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worn

Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand.  I am tired. I am weak. I am worn.  Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

 

Exhausted is an understatement.  Exhausted implies that I’m simply very tired, that my body needs sleep, that I have been physically overworked and that a good night’s sleep or two will set things right.  I am so very beyond exhausted.

 

I am emotionally weary.  I feel like there’s not enough time in the day to pray for all the needs I know of.  Between sicknesses that need to be healed, comfort that needs to be given, needs that must be provided for, there’s no time left to pray for the energy and encouragement I need to go on praying for all these other things.  It sounds silly, but I’m at the point where one more prayer request will send me over the edge.  I got an email from my mother a few nights ago to pray for a mutual friend’s health issues and I burst into tears, when Trey asked why I told him I just don’t have it in me to pray for anything else, my list is too long, my heart is too heavy and I feel guilty for praying for myself and my family because there’s so much other pain out there.

 

I’ve been feeling this way for a few weeks now, and I don’t like it.  It’s a strange mix of feeling over-full and empty at the same time.  It’s like I’m in desperate need of a good cry and can’t quite find the opportunity to let the tears flow.  Which leaves me over-sensitive.  Seriously, a guy cut me off in traffic yesterday and I almost had an emotional breakdown.

 

I need help.  I need encouragement.  I need strength to carry on to encourage others.  I need energy to be what my husband needs me to be – even if those needs are unspoken…especially when those needs are unspoken.

 

This song by Tenth Avenue North pretty much sums it up.  Have a listen to my current anthem: Worn.

 

routine check-up

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been going to the chiropractor each morning since my treatment began and it’s put a kink in my morning routine. Today was the first day I haven’t had to leave the house in the a.m. in about 19 days, and as I was puttering around the kitchen this morning (packing Trey’s lunch and making his coffee, preparing my oatmeal and tea) I had this wave of relief that things were finally back to normal. Even the cats rejoiced as they watched me load up the end table beside the chaise in anticipation of my imminent hunkering-down to do my Bible study.

Once I kissed my (super awesome and incredibly handsome) hubby out the door, I crawled over Frank and wiggled into place on the chaise. I pulled the blanket up to my waist and scrunched my toes under Frank’s belly. Roger and Rufus soon joined us, and my morning Bible-study-breakfast-cat-snuggling routine was officially back on track. I was genuinely surprised at how much I’ve missed my quiet time these past few weeks. It’s as if I’ve been troubled by something vaguely unsettling and instantly, all was right with the world.

I took a deep breath and soaked it in. All of it: the warmth of the blanket, the sound of three purring cats, the familiar feel of my cup of Earl Grey, and the cozy cinnamon-honey flavor of my oatmeal filling my tummy and my soul with warmth.

And then I had a mini-epiphany.

Anyone who’s a regular oatmeal connesieur knows that no matter how you dress it, the one ingredient that will make or break your oatmeal is salt. You can put all the fruit, nuts, butter, sugar, or spices you want on it, but without the right amount of salt, your oatmeal will taste like cardboard. It’s an indisputable fact.

So this morning, as I was savoring the perfect amount of salt in my cinnamon-honey oatmeal, this scripture popped in my head (I feel I should note that I’m currently reading through 2 Chronicles and Acts – so I didn’t stumble on it as I was eating breakfast, it really popped in my head because I was thinking about the salt in my oatmeal):

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) – Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

And my epiphany was this: salt not only has its own flavor, but it brings out the flavor in other things. So if my life is oatmeal and I am salt (through my faith in Christ), then not only does my faith add its own flavor to my life, it makes my life more flavorful in its own right! I’m seriously having trouble putting this realization into words – it’s much more profound floating around in my brain, but I do hope you get the jist of my discovery. Christ doesn’t take over my life, He makes me MORE ME! Does that make sense? Gosh, I hope so, cause it kinda rocked my world.

And once I had the Salt Thought (try saying that three times fast!), I wondered what salt had to do with light. HELLO? What does light do if not illuminate the darkness? In the dark things are not always as they seem – but they still are what they are – and light simply shows what they truly are. So, applying the Salt Thought to Light: being in the Light shows us MORE OF WHO WE ARE!

Don’t you see?!?! We are Salt & Light and because of that, we are more of who we are meant to be, and in being more of who we are meant to be, we can finally be who we really are! And if that’s not enough talking in circles for you then I don’t know what is!

“I’d take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was.” ― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The answer to that, Mr. Kesey, is Salt & Light.

