Archives for August 2015

An Attitude of Gratitude

As the summer winds down and the school year starts up, my mind and heart are grateful.

Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, challenges us to write 1000 things for which we are grateful. This list could contain the beautiful sunrise, morning dew, birds chirping, sun shining through the window across the hardwood floors, dear friends who open their beautiful home, fun co-workers. What are you grateful for today, this summer? May each day our hearts, my heart, have an attitude of gratitude.

“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” –Philemon 4-7 NIV.

Reflect:

–For what, for whom, are you grateful?

–Consider making a list of 1000 gifts today.

Renew:

–“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” –Philippians 3:11b

–“Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.”  –Victor Hugo.

 

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Refining, Shining, or Tarnishing

On this third Tuesday of normally the warmest month of the year, it is on my heart to reflect on the warmth, the heat and process of gold and 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 use and the oil from my hands. Each day when I walk into my office building for work, I notice its naturally polished door handles, also shiny from frequent use.

Then I open my kitchen 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 try to cool off in our August heat, may you feel the warm glow of the Refiner’s fire.  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 NIV

–“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 NIV

–“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 NIV

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.”

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Grace For the Recovering Perfectionist

I am a recovering perfectionist. I admit it. What do you think is the difference between perfection, striving for excellence, and doing your best?

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. Yes, coloring inside the lines was a must. 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 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.

One of my favorite verses is five words: “She did what she could… Mark 14:8a  NIV.  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, there is grace for those of us recovering from perfectionism. 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.  Exhale. Laugh. 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

–“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.

–“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

Resource:

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.

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