Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Losing Game

 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise

2 Corinthians 10:12

My family loves to play board games. They have their favorites, such as Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. Those aren't my particular favorites, so I usually sit out for those, but if they get out the Skip-Bo cards or a word game, I'm in! One game we should never play in our family or with anyone is the Comparison Game. 

The Comparison Game is a losing game and not fun at all, but it's one that we've all caught ourselves playing at one time or another. I don't know about you, but in my family, we all like to have fun and win at games! Our games are friendly competitions, but making comparisons are rarely, if ever, friendly, and they always result in some kind of dissatisfaction. When we begin to compare ourselves with someone else, we've already started to lose. We're losing our focus and eventually we'll lose our peace too. When you feel like you're being compared to others, the feeling is the same. No one likes to feel they have been put into involuntary competition with other people. 

Whether we are comparing joys or sorrows, it will always be an unfair and useless comparison. No two people are alike, just as no two experiences result in the same outcome. When we allow people to have their own experience without trying to compare ours or anyone else's, we avoid the oneupmanship or dismissive comments that often happen, whether intentional or not. When someone is sharing their suffering, the last thing you should want to do is jump in with how your own suffering is worse, or even better. 

Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was the one who said "Comparison is the thief of joy."  It's not a verse in the bible, as many think it is, though there are many examples of it there. It started way at the beginning with Eve believing Satan when he told her to eat of the fruit so she could be like God. Genesis 3:4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5"For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." She was already comparing herself to God! He was God. She was human. God had already told her not to eat from any tree in the garden. She had one job! That's how crafty Satan is, right? He's got us comparing ourselves to everything we've ever wanted and everyone we've ever wanted to be if he gets his deceptive way. Playing the game of comparison is a losing game. In this way, comparison comes not from God, but from our own pride, and from a desire to be like someone or something else in this world. We will either end up thinking we are better than someone else, or thinking someone is better than us! The result of comparison shows up in jealousy, frustration, hopelessness, envy, and a general sense of dissatisfaction. All of these things are the opposite of peace and acceptance of ourselves and others. 

The disciples tried to win the game too. 

Luke 22:24-27  24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, "The kinds of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 

 All Jesus is asking for is one humble servant. Put others above yourselves and there won't be an issue about "who is the greatest," because that isn't the goal! Jesus is the greatest and also the humble servant. He has no need of comparison because it is His humility that He wants them to learn. 

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

The danger in comparing things and others is that we bring into it our own needs, insecurities, judgments, and  pride. When we compare someone else's looks, their life, their occupation, family, etc... we've already started believing who we are and what we have isn't good enough. It's a big fat lie. What God wants us to do is focus on our own lives as far as using the gifts and talents he gave us to accomplish the purpose he has already set inside us. He also wants us to mind our own beeswax. That IS in the bible-1 Thessalonians 4:11-12  Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life will win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. Why would we waste time comparing ourselves to other people when we could get busy living our own lives to the fullest? We may just realize how much we really love who we are, and when we focus on our own talents, we might be amazed at how much happier we become. Who are we trying to please anyway? God or other people? Spoiler alert, it's God. We can't please other people. 

Comparison will either make you feel inferior or superior. Neither honors God. -Craig Groeschel 

A person who is busy living their own life and not comparing everything and everyone is also free to authentically love others. It can be challenging to love others when in constant competition or judgment of them. The person who can't celebrate someone's blessings and can only come up with comparisons instead, is a person who will struggle to extend God's love and grace to them. This is why God commanded we love one another. He knew how prone we would be to this natural flesh problem.  Being able to see ourselves and those around us for the unique individual path they are on is a gift. While each person's journey takes twists and turns and ups and downs, we should be ready to meet them where they are, and not compare where we think they should be to the end game of another or to our own. 

