Category Archives: Courage

Your love is better than life!

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Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. -Psalm 63:3-4

Last night in my women’s Bible study group we talked about the great power of Jesus and how daily we need to remind ourselves that His power is greater than any challenge that we are facing. There is nothing that we should fear when we believe. So true is that statement where power is replaced by love. With the beginning of February and such a love surrounded season, I will be posting on the theme of God’s love for us.

The psalmists affirms God’s love. It is better than life. No argument there. Life is hard and mostly overwhelming. There are unexpected twists and turns. Hurts, misunderstandings and heartache. But rejoice and breathe because God is better than all of that. Remember, the conclusion of the Bible study??

Every hurt that I have come through successfully on the other side was because of God and His love. This last year was really hard for me mentally and emotionally. My thesis work was getting me down. I felt that I was consistently failing and letting everyone down. I kept trying, and trying, and trying to no avail. I couldn’t shake the feelings of worthlessness. Finally, I found myself in this darkness angry with God and questioning where He was in all of it. I felt like a bad version of Job. I argued back with God. It didn’t make sense why He had opened the doors for me to go to graduate school, transfer and then leave me feeling helpless. I didn’t see the point in all of the pain and self-doubt. Especially since the person I was didn’t feel like me. But after enough grumbling, I decided that I had to surrender. I had to trust. I had to trust God’s love for me. It shouldn’t be hard for us to trust God’s love because it is unfailing but we still do sometimes. Don’t we? Like it is too good to be true.

I would go on further to say that God’s love is bigger than life. But because of His love, the promise to allow only glory to escape our lips is made. He deserves nothing less than our praise. Every moment, every day and every blessing comes from Him. We should have a hard time keeping our praises quiet because of all the overwhelming joy and overfilled cups. But when we are in those dark places or feel alone it is hard to acknowledge that we are lovable. We deserve love and we have a God that is ready to shower us with love. And a love that transcends any earthly love.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. -Psalm 63:3-4

Beauty is What’s on the Inside

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“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

I’ll be the first to admit that my appearance is important to me. I won’t leave the house without feeling “cute” to myself and when I don’t, I feel self-conscious all day! I always ask my husband as a second opinion. And as a good husband he always tells me that I look beautiful no matter how risky a combination I might be wearing that day. I feel prettier when I paint my nails,  highlight my facial features with eyeliner and spend and extra 30 minutes curling my hair to look like Sleeping Beauty’s. New clothes and shoes always give me a bump in esteem. I catch myself “checking myself out” in my reflection in windows and glass throughout the day. After eating, I always check my teeth. Do you find yourself doing the same things? Why does it matter what other people see when they look at us?

According to 1 Peter,  real beauty comes from the inside.  Have you ever noticed that when something good happens to you, you just sort of beam? It comes from within and you can nearly contain your happiness. It’s like when you find out that you got the highest grade in your class, won an award, answered a question right in front of the class, just were told that you were loved by a significant other, lost five pounds, landed that promotion, got engaged, or found out that you were expecting your first child. It is that inner joy that cannot be replicated on the outside with clothes, jewelry or even a new haircut. It causes you to walk taller, with greater confidence and with a smile plastered on your face. Shouldn’t we exude the same joy from the inside through our walk and faith in Christ? That’s the beauty that Peter is talking about.

Rather than spending time on our outward appearance, I think that Peter, the encourager, it suggesting that we shift our focus to our inner spirituality. It is the true us that only God knows and the person that we show to the world through our actions and words. God knows who we are. He reads our thoughts and hears the intentions of our hearts. Primping our inner selves becomes important and attainable through Bible Study and prayer. It is hard to cast away our outer selves but we have to persevere. Most importantly, we draw closer to our heavenly Father and in turn become better witnesses to those around us. I challenge you to harness that gentle spirit that Peter describes because instead of pleasing the onlookers of the world, shift your focus to pleasing and bringing glory to the One who loves you for you.

Leaning into the Fear of Failure

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I’m currently reading “What Women Fear” by Angie Smith and I cannot begin to express how much I love this book! It reaches such a broad scope of women and their fears such as what if…, of God, of failure and the like. Her candid writing and truthfulness shine through bringing the point of each chapter home. The book is one where each chapter I’m saying to myself,” I totally have or do feel that way!” Each time I sit down to read, I just keep plowing through it.

As I am reading the last chapter, which discusses the fear of failure, I find myself in a super frustrating situation at work. It is actually funny because I had a phone conversation with a lifelong friend and we concluded that as you get older, you learn how to manage your personal ticks and cues to work towards being a better person. I am a scientist and daily I work in a lab conducting experiments. Experiments can be very time demanding or in the “set it and forget it” variety. Yesterday, I finished an experiment that was very time demanding. At the beginning, I had to stay late and pull a twelve-hour day just to get it to a point where I could go home. From work, my kind, sweet husband ran to grab us dinner within walking distance because it was going to be a late night. But it was “ok.” I knew that this experiment was important to my work and so I cranked up the radio and got through it. Flash forward to yesterday. I analyzed the data from the experiment and noticed that after this very large,  important experiment and all of the time and resources wasted that it didn’t work. Arg!!!

Anger and disappointment were my first two responses. Aversion to my job, my career path and my life choices came next. I was so overcome with emotion that I just had to gather my things, turn off the light switch in the lab and make my way home. Now bringing it back to the conversation that I had with my lifelong friend and “What Women Fear.” I realized that I wasn’t going to overcome anything by running away despite how badly I wanted to walk into my boss’ office and quit. Since my natural reaction to this type of negative result is aversion and disappointment perhaps instead of being paralyzed by my fear of the lack of success I could lean into the storm and let it carry me. In other words, perhaps it isn’t me who is a failure. There are a number of points throughout the large experiment which could have gone wrong. I may have physically done something wrong but that doesn’t mean that I failed. The experiment did. By leaning into the problem I gain control. I steady myself to take the backlash. To paraphrase  Angie in her book, if you are on the path that God has provided for you, then you cannot fail because He won’t allow you to.

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

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Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.– Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)

Courage. This is the second message coming out from these verses. I’d specifically like to focus in on the final verse. It is because of Paul’s chains that we are now more confident in the Lord and dare to proclaim the Gospel without fear. It took one man and his mission to generate that feeling of confidence within us. One person can make a difference. You’ve probably heard this before. But what you do today may inspire someone else to follow or take action. We were not able to witness Paul’s imprisonment, however, retrospectively we can understand what that meant to early Christians. Paul’s courage inspired courage within others. Doesn’t that make you want to be more outspoken and courageous with your faith? Who knows what sort of impact you may have on this world on behalf of our Lord!

It was once a scary time to be a Christian and in some parts of the world today it still is. Missionaries across the globe are spreading the Gospel in areas where it is discouraged and the could be reprimanded severely. But have courage. There are others who have gone before us. People like Paul. So speak out. Strike up conversations that you were once uncertain whether you should have. Let someone difficult know that you are praying for them. Spread God’s love.