Uncovering the beauty

Pr. 21:9:  “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Pr. 21:19:  “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

The truth is that it’s better to dwell in those places than with anyone that’s angry and contentious (likely to cause an argument).  Relationships are hard enough without having someone always looking for a fight.

 

muddycoupleI was walking in the woods behind our house today and found this little figurine.  I couldn’t believe how applicable it was to real life.  Sometimes our relationships can resemble this…soiled, muddy, polluted, and defiled.  During those times, it can be hard to see through the muck to even imagine something that could possibly look better.

 

couplewipedoff

 

But I chose to wipe off the figurine, and do you see what I saw?  They were still holding hands.  With just a bit of effort, I was able to uncover the fact, that underneath it all, they were still connected.  Do you believe that’s true for our relationships?  I do.  Underneath all the mess, there are 2 people that were once connected, and with just a bit of effort, the fact that there is still a connection becomes visible.

 

 

allcleanedupInspired by what I saw, I took the figurine inside and cleansed it with some soap and water, and a bit of bleach.  The cleansing revealed a couple with a few scars, but look at their faces.  They look happy and content again…renewed and ready for a new life.

 

 

 

Sometimes, deciding to work diligently to wipe off all the offenses and grime to uncover a renewed relationship can be rough and it can definitely sting.  (Just as if being cleansed with bleach)  But it’s so worth it.  Those scars just make us stronger, and more able to testify to the Lord’s mercy and miracles.  Just like this figurine, there can be new life waiting underneath; we just have to be willing to uncover it.

I couldn’t tell you how long this figurine was buried in the mud.  It was pretty deep in there, and even under some other trash.  But that just proves that no matter how long our relationships have been in the mire, with just a bit of interest and care something beautiful can be revealed.

And the most beautiful part for us is that God is faithful to stand with us during the process.

Get out that scrub brush!

jamie

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Stop the flow while there’s time

Pr. 17:14:  “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.”

Can anyone attest to the truth of this!?

22 years ago today, my best friend died in a car wreck.  It was one of the most devastating days of my life.  It wasn’t just because she was gone.  Adding to that grief was the fact that at the time that she died, we had been fighting for several weeks.  Now she was gone and I’d never get a chance to change that fact.

The moment I found out she was gone, none of the issues we’d been fighting about mattered.  All I wanted was her.  I wanted to go back and tell her I was sorry, that it wasn’t really important, and hug her tight.  The fact that I couldn’t, the fact that I had been so stubborn and unforgiving, was something I would have to work through for a long time.

My sage advice today is to let it go.  If, in the next moment, the person you’re striving with was gone, would it really matter?  Before it gets worse, choose to put a stop to it.  You never know if you’ll get another moment to show love.

Experienced,

jamie

 

Month of Prayer, Day 19

Lord, truly, I would have perished in my affliction if it hadn’t been for You.  Your Word is what has given me life.  I praise You for this, Lord! You have saved me.  You have saved me in this life, and You have given me eternal salvation, as well.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Lord, help me to walk in integrity.  Keep foolishness and perversity far from me.  Let Your Word be what guides my steps.  Continue to grow in me the discretion that makes me slow to anger, overlooking transgressions and weaknesses.  Help me to see those around me through the lenses of  love and understanding.

Keep contentions and arguments far from me, so that I may be a prudent wife.  Help me not to allow laziness and idleness be my companions.  Let me give to those in need, chasten my children while they’re young, be careful of my ways, and continue in Your Word.

Let my ears be open to instruction and counsel, that I may be wise in my latter years.

Although the enemy waits to destroy, I trust You to keep evil far from me.  I know that You will not allow evil to overtake me.  I am Yours.  You love me like no other and You are the God who is in control.  Satan may have a loud roar, but Yours, O Lord, is louder!  You are the Alpha and Omega.  You are the King of Kings!  You are the Lord of Lords!  You are the Great I AM.  You are Lord of all.  And I praise You!

Thank You for choosing me, Lord.  I am happy to be called Yours.  Thank You for hearing my prayer.  You are a good, good God!

I love you,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 18

Today’s scriptures are about words.  Your Words are powerful, Lord, because they create.  Indeed, Lord, Your Word is forever settled in heaven.  It is as unchanging as Your faithfulness.  You established the earth by Your Word, and it abides.  What You create is for a purpose.