Constantly comparing our bodies, our homes, our financial situations, our cars, our families, our vacation destinations, our jobs, our spirituality, and on and on the endless list goes, might be "human," as some people say, but it's not godly.  It's a tactic that can be used by our enemy to drag us down and try to convince us that we aren't already a blessing in God's sight. It's a weapon used by the enemy that can be used to attack others for not being all we think they should be. We were created by God, in His image. Every one of us. The people around our tables. The people at our jobs. Our neighbors. Strangers. The people we scroll on social media. We can go ahead and tirelessly compare ourselves to others, but God is only looking at the one he uniquely created and knows inside and out. Let's look around us with God's eyes. We and they are good. That's all we need to know. Let's help each other keep it going. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

The one thing we all have in common is that God created us for His unique purpose. Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The more we try to emulate the things of the world, the more we are in danger of losing sight of the unique purpose that God has placed inside of us. We may all be on different journeys, but we are all worthy of being loved and accepted for the unique and special people we are. We were not made to look alike, nor have the same talents, personalities, abilities, body shapes, or occupations and financial statuses. Humans are the ones who place values and limitations on other humans! When we compare ourselves or others, we reveal the condition of our own hearts.  There may be some cleaning up in there to do if we're not feeling peace in this area. Everyone God created is precious in His sight, and that means you too. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14


Monday, May 15, 2023

Make Room on Your Bookshelf for This!

 Friend book.png

Hi this is Norm Sawyer


I would like you to join me in congratulating my friend Jami Lynch Rogers on her accomplishment of graduating from being a wonderful writer to now being an author.
Jami and I have co-written a book that we hope will bring blessings and peace to everyone's hearts. 
Please give our Jami a word of celebratory thankfulness for all the hard work she puts into her articles so that we can all grow in the Lord.


Congratulations Miss Jami!

You may purchase the book directly from Jami or Norm ( )or at at this link:

Monday, May 1, 2023

The Great and True Story

 Today's post is dedicated to my dear friend, mentor, and co-author, Norm Sawyer, who is celebrating his birthday today, May 1st! Happy birthday, Norm! During the mess that was 2020, Norm was the one outside of the US that I was able to continually turn to outside of my family, for solid Godly wisdom and advice. He turned me around when I sure felt the walls closing in around me. It could have been a very dark time, but because of his strong faith and continued trust in the Lord, I felt his strength and example leading me to a much brighter perspective. It's true that some people do make a difference in our lives if we pay attention to what they are trying to teach us. Always pay attention to the lighthouses and the lightkeepers in your lives, friends. Enjoy the blessings of your birthday, Norm. May the joy and love you bring to others be returned tenfold to you! (

You're standing in line at the grocery store or the gas station, and someone starts in on some real "out there" (to you) topic. You realize you're an involuntary hostage to a barrage of odd theories from a person who just found a sitting duck to unleash them upon. I've been there. You see the post on social media, "The mainstream media won't tell you this!" You've been at the social gathering and heard the rabbit hole topics going around. Oh boy, down, down down it goes, and you scroll on by, or you painfully smile and carry on, and you sigh the big sigh, because what else can you do, right? You know the drill. There is rarely, if any follow- up to the information being dealt out. It's not a conversation, but rather a spewing of bits and odd things strung together, sometimes with a shred of truth in there, made to sound like a fact. One lie has the power to tarnish a thousand truths. Al David In this way, you can't really come back with a question or a fact, because the mind has already been made up, and you will sound like their enemy. I know, this sounds insane even as I'm imagining it and have lived it. It's as fun as an umbrella in a windstorm. Inside you're kind of fighting to keep it together, while on the outside trying to keep yourself safe from any kind of storm. 

