Hard Work

When I saw the title of this morning’s devotion, I knew exactly what I would share about. Stories featuring my kids. When they were both still at home, we worked on school every day; they worked at becoming better at their sport of choice (baseball); and they did chores wherever they were asked to–at home, church, or on the ball field. We were living the life of a Christian, homeschooling, baseball family.

But, as what usually happens when we’re in the middle of something, I couldn’t see results of what we were teaching them while I was still in the middle of the teaching. It wasn’t until the older one went off to college that I knew for sure I could add the words ‘hard workers’ into my descriptions of both of my sons. I remember something specifically that happened my son’s freshman year in college. We talked regularly, and there was one time he told us a story from math class. Since his major is non-math related, he only needed to take one math class, and he chose to take it his first semester. He said there were a number of students struggling in the class, and his teacher had asked him to help them. Now, I’m not saying anything bad about the people who were struggling. There will always be people who struggle with certain subjects.

No, my heart was proud because he was willing to help, and this has continued in the years he has been at college. He has mentored younger students, and he has helped those who have asked all while keeping up with his own schoolwork, holding down a part-time job, attending church regularly, and participating in activities with his social club. We couldn’t be prouder of how hard he has worked. There is one thing though that we have had many discussions about over the past few years. He has wondered why so many of the other students don’t have the same work ethic he has–why they don’t put in the studying time he does or why they don’t even come to class. There are no easy answers to these questions. My husband and I have had some of the same questions about our own generation. But, God gives us peace about the questions that can’t be answered–that we’re only to do the things He has asked of us and not judge others. We’re only to love them in His Name.

That’s what my younger son has done in the story I’m about to share. It’s been over a year since he got the job of auditorium set-up for our church. He and one other teen are responsible for making sure the Bible classes are set up properly, the chairs are lined up properly, and the trash is picked up. I go with him often as I’m providing transportation. The first thing I learned is that people are messy. I had always tried to be responsible with picking up my own trash, but wow, some of the things the guys have found have made me wonder where our attention span is at church. Coffee cups, juice cups, pieces of cracker, Bibles, jackets, phones–all of that and more has been found by the set-up crew. It has certainly made me more aware of the trash around me.

What I’m most proud of though is how deeply my younger son cares about getting the job done right. Now, these young men aren’t perfect. I’ve been witness to both of them bringing something to the back and saying, “Really? Someone left this?” But, then they’ll either throw it away or put it where all the lost things are put and keep moving forward. At the end, they’ll look from the back to make sure all the chairs are lined up correctly.  I’ve even seen my son and his friend tell people they need to pick up their stuff which shows me they have both become responsible while doing this job.

I am grateful both of my sons are hard workers. It has shown me that all the years I have poured into them have been worth it and that they are ready for the next stage of their lives. I am thankful they both love Jesus and show it with every step they take. Praying God will show us the blessings of working hard as we live in this world!

May God bless you all today!

God’s Provision

This is the first time since I started writing this series that a question of God’s provision has come up. Yes, I’ve written about it before, but without the knowledge and understanding I have now about my faith.  So, I thought I’d try to tackle it today with that new understanding.

The topic of today’s devotion is to “find your calling at your job”. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in common between this and God’s provision, but bear with me. It will come.

When I got the news there might be a question of provision, the first thing I felt was fear gripping my heart. A common reaction among all of us, I think. But, the second thing was a thought I’m pretty sure came from God. ‘You know better than this. What have I been teaching you about being brave?’ The voice was right. I have been learning a lot about being brave. I got down on my knees and prayed about the issue. Prayed for God’s provision and prayed He would banish the fear Satan was trying to put on my heart. I got up from my knees my heart already feeling lighter. Then, I had another thought, clear as day. It told me to message a prayer warrior friend of mine and ask her to pray. She messaged me back and said she would. Her message about claiming God’s promises was an encouragement to me.

Those were the first two legs of the stand God was creating for me this morning. The third was what was contained in the devotion from 100 Days to Brave. Like I said before, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot in common between the topics at first glance. Then, I looked back at the Scripture verse she featured and what she said at the end. This was what God was wanting to teach me. First, I’ll quote the verse. I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (emphasis mine) God wants me to be firm in my understanding of His Word.