 

blessed part 2

Last week I told you about my experience reading Robert Morris’ book, The Blessed Life. I finished the final chapter, study guide, and Afterward some time later that afternoon. Trey had been listening to the sermon series in his car and finished around the same time. We spent the week discussing what we learned as it came up and decided we wanted to give. So we scheduled a budget meeting.

We try to take time out each week to go over our finances. I handle most of the bill paying so we use this time to make sure Trey’s in the loop and to make sure things are categorized correctly in our budget. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but you need a budget – I recommend Mint.com. It’s a free online budgeting tool that lets you link all of your accounts into one place – so as soon as I use my debit card I can go online and lable the purchase “gas & fuel” or whatever it may be.

Anyway, at last week’s budget meeting, Trey and I vowed to really get serious about sticking to our budget. And we discovered that if we did that, not only could we keep up with our tithe, we could also give almost 15% on top of that to other ministries!

I know in my gut that God did that math for us and provided for us so that we could give more. I know that because we’re both crazy excited to get Trey’s next paycheck because that’s when we’ll get to put our new giving plan into action. Excited like Christmas Eve…no, excited like a kid the night before a Disney World trip.

This is gonna be awesome.

blessed

To kick off the new year, the current sermon series going on at Oak Hills Church is called The Blessed Life.  It’s based on the book (and sermon series) of the same title by author and pastor Robert Morris.  As divine intervention would have it, Trey and I happened to receive a copy of Morris’ book from Mama Jane for Christmas.  If it weren’t for the sermon series kick-off (message delivered by Robert Morris himself), I probably would have filed the book under “Morris” on the bookshelf and not given it much thought until I stumbled on it again in a few months – after I’d read all the other books that are currently in my pending stack.

But Morris’ message clicked with me.  More than clicked…it resonated.  So I opened the book.  By page five I was moved to tears.  So much so that I put it down immediately, went online and cancelled our Recurring Gift (the auto-draft we’d set up to take our tithe out every pay period) and made a One Time Gift of our tithe.  The Recurring Gift was great, but it took about 5 days to process, which meant it wasn’t the first money to leave our account.  The One Time Gift, however, is drafted immediately.  Oh – I guess I should mention that I happened to pick up the book on a pay-day.

Now, with only one chapter left to go (please take it as the highest compliment that I decided to go ahead and post this now so I wouldn’t forget rather than diving into the last 20 or so pages), I have been inspired.  Not just “oh, what a neat principle” inspired…but inspired to ACT!  And that, dear reader, is what good books are all about.

Blessed-Life_SUB-BANNER-936x243

“The Blessed Life” is a pretty balanced combination of novel, devotional, and instructional writing – it draws you in, lifts you up, and sets you on the right path.  The book is Morris’ attempt to show Christians what we’ve been doing wrong all these years in regards to our finances.  The principle is simple (and is literally written THROUGHOUT the ENTIRE Bible – testaments old and new):  give to God what is God’s (your tithe – the FIRST ten percent of all of your gross income) and He will bless you & your finances; don’t, and you (and all your moolah) are cursed; give above and beyond your tithe and your blessings will be multiplied.  It’s that simple.  And it makes perfect sense.  Caine killed Abel because he was jealous that God looked favorably on Able’s offering and not on Caine’s.  Why?  Because Caine just gave what he felt like when he felt like it and Abel gave the first fruits.

I know what you’re thinking: Um, I already tithe and my bank account is definitely not blessed.

To that, Morris would ask if you tithed FIRST.  Before the mortgage, the groceries, the power bill…before putting a dollar in a vending machine – did you tithe?  If the answer is no, yer doin’ it wrong.

But let’s say the answer is yes – then give more.  Instead of 10 percent, give 15 and just see what happens.

And finally (and this is the tricky part), you have to tithe and give with a cheerful heart.  You can’t do it because you’re supposed to or just to get blessed in return.  You have to tithe and give out of the overwhelming gratitude for what God has already blessed you with.

I know some of you may be skeptical, but I guarantee this book will change the way you look at money and impact your life (and your wallet) for the better.

It’s not just a change of habit, it’s a change of heart.

if my people

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

Election season stresses me out. I hate all the mud-slinging and campaigning. I hate how it turns otherwise delightfully sound-minded people into raving lunatics. I had to stop following a dear friend on Twitter because he ONLY tweets negative reports (and hateful things too) about the candidate he’s not voting for. Why can’t we all just get along???

A few weeks ago at church, Max (Lucado) asked the church to join with him in 40 days of prayer for the USA. I strongly encourage you to click on that link because Max is far more eloquent about the subject than I am. There’s also a place for you to sign the pledge to pray for America for the 40 days leading up to the election. When you sign the pledge, you are agreeing to pray for the USA – not for your candidate of choice to win.

