Tuesday, February 24, 2015

All I Need

"All I Need is You, Jesus!"

I used to sing it passionately in church. I used to pray it fervently in my quiet times.

But I don't believe it anymore.

Yep. That's right. Jesus is not all I need.

Before I get stoned, let me explain. 

By saying, "Jesus is not all I need," I'm not saying "I don't need Jesus." I'm not saying that I've lost faith in Him. I'm not saying that I don't need Him first and foremost. I am saying that Scripture shows that this "All I need is You" culture was not the Lord's intent.

Even in Eden, the first man was lonely. He had unhindered, face-to-face contact with the Creator, and he was lonely! There was no sin, no shame, no ugliness of any kind, and he was lonely! He was so lonely, that the Lord in his compassion said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." And then when He created the first woman, He told them to "be fruitful and multiply." If that's not an indicator that we were made to live in community, I don't know what is. It was the Lord's own beautiful idea that we would need others besides Him. More correctly, that we would need others, once we were filled with Him.

Before the time of our individualistic society, and in many places around the world today, community means survival. Living in community means more hands to bring in the harvest, more hands to help fight off enemies, more bodies to help repair a house, more bodies to keep you warm during long, winter nights.

I believe community in our modern society still means survival. It means having someone to help me fight depression and hopelessness. It means sharing my talents and resources with someone who needs them. It means having someone to encourage and be encouraged by.

Jesus, you are what I need, but you are not all I need. Show me how to share your goodness with others. Show me how to be as transparent with people as I am with you.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Words of Life

I was on a video chat earlier this week with my mom back home. After a few glitches were figured out and we could finally both hear and see each other clearly, my mom's first words were "Oh, you look so pretty! Your hair is so nice and your complexion looks so clear!"

I stood speechless for a moment. In my head I thought, "Who are you and what have you done with my mother?" But in my heart I was singing and twirling the way Julie Andrews does in The Sound of Music.

I love my mom and I know she loves me, but we are as different as night and day and that has led to more than one misunderstanding between us. We now have a pleasant relationship chattering on about the latest recipe, or sale, or book we love, but it hasn't always been so. It's only in the last couple of years that we have truly learned to accept one another. 

So imagine, my surprise when my mom's usual criticism of the way I look, or dress, or raise my child was replaced by a compliment. And not just a "that's good enough" compliment, but a heart-felt message of encouragement. I've been living on that single compliment all week! It's absolutely fueled each moment, especially my time with my own daughter.

Proverbs 18:21 says "The tongue has power over life and death."  How perfectly this saying was brought to life for me this week! 

Women of God, don't let your encouraging words to one another be few. You will never know how much your kind word will mean to someone. You can truly make or break someone's day, week, or entire life with the words you choose to say to them. 

"Like apples of gold in settings of silver,
 is a word appropriately spoken." 
Proverbs 25:11

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Something New

My husband and I are close to finishing another big remodeling project on a house. I think about all the things I've learned during each process, and I chuckle out loud...

Honey, what am I supposed to do
with an old dresser?
I remember the extremely frustrating moments when I felt like punching my husband in the face. No exaggeration there. Like when he tosses me a post-hole digger and points to a pre-marked spot on the ground...um, excuse me? You want me to do what?! Heck, no! I'm a lady! And one-hour later, I'm angry and sweating, but the hole is finally dug (meanwhile, he's done 3).  

And I remember the extremely fun moments, like picking out the plants and flowers for the garden or drinking coffee in the new back porch. 

Turn a new skill into something lovely!
I've learned to chop firewood, use a knife without injuring myself, cut tile like a pro, and paint a ceiling without spilling a drop. I have to admit, some of it (okay, a lot of it) I've learned against my will, kicking and screaming the whole way. 

But I also have to admit that with each new skill has come a new level of confidence, That wasn't so bad now, was it? I wonder what else I can do that I've never tried before. Sure it takes me longer than my husband to do it, and more than a few cuss words may escape my lips while attempting it, but what an amazing feeling when I step back and see what I've accomplished. 

So on this Valentine's Day, I want to say Thank You, Honey! Thanks for putting up with me, thanks for pushing me past my comfort zones, many times. And thanks for teaching me confidence, and strength, and perseverance.