This article was originally published in Faith Filled Family Magazine
Just this morning I was sitting down to have my quiet time and my phone buzzed with an incoming message. It was a dear friend who is walking through something very difficult. My heart just ached for her as I tried to think of ways to help her through this trying time.
I’m just little old me and I’m not really sure what I can do to help anyone.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you were too small or too insignificant to make a difference? Have you ever wondered if the things that you are doing really matter? Friend, they do.
You are a salt shaker. You are a shining light.
Each and every one of us has the ability to make a difference in this world. We have each been placed in our particular set of circumstances with our particular group of family and friends because we have the ability to make a difference. We are called to be salt and light.
In the Message version of the Bible, Matthew 5:13-16 puts it very plainly in a way that really hits home. “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt- seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness… Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you in a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand- shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
How? How do we make a difference? How do we bring out the God-flavors of the earth? How do we bring out the God-colors in the world? How do we shine?
I’m glad you asked?
I’ve got a few fool proof methods that always seems to work for me. When someone comes to me with a need, I know I can’t rely on myself. I would probably let them down. Instead, I do my best to shake a little salt and shine a little light. Here are three ways I believe we can do that no matter how small or insignificant we feel.
THREE WAYS TO SHAKE A LITTLE SALT AND SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT
My first response is always to bring any situation or any person before the throne of God and cover them in prayer. He can do more to help in a situation than I could ever dream of doing. Prayer moves mountains, friends. James 5:16 CEB says, “…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.” Matthew 18:20 CEB reminds us that “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” It is powerful. Don’t ever underestimate the value of praying for someone.
- Use Life Giving Words
This life can be a hard one and there is no shortage of trials, but when someone comes along and lifts you up with an encouraging word from the scripture, things seem just a little easier. There is so much power in our words. They have the power to hurt or to heal. They have the power to lighten a load. They also have the power to point someone to Jesus. Have you ever been really struggling and someone spoke life right into your weary heart?
When I don’t know what to do or what to say, I just use scripture. I’m notorious for texting or messaging scripture verses that relate to a situation and can give peace and perspective when my own words would fall short. Hebrews 4:12 CEB says that “God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions. No creature is hidden from it, but rather everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to give an answer.”
- Be Real
C.S. Lewis’ quote on friendship is a favorite of mine. He says, “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, “What! You too? I thought no one but myself…” This world is full of the fake and the edited. We often only see the very best of a person. People can easily get caught in the trap of comparison. It can be disheartening to someone who is struggling. Counteract this. Be real, open, and honest about your life and your struggles with the people in your life. Help them to see that they aren’t alone and that they have a true friend in you.
These three tips have been tried and true ways that I’ve found to make a difference in the lives of others. I pray that they are helpful to you! I hope that you will use them and go forth and shake a little salt and shine a little light!
Love and Blessings,
Have you ever felt like you didn’t quite fit the mold? Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in? I had the wonderful opportunity to share at iBelieve.com about how I’ve felt that way and what I’ve learned about being a part of the body of Christ.
Read more at iBelieve article
I’m a work in progress. God is continually refining me and I’m grateful for that. I love that He is working on me, pruning me, and helping me to grow. I don’t know about you, but it seems like, for me, one of the areas that requires the most refinement is parenting. Being a mom is a challenging job. It requires us to be selfless, patient, loving, generous, tender, and all of those other wonderful qualities that seem to go against all that is natural in us. For me, there has been a learning curve with this. My boys are 13 and 9. I was kind of hoping I’d have it all together by now. I don’t. I love my kids and they know this, but I also make some mistakes parenting. My kids know this too. We are on a journey together and they know that we are all growing and learning through the process. Tonight I learned some things and I thought just maybe someone else might find them meaningful too.
These lessons came after a rough start to our bedtime routine. (Please tell me you’ve been there and that this doesn’t only happen in our home.) It was going so well, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. Meltdowns ensued. Consequences and corrective conversations had to happen. The correction wasn’t really very sweetly given and even less sweetly received. Earlier in the evening, the boys had asked to sleep in my room, but I had taken away that privilege as a consequence of the craziness that we had all just participated in. Tears were shed. By the time I had both kids in bed, we were all a little frazzled.
I was frustrated and worn, but was trying to bring a little peace back into our night before we all went to sleep. I asked the boys to sit beside me in Gavin’s bed, and I reminded them that today had been a little rough and we needed to all work a little harder at being loving and respectful tomorrow. I pointed out some of the areas that we struggled with throughout the day and mentioned that we all should try to do a little better tomorrow. The list wasn’t a short one. It hadn’t been our very best day and I wanted to use this as a teaching opportunity so that we could all improve in the areas that were problematic for us. I wanted to drive this lesson home so that it stuck because I wanted tomorrow to be better for all of us.
My tender-hearted and wise-beyond-his-years 9 year old stopped me and said something that has been on my mind ever since. He looked at me with very sad eyes and said, “Mommy, really, it has been a pretty good day. There was way more good than bad. Right?”
