EXASPERATED?

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

Ephesians 4:26

Webster defines exasperated as irritated, angry or vexed. I had to look up the meaning of vexed. It means agitated, disturbed, or annoyed. Ever felt that way? I know I have.

A few weeks ago, my dishwasher broke down. I didn’t want to bother anyone about it. So I just looked in my phone contacts under Appliance repair. Obviously this was something I’d dealt with before…because there were 3 contacts listed. So I called the 1st one. BIG MISTAKE!

He came out immediately. My dishwasher was running alright, but the door would no longer close and latch. That would require a new part that should be readily available. So I renamed that phone contact Dishwasher Rob to keep me from confusing his number with the other Appliance repair contacts I had listed in my phone.

Dishwasher Rob had to fix the side hinge on my dishwasher door and wait 24 hours for it to dry. When he came back the next day, that’s when he determined I needed a new door latch. He charged me for half the job…seemed reasonable to me since he’d spent several hours in my kitchen. He set a return appointment for the day after the New Year holiday. I never saw him again.

We texted back & forth numerous times. He was always busy with other customers and would try to squeeze me in. I was livid because I had moved other appointments to wait on him. At that point, I had been without a dishwasher for over a week. Dishwasher Rob scheduled and didn’t show 2 more times before I finally ordered a new dishwasher.

My friend, Nicole was helping me with a new computer program I was trying to set up during Dishwasher Rob’s 3rd missed appointment. My demeanor gave me a new appreciation for the word ‘vexed’. Nicole kept telling me to let it go. “You think he’s worked up about this?”

Then Nicole used that familiar saying, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I have to admit that stopped me in my tracks. So I did what Jesus would do. I shut up and washed my dishes.

Jesus doesn’t just tell us to stay silent when people wrong us. He asks us to pray for them. I now understand why Jesus asks that. I didn’t want to, but I prayed for Dishwasher Rob and immediately saw him as another precious human life…instead of a curse on my life.

 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:45 -46  (NIV)

 

The sense of peace I felt was unexpected and very much appreciated. How many times have we worked ourselves into frenzy over something that we had no control over? Those can be difficult times for control freaks like me!

Then I remembered the name of this blog…Life Happens.

My broken dishwasher happened to me. It was the original dishwasher in my condo unit. So it’s been here longer than me. It was time for a new appliance.

 Admittedly, I was mainly upset because I assumed Dishwasher Rob was taking advantage of my disability. In retrospect though, I think the only reason he kept communicating with me is because I was that ‘nice little disabled lady’. He was unreliable and unprofessional. I assume he knew what he was doing…but maybe the job was too big for him and he didn’t want me to find out.

Who knows what really happened? I knew I had to forgive him and as my friend said…’just let it go’!

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Mark 11:25 (NIV)

 

Life Happens! Sometimes it’s messy. Many times it changes our plans. We can’t let it color our whole outlook on life. We can’t let our broken dishwashers let us forget all that’s beautiful and meaningful in this life!

 

Dear Lord,

We will sometimes become exasperated with what’s going on in our life. When it happens, remind us to look to You first. Help us not to speak or act in our anger.

Remind us always that we are Your representative here on earth.

HOW DOES OUR STORY AFFECT OTHERS?

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,

 For they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:1-3

 

As a Christmas gift, my father gave each of his six children a book he had written entitled, A Collection of Life Stories. With the help of my sister-in-law, Tracy, he answered 51 questions about his life and Tracy compiled his writings into a book, with many precious family photos. Most of the questions were of topics we had discussed many times as a family. We were actually present for many parts of the story. There were a few surprises though

It was very heart-warming to read Dad’s reflections on the 51 topics chosen. It also gave us a chance to remember the joy, humor and sadness we had shared in the last few decades as brothers and sisters.

For most of us, family ties are a strong indicator of the kind of person we will become. That’s why the way we train our children will have a lasting impact on their lives. When my nieces & nephews were younger, I used to chuckle at the way my brothers disciplined their kiddos. It was just like hearing my father when I was a little girl.

In my book The Light Through My Tunnel, my book dedication is to all the members of my family. I refer to my dad as my hero…and the one whose opinion matters most to me.

In HIS book, A Collection of Life Stories, I can see clearly where my values & beliefs came from. Dad speaks of the necessity of practicing your faith and leading a Christian life. He also believes…”There is no substitute for discipline, but it must be tempered with love. It is also important to stress being the best you can be and not to accept mediocrity when you know you can do better.”

