Growing Stronger

One of my favorite daily devotionals is  Streams in the Desert  compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman. The following story reminds me of the power of patience and allowing God to do His work in our lives. God uses the challenges we face in an essential way to strengthen our hearts and build our character.



I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all — and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.


I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one’s eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.


I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father’s love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation.
–Tract, Streams in the Desert

“For I consider our present sufferings not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

This month, my devotional Pursuing God in the Quiet Places is on sale for $5. Click here to order your autographed copy. 



The Power of Practice

It’s easy to assume that every star athlete is naturally gifted, and yes, to a certain extent that may be true. But there is typically a more important secret to their success. It’s called practice. Take Michael Jordan for instance, the year he returned to the Bulls after his brief stint in baseball, the Bulls were eliminated in the play-offs. Jordan learned a valuable lesson, saying, “You can’t leave and think you can come back and dominate this game. I will be physically and mentally prepared from now on.” Michael Jordan realized he couldn’t coast when it comes to being a basketball champion. He resumed putting in the hard work and practice, and the next three years the Bulls won the NBA title!
Yes, Jordan may have a natural bent or inclination toward being a basketball star, but he backed it up with hard work and dedicated practice. The same is true for you and me. As much as we wish gifts and talents would just kind of show up in our lives (or in our kids’ lives), success is built through hard work and determination, not simply natural giftedness.
The legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “I believe ability can get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there….It’s so easy to…begin thinking you can just ‘turn it on’ automatically, without proper preparation. It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you’re there.” Solomon put it this way, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”
Take some time this week to consider where you need to improve your skills, whether in business or with a hobby or even in a relationship. If you want to encounter excellence, it begins with hard work, perseverance and doing more than the average person is willing to do. Ask yourself, “What are my goals and what am I willing to do to achieve them.” Remember it doesn’t just happen.

The above quotes by Jordan and Wooten are found in the book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.



When we walk in a room and switch on a light, we can be thankful for an unlikely genius named Thomas Alva Edison. Moving pictures and audio recordings are also a result of this one man’s perseverance. With very little formal schooling, and numerous mishaps and failures, few people expected young Thomas to amount to anything at all. But…he had a mother who looked past his shortcomings and saw his potential. He spoke with affection about her, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

Thomas was a curious boy and his mother had every reason to be discouraged about his actions. He burned down the family stable and was kicked out of school, yet his mother Nancy, a devout Presbyterian with a formal education ,was able to put her education to good use by teaching “young Al.”  Thomas was an ambitious entrepreneur and started a small business selling newspapers on a local train, but he lost his job because he nearly blew up one of the train cars with his science experiments. His life was marked by many other failures and mishaps, but oddly that’s not what we remember about him. We remember him for his successes. Aren’t you thankful for the influence and leadership of his mother who taught him to look at each failure as an opportunity to learn and grow and discover new things.

Edison had a unique drive and perseverance that kept him learning and growing despite his mistakes. He didn’t allow discouragements to linger, rather he pushed forward with curiosity and commitment. On the 50th anniversary of the electric light bulb, Henry Ford organized a celebration of his dear friend Edison. President Herbert Hoover spoke about the variety of ways that the electric light had made life better, “It enables our towns and cities to clothe themselves in gaiety by night, no matter how sad their appearance may be by day. And by all its multiple uses it has lengthened the hours of our active lives, decreased our fears, replaced the dark with good cheer, increased our safety, decreased our toil, and enabled us to read the type in the telephone book.”*

The light bulb represent countless hours in the laboratory filled with failed experiments and frustrations. When asked by a reporter with the New York Times about the seemingly incredible difficulties associated with developing the light bulb, Edison responded, “I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a light bulb.” What an extraordinary perspective! Can we look at our mistakes as successes, or are we so caught up in the disappointments and frustrations that we can’t see the positive aspects of our failures? As leaders, let’s determine to look at life with and attitude that includes the joy of learning and the opportunity to discover the lesson behind each challenge and mistake.

*Herbert Hoover: “Address on the 50th Anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Invention of the Incandescent Electric Lamp.,” October 21, 1929.

This is an excerpt from Positive Leadership Principles for Women.


Addicted to Prayer


Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer.   Spurgeon

 In his book entitled Prayer, Timothy Keller describes a conversation he had with his wife during a particularly challenging time in their lives. His wife Kathy urged him to pray with her every night, and she used the following illustration to convince Him:

Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine – a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to it for some nights? No – it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.

Now please don’t think legalistically here. You are not going to die if you miss a time of prayer each day. Yet Kathy recognized her desperate need to go to the Father for everything in her life. Do we have that same kind of desperation in our own hearts? Last week I read through the book of Daniel and was inspired by his courage and faith, but more than that, I was moved by his commitment to prayer. Think about it, Daniel prayed even when the public policy was against him, and he faced the lion’s den.

If Daniel took life-risking measures to pray three times a day, then why am I not willing to get up a little earlier and spend time with the Father. Great work happens on our knees. God gives us insight on our knees. We grow more in love with Him, on our knees. Let’s make this a week of casting our cares on Him.

Here’s one of Daniel’s prayers of praise after God:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Daniel 2:20-23

Why wouldn’t we want to pray to such a great and mighty Father?

Check out my chapter on being Pray-pared for Every Day in:

958042: Becoming a Woman of the Word: Knowing, Loving, and  Living the Bible Becoming a Woman of the Word: Knowing, Loving, and Living the Bible



Does Worry Cloud your Thinking?


“Worry is like a fog,” says A. Purnell Bailey. He goes on the write:

“The Bureau of Standards in Washington tells us that a dense fog covering 7 city blocks, 100 feet deep, is comprised of something less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into some 60,000,000 tiny drops. Not much there! Yet when these minute particles settle down over the city or countryside, they can blot out practically all vision. A cup full of worry does just about the same thing. The tiny drops of fretfulness close around our thoughts, and we are submerged without vision.”*

Worry is an anxious and fretful state of mind built on assumptions about what could happen in a given situation. On the other hand, responsibility is a healthy concern about circumstances or situations that leads to positive steps of action. Responsibility and careful planning grow into anxiety when fear dominates our thoughts. As we face fresh challenges in our life, we have the opportunity to decide whether we will walk in wisdom or drown in a sea of anxiety.

Consider Jesus’ words about worry in his famous Sermon on the Mount: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:31-34).”

Notice Jesus described worry as “dominating the thoughts of unbelievers.” As followers of Christ, we have a different option than to allow worry to take over our hearts and minds. We can seek God and look to Him for our provision. We can also recognize that although we may make our plans, the final result is up to our loving God. When we face difficult times, the difference between those who follow Christ and those who don’t know Him is the opportunity to experience a peace and comfort in trusting a loving God. Hmm . . . do you think the world sees an evidence of our trust in God? Or does the world see us dominated by our fears, just like everyone else?

Prayer: May my love for Jesus and a realization of His unfailing love for me, dominate my thoughts today and push away fear and worry.

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive. Click the picture below to order your copy.


580492: Thrive, Don"t Simply Survive: Passionately Living the Life You Didn"t Plan Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive: Passionately Living the Life You Didn’t Plan

*Believe you Can, by John Mason, p 148.