Nineteen & Twenty {31 Days of Wisdom}

It’s happening.

Those years people told me about when a boy becomes a man.  I see the struggle to break free and separate like a to and fro… sometimes they long to be close, sometimes they want to be as far as possible.

The challenge for me is to know how much to hold on and when to let go.

A good friend advised me this week to separate myself from their emotions.  Much like when a 2-year-old who throws himself on the ground in a tantrum… the advice is to walk away and not acknowledge it.  I’m now supposed to detach from the anger of an adolescent to prevent further kindling.

Trouble is, I’ve got both ends of the spectrum right now.

19:11

“Good sense makes one slow to anger,
    and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

My issue is the good sense because none of it makes sense to me. It’s been a long time since I threw my hands up in an adolescent rage, but I remember it well.  Your feelings get out of control and out the heart, the mouth speaks.

So when they are out of control, my goal is stay in control.  Not of them but of me.  It’s the discipline of remaining steadfast when nothing seems steady to them.

19:18

“Discipline your son, for there is hope;
    do not set your heart on putting him to death.”

Not sure if I have what it takes for this ride.  But He does.  In Him there is hope.

But I know, when I lose control they no longer hear.  All they see/hear is that loss of control.

19:27

“Cease to hear instruction, my son,
    and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

They have to find their own way and I can see the way separating from mine.  I can’t go with them, but I can go alongside them.  I can’t walk it for them but I can show them the way.

20:24

“A man’s steps are from the Lord;
    how then can man understand his way?”

Ultimately they need to find their Compass. The One who will direct them.   The One who goes before them.  The One who really knows the way.

Today I’m praying for an extra measure of love…the steadfast kind. I’m praying for faithfulness, the job assigned to me 11 years ago.

I am reminded of how desperately I need this Wisdom the Proverbs give.

Eighteen {31 Days of Wisdom}

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” {Proverbs 18:10}

When I was in 9th grade, my mom’s Multiple Sclerosis had advanced to the point it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to stand up on her own.  She had just recently put her trust in Jesus and decided to become one of His followers.  When she would try to stand up with difficulty, I remember her just calling out, “Jesus!”

I’ll admit, at the time, I thought it was weird.

She would do this several times a day and looking back, knowing what I know now, I understand it was her way for calling out and praying for strength.

I am not handicapped physically, but in my own life I have days where I certainly feel limited.  Limited in my energy, patience, in love for those around me and limited in faith and belief I will be able to handle all that is in front of me.

Beth Moore once advised mothers of young children to even just get down on your knees for one minute each morning and pray, “Lord, help me.” 

Our God is all-knowing and fully present in every space and time.  In each moment of each day, He is there. Better yet, He knows every word before it’s even on our tongues and He knows every thought before it crosses our minds.

So when we pray the prayer, “Lord, help me…” or simply call out the name of Jesus… He is the master of reading between the lines and knows every thought and emotion that surrounds that prayer.

His name is a strong tower.  Run to it, call it out, shout for Him and He will lead you to safety.

Seventeen {31 Days of Wisdom}

Today I’m thankful today for provision.

A roof over my head and food to eat.  Not one but two cars that run.  Kids who are healthy enough to make me a crazy person.

Thankful for a day off.  A day of rest.  A day of quiet.  A day with a life-giving friend who strengthens my soul.  A haircut at the end of the day to refresh me.  A man who enjoys sitting with me on the couch and processing the days events and non-events.

I’m reminded I have more than dry crusts.  I have a house full of feasting and today there is no strife.

Today I am thankful for these.

What are you thankful for today?

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
    than a house full of feasting,with strife.” {17:1}

Sixteen {31 Days of Wisdom}

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

In thirteen and fourteen, I wrote about those who are still waiting, or those with unmet expectations and hope deferred.  This verse is one I have memorized and it’s the thought which keeps floating in my mind as we go through our study on Tuesday nights.

We make a lot of plans in life, we have our dreams and the desired outcome for our family life, our careers and ministry.  God plants some of those desires in us, but some of them are from our own selves. Either way, life often looks different from what we expect.

