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Category Archives: encouragment

Put off, Put on

Most people are surprised to learn that I’m an introvert. But really, I am. I can choose to be extroverted and I recognize the value of that, but on the inside, I’m very introverted. On the other hand, I’m also very opinionated and can be outspoken (no wonder everyone is confused) so this week has been really convicting for me. Keep reading….

My small group is working through The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. Which is a great book by the way! I read it in high school but I really don’t remember much from it so this is a good refresher. Last week’s chapter was on having Holiness in Spirit because we all know that you can’t just change outward behavior and be holy. It all begins in our hearts. I was cruising through the chapter when I suddenly hit this line:

“One of the most difficult defilements of spirit to deal with is the critical spirit. A critical spirit is rooted in pride. Because of the “plank” of pride in our own eye we are not capable of dealing with the “speck” of need in someone else.” pg 110

The paragraph goes on but I wrote in my book in large letters: STRUGGLE! I really struggle with a critical spirit! I can be very opinionated (no really?) and quick to point out the flaws in others without regard to their needs. All rooted in pride.

Which brings me to my second punch in the gut for the week. The sermon on Sunday was on Ephesians 4:25-32 and he outlined loving ways of communication. I just wanted to cover up my head and hide. I’m terrible at good communication! It takes me a long time to figure out what I’m actually feeling and by then I think it’s too long to bring it back up but it’s still bugging me and so I sit in silence and brood. Anyone else have this issue? No? Just me? Okay.

Anyway, one of his points really his home with me (ALL of his points were very practical and useful!) He said to ask yourself if YOUR attitude is right before approaching another person AND to ask if this is what the OTHER person needs.

Many times I approach people to get things off my chest. It’s weighing me down, driving me nuts, and so I bring something up (usually from weeks ago because I couldn’t gather my thoughts) so we can talk through it. But maybe that’s just what I selfishly need, not what is most loving towards that person. If it’s not sinful or harmful for our relationship, I should really cover it in love. (1 Peter 4:8, Proverbs 17:9) SO hard to do when you’ve got a prideful, critical spirit to deal with! But that’s loving my neighbor as myself.

Over all, a pretty convicting and challenging week for this outspoken girl. However, just keeping my negative thoughts to myself isn’t enough. That’s not what the Bible calls us to. God has loftier things in mind for his children. Not only am I to put off my critical self, but I’m to put on gentleness, compassion, and encouragement for others. (Col. 3) It’s not enough to just empty myself of a sinful habit if I’m not also filling my soul with a righteous one.

The beauty of it is that the more I fill myself up with God’s Word and I practically apply what it says, the less negative thoughts even come to mind. What a blessing the Holy Spirit is! Reliance on him is the key to overcoming any sin habit.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Raised to Walk a New Life

You know those people that come into work (or wherever) in the winter time and complain about how much they hate winter and can’t wait for warm weather but then as soon as summer is here they complain about how much they hate the heat? You know who I’m talking about? I’m not one of those people. I’m solely a summer complainer. A heat-hater. I freaking love winter and all my friends know it. So I jokingly say that I have a right to complain when summer comes around since I don’t play both ends. 🙂

In case you didn’t know, summer has finally come to Ohio. After weeks of rain, the heat and humidity have arrived. And while I haven’t particularly enjoyed the rain and have been praying especially for all our farmers, I HAVE been enjoying those 50 degree nights. That was pretty nice to have all the way through June. And I’ve also been enjoying my $20 electric bill as I push off putting in my AC until I can’t take it anymore.

Which was last night. Last night, I got home from work and my apartment was at 90 degrees with no air flow coming in. My neighbor and I agreed it was time and we helped each other get our AC units in. But after an hour, it was still at 86 and I was sweltering. If you haven’t seen this, I turn into a different person when I’m unbearably hot. Yeeeeaaahhh…need to work on that…

So I quickly texted a friend of mine in town who has a- guess what? Pool! And both my neighbor and I went swimming for a while. It was SO cool and refreshing! We stayed till the sun went down and I felt like a new human walking home.

As I thought about it this morning, a phrase is running through my head that I’ve missed since I moved to Ohio. When I was baptized in PA, my pastor said these words, “Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of his death and raised to walk a new life.” I love that last sentence! It’s so symbolic as you are put under the water and come back up. But I haven’t heard it at any baptisms out here and I’m usually sitting waiting for it (and end up whispering it under my breath 🙂 ) It’s not like it’s a required thing to say, I just happen to like it.

