Regaining Strength


It’s easy to feel down or frustrated after experiencing a failure or loss or setback of some sort. Our immediate reaction may be fear or despair, while hope and strength feel beyond our reach. Helplessness and hopefulness are at two opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, and yet there are always small steps we can take to climb out of our feelings of failure and move forward in life.

How do you regain your strength in order to keep going? Here are some principles that will help the process:

  • Grieve the loss, don’t ignore the pain. Allow yourself to feel sad when disappointment happens.
  • Find a healthy way to express your feelings – journaling, walking, talking to a friend, painting, gardening, etc.
  • Seek God’s comfort and ask Him for strength to move forward.
  • Choose to look for glimmers of hope. Find something for which you can give thanks each day.
  • Take a step forward in a positive direction, even if it is simply meeting a colleague or friend.
  • Step out and help someone else. Make a plan for how you can use your experience to strengthen another person.

In my own life, when I have faced hurt or disappointment I have found that God gives me an inner strength beyond what I could produce on my own. The Bible reminds us that He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of need.  This week focus on the strength He gives. And always remember, where we are weak, He is strong.

Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash



One life lived with passion, purpose and purity – that’s how I would describe Billy Graham. As we celebrate his life and his home-going to Heaven, I want to encourage each of us to carry the torch. His death shouldn’t put a dark cloud over our heads, but rather it should ignite a fire in our hearts. Billy Graham used the gifts God gave him to proclaim the message of light and truth in a dark world.

What are the gifts God has given you?

Perhaps it’s writing.

Or maybe it’s serving.

Or teaching.

Or encouraging.

Or leading.

Or giving.

Consider the gifts you have been given and carry the torch. Shine the light of God’s love and share the message of hope that He brings to this world. Jesus said,  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Billy Graham certainly demonstrated what Jesus was talking about in shining His light. Jesus’ message wasn’t’ just for Billy Graham, it was for each of us as followers of Christ. Let’s honor Billy Graham’s legacy by carrying on the torch and igniting the embers of revival throughout our country.

For more about Billy Graham and to view his memorial service Click Here.

Photo by Linus Sandvide on Unsplash

Are You Stretching?


My daughter Joy is a  fitness trainer, and she would be the first to tell you the importance of stretching both before and after a workout. In fact, the Harvard Health newsletter noted, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight.” Just as stretching is vital for the healthy functioning of our muscles, so stretching is vital to the social structure of our society and to our own personal well-being.

Our body’s muscles shorten and become tight without stretching, and in a similar way we can become short-sighted and inflexible when we choose to only interact with people who look like us and think like us. Sure we love to cling to what we already know and love. That’s fun and safe! But if we really want to build bridges of unity in our cities and communities, we need to open up and be willing to have conversations beyond our own cultural circle.

Stretching may look different for each of us. Just as some find it stretching to talk to a new neighbor or employee, while others may find it stretching to begin a conversation with a woman at the check-out line at the grocery store or a waiter at the restaurant. There are opportunities all around us to reach beyond our comfort circle and engage with someone new, whether it is at work or in your neighborhood or school or city.

In his book, Welcome Homeless, Alan Graham reminds us that we are all born for relationship. He writes, “To see people, we have to engage. We have to get out of our cars and talk to people. To understand the street, we have to walk the street…You can’t understand the heart of people from a car. You’ve got to get out of the car. You’ve got to crawl on your hands and knees. You’ve got to make desperate attempts to truly connect and learn someone’s story.” Through his work with the homeless community in Austin, Texas, Alan Graham is stretching others to go beyond the comfortable.

And that’s what stretching does, it makes us slightly uncomfortable, but it strengthens us and makes us healthy as human beings. We become fully alive as we step beyond what is easy and reach into the lives of others. Where do you need to stretch? Where do you need to start a conversation?



Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

Alan Graham, Welcome Homeless, (Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2017) pp. 16 -17.

The Power of Team



The winter Olympic events are always spectacular to watch, but this year something else caught my eye – the Norwegian Ski Team. Although they compete in mostly individual sports, they move, practice and live as a bonded team. They provide an unique example of the power of camaraderie and the beauty of selflessly working together.


The New York times called the Norwegian team “a contrarian mix of humility, egalitarianism and basic respect.” In a society that tends to be all about self – the Norwegian team is an inspiring example of thinking of others. At this point, Norway leads the world in gold medals and overall medals.


One of Norway’s gold medalist in men’s team ski-jumping, Robert Johansson said, “I really like the team competitions. I think we’re really good friends, travelling a lot of days during the year together.”  The team shares meals with one another and spend about 250 days together every year. That’s a lot of togetherness!


There’s an incalculable strength that comes from the bond of a team. Cheering one another on and going the extra mile to help another person succeed is true teamwork. Teams strengthen one another and hold each other accountable. When you are a part of a team, you are working for something much bigger than yourself – you don’t want to let your fellow team mates down.


An old African proverbs says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”


The apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” That’s true teamwork!


Think about ways that you tend to try to achieve on your own. Are there people God has placed in your life with whom you can join together and encourage? How can the power of a team transform the work He has called you to do?



Photo by Joris Berthelot on Unsplash



We know that laughter is good medicine emotionally speaking, but evidence reveals that there are physical benefits as well. A number of years ago, Norman Cousins, famous editor of Saturday Review, was told he had a severe case of an incurable, progressive, connective tissue disease.  He decided instead of sitting around allowing the pain to take over, he would become proactive in his health care management and especially his attitude.  One of the things he decided to do was to obtain copies of old shows and movies he had always enjoyed like “Candid Camera” and Marx Brothers films.  He also decided to read humorous books.  He reported that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter would relieve his intense pain for hours.

While Norman was in the hospital he started a routine of watching movies, laughing, sleeping, watch movies, laughing sleeping and so on.  After a while he was moved out of the hospital because his laughter was disturbing other patients, but he continued his treatment with astounding results.  Using massive doses of vitamin C and a tremendous amount of laughter every day, he experienced a gradual withdrawal of his symptoms and eventually regained most of his freedom of movement.  You can read his entire story in his book, Anatomy of an Illness (Bantam Books, 1981).

What are some ways you can be intentional about laughter in your own life? Sometimes it comes down to a choice. When you make a mistake or something frustrating happens, find a way to laugh rather than despair. When someone says a discouraging remark, respond with a little chuckle and a positive comment. Opportunities to laugh are all around us, we just need to be looking for them. And always remember, never laugh at people, just laugh with them.

Finally, remember to smile often. Studies show that smiling elevates our mood. I like to think of smiles as gifts we give to other people to uplift their day. It’s not about how you feel as much as it is about making someone else feel better. Be honest with your emotions and grieve when you need to, but don’t miss the many invitations to smile that show up on a regular basis. As Valentines Day approaches, may your days be filled love and laughter, as you enjoy life and lift up the people around you.



Photo by Allie Milot on Unsplash