Faith was of the utmost value in our home. So was smart work and personal fulfillment. We had more than our share of happiness, joy and achievement. Our family also had sadness and tragedy mixed in with the good times though.

My traumatic brain injury (TBI) was one of those tragedies. When tough times hit it affects the whole family. I could not physically do many of the tasks I did before my accident. God’s grace has given me the opportunity to stretch beyond my tragedy to live with my physical limitations in a way that inspires and encourages others. Because of my parent’s influence, I’m still trying to be my best and not accept mediocrity. So MY story is a direct result of the story I grew up with.

A tragedy can definitely change the way we live life. It will become part of our story… but we shouldn’t let it become our whole story. Life is so much bigger than our personal struggles. If we choose to make them our focus…we risk missing much of the beauty in life.

Maybe we need to REINVENT our story. When difficulty changes the circumstances or direction of our life…try to see it as an invitation from our heavenly Father to focus in a new direction…a better, God-inspired life path. We can’t be afraid to replace the old with something new. The Holy Spirit is there to lead us. Our job is to be perceptive to His calling.

If not family, we can always find someone to give us encouragement and positive direction. This is the time for prayer. Ask God where He wants you to go. How many times have we asked, not thinking He’s listening? Then poof! A door opens.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21  (NIV)

I feel blessed to have been raised in a loving family where God was always put in first place.  Doing our best was simply a way of life. So too was sarcasm and humor, but that’s a topic for another blog.

We are all the author of our own story. If we don’t like the way it reads right now, ask the Lord where and how He wants to change it. Remember that others are watching our story too. We can influence others without even knowing it. We may not be best-selling authors, but our story will affect all those watching it…especially our loved ones.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11  (NIV)

Someday we will all answer to God for the actions of our life….of our story. So let’s live the best life we can and give God the glory for our accomplishments!

 

Dear Lord,

You give us a lifetime to write our story. You also know that there will be shining parts…and dark spots. Let Your spirit lead us as we make our journey.

Let our story be an inspiration to those who hear it…and give us all a happy ending in Your kingdom after we’ve followed Your directions here in our earthly life.

MARY… DID YOU KNOW?

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)

Matthew 1:23  (NIV)

 

Sometimes I think my middle name should have been Christmas. I love everything about the season. I love the lights…the decorations…the carols…the gatherings…and finding the perfect gift for a loved one! All of these bring an anticipatory excitement of the special holiday we’re about to celebrate.

The true reason we celebrate Christmas does not bring excitement though. It brings a silent joy as we honor the birth of the one who came to show us all how to love and honor our father in heaven. As Christians we believe Christ was crucified and rose again to open the gates of heaven for us. If we do as God asks us to do, we will spend our eternity with Him.

I adore all the classic Christmas carols. A few years ago a new carol appeared on the scene…”Mary Did You know”.

It speaks to Jesus’ mother about all the wondrous things He would do to save all people from a life of selfishness and evil. Listen to a video of this special song.

LISTEN HERE: https://youtu.be/U73OIKkJ0DI

The opening scripture verse tells us that Mary would give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)

God is with us as we live our lives in this frequently broken world. Even in troubling times, we can close our eyes and feel Him in our heart. In another blog I shared a prayer I pray every morning that ends with…

“Show me what it is You want me to do, and I will do it.”

Let us trust that our Father in heaven will direct our hearts to act and think in a way that pleases Him.

May God be with us all as we celebrate this holy season!

 

Dear Lord,

We celebrate the birth of Your son this week. No matter what is happening in our lives…let us pause to reflect on the promise that we celebrate this Christmas time.

Thank You for loving us enough to send Your only son to die for us so that we could spend eternity with You.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, you can subscribe to receive future blog posts, read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

GIFT OF WORDS

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24  (NIV)

 

As Christmas time approaches, this will be a commercial blog promoting both of my published books…The Light Through My Tunnel AND The Afflicted Healer.

The Light Through My Tunnel is my first published book and memoir. I describe being a wife, new mom, business professional and avid runner until my life was abruptly changed by a car accident and traumatic brain injury (TBI ).

It’s an inspiring and sometimes humorous account of my accident, my losses, challenges, victories, and ultimately, my need to reinvent myself.

See the book trailer below….

https://youtu.be/VTGw494AL9o

 

 

 

 

Speaking of reinvention, I had to leave a lucrative career as a pharmaceutical representative because I was no longer physically able to keep the fast pace of a drug rep. Instead, I began studying to ace the certification to become a personal trainer.

