Alike–Yet Very Different!

Introvert or extrovert, which are you?  At our September LIFT event we explored this question.  We also talked about differences in personality types and behavior tendencies. It was interesting and delightful to observe and learn from women of different personality types as they shared with the group.  The conclusion for the day:  We are alike in many ways!  And different in many ways!  And God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us.

Fearfully and wonderfully made, we were carefully knit together in our mother’s womb by the hand of a loving God.  (See Psalm 139)  With delicate precision He crafted each one of us, giving us the characteristics He knew we would need to accomplish the purposes He had in mind for us long before we were born.

 

 

 

 

 

Our precious six-month-old twin granddaughters bring this lesson home to me even more.  Crowded together into one womb, still God lovingly designed and created each one with her own look and very distinct little personality.  One quiet, one boisterous; one dark-haired, one with soft blond fuzz; one patient, one not so much; one more solid, one delicate.  Both with ready smiles and kisses and snuggles.

My prayer for these little ones is for them to grow up celebrating their differences and also the traits they share.  To recognize God’s plan and purpose for them and to step into it with joy and confidence.

I pray the same for you.

One of the most life-changing and freeing exercises I’ve experienced in my life has been to discover and acknowledge my own personality type and tendencies.  It has been life-changing to recognize that some of what I considered faults are really God’s gift of provision and preparation for the work He has for me to do.

And freedom comes through accepting and embracing the plans of Almighty God, expressed with infinite love and careful craftsmanship in each individual.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.  ’Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

Have you taken the time to explore your own personality yet?  And then looked through that lens at the work God intentionally prepared you to do?  As you do I pray God will open your heart and mind to your own unique and wonderful possibilities.

You, my friend, are beautiful inside and out–carefully designed and created by our gracious God, whose great love for you is far beyond comprehension.

What will you do with your unique God-given beauty?

Many blessings,

Deborah

P.S. Until we can learn to love our own uniqueness it’s difficult to see the differences in others as beautiful.  We might even consider them faults or annoyances.  It’s not necessary to become personality experts, but awareness goes a long way toward understanding.

Along those lines, join us November 6 as we explore the subjects of conflict, godly resolution, and team building.

The Healthiest Emotion

It’s been rattling around in my head all week.  I’ve been racking my brain trying to recall where I heard it. . . . . and it’s just not coming.  But somewhere recently I heard someone talk about what they considered to be the healthiest of all human emotions.  Here it is:

GRATITUDE

Maybe the idea stuck with me because of my recent new habit–the practice of recording my daily blessings in a gratitude journal.  (If you missed it, check out my last blog post.)

So what do you think?  Is it true?  Is gratitude the healthiest human emotion?

The Apostle Paul thought it was a good thing.  In fact he said it was God’s will for every Christian:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul also said it’s part of the antidote for worry:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Those are two pretty strong recommendations for the practice of gratitude.  I’ll have to add my agreement, too.  Practicing gratitude gets us outside of ourselves to look for good.  It reminds us of God’s amazing, unfailing love for us.  It humbles us, helping us to be kinder and gentler with those around us.

As I’ve been more intentional about noticing and being thankful for the blessings God pours into my life, it seems like the blessings multiply.  Everywhere I turn I see God’s hand at work.  And my heart overflows with gratitude.

Is that really the case?  Does gratitude bring more blessing?  Or is it just a result of paying attention?  Like when you’re first pregnant and it seems like everywhere you look there are pregnant women.  Or when you get a new car and every car on the street is just like yours.

Either way, it’s a good thing.  Whether God rewards gratitude with more blessings, or our hearts expand to see His hand everywhere when we’re paying attention–I’ll take it.  With gratitude.

Whatever you want to call it–counting blessings, looking on the bright side, being grateful–it’s all good.  And healthy.  And life-changing in the best possible way.  At least it has been for me.

It doesn’t mean the difficult things in our circumstances miraculously disappear.  The problems and challenges are still there.  (Unfortunately, when we focus on those they seem to multiply, too.)

That’s probably why Paul continued his instruction to say this:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8

I’m praying for you today.  Wishing you good thoughts and many blessings.

With gratitude,

Deborah

A Timely Reminder . . . .

As my cell phone buzzes I glance over to see what it has to say–and a smile comes to my face.  A note I’ve written to myself flashes on the display.  You see, I’m trying to establish a new habit in my life, and I’ve programmed my phone to get my attention at the same time every day.

I want to remember my commitment because I’m eager to see the results this daily action will produce.  But without the reminder I may get too busy with my regular routines and miss out on what I really want to do.

In 2 Peter 1:12-15 the Apostle Peter talked about the importance of reminders for our spiritual life.  He had been teaching his readers about the rich and wonderful promises of God and how these promises allow us to participate in God’s divine nature.

The Bible is full of promises for Christians!  Here are just a few of them:

  • God promises to love us unconditionally–forever.
  • He promises to forgive our sin and clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus.
  • He promises to be with us and hold us up when we stumble.
  • He promises to work in the circumstances around us for our good–to mold us into the image of His Son.
  • He promises the Holy Spirit will come to live right inside us when we accept Christ as Savior.
  • He promises to bring us safely to Heaven to live with Him forever.