Who is immune to conspiratorial thinking? Who can rise above allowing their minds to become entrenched in believing all sorts of unhealthy, unreasonable and distorted concepts? Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known by God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  There is an answer when we are careful not to become enraged, worried, or even self-righteous about the things we hear. When we instead ask God to filter our hearts and replace His understanding for our own human and flawed thinking. We can become peaceful in our thoughts and in our actions, and rest in the fact that God is in control, though things and others may be raging around us.  Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, I believe all conspiracy theories are garbage. All of them. Not one of them contains knowledge, but is filled with the capacity to spread fear, insecurity, and discord among large quantities of people. What they all have in common is they might contain just a kernel of truth so that we start to wonder if they could be true. They're ripe with confusion, and who else revels in confusion? Who else enjoys this kind of division and havoc?  1Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  I have watched many people "go off the deep end" with their careless rhetoric and lose their critical thinking skills in many subjects.  I have heard many people, who in the name of "good intentions" and even with God's name and in the spirit of "sharing the truth," spread information that is damaging to others, and isn't truthful at all. What message are they thinking we're taking in? What do you want me to do with it? 

Digressing for a moment here, I've always been a skeptical person. You'll be hard-pressed to get me to believe what you're selling if it's the least bit sketchy. I laugh when I think of the time some students tried to pressure me into signing a bogus petition to say something mean about a teacher. I was one of very few that refused to sign it. I simply said, "I don't like him either, but I'm not signing my name to that. It's not true and it's mean." They ostracized me for a couple days and that was that. I've been building myself up for a time when I will be very unpopular for the beliefs I hold. But as Norm kept reminding me, 'You and God are a majority.' We can't be afraid to lose friends over the truth. But we should be concerned if we're losing them when we're not even sure about it. 

 Maybe there is some kind of satisfaction in hitting that share button, or the spewing of words because there is a kind of comfort in expressing our shared fear, or validation when others agree with us. I don't know, but  if that's the case, then these things are clearly being heard and said out of fear and frustration and not out of a clear desire to be enlightened, or understood with concern and protection. There is a clear difference. If we want our messages heard so that they make a difference for the better, we need to change our hearts and minds with the right motives first. We need to make sure what we say is truly for the good of others and not just because we think it's for the good of others. That requires setting our own egos aside. It demands we look around at the people we follow in life, and question whether or not they are the good examples of truth and integrity we think they are. Are we really following a person of good character, or are we just looking to validate whatever we hope to be true? It's never a bad idea to examine our own motives, or look around and take stock of where we receive information. Is it fun to be wrong? No, it's very humbling, but when God deals with us, it can also be very powerful, because when we allow God to show us where we've gone astray, he replaces that pride with a strong character. Proverbs 22:4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. 

 Any one of us, Christians included, can be deceived to share wrong information. Sometimes out of fear and insecurity, and sometimes out of anger. Maybe we think it's the right information and we think we're helping. We've all said something we thought was true and found out later that it wasn't. The problem with that is, we didn't take the time to analyze it before we quickly said it or shared it, and there is a great responsibility in what we've just said. Proverbs 10:19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. I often think about the things I post long after I've said them. I wonder if my words are making a positive impact, or if I've hurt someone needlessly. As my comment tagline says, Words matter. Choose them carefully. I have to practice what I preach too! As  1Peter 5:8 states, our enemy is prowling around, just looking to destroy us. This includes what we say and how we interact with others. He would love for all of our relationships to fail, because it is in relationships that Jesus thrives. Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' We have to be wise with our words and that starts with our thoughts. Matthew 15:11 What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." 

 Asking God to temper our hearts and direct our thoughts and our words is the only way to guarantee we are going to have right information, clear heads, and will only speak when we have something He wants us to share. Imagine how quiet it would be on social media. Ahhhh...But even more importantly, how much more at peace our own hearts would be when not cluttered with all the things causing fear, insecurity and unrest on a daily basis? Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.  

