Archives for January 2014

Refining, Shining, or Tarnishing, Post #13

As the harshest winter snow/ice storm supposedly in 25 years heads our way, it is on my heart to reflect on the warmth, the heat and process of silver refining.  I know it’s random, so please bear with me.

Each day I open my mail with a pretty silver letter opener, given to me years ago by a precious friend. It stays naturally polished, shiny from its daily usage and the oil from my hands. Then I open my cabinet and see my ornate silver pitcher, tarnished to black from its sad lack of usage.

It seems this verse from Malachi 3:3 recently keeps surfacing in my life:

 “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”

What does refining and purifying silver mean? I heard a story once of a ladies Bible study that asked the same question after reading that verse and wondered how it related to the character and nature of God.  One lady in the class offered to find out the process of refining silver and would report back to the group during the next Bible Study.

The lady called a silversmith and asked if she could watch him work. She made an appointment, not letting him know the reason for her curiosity of learning about the process of refining silver.

She watched the silversmith hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained to the lady that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest as to burn away all the impurities surfacing to the top. The lady then thought about God holding us in such a hot spot.

She asked the silversmith if he had to sit with the silver the whole time it was being refined. He answered that yes, not only did he sit there holding the silver, but also he kept his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire, scraping off the impurities–the dross– that surfaced. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The lady pondered his statement, then followed up with the inevitable question.

The lady asked, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

The silversmith smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy–when I see My image in it.”

What a sweet picture of how God takes such care of us.

I certainly am being warmed by the refiner’s fire in my life right now, having my impurities scraped away. So let’s say we eventually become “refined” this side of heaven, which I’m still not sure we do. What happens then?

I believe we have a choice. 1) We can choose to use our God-given gifts and talents daily and try to shine; or

2) We can remain shiny for a short time, displayed for the world to see, and after lack of usage we become tarnished until we are unrecognizable.

Which are you? Which do you want to be?

As we hunker down for these winter storms, may you feel the warm glow of the refiner’s fire and may you see His reflection in your shiny self. If you feel tarnished today, be encouraged. Polish yourself off and use your gifts and talents to make a difference to someone. You shine!

Reflect:

–What do you relate to more? Refining, shining or tarnishing?  Please comment below by going to “View Comments.”

-How are you being refined?

Renew:

–“And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” –Psalm 12:6.

–“He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” –Psalm 66:9, 10.

–“Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith; remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.” –Proverbs 25:4, 5.

Recharge:

–In what ways this week can you “polish” yourself more? Is it writing a note of encouragement to a friend?  Inviting your elderly neighbor over to your warm home for some comfort food?  Getting more involved in your Christ-centered church? Joining a Bible study? Please comment below by going to “View Comments.”

PS.  Thank you, friends, for your support, prayers, and encouragement in reading my first leap-of-faith guest blog on December 16 for Triad Moms on Main website  called “Confessions of a Wannabe Wife and Mom.” On Dec. 31st, my friends called to pleasantly surprise me that the blog post was #8 in the Top 10 2013 Triad Moms on Main Blog Posts. Please let me know what you think if you haven’t read it yet. May it also encourage all the husbands!!!

To God be the Glory!  http://triadmomsonmain.com/my-blog/the-top-tmom-blogs-of-2013

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Grace For The Perfectionist, Post #12

What do you think is the difference between perfection, striving for excellence, and doing your best? If you’re like me, that question sure makes you scratch your head.

When I was a little girl, I organized all my crayons by the rainbow-color acronym name—remember it? R-O-Y- G-  B-I-V (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).  I kept them organized, even if it was a box of 64 crayons. I also colored inside the lines. I was a born perfectionist.

Bless my sweet parents. I was harder on myself than they ever were on me.

All these years later, I still struggle with perfectionism in some areas of my life.  But who holds the measuring stick to decide what “perfect” is? Your “perfect” is different from my “perfect.” The only true measuring stick for perfection is Jesus, and nowhere this side of heaven will I, will we reach the beautiful perfection of Jesus.

I remember one role model in my career taught me this pithy poem:

Good, better, best, And may we never rest,

Until our good is better, And our better, best.

That’s when it hit me: my best is not perfection. And that’s OK.

When I get up in each morning, every fiber of my being strives for excellence.

Then life happens…

traffic is at a standstill, and I’m late for work;

a long-anticipated meeting is rescheduled at the last minute;

miscommunication occurs with a loved one;

reality falls short of expectations.