Don’t laugh! I realize I am not the image of a seasoned fitness professional. As a group fitness instructor, I am able to use my physical limitations to show others the proper way to hold their bodies while moving through an active range of motion. Of course I have to do it all while touching a chair for stability.

 

Thus I became the Afflicted Healer.

In my second published book, The Afflicted Healer, I gather 15 other guest authors to share their expertise and offer encouragement and advice for those trying to overcome obstacles, whether of mind, body or spirit, … and live their best possible life despite the challenges.

All of my Guest Authors are professionals and experts in their field. Read the advice of physicians, therapists, a pastor, a life coach and more.

See the book trailer below ….

https://youtu.be/RcXkKQBixB8

 

 

 

 

Either book is just $13.00. Once on my website (mvarga.com), click on the title at the top of the page to order through Amazon. The Light Through My Tunnel is also available at all online booksellers worldwide.

So give a gift that inspires & encourages this Christmas!

Once you are on mvarga.com, you can subscribe to receive future blog posts, read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

Have a Grateful Heart

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6  (NIV)

 

We certainly have plenty of things we could be anxious about in 2021.  Our health…our economy…our livelihood. It’s so easy to reflect on, and sometimes dwell on the things that we don’t have, or issues that are concerning us..

Think of all we have to be grateful for though! Are we sleeping in a tent? No. Do we have others around us to love & care for…while they do the same for us? Clothes on our back…food in our stomachs? Netflix on the television? 

Thanksgiving is becoming the forgotten holiday. It’s the precursor to Black Friday. For me, it’s a call to bring out all those Christmas decorations again. I LOVE anything Christmas! Thanksgiving seems to just get lost in the shuffle though.

Thanksgiving is more than just the last Thursday in November. Perhaps it’s our call to be grateful in all things. Can we be thankful when things are not going our way? When we are not happy with what’s happening in our life? That’s what God asks of us.

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1Thessalonians 5:19  (NIV)

It’s not always easy to have a grateful heart. It’s a mindset! Try NOT to smile when thinking about the loving (and silly) friends & relatives God has placed in our life. When they’re neglecting us or driving us nuts, be thankful that they are even in our life! They’ve made a difference, even if just giving us a different outlook on things. Life would be pretty dull if we all thought about & cared about the exact same issues!

Most importantly, we are always thankful we are sons & daughters of a mighty & glorious God who loves us and looks out for us even when life is tough. When I know God with me, I can react to life positively despite my current circumstances.

Maybe we don’t feel full of thanksgiving right at this moment. Then just fake it! Having a grateful heart can be very contagious. Next thing we know, we’ll be believing what we thought we were just pretending.

Feeling grateful also has a tendency to make us want to give back. We’ve been so blessed, we want to share it with others. Isn’t that the way God made us? We serve a very generous God…and we were made in His image. Maybe that’s why giving makes us feel so good!

Then giving can become just one more reason to have a grateful heart.

 

Dear Lord,

This is the time of year that we put being thankful on our calendar. Remind us to have a grateful heart the whole year long.

Sure. We could complain if we wanted to. Remind us also that being thankful keeps our focus on who and what is good & blessed in our life. That’s the way You designed us to live.

Most importantly, we are thankful You created us.  You put us on this earth to be both givers and gracious recipients of all You’ve made available to us.

Once you are on mvarga.com, you can subscribe to receive future blog posts, read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

CANCELLED?

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2: 13-14  (NIV)

We can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about our Cancel Culture. Are we seeing it in our daily lives? What exactly is Cancel Culture? I looked it up on the internet.

Cancel Culture is defined as “a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been “cancelled”. The expression “cancel culture” has mostly negative connotations and is used in debates on free speech and censorship.

We’ve all experienced ‘cancelling’ in one form or another in our lives. Have we ever been let go from a job? Have a friend abandon us? Maybe we had to move to a different neighborhood or city. We don’t ‘click’ with the same people we used to. We don’t have the same influence. Life is different now.

Sometimes we brought it on ourselves. Sometimes it’s circumstances beyond our control. The bottom line is the same. We are left out…abandoned. We’re not privy to the same information we were before. Somehow, we’ve become the bad guy. We’ve been ‘cancelled’.