And just to touch again on those pesky so-called conspiracy theories. We have a responsibility for what we are absorbing into our own brains. Not just because the spilling of it could negatively affect others, but because the carrying of it hurts ourselves too. Sure, the oranges are going to believe what the oranges say, and the apples will believe what the apples say, but what do YOU believe? You, deep down inside your heart that God designed? You, standing there not caring what anyone else thinks or says, but only listening to your own heart? You and God are a majority, after all. Psalm 56:4 In God, whose word I praise-in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 

Like I said above, some things are just designed to spread fear, and if we are a part of that, we've fallen into the trap of the enemy. If we want to be part of a Big Deal Story, let's be a big deal part of the One that sets us apart from all of those rotten-to-the-core stories that when re-told, rot us all a little more inside. I'm staying true to my story, and I reject the ones that cause my heart to fear. I trust in the Lord and His great story. I pray that you will believe in that story with me. I'm going to keep spreading His messages, because they are true and they bring peace. Blessings. 

Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Let's Talk about.....

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 

When I think of that, I'm reminded of all the things I've said and still say, and whether or not God would approve of them. This is an effective prayer for anyone who wants to start their day off with God at the wheel. God's conviction is the main reason I took myself off social media, and have not returned. I have not found it to be a safe place for my heart, and it's not a healthy place for a person who is seeking to BE at peace, and not just ACT peaceful. It is a struggle for me to remain peaceful sometimes, and it's something many could relate to, but I think we have to desire true peace more than we want the things in our world to just "be going right" to realize it. I wonder just how many people realize that peace is actually what they're missing- in the world, in our personal lives, and in everything and everyone around us. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 For a Christian seeking peace, we understand that we will always have some kind of strife, and life will never be without some kind of conflict going on. It doesn't mean we have to react with our human hysteria.  We can turn to God and seek His peace. But why don't we always do that? Are we too busy still trying to get things to go our way so we can feel "satisfied"? I don't know, but even when things go our so-called way, some of us are still not at peace. Peace is deeper than just feeling satisfied, because it requires that we trust God and we give up our own agendas, wants, and desires. The two won't always go together. 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

If I don't raise a big commotion over something, some people assume I just don't care. Someone even assumed I must be uninformed. Someone told me that she was accused by a disgruntled man of having her 'head in the sand' because she chose not to argue with him about politics in her own place of business. Why is it when we choose calmness or peace, that some people don't recognize it for the good that it is? We've become too used to reactionary defense. Instant retaliation. Total engagement. We're getting too used to uprisings, harsh words, violence, hate, personal attacks. We're either becoming too much like them or even a little desensitized when we don't even recognize peace as an option to solve a problem.  Why doesn't a gentle answer always turn away wrath? Because some people choose anger instead of peace, and anger drowns out the most sensible and reasonable answers. It doesn't solve anything, but it is loud and everyone hears it.  But who taught us that peace solves the problem? Peace calms the storm. Peace stands up in the middle of a boat taking on water, and doesn't start hollering and panicking. Peace solves a really big problem with a word. 

Jesus did. Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat, But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:23-26 

 The disciples start waking him up to tell him (and I'm paraphrasing), "Dude, we're gonna die!" He wakes up, basically tells them there's nothing to worry about because hello, I'm Jesus, and I've been here the whole time, and do you think I'm going to let you drown? Where, exactly, is your faith in me? They had seen him performing miracles, but here they were not believing he could help them while he was right there in the boat with them. He rescued them from the storm with a word, as he does for us so many times, whether we believe he will or not. I can see why we can be so blind to our own faith sometimes, when the disciples had Jesus right under their own noses and still didn't trust. God was trying to tell them He would be with them through all the hard times. He's trying to tell us the same. But if we don't choose to hear, we won't know the full benefits of His peace when those storms hit.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 

 We can still speak about important issues with peace. We don't need to argue with everyone on social media or in the grocery store lines. We can be instruments of change without being a hindrance to people who could actually help. We can get our messages across without making people feel judged, unloved, unwanted,  or unapproved.  When peace joins love, it's more than a 60's and 70's slogan! I see it as something that makes it possible for people with opposing views to have meaningful conversations that can change the way we and they think. It doesn't have to change our core values and our beliefs. But being able to have peaceful conversations needs to happen and it does need to change the way we view others. We don't have to hate someone because they are different. We don't even have to understand why they're different! But to regard others with hostility and fear because they don't believe or act the way we think they should is not the way to get to the kind of love God commands us to extend to others. If we prioritize people over differences, we can actually get past our anger and annoyances and get to a place of peace. Will it ever be Kumbaya with every single problem? Maybe not, but I think we can all think of at least one situation where we can do a whole lot better and build a bridge instead of blowing one up. 