You know what? He was right.
It actually had been a pretty good day. It wasn’t perfect, there was way more good than bad. However, in my frustration, I was focused on all the bad moments that had happened. Not only that, I made sure we were all focusing on them. I was wrapping up a pretty good day together by dwelling on all of our mistakes.
Don’t we all tend to do that sometimes? We forget about the day’s blessings because we let ourselves be consumed with the frustration of the moment.
I am all for looking at the areas we struggle in and finding ways to improve in those areas. We all need to do that from time to time. It is an important part of the growth process, but there is also a lot to be said for extending a little grace and mercy sometimes too. God does that for us so often. I am afraid that I don’t do it nearly as often. I thought of the verse that I had read earlier that morning in Romans 2:4b that says that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. Maybe a little kindness sprinkled in with my correction would do more to encourage a repentant heart in my kids than my list of wrong doings. Hmmmm, God, are you trying to tell me something?
I finished tucking in my boys and then jumped into the shower to just physically and literally wash away the day. Some of my best thinking happens in the shower, and tonight wasn’t an exception. I couldn’t get Gavin’s words out of my mind. I was reminded of my tendency to look at the frustrating moments and forget the bigger picture. I was also reminded of God’s mercy and grace, and especially His kindness. I thought about the times my heart was most often turned toward repentance, and I saw that it was most often due to His kindness. He doesn’t throw my mistakes back in my face and make me confront them over and over again. When I’ve asked for forgiveness and owned my failures, He forgets them and loves me like they never happened. He’s way better to me than I deserve. He is so patient and longsuffering with me.
I finished my shower and went back into my kids’ rooms. It was obvious that both boys were having a hard time falling asleep after the emotional evening. I told the boys what the Holy Spirit had pressed upon my heart. I told them that most often, when we need God’s kindness the most is when we deserve it the least. We had obviously had a rough night, but what we all needed was a little grace, love, mercy, and some kindness.
So, here I sit, typing away. I’ve got one boy curled into his sleeping bag on the right side of my bed. The other is sprawled across the top of his sleeping bag at the foot of my bed. My heart is full as I reflect on the pretty good day that we had. We definitely had a few hard moments, but, those few hard moments allowed us all to be reminded of the grace, love, and mercy that is always there waiting for us. Those moments reminded me of God’s continual kindness that draws me to repentance. Those moments, the words of my sweet boy, and the Holy Spirit, taught me a lesson tonight that I hope sticks with me for a long while.
Love and blessings,
I’m a home school mama. (Yes, that’s me in all my yoga panted, head banded, hoodied glory on a typical day.) I have two sweet, wild, chaotic boys that I am beyond blessed to spend my days with. Every Day. I love it. Really, I do. But, can I be honest, just like any other job, sometimes it is HARD WORK!
These boys refine me and test me and try me. They challenge me and make me a better person, a better mom, and a better Child of God. They question me… about EVERYTHING… and make me really think about things. They stretch my patience to the limits. They make me laugh and sometimes they even make me cry, because being a mama is a tough job!
Can I be honest again? Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it right and if it’s worth all the effort. I know I fail a lot. I know I get a lot right too. I hope that the scales balance and that these boys get the best I have to offer more often than not. These challenging and amazing fellas have been trusted to me by my Father and I desperately want to do right by them and by Him, so I just keep pressing on and praying hard and leaning on God for my strength.
But did I mention that it is hard work?
Things that matter typically are hard work! Things that are meaningful take a lot of effort. They are difficult because they are shaping us, growing us, and challenging us to be and do better. They require us to lean into Him for encouragement, support, and help. I think that is kind of the point.
Do you know what I just love though?
When things get tough and I get weary and begin to question myself, it is just like my loving Father to send me a little “hang in there girl, you’re on the right track” message. He did that this morning. (He does it a lot, but sometimes I’m too caught up in the craziness to notice.)
I was sitting at my usual morning spot, reading my Bible and writing out a verse in my journal that spoke to me, Zechariah 13:9 ironically enough, when my sweet 9 year old walked in with his Bible and sat down beside me and began reading from his. He didn’t interrupt me. I got a quick smile from this dimpled cheeked, bed headed cutie and he opened God’s word and dove in. It was just what I needed this morning to give me that boost to keep on keeping on!
Zechariah 13:9 “And I will put this third into the fire,and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
So today, whatever it is that you are pushing through, whatever work God has called you to be faithful to; I just wanted to give you a little encouragement. It can be tough. It can make you weary and you may question yourself. It is hard work and it is suppose to be.
Hang in there. You’re on the right track. Keep your eyes open for little messages of encouragement from God. Keep on keeping on because he is refining you, growing you, stretching you, shaping you, and teaching you to lean into Him.
Love and blessings,
Good morning friends!
This morning I was reading out of the book of Daniel and a sweet little nugget of truth just jumped out at me! It was an encouragement to me and I wanted to share it with you.
