Speakin’ a Good Word

Speakin a Good Word

Holly
Have you ever had someone speak a good word over you? I have, and it changed me. At least it led to changing me. I have pictured it to the left.


When I was 20 years old, I married my Chris. I was a junior in college and transferred from University of Texas in Austin to Texas A&M. I found that at UT, Campus Crusade for Christ was a life-source to me and led me to know Jesus in a way I never had before known. He became my Friend there. I learned to pray there, too. It literally changed the way I approached God. So when I got to A&M, I began going to Crusade and joined a Bible Study there.



One friend in the study, Christa, did this calligraphy for me. Here’s what she wrote: “Holly …your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. I Peter 3:4″

I read that and the first thought in my head was, “OH, she does not know me well at all!”

In the Amplified Bible, it says that this gentle and peaceful spirit is not anxious or wrought up. Well, I was, very much so. I freaked out every time I had a test. I worried about money. I worried about everything really. I was content in two things–that Chris loved me and mostly that God did. That was really all I knew. There was nothing gentle about me, but perhaps I “posed” well.  I know I did.

 

So when I read this good word, and I thought I wish I was like this, I prayed to be. The good news is that today, posing aside, I have become much MORE gentle and quiet in my spirit. Isn’t that amazing? All Christa did was speak the Word over me, and it changed me.

 

Today, I will speak two over you–it is a life-changing, two-part Word. No matter who you are or where you find yourself this day, these words are true for you :

 

Leviticus 20:26 “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

 

Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

 

Speakin a Good WordHere’s what I want you to know today–You are His treasured possession, set-apart, holy, and chosen.

 

Do you feel like that today? ‘Cause if not, like me, you need to ask Him to make you MORE and MORE like that Word.

 

Now will you speak a good Word over those you love today? How about those who drive you crazy? How about over people who don’t ever BLESS you?

 

Maybe it will be to them a cup of cool water and bless and change them. Speak it in Truth and Speak it in LOVE.
Holly sig2

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Brotherly Love – A Sister’s Perspective

AMH brothers

Photo Credit: Katy Roberts Photography

I remember the day my dad was shopping with me for a special dress. We had moved to a new town ahead of the rest of the family, so in a mutual state of neediness in Mom’s absence, I was his escort to a fancy dinner, and he was my shopping buddy.

Standing in the busy department store, I slid the hangers along the metal pole. I would hold one up and check for his initial response. A squinchy nose meant: “don’t even bother”, while raised eyebrows and flattened frown indicated:”perhaps, perhaps!”

I have two distinct memories of that day. The first was what Dad said when I walked out of a dressing room with a colorful tea-length dress on. “Oh, you wear that one well!” My father was always very careful with words. I knew he purposely chose NOT to say what most might, “That dress looks good on you.” He chose to make it about me. “I” wore it well. He complimented me, not the dress.

The second memory is of the conversation that followed. I tried to make a comparison of men to dresses. Some men garnered a “don’t even bother” first impression. While others seemed nice enough at first glance: “Perhaps, perhaps.” And eventually one will be just right for me in that my loveliness is enhanced by the relationship.

Instead of extending the metaphor like usual, Dad offered a bit of a rebuke.

“You just seem to be going about this ‘boy’ business all wrong. Statistically, every male on this planet will ultimately be your friend – a brother of sorts. One special man will be your husband. I see you combating the odds. You treat every guy like he might be your husband, and very few like brothers.”

Wow.

He was right. How many last names had I paired with my first – scripted in cursive on spirals over the years? How often had I allowed my emotions to run rampant and race the relationship across the threshold of healthy friendship?

I thanked Dad for his honesty, but chided him a bit for not offering this age-old advice just a decade or so earlier.

Though I had not yet learned the discipline of treasuring platonic friendships, I had spent my whole life enthusiastically enjoying the company of my three younger brothers. My brothers had always provided the purest source of camaraderie. They would poke fun at me relentlessly, be brutally honest, and then unconditionally committed. They told me they love me… and their kind words, quality time and acts of service lead me to believe them.