One tip I heard about discussing difficult issues with someone is to ask questions instead of offering opinions. So if someone begins talking about a sensitive topic with you, instead of jumping in with comments (my famous mistake), a good plan is to say, "Tell me more about that." You'll find they may soften and so will you. When we can let go of our need to be right or our ego's need to join the convo, we will be able to find some kind of common ground even on a supposed war field. I'm going to try this sometime. Pray for me.  If all else fails, start singing "Kumbaya..." Bring a tootsie pop to stick in your mouth between comments. We've got this. 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Cool News and a Tribute

 I feel like I can talk about this now, as it is finally happening in real time. The book I am co-authoring with my dear friend and mentor, Norm Sawyer ( is in the final stages of publishing. I don't usually talk about projects until they are completed, but I can say with confidence that the ink is very close to being dry on this one, and there are so many cool elements to this project that I can hardly be quiet about it anymore. It's not just a book with pages and spine. It was brought about by God and divine timing. 

When I think about how this all came about-writing my first book with Norm, I am a bit gobsmacked, as the Brits would say. Who would have thought that a person like me, living in a small farm town of barely 1500 in the states, would one day write a book with a Canadian world traveler living in a much bigger city, published author of (I've lost count of how many now) several books, and we would meet because we were both pecking away on our blogs way back in 2013? His, life application topics relating to the bible, and mine, various life situations relating to being a wife and mother of two. 

It has always been a dream of mine to write a book, but I have always lacked confidence and faith in myself to even step out and try. I have always kept it to myself, but thought I probably would never do it. One day last year, Norm sent me a message and said the Lord gave him a direction to write a book with me. I literally got chills on the spot. I felt an excitement run through me that I hadn't felt in a really long time. You see, I had been asking the Lord to help me get past myself, knowing I am my own obstacle. Norm has given me many writing opportunities in his own books by allowing me to write the foreword of one, and choosing to add some of my articles and poems to others. He would then invite me to edit his work, giving me a insiders look into the book publishing process. These gracious acts have blessed me in a way that have left this wordsmith completely speechless, but moved in a way that I never expected. I had the luxury of putting one toe at a time into a process that had always intimidated me, instead of plunging in headfirst. Writing a book with Norm meant I would have someone to give me direction and help me along the way in a daunting new process. I am currently learning so much, and enjoying the arduous process of putting a book together. As we've been putting this together, we've both gotten questions about how this has come to be. 

In 2013, I believe Norm may have commented on one of my blog posts, which led me to his blog, and I was hooked. I love the Proverbs, and his blog is called, Sir Norm's Proverbial Comment. I found a home there for my anxious mind and my seeking heart. I never dreamed I would find who would become one of my dearest friends too. All I can say when people ask me, "How did you meet Norm?" is "I got what I prayed for." It doesn't have to make sense, because when God is in it, cool things happen. I had forwarded many of his blogs to my family to aid them in different circumstances, and I began to write down certain things he would say on notecards around my house. In that sense, Norm became my mentor and a pastor, and a direction into my life that I began to trust. I didn't tell him he was my mentor, I just treated him as such! I always say I just adopted him into the role. More than all of that, he is my friend, and I am his friend as well. As much as he pours into my life, at times I have been able to speak into his as well, and that has been the bond of friendship that stands. I am pretty invested in praying for his family as well- his wife, sons, and grandchildren. 

