Archive for the ‘Proverbs’ Category

On the tension of disagreement

February 19th, 2018 by Maureen

Are we willing to come out from behind our blame throwers and defensive positions to see each other and listen to each other? Does the animosity, sterotyping and oversimplification that has gone on in the media, on social media and among friends over gun control (or whatever the latest political disagreement might be) leave any room for meaningful dialogue in the tension of disagreement? Conteniousness and strife adds to the isolation, meanness, and animosity in our world that is, at least partially, responsible for violence and hatred.

Are we already so far underwater that we no longer recognize that those we disagree with are also processing and grieving? To attack each other for sending prayers or for calling for action is neither constructive or compassionate. People process differently.

I’m not saying peace at any price here. The tension of disagreement often leads to creative and workable solutions. This usually happens more readily when we aren’t mad at each other or mean to each other; so strife seems to be just another way to avoid actually solving the problem. If we can talk reasonably and graciously about causes and solutions, consider (and verify) our evidence before we put it out into the world, and unselfishly set aside the need to win we might get past contention.

Lord, help me to never let thinking I’m right make me think I have the right to be mean.

Asking for directions

January 26th, 2018 by Maureen

For years Google Maps couldn’t find my workplace. We’d have to include maps and explanations for all our visitors. Some life situations require a little more direction than the general advice that comes from books, much less Google and YouTube.

God is relational and so are we. In many situations what we need most are caring friends who know us personally and conversations with people who have experienced what we are going through. Sometimes we need professional counselors. God frequently puts people in our lives so that He can use them to love, to help, and to guide us. When we are trying to work through problems and find direction it’s essential to have trustworthy friends who care.

Wherever we get out council, it’s wise to consider everything and follow the intersection of spirit, mind, and heart. if we treat general advice like Google maps we might assume that we are being pointed in a certain direction and end up somewhere we didn’t plan to be. Sometimes these unexpected detours are God-ordained, sometimes not. But they all can become God-redeemed.

Thank You for showing up when I need You through so many people who love me.

Remembering mercy and truth

January 7th, 2018 by Maureen

Why is it that many of us feel much more inclined to forget mercy than to forget truth? What we believe to be true profoundly affects self image, our ethics, our choices, and our relationships. Kindness toward others, and toward ourselves, allows us to feel comfortable in our own skin and to adapt graciously to a variety of people in a variety of environment. Truth and mercy need not be viewed as opposing forces and we shouldn’t have to do without either one.

If law is our primary truth there is always going to be some tension between truth and mercy. Law gives us lists of ideological positions and behaviors against which to measure ourselves and others. If we hang law around our necks then we are almost obliged to engage in judgment of, and conflict with, those who don’t agree with our truth.

If love is our primary truth then mercy and truth become one single driving attitude and motivation. Love gives us freedom to simply enjoy all our relationships. Love creates an environment for authentic, meaningful exchange of ideas.

Lord help me speak authentic, truthful, loving words from an abundant heart.

You can’t Google everything

October 11th, 2017 by Maureen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

A little uncertainty, a few unanswered questions, surprises, outliers and unconnected dots are probably good for us. Trust involves those things we can’t control and don’t know. There is no adventure in knowing everything, controlling everything, and predicting everything.
Do we cling too stubbornly to safety and status quo?
Do we crawl to the middle of the box when the sides start to fall?
Do we believe God is bigger than our current understanding?
Will we trust Him enough to follow Him past the borders of what we can understanding or control?

Lord, I trust you for the next life adventure.

Family valued

September 18th, 2017 by Maureen

Grandchildren are the crown of aging. Parents are a source of pride for their children. Prov. 17:6

Members of functioning families view one another with pride and delight. We are glad to be related. Certainly everybody’s not perfect. Families have to opportunity to see one another at their worst; and yet we continually choose love, grace, trust, honor, hope and peace as relationship principles and family values.  We learn these values from our Father who values each of us so much. We belong. We are connected. We are accepted. And we welcome each new members with delighted open hearts, open minds, and open arms. The very thought of my children and grandchildren puts a smile on my face!

Lord, thank you for family today.

Health prescription: Happiness

September 7th, 2017 by Maureen

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Prov. 17:22

Science is catching up with this ancient wisdom. An article in Time  quotes one scientist’s conclusion: “Learning to enjoy your work, being more grateful and having really positive relationships are important.” A recently published study from Harvard concurs.

Ever wonder whether obsessing over healthy habits like diet or exercise or being less stressed might actually diminish the benefits of adopting those habits? Happiness can’t be the goal. It is a by-product that comes from living life fully engaged and fully present. God is the source of our gifts and talents that cause work to be enjoyable and fulfilling. God is the Giver of good things who responds to our gratitude with the joy of a Father and the resources of the Maker of heaven and earth. God is the love, the connective tissue that makes relationships even possible; and He is the Spirit that inspires empathy and belonging.

