Choosing A Word

There is a lot of talk about choosing a word for 2017. The idea of this word is to choose something that will guide your actions and development for the year. We recognize that words are powerful. They shape our thoughts and actions.

Our words tend to reflect what’s already in our hearts and minds. More than influencing ourselves, our words influence others. Our words can speak encouragement, graciousness, and peace. Our words can speak criticism, rebuke or failure. But today, I’d like to choose to use my words to speak challenge.

I’d like to challenge you to:

  • Be aware of every word. Choose your words carefully and examine the motives behind the words before you speak. Know that words have power and use the power wisely. Once a word is spoken it can never be recalled.
  • Consciously choose to use words that build up.
  • Refrain from speaking when you have nothing to add or when you are going to cause harm by speaking. For me, speaking can be the nervous filling of an empty space and often, that space doesn’t really need to be filled.

If you want to choose a word for 2017 to shape you, that’s a great idea, just don’t forget that the words you speak everyday are those that shape others.

I’ve decided to choose a word for 2017 myself. I choose Kindness. I want to be a woman who produces fruit in my life, so, I’m going to spend the year cultivating the fruit of kindness.

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NLT

Powerful Words

My husband calls me a wordsmith. And it’s true, for me words hold a great deal of power.

Words can heal, words can wound, words can fight our battles, or bring peace in order to avoid the battle.

I’ve become increasingly aware that I have a tendency at times to use my words to wound. So, I’ve been paying attention to when I wield those words as a sword. When I feel threatened or backed into a corner, or maybe just a bit insecure I tend to pull out my sword of words and fend off the attacker, real or imagined. But, just as the sword in the hand of a warrior of old could do lasting or even fatal damage, my words work this same damage on relationships in my life.

Words also have the power to bring life. For me, those words you speak into my life that build me up are the essence of love.

So, I hold in my mouth the power to build up or tear down. I can blame the one who backed me into a corner of insecurity and say they caused me to come out with sword swinging, but in truth, I am the culprit. I know better. I know that my security should not be found in the words or actions of others but I should rely on my faithful savior to…well, save me! But slowly I’m learning that I have already been saved, I’m just not recognizing it, and that it’s going to be gaining control over my words that allows me to live like I believe this truth. Only when I can quit wounding will I be able to live a life that reflects that saving.

This is a season in the year when many of us spend time with those who know us well enough to choose words that wound. It’s a time of year when we are tempted to do our own wounding. I pray that those of us who have been saved will begin to live like we believe it instead of wielding our words in a vain attempt to save ourselves.

 

Also sharing here:

http://holleygerth.com/

My Own Christmas Miracle

It’s the season where we think about miracles, let me tell you about one that happened in my life…

Twenty-five years ago my brother died a few days before Christmas. He and his children had been badly burned in a fire that involved the Christmas tree. It was a live tree, and following an electrical shortage it went off like a bomb! In the following years I struggled with difficult memories at Christmas time and could not bring myself to celebrate, especially with a tree. I always attended Christmas Eve services, but that was it. Also, I was single, a difficult dynamic during a season when our culture focuses on families.

Then, I met and married my husband. Along with the marriage came three lovely bonus daughters and five grandchildren. My new family began to celebrate Thanksgiving together and it became a tradition to put up our Christmas tree and decorate it together on the evening following the Thanksgiving meal. After all, it was much easier to put up and decorate a tree with little boys begging to be the one putting the star on top, than it was to explain why grandma was too sad to have a tree. I began to look forward to this tradition. Suddenly, it became a time of pure joy for me! And this year, I found that it was a time of joy for them as well when one of those boys, now a teenager, asked if we were decorating the tree this year following the Thanksgiving meal. My heart rejoiced again and I renewed my thanks that God, had redeemed this sadness for me in such an incredible way.

I must tell you, we did not put up our tree this year.Not because I am sad, but it is because we have two kittens. I am also realizing that even without the tree, Christmas is no longer a time of sadness for me. Much like my life, it is something my savior has fully redeemed.