Daniel 3 is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Most people are familiar with the story of King Nebuchadnezzar, the big golden idol he created, and three Jewish friends who refused to bow down and worship it. Most people are also familiar with the story of how the King threw these three into the firey furnace and a fourth man with the appearance of “a son of the gods” delivered them from the fire with out even the smell of smoke on them or a hair on their bodies singed.
I love this story for so many reasons, but this morning I thought about it a little differently. This morning my heart picked up on the important message that God is showing us about the value and influence of good and Godly friends.
These three men stood strong and untied against a King who wanted them to renounce their God. Their lives were at stake, yet together, they had the courage to stand up for right and truth. We have so much power when we join together with other believers. Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” He definitely showed up for these three friends!
One of our greatest and most underused weapons are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are our adversaries who should come along side of us and encourage us to stand strong. Together, we can have such a beautiful influence for God’s kingdom.
Just look at what happened when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood together. They changed the heart of one of the most powerful kings ever. Their influence was amazing! Daniel 3:28 says, “Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
This morning I am so thankful for the community of believers that God has put me in. They lift me up, strengthen me, encourage me to stand strong for Jesus, no matter what is going on in this world. If we all looked at ways to do that for one another, we could be a powerful influence for the kingdom!
Love and blessings,
I’m a little bit of a country girl at heart. We always had some type of livestock that we were raising when I was a kid living at home. I can remember having cows, hogs, chickens, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, and more. I grew up in the country where raising and caring for animals just kind of came with the territory.
We never owned sheep, that I can remember, but I imagine it is much like owning other livestock. When you are responsible for the care and well being of livestock, they are completely dependent on you for all of their needs.
I can remember my Dad and my brother getting up early and going out to feed and water in the mornings before school. Before dinner, they would make another round to tend and care for whatever animals my dad was interested in raising at the time. (Side note on my dad: He liked to hop around from one animal to the next depending on the year. One year he might raise hogs. One year he wanted cows. We almost always had horses, mules, and chickens. We even had a little pot bellied pig that lived in the house until it ran away! But I digress.)
The animals required continual attention for their provision and their protection. They depended on my dad and my brother for every aspect of their care and well being.
This morning I was reading in Ezekiel. Most of chapter 34 is written to Ezekiel telling him to speak to Isreal and remind them that they are God’s sheep and He is their shepherd. Much like my dad and brother (and even more so since my dad was a little wishy-washy as a farmer) a shepherd’s priority is provision and protection for his sheep. God was judging those people who had led His sheep astray and was telling them that He would be their good shepherd and was giving them a promise for their future.
I just selected a few verses from This chapter to give you an idea of what God is saying here:
Ezekiel 34:4, 11-12, 16, 31 “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” “You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
Wow! I was a little overcome as I remembered my dad and my brother chipping away ice from the horse trough on a frigid winter day, or cleaning the barn in the brutal heat on a humid summer day. No matter the conditions, with no regard for their own comfort, they cared and tended their animals. Because that’s what a farmer and a shepherd do. They provide care for the livestock in their possession. How much more so will our good shepherd care for us?!?
Thank you for being the good shepherd. Thank you for understanding that I’m a little sheep easily led astray and prone to wander. Thank you for your loving guidance, your tender care, and your divine provision and protection. Help me to trust you more and to fully rely on you as my shepherd. Help me not to stray, but to stay safely by your side. Father, I look to you for my needs. I know that your love for me is true. You truly are the good shepherd and I’m so thankful to be a sheep in your pasture!”
Blessings and Love,
I saw this quote floating around on the Internet and I loved it for so many reasons. A blank page, depending on your view point, can be a cage to imprison you or wings to give you your freedom.
I love to write so I’m pretty familiar with the feeling of sitting down and opening up to a blank page. Honestly, sometimes, I can let that page tie me up and hold me hostage. It can be a little intimidating. There it sits, a wide open space, just waiting for me to fill it with whatever I chose. That blank page can be scary if I start to wonder what people will think about me and what I write. I can let their opinions shape the words I’m putting on the paper. I can start to feel insecure and limited.
The pressure to make this blank space into something worthwhile and beautiful can weigh on me as well. I want to be relevant and encouraging. I want to show love and character. I want my words and the use of this page to matter. That beautiful blank page can become like a cage to imprison me, if I let it.
Or I can shift my perspective.
I can look at that beautiful blank page as wings to give me freedom. That blank page is mine. I can dream, hope, think, process, and connect with people through that page. I can shake off the insecurities and the fears. I can kick aside the expectations. And I can just write about the things that I hold dear. I can express myself and enjoy the freedom that comes from just putting pen to paper.
Each time I open up my notebook to a fresh, new, blank page; I get to make the choice as to which perspective I will view it through. In 2016, I choose to fill my blank pages with the murmurings of my heart. I choose to not be improsioned by my own or someone else’s thoughts. I choose to use the blank pages as wings to fly!
Love and blessings!