It took me a really long time to really realize how much I cared for Norm, and that I had come to rely on him for his nuggets of wisdom, because in my experience, I lose quickly the people I love. So the closer he came to me, the more fear I began to feel. What if Norm leaves, what if Norm decides I'm not worth his time anymore...and on and on the fear threatened me. But what I came to realize was that he didn't put conditions on me. I was able to be myself, flaws and all, and I didn't feel the usual retreat that others had displayed in the past. He came to me with the love the Lord gave him to give, and with that came no price. That's what made it different. I had no worries or fears about being judged or left behind, and with that lesson also came an example of how I should also be loving others. The acceptance he showed me was exactly the way Jesus asks us to love others. And that, my friends, is why this friendship is God's work. 

He also began to expect me to live out what he was teaching me, and in that I began to learn that I can't be doing the same old immature things and expecting a mature result. Was this new information? Well, when put with God's word, it was new to me. I have come to him with friendship concerns, family problems, personal issues, politics questions, prayer requests, and probably even weather complaints. Each time, he has a way of showing me my responsibility in each equation. God's word in every issue. That is a friend. That is a person who lives what he says, and expects something of me too. I need that in my life without thinking I could lose someone due to my faults and weaknesses. Don't we all need that? I believe we do, and if we ask God for this, He will deliver. Just don't expect it to come as you picture it. It may be a pastoral man from Canada who says, "HA!" when he laughs. I'm just sayin'. 

This may have just turned into a tribute to my friend Norm instead of the announcement of our book, Thoughts From a Friend, but everyone always wants to know, "Who is this Norm?" "How did you meet?" Well, now you all know. This unique little book is a compilation of our poetry, commentary, and stories about life and travel. The traveling part is Norm. I am basically a hermit, which is even funnier that we are the most unlikely of friends. This book was a unique idea of Norm's in order to combine some of our work. A  60-something Canadian Christian man, A 50-something American Christian woman, living completely different lives in different countries, yet the common thread is the love of God, writing, and wanting to reach others for Christ. I hope you'll check the book out when it is available. The cover is more art by his late brother Kane, and it is special. I truly feel God has brought this friendship to fruition for His glory, and the works we bring together will bring good to others. 


Thursday, April 13, 2023

What Makes A Good Leader?

 When I think of a good leader, there are many traits I would attribute to the makeup of a person who fits that description. In fact, I found a list in an old notebook of 36 descriptive qualities of what I consider to be a great leader. I think of the people in my life who I consider to fit those qualities, my husband being one of them, and the people in the world who do not. It is interesting, to say the least, who ends up being in charge of things who don't seem well-equipped for leadership, and then we wonder why things are such as they are in those places. A mess of fear, anxiety, chaos, and unrest will likely follow a leader who has no leadership skills in order to calm the masses. I have so many examples, but we don't have all day. 

" A real leader speaks to anxiety and to fear and allays those fears, assuages anxiety." 

Henry Louis Gates 

While I have my list of leadership qualities, such as honesty, integrity, empathy, diplomacy, intelligence, compassion, cooperation, accountability, trustworthiness, loyalty, humility, transparency, etc... the Bible has its own list as well. I'd venture to say that if leaders were following the biblical version of leadership, our world would be a much more peaceful place where people feel safe, heard, and protected. This is not the case, however, and probably never will be as long as the self-driven motivators are allowed to "lead" us like power, money, and greed. (I apologize that I seem to be a bit cynical today. Did I not eat my Wheaties or what??)

Maybe as we think of some of these leaders we either respect or don't, it would be a good practice to put them under a microscope once in awhile. Do they exhibit good leadership skills as described in God's word? And if not, why are we elevating them? Why do we allow them access to powerful places? Why do we trust them with important things? I wouldn't trust them with a pet rock, and yet, here we are. (Yeah, it's more than a Wheaties withdrawal)

Good leaders in the bible are described as: 

Humble servants- But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. Luke 22:26 

They do not tolerate wrongdoing-  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17  

They are honest and open- Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. Proverbs 12:22 

They make rules that people will be glad to follow- Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Psalm 119:35 

They protect their people- even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:10 

They are merciful and compassionate-they will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat nor the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. 