I know firsthand the cancelling that can come from being disabled. It’s understandable…but it still hurts sometimes. I’m different from others. I’m unbalanced. I’m slow. It requires extra effort to spend much time with me. I can wear others out with the way I move!

Friends & family understand that I do not like it that they always have to support and help me. They understand it…and love me despite of it…or perhaps BECAUSE of it. I know what I was capable of doing before my accident & brain injury. All my perseverance and hard work have not been able to beat my disabilities. Was I cancelling myself?

I had not considered that option until I started writing this blog. Cancelling ourselves is something we should never ever do! The way we value & approach life is just as relevant as anyone else! We need to think of someone who loves & values us. Ask them for all the reasons we should not be cancelled.

 Better yet! Take it to God in prayer…our Father, who loves us unconditionally. He loves to give His grace to anyone who asks. I believe with all my heart that God wants to communicate with us…and wants to show favor to us.

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Remember that this too shall pass. We need to stay patient, strong and hopeful. If we’ve done something to cause our cancelling, correct it! We should all strive to lead peaceful lives of forgiveness. We may not see immediate resolution, but life will turn out better on the other side of cancelling.

Remember that the world cancelled Jesus Christ. He was God’s begotten son who spent His time on earth proclaiming God’s word, healing sickness & disease, and performing all kinds of miracles.

Then He was cancelled by ‘the powers that be’. He was beaten, ridiculed and died a shameful death of crucifixion. Out of fear, all of His disciples abandoned Him. Fear can lead us to do we didn’t think we would ever do.

But God’s grace, if we choose it, can forgive us. Then the opening scripture will ring true. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Jesus died & rose again to make this possible for all of us. That’s the type of righteous canceling we all want in our lives!

 

Dear Lord,

Ostracizing what You have created is wrong. Help us to live in peace with all people. Our media gives us another’s view of things. Help us remember that it’s just one more way of looking at issues. Remind us that facts can be presented from different and opposing angles.

Remind us also that You created and LOVE us just as You made us. ‘Cancelling’ may be a new term, but has always been around. Please help us to live lives of inclusion. Then we can live the kind of life You intended for Your children to have.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, you can subscribe to receive future blog posts, read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

MOVING BALANCE

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

1Corinthians 10:12  (NIV)

My last blog post was about the proper strength & posture necessary to keep our balance. The opening scripture warns that just thinking we are doing things correctly will not keep us from falling. Here’s a few approaches (moves) that can help keep us keep our balance while we’re in motion.

Let’s start simple.

A normal walking gait is heal/toe with a knee bend between steps. (Remember Andrew’s ‘noodle knees’ from my last blog. https://mvarga.com/posture-body-alignment/balance-101/

The above pictures on heals AND on toes is technically not about moving balance, but walking on either heals or toes will definitely challenge your balance. Make sure there is a counter nearby in case you need to grab it.

Just STANDING on our heals or toes will challenge our balance. When I do this routinely at the kitchen or bathroom counter, it carries over to how I stand when I’m walking. We need to be sure we’re standing in proper posture when standing on our heals or toes. No leaning forward! That’s how it will carry over to our walking posture!

Now let’s do some walking balance drills. Like any other exercise, it only begins to pay off with frequency & practice, practice, practice…

Let me introduce you to Alison Cardoza to show you a couple of moving balance tricks you can incorporate into your fitness routine. Alison is a certified personal trainer and guest author in my book, The Afflicted Healer…see the heading on my website for further info & to order. She writes a whole chapter about BALANCE.

Alison was also voted ‘the best of the best’ as a certified personal trainer in the 2021 Courier Journal , Best of the Best survey in Louisville, KY. Below are two videos of Alison demonstrating different moving balance exercises. They may be challenging at first, but practice makes perfect!    Consider asking a personal trainer to walk you through them the first time.

The first video is the tight rope. With arms out for balance, walk slowly with one foot directly in front of the other. Think of doing a sobriety test!

The second video is the grapevine. The grapevine is good for both our balance & coordination. If you’re unsteady at all, perform this exercise at a ballet bar or touching a wall. Watch Alison as she stands with hands on hips, moving SLOWLY to the side, moving the same foot forward, and then back.

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.

Jeremiah 33:6  (NIV)

 Like everything in life, the more you do something, the more it becomes a habit for you. In this case, a very good habit to maintain steady balance as we age.

 

Dear Lord,

You didn’t make our bodies to last forever. Until we’re home with you, help us to take good care of the bodies You’ve given us.