U – Unite us

S – Strengthen us

A – Appoint and anoint our next president.

God will use whoever is elected for HIS purposes – trust in Him that whoever our next president may be, he is exactly the man God has in mind for the job, even if it surpasses all our understanding.

I woke up with this anthem stuck in my head and it occurred to me that what’s wrong with this country has nothing to do with whoever is in office, but with the fact that the People have turned away. God said “if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins, and heal their land.” It seems to me that our path is clear.

five spokes

Want to hear something crazy?  Okay, maybe not crazy…want to hear an amazing coincidence?  Wait…now that I think of it,it may not really be a coincidence either.

 

In my attempts to be a Proverbs 31 wife and get my life in order (being “in your thirties” instead of just “30” can have that effect on you) I’ve noticed something interesting.  The Bible shows us 10 areas of life which require a certain amount of attention given by the Virtuous Woman (thanks to A Virtuous Woman for laying these out with corresponding scriptures):

1. Faith A Virtuous Woman serves God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She seeks His will for her life and follows His ways.

(Proverbs 31: 26, Proverbs 31: 29 – 31, Matthew 22: 37, John 14: 15, Psalm 119: 15)

2. MarriageA Virtuous Woman respects her husband. She does him good all the days of her life. She is trustworthy and a helpmeet.

(Proverbs 31: 11- 12, Proverbs 31: 23, Proverbs 31: 28, 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5, Genesis 2: 18)

3. Mothering A Virtuous Woman teaches her children the ways of her Father in heaven. She nurtures her children with the love of Christ, disciplines them with care and wisdom, and trains them in the way they should go.

(Proverbs 31: 28, Proverbs 31: 26, Proverbs 22: 6, Deuteronomy 6, Luke 18: 16)

4. HealthA Virtuous Woman cares for her body. She prepares healthy food for her family.

(Proverbs 31: 14 – 15, Proverbs 31: 17, 1 Corinthians 6: 19, Genesis 1: 29, Daniel 1, Leviticus 11)

5. Service A Virtuous Woman serves her husband, her family, her friends, and her neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit. She is charitable.

(Proverbs 31: 12, Proverbs 31: 15, Proverbs 31: 20, 1 Corinthians 13: 13)

6. Finances A Virtuous Woman seeks her husband’s approval before making purchases and spends money wisely. She is careful to purchase quality items which her family needs.

(Proverbs 31: 14, Proverbs 31: 16, Proverbs 31: 18, 1 Timothy 6: 10, Ephesians 5: 23, Deuteronomy 14: 22, Numbers 18: 26)

7. Industry A Virtuous Woman works willingly with her hands.  She sings praises to God and does not grumble while completing her tasks.

(Proverbs 31: 13, Proverbs 31: 16, Proverbs 31: 24, Proverbs 31: 31, Philippians 2: 14)

8. HomemakingA Virtuous Woman is a homemaker. She creates an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for her family and guests. She uses hospitality to minister to those around her.

(Proverbs 31: 15, Proverbs 31: 20 – 22, Proverbs 31: 27, Titus 2: 5, 1 Peter 4: 9, Hebrews 13: 2)

9. Time A Virtuous Woman uses her time wisely. She works diligently to complete her daily tasks. She does not spend time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord.

(Proverbs 31: 13, Proverbs 31: 19, Proverbs 31: 27, Ecclesiastes 3, Proverbs 16: 9, Philippians 4:8 )

10. BeautyA Virtuous Woman is a woman of worth and beauty. She has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones.

(Proverbs 31: 10, Proverbs 31: 21 – 22, Proverbs 31: 24 -25, Isaiah 61: 10, 1 Timothy 2: 9, 1 Peter 3: 1 – 6)

 

The interesting coincidence is that those 10 points can be condensed into the Five Spokes found in Chazown by Craig Groeschel. If one of the spokes breaks, your whole wheel collapses (um, the wheel would be your life…got that?):

1. Your relationship with God

2. Your relationships with other people

3. Your financial life

4. Your physical health

5. Your life’s work

What’s so crazy is that before I even read that part of the book, before I even found the list of what it means to be a Virtuous Woman, I decided to concentrate on each of the five spokes!  And it was completely unintentional.  It’s not like I sat down one day and decided there were 5 areas of my life I wanted to work on.  I simply starting making time each morning to read my Bible.  Then I started reading Chazown and discovered that my life’s work is to be an example to other wives of how to treat their husbands. Trey and I began our journey to Financial Peace last month – we’re slowly but surely getting the hang of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system and the debt snowball.  As of August 1, we’ve both committed to restart the Power 90 diet program (Trey’s following Tony Horton’s work out plan whereas I’m letting Jillian Michaels kick my booty with her 30 Day Shred).  And I think you may have picked up on the fact that I’m putting considerable efforts into being a better wife to my amazing hubby – aka working on our relationship.  Honestly, all five spokes snuck up on me as areas of my life that I wanted to improve before I even read it in the book.

