Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Best in You

What brings out the best in you?

We've only caught a couple of nights of the Olympics, but I'm still amazed at their mental strength (which I discussed last week).

I consider the coaches who know how to bring out the best in their athletes. Or the figure skater whose entire country holds her to a high standard. Well, that standard seemed to bring out the best in her. She received over 150 points for her program Thursday night!

That kind of pressure would probably bury me. :) How about you? Do high expectations provoke you to be your best?

Recently I had a conversation with a fellow mother about grades. She said she went lenient on her older children, sympathizing, but she doesn't treat her youngest the same. No excuses. Rise to the challenge. And her youngest is thriving in school.

Got me thinking: what brings out the best in me?

When someone needs me, I tend to be my best. Probably because I'm a mother.

Affirmation makes me want to reach higher and succeed.

When someone draws from my strengths I tend to be my best. Teaching, comforting, affirming.

A writing teacher recently described how a group of aspiring writers brought out the best in her just by needing what she could give. I relate with that.

What brings out the best in you? And how do you bring out the best in others?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mental Strength

How much strength does it take to be an Olympian? That’s hard to quantify, isn’t it? And we’re only talking physical strength so far. Athletes train their entire lives to compete. Figure skaters can take the ice at age 16, then display their skills effortlessly. One Canadian skater, age 37, earned a bronze yesterday. Both of these competitors have likely spent their entire lives in “training” in one form or another. Just to compete. Just to succeed, physically.

What about mentally? Even leading up to the games, the participants had to go to the games with a mental attitude that no matter what, they were going to give it their best. They’d been training for this. They were getting their shot to compete (or compete again). Their coaches were counting on them. Their families, their fellow teammates, their country. And you watch them win. And you watch then handle “losing” with grace (mostly).

I sometimes wonder what it takes to have that kind of mental strength. That kind of “killer” attitude—to win no matter the cost. To give it everything without backing down. I’m more likely to sympathize (even with myself) than fight. What about you?

Going for your dreams, whatever they may be, takes guts. You have to face down your own doubts, naysayers, rejection, failure, fears and roadblocks just to approach the starting gate of your dreams. There’s fear of failing and of winning. Can you relate with that?

But as you watch the Olympians take the platforms to receive their medals (a fantastic display of heroism and celebration) you don’t see fear of winning—you see victory! They’ve overcome!

I think we can practice, in everyday life, the skills of being an overcomer. For some, this comes easier than for others. But I believe we’re all called to it.

Whatever you face today, overcome. Press into God who gives you strength and realize victory, even in small ways. The training process for athletes is filled with day after day of small victories leading up to competition on a grander scale. But it all begins behind the scenes in everyday choices and decisions.

Also, find a rooting section. Gather people around you who will support you as you follow your dreams. Don’t let naysayers hold you back.

Press through.

Press on.

Stretch that mental muscle.


God, who sees your potential and knows what He’s called you to be, believes in you. Go for your dreams in Him! Watch what will happen when you partner up with Him and go for the gold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Companion

Are you a friend of God? You can be.

I’m in the midst of an in-depth study of the Song of Solomon as it relates to Jesus our Bridegroom God. This morning I ran across Zechariah 13:7 where God calls Jesus “The Man who is My Companion.”

Oh that phrase rang through my spirit. So tender. So open. So real.

Reading “Abigail” by Jill Eileen Smith lately (see Net’s Book Notes Monday for my review) has me thinking about husbands who have many wives (like King David). I told my husband last night that I’m so glad I don’t have to share his time or heart. Then as I prayed myself to sleep, I thought of how believers are the bride of Christ. Now that’s not polygamy! Here’s the thing: believers will have so much unity, so much common purpose, calling and focus, we will all be one in Christ. And Jesus is God; He is everywhere present. So, He can attend us each separately at the same time.