I know mine does.  There is hardly one aspect of my life that has turned out the way I planned and I’m actually really glad. His ways are higher than ours.

God doesn’t have a plan B because He does not need one.

Your life, right now, right here…expected or unexpected is the way God saw it happening before the foundations of the earth.  If we believe in a sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God, then our theology does not allow us plan B.

Mistakes, yes.

Wrong choices, yes.

Brokenness, yes.

Choice, of course.

But He knows.  And if Jeremiah 29:11 is true, then it has to be all true.  There is a plan.  One plan. And it is good.

Fifteen {31 Days of Change}

There is much to be said about the power of words.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” {Proverbs 15;1-4}

A while ago, I came across this photo on Pinterest. I didn’t “pin it” because I hated it…but when I read today’s proverb, the image immediately came to mind.

I have kids that small and I’ve seen the look on their face when I have said something I really wish I hadn’t.  I can see the power of words all over their faces when I have hurt them with mine.  I can see in living color, the result of wickedness in my heart that overflows from my mouth.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” {Luke 6:45}

The proverb goes on to say that the lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the hearts of fools.

What do I want my kids to know?  What do I want my husband to know?  What do I want you to know?  Or anyone I speak to or write to or talk with and walk with?

I want them to know how much God loves them.  I want them to know how treasured they are.  How they have been fearfully and wonderfully made, that they are fully loved and welcomed just as they are. That’s the kind of knowledge I want to spread, so my heart needs wisdom… It needs to be filled with wisdom so it will pour forth from my mouth.

Gentle words.

Life-giving words.

Prudence.

Great treasures.

Righteousness.

Cheer.

Patience.

Understanding.

Pure.

Humility.

Lord, forgive me for the words that may cause anger or folly…forgive me for my foolishness. Thank you for new mercies that begin again tomorrow.  Help every word come forth tomorrow with your grace and wisdom pouring forth.

This is the 15th post in a 31 Day series: Wisdom. Start from the beginning here

You can also find over 1000 other topics from bloggers also participating here.

Thirteen & Fourteen {31 Days of Wisdom}

Clearly I’m behind.  But who wants to be religious about this, right?  Though I fall behind in my blogging, I’m still committed…to all 31 days of the Proverbs.

Interestingly enough a theme emerged with both chapters 13 and 14.  The Bible always has an amazing way of speaking to us in the time and space we are in. I suppose that’s what that writer of Hebrews meant:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” {Hebrews 4:12}

The thoughts and attitudes of my heart are currently consumed by a group of women I have the pleasure of teaching on Tuesday nights.  The subject at hand…being a woman in the 21st Century who lives her life with Christ at her center and His glory her drive and ultimate prize.

These women are a wonderful collection of the fabric of our community. All ages, single and married, divorced and widowed.  Some are mothers, some are grandmothers, and while some are longing to birth their own kids, they too are trying to figure out where else they can be “fruitful and multiply.”

What seems to be heaviest in my thoughts and heart are those who are there with unmet expectations.

The ones who are still waiting.

Waiting for the husband they grew up expecting.

Waiting for the child to be knit together in their womb.

Waiting for a job. Something to pay the bills but better yet…something she was destined to do.

Waiting for a marriage to be restored.

Waiting.

Proverbs 13:12:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

There is a space in between the initial onslaught of sickness from unmet expectation and a tree of life.  The point where you start to question if anything God said was actually true.  There is a place where you are sometimes at peace and sometimes at war with your own thoughts.  It’s much like the waiting room at a doctor’s office where you sit, anxiously awaiting what you will discover on the other side of the door.  Where you sit and stare at the coffee table, tired of the same magazine headlines.  The same celebrities on the covers.  The scenery is bland and sterile. There is nothing there to excite you or entertain you.

But in the waiting you are left to think. Left to ponder and be stretched.  On the other side of the door is a tree of life and sometimes you can’t see it because often it doesn’t look quite the same way you pictured it.  The door remains closed until the Great Physician decides it’s time and you are actually ready to receive your results.

You are at His mercy and by sitting there in the waiting room,  you have somehow agreed to place your life in His hands.