The quote from the author came next. “You are one of a kind, made on purpose, deeply loved, and called to be courageous.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) Something deep in my heart moved with those words. Even though I’m not quite to the forty post mark with this series, I now know why God led me to this devotional. He knew that I needed these words to strengthen my faith. I am so thankful I have a Lord and Savior who knows what I need even before I know with clarity myself.

So, that’s it–my stand. Prayer, ask someone to pray in agreement with me, read God’s Word in Scripture and read the words from a sister. I did all of it and am now able to go about my day without a crushing weight on my heart. As I end this post, I would like to ask, if you feel so inclined, to pray in agreement for this need of God’s provision. I will pray for you as well. Praying these words have blessed someone today!

May God bless you all!

One small caveat–for those of you who know me personally, this need is not what you think it is. I don’t want to reveal it publicly yet because I want to see what God does. If God leads you though, feel free to contact me personally, and I will share.

Doing Our Best

For the last twelve years, I’ve had a couple of different jobs, most of which weren’t paying except for a tutoring stint I did for a couple of months a few years ago.  Even though my jobs weren’t paying, I still feel like I can write something about this morning’s topic because they were different from my calling.

The jobs, as I’ve mentioned before, were housewife and homeschool teacher. I feel funny though saying they were just jobs. In a way, they were part of my calling too. My calling to do my best for my family by keeping a home for them and by giving my sons an education. It reminds me of what Colossians 3:23 says. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Though I wasn’t as close to God during the first few years of this time as I am now, I can see where this applies as to how I did my jobs.

While I did my best at these jobs, there were parts of them I didn’t like. Nothing is perfect as we all know. Doing the same tasks day in and day out could and did get monotonous. (Except for laundry. For some reason, that is one of my favorite household tasks. Why, I don’t know.) Never feeling like I could get a break was also hard. This was especially true when we lived in Michigan which has snow on the ground six months out of the year. We went through hard times as a family too.

There were times when I wanted to give up and times where I almost did give up. There was something inside though that wouldn’t let me, something that said to keep going just a little bit longer, and I would see my reward on the other side. So, I did. I was brave enough to keep walking even when I didn’t feel like I was brave.

And the payoff has come all these years later. I have a college age son who talks to me about his life when he’s home and who is kind, considerate, and a hard worker himself. I also have a son who is almost finished with high school who loves animals and who cares deeply about doing the right thing. They are both my pride and my joy. With this payoff comes a chance to fulfill the dream that has been in the back of my heart for a long time–to write my stories down and see where they can take  me.

So, I can look at this quote from the author of the devotional and look back at the last twelve years of my life and see how they mesh because doing my best for God has brought  me tremendous blessings. “You’ve got to be brave enough to be faithful, even when you don’t want to be. You’ve got to be brave to work hard now for a payoff that won’t come until later. But it is so worth it!” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs)

Thank you, God, for all of my blessings. Thank you for helping me to be brave even when I don’t feel like I am. Thank you especially for helping me find my calling. I ask your blessings on all who read this post. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

 

My Journey

I entered a writing contest yesterday. Over the past few years, I’ve entered a few contests (not winning anything, but that’s okay), but this is the first one I’ve entered since switching to my new site. I even opted for the judge’s feedback this time. Wow, I guess I’m going all in on this one! 🙂

So, in the next week, I will be writing a story of not more than 1500 words to submit for work-shopping by next Monday. I will admit part of that statement makes me nervous. It will be the first time I will have feedback on one of my stories. But, then, I wonder why I’m nervous. I’m actually putting myself out there for feedback every time I publish a blog post. There shouldn’t be any difference, but there is because blog posts and stories are two different things. My blog posts are generally from my own point of view about my own experiences. Yes, they should make sense and be grammatically correct, but I believe there are fewer rules to follow.

Writing my stories down though is what I signed up for so I will be starting with this story later on today. The writing prompt is making the best bad choice. I already have many ideas floating around in my head so it will be picking the best one and starting to write.

Why did I start this post about my writing process, and how does it relate to the devotions from 100 Days to Brave? That one is easy. This morning’s devotion talks about where my calling can take me. I know what my dream is–to be a published author. I know what my calling is–to share about God’s love through my writing whether it be through this blog or through my fiction.

