Warm Wednesday Words – You’re Never Alone

poverty of lonliness - Mother Theresa

When you feel alone it can distort perception leaving you in the dumps, but the truth is you’re never really alone.  Being by yourself or in a crowd is irrelevant to this feeling.   It is often the result of seeming to have been left “alone” emotionally in relationships, especially ones that went from warm to lukewarm or cool; or the result of standing alone in certain viewpoints whether or not you arrived there with a friend who since deserted you to them.

lonliness

But in all these trials and more, you really aren’t alone.  Your Heavenly Father, who knit you together fearfully and wonderfully and knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), is there for you.  He says that if you are walking in obedience to Him, you are His friend and that He actually calls you “Friend“.  There cannot be a truer friend.  He delights in you  and will keep you as the apple of His eye.  As you worship Him, He lifts you up.  He will never tire of pursuing you, guiding you and working all things out for good for you.  He promises to be with you always, that He will never leave or forsake you, and that when your heart is broken He will be close to you and heal you (Matt. 28:20, Ps. 27:10, Josh. 1:5, Ps. 147:3, Ps. 34:17-18).  I love the old hymn “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”.  Here’s just a snippet of those lyrics:

Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

lay down life for friends

Because God knows you also need friends “with skin on them”, and sometimes need friends outside your family, He will guide you into friendships that will be mutually good for comfort, empathy and sharpening.   And when you know the blessing of friendship, then by all means love earnestly, humbly and selflessly because this will cover for many mistakes. (1 Pet. 4:8-10, Phil 2:3-4)  A wonderful place for Christian women to connect with like minded friends is the (In)Courage online groups.  Registration for new group sessions happens to be going on this week.  If you’re interested check out the link and find the custom fit group for you from over fifty choices.

brother's muscles

aprons

In his book “The Four Loves”, C.S. Lewis says,  ‘Alone among unsympathetic companions, I hold certain views and standards timidly, half ashamed to avow them and half doubtful if they can after all be right.  Put me back among my Friends and in half an hour – in ten minutes – these same views and standards become once more indisputable.  The opinion of this little circle, while I am in it, outweighs that of a thousand outsiders; as Friendship strengthens.  It will do this even when my Friends are far away.’

add you as a friend

Remember the childhood song, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”?  So first revel in the faithful, ironclad friendship of the Lover of Your Soul.  Then, do that gutsy thing and step out in fresh friendship with both the silver and the gold.  You are loved with a devoted, victorious love that went all the way to the cross for you, and you are never alone.

one is silver the other gold

Alone is not true - Holley                 http://holleygerth.com/free-words/

Read many other great posts on “You Are Never Alone” here:  Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

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(In)Courage Friendships

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Today marks a fresh start for friendships as registration begins for a new session of (In)courage groups for Christian women.  In these groups you will find amazing camaraderie, heartfelt prayer support, cheering  you on type encouragement, humble empathy and more.  There is an empty spot needing what only you can pour into it among like minded friends.

As C.S. Lewis said in his book “The Four Loves”,  ‘Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden)..It is when…they share their vision – it is then that friendship is born….The opinion of this little circle, while I am in it, outweighs that of a thousand outsiders, as friendship strengthens.  It will do this even when my friends are far away.’

I can attest to this in the (In)Courage groups I have been in for near empty nesters in the last couple years. Even though I have been involved in different groups during different sessions, the friendships formed have been tenacious.  If you are approaching an empty nest or already knee deep in finding your way through that season, there are several groups just in that category alone for you to choose from.  But the mind-blowing thing is that there are over fifty groups covering a a large variety of interests you can choose from to connect with friends who will cheer you on shoulder to shoulder while pointing you to Christ in a closed group setting.  Check out this (In)Courage link and find a group for you this week.  You will not regret it.

Warm Wednesday Words: You’re Beautiful…Just as You Are.

Whether you feel it or not, either inwardly or outwardly, God wants you to know, through Christ, He considers you beautiful just as you are.

come as you are

In regard to outward appearance, the only ironclad standards worthy of adherence are in the Word.   So defy comparisons, whether in regard to bodies, clothing, cosmetics, etc., and find happiness and satisfaction in your own flesh and modest preferences.

style says who we are

In his book, “The Four Loves”, C.S. Lewis rightly said, “the naked man has seemed to our ancestors not the natural but the abnormal man, not the man who has abstained from dressing, but the man who has been for some reason undressed…nudity emphasizes common humanity and soft-pedals what is individual.  In that way we are ‘more ourselves’ when clothed.”  Aside from obvious lasciviousness and the sometimes justifiable bearing that culture may  have, ignore the myriads of opinions out there on styles, cosmetics, etc. or lack of them.  Thankfully, when the layers are peeled back, true beauty is a character matter.    Outward appearance is of trivial consequence and, within the framework of modesty, a matter of individual preference.  There is beauty in variety, as well as in constancy, because what is behind those preferences or circumstances is what shines through as truly beautiful, as in this picture of Lou Xiaoying, 88-Year-Old Poor Chinese woman who saved abandoned babies.

Chinese woman and baby

Inward beauty is the consequential and potentially eternal facet of beauty.  Feeling “ugly” inside can create a chasm of your own making between you and God.  Yet, God wants you to know you are beautiful just as you are.  Because He is holy, He can’t look on sin, but He sees you through, Christ, the Mediator.  He sees you as beautiful because you are His handiwork, despite flaws and  mess ups.   You may disappoint yourself or others but God doesn’t tire of you when you desire to please Him.