Isn’t that just like our loving father! Taking a time of pain and sadness and remaking it into an occasion for rejoicing!

Sorting Out the Truth

Today, anyone with internet access has the ability to make their voice heard around the world.  Many write from places of strong opinion, strong emotion or humor. Much of what is written will resonate with you and much will repel you. How do you sort it out? You compare it to truth. As a Christ follower I’ve made the choice, the commitment, to always choose God’s word as my ultimate truth. I don’t apologize for this.

Because I’m often found with my nose in book, or blog, or website reading, I must be constantly on guard to test it all with my chosen truth, God’s word as found in the Bible, no matter how much what I’m reading may resonate in my heart.

I can be lazy, I can listen to other Christ followers, or read what they’ve written, or read their analysis of what others have written. However, when I do this I run the risk of following the wrong truth. It can also cause me to doubt the truth of the Bible, which just plays right into the hands of the enemy! So, while I appreciate that you read what I’ve written, and although my goal is to always test what I’ve written by God’s word, I don’t want you to take anything I write at face value. Use it as a starting point to test it against your own chosen source of truth.  Why?  Well, here are some things I know:

Christ followers must follow Christ, not those who follow Christ.

This isn’t an issue that is new to our internet age. We seek charisma, we like being spoon-fed rather than doing our own work, we get led down wrong paths by both well-meaning folks and those who have set out to deceive.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say,“He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” And again,“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.”So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. I Cor 3: 19-21a (NLT)

Emotions deceive us.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and  examine secret motives. Jeremiah 17:9-10a (NLT)

Sometimes we don’t even recognize our own motives.  We are all pretty good at fooling ourselves.

For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:21-23 (NLT)

God, who created the universe, is perfectly capable of making himself understood.

You can read and understand God’s word with God’s help. Which by the way, he is happy to provide. Feeling insecure and inadequate when you stand yourself up against a popular source, a paid source, an eloquent source?  If you do, then you are depending upon the wrong thing.  Seek God, read the words he’s given, he will lead you to truth, real truth.

The commandments of the Lord are right,bringing joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are clear,giving insight for living. Psalm 19:8 (NLT)

And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. I Cor 2:-4-5 (NLT)

You see? God’s word contains everything we need and it’s the role of the Holy Spirit to show us what we need, when we need it. This is one reason prayer and Bible study, together, are so powerful.

 

 

Also sharing here:

http://holleygerth.com/

Crimson Leaves

I went for a walk in the woods, a place I love to walk. It was late autumn and the trees had lost most of their leaves. I shuffled along a path that was filled with leaves grown brown and crisp beneath my feet. As I rounded a curve and came upon a tree that I often sat beneath.I stopped amazed. My tree, which I fondly called Miss Maple, stood there in full crimson glory with fall color. Rushing over, I took a place on the ground beneath Miss Mable and struck up a conversation. “Miss Maple” I asked, “Isn’t it a bit late in the season for you to still be wearing your glorious fall colors? Most of the other trees are bare by now, ready to face the winter snows.”

“Oh, I suppose I should be bare by now,” said Miss Maple, but I just could not face another dreary winter in a dull grey dress like the rest of the trees. I feel so special in my crimson gown. I need to feel special! So this winter, I will NOT shed my leaves.”

As a brisk wind stirred the leaves on the ground I thought a moment and then said: ” But Miss Maple, what will you do when the storms blow and the snow grows heavy trapped on your leaves? Won’t your branches bow and break? You could become misshapen, or worse yet, broken!”

“Oh I am not worried about that”, said Miss Maple. ” It rarely snows that much here, and I like my crimson gown, don’t you? And, after all I’m not like the other trees in the forest, you said yourself, I’m special. ”

“Yes, Miss Maple, you are very special to me. I come here often to sit in your shade in the spring or summer. I bring my grandchildren in the spring to play with your babies on their helicopter wings. I come in the summer to picnic or read in your shade. And I especially enjoy coming her to spend time with our creator.”

