The women walk in from the cold to swap hugs and share hellos. We place Christmas treats on the counters and presents under the tree. Before we officially begin the evening, we pause to pray. And my beautiful friend Kelli includes these words, "God, please receive the joyful praises of our laughter."
Those words ring in my ears like sweet bells all night as I listen to giggles, chuckles and outright fits of giddiness. These women, the Apples group at my church, know how to have a good time. And as I reflect on it later I realize that, yes, their laughter sure sounded a lot like praise.
The other day, our CEO Chuck Hyde challenged me when he stated, "Busyness with a 'y' is very different than "business" with an 'I.'" He asked our team: "Are you busy, or are you doing our business?"
I immediately thought of the familiar story in Luke 10 of Mary and Martha. Jesus visits Martha's house. Martha has a sister named Mary. Luke states that, "Mary sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving." So Martha goes straight up to Jesus and says, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answers her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
Thanksgiving is unique among holidays. It is not a religious holiday in quite the same sense as Easter and Christmas. But we render the day meaningless if we fail to give thanks to God for all our blessings.
Neither is the day like Independence Day in marking the founding of our nation. Rather it marks the day of the founding of a spirit that is special to America—that of a spirit of gratitude.
My girls once accused me of being the worst when it came to accepting a compliment.
They'd say something like, "Mom, you look pretty today." I'd say, "I'm really having a bad hair day."
Some might say that I was just being humble. But I wasn’t.
You don’t have to search very hard to realize that delegation is not only a skill, but it is a quality identified with most great leaders. Perhaps it’s because at the root of delegation is trust. In passing off a task, a project, or a vision you’re demonstrating that you trust others to take appropriate actions. Refusing to delegate is harmful to you as a leader in any sphere, work or home, because it will stretch you too thin.
We carry crock pots into the kitchen and set them on the table. Soup is ladled into bowls. Bread is neatly placed on plates. Dessert stands ready on a counter nearby. Outside hungry people wait. My community group is serving those in need tonight.
And aren't we all in need?
Not too long ago this normally happy girl was grouchy, overly sensitive, and emotional. The last thing I wanted was to be the person with her cranky pants on. Yet here I was wearing them with a capital "C."
That’s when Zephaniah 3:17 came to mind. “The LORD your God is in your midst.” Right then. Right there. He was with me.
Have you ever gone to a networking or social event and realize you're talking with someone, but you’re not hearing a word they say? Sure, you're doing everything right – making eye contact, verbally acknowledging their thoughts when they pause, even leaving a smile plastered across your face – but the truth is, you're not listening. You're not there. You're somewhere else.
Have you ever felt pursued? Oppressed? Sensed the devil nipping at your heels?
I'd like to draw a parallel between how Pharaoh acted in Exodus 14 and how Satan acts throughout history.
Both are unyielding enemies, coveting the power of God for themselves. Both have been plundered by the Almighty, and both are enraged beyond endurance. Both have assembled vast armies for the destruction of God’s people – yet neither seems to realize how utterly defeated he already was and is.
We all mess up. We all fall short. We all wish we could be a little bit better. And when that happens, we wonder if God still really wants to use us. People comment on our strengths or what they admire about us and we think, "Oh, if you only knew what I'm like in my worst moments."
But here's the reality: God does know you in your worst moments. He knows all the things hidden in your heart. He knows what you even hide from yourself. And he picked you anyway.