Bearing Overburdens

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galations 6:2

The Greek word translated  “burdens” in this verse actually has the meaning of “overburdens.”  And that more specific meaning can be a real help for women on the journey who are trying to achieve a balance between giving to others and saying no.

Imagine carrying a hundred-pond pack on your back.  Someone your size comes along carrying  a twenty-five pound pack and asks if you will take half the contents of her pack to carry on top of yours.  Clearly that’s not appropriate.

We aren’t asked to carry all of other people’s burdens; we’re asked to help them out when their load is just too much for them.  We are also urged to seek help when our own burden becomes too much.  A woman who is developing interdependence is a woman who is able to give help when it is truly needed  and seek help when her load becomes too much for her to carry.

God wants each of us to grow, and the burdens of our lives are His teaching tools.  Let’s daily ask ourselves if we are hindering  others by bearing burdens God wants them to bear or hindering ourselves by putting the burden God wants us to carry on someone else’s back.


Prayer:  Lord, give me the strength to carry the load you have given me, the compassion to help others with their overloads, and the humility to seek help when I really need it.


Good Enough

But God  demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8


The “voice” speaks to me at the most inopportune times and in the most out of the way places.  Sometimes it screams, and sometimes it whispers.  It’s not always there, but I feel its presence much of the time.  It’s the voice that whispers, “You’re not quite good enough”.

As a woman on the journey, this voice is one I’m trying to silence.  Daily I remind myself that God accepts me where I am and as I am.  God doesn’t expect perfection, and neither should I.  Christ died because of my  sins.  Because of His sacrifice, God has forgiven every past, present and future sin.  I can rest in His love and calmly, not frantically, strive to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish today.  If I’m good enough for God, through Christ, then I must be truly good enough.

That voice that is whispering  “you’re not quite good enough”  is whispering a lie.

Thought for the day:  Perfection is only found in Heaven.  But because Christ died for me, I’m good enough for God.

Through the Storm

Whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.

Proverbs 1:33

Have you ever been in a storm at sea?  My husband and I were on a ship once in the waters of the Mediterranean.  The sea was supposed to have been calm, but something happened and the waters were tossing our ship (which held about  four hundred people) back and forth as though it were a toy.

Some of the people on that boat felt fine.  Not me-I was seasick.  My husband went to the ship’s doctor and got me some medicine, I took the medicine, rested a few hours, and felt much better.

Life’s storms are like the storm that came up that night-unpredictable.  We don’t know how they will change our lives.  The same storm might barely affect one person , yet  throw another person completely off balance .

The storms of life are inevitable and impartial.  Every person alive will encounter several.   It’s  how we weather the storms that shows what kind of person we are.

Weathering the storms of life  takes fortitude.  But let’s remember not to panic or be afraid.  God is our captain.  He’s close,  He cares,  and He’s in control.

Thought for the day:  I will think now about  the current storms raging  in my life, then listen for what  my heavenly Captain would advise me to do in those situations.

Breaking the Abuse Cycle

And you,  fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Anna sought counseling because she had just opened her home to a sister, who was relocating from a distant state, and her family.   Watching her sister’s interactions with the sister’s children, Anna came face to face with her own childhood.  Anna’s mother and father had used cruel and unnecessary means of  punishment.  They had beat her with a broom, locked her out of the house, and forced her to crouch with her feet and hands touching the floors for hours at a time,  But she had repressed these terrifying memories until she watched her sister punishing rather than disciplining her children.

Meeting with Anna, I realized afresh that when parents provoke their children to anger, the cycle can continue for generations.  Because the children have no safe place to take the anger, it is swallowed, repressed.  Perhaps it lies dormant for years.  When those children become parents, however, they are all too likely to follow the only parenting model they have and to take it out on their children.  The good news is that the vicious cycle can be broken.  The better news is that if we choose not to provoke our  children to anger, the cycle  never has to begin.

Prayer:  Lord, help me face my own anger so that I will not provoke my own children to anger.

Accepting Criticism

The ear that hears the reproof of life will abide among the wise.

Proverbs 15:31

We are wise when we learn from the experiences which we have in life, but we’re even wiser when we can learn from someone else’s experiences.  Accepting criticism is one way of doing this.

Why do we resist criticism?  Usually, pride is the core of the resistance.  Pride makes us defensive and unteachable.  And what is underneath the pride?  Usually  severe insecurity  lies beneath the veneer of pride.  Before we can accept criticism, we need to examine who we are and acknowledge our underlying insecurity.

At the same  time, we must also bear in mind that criticism is seldom totally true.  Critics are only people.  We must keep in mind that most  critics speak only from their  own limited perspectives.  But we can still learn and grow from imperfect criticisms if we will acknowledge that God teaches us through imperfect vessels.  We must learn to sift out  the truth from the criticism we receive and then let the rest go.

Thought for the day:  Learning from criticism is a wise thing, so I will keep my ears open for it today.DSCN2377

Happiness or Holiness

But seek first the Kindom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Lillian was sure her plan would bring her happiness. She wasn’t happy with her husband, so she had chosen to find someone else to fulfill her needs. She agreed to counseling, but her mind was made up. She would leave her husband and three children, marry her lover, and move to another state.