Today, 20 years into my relationship with my husband, I see even more clearly the wisdom my Dad shared that day. He was right. Only one man has my heart, but several have my back, so to speak. I thank God for the brothers in my family. And I thank Him for brothers in the faith – these men who are friends of my husband, husbands of my friends, partners in ministry, and worthy opponents in the occasional bout of “Words with Friends”.

How rich an existence with access to such provision and protection!

My husband, Philip, is a loving brother to many. He is a good listener and “king of the side hug”. He has rescued stranded motorists, fixed cars in parking lots … he even removed a snake from a mini-van once! He treats others like he wants to be treated.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  James 1:27

I am not a widow or an orphan, but my dad has been in heaven for 18 years and my husband is sometimes called away to work for weeks at a time. Dads cannot be replaced, but the void of their affection and care can be lessened by a sensitive word or a kind gesture from a Godly man.

I had a pastor, once, who spurred me on and encouraged me just like my dad had always done. “You have a great sense of comedic timing … you should definitely write more.”

One Father’s Day, I sang a solo in church, and an older, portly gentleman, put his arm snugly around my shoulders and tearfully shared what a blessing my song had been and surmised how much my father would have enjoyed it.

Once, while Philip was away, we had a storm blow through that ripped a hole in part of our roof. Philip’s best friend was over at our house immediately, climbing onto the roof and patching it the best he could in the rainy darkness.

Another time my boys – who were preschoolers at the time- were missing their nightly rough-housing with their dad. They had become so rowdy, I could hardly stand it. I took them to the church playground to let off some steam. Our pastor and his family were there also. He purposefully and repetitively threw my boys into piles of leaves and wrestled with them against a mountain of gravel until they were squealing and panting – good and worn. In total relief, I whispered to his wife, “I just can’t rough-house like a Dad can.”

There is an older man in our church who often stops me to look me in the eye and say, “I sure love who you are.” as though he were delivering a message straight from my dad.

My dad appreciated me – no matter the dress I wore or the boy I liked. And he left me a legacy of love and a powerful truth – flowing straight from the Heavenly Father’s will: brotherly kindness.

I want my sons – like so many other Godly men in my life – to be highly skilled at brotherhood. Statistically, every girl on the planet will need them to be her brother. Only one will ultimately be his wife. Godly brotherhood – “unstained by the world” – is a life skill and a relational calling. Men should prepare to serve and protect; and learn how to step in and provide. This is true religion and pure love.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.  1 Peter 1:22

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The Love is What They Will Remember

The Love is What They will Remember

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

These verses were read at my wedding and I’ve reviewed them many times over the nearly 30 years of being with my husband.  Yet, they are more than words on how to have a successful marriage; they teach me how to love my children and how to teach my children to love each other.  For if love does not first appear in the closest relationships we have (between husband & wife, parent & child, sisters & brothers), how can we expect it to appear in relationships in the professional world, on the playing fields, in the school rooms, in the board room, or even on the highways.

As parents, we must teach our children patience.  Sometimes that means telling them no, even during the mist of a temper tantrum, allowing them to be angry at us instead of giving into their every wish.  We must teach them to be kind at home first, to their brothers and sisters and that kindness can overflow in how they treat neighbors and strangers.

Our love as parents protects our children from wrong decisions, false teachings, bad friends, and dangerous situations.  A parent’s love stands up for their children, giving hope when all seems hopeless and encouraging dreams when it seems dreams are lost.

At the end of our days, our children will not remember the party we didn’t let them go to or the toy we didn’t let them have.  They might even laugh fondly at the restrictions and groundings they were forced to suffer.  More importantly, our children will remember our love for them and how we, as parents, demonstrated to them the love of our Abba Father.

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Even to Old Age, I AM HE

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For the second time this Christmas season I went caroling at the nursing home with a group from our church. Our pastor led the way on both occasions. The second time we went he gave us Christmas cards to hand out and encouraged us to minister to the people as we walked the hallways singing. Various people in our congregation had put a handwritten message inside the cards along with a bookmark.

