And see how it grows your relationship. See what doors for ministry and fellowship it opens.

It’s well worth the effort.

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Walk Away…and Toward

That’s what I’m trying to do today – walk away.

Walk away from the constant involvement.

Walk away from the computer (yes, I wrote this ahead of time!).

Walk away from the e-mail.

Walk away from the things that continually to claim my thoughts and my attention.

In our constantly connected world, it becomes harder and harder to walk away. I homeschool. I work from home via the Internet. Our ministry surrounds us all the time. The “office” – no matter which office it is – can go with me anywhere.

It’s hard to walk away. I have to choose to do it.

But, I think the bigger question is this: What am I walking toward?

God is teaching me more and more about rest. The need for it. The reality that rest is a command. But also the intricacies of it. What does it mean? How do the OT laws and principles apply to me today? How can I be obedient to the command for Sabbath rest in my life?

That’s where the walking away question comes into play. You see, I have long known that I need to regularly walk away from work. But, when I do, I feel lost. So many hours are focused on teaching my children, handling the ministry side of life, participating with my family in meeting the needs of our home, and meeting my HEDUA obligations.

What do I do when I walk away from the work?

I must have something I’m walking toward. And it cannot just be a generic statement of “rest” because I need to know exactly what rest means. What does it look like?

The only answer is that I must walk toward Christ.

Which brings me to an interesting thought. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing on a daily basis?

Could it be that rest is not just a weekly Sabbath thing but a daily thing? Could it be that Jesus’ invitation to come to Him means that we can find rest even in the day to day pressure?

Could it be that I am commanded to walk away daily, walking toward Him instead and allowing Him to take full control of every moment?

Could it be that even in the pressure of life, I can dwell in rest?

What a powerful thought!

Yes, today, I’m walking away from certain aspects of work to spend time being refreshed with my family. But, my direction for today should be no different than my direction for Monday. Each and every day I should be walking away from the cares of this world and walking toward rest in Christ. He will then take care of the details of that rest.

Will you walk toward Him with me today?

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