They do not tempt people to do evil-And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13

They are knowledgeable and mindful- Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. Matthew 15:14

They lead in peacefulness and godliness- for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:2

Their words are respectful- Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16

They are hardworking- if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:8 

They have good advisers around them- For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. Proverbs 11:14 

They are faithful leaders who work based on love- In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it-one from the house of David- one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. Isaiah 16:5

They have the will to serve; they're not greedy for money- Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 1 Peter 5:2

They lead by example- not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3

They have skills and integrity- And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psalm 78:72

They are prudent, not hasty- Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Luke 14:31

They are a good role model to anyone- Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 1 Timothy 3:1-3

They practice the Golden Rule- Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 

Who are the good leaders you know? Are you one? Do you live with one, work with one? Think on these the next time you choose someone to lead or are chosen to lead. It's something I will be more mindful of going forward. 

I don't believe most politicians fit these descriptions, sorry. That's my opinion. Pray for those who are in these positions anyway, whether you like them or not. My thoughts are that people who DO fit these descriptions would most likely not get into the grease and grime of political leadership, but would instead lead pretty cool families, like moms, dads, and grandparents, etc.. and workplaces, classrooms, churches, companies, and the like. You see my thought bubble, I hope. We can all be leaders for Christ, and hold others accountable who are in leadership positions. A good leader would expect that and answer to it thoughtfully. 

 I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  1 Timothy 2:1-4

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

An Encouraging Word

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature. The assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. 

Rachel Carlson 

It's apparently spring, but looking outside today, one would think it's mid-December. It's hard to feel encouraged about tulips and green grass when it's a winter wonderland scene out every window. Again. But in typical Michigan fashion, you blink, and boots turn to flip flops, sweaters turn to tee shirts, and the temperature soars from 34 to 43. Nope, that wasn't a typo. HaHa, not to worry. We've been through this before, and it always turns to summer eventually! 

We'll get there. The sun just needs a little encouragement. The greeter at the store last week was cheerfully waving at everyone walking out, saying, "Here comes the sun! Have a great day everyone!" I don't know about the rest of the customers, but she made me smile. We all need a little encouragement sometimes. To smile, to shine, and sometimes to just want to get out of bed. I get out of bed for coffee, but sometimes I peek out to see if the sun is shining first! It makes a difference! 

I thought about encouragement a lot this past month. As I sat quietly and a bit distantly with some family at the viewing for my mother-in-law, I looked around at all the different types of encouragement. Some people need to talk, walking around and shaking hands or hugging one another. Some need to sit quietly with their thoughts. Some offer encouragement by walking in the door, offering support quietly, and then walking out again. It comes in all forms, but no one should decide what kind of encouragement or support is "best" or even "right". 

 When we expect people to act a certain way, we're expecting them to "do as we do," and we're not  accepting them as they are, and for who they are. As I got teasingly called out for "hiding in a corner," I thought to myself, honestly, if there was a place to hide, I'd be there. As a person who likes to hide her emotions, a nice dark corner would be lovely.  Is there a rule book for how to act at all these difficult life things?  It's not a social event. It's not a party. It's not a place where we're feeling jovial and outgoing. And to be honest, if you are a jovial and outgoing person, and that's what you bring, then good on you, because that is what can be needed at these times! But for me, after all we had gone through for the two days before, I had made my rounds, and I was just being quiet, approachable and warm, and my presence wasn't about me. Sometimes people are tired, not feeling well, have just had a bad day, or whatever. If we just accept them as they are, it makes it easier for people to just be themselves in whatever condition in which they show up. I guess years of needing this acceptance is why it is easier for me to spot it when it is needed, but I think everyone needs it, whether they show it or not. We need each other, and I believe God designed us this way for a reason. Our expectations, so needlessly placed on others, keeps us from accepting them as they are. It puts a big wall between them and us. 

