Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

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Letting Your Light Shine

“Mom, will you help me fill out this question? It says, ‘Describe the qualities you possess that would make you a good ambassador.'”

My youngest was completing an application for school for a role that is in some ways like a student council member. He was the ambassador for his other elementary school in second grade and loved the job. He was taking the process quite seriously.

I gave him a couple of examples of things to list so he knew what was expected. He carefully and painstakingly wrote out his qualities. I walked over and looked over his shoulder. It read, “I am kind, helpful, responsible, trustworthy, and brilliant.” A smile crept over my face.

Initially, I thought about saying, “Hey, buddy. Brilliant might not be the best word in this situation.” But, I stopped myself. Why not? Of course, as his mama, I do think of him as brilliant, yet somehow the word has a bit of a bragging tone to it, right?

“Ahhh!” he exclaimed. “I was supposed to do it in cursive. He began furiously erasing the words, and then proceeded to even more carefully make his list.

Later, after he had already packed it away, I went to take a picture of it (that’s what bloggers do when they think they might have a good blog post in the works). When I looked at the paper this time it said, “I am kind, helpful, responsible, and trustworthy.” Brilliant was sadly out of the picture. Somehow, without me even saying anything, his gut told him it shouldn’t be included.

One of the definitions of brilliant is to be exceptionally clever or talented. Even if we are truly brilliant at something, our culture teaches us not to share that out loud with other people. We might describe our family, friends, or even strangers with that word, but certainly not ourselves.

However, there is another definition of brilliant which is “very bright or radiant.” This is something I think everyone of us should strive for.  In Philippians 2:14-15 we read: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Additionally, Matthew 5:16 tells us: “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

If you are reading this and you are a Christian, you are an ambassador. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, it actually says this: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

There has been crazy stuff in the news lately about people claiming to be Christians, yet spreading messages of hate. This is in direct opposition to what we read in scripture. Our light is to shine brilliantly, pointing the way to a Creator God and displaying His glory.

Friends, regardless of your religious beliefs, we all have a light. We can all shine in such a way to spread kindness, inclusion, acceptance, and grace. Who are you not to be brilliant?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. —Marianne Williamson

Together, we can make a difference.

Blessings,

Time for a Cleaning

The other day my husband looked at my wedding ring and said, “Yuck. I think you need to clean that up.” Looking down, I realized he wasn’t kidding. It’s funny how over time both soap and grime combines to make something look dull and drab.

When we first got married, I pretty regularly put my ring in a cleaning solution. Having a ring like that on my finger was a new and exciting event. Now, admittedly, I do it once in a great while (like maybe once a year). The good news is, no matter how much time has gone by, it still seems to sparkle like new after a good scrubbing.

Our actual marriages can bear a lot of similarities to our wedding rings. In the beginning after our “I do’s” we put a lot of time and effort into our relationship. We are happy, even blissful, under normal circumstances. Life together is new and exciting.

Over time, it becomes much more difficult to put the time and effort into the relationship. Work gets in the way. Kids get in the way. Our health gets in the way. LIFE gets in the way. You get the picture. That once vibrant relationship begins to look a little dreary and soap-caked.

I’m taking my husband away for one night this week for his birthday. The time has come for a little bedazzling. Marriage needs maintenance just like appliances and cars.

If your relationship with your spouse is feeling a little humdrum these days, the good news is that it might not take much to shake off the dust. Here are a few ideas for a bit of renewal:

  1. Work on some kind of project together. I’ve been helping J around the house lately with some things and it has allowed us time to talk and catch up.
  2. Take a class together. He’s still trying to convince me to do yoga with him.
  3. Put the electronics away at night and play a game together, just the two of you. One of my friends on Facebook asked for suggestions for two player card games recently. She received a ton of responses.
  4. Hire a babysitter and go on a date night. We recently did this with another couple (that way you can split the cost of the sitter) and went to a comedy club. It’s good to laugh together.
  5. Drop some notes of encouragement through text or email.

Even the best marriages need a little tuning up sometimes. What works for you and your spouse?

Blessings,

At Least There’s Gravy

What have you done lately that didn’t quite turn out how you anticipated? Were you able to make the best of it, or did it ruin your day?

Today, I made a turkey tenderloin in my Crock-Pot. When it was time to eat, I peeked in, and sadly it looked way overcooked. That’s always so disheartening, especially when you’ve planned ahead for a meal and enjoyed the pleasant aroma all day.

I groaned to my husband, who tends to be a little more particular about how meat is cooked than I am. “Well, at least there’s gravy for it,” I commented.

Gravy is one of those things that can make just about anything better. Kind of like bacon. Both of these additions can help rectify all kinds of cooking disasters.

I remember our minister telling a story one time about some tragedy that befell his garage door. Honestly, I don’t remember the details of many sermons over the years, but this story stood out to me. He talked about how frustrated he was and his mind just wanted to focus on the woefulness of the problem. “The reality is, you can’t change the situation. Whether I choose to dwell on it, or not, the garage door remains broken. So, I might as well not expend the energy being angry about it.”

How much energy do you waste bemoaning circumstances you can’t change? I admit, this is an area where I struggle. Yet, it’s freeing to walk away from a mishap or failure, shrug and say, “It is what it is,” and leave it at that.

So, my turkey tenderloin may have not been the best ever, but at least there was gravy to make it go down a little easier. I’m grateful for things that can help me find a silver lining.

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

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