Lord, Pr. 18 tells us that our words create, as well.  Help my words to also have a purpose.  Help me not to express my own heart, but to delight in understanding. Help the wellspring of wisdom flow from my mouth and not foolishness.  Help my lips not to enter into contention or call for blows.  I do not want my mouth to be my destruction, or be a snare for my soul.  I want my mouth to honor and glorify You.

Keep me from haughtiness. Keep my ears and my lips closed to gossip. Let my ears wisely seek knowledge. Help my heart to be prudent, acquiring knowledge. Let the produce of my lips be good and not evil.

Lord, Pr. 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Let my tongue speak life. Help me to be a wife who is honorable, loyal, and helpful.  Help me to speak life into my husband.  Let me to listen before speaking, and to answer softly.

Lord, I thank You that Your name is a strong tower that I can run to for safety.  When I need protection, Lord, You are ever there; unchanging, and eternal.  Thank You, Lord.  Thank You that Your faithfulness will endure to the generations that come after me!

I love You, Lord,

jamie

 

Choose not to be the kindling

Pr. 26:21:  “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

My husband has been working on mastering the art of fire making.  He now only technically needs 1 stick to start a fire.  From there we only have to add more wood to turn it into an entire campfire.  If we didn’t douse the fire with water afterwards, it could spread and grow even larger.

Words can be the same.  Sometimes it only takes 1 or 2 words to kindle strife.  That strife then has the potential to grow larger and larger.

As the wood that ignites the fire, we can be contentious, provoking others by arousing and igniting anger and conflict.  Conversely, we can take preventative measures when speaking, possibly even quenching the fires already beginning to catch their lives ablaze, by allowing rivers of living water to flow out of our hearts.

When we believe in Jesus, He fills us with Living Water, and He said those waters will flow from our hearts.  (Luke 7:38)

We certainly have the option of holding that back from others, kindling strife through harshness, unforgiveness, meanness, disdain, indifference, apathy, impatience, intolerance, and blame.            (Sorry, I was on a roll)

Or we could, instead, recognize the thirst in others around us, and choose to pour forth the living water through forgiveness, compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and understanding.

Remembering that first and foremost, God is love, we can realize that we are all broken and imperfect, and offer His love to those around us.  Those words we speak are either kindling a fire of conflict and strife, or refreshing and encouraging a thirsty soul.

Before speaking, we need to think ahead, and do our part to prevent strife.  Everyone could use a refreshing douse of living water to extinguish the fires and quench their thirsty soul.

Pretty thirsty myself,

jamie

Christmas with an offended brother

Pr. 18:19:  “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

During this season of family gatherings, this verse stands out.  Not everyone’s families get together in happy, peaceful, harmonious ways.  There are times when contentions, offenses, and pain are also present.  Sometimes it is an unspoken expectation that during a holiday the contention will cease, and so when it doesn’t, it can hurt even more than usual.

Sadly, there are some people for whom forgiveness never seems to be an option.  We cannot speak for them; however, we can decide for ourselves how we will respond.  If there are contentions in your family, I am sorry.  You may not be met with friendliness or the opportunity to move in and make it all go away.  So, what can you do?

Continue to pray.  Continue to walk in love.  Continue to walk with integrity, being the person you claim to be in Christ.  Continue to trust in the Lord and His faithfulness in your life and the lives of those with whom the contentions exist.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.  But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.  Ps. 13

David wrote this Psalm when it seems he was experiencing similar emotions with those who would not forgive and relent.

We have the Lord and Savior on our side.  We have the One who shows Himself strong for us.  We have the one who keeps us safe when our trust is in Him.

It is hard when others do not like us nor will offer forgiveness; however, Jesus said that the servant is not greater than his Master.  The world hated Jesus before it hated us, and if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute us.  (John 15:18)  Jesus knows about rejection, hatred, contention, and betrayal.  He’s been there.  He is able to offer aid to us if that is the case in our lives, as well.

We cannot force others to forgive or love us, but we can walk in the knowledge that we have a High Priest who will comfort us and offer mercy.  He is always on our side.

If you happen to be the one who has not been forgiving or relenting, perhaps this is the Christmas when you can offer that gift to someone as imperfect as you.  Everyone needs forgiveness, which is why Jesus came as our Savior.

Whatever the case, I pray that the Comforter will be able to offer you peace this Christmas season.  The Lord is faithful and does not allow the righteous soul to famish.  If you allow it, He will give you all that you need.

Praying for you,

jamie