 Lillian was headed for disaster for two reasons. First, she made up her definition of happiness. Second, she had chosen to go against her Christian faith and seek happiness above holiness, forgetting that holiness is the only way to true happiness.

In counsellling, Lillian was confronted lovingly but firmly with the truth about relationships. She faced her childhood fantasy of “Someday. my prince will come.” Slowly she realized that in reality there are no princes in most people’s lives, but that her husband was a reasonably good guy.

All stories don’t have happy endings.  This one does. Lilllian is now reunited with her husband and children. She is acutely aware of what she almost lost. Her daily prayer is “Lord, this is a new day, help me to seek holiness first today. Help me to realize that I will only be truly happy as I seek  to do your will each day.”

Prayer:  Lord, help me use You as an example of holiness.

Beyond Sainthood

He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:28

Phil and Vera should have been the ideal couple. Phil thought he was perfect, and  Vera knew she wasn’t. Both of them thought they deserved sainthood-she for her humility, and he for his righteousness. They had been married for twenty-five years when they came for marriage counseling. Their insecurities had kept them from deeply loving themselves or each other.

Phil finally figured out that his righteousness cover was hiding an insecure little boy who never felt quite good enough. That’s why he spent much of his life trying to convince himself and the world that he was great. He had to learn that his true righteousness could come only with Christ, who would accept him as the sinner he was.

Vera also had much to learn. Her humility, she found out, came not from a servant’s heart but from a masochistic need to suffer so that people would admire her for her martyrdom. She had looked down on Phil for his egotism, but now she had to confess the pride she took in her humility. She asked God to forgive her and help her to take healthy pride in being the person He wanted her to become.

Vera and Phil know their sainthood will only  be achieved through Christ, who truly was and is perfect. Secure in Him, they can now know the beginnings of genuine love.

Prayer:  Lord, help me accept the real me and love others better.

Unloading Grudges

And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Luke 11:4

One of the seemingly magic steps in the Christian life is in the area of forgiveness.  Depressions lift when the bricks of unforgiveness are thrown out of the “grudge backpacks” we all seem to carry  around.

Two of the questions we  often ask are “Whom are you blaming?” and “Toward  whom are you feeling bitter?”  Blaming others or ourselves for our unhappiness puts us in a paralyzing  position.  We must see blame as a form of unforgiveness.  Let’s determine to throw away the  “blame bricks”  from our grudge backpack.

Bitterness is another load of bricks many of us carry.  Do we keep score and hold onto our hurts?  If we do, we’re holding onto bitterness.  The weight of  “bitterness bricks” certainly keeps many  of us slowed down  on our  life journey toward love, joy and peace.  We can choose today to throw away the bricks of blaming and bitterness through forgiveness for ourselves and others.

Prayer:  Lord help me to remember that  I can only release bitterness and blame through continual, daily  “emptying my  backpack”.

A Helping Hand

      1.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

        Matthew 6:3-4

        Years ago, when my husband was working on his doctorate, the Immigration Department told me I could not  continue my teaching career because of my  nationality.  What a shock that was to our financial plans!  My husband didn’t qualify  for Canadian student loans because he was studying out of the country, and he didn’t qualify for American loans  because he was Canadian.  My husband was allowed to work twenty hours a week on campus; we took out a second mortgage on our house; and we lived off credit cards.  But by the time we were entering the last year of Dave’s program, we were heavily in debt and questioning whether we could hold on much longer.

        One day we found a stamped letter with no return address on it in our mailbox.  I opened it to find  a typed Scripture passage and a one hundred dollar bill.   Every month of that last year, the same gift arrived in the mail.  The letter was never signed.  To this day  I have no idea who sent  those one hundred dollar bills.  God’s love was made tangible in our lives through someone’s generosity.  But our desire to give to others increased because of those gifts.

        Thought:  William Wordsworth is quoted as saying that the  “best portion of a good life”  is the  “little, nameless, unremembered, acts of kindness and of love.”
        Jan Congo

      Responding to Counsel

      Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.

      Proverbs 19:20

      Yesterday morning I woke up with brown hair. Today I awakened to brownish, reddish, blondish hair. My beautician must have looked at the wrong card when she was mixing the formula for my hair. She is usually very professional about getting the color right. So, to tell the truth, I gave little attention to my new color as I paid her and left the salon. My husband and children complimented me on my new hairstyle, and I was feeling pretty good about it. Then this morning, on my daily walk with my trustworthy friend, the real truth came out. “What did she put on your hair?” she asked. I mumbled something, and then my friend told me I must do something to get my hair back to its normal color.

      I had been confronted with the truth, and now I was faced with a decision. My first thought was “No, I’ll leave it brownish, reddish, blondish,and then I’ll have an excuse to go buy some new clothes to match it. Everyone knows the clothes that go with brown hair wouldn’t go with my new color.” My second thought was “perhaps I should call my beautician and try to get my old color back”  I went with the second option. Buying new clothes to match my new hair color would not really be a wise decision-and I am certain my husband would agree!

      Thought:  When confronted with truth today, I will face it and try to make a wise decision concerning it.