My journey, then, is how I get there. I don’t think I will ever arrive completely though. There will be beginnings and endings. I might publish one book and then start another. This blog post series will end, and I might start another. I will chicken out of sending a story to a publisher or of entering a writing contest. I will be discouraged by rejection slips. But, through it all, the call to write will be there. There’s a quote from the devotional that fits well with this. “What’s cool about your calling is that there are no dead ends. Even if you weren’t brave enough to pursue your last opportunity, you can be brave this time.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) Those words resonate with me. They almost remind me of what happens when we mess up after we’ve asked Jesus into our hearts. Wait a minute! They do remind me of Jesus. 🙂 He doesn’t abandon us after our first mess-up. He won’t abandon us after our millionth mess-up. We can always start over with Jesus just like I can always start over with my writing. The possibilities are limitless.

I found it interesting that the verse of Scripture included with today’s devotion is one of the verses used by my church to highlight our calling to go beyond our walls.  As I end this post, I want to quote both verses so we can all remember that whatever we do, we are doing it with God’s power. From Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

In Pieces and Parts

When I was writing the story of how I decided it was time for my own website, I thought back over my blogging and writing history. There were times when regret washed over me. How could it not? I would be a whole lot further along if I had established my own website earlier. But, I needed the time working with a free site. I needed to re-establish my faith. I needed the time to become confident in my own writing. I needed the time to write about the feelings in my heart. I needed the time to work through each piece and part.

The author of the devotional took a similar journey with her own writing, and low and behold, our journeys matched today with today’s devotion–“Work in Pieces”. For most of us success doesn’t come overnight. Yes, we hear of that person who became an overnight sensation because of American Idol or that person whose debut novel becomes a best seller. But, overall, it takes work, sometimes a lot of work to become successful.

I think God plans for that though. He wants us to lean into Him in the midst of the struggle, and He wants us to remember where our success comes from once we achieve it. He also wants us to know the meaning of true success–success from God and the world’s success are two different things. I also think that achieving success can take time because God wants to teach us diligence. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Yes, there can be overnight success, but the lasting kind of success comes from diligence and from God.

So, years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready for success from my writing. I wouldn’t have been brave enough or strong enough, and I wouldn’t have had the faith I have today. By doing each piece and each part, I have become more confident in my writing and in myself. I have done the advice the author gives in today’s devotion without knowing I would read it today. “Do what’s right in front of you.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) Each piece and each part of that advice has taken me to where I am today–a place where I can share my writing with you and a place where I can bring glory to God. I pray we can all remember this when the struggle comes–to do what’s right in front of us. Then God will take us to the next step as we work on each piece of what He’s given us.

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

Taking the First Step

The other night I sat down with my husband to look at domains and places where I could self-host a WordPress site. I had received an email earlier that day which had a discount to start this process. Knowing though that my husband was an IT person, I decided to wait until he came home from work to look at the information.

It ended up being a good decision. He looked at the email after dinner and said that I could do better. We started talking about my dreams for my writing and what I wanted to try and do with it in the years to come. He showed me a good site to work with, and we checked on the availability of the domain I wanted. It was available! Then, we looked at the pricing packages. We talked about that for awhile because I have a hard time spending money on myself. Truth be told, I would rather spend it on my kids or be frugal with it. And, we had already spent the money to purchase an airline ticket for me to go on our church’s mission trip this summer. But, as I looked at the computer screen, I realized I was looking at my future. I was looking at the next phase of my life. I had spent all these years blogging knowing that having my own website was the next logical step, but there had always been reasons not to take it. My kids needed something; we were paying for my older son’s college tuition; my husband had had a couple of hospital stays. Life had been overwhelming.

But, now it was time. We looked at the one-year, two-year, and three-year packages. The three-year, of course, was the most expensive, but it also had the most value. It would give me three years before I had to pay any more money towards my site. He said I should go for it, and he would help me as much as he could. My brain told me I should go for it too. What was holding me back? I think it was the idea that Jesus taught us to share what we had with others and that spending this money on me and my site would be selfish. At that point, I heard a voice in the back of my head. It said I needed to take this step–this was where I was being called to walk. So, we spent the money, and I am now the proud owner of my first domain and self-hosted WordPress site.

