Green Is Not Your Color

A sound heart is the life of the flesh_ but envy the rottenness of the bones.-2.png

Guys, you’re welcome to read today’s devotion, but since we’ve just passed Mother’s Day, I’d like to direct some thoughts toward my female readers.

Okay, ladies, by a show of hands, how many of you heard some reference to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 this weekend?  Yes, I see those hands.  And how many of you cringed a bit as the passage was read?  Yeah, me too.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love God’s Word, and I know it is perfect, holy, and right in every way.  It is full of encouragement and strength, but there’s just something about Proverbs 31 that tends to make me feel inferior and even downright lazy.  Can I get an “Amen”?

Of course, it doesn’t help any that when I read it, I immediately think of a real-life example that seems to fit the virtuous woman in every way.  I’m speaking of Joanna Gaines.  For those who don’t recognize the name, she (along with her husband, Chip) is the star of the popular show, Fixer Upper. In addition to being a star, she is a mom of five who owns multiple businesses and seems to excel at anything she sets her hands to.

In her “spare time,” Joanna grows her own vegetables and herbs, helps out on the family farm, and bakes delicious treats for friends and family alike.  Not only is she talented, but she’s beautiful too — the perfect hair, teeth, skin tone, and figure.  To be honest, as much I as enjoy watching Fixer Upper, I tend to come away feeling a bit green. . .with envy.

Why do we ladies do that?  Why do we insist on comparing ourselves to others?  Don’t we realize that God made us who we are for a reason?  Why is it so difficult for us to understand that we’re unique in our own way?

I wish I had answers to those questions, but I’m afraid I don’t.  The truth is, I fall into the pit of envy more often than I can count, especially now that my health is holding me back in so many ways.  I look at those around me who keep immaculate homes, cook gourmet meals, and raise their families, all while holding down a grueling job, and think What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I be a better wife, housekeeper, cook, etc.?  Then, I start to feel sorry for my dear husband, and before long, I conclude that if I feel like I’m letting him down as a helpmeet, he must believe the same about me (even though he has NEVER said or done anything to make me think that.)

It’s not Jason that causes the chaos in my thoughts and turns my self-pity into self-loathing.  It’s envy.  Envy is dangerous, and it is a powerful weapon in Satan’s arsenal. . .especially when dealing with us, ladies.  Many, many verses in the Bible address envy, but this one grabs my attention every time:

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
— James 3:16

Ouch!  Envy doesn’t stop at making me feel like a loser.  It progresses into bitterness, resentment, and so much more.  It is the seed from which confusion and evil works grow.  Envy leads people to do stupid things and to cause great havoc not just in their own lives, but in the lives of all those around them.  It causes strife, heartache, and in the end, despite the progression, envy remains.  Never satisfied.  Never quenched.  Instead, it grows bigger and bigger until we, too, are never satisfied.  We want more.  We want something different.  We become so blinded to our strengths and blessings that all we can focus on is how we feel we’re lacking.  And we carry that sense of “not enough” with us into all our relationships, creating a burden for those we love.

I’ll be the first to admit that stopping envy in its tracks is laborious.  It’s so easy to allow those thoughts to creep in and take root, but we must be on guard and catch those nasty weeds before they take over the garden of our heart.  One verse that helps me do that is found in my favorite book of the Bible.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
— Psalm 139:14

Speaking this truth aloud sends the enemy and his weapon of envy fleeing in the opposite direction.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  That is what God has to say about me, and God is never wrong.  His works are marvelous, and I am one of His works; therefore, I must be marvelous.  

Now, here comes the tricky part:  my soul knows it.  I struggle with that a bit, but repetition aids learning.  So, I keep telling myself this truth as many times as it takes until it sinks in:  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God doesn’t make junk.  He doesn’t make worthless individuals.  I am not lazy.  I have a health condition, and that’s a different story entirely.  I may not be able to do what others can do, but they have no idea how to be me either.  Besides, I can only see what others want me to see.  I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.  Sure, their home may be immaculate, but is it full of joy?  Which is more important?  I have nothing to prove to anyone, even myself.  God’s work is marvelous, and I am privileged to be His work.  And He’s also promised He’s not done with me yet, so I can take comfort in knowing I’m a marvelous work in progress.

My dear lady friend, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are beautiful, marvelous, and unique.  Don’t let envy steal your joy, strength, or peace.  Don’t allow it to cause strife and division in your home and relationships.  Stop it in its tracks by speaking God’s truth aloud.  Use the Scripture above or find your own and take it to heart until your soul knows the truth—You are amazing!

Rejoicing in the Rubble

If your worldcrumbled today,would youcrumble with it,or would yoube able to-2.png

When Christin Henry placed her three young children to bed that mid-July night, she did not know how much her life was about to change. Around one o’clock in the morning, a fire started within their mobile home, forcing the family to flee the house in search of safety. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. . .at least, not from the human perspective.