Where is my heart in all of this?  Then I read: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” –Colossians 3:23 (NIV 1984).  What a relief! Just put your heart and passion into all we do. May we not  not be half-hearted.

One of my favorite verses is five words: “She did what she could…” Mark 14:8a  (NIV, 1984).  Don’t you love it? Maybe I should have that on my epitaph!  What grace! It sure makes me exhale.

To set up the scene, Jesus was visiting the home of Simon the Leper. Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, brought in an expensive alabaster jar full of pure nard, which is costly perfume. She took it, broke it, and poured it all on Jesus. Some of Jesus’ disciples ridiculed her for wasting more than a year’s wages of perfume on Jesus instead of giving it to the poor. Jesus told them to leave her alone and said it was a beautiful thing that she did. He told them He would not always be around and this poured perfume was preparing him for his burial. Jesus was trying to tell them he would soon die.

Mary did what she could. It may not have been “perfect” or even “excellent” in the sight of the disciples. She gave it her all.

Dear friends, do you struggle with not getting everything done on your checklist? Keep doing your best, and react with grace knowing obstacles will come into your divine path. Be encouraged. You are making a difference.  Relax. Breathe deeply. Hold it. Exhale. Smile. His grace is sufficient for you and for me. Feel free to color outside the lines sometimes.

Reflect:

–What are some ways you are a recovering perfectionist like me? Please comment.

-What grace can you give yourself or a loved one who struggles with perfectionism?

–How can you make sure your heart is in all your work? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Renew:

–“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” –2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV 1984)

–“Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” –2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV 1984).

–“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” –Galatians 1:10 (NIV 1984)

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to this little leap-of-faith “Pure Inspiration” blog. 

My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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You’ve Got a Friend, Post #11

Who would you say are your true friends?  Who do you go to when you want to laugh, to cry, to celebrate, to confess, to be encouraged, to be your mirror?  Who calls you a true friend?

One of my most cherished blessings in  life are my wonderful, deep friendships, friends from different phases of my life.  I still keep in touch with friends from high school, college, after college, work friends, church friends, and friends met recently through Bible Study Fellowship.

A mantra that has resonated with me since childhood is “To have a friend, you must be one.” All these years, I have tried to be a friend but made mistakes when I wasn’t intentional to strengthen my friendships. Friendships are essential to a healthy life and for growth. It seems the truest friendships are easy, are refreshing, not draining.

Three different groups of dear friends stand out for me to describe for you.  One is a group of 10 beautiful friends from college. All 10 ladies live throughout North and South Carolina, are all married to great men, and have 22 children among the 10 of them. For the last 19 years, we have intentionally set aside the last weekend in April to rent a beach house in Charleston and spend time together, while their sweet husbands keep the children back home. We laugh, eat, tell stories, encourage each other, dance,  sing, cry through difficult times. I learn so much from them. Their influence makes me a better person.

The second group of my friends all met at a church retreat years ago. These six dynamic women are like big sisters who live throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. They are in their 50s or older, have great husbands and adult children.  Like the first group, we are intentional about getting together at least once per year for a weekend together. This past weekend,  we all were together in the North Carolina mountains. As it poured rain outside, we didn’t care. We laughed, ate, told stories, encouraged each other, danced, sang, cried telling about difficult times. What a glorious weekend! I learned and learn so much from them. Their influence makes me a better person. 

Yesterday I bid farewell to a dear friend who serves our country in the Air Force and is moving to Macon, Georgia. She is part of a group of new, precious Godly friends I met through Bible Study Fellowship. She has such a sweet, soft spoken voice and gentle spirit, which I know I need more of.  God’s love radiates from her. I know distance will not separate our friendship, just as distance hasn’t with the others.   I learn so much from her, from this group of friends. Her influence, their influence makes me a better person. Do you see a pattern?

I encourage you to evaluate your friendships and be intentional about strengthening– fertilizing–those friendships. Look in the mirror, my friend. You are a friend, and remember–you’ve got a friend. In fact, you’ve got many friends, friends who can be your mirror and show you the real you. You are blessed.

Reflect:

–Describe a true friend in the comments below. What do you love about them?

–How can you be more intentional about strengthening your truest friendships?

Renew:

-“…He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” –Proverbs 11:25

–“Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” —John 15:13

Recharge:

–Pick up the phone and set up a time to rekindle a friendship.

–Pick a weekend in 2014 and call a few of your friends to have a refreshing retreat.

Resource:

–Find a Bible Study Fellowship class near you at www.bsfinternational.org

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to my weekly blog.  My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5;16.

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