As I've written here before, everyone handles loss and the impending grief differently. Some people attending these types of things are very uncomfortable around mourning people or around death in general. They may be dealing with their own confusing feelings, and not very adept at responding to the unknown feelings of all of the people around them. It can create anxiety in certain people. I know my good friend, Norm calls me out for this, but it really is about LOVE. I'm sorry, Norm, but if we stay in "love mode," it makes it all the more difficult to be negative and cantankerous. Negative thoughts  won't become words at all, and they won't affect people. If we just put the love on and leave everything else behind, it's all good. Isn't life easier when we just love people and we're not always trying to fit them into our own expectations? It's okay to cry, not cry, laugh, not laugh, sit, not sit, eat, not eat, and it's especially okay and delightful to see precious great-grandchildren giggling and playing. They lifted so many spirits those two days! I'm not offended by the teasing, by the way, but I recognized how it bothered me and brought to mind other instances where I've been called out for being too "me."

The more I think about encouragement, the more it leads me to acceptance, and when someone feels accepted, they just feel loved.  Like, hey, you don't have to be anything different or better, or fix this or that. I just like you the way you are! This is the Fred Rogers way, and why he was so popular on TV! This morning the enemy had a little field day with my mind, and said, "hey, remember all those people who rejected you? I can list their names for we go!" And on and on the old names were flashing in my mind. Yep, I had their acceptance at one point in my life and now I do not. They also had mine, and probably still would.  I never stopped my love, I just noticed when theirs disappeared, and so I moved along. The enemy wanted me to ruminate about it and wonder if it was something I said, something I wrote, something I did or didn't do, blah blah blah, but I finally quieted the lies.

 Love is a revolving door. People come, people go, and the ones who stay are meant to stay, and there is peace in looking forward without malice. I don't slam the door on relationships or people, and I welcome people into my life who want to be here. I'm not perfect, and I am far from being the social butterfly I once was, but I try, despite my shortcomings, to be a friend.  In fact, my dear friend, Patty and I spent over an hour on the phone last week trying to get caught up. I adore friends who don't place constraints and expectations on me to do, to be, to whatever, but who just allow me to be myself, even if that doesn't fit into their idea of "friend." We've managed to be friends for over 45 years now because we've always just loved each other as is through all the mountains, valleys, and changes in life. 

 I remember saying in a low moment to good friend Norm, "I feel alone." He said plainly, "I've been here the whole time." He was right. I was so fixated on all the people who walked away that I didn't see the ones who had been standing there by my side the whole time. Let's not get in the habit of rearview-mirroring our lives. That's one way to miss out on everything good in life. If it's one thing I've managed to take away is that the best way to be satisfied in any relationship is to focus on what you have to give, and not what you're going to get back. Know how to handle the actions that harm you, whether you caused them yourself, or they were brought on by someone else. Know when to apologize, accept an apology, forgive, and know how to respond to a person's pain appropriately. That last one, right? That could be a whole book, and probably is. As much as I encourage you to listen to others, I implore you to also listen to yourself. When I become a little more self-aware about my own shortcomings, then I am more able to make changes. With God's help, we can be directed to the qualities that help us to encourage others, and the traits that He knows are keeping us from a better relationship with others. 

 We can't change people, but we can change ourselves, and if we put as much energy into changing ourselves as we do thinking about what we want other people to change, wow-we would be amazing! We can heal from the things we think have broken us. We don't have to be a "hot mess express" with no redemption! I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 We can feel hurt from the ones who left us, but know that if we have God, we already have a friend who will never leave. When God removes people from our lives that we never imagined losing, we have to take a look from God's point of view. Sometimes the answers will be much clearer there. 

That's all I have for today. It's been a pleasure sharing my snowy spring thoughts with you, friends. Hope you're enjoying warm sunshine and flowers, wherever you are, and may you be encouraged by the love of the Lord, who provides all you need. 

The Losing Game

  We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare t...