The fourteenth chapter shows another road we can take. Rather than sit and wait, we can hear the word He gave us and take matters into our own hands.  The longing, the waiting, the blessing from the stretching in one single move, by one single conversation can be ripped to shreds. Remember Sarah and Hagar?

Proverbs 14:1

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.

It may seem like the right choice at the time, but wisdom beckons us to wait…at least for a time to discern which road leads to the tree of life.

Proverbs 14:12

“There is away that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

The Proverbs are consistent about a choice we all have.   The choice usually captures our attention with two roads, one of wisdom and one of folly.  Both roads can seem right, can look appealing and can have results.

The waiting gives us clarity.  Though the waiting seems empty, quiet and void, the space is being used and is filled with the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

While you are waiting, Someone is always working.

What are you waiting for?

This is post 13 and 14 in a 31 Day series: Wisdom. Start from the beginning here

You can also find over 1000 other topics from bloggers also participating here.

Twelve {31 Days of Wisdom}

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,

but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” {Proverbs 12:4, ESV}

The crown of a person is the outward, public display of their nobility. When a king wears a crown, it’s for all the kingdom to see and understand his noble position.  When a wife speaks well of and respects her husband publicly, she crowns him and esteems him before her community.

A struggle very common to women, especially when we are in groups, is to speak openly and honestly about real life and marriage without trashing our husbands.  Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is difficult and being in a relationship with a human being who has been wired completely differently than you is hard.  Transparency should be welcomed along with laughter and tears. Yet so often, our “sharing” goes too far to the extent of literally bringing shame upon our husbands.

I have a good friend who is married to a man that she lovingly describes as “God’s provision for her holiness.” It is no secret, they have dealt with things in their marriage that most couples don’t survive.  She is also known and deeply loved by many for her openness and her raw sense of grace towards others.  When she talks about the messy parts of their marriage, she is able to do so in a very real way that never puts her husband in a rotten light.  Those of us who know her, love her and we also love her husband and see a good marriage which God has ordained for their holiness and His glory.  It’s truly amazing.

As a result, my friend {her husband}, by the grace of God, has overcome a lot.  He has seen victory and experienced grace as needed, when needed.  God uses his wife again and again to win him over, undo his heart and make him a catalyst for God’s transforming work in others.

Ephesians 5 tells us a man’s greatest need is respect, while a woman’s greatest need is love.  When we publicly criticize, fight with and little by little strip away our respect for them, we literally cause decay. But when we pump up our men when they do right by us, when we speak well of them to those we love, when we remind them how proud we are of them, how thankful we are to feel safe with them, when they provide for us, when they do something to love us well…we are crowning them with respect. And that crown actually makes them stand a little taller, a little broader and more confident.

Another wise friend is always reminding me, “men follow the cheers.”  What dude doesn’t want to follow a woman who puts a crown on his head?

This nugget in Proverbs 12 moves me to be truthful about the challenges Steve and I face in our marriage, but also honest about how good my man is to me and how he really does love me well.

After all, I’m not big on all the princess stuff {for another blog post}, but seriously…what woman doesn’t want to stand by a dude in a crown?

 

Eleven {31 Days of Wisdom}

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

but with humility comes wisdom. ~Proverbs 11:2

A couple of years ago a fairly well known leader stepped down from his post, citing issues of pride as the culprit. Someone commented on the relief of many who were glad it wasn’t another “moral failure.” The commenter made his point that moral failures are just another expression of sin rooted deep in pride. Pride comes before the fall. If we can address the pride in a timely manner, we can prevent the wake of distress that follows a fall from grace.

I tend to lean towards pride being the root of most our sins… Well at least mine.

When I was in 10th grade, my grades dropped severely and I was afraid of the consequences I would face with my parents. I made a decision, a very bad decision, to change the grades on my report card and deceive my parents into thinking I did much better than I really did. What followed was not just sparing myself from the consequence, but I was rewarded for the grades.

Well, of course I didn’t pull up my grades. This went on for the following year and because of what I had started I kept going. I didn’t want anyone in my family to know what a failure and now a liar I really was.

One fateful day, my dad got the mail before me and the gig was up.

I was disgraced, humiliated, and strangely relieved to no longer have to lie and pretend.