“That settles it for sure”, said Miss Maple. ” I’m keeping my gown this winter. You can sit beneath my leaves all winter sheltered from the winter sun, or snow which ever the day holds.”

I sighed. ” Miss Maple, it will be far too cold for sitting on the ground in the winter, and if the snow should damage your branches I would be so sad for you. You must let go of your leaves. You must do it quickly before the winter comes.”

“I will NOT, I want to feel special. I cannot feel special if I look like all the other trees in the forest. Don’t you think the splendor of my gown is especially striking against all the grey bark of the trees around? Everyone who comes to the forest will notice me first. They will see just how special I am.”

“Miss Maple, you do not need a beautiful gown to be special. And besides, if you don’t lose your leaves, there will be no helicopter babies in the spring. No planting seeds of other maple trees to grace the forest. It would be such a loss. This is the season for letting go…for putting aside things that may do you harm, or hinder fresh growth. It’s also the time to forget trying to stand out on your own and be special because of something you have done. It’s time to listen to our creator. Let go of your leaves.”

“But…But…Iff..I do…”she stammered, “how do I know that I will grow a new gown in spring?”

“Haven’t you always, Miss Maple, for all the springs you have been here in the forest? And don’t all the other trees around you do the same?”

“Well…so far…but how do I know that I will be given a new gown next spring?”

“That is called faith Miss Maple. Our creator promises us that he cares for us beyond all others. To him, as well as me, Miss Maple, you are special.  I’ll stroll by this winter on a warm day and stop to chat. Then in the spring, I’ll come again to sit beneath your leaves.”

“But how will you know me?” said Miss Maple,” if I look like every other tree in the forest?”

“Oh don’t worry Miss Maple. I found you last winter didn’t I? And the winter before? Now is the time for letting go. Let go of those things that hold back your growth. Let go of the things that you control, and trust our creator for a new work in your life. Wouldn’t you like a nice spring green dress next spring? And a fresh crimson gown next fall instead of one worn and tattered from seasons of storms and wind?”

“Well….”said Miss Maple, “I would like to make room for that new gown…”

I smiled, as crimson leaves began to swirl around my feet….Miss Maple and I together facing what our future holds with a whole hearted devotion to our creator’s plan.


Written several years ago, this is not a political statement and predates “Frozen.” It blessed a friend this morning so thought perhaps I’d share a bit more widely.

Also sharing here:

http://holleygerth.com/

Light In The Dark

Now is the time to shine! Don’t let the news of the day drag you down. Do not submit to cultural norms. Remember who you belong to. Remember the promises you have been given. Don’t fear change. Just keep your eyes focused on the light then you too, can be the light just as you were intended to be.

The sun slants into the windows of my sun room nearly blinding me. I can’t focus on anything else.  I soak in the warmth and my heart lifts giving praise to God. Now, to hang onto that as I face the day!

The world right now is filled with messages shouting for my attention, warning me that change is near and I should brace myself for the change. But I have news, change has already come into my life and I must focus on that light as I tune out the shouts of darkness and dread. I know who holds my future in his hand. I trust his promises are true.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

If you are feeling a sense of dread and despair. If you’ve watched too much news or hung out a bit too long on Facebook, then you may find yourself unguarded against this lion. Turn your eyes back to the light!  Let the light pour over you. Spend time in the word. Then, let that light shine out from you. In the darkness, your light will be even more evident. So will the lack of light.

Now is the time to shine! Don’t let the news of the day drag you down. Do not submit to cultural norms. Remember who you belong to. Remember the promises you have been given. Don’t fear change. Just keep your eyes focused on the light then you too, can be the light just as you were intended to be.

I’m linked up here today.

http://holleygerth.com/

What Fills You Up?

