“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” I know, it sounds like an “old school phrase”. It is and yet, it’s still relevant. Sound dumb? Sound too Pollyanna? Not realistic? Maybe. There will be sour trials that seem to squeeze the juice out of us. Fighting a health issue? The sharp zing of a breakup? In the middle of a bitter job situation? What do we do about this stuff? My husband, Brian, has observed, “Almost every older person we know is one of two things-bitter or joyful.” How can we sweeten up?
- Take Responsibility – We like to blame others for things that happen-we even blame God. The fact is, we are following Jesus. He chose to give up His rights. We are responsible for our thoughts & our responses.
- Choose to Trust God – What would happen if we chose to believe that God has allowed circumstances in our lives to HELP us? We must keep the goodness of God at the forefront of our minds.
- Realize Every Choice Matters – Extreme, but true. We are building our lives right now & every single discipline we implement takes us toward God or away from Him. True gratitude is never accidental. It will not just happen. Want to be joyful at 50? Want to be thankful at 70? We need to have disciplined responses of gratitude NOW.
- KNOW that Jesus Gives us Strength – He’s given you the power to choose and the strength to ask Him for help! Have you invited Christ into your life? He lives in you! He is giving you the ability to respond joyfully in difficult and frustrating circumstances. Experience His strength by asking Him to fill you.
- In the midst of a cynical world, our most penetrating witness can be our JOY. Lemons are sour without sugar. With sugar? Delightful! Ask God today to help you counter the world’s bitterness with the sweetness of Christ!
New Reading List – Must Reads:
*1. The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero (This is the my favorite book of the year! It’s created a new and deep reality with Jesus. Truly, every friend in leadership must read this! This is a book that reveals our need for Jesus and delivers new ways to see lasting growth! Chapter 7: and chapter 10 are part of my weekly devotional plan! Life changer!)
2. The Prophet: Amos (Sons of Encouragement Series #4) by Francine Rivers (Maybe the greatest thing -other than the actual book of Amos -that I’ve studied about the Old Testament prophet. In the midst of inductive deep study of this book, THIS brought color and reminded of the humanity of Amos.).
*3. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (This book constantly reorients my “ Older Brother versus Younger Brother” thinking. A great challenge and invitation to grow! I LOVED reading parts of this to my family!)
*4. God Loves You: He Always Has, He Always Will by David Jeremiah (A constant of truth! A great book to remind us of what’s God thinks of His people!)
5. Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf ( I read parts of this book to Brian. We liked the way she describes the difference between the brain and the mind. Encouraged by the authority God’s give us over our lives! Part 2 has real ways to apply this!)
*6. Dreams and Visions : Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? by Tom Doyle (This was a road trip book-created HUGE discussion!)
7. Sundar Singh : Footprints Over the Mountains by Janet & Geoff Benge (Brian and I reread this story. He is a favorite-unknown yet known to the One. Character-building!)
8. The Greatest Among You: A Student’s Guide to Servant Leadership by Randy Sims (My son loved this-deep truths here by a great example!)
9. Ten Girls Who Changed the World by Irene Howard (I love this and love sharing with my daughter!)
10. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (I have to read this a little at a time to really learn.)
*11. Finding Calcutta by Mary Poplin (A once a year read for me! My favorite book on Mother Theresa & her humble ministry.)
12. Girl in the Song: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Lost Her Way -and the Miracle That Led Her Home by Chrissy Cymbala (A powerful story that inspired me to pray !)
13. Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton (I like the pace of this book-refreshing , serene, and focused.)
14. The Twelfth Imam by Joel C. Rosenberg ( Jaw-dropper, couldn’t put it down, astounding current and future news. Truly, I learned more about Islamic Eschatology through this book than anything else.)
Not a huge reader? Not a ton of time? The book titles with astericks would be my “must reads”! ENJOY!
The most important relationship you will ever have is with GOD. The second most important relationship is with your SPOUSE. We all have a habit of digging deep into the Word, joining Christian groups, and offering help in the name of Jesus. God always wants to move in our hearts and out into our relationships-especially marriage.
- Realize no marriage is perfect! This should encourage you-because we are humans with a sin nature and selfish tendency. If your marriage was perfect, you couldn’t see God change you or the situation. God loves to be needed.
- Realize we all want to grow in this area! Whether we can verbalize it or not, we all want a thriving marriage built on the constancy of Christ. He has designed His people to want to grow in all areas of life. God will show you where you need to grow-if you ask Him to reveal Himself through His Word and the counsel of godly friends.
- Realize encouragement is KEY! Begin now to “speak” the language of encouragement in your marriage. Come in deep humility and ask God to help you train your tongue now to speak words of life and not death to your spouse. Practice being kind-it’s just not natural. Start now: are there 3 things your spouse has done this week that you appreciated? Tell him or her verbally , in a note, or even in a text. Get ready! THIS will change your marriage relationship!