Many of the residents were non-responsive, seemingly trapped in a world that confused and confounded them. Some would nod their heads and smile with a shy acknowledgment of their appreciation. I was so caught off guard when I entered a room where one resident was sitting in a chair singing with great enthusiasm.  She was alone and her face was aglow with joy. I just stopped in front of her and looked at wonder at the glory of it.  She never missed a beat, but held my gaze and kept singing… then my tears began to flow. She reached out her hand, touched me, and spoke some words of encouragement. She was so frail in body, but so strong in spirit. I think she knew my tears weren’t from pity, but from gratitude. How faithful is the One who is indeed Immanuel, God with us?

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. Isaiah 46:3-4

On another hallway I entered a room to give out the Christmas cards. This resident had an iPod to her ear, but she put it aside to let me know that she had a splitting headache and that her request for some aspirin was being ignored.  She asked me if I had any aspirin and I told her I didn’t, but I would like to pray with her. She said, “Well, I would rather have an aspirin.” The way she said it was so funny I could barely contain myself. I told her the hospital would frown on visitors dispensing aspirins, but I could pass on her request to an aide. She looked at me with slightly more interest and said, “Well, are you going to pray for me or not?” I laid my hand on her head and gently massaged her scalp while I prayed for the Prince of Peace to give her His peace and for healing of her headache so she could get some rest. Then she didn’t want me to go. I explained that we had other rooms to visit, but I would check back in on her. Several minutes later when we passed by her room I looked in and she was sound asleep.

So far, this is my favorite Christmas experience.  I am thankful our pastor led the way in the busy season to remind us as Paul did in Acts:

 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

I left the nursing home a blessed woman. Let’s  remember our Savior’s words.

Lord, thank you for those you have put in our lives who spur us on to love and good works. Help us to lift you up in this season in word and deed. In Jesus name, amen.

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If I Could See What You See…..

Close-up of Red Flower

A couple of years ago, the company I worked for wanted to provide a community of prayer for our readers.  Once a month they would make available downloads of worshipful songs.  As the site developed, they added videos to go with the songs.  While the site didn’t really work the way they had wanted, the music was a hit.

I added this song to my personal playlist and when I lose focus of where I need to be, I play it over and over.  It has a calming and uplifting effect on me.  The words remind me that God sees us differently than we see ourselves.  We need to learn to see what He sees.

Enjoy the worship video for “If You Could See What I See” from Maribeth Johnson.

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Joy and Peace

white dove

I love this photo. Two of my favorite people are in it. In the foreground is Reyna, the beautiful redhead. Reyna is one of those amazing young women who doesn’t really know how truly incredible she is. Reyna is now in college, majoring in interior design. I’ve known Reyna since she was 7 years old, and I’ve watched her grow and change in many ways. Most of all, she has grown in her love for Jesus. She is a beautiful young woman on the outside, but it’s the inside love of Jesus that shines so brightly through her that makes her one of the most beautiful girls I know.

Next to Reyna is my youngest son, Sawyer. This photo is “a keeper” for me (although I didn’t take it) because that smile on Sawyer’s face is genuine. He and Reyna were having a great time when this photo was captured on Reyna’s camera by some unknown person. I don’t know what they were doing ~ probably something related to a youth group activity ~ and to be honest I don’t even know when or where the photo was taken, but someone did an amazing job of capturing the two of them having a great laugh together.

Sometimes I wonder…if someone were to snap a photo of me without my knowledge, how would that photo turn out? Would I have a joyful or peaceful look on my face, or would I appear grumpy? Or even worse, would I have an angry look on my face? My husband calls it my sour puss face. I’ve caught glimpses of my sour puss face in the mirror, and let me tell you, it’s not a pretty look.

Am I always happy? No, of course not. But I can be joyful, despite my circumstances. Am I always calm, cool and collected? Not by a long shot. But I can be peaceful, no matter what is going on around me. Humans have emotions ~ they allow us to feel, to empathize, sympathize, to laugh and cry, to be excited, and to handle moments of great happiness and great sadness. We’re meant to experience a wide range of emotions. It’s the way God made us.

I find myself wanting more peace, more joy in the Lord. I want the large majority of those candid snapshots to show the joy and peace my Lord brings to my heart. My life will never be perfect, but my God is ~ and He can handle whatever emotions I feel at any given moment. And in return, He fills me with peace and joy beyond understanding.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. ~James 3: 13-18

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4: 4-7

 

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Delays, Disappointments, and Going Deeper

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Delays and disappointments are common to man.  However, if you are a friend of God delays and disappointments are often gifts from His hand to take us deeper and allow us to be someone through whom He can display His glory.