In 2 Peter 1:3 Peter makes a sweeping promise, stating it as a fact:

“As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life.”  NLT

That pretty much covers it, right!?  Everything we need!

Further on in the same chapter (after a lesson about the necessity for continued growth) Peter shares his intention to keep reminding the Christians of these things, even though it wasn’t new information to them.

“I plan to keep on reminding you of these things–even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth.  Yes, I believe I should keep on reminding you of these things as long as I live.”  2 Peter 1:12-13  (NLT)

It’s like my cell phone reminder and the new habit I’m working on.  Unless we make an intentional effort to remember, we tend to get distracted with the busyness of life and forget to walk in the wonderful promises God holds out to us.

If we don’t bring them to mind on a regular basis it doesn’t take long before life begins to wear us down.

What promises do you need to be reminded of today?  What are you doing to bring them to your attention today?  And tomorrow?  And next week?

We all need an ongoing plan for renewal and refreshment and remembering.

LIFT Events can be an important part of such a plan.  Like Peter, the LIFT Team (along with guest speakers and presenters) will continue to talk about God’s rich and wonderful promises and also give us tools for growth and leadership.

At every LIFT meeting there will be reminders of truths we already know.  Sometimes they will be familiar and comforting.  And other times they may be presented in a new way–or from a different perspective that challenges us to continued growth and inspires us to increased faith.

Although each event is different, some things are present every time.  You’ll find sweet fellowship, kindred spirits, wisdom shared, and vision renewed.  God will be honored, hearts will be lifted, and courage restored.

Our next LIFT event will be Friday, September 11.  Between now and then we’ll all be busy with summer plans, vacations, family, church responsibilities, and the many other things that make up our lives.  We’ll have times when we’re overloaded and uncomfortable in the heat.  And times to count our blessings and rejoice.

By the time September rolls around we’ll be ready for a reminder.  I hope you’ll mark your calendar now and decide to join us on September 11.  (We’ll have more information for you as the time comes closer.)

In the meantime we will be praying for you, thinking about you, and listening for God’s direction in how best to encourage you and remind you of the sweet and precious promises He holds out to each one of us.

My cell phone is buzzing again–it’s time to pull out my gratitude journal and continue my new habit of focusing on and recording the list of blessings God pours out upon me each day.  Today’s first entry will be the wonderful relationships I’ve found in our LIFT family.

Many blessings for an amazing Arizona summer,

Deborah Barber

 

 

 

In Fellowship Together

LIFT’s February 20th event with Lisa Allen was a great example of what LIFT is all about–Leaders In Fellowship Together.

Christian women, all with a heart for ministry and serving other women, coming together to LIFT each other up.  Fellowship is not a word we hear used as much these days.  But if you want to see it in action, LIFT events are the place to be.  Each one truly is a partnership of many people working together for the mutual benefit of all.

This partnership begins with the LIFT Board of Directors, who meet regularly to plan and pray and seek God’s direction.  The Board sets the vision and steers the activities of LIFT in the way they believe God is leading.

And then there’s the LIFT Leadership Team, headed by Pam Lyons, who listen for God’s heart in planning LIFT activities.  First they identify a theme for each year, and then arrange events around the theme.  Together as a team, and also through individual roles, they contact speakers and presenters, pray for each person involved (presenters and attendees alike), find host churches, take care of logistics and details, and do the behind-the-scenes work that makes each event so powerful.

The presenters and speakers are a critical part of each event, and we continue to be amazed at the quality of women God brings to us.  We’re grateful for their time and effort invested in preparation and presenting, and for the messages they share that speak to our hearts.

Host churches and ministry teams who prepare refreshments and welcome us into their space are a great blessing, and we so appreciate them.

And, of course, the attendees who come to be encouraged together, to be renewed in their roles as leaders, to build up their faith, to listen for new ideas to apply in the work they do with other women, and to share their own wisdom and experience with the rest of us.   As members of the LIFT Leadership Team and Board of Directors we are so grateful for you.  You inspire and encourage us and make it a joy to serve.

Others share in this ministry through donations of money, time, and resources, and we are humbled and blessed by your partnership.

We are grateful for every person involved in this amazing and encouraging fellowship.

I was unable to attend the February meeting because I was out of town helping my daughter through her last month of pregnancy with twins.

But I heard about the day, about what a fabulous job Lisa Allen did with her presentation, and how the pieces of the day came together according to God’s plan. I was so glad to hear of the blessings of the day–and I keenly missed the fellowship of being there in person, almost like a physical pain.

I think that’s the way God intended it to be–and what Paul was talking about in Philippians 2:1-2.

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?  Any comfort from His love?  Any fellowship together in the Spirit?  Are your hearts tender and sympathetic?  Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.”

As we share together in ministry our hearts become intertwined.  We grow together in this sweet fellowship that comes from a common faith and hope.  We want to be present with those who we know “get” us.

If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to experience a LIFT event, or it’s been awhile since you’ve joined us, I hope you give yourself the gift of fellowship by becoming a part of LIFT. We would love to see you at our next event, coming right up on April 17.

Many blessings,

Deborah Barber