Tag Archives: strength

Growing Pains

Aside from being one of my favorite childhood favorite TV shows, growing pains are no joke. Many times God allows us to be in uncomfortable, even painful circumstances to push us to grow. This stretching and strengthening exercise makes up your most emotionally and sometimes physically difficult times in life.

Looking at my parents’ lives I can see how much their marriage grew through their suffering during four years trying to adopt and years of caring for their ailing parents. God used each of these times to improve on their love for one another and for God himself. Seeing their growth gives me comfort in this season of life.

A friend and I were just talking recently about a time of suffering in her life. She described feeling small. I remember each day telling her she was still big, but it was hard for her to see her own strength. Now that a few years have passed she tells me she was always big, but she just couldn’t see it.

I have felt small during the last few weeks. I have thought about giving up, but it’s impossible to give up on life when God is at the center of it. He simply doesn’t stand for quitters of life. Like a parent he doesn’t always give the pouting child his full comforting attention during those moments of feeling small because he knows there’s something more to gain from our suffering and pain. He knows when watching from a distance is more helpful than immediately giving us comfort.

I am up at 4:00 a.m. writing this post because I am very uncomfortable in life right now. I have felt small, sad, angry, confused, even sick from the stress and pain of growing. When God woke me up at 3:30 this morning, even in my discomfort I felt things would be okay because this is just the feeling you get during the strengthening and refining process. I have witnessed many testimonies of the strength that comes from this pain, and it is worth it.

A loving God is not a God that gives us a life full of nothing but easy moments.

Please share your testimony of the growth and strength that came from your suffering.

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Going the Distance

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 3:13-14

The View from Claremont Canyon Trail

The View from Claremont Canyon Trail

Last week my good friend Maura and I went hiking at a very steep trail in Berkeley, California. Hidden behind a beautiful, historic hotel, I at first underestimated its difficulty. This, however, was my second time hiking it, and I was determined to convince Maura to only hike half-way. After all, we had some important work to do that evening. At about the half-way mark we stopped to look back at the view of San Francisco and the whole East Bay. She looked at me and said those magical words, “Do you want to go back now?” “Uh…yeah!” I exclaimed. She laughed to herself and said something to the effect of, “We can’t go back now.” After much coaxing I began following at her heels, but complaining all the way. Finally my pal wisely suggested we name our strengths instead of our weaknesses. We spend so much time focusing on our weaknesses that we rarely recognize our strengths.

So, on we hike up the treacherous trail leading to a nearly 360 degree view of the Bay Area. “Let’s start!” After a moment of silence we began pouring out the silliest list of strengths ever. “I can pick up almost anything with my toes.” “I have a big nose with big nostrils to breathe and smell.” On and on our list went until suddenly we reached our destination, the top of the hill. Once we changed our focus it was much easier to carry on. It seemed to only take an instant to reach the top. I even found myself saying, “Let’s go a little further.”

When faced with challenges, whether it be the ups and downs of the everyday or a more permanent road block, if we change our focus to the gifts God has given us, focus on our true identity and all the ways God has made us resilient, we will go the distance. The journey is not about how fast we get there, nor is it about weighing failures with successes, but it’s about our ability to get back up and try again.

Reflect on Biblical “heroes.” Are they known for their lack of failure and constant success? No, they are known for the changes they allowed God to make in their lives, and by their unique strengths which they grew to recognize and nurture. Now that you know you are a resilient Son or Daughter of Christ, will you go the distance? Or will you continue to focus on the barrier preventing your growth?

Music video by Building 429 performing Press On (Official Music Video). (C) 2014 Provident Label Group LLC, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

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Epidemic Evangelism

Last night was my birthday and, wow, did I have a good dinner. My boyfriend and I went to Burma Superstar, an amazing mix of cultural dishes packaged into one bustling Oakland restaurant. I could not write enough Yelp reviews, tell enough friends, or Instagram enough photos to explain the absolute heaven it was to my taste buds. This is how I feel about Jesus.

Despite our somewhat fanatical culture of Tweets, Instagrams, and Yelp people still run in fear of their evangelist neighbor. Could the evangelists of yesterday (or maybe the movies) be painting an ugly picture of today’s everyday evangelists? Perhaps the fear lies in the guilt and shame of having someone virtually hit you over the head with the Bible. Even Christians fear the bully evangelist.

Have we considered though, that our everyday actions and words speak volumes about our faith? If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ it’s likely that you discuss your faith or at least your faith in the context of your life with people other than Christians. Take for instance, and maybe I’m just a chatterbox, but I went to get my haircut yesterday. I told my hairdresser that I grew my hair without cutting it at all for the last year and a half. I had decided after my last haircut that I wouldn’t cut my hair again until after I paid off all my student and car loans. I said, “It kind of reminds me of Samson from the Bible. Do you know his story?” He replied saying he didn’t know this story, so I went on to explain that God gave Samson remarkable strength and that when his hair was cut he temporarily lost that strength.

Now my hairdresser most likely did not go home and give his life to Jesus last night, but this is a seed among many that could someday sprout. He may look back on that simple conversation one day and say, “Hey, that client mentioned the Bible to me once, and how God had given a man remarkable strength. I need some of that strength in my life.” I’m sure I didn’t offend him by mentioning this Bible story in passing because it was part of my story. When you make Jesus part of your story, it will become contagious. People will see what you have, maybe it’s debt-freedom, maybe it’s a joyful spirit, and they will seek it out. Some will seek in wrong places, but as long as we are praying for that individual, our only job is to share what He gave us to share. We cannot control that person’s heart and decide when they become Christian, but we can keep on being mouthpieces for God simply by telling how our stories have changed because of the Gospel.