In John chapter eleven we see this lived out in such an extraordinary way we may miss the implications for our own lives. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were friends of Jesus.  They had a history and were intimate friends.  When their brother, Lazarus, became ill  they sent word to Jesus.  They knew Jesus healed, they had seen Him and they heard the testimonies.  Jesus received that word and this was His reaction,

“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was.” John 11:5-6

Notice that love motivated His delay.  Love allowed the disappointment. Love allowed the death of Lazarus,  and the devastation to ultimately take them deeper and display His glory.

Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house. John 11:20

Martha called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here, and is calling for you.”  And when she heard it, she arose quickly, and was coming to Him. John 11:28-29  When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:31-33 

For those of you who know Mary and Martha’s history it may surprise you that it was Martha and not Mary that instinctively and quickly made her way to Jesus. People may act in unexpected and uncharacteristic ways in crisis. When thrown in prison, the bold and fiery John the Baptist questioned the validity of the One he had previously proclaimed.  Disappointment or disillusionment in the way Jesus allows things to unfold can shake us to our core.

We read that the Jews who were with Mary were comforting her.  The word comfort literally means to “relate near.”  On some basic level just the presence of people who care about us can provide solace, but eventually they go home and we are alone.  We don’t know why Mary didn’t run to meet Jesus but I suspect she was deeply disappointed that Jesus didn’t respond in the way she thought he would. We  don’t know why she didn’t go until Martha told her that He was calling for her.  One of the simplest things we can do for the hurting is to remind them that Jesus is waiting for them to come to Him with their grief and questions.

When Mary got up her comforters presumed she was going to the tomb to weep because that is a very human response.   We visit the grave, we relive the events, we cry, we leave tributes, but I personally have never found consolation in those acts.  But I have, with countless others, reached the place where Jesus is.  It was there at His feet that Mary and Martha released their hurt and disappointment.  It was there at His feet they received a deeper revelation of who He was.  He took them beyond what they already knew.  “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”  Mary and Martha knew Him as healer, but He would take them deeper.  He would show them  that He  is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Jesus shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Jesus shall never die. John 11:25-26 What a revelation, what a promise, and what an amazing Savior.

We all have our own ways of coping and making it through tough times.  Where do you go when you are wounded, disappointed, or grieving? Mary and Martha went to the place where Jesus was. We too need to get there by faith. Stand on His promise that He is near to the brokenhearted and to those who are crushed in spirit.  He will not fail you.  You may be disappointed because you know what He could have done and didn’t.  But you don’t know what He can do if you trust Him.  When He doesn’t meet our expectations He wants to exceed them.  He will work it for our good and His glory. He wants to take us deeper still. Get to the place where He is.  He is calling for you.

MY PRAYER:  Lord, whatever you allow in our lives is meant to draw us deeper into our understanding and experience of you.  Help us to run to you for the healing and comfort that we need.  Only you can bring life in the midst of brokenness, hurt, and confusion. In Your beautiful name, amen.

 

 

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Covered by Love or Lies?

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Yesterday at church we focused on Colossians 3:1-17.  Now Colossians 3:1-3 are my life verses.  I often repeat them with my name in it.  They have deep meaning to me.  For I am not who I used to be–though some would like to say I am exactly who I used to be.  They are incorrect in their assessment.  And I refuse to shake hands with those kinds of statements.  How about you?

“Well, you know how ____ is….”

“_______ always is such a hypocrite.”

“I know ______, she is holier than thou.”

“_______ will never get her act together.”

I guess, I used to be.  Or maybe I gave the wrong perception or operated from the wrong motives. Even so, that is no longer who I am. When God looks at me, He sees me as His beloved child.  And there is nothing that can separate me from Him or His love.  I am covered by His love not the lies that some might slanderously speak over me.

In Colossians 3:1-17 you will notice that there are two kinds of lists–the list to take off and the list to put on, like clothing.  Read below, put your name in it and notice the two lists:

Since, then, ______, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For ______, you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your (_____’_)  life, appears, then you (_______) also will appear with him in glory.