 

And what’s even more amazing is that in working on the finances, my fitness, and my life’s work, I’m honoring my husband…AND in doing all of those things I’m honoring God and working to find His vision for my life.

 

Seriously, how cool is that?

31

Happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday dear Leslie.  Happy birthday to me.

Yup, I’ve been singing that all week.  Well, that and…

It’s my birthday muffin.  I’m a birthday muffin.

But I don’t expect you to know that one.

 

Today is the 31st.  Four days ago I celebrated my 31st birthday.  I read a chapter of Proverbs everyday – corresponding with the date, so today, I read Proverbs 31.  The Capable Wife.  It’s been kind of a recent revelation of mine that being a good wife, nay, a fabulous, amazing, dang near perfect wife (hey, we all gotta strive for something) is my “job.”  People ask me what I do:  I’m a wife.  I spend my days doing whatever I can to make Trey’s life better.

 

But it hasn’t always been that way.  When we were first married I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world because I had a hubby who would cook AND wash the dishes after a long day of work.  Little did I know that was flat-out not honoring him.  In fact, there were times in our early marriage when I quite intentionally didn’t honor him because I put my selfish wants and desires above his happiness…above everything else.  And when things got that bad, my amazing husband prayed and asked God how on earth to deal with his horrible (seriously, I definitely had a horrible phase) wife, God told him to “love me.”  And he did.  And it was that unconditional, amazing, forgiving love that has grown our marriage into the amazing bond it is now.  So sure ladies, if your man wants to dote on you, by all means, soak it in and praise him for his efforts.  But don’t come to expect it.  It is your duty to serve your husband because that is precisely what women were designed to do.  Eve was created to be a companion and helpmeet (I love that word) to Adam…not the other way around.

 

A few years ago (before I met Trey) I attended a wedding with some friends and we were all flabbergasted by how many times the phrase “honor and obey” was used…particularly directed at the bride.  Every little feminist bone in my body stood up on edge.  What a sucker! I secretly thought about the bride.  And, what a jerk! I secretly thought about the groom for obviously insisting that that particular decree be included in their marriage ceremony.  And the friends I was sitting with seemed to agree.  It just wasn’t fair.  The wife was supposed to serve and honor and obey her husband, but all he had to do was love her.  Seemed to me like he got off pretty easy.  But even when I got past that point (ya know, it does say that in the Bible), it seemed like such an insurmountable task!  I mean, who has the energy to serve her husband all the time???  What about days when I’m tired or bored or just don’t feel like it?  What if I have other things to do?  What if I think my hubby ought to spend more time serving me???  It’s taken almost 4 years of marriage to realize that that just doesn’t matter.  Sure, there will be days when I fail miserably.  But that’s precisely why God gave me the most amazing, loving, patient, forgiving husband in all the land…because He knew I couldn’t possibly be the perfect wife every day.

 

So, officially, on the 31st day of July, in my 31st year, I’m publicly declaring that my goal for the year is to become a Proverbs 31 wife.  A Capable Wife.  A Wife of Noble Character.  A Virtuous Woman.  And I challenge all my married girlfriends to do the same.

 

The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

 

Proverbs 31: 10-31

 

Say a prayer and wish me luck…cause I certainly can’t do it on my own.

chazown, gazuntite

So I’m reading this book that makes me want to go postal.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Seriously, it’s messing with my head and making me question the entire direction of my life.  And yes, I’m crying as I read it…cause that’s what I do, yo.

The book is Chazown by Craig Groeschel.  Chazown is the Hebrew word for vision.  And it’s pronounced with phlegm (like Chava in Fiddler on the Roof) – when pronounced correctly, those around you should feel inclined to say “bless you” or “gazuntite.”  Basically, Groeschel (has the hardest-to-spell last name ever) wrote this book as part of his ministry (he’s also senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv) to help people discover God’s vision for their lives.  As a Christian, you learn pretty early on that God has a plan for your life, and that it’s super cool and amazing and way more awesome than your own personal dinky little plan.  Chazown is written to help you think through some hard (whoa) questions in hopes of discovering what that vision might be.

