An Unwanted Twist in Motives When Pride Sneaks In

It can come out of nowhere—or be so subtle I don’t even notice it at first. A twist in motives.

Pride slips in, unwanted yet there. My heart and thoughts can be in the right place as I start an activity—writing, singing, serving in ministry, helping someone, or even in online interactions. And then bam—a desire to impress pops up.  Whether ever so slightly or a glaring example, my motives take a twist. I hate it when it happens.

I’m not alone, though. A twist in motives can sneak up on any of us at any time, especially when we’re doing something we do rather well. It’s natural—and okay—to feel good about a job well done. The problem occurs when we start to puff up and get prideful, secretly wondering if we’ve impressed certain people. It’s crazy how we get prideful over the talents and abilities God alone has given us, isn’t it?

Thankfully the Lord has made me acutely aware of my prideful tendencies. Most of the time I immediately recognize a prideful thought and can go to battle against Satan as he tries to snare me in his trap. I go to prayer, confessing my twist in motives and ask the Lord to help me want “to bless and not impress.” (That’s a phrase I keep handy at all times—a phrase I strive to live by.)

Do any of you have a similar struggle with pride trying to weasel its way into your heart? I think the apostle Paul may have. Whether he battled pride or a different problem, he told the believers in Rome, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21)

Let’s continually be on guard against the enemy’s attempts to get us to slip into pride, his plans to corrupt our initial desire to serve or bless. Let’s be on the lookout for a twist in motives.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 KJV

*How can you be more alert to pride sneaking in?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by .Bala, Creative Commons License

Enduring Secret Pain

We’ve all done it—masked our pain with a smile. We force a lilt to our voices or answer a “how are you doing” with a fake “fine”. We suffer a private, secret pain that we’re unable or unwilling to share with anyone outside our closest circle of family or friends—and sometimes not even them— for any number of reasons.

Our hearts are breaking, but we have to carry on a life-as-usual façade to keep questions at bay and protect our own or someone else’s privacy. The time may come to share the struggle, but that time is not now. For now, we wipe our eyes and steel our hearts as we venture outside our homes and face the world beyond. We can only hope that we’re met with kindness instead of more difficulty.

Does it dawn on us that others may be doing the same? Especially during periods when heartache is not our companion, do we remember that someone we meet during the day may be struggling to keep her composure while walking on shaky emotional legs?

When we take a moment to remember that, a moment to look beyond the automatic smile for the public, we’ll want to be a little kinder in our interactions with one another. We’ll want to add an extra measure of warmth to our smiles or a soothing touch to our voices. We’ll want to make sure the people who cross our paths are met with kindness.

Let’s never forget the secret pains we’ve endured. Let’s remember and extend a loving touch—even if just for a moment—to those who may be in the midst of such heartache today.

And if you’re among those bearing a secret pain right now, know that God sees you. He cares. May this post be his loving touch to your hurting heart today.

“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” Luke 7:13 NIV

*Has anyone unwittingly touched you with kindness during a time of secret pain? How did he or she do it?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani, Creative Commons License

God Gets in the Boat With Us

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.” Mark 6:51 NIV

Are you familiar with the boat story that took place after Jesus fed the crowd of five thousand?

When everyone had had their fill, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and go on ahead of him so he could have a private time of prayer. Later on that evening when the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars because it was so windy. He decided to walk out on the water to them. When they saw him, they were terrified. They thought he was a ghost. So he identified himself at once, told them not to be afraid, and then climbed into the boat with them. The wind died down—and I imagine the disciples’ fears did too.

Just as the disciples had a Savior who came to them and climbed into their boatload of fear and struggle, we too have a God who gets in the boat with us. He comes to our aid when the winds of life are beating us down. He enters our lives and our pain. He gets right in the middle of our trials and struggles and brings peace. So let’s not be afraid. We have a God who gets in the boat.

“. . . do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

*Our daughter Kelli was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and God has definitely gotten in the boat with all of us. When has God gotten in the boat with you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Richard Clark (Digimist)Creative Commons License

Hard Fought

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Some victories are best described as hard fought, aren’t they? If we’ve lived this life for any length of time, we’ve discovered that many accomplishments, battle-wins, growth, or tasks completed don’t come easily. Much effort is required to get from point A to point B.

You might not guess it, but many of my blog posts and other writing projects fall into the hard fought category. Oh, some may come more easily than others, but if I’m honest, I’d have to say many are hard fought. Most require much effort.

For one thing, I’m a slow writer. For another, I have perfectionist tendencies. So unless an idea sparks and words tumble out as fast as I can write them down, they come out like a trickle or a drip rather than a flowing stream or bubbling brook. In fact, sometimes they’re birthed at an excruciatingly slow pace. It’s as if I’m stuck in mud. When that happens, getting pieces written is like struggling through a wrestling match. Any results are hard fought.

Other examples of hard fought victories in life abound. Sometimes learning a new skill or reaching an academic milestone takes all we have to see it through. Others engage in mighty struggles to lose weight or to quit smoking. Some reach their next wedding anniversary only by the grace of God and their non-negotiable commitment to honor their vows and protect their families. Still others fight to stay true to their faith in God when life deals them one blow after another.

I wonder if any of us today are currently faced with hard fought battles. Any wrestling matches underway? Any of us stuck in the mud? Let’s not give up. Let’s dig deep and press on. Like with my writing struggles, we may have to fight hard, but the victories will surely come. And oh, how sweet they’ll be.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*What in your life has come or is coming with hard fought efforts?

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 19 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 11. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Eric Langley, Creative Commons License