The thing about Jesus is that pride comes before disgrace but there is always more grace for Him to dish out. As long as we have breath I suspect He will go after our pride and uproot all that stinks of us to make us more like Him.

A fall from grace is always met with a hand of Grace to pick us up and lift our eyes back to Him. And there is nothing like falling flat on your face to humble you and course correct you back on the road to wisdom.

That situation unraveling brought me closer to my parents and was one of the few times I felt we actually understood each other. I certainly was disciplined by my parents for my actions, but there was discipline I receive from The Lord through them that brought me to a deeper place with Him and grew me up just a little harder that year.

Even in times of disgrace, there are new graces to be discovered.

God, uproot the pride in me today so I can walk freely without fear of tripping over myself.

Nine & Ten {31 Days of Wisdom}

Our nature is to relate to others, to want to be with others, walk with others and live in community.

Many of us are introverts, need our time alone and prefer smaller crowds but we all have a built in need to be with people.  When we isolate, it eventually catches up to us and loneliness and sometimes despair eventually set in.

Proverbs 9 reminds us, Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.  This verse 10 is nestled in the middle of 18 verses that describe two paths…The Way of Wisdom and the Way of Folly.

We can all go one of two ways and how we engage, or disengage with wisdom will determine our path and how we influence others along the way.

It begins with a reverent fear of Him who is greater than us, Him whose ways are higher than ours in ways we may never even understand during this short stay on earth.

With wisdom we build a house and her walls invite others to come and live.  But the way of folly will lead to a slow death led by the hand of stolen water and the secrets we try so hard to keep.

Proverbs 10 lays out the fruit of wisdom… and the fruit of folly:

A wise son makes a glad father

But a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother

Love covers all offenses

Hatred stirs up strife

The wise lay up knowledge

but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near

The hope of the righteous brings joy

but the expectation of the wicked will perish

 

This morning I am struck by the weight of influence.  How the tone for today in this home is set by me in the next 30 minutes when sleepy eyes begin to open.  There are two roads before me every day and along with me, I will take those near me.  As I walk, there are others I invite in.  My friends at the kid’s school, my co-laborers whom I love, the women who are so precious to me at church.  I can invite them into the way of insight or I can lead them to a path of ruin.  I can follow those who walk with integrity or I can go the way of sorrow.

The weight seems heavy, but He promises the yoke belongs to Him and it is easy and light and there is actually rest to be found there.

Rest in wisdom.

One of two ways.

Which way will you take today?

Seven & Eight {31 Days of Wisdom}

 

 

There is no doubt that women are influencers.

I am teaching a class at my church right now and this week, some of the focus is on the way women are uniquely designed by God and are wired to influence.

Brain science supports scripture by showing females are born with an ability to pick up on non verbal cues, relate to others deeply and quickly and have what is often called “intuition.”

The Proverbs personify wisdom with the word she and at the same time warns of a very different type of woman is described in chapter 7.  This woman is divisive with her actions and also her words.  She causes others to walk away from the people they love and the God they love with what looks and sounds like it will satisfy in the moment. But in the end, her way leads to death.  Her intention is described as skillful, deceitful and cunning. She is often smart, sexy and cool, but uses all of that to the disadvantage of others.

You can get hung up on the world adultery in the proverbs and think, This doesn’t apply to me, but I don’t think the writer was just talking about violating a marriage bed, there is something here for all of us.  I have great friends who have walked through the pain of adultery and all of them would say, it wasn’t just about their marriage.

Wisdom on the other hand brings blessings according to Proverbs 8. She speaks of noble things and her mouth utters truth. She too is smart in the most practical ways {8:11} and has good judgment, insight and power {8:14}. Her wealth is enduring and her beauty is unfading.

All of this comes from within and must be nurtured within.

Every day with my husband, my kids, as a friend and neighbor I have the choice to go one of two ways.  I can go the way of wisdom or the other direction.

The good news is we have a God who is bigger than us.  Thought our paths will stray, He leads us through the valleys of death and will gently and lovingly corrects our ways in order that we may become whole with Him.

Today, Gracious God, help us keep our feet on the path of wisdom.