We spent the first night getting things started, and my husband worked on the site mechanics. He also imported this blog into its new space. Doing stuff like this is very much his talent. He wants to teach me about maintaining the site and how to add the things I want to add. A section for book reviews is coming; so is a section for my short stories. We are both looking forward to where this first step is going to take me as I follow God’s will for my life.

As I began writing this post, I heard another voice in the back of my head.  It said there was a verse of Scripture that was related to what I had heard the other night. I needed to find it and share it. What’s cool is that I remembered enough of the phrasing to put the words into my You Version search box. This is what it came up with. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Taking the time to listen to my Lord and Savior has given me courage to take the first step. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you.

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

My Thesis Statement

After reading the latest devotion, I finally understand what the author was talking about in her previous entries about calling. I still believe there can be more than one calling, and there can be callings for different times in our lives. But, there is a way God wants us to express that calling, and that is what I want to talk about today.

The author speaks of figuring out a thesis statement of her life–a main thing– and says that she thinks all of our lives look like that. The thought intrigued me. I was confused when she referred to it as a calling because I’ve always thought having a calling was what I did with my life. “What” is only one question word though. We’re all familiar with the other question words like “who”, “when”, “where”, “why”, “which”, and “how”. I believe the thesis statement she is discussing is how you express that calling.

Once I figured that out, the thoughts came quickly about a possible thesis statement. It’s almost been nine years since my mother-in-law passed away suddenly. In many ways, this was a bellwether event that led me and my family to where we are now. I won’t lie to you. The first few years after her passing were a dark and bleak time. We hit rock bottom more than once. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but we walked through moves, job losses, financial problems, illnesses, and family conflict. We didn’t have a church family during that time either. Three years later though, we found our church here in our new town as I’ve written about before, and we found God again in a much more personal way. It changed our family forever.

In the years since though, I’ve had to readjust my thinking on one particular thing and will probably be working on this until the day I die. That thing is revealing your real self in church. I was always taught, by example and by word, that revealing your real self usually turned out badly so I didn’t. I put shields up when I went to church, and it would take a lot to bring them down. But, at our church here, revealing your real self is not only accepted; it is welcomed. There have been deaths since we’ve been at this church. I’ve seen people cry. I’ve seen people cry when they’ve been speaking at the front of the church. I’ve heard people speak of the dark things, and they weren’t shunned. People walked with us through times of need, and we weren’t shunned either. That didn’t make it any less tough for me to speak. Years of conditioning can do that to a person.

But, then I started my first blog and this blog two years later. Somehow, it became easier to speak of the dark things when I wrote about them. About my depression, about the hard times, about job loss and asking God why, about stays in the hospital, about everything. I found my voice with this blog and started writing about my journey of faith. I found my courage too and started speaking to people when I was having a hard time. God was knitting bravery and courage into my heart almost without my realizing it, and I felt His presence in a more profound way.

Thinking about the memories of the last few years and writing them down has brought my thesis statement to mind which I want to share with you now. I’m the person who speaks of the real things, of the dark things, so you will know I’m not perfect and so you will know Jesus Christ has changed my life anyway! My prayer is that I honor this statement as I continue to develop my writing voice!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

My Little Light

I have thoughts rushing around in my head today. From what I read in 100 Days to Brave, from what I heard on Sunday from my pastor, from what I read this morning from a blogger friend–my thoughts are trying to coalesce into something important. God sometimes does this when He really wants me to get a point. He puts it where I can read or hear it more than once so I will pay attention. I’m sure I’m not the only one this has happened to. 🙂

At first, I wasn’t sure what to focus on from this morning’s entry. I’ve already spoken of my calling for the next phase of my life. I’ve spoken of how I think God wants to use my written words to bless others and that all I need to do is be faithful in writing them down. Then, I read a quote that brought the other things I had read and heard into focus. “We know, as Christians, that we are called to point people to Christ. But how are you supposed to do that practically, using your unique makeup?” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) Ding, ding, ding! That was it! Time to bring my unique personality into this series of posts.

