Hmmm... What fuels me? What keeps me going? Well....
...Anne's contagious laugh and Scottish admonition "Don't be cheeky!" because a year ago, the laugh was all too rare and faint--life was all too serious.
...Jessica's hard questions because I know that she's growing in all the hard places and in asking, she reminds us all that we too have had to grow in the hard places.
...Jenna's insatiable hunger for more of God and her unbridled compassion for others because she is a living picture of "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."
...Tamara's initiative to write down her own power verses and tell us about them because she knows now that she CAN. She is empowered by encouragement of others.
...Melissa sharing what she read in her morning devotion because I know her determined dedication to those morning moments with God comes hard sometimes. But through it, she has risen above her struggles.
...Rebecca's randomness simply stating that God makes her happy because I know she is persevering and wading through the hard stuff to get a glimpse of Him. She CHOOSES to rejoice.
...Vera's phone calls asking me to pray for yet another member of her family because she is so committed to bring them ALL to Jesus no matter what it takes. She audaciously believes God will make it happen. And one by one, two by two, they ARE coming to Him.
...Random dinners with Jolissa because in reaching out to friends, she is learning to cope with loneliness and to be a positive presence wherever God takes her.
..."Proud Mama" pictures and posts from Angelica & Carissa because I know their love for their little ones empower them as they strive to be the best moms they can be--even if they have to do it alone.
...The list could go on and on--these women who have touched my life so deeply. THEY keep my flame burning as I can witness what God has done and is doing in each one of their lives and realize how far they've come from where they started. I am fueled, not because of what I've done or haven't done but because of who HE is. These broken, beautiful ladies make me want to be a better teacher and a better woman--to be certain that I "readily recognize what He wants" from me and to quickly respond. The women of HOPE continually remind me that I'm not just a teacher--I am also still a student of life and faith and friendship. As I teach them, they teach me even more. Living, learning, and teaching HOPE was not in my own original plans, but HE knew what was needed. And He brought us all together in one place. We walk together on this journey of hope--not one ahead of the other, but side by side holding each other up and pushing each other onward... As we place our lives before Him, "each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body" and I am filled to overflowing with the fuel to seek Him more and more and to do whatever He wants me to do.
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. EMBRACING WHAT GOD DOES FOR YOU is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't be so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You will changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture aroudn you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
In this way we are like various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and BE WHAT WE WERE MADE TO BE, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.
I'm speaking to you of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in PURE GRACE,
it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him.
If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
Love from the center of who you are;
don't fake it.
Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who LOVE DEEPLY; practice playing second fiddle. BLESS your enemies; no cursing under your breath. LAUGH with your happy friends when they're happy; SHARE TEARS when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
Don't burn out;
keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times, pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Don't hit back; DISCOVER BEAUTY IN EVERYONE. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. -- ROMANS 12 The Message