Last night was a very simple but great reminder for me. As different as I felt getting out of that pool from when I got in is how different my life is in Christ! Believers are new creations! The old is gone, washed away! The new is here, being put on daily!

Thank you to my chlorine-smelling hair for the great reminder!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Hardworking Pride

I’m going to back track here for a moment. A couple posts back I was re-reading Crazy Busy, right? And then my life got crazy busy and I haven’t posted in a while. But there is another lesson from that book that I wanted to write about because it came up again this week.

As we all know, I may have a tendency to say yes to everyone and everything. Hence the busyness. This week I had a really hard time saying no to people. All good things and all things I love but by the end of the week I was feeling overwhelmed and burdened and I knew it was my own darn fault.

And finally I remembered something from Crazy Busy:

“We are busy because we try to do too many things. We do too many things because we say yes to too many people. We say yes to all these people because we want them to like us and we fear their disapproval. It’s not wrong to be kind. In fact, it’s the mark of a Christian to be a servant. But people pleasing is something else. Doing the cookie drive so you can love others is one thing. Doing the cookie drive so that others might love you is quite another. So much of our busyness comes down to meeting people’s expectations. You may have a reputation for being the nicest person in the world because the operating principle in your heart is to have the reputation for being the nicest person in the world. Not only is that a manifestation of pride and therefore a sin; it also makes our lives miserable (living and dying by the approval of others), and it usually hurts those who are closest to us (who get what’s left over of our time and energy after we try to please everyone else). People often call it low self-esteem, but people-pleasing is actually a form of pride and narcissism.” Crazy Busy pg. 35

So if reading that didn’t kick you down several notches like it did me, then maybe you don’t need to be reading this post at all. As for me, I believe I felt my blood pressure spike as I read a thorough description of myself in a stranger’s book.

Pride can be very sneaky and sometimes imperceptible because it worms itself into our good intentions. I found that while I’ve been busy, so has my prideful spirit. I realized this week that I need to really evaluate and pray over my motivations for why I’m involved in things. I need to go back to my “Before I say Yes” List and make sure I’m using it.

But I’m also thankful that I’m not flying blind by myself here. I have the Holy Spirit living in me to convict and guide. And I have friends who will help hold me accountable. What a blessing those two things are!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2019 in encouragment

 

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The Empathetic Psalm

Did you know there is a difference between empathy and sympathy? Yeah, I didn’t either (nor had I really thought about it) until a couple years ago. It was around that time that my best friend (Natalie) found this video which, you really should watch:

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I’m going to let you in on a personal secret. Whenever Natalie or I are having a particularly bad day, we will usually whisper to the other person, “It’s dark down here.” We both know the reference and know what the other person needs.

It’s been pretty dark lately. There hasn’t been any big, terrible event. I’m just flat-out depressed. I feel numb, emotionless, and worn. When other people say they are running on Jesus and Coffee they usually laugh, but for me, that is dead reality. No joking.

Psalm 88 is one of the unusual and rarely read Psalms. It’s not like the others. It doesn’t start out with the author in pain, despair, or depression and end with him full of hope. It actually starts and ends pretty much the same. I would really encourage you to read the whole thing but here are some snippets of it:

“I cry out day and night before you” 

“For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol”

“I am a man who has no strength”

“You have put me in the depths of the pit”

“I am shut in so that I cannot escape”

“O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”

“I suffer your terrors; I am helpless”

And on it goes. You read that and tell me that the author didn’t struggle with depression. You read most of the Psalms and tell me that. It’s pretty low.

But when I read these words, I feel empathy from men that lived thousands of years before me. Men who firmly believed in God’s perfect will but struggled with their hearts and minds. The author even admitted (I love this) that God was loving, faithful, wonderful, and righteous in verses 11-12 of this Psalm but only to say that he wouldn’t be able to tell of these things if he died.

It’s even encouraging to me that this Psalm doesn’t end the way all the others do. We don’t like to sit in darkness and depression and we DEFINITELY don’t like to sit with others during those times. But sometimes that’s where God has placed us or those around us.