On Sunday, I heard a sermon from Matthew 5:13-16. God used my pastor to speak to me. Here is the text in case you don’t have it handy. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

There it is, in black and white. We’re supposed to let our light shine before others. How is that supposed to work for those of us who are introverts? Yes, I have taught school, like I said yesterday. Yes, I am a mom and a wife. Yes, I have friends, and yes, I deal with people in public on a relatively daily basis. But sometimes, people just wear me out. Sometimes, I come home from being around people and relive every clumsy encounter. I relive the dumb and stupid things I’ve said and done. I wonder why people even have me as their friend because I don’t feel like I’ve done a good job interacting with them. So, how am I supposed to let my light shine when I feel like this?

Many of you would say I need to push myself through the feelings. I’ve done that as well working in Vacation Bible School for a whole week or going to a women’s retreat for the weekend. I know participating in these kind of things is good, and I’ve generally had good experiences while doing so. People who are extroverts would then ask why I wasn’t doing something a particular year when I express hesitation about doing it again. They would say I should just push through my feelings again since it worked well the last time.

They don’t know what goes on in my head though every time I am confronted with one of these invitations–the feelings of fatigue and inadequacy when I contemplate being around a group of people for an extended period of time. I’m actually facing a decision like that for this evening. The women of my church have started a monthly get-together at a local restaurant for fellowship–no praying or Bible study–just talking so people can get to know each other better. Part of me says it won’t matter if I come or not–that I wouldn’t be missed, and that’s the part that’s winning right now. Thinking about being around a group of people makes me feel overwhelmed and inadequate. I will see what happens with my decision by the end of the day.

Back to my question. How is someone who is quiet supposed to share their light for Christ? The blog I read earlier, https://upliftgirl.com/2018/03/20/this-little-light/, and the quote I shared from 100 Days to Brave have started to answer that question for me. God made me in His own unique way. There’s not a part of me He doesn’t know. He knows that I get overwhelmed and feel inadequate around groups of people. He knows that I get fatigued after a short while of being in a crowd. But, there are ways I can share my light while working within my personality. It isn’t just one way or nothing. One of them is writing in this blog. And yes, it does count. 🙂 Another is sharing my light with just one person. That one counts too. 🙂 It takes pressure off of this quiet soul when I think of it that way. So, I don’t need to speak to or be in a crowd to let my light shine. I can share God’s love with the world and use my own unique personality to do it.

As I end this post, I want to share two quotes that fit what I’m feeling about sharing my little light of God’s love. The first is from a secular television show, but I think it still fits. “The steps you take don’t need to be big. They just need to take you in the right direction.” (The Devil Complex, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) Pretty profound, right? Just take one step at a time. The other one is from the blog I mentioned earlier. “One little expression of love after another; one little act of telling the good news.” (This Little Light of Mine, upliftgirl.com) One step at a time. This post really spoke to me. It’s what God wants me to do, and that’s okay. And now, my prayer for all of us is that we go in the direction God is calling us to–one step at a time!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

 

Calling Versus Dreams

As another new week begins, I’ve been given more to think about through my reading of the devotional 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. My first read-through of this morning’s entry was a surface reading which brought a surface understanding. I didn’t quite know what God was trying to tell me. Then, I read it again, and understanding dawned. It reached its tendrils through all the phases of my life–through the disappointments and through the joys. Through thinking that I will never have any gifts to share with my church to thinking that my gifts from God would need to be shared elsewhere. It was an understanding I didn’t expect on this day of possible severe weather.

So, calling versus dreams. I didn’t think there was a difference, but there is, at least, according to the author. Dreams are things that might not come true. The author uses her dream of spouse, kids, and a house as an example. That makes sense to me. I’ve shared before in this space of my dream of becoming a published author, of having a bigger audience for my words than I have now. That dream might not come true either. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to have the dreams. He just wants us to put them in the proper context.

Then, there’s calling. What God calls you to do with your life. Romans 11:29 in The Message says this, “God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty–never canceled, never rescinded.” But, the thing is that’s what has changed for me. When I was younger, I thought my calling was to teach school. I did that for a few years. Then, we moved, and God called me to be a full-time mom and a school volunteer. We moved again, and a year later, God called me to homeschool our sons. So, for twelve years, I have been a mom and a teacher. I guess I was fulfilling the same calling, just in different ways.