As we get older, our once natural strength & balance will decline. You’ve given us professionals and exercises to slow that decline. Help us to use that gift You’ve given us. If we struggle, remind us that nothing worthwhile comes without good ole hard work & discipline.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, you can subscribe to receive future blog posts, read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

BALANCE 101

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58  (NIV)

It’s time for another fitness blog!  The Bible verse above tells us to stand firm. Another word for standing firm could be balancing. Balance is so important in the way we live & move. So important that I’ll be devoting the next 2 blog posts to the major types of balance…STATIC & DYNAMIC balance.

This blog post will cover STATIC balance. That is our ability to hold a certain position without moving our feet. Examples include squats, two-leg stance and one-leg stance.

My poor balance only allows me to stand on one leg for 2-3 seconds without touching something. Practice! Practice! Practice! With God…and practice, all things are possible!

We’ll need to look in a mirror to see if our bodies are lined up correctly. Is our head directly over our shoulders? (No forward leaning!) Are our shoulders directly over our hips? Of course we also want our hips over our feet too. Even 24 years post-injury, this can still be a challenge for me!

We need to engage our core and hip muscles to hold the proper alignment of our bodies and resist the urge to shift our body‘s position. FEEL the correct way to stand and move! That’s why the mirror will help until we learn how the right way feels.

This feels very natural when we’re younger. It becomes harder as our bodies get older. That is why it is so important that we include both strength & balance into our weekly routine. (Daily is best!)

A gym is not the only place we can do strength exercises. Squats strengthen our core & hips. Push-ups strengthen our chest, shoulders, & core muscles. See? No equipment, no gym! Pick up a pair of dumbbells or soup cans to add some extra strength training for your arms and shoulders.

Posture! Posture! Posture!

Fighting poor balance for so many years has taught me the absolute necessity of keeping our bodies in correct posture from head to toe! Below are just a handful of queues I pester my classes with to keep them using proper posture.

A good way to keep our heads in the right position is to try to make our neck longer. Better yet, imagine we’re wearing a neck brace. Always strive to keep the chin up and imagine we’re balancing a book on the top of our head.

Some of my other favorite posture cues are…”Elevate your ribcage.” “Squeeze a lemon between your shoulder blades.””Hold your ears over your shoulders.”And always “make a loooong neck”!

To keep our hips aligned with the top half of our body, imagine we have a long tail. Now TUCK the tail between your legs. For even better control of the hip musculature, SQUEEZE that same tail. (Think Kegel exercises)

I usually walk to the elevator in the morning thinking, “Long neck…tuck your tail! Long neck…squeeze your tail!” Maybe that’s the reason I’m always forgetting something as I walk out my door.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Proverbs 4:26  (NIV)

Here’s one last static balance tip. My son Andrew spends most of his summers sailing. When the winds are really blowing, he takes a ‘noodle knee’ stance to keep from losing his balance while adjusting the sails. A slight bend to our knees can protect our balance…so try to keep soft knees when walking or standing!

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the balance & equilibrium to safely maneuver our life here on earth. Some get around quicker than others, but thank you for making us all so different.

Please help us to indoctrinate balance exercises into our workout routine. They don’t burn many calories…but will sure keep us moving safely for many more years!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, you can subscribe to receive future blog posts, read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

I Didn’t See That Coming!

For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

Psalm 143:11 (NIV)

Think how boring and mundane life would be if we always knew exactly what to expect. Bad things happen. Good things happen. Just like the name of my blog, Life Happens. It happens regardless of our economic stature, political affiliation or religion. Sometimes we get unexpected good fortune….but we could just as easily get hit with one of life’s hurdles, like losing a job, a spouse or a child.

All of us want a life of favor and abundance. We’re even willing to work for it! This life of utopia does not come without trouble though. There’s no such thing as a perfect life without problems.

Can we see positive outcomes even in the midst of our hardships? Do we believe that God is trying to lead us? If we consider God as our heavenly father, don’t we also know He wants the best for us?

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

Hebrews 12:7  (NIV)

When we were children, we didn’t LOVE everything our parents did…but we trusted their love for us. We also instinctively knew that as adults (big people) they knew more than we did. Especially when circumstances are not as we expect them to be….having something (or someone) to lead us in the right direction is so very comforting! We need to see the bigger picture!

