Monthly Archives: July 2012

Wedded Bliss

I had the honor of attending the wedding of a beautiful Arbonne team member and friend this weekend (and I even got to do her makeup, which was quite a privilege and a lot of fun!) She has been extremely stressed out and a bit emotional in the weeks leading up to her wedding, and I felt one day recently that I needed to remind her of what is truly most important: not every little wedding detail, as perfect as I knew she wanted it to be, but the strength of the marriage that would need to stand the tests of time, trouble, highs, and lows long after the guests had forgotten the meaningful wording on the programs and the lovely flowers carried by the bridesmaids. Continue reading Wedded Bliss

Running the Race for an Eternal Prize

The 2012 Summer Olympics started this week, and the best-of-the-best athletes from across the globe have trained hard, long hours and kept strict, purposeful schedules and diets to prepare for what they hope will be their finest moments. They know they must stay focused and self-controlled, not allowing distractions to sidetrack them, and push on toward their goals even when they don’t feel like it, when they have setbacks, or when they just want to pull the covers over their heads and sleep in.

What would my life look like if I worked that hard on being the best disciple of Jesus, the best wife, and the best mom I could be? I’d have to cut out the excess, stop making excuses, keep a stricter schedule (to include getting to bed earlier), and live on a steady diet of prayer and the Word. I have a race set before me, too (1 Corinthians 9:25). My ultimate goal is to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That will be my finest moment. If I am to reach that goal, I must also have crystal-clear vision, faithful determination, unwavering commitment, and focused self-discipline.

And I have to wonder, what’s holding me back? Aren’t the sacrifices worth it to finish the race well? Am I really even committed to my goal? If so, what do I need to give up today? What sacrifices must I make?

And it hits me: I’m doing it again. I’m striving hard and failing miserably to run the race in my own strength. Unlike Olympic athletes, I cannot accomplish my goal in human strength alone. Although I recognize the similarities between my race and theirs and can draw inspiration from their impressive feats and even from their disappointments, I can never forget the one thing I need more than anything else in my race: grace.

Grace. What a beautiful word. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, God chose to bestow grace on me. He saved me, set me free, and placed me on the path before me. The harder I strive, the weaker I become, but it’s when I am weak that He is strong and can display His strength through me. Finally, after 30 years on this journey, I am just beginning to understand what “His strength is made perfect in my weakness” means. I must discipline myself to do certain things. I must be willing to allow the Lord to use me. I must be available to hear His voice and either act or hit my knees in response to what He says. But most of all, I must surrender. He has been so patient with me, and today more than ever, His grace amazes me.

I see my own shortcomings and frailties with frightening clarity. I shake my head in wonder when I look back 15 or 20 years ago and remember how much I thought I had to offer to the Lord and His Kingdom work. I was willing and eager but proud and self-reliant. I was loved Jesus but was torn by my other loves and desires. About 10 years ago, I was broken when I saw the depths of my own depravity and capacity for sin, and since then I’ve gradually been able to see the race for what it is: a lifelong marathon that requires more perseverance than I ever understood before.

Keeping my eyes on the eternal prize, I will press on. And I will falter, fumble, and fall over and over again. I’m becoming comfortable with failure because it means the whole world can see how incapable and weak I am, and I have seen that it is in those moments when I am closest to Jesus. Those are the times when His power is displayed most radiantly in my life, because I have come to the end of myself and begged for His grace . . . yet again. Some people seem to grow from mountaintop to mountaintop, everything they touch turning to gold and every feat they undertake succeeding. I’m not like those people. I grow through hitting my face on the ground, scraping the bottom of the lowest valleys, and finding His strength to keep going. I’m not like the gold-medal Olympians. I’m like the ones who qualify by the skin of their teeth and despite countless hours of training don’t get past the preliminaries. Yet somehow, they are elated. After all, they made it! They are Olympians!

That’s me, Lord: Last place, but I’m here! And when I fall at your feet as I enter Your presence eternally, my heart will sing: “I made it!” I hope and pray I run well and bring You some glory. After all, it’s not about me. Only by your grace that I will reach the goal, and only by surrendering will I find the strength to run the race set before me.

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