Lord, help me be more aware and responsive to Your presence and Your goodness as I live life.

A plea for gentleness

September 5th, 2017 by Maureen

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. Prov. 15:1

Many people in our culture seem to have the impression that communication that is strident and confrontational is somehow more effective. Being loud and angry might make people feel more powerful, but this is not the kind of power that creates lasting change in hearts, minds, or culture.  Gentleness takes a lighter touch. Gentleness listens, responds with respect and empathy, and creates rapport. Gentle responses open the door for genuine conversation. Gentleness allows people to consider one another as fellow human beings and to engage in civil consideration of one another’s ideas. Gentleness does not preclude disagreement, but tempers it with affection, humor, and common courtesy.

Lord, help the weary, the frustrated, and the wrathful, even those who believe they are justified in those feelings, to be able to hear Your gentle tone and to find the grace to use it with others.

Disrupting the other pride

September 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Pride goes before destruction. A haughty spirit goes before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18

This post isn’t about attitudes full of hubris, prideful, cavalier overconfidence, or ruthless entitlement. We all know that stuff is poison. There is a kind of pride that is appropriate and important to our mental and emotional health. Human beings need to experience that sense of meaning, worth, and honor that is sometimes called pride. Sometimes our introspection detours us into the other kind of pride because we can’t find the constructive kind of pride within ourselves. Sometimes we depend on recognition from others to derive this kind of pride. Sometimes we may even feel the need to self-promote to others or to challenge others’ priorities or perceptions in order to get the responses we want from others. Suppose we choose to seek God’s image, His creativity and intelligence, His grace and goodness in ourselves and in each other. Suppose we chose to see ourselves and one another in that way.

Lord, help me to experience the humility that can derive pride from You rather than struggling to find it in myself or demanding it from others. Fill me with the pride that goes with restoration.

Shelter in a storm

August 26th, 2017 by Maureen
As the passing by of a hurricane, so the evil is not, but the righteous have a lasting foundation. Prov. 10:25
There are times when it feels like our lives are blowing away board by board like a house in a hurricane. The love of God shelters us like the safe room where we run for protection in a storm. His love is staked so deep that it cannot be uprooted by wind or circumstance. Our hearts cannot be flooded out by tears or trouble because we are His children and He is our foundation.
Sweet Friend, Loving Father, Shelter in all Storms, when I feel vulnerable help me know that I am attached to Your invulnerable foundation.

Mother’s Day from this mother’s point of view

May 14th, 2017 by Maureen

May she who gave you birth be happy. O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways. Prov. 23:25-26

I am so happy to be the mother of each one of my grown-up children.
May they remember our journey through childhood together with delight.
May only the best of my influences carry over into the lives they carve out for themselves as adults.
May they follow whatever of my ways they find life-giving and helpful,
and forgive me for the ways that left them scarred…and may those scars be temporary and healed.
May we enjoy many more journeys together as adults.
May the ways I travel with their families be filled with new delights
and continually marked by love.
May they always be aware of my unconditional love for them.
And of their’s father’s love.
And of Your love.

Lord, thank you for this delight I call motherhood!

Carefully considered but loosely held plans

September 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house. Prov. 24:27

Sometimes there is barely time to wrap up one project before we have to start another. When we do have the luxury of a breather between projects it’s good to use that time to take stock. Doing things better next time takes some evaluation and tweaking of the existing plan, along with honest introspection about personal attitudes, expectations, and distractions. But there are times when all the planning in the world cannot predict the unforeseen…and sometimes that unforeseen, unplanned-for factor is the very one God is all over.

Lord, help me to be prepared and flexible for what this week holds.

Feed the hangry

June 24th, 2016 by Maureen

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:1

Every day comes with irritants. We can choose to be annoyed, offended, and reactive, or we can find perspective and grace. Most people don’t get up in the morning and decide to be annoying. Many of them are just spiritually hangry* for love, peace, acceptance, etc. Grace for others taps us into the deep love God has for each of us. Our kind, gracious, loving responses nourish their spirits with the fruit of God’s Spirit.

Lord, help me to be gracious even when other people aren’t.