The two-year-old daughter died in the fire that night, and her older brother passed away a short while later. For the next week, the rest of the family did their best to heal and deal with their grief, but the fight was not over. On Sunday night, July 22nd, the last—and oldest—of the three children went home to be with Jesus.

May I be honest with you for a few minutes? It is so difficult to wrap my head around tragedies like this. The Henry’s are good people, Godly people. Why would the Lord allow this to happen? How could a loving God allow such tragedy and heartache in the lives of His children? It’s so hard to fathom and honestly impossible for me to understand. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to understand; I have to trust. Trust God knows what’s best. Trust He is working all things (yes, even these horrible things) for our good. Trust He will gain glory through this trial. That’s undoubtedly what Christin Henry is doing.

From the time she was recovered enough to do so, Christin has been giving updates on Ireland’s (the remaining child) condition. Obviously, there have been many tears shed during these video updates, but what has amazed and convicted me beyond measure is her attitude through all of this. Shortly before her last child passed away, she stated, “I’m heartbroken, of course, but I trust God. I love Him, and I’m not bitter.”

There have been times in my life where I couldn’t honestly say such a thing, and I’ve never faced anything like what this poor couple is going through right now. What an inspiration to see someone rejoicing in the rubble of life. Their world has crumbled into so many jagged pieces, yet this couple is quoting Scripture and giving praise. Their beautiful lives came crashing down around them in an instant, yet they’re not bitter. They are refusing to allow their circumstances to change their view of God or alter their relationship with God. They are standing strong through it all.

My challenge today is two-fold. First off, please be in prayer for the Henry couple. It’s just the two of them now. They have lost their children, their home, their possessions, and life as they once knew it. Everything has changed for them except their faith in God. Please keep this family in your prayers, and if God lays it on your heart to be a help to them financially, you can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/p368d-help-the-henry-family. I know they will appreciate anything you can do to help them through this challenging transition.

Secondly, if you’re anything like me, you’re convicted and inspired by this great testimony of faith. Talk to the Lord about it. I did. I pleaded with God to show me what it is in my heart that’s keeping me from trusting Him fully in my life. I was shocked at some of the things He revealed, and I prayed for His grace and strength to deal with these issues so I can increase my faith. Like the father of the sick boy in the Bible, my prayer is, “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.” Why? Because when my world crumbles, I don’t want to crumble with it. Instead, I want to follow the example set forth by the Henry’s and rejoice in the rubble, knowing God is good no matter what.

How’s your faith today? If you faced a situation similar to this tragedy, how would you respond? Use this time to check up on your trust in the Lord and to work out any areas that may be holding you back from complete surrender. Ask God to search your heart and show you where you’re being led astray and allow Him to take you to new realms of faith.

And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
— Job 1:21

Please Stop That Incessant Dripping!

Please Stop That Incessant Dripping!DanaRongione.com-3.jpg

Drip!  Drip!  Drip!  That’s the sound of my shower.  All the time.  Every day. . .and night.  In an attempt to put off running the air conditioner as long as possible, Jason and I have been opening the windows at night to let in the fresh cooler air.  In our bedroom, however, the only windows are at the head of our bed and are covered by heavy drapes which block out the light from the nearby streetlight.  So, instead of trying to work around the drape issue, we open the window in the attached bathroom and leave the bathroom door ajar.  This would work great if not for the incessant dripping of the shower head.  We’ve tried everything to get the crazy thing to stop dripping, but so far, we’ve had no success.  Thus, we have two options:  be stuffy or be annoyed.  I don’t know which is worse!

The Bible talks about incessant dripping, but I’m afraid it’s not referring to leaky faucets.  No, instead, it’s about our tendency to complain.  Check it out: 

A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
— Proverbs 19:13
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
— Proverbs 27:15

Now, I realize both of these verses are specifically talking about a woman, and I will readily admit that I know more complaining females than males.  However, men, I don’t think it would do harm to the Scripture to say that contention, strife and complaints from anyone—male or female—is like a constant dripping.  Is that fair?

As we’ve already established, incessant dripping is annoying, right?  When was the last time you tried to escape a conversation because the person with whom you were speaking was voicing one complaint after another?  The negativity grates on our nerves.  What we often fail to realize is that we cause others to feel the same way when we throw our little pity parties.

Not only is the dripping (and complaining) annoying, but it wears us down.  Interestingly enough, it’s wearing on both the one doing the complaining and the one hearing it.  Did you know that a constant dripping of water can wear away soil and even stone?  Yes, water can literally bore a hole in the earth.  Complaining can wear away at us too.  It can damage hearts and relationships.  The constant negativity weighs us down and wears away at our faith, contentment and overall happiness.  All of that from a bad attitude!

Life is not always easy, and for some reason, it’s easy for us to complain or cause strife when things aren’t going our way.  But I urge you to take these verses to heart and think about the damage you are causing through your poor attitude and actions.  You don’t want to be annoying or to wear others out with your constant negativity.  Instead, shift your focus to God and find something for which to praise Him.  Exchange those drips of complaints for showers of blessing!