Now, my time as a teacher is almost done. My younger son graduates from high school in two months, and I have a different calling on my heart–the calling to write full-time. I’ve done a lot of that in the last few years–books, short stories, blog posts. It’s easier for me to “speak” when I write the words, and I’ve learned a lot about myself as I’ve written them. I’ve become stronger and surer of myself as a person. I’ve also become stronger in my faith and more in tune with the voice of my Lord and Savior. Writing is a way for me to communicate without feeling clumsy as I often do in person, and it has changed my life in more ways than I can count. I feel called to share those changes in my writing and to use my writing as an instrument of change.

What is the difference, then, between my calling and my dreams? I think it boils down to what’s under my control and what’s not. Putting pen to paper or typing to computer screen is under my control. Doing the work and putting it out there is under my control. Whether I get a publishing contract or not is under someone else’s control. God wants me to be content doing the work and sharing it even if I never see the outcome. He wants my hope to be in Him and no one else. And that’s what I want most of all–to live out my calling in His love and His grace and to see what He does with my words! May we all live in His love and grace today!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

Working on our Character

I’m starting this post without a title because I need to work out my feelings about it as I write. I promise you though I will have a title by the time I’m finished. 🙂

So, today’s devotional topic is how to find people to be brave with about our dreams. It quotes Proverbs 11:4 and gives us a number of questions to consider. I’m not saying that the advice isn’t godly. Not at all. I’m just saying the advice seems to contradict some things I read and considered earlier. Let’s look at the information first, and then I will give you my thoughts.

First, let me quote Proverbs 11:4. “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Wisdom is certainly a good thing. God wants us to spend time in His Word and in prayer with Him so we can gain wisdom as we walk in this world.

Then, in the devotional, the author asks several questions and adds personal commentary to each one. I’m going to quote the questions because they are good questions to consider. “Who do I trust?” “Who isn’t too invested or emotionally involved in my life?” “Who have I seen exhibit wisdom in their lives?” “Who have I seen repeatedly being trustworthy?” “Who I have seen experience failure?” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) Like I said, good questions, especially the last one. It has only been in recent years I’ve learned that people who have experienced failure can often be the best teachers. I know this because I’ve failed at some big things myself.

This is the information that was presented in the devotion. When I read through it the first time, something bothered me though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I read through it several more times, but that nugget of confusion stayed just out of reach. I didn’t understand why. Like I said, it was good information.

Then, it came to me. It was information that promoted protecting ourselves–find someone to trust, find someone who isn’t emotionally involved in my life, find someone who has repeatedly been trustworthy. Let me say this again. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. You want to tell sensitive information to trustworthy people. You don’t want people to freak out if they don’t like what you have to say. But, I think this can go to an extreme if you’re not careful. What if you can’t find anyone to trust in your faith community so you decide to keep everything about your life private? I would answer that by asking if you’ve truly invested in your faith community. I know it’s tough. It took me a long time to trust anyone again after our trust was betrayed. But, God meant for us to be brave in community. To live our faith life in community. For me, that means I need to try, no, I have to try to trust even when every part of my being says not to.

There’s another hard question we need to ask ourselves. What if we’re the person no one ever trusts? I’m not saying this just for the opportunity to hear sensitive information. I’m saying  we need to consider why people can’t reveal their honest selves to us. Have we truly let God form our character? Are we seeking the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians? Are we living out this faith we say we believe? Yes, we sin, and yes, we are broken, but people should be able to see Jesus in us if we are truly following our Lord and Savior.

So, now, I’ve come to the point where I need to wrap everything up and think of a title for this post. I believe there is a way to truly be brave in community without compromising the suggestions the author gives in today’s devotion. The first way is to get to a point where you don’t care what others think of you, only Jesus. I know, for some of us, this will be a work in progress until we go home to be with Jesus. At least, it will be for me. The second way is to make a true investment in a faith community. The only way we will know people the way God wants us to is to take that risk–to be brave and open our hearts during the good times as well as the bad. And finally, we need to let God work on our character so we can become trustworthy and gentle and loving. In other words, so we can have a heart like His!

God’s blessings on you all today!