So far I’ve decided that my life is crazy far off path…I’m pretty sure God’s vision for my life was not to be a total screw up in my twenties and work in a series of jobs that neither challenged me nor provided very much enjoyment.  So I guess it’s a relief God has plans for me to prosper…but how the heck to I follow them if I can’t figure out what they are?

Lucky for me (and anyone else who’s read the book), Groeschel has a step by step process that helps guide you into figuring it out.  Today I completed the “Purpose Statement” segment, and I strangely feel much better.  And what I came up with (though you should know that it wasn’t so much me as Him) was that my purpose isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.  When I got down to it, and compared my core values, spiritual gifts, and past experiences, I discovered that my purpose in life isn’t to be a late-blooming Broadway star or author of the best novel written since A Tale of Two Cities (cause we all know Twilight ain’t it) – it’s to be a good wife and (future) mother.  As I age and mature (believe it or not folks, this is much more mature than even 2 years ago), I’m discovering that what drives me every day is the deep desire to be the best wife I can be and to have a home that is welcoming and to eventually raise children to be loving, Christian folks.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t succeed every day.  Far from it.  But actually putting in writing what think God’s purpose for my life is has given me the get-up-and-go I’ve been longing for.

Granted, I still have over half of the book to go through and Groeschel assures his readers that their purpose statement can grow and change as they do, but I feel truly confident in this new (defined) direction.

So confident, in fact, that I’m going to vacuum.

A few resources that are helping me define my direction:  Proverbs 31: 10-31, and A Virtuous Woman.

What’s your chazown?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything. A few months ago, there was a time for this idea. The idea that women from across the nation could gather together and share their faith. At first there were some bumps in the road (technical potholes, I’ll call them), but then it was truly a time of great fellowship. For those of you who have participated, it has been a joy.

I’m not saying this bible study fellowship is over, I’m just saying that now is not the time. Life has come at us each from all kinds of different angles. I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers, and I hope you’ll do the same. Please feel free to submit prayer requests and leave comments on already posted devotionals. From time to time, as the spirit moves me, I’ll write more entries. If there’s a passage or verse you’d like to read about, please feel free to share it.

Now is the time to say, not farewell, but rather, until we meet again. I have loved sharing my faith with you, sweet friends.

***

May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warmly on your face, May the rain fall softly on your fields, and until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Amen.

 

Matthew 5:1-12, the Beatitudes

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

Ministers primarily write and preach their sermons at scheduled times, when they know they will have a congregation to hear their words and worship God.  Jesus preached the sermon on the mount, not because there was a scheduled place and time, but simply because people came. He preached to the crowds of people who stopped what they were doing to follow Him.  He preached to the people because they were thirsty for His wisdom, thirsty for the Word of God.

He said:   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn,    for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek,    for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,    for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful,    for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart,    for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers,    for they will be called children of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The Beatitudes are often referred to as the “introduction to the Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus shared these teachings first because they encompass the spirit of humility and compassion that is required of all Christians.

***

I have problems with vanity.  Whether it be my appearance or my belongings: I want to be and look my best, I want my house to look the neatest (both “neat” as in clean and “neat” as in interesting).  I covet things…quirky things that will make my home look well lived in and well cared for and just funky enough to be  cool without being ridiculous.  I envy people who are thinner than me.  I envy people who have the time/energy/know-how to wake up every morning and fix their hair rather than just letting it do whatever it’s gonna do on it’s own.  I want to be the very best version of me that I can be.

The only problem is, I’m not looking at the big picture.  The best version of myself is not what I see around me and want myself to be.  That version of me falls so drastically short of the amazing things God has planned for me.  As I read over the Beatitudes, I find myself feeling guilty.  We live in a world where women fight to be strong and independent.  Where everyone wants to be an individual and wants to get credit for their general overall awesomeness.  Where it’s the status quo to “keep up with the Jones’.” When I read the Beatitudes, I am reminded that we’re not put on this earth for our own glory.  We’re here for God’s glory.  We’re here to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourself. Nowhere in that purpose does it say we are to be judged as awesome by human standards.  We are called to be meek and merciful and pure in heart.  We’re called to be peacemakers and to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

When Jesus preached the sermon on the mount, he was calling us to humility.

Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord. Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord. And He shall lift you up, higher and higher. And He shall lift you up.

***

Dear Lord, thank You for making us for Your glory.  Help us to be ever mindful of You, that we may glorify You in all things.  Lord, we ask You to make us humble so that we may bring You all the glory. Amen.