God loves us as we are

Zeph. 3:17 says  God rejoices over you with gladness, quiets you with His love and delights in you with shouts of joy.  Jer. 31:3 says God has loved you with an everlasting love and has extended faithful love to you.  When you walk in His ways, His love becomes even more personal.  1 John 3:1 reminds you to take note of the great love God has lavished on you that you should be called His child.   It is apparent that he wants to nurture you along in just the skin that you’re in, albeit a new heart.  He is rooting for you.

God makes us good becx we love Him

God's love is individual

Imagine a God who would indwell you so that He could revive you!   “For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:  ‘I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.'” (Isa. 57:15) It’s a staggeringly triumphant thought to know that when you are weak, then you can be strong because of your wonderful God.  There is no better guarantee than that.  He takes messes and hands back beauty, which becomes your uniqueness merged with His Spirit.  That, my friend, makes you a stunningly beautiful treasure, inside and out.

saying beauty for ashes

coffee
Check out more encouraging posts from other bloggers!

Warm Wednesday Words: You are Loved Even, and Especially, in the Storm

storm

You are loved even when you’re in a dark place, whether the dark place be a blurry focus that is difficult to correct or whether by reality.  Some weather storms much closer to home than others.  It can feel like you are that little tree bending in the fierce wind.   Life’s storms can be huge, leaving staggering devastation in their wake, or they can be small and short, still causing occasional damage.   I can’t tell you the outcome of your storms, or all the reasons why they may occur.   But I can tell you that when you submit to Christ and keep your focus on Him, He will give comfort, direction, and correction.  You can even expect miraculous intervention in either storm diversion or divine character changes in you, such as strength, joy and endurance as you walk through trials unscathed.  The latter can be a greater good.  In retrospect, you will see it.

storm clouds on horizon

I hope that when the next storm clouds of life appear in your horizon, you seek God in prayer, first recognizing that we all contribute to “storms” on occasion, and second, that even if you did nothing to deserve your current circumstances, YOU ARE LOVED by a God who sees you and knows what you are dealing with.  When you truly seek Him, He will rescue you in ways that you know are personal and precious.  The more you trust Him, the sweeter He becomes to you, both during the storm, and reflecting on Him once it has passed.  He becomes your Storm Chaser, Comforter, Healer and the most personal Lover of your Soul.  You become aware that you were the Apple of His Eye all along, and gain confidence in His strength in you.

stand strong

You are not defined by love that wanes or seems to fail.  You do not fall down when your props are all knocked out from under you, whether from a health calamity, job loss, financial problems, friendship/reputation issues, etc.  You are never alone.  In marriage, whether you are a husband or wife, God reaches out to you with comfort and answers.  He soothes your broken heart with personal words urging you to march on because He has crushed the enemy.  And He helps you know who the ultimate enemy is, and that you are, at times, just as much the enemy as anyone else on this messed up planet, so there’s never an excuse for not forgiving , restoring and counting your blessings.

rainbow

Don’t lose sight of the fact that rainbows come after storms, smiles after tears, joy after sorrow and rewards after steadfastness.  With endurance you can become that tree that is deeply rooted, has stood the test of time, and bears much fruit.  With that kind of plan, it’s hard to doubt that you are dearly loved and will make it through life’s storms, and be the better for them.

tree rooted by waterP.S. Be sure to check out all the other bits of encouragement linked-up on the Coffee for Your Heart 2014 Encouragement Challenge!

Warm Wednesday Words: Hope for a New Year

As 2014 unfolds,  I hope you know how loved you are.   Regardless of whether you can fathom God’s love for you, the fact remains you are deeply and personally loved by a Savior that went to the cross to prove it.  He would’ve done it, had you been the only one in need.  But you’re not.  And the awesome and incredible thing is God loves you just as you are.

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Chalk up past mistakes and difficulties as unique experience and wisdom gained, and other than making any necessary amends, put the past behind you.  With a little contemplation, you are simply better equipped  for your future.

forgetting past

Know that in your humility is strength and do constant battle with that dangerously insidious and worst human vice of all, called pride.

pride

Let God make all things work together for good for you, by pressing into His will.  Since your calling is unique, keep your eyes on the goal and don’t compare to anyone else.  Value you’re work and contributions, disregarding any inapplicable disparagement from some who don’t understand your particular walk of life.

drum beat

Tap into the best friend ever.  God wants to connect with you in a most intimate way through worship and as you study His Word and  put it into practice.  C.S. Lewis said, “It is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men.”

worship

You are worth the time it takes to pamper your body nutritionally and with physical fitness.  Your body hosts you, and you are irreplaceable to your family and friends.  You love them better when you take care of yourself.  If you’re married, guard that union and indulge often in the pleasures God afforded to it.   Prov. 19b (KJV), “Be thou ravished always with her love.”

beloved's

Keep a grateful, pure heart.  When you keep your heart stocked with gratefulness and are careful to pluck out that occasional weed of bitterness, then your happiness will overflow to others around you.  To be able to love others regardless of their reciprocation is powerful.  A gratitude list or journal is a great tool.

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Enjoy fellowship. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  (1 Peter 4:8) Nothing compares to the benefits that abound when we decide to continue in love.  Extend the same grace that you want God to extend to you for your worst moments, because what you give to others who have offended you is all you should expect from God.

sunset at church

Procure God’s favor by respecting the authorities in your life, whether in your family, a marriage, a job, society or in the church.  God likens us to sheep.  Picture a sheep deciding to strike out alone oblivious to the wolves lurking in the shadows.  To put yourself under appropriate, albeit imperfect, authority is to invite God’s blessing and favor on your life.

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May you know God’s abundant love for you and experience His favor and blessings on your life in the New Year.

 

P.S. Be sure to check out all the other bits of encouragement linked-up the Coffee for Your Heart 2014 Encouragement Challenge!