______, put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived, _______. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, ______, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, ________, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, _________, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

OK, maybe you read it…maybe you skimmed.  Either way, go back and read it one more time, please.

What I want to put forth here, and doing so succinctly is this: For the put off list, notice that lying covers the behaviors here.  We can live this way and cover it with lies.  Whether we are believers or say we are, we cover with lies.  Or perhaps we are overt in our behavior.  That is absolutely true within our generation. But for the most part, I have witnessed and I have myself carried out this sort of covering, I act and then I cover with lies.

So do you. God says here, put this behavior off, like clothing that is no longer fitting.  The thing about clothing is that we have a choice about how we are clothed (You can read more about that here.). When it comes to spiritual-behavioral-emotional clothing, we choose it.

We can also choose to put it off–not making agreements with others who knew us then.  Right this second, we can be who we were made to be!  It happens by putting on the clothing in the verses above.  And what covers it?  It is covered by LOVE.

There is nothing and no one that can separate any of us from the love of Christ–no opinions or gossip or slander or judgement.  We are in Christ.  We are made in his image.  Now, let’s walk in WHO we are–we are His.  And you know what?  He has got you covered!! For He is LOVE–He is our covering!

Covered by His Love,

 

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Can You Seduce Your Husband?

Chocolate Hearts and Pink Roses

'sealed with a kiss' photo (c) 2010, Amber Rae - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Shortly after my husband and I started dating, Valentine’s Day came upon us. And I decided to do something romantic. I had a friend let me in to his dorm room on campus, and I left red cut-out hearts that spelled “I love you” all over his room, in a sort of scavenger hunt.

He loved it. Everything in our relationship was so new and so fresh and that just added to it. And it became a tradition. Not necessarily every year, but most years now one of us creates a treasure hunt for the other.

You know what the fun part of the hunt actually is? It’s creating it! It takes a little bit of time, but while you’re doing it you’re a giggly little girl, thinking about what his reaction is going to be. And you think about how much you love him, and how glad you are you’re together. You renew your commitment to him because you’re going through all this work to show him that you love him. And then you can look back and smile.

Doing romantic things for our spouses doesn’t just help our husbands; it helps us. We start thinking differently. We remember how much we love them. We try to create something that’s fun in our relationship. We’re the ones who spice it up.

Sometimes we women get this romance thing all wrong. We think that romance is something that he is supposed to do for us. But what guy wouldn’t feel amazing to have his wife pursue him?

And so let me ask you: when’s the last time you left a love note for your husband, sealed with a lipstick kiss? When’s the last time you sent him a racy text message? When’s the last time you hid a love note in his pocket, so that he would discover it at work?

Why do we stop doing these things just because we’ve been married for a while? We shouldn’t stop. We should do it all the more. It’s vital that your husband know that you love him, and that you remember how much you love him, too.

Without that romance, you just become two roommates, bound together by children and finances. Don’t let that happen to you.

Perhaps you’re one of those wives that’s thinking: If I write him a note, he’ll think it’s silly or he won’t care. Maybe he won’t. But you will! And if it makes you giddy, or happy about him, isn’t that worth something? Also, sometimes we expect an immediate reaction from our husbands: he’ll instantaneously think how great you are and he’ll gush all over the note. Men don’t always work that way. Maybe you need to write several notes, a few weeks apart, before he really softens to you. Don’t give up. It’s important to tell him that you love him, and why you love him, even if he doesn’t seem too interested in “romance”.

So here are some tips to writing great love notes:

1. Don’t just say “I love you”. Tell him one or two things that you love about him.

2. Keep it short and simple. Make it into a nice surprise he finds periodically in his clothes, in his lunch, in his car.

3. Don’t forget text messages! Sometimes, send him a text message that’s just a little bit racy. Few men can resist that!

4. Want something really fun? Hide a few of these “love coupons” you can download off of my website under his pillow.

Be romantic. Don’t wait for him to be. It will change how you think, and it will make him feel very appreciated!

Sheila is the author of the upcoming “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex”. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

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