Today I was offered a consulting job. Back in the world of work I knew before I retired. Developing an on-line course for the public health community. This is a world where I know what I’m doing. A world where I’m an ‘expert’ or at least competent. The pay wasn’t bad and it would involve a bit of easy travel. I would be working with folks who respect me and it would add some structure to my days. It would fill my days with a lot of things I enjoyed about my former position, and less of the things that frustrated me.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But I’m glad I didn’t just jump right in with a yes. I said, let me get back to you. And then I took it before the Lord.

Well….I got my answer. God did not speak to me out loud, but he made his response clear.  Loretta, would you choose to let that world fill you up rather than me? I’ve given you an assignment. Spend time with me, learn more about me, share what you are learning with others. My lesson right now is to let God be my constant source of fulfillment. This is coming at me in many forms.

And I will tell you, I am struggling with this new assignment. I miss the enforced structure of my professional life. I want to fall back on the familiar, the known, rather than blaze a path into the unknown that God has invited me to walk.

So, it really comes down to this. Do I let the work that I’m familiar with fill me up, or do I let God fill me? The temptation is to go with the familiar. The place where I know I’ll get my kudos. But I’m still reading Jeremiah, and I read that God told Jeremiah ‘I can’t bless disobedience’.

At this time in my life God has invited me on an adventure. It’s a bit of a maze where I can’t always see what is ahead, but this adventure is an invitation from God to let him alone fill me, and to do otherwise would be disobedience. I’ve decided to give a ‘no thank you’ answer to the offer. Even though I don’t have a clue where God is leading me on this new adventure, I’m learning to choose him over the apparent security of the known.

 

I’m linked up here today.

http://holleygerth.com/

Your True Value

My friend Mary diligently collected a certain type of dishes for her table. They could not be found in a store, They had to be sought out and collected from someone who’d owned them previously.  She loved the beautiful blue on white pattern that graced her table. Sometimes, I’m sure that others thought she overpaid to have this prize when she found it. After all, those dishes originally were given away in the grocery store as a reward for groceries purchased. They were not fine china nor were they originally seen as pieces with great value.

We all have our own opinions about the worth of something. But that doesn’t make us right! Is value based on the cost of the creation? The time, materials, and care that went into the creation. In reality, the true test is the price that someone is willing to pay.

It doesn’t matter how others see your value. I was redeemed at great price, although there are days I tend to forget that and sell myself short. You too, were redeemed at great price. No one can take away your value!

 

I’m linked up here today: http://holleygerth.com/

Getting it Right

My nephew and his wife have a new baby. Today, he wrote an eloquent post on their family blog about the challenges of balancing life, the changes they find in their thirty-something lives and I heard the unspoken plea, let us get this right!

This feeling never really goes away does it? At every stage we want desperately to get it right! And, we often are focused on the next step ahead as we fight this battle, so much so we miss living in the here and now.

From my perspective, recently retired from the ‘day job’, I completely understand this desire to get it right as we focus on the next stage or step in life. Life becomes a race and we are focused primarily on the end or at least the next milestone. This can be a heavy burden. It’s difficult to do today well when our focus is on tomorrow. Then, as you look back, it’s difficult to realize what you missed by being so forward focused.

I don’t think God ever intended us to rush so much or to focus so completely on what is ahead. I also know that he is not the harsh critic of my life that I am at times. He said, my yoke is easy, my burden is light.  That doesn’t sound like a God who beats me up for more, more, more. He also said that we should not worry about tomorrow, he’s already got it handled.

God’s focus is on relationship. His relationship with us, our relationship with him, and our relationships with others. Relationships require we live in the moment. Want to join me as I readjust my focus?

 

Shine

I will be teaching a class at the Shine event August 27. http://lakeshorechristian.com/index.php/ministries/women/84-shine-event-for-women

Preparing to offer encouragement and tools. Passing the Baton: You Can Make a Difference!

It’s going to be a great day! Register soon!