*Hangry-When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. – Urban Dictionary

How to slow down time

June 4th, 2016 by Maureen

People make plans but the Lord establishes our steps. Prov. 16:9

It is in relishing the present that we slow down time. We can focus so much on key experiences like events, dates, vacations, graduations, new jobs, moving to new places, marriage, babies, holidays, retirement, even heaven, that we miss the wonder and joy of right now. When we look back and can only mark time by milestones, it can seem as if our lives have flown by. Certainly planning ahead helps life run more smoothly. Practicing and preparing builds competence and confidence. Looking forward to something creates excitement and enhances our enjoyment when the time comes. There are good things about looking ahead, but fully engaging in the present is how we experience eternity now. If we rush from milestone to milestone focused on the future, we might miss the moments of wonder and revelation that God establishes in each step in between.

Lord, show me all You have for me as I stand in this one step that You established for me to live in right now.

Influential people

May 16th, 2016 by Maureen

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Prov. 2:10-11

A person doesn’t have to be famous to be profoundly influential. Young people need great mentors and teachers to equip them with knowledge, wisdom, and truth that will help them live with passion and integrity, creativity and awareness. They need trusting relationships with people who love Jesus and love them. We all need those influential friends throughout our lives who keep us grounded and inspired.

Lord, I am so grateful for the network of relationships that influence my life and the lives of my loved ones. Lord, bless each one!

Change your plans but not your dreams

May 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Prov. 13:12

Sometimes our plans seem to be drowning in setbacks and delays that cause us to doubt our dreams and give up hope. But there is a different between dreams and plans. Plans are only a way toward fulfillment of our dreams, not the dreams themselves. God is so much bigger than our plans and so much stronger and more creative than our imperfect execution of them. We can trust God with our plans because He is the giver of our best and most personally fulfilling dreams.

Lord, help me be flexible in my plans but steadfast in my dreams.

You’re killing me smalls

April 10th, 2016 by Maureen

For the turning of the simple kills them, And the security of the foolish destroys them. Those who listen to me dwell confidently, quiet from fear of evil! Prov. 1:32-33

In the Bible, “simple” doesn’t mean simplicity. “The simple” are people who are easily distracted, don’t think things through, fall for deceptions, act impulsively, ignore good advice, and respond immaturely. Fools reject every idea but their own, refuse to listen, reject logic and evidence contrary to their perspectives, spin the consequences or deflect blame when things go wrong. The good news is that God loves us and sent Christ to redeem us even when we are being our stupidest selves. Awareness that God is with us and for us won’t keep us from experiencing trouble, but might help us minimize stupidity and certainly provides  perspective, confidence, and peace so that we avoid the killing power that big messes, and sometimes even little ones, can have on our hearts, minds, and lives.

Lord, quiet my fears and help me to dwell in You with confidence and peace no matter the trouble, no matter the cause.


Legitimate three-way love fest

March 31st, 2016 by Maureen

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Prov. 16:24

What we say and the way we say it can change someone’s day for better or for worse. Our sincere words of kindness and encouragement can promote healing in one another’s lives. We are more likely to notice all the positive, gracious moments in our own lives when we help create them for other people. Kindness makes us collaborative participants in God’s love for someone else.

Lord help me to sweeten someone’s day.

Flexible plans

February 25th, 2016 by Maureen

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Prov. 19:21

Things don’t always work out the way we plan. Speculating on the why can only take us so far in correcting existing problems, avoiding future disappointments, or learning from past mistakes. God’s love and grace always, always, always motivates His interventions into our plans whether it is to aid or to disrupt them. And sometimes He does disrupt. God is the source of good ideas and He has placed a variety of avenues in our lives through which to inspire us so that we can be part of whatever He’s up to. Sometimes we are so intent on carrying out our own plans or recreating something that worked before that we miss His inspiration. If we are open to Him and willing to respond, our infinitely creative and joyous God is likely to inspire us to create and innovate rather than merely to repeat or imitate.

Lord, I believe You are good and Your mercy endures. I want Your plans and inspirations to supersede my own.

The benefits of uncertainty

February 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

A little uncertainty, a few unanswered questions, surprises, outliers, and unconnected dots are good for us. Trust involves those things we can’t control and don’t know. There is no adventure in knowing everything, controlling everything, and predicting everything. We can proceed into life’s uncertainties with curiosity and excitement rather than fear and nervousness because we can be certain of this: God loves us. God is trustworthy. God’s plans and intentions for us are always good.

Lord, I trust you for the next life adventure.

Just to prove a point

February 13th, 2016 by Maureen

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Prov. 17:27

There is a lot to be said for showing restraint. It’s not always necessary to challenge people with whom we disagree. Sometimes starting an argument says more about us than whether or not we present correct data or whether our logic is stronger. Sometimes relationships matter more than taking someone down just to prove a point. Sometime love and grace means showing restraint even when we are fairly certain that we are surrounded by idiots spreading idiocy.

Lord, help me to choose grace, love, and restraint over proving my point.