Sometimes empathy is asked, not sympathy. Sometimes life is more like Psalm 88 than Psalm 89.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2019 in encouragment

 

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It’s Lent for Me

Two nights ago I was laying in bed exhausted. But I was thinking and one thought just kept coming to my mind. “Lord, I wish it was Lent.”

Which is a totally weird thought for me. Growing up, we didn’t celebrate Lent at all. In fact, I secretly thought that the only people that did anything with Lent were Catholics or super legalistic people. I didn’t even really know what it was to be honest.

So you can imagine my surprise when I became an adult and found out that quite a few of my friends give up things for Lent. Still didn’t really understand it….but I came to the simple conclusion that it must not be a Catholic thing after all. It was a mystery to me honestly.

Last year I decided to do some research to figure out this whole LENT thing. I found out that it was the time period between Ash Wednesday (hmmm…wonder when that is…) and the Saturday before Easter- 40 Days. Which represent the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. And that a lot of believers use that time to give up something from their life and focus on Christ instead. Of course it can be something legalistic (like most things) but it doesn’t have to be.

So I decided to give it a try. I thought of something I wouldn’t want to give up but would probably give me more time to spend with the Lord. *Netflix* Annnnddd…I hated it. Truly. It’s not like I watch a ton of Netflix but I didn’t realize at the time how much my brain used a stupid baking show or Andy Griffith to wind down before bed. And at the time I couldn’t do much reading so I felt trapped and stuck. But I did it for the 40 days and decided I didn’t want to do Lent again. Great attitude, right?

You may be wondering then, why I was wishing it was Lent the other night? Because deep down, I wanted to be done with social media for a while. It was just one more thing for me to keep up with and it was wearing me out. And I know that isn’t the purpose of Lent, to give up something because you are done with it. But inside I was thinking that people would understand more during Lent. They wouldn’t think I was weird or crazy. I KNOW it’s pride, people!

And even as I thought that to myself, my…small…inner rebel spoke up and asked, “Since when did you start caring so much about what people think?” HA!

Inner rebel for the win, I’m off social media. And it’s such a relief. I expect I will miss things and my blog stats will plummet and I. Don’t. Care. When something isn’t drawing me closer to Christ, out it goes. Christ stays, but the world doesn’t.

So right now I’m just sitting here enjoying my early Lent. How about you?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Let Me See Redemption Win

I woke up this morning feeling the epitome of one of my favorite songs. So much so that I listened to it on my drive to work:

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

(Worn- Tenth Avenue North)

This week has worn me out, friends. I’ve been filling in for someone at work while she’s on vacation and let me tell ya, I thought I was pretty confident in her workload until she wasn’t sitting there watching me do it anymore. Suddenly moving big chunks of money around without guidance became stressful. I made (and fixed) mistakes all week long. I’ve felt a little lost and forgetful over stuff I think I should remember.

I’ve also been in several long meetings and working on things I’ve previously committed to. I don’t have phone service throughout the day where I work so my phone gets bombarded with texts as I drive home. Yesterday by the time I got home, I had 21 unread messages and that was just since lunch time! None of these were, “Hey how are you doing today?” type messages. All of them required some sort of action or decision from me. And people wonder why I turn my phone off sometimes.

So this morning when I woke up, I felt worn. Another line in that song particularly stands out to me. It says, “I’m worn, even before the day begins.” I feel that way every day so I identify with that on a very deep level. But even more so today.

As I was driving to work, freezing because my car can’t beat this kind of cold, I came around a turn and this view hit me:

You probably can’t even see it, but there is a beautiful sunrise and right in front of me, a faint rainbow. I could even see the other side of it. And softly playing on my radio was a song about God’s faithfulness. I breathed a sigh. Yes. Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder.

Yeah, I’ve had a crappy week. But not all of it. And yes, I’m stressed and overwhelmed. But that doesn’t change who God is or what he has done. He is constant and faithful. To ALL his promises. I was reminded of the flood and how he has kept every. single. one. of his promises before, since then, and will continue to do so for eternity.

What song did I listen to on my way home? Another favorite:

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

(Living Hope- Phil Wickham)

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Delighting in the Lord (Link)

Gooood Morning! Here’s my latest guest post over at Guys with Bibles! Have a fabulous day!

Delighting in the Lord

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 in encouragment

 

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