Years ago, I asked a pastor this question: “So when we get to heaven will we have to share Jesus?” I’m used to my prayer times now where it’s just Him and me. Two of us. Intimate. Quiet. Personal. The idea of giving that up in heaven gave me a heartache. He explained he felt God would continue to meet with us corporately (like church settings today) and individually. We will not regret going to heaven to be with the Bridegroom for lack of closeness and personal time!

For now, deep in the throes of lovesickness for Him, I will whisper a quiet word, sing a new song, delight in Him, listen for Him, commune with Him.

He is my Companion.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
(Psalm 45:1)

Trying to think of flowery words or pleasing prose this morning isn’t working. But I long to express my lovesickness to the King.

Jesus, my Beloved, beautiful One, words fail.

My heart and soul long for You, for Your presence, not just for what You do or what You can give, but for Who You are to me:

Merciful God, who saw my need and came as a
Loving Savior and died for me so You could draw me close and become
My Friend who listens and speaks revelation that You are
The Bridegroom and I am a member of Your bride

Closer, Love, so I may hear Your heartbeat, see Your eyes, know You more and more.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why Not?

Ever sit at church and feel as if the sermon was directed specifically at you? That's exactly how I felt yesterday as Pastor Michael shared his message about the "now moment" we're living in. He preached on having faith in tough seasons. The main thrust of his message was that mindsets can keep us from breakthroughs, even our destiny.

Then, this morning, as I was reading "Never Say Never," by Lisa Wingate (Christian fiction), she writes about a character dreaming for things far out of reach because she knows 1) she doesn't have to risk being disappointed because they’re so unattainable and 2) she doesn't really believe it'll happen anyway.

Yikes. Doesn't really believe it'll happen anyway??

I'm a dreamer. And a writer. (The two seem to go hand in hand in writerly circles.)

And after yesterday's message, I'm challenged to aim beyond the sky to the stars. I'm challenged to change my mindsets. I have big dreams, and I want to see them come true, now more than ever. But I had to ask myself about the mindsets behind those dreams.

One of Pastor Michael's instructions was instead of asking "Why," ask "Why not?" His point: asking "why me" is complaining, focusing on the negatives. Asking "why not me" is optimistic. God's goodness is for everyone. He wants to bless every one of His children. And He will keep His promises. We look at someone else and say “Oh, that’s just her way. She’s always joyful.” Well, why can’t that joyful person be you? or me? The same is true for other aspects while walking with God.

So, as I dream today, I'm asking "Why not me?" I will not disqualify myself based on my past, any fear of failure or fear of disappointment. By the grace of God, my mindsets will change to better match up with God’s plans, estimations, desires as He reveals them to me.

And I will dream beyond the stars, daring to hope.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Face the Light

Pouring rain kept my windshield wipers busy while I squinted at the dark roads. Such weather magnifies the fact that those white lines off to the right have faded to almost invisible.

In driver's ed, they taught us when an oncoming car's headlights blind you, focus on the white line on the right to stay in your lane, until they pass. When those lines have faded, you're left with fewer options.

You can't close your eyes and drive. (Well, not for long, anyway. :)

You can't stare directly at the lights, or you'll be seeing spots.

If there is no car ahead of you in your lane, you can't focus on their taillights and trust they can see better than you can.

So, what's a driver to do?

I am very sensitive to light, even in day to day life. For example, if I am facing a window and trying to read something in front of me, I have to squint to make it out. It's the same effect of a camera trying to capture a backlit image. The light throws it off.

So, on a dark road, with headlights blinding me, I have a very difficult time driving.

But I found one thing which worked recently though it seems counter-intuitive. Facing the light. Not looking directly into the lights of those oncoming cars, but facing the lights. The headlights of the other cars illuminated the road ahead and my cars' lights helped and suddenly, it wasn't so difficult to see.

In our walks with God, sometimes we want to avoid the light of the truth. We'd rather hide than face shame.

But God calls us out into the light--His light, so we can see the truth and let the truth set us free.

When God shines His light, He isn't meaning to shame us. He is trying to free us.

We just need courage to face the light.