My favorite Bible story (from Genesis) tells the story of Joseph. Remember him? He was the brother who had the multi-colored coat his father (Jacob) had given him. He loved to flaunt it in front of his brothers. I grew up with 4 brothers. If my Dad had shown that kind of favoritism to one brother, the other 3 brothers would have let him have it!

That’s exactly what Joseph’s brothers did. They sold him to a group of slave-traders. Then they told their father he must’ve been eaten by a wild animal. They even showed him the torn up multi-colored jacket. I bet Joseph didn’t see that coming!

God showed Joseph favor though. He was eventually put in charge of all the other slaves by Potipher, the captain of the guard. When Potipher’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, (He was very handsome!) he ran away from her leaving his coat. When she accused him of rape, Potipher had no choice but to throw him in prison. I bet Joseph didn’t see that coming either!

Once again though, God showed favor to Joseph. The prison warden put Joseph in charge of many things. Joseph had a gift for interpreting dreams. He always made clear though that it was God who interpreted the dreams.

He interpreted the dream of Pharoah’s chief cup holder who was in prison with Joseph, asking him to remember him to Pharoah when he got out of prison. The cupbearer forgot until much later when Pharoah was troubled by a repeating dream.

Suddenly Joseph was transported to Pharoah’s castle to interpret his dream. Once again, Joseph gave God the credit for interpreting the dream. Joseph told Pharoah that his kingdom would have 7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine. Imagine Joseph’s surprise when Pharoah gave him complete authority over his entire kingdom as the prime minister. Bet he didn’t see that coming!

Joseph’s father and brothers were also facing hardship because of the famine. His brothers did not recognize him when they came to make their request of the prime minister for supplies/food.

 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 

Genesis 45:4-5  (NIV)

Joseph’s brothers surely did not see that coming! So in the end, Joseph was able to spend time with his father and be there when he died. His family was reunited!

Sounds like a happy ending for Joseph’s family…especially Joseph! All the years and years of hardship…unwarranted hardship. Joseph was able to reunite with his father and brothers from a position of personal power…always giving God the glory for the good he was able to do for others.

God apparently thinks that family matters. Notice that He didn’t incinerate those brothers who betrayed Joseph. Instead He gave Joseph a change of heart. Do we need a change of heart where our families are concerned? We certainly want them to cut us some slack. Can we do the same for them?

Joseph endured years of unjust hardship. Yet he always remained faithful to God. That faithfulness included being kind and helpful to other people.

Let’s all be inspired by Joseph’s life. Perhaps God will show us favor that we did not see coming.

 

Dear Lord,

Help us to be kind and love others ceaselessly because that is what You call us to do. Whatever life is throwing at us, remind us to be gracious to others just as You are to us. As we continue to follow Your command to love others as ourselves, let us continuously hope for Your grace and favor that we did not see coming!

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What Is Your Gift?

What Is Your Gift?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

1 Corinthians 12:4  (NIV)

Don’t we all want to have gifts or talents that can be used to fortify our world…to help others? Christians refer to these as ‘gifts of the spirit’. That’s because the Spirit gives us all good gifts.

How do we know what our gifts are? What are we passionate about? What talents come naturally for us…We don’t have to force them. Are we a natural born leader, teacher, encourager? These are the gifts the Spirit has called us to use. God’s first call to us is to love one another as He has loved us.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3  (NIV)

Still not sure what your gift is? How do we show love for those around us? Ask a family member. They can probably tell you. Many times they see things in us that we do not see ourselves.

My gift seems to be inspiring others. I googled the definition of “Inspire”. It says  “to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural influence or action.” That makes me feel I’m in very holy company. The Holy Spirit is often called the inspirer.

I am NOT the good and holy God that the Holy Spirit is! I inspire others by moving about clumsily in an effort to regain my mobility. God chose to use that as a way to inspire others to take care of their holy temple, the body. So it’s true! Gifts can come from brokenness. So that means that as I stumble about with my physical therapy routines, I can actually motivate others. Who knew?

We can’t discount ourselves because we can’t see the influence we have with others. God sees it and put it there for that purpose.

I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

1 Corinthians 7:7  (NIV)

What is your gift? Search for it! How do you see your impact with others? Use that skill or aptitude in a way that bolsters others. Who knows! You may inspire them to reach out to support others!

 

Dear Lord,

You have given all of us gifts and talents . We know that You want us to use those skills and abilities to help others.

Show us where and with whom we can provide encouragement or assistance. Then we can be reminded of how good it feels to help others.

 

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