Squeezing the Sponge

It’s not the hand that squeezes the sponge that creates the mess.  The filthy water was already there.  That pressing hand just created a reaction.

When someone drives my crazy and I react poorly, I tend to blame it on them.  “Yeah I know it was wrong, but she was being such a jerk!”  Or, “OK, I shouldn’t have done that.  But he is SO ANNOYING!!”

My dad used to say, when I called someone annoying, that maybe I’m too annoyable.  (No, it’s not a real word, but it should be!)

When someone irritates me, they’re not causing my bad response.  The dirty water was already there.  They’re just squeezing the sponge.

I can’t change others…I can only change myself.  I can change what comes out of my sponge when it’s squeezed.  It doesn’t have to be dirty dishwater.  The choice is mine.

Passages to remember when your sponge is squeezed:

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV



Did you know….

Women smile 62 times a day, on average?  That’s 54 MORE times than most men smile in a day (only 8!).  But guys truly love a woman’s smile.

After eyes, a smile is the first thing noticed in a person.

A smile is recognized as a symbol of happiness, kindness, and friendship all over the world.  All cultures recognize a smile this way.

Scientists say that there are 18 different types of smiles.

Babies have special smiles that they reserve just for their loved ones (mamas should feel loved when their baby smiles at them!).

People judge individuals who smile often as being more competent, pleasant, sincere, sociable and attractive then those who don’t.

Smiling is natural…not a learned habit that humans get from watching others.  Even infants who are born blind smile.

When we smile, we release endorphins that help us feel better.  Even faking a smile can make you happier!  As the old saying says, “Your day goes the way the corners of your mouth turn.”

30 minutes of real laughter increases your white blood cell count by 25%, helping your body fight disease more effectively.  The Bible is right again…laughter truly is the best medicine!

Not dressed your best today?  Smile!  People rarely notice shabby clothes when you smile.

A smile can brighten someone’s day.  88% of people remember someone with an attractive smile.

You really can be a scientist who studies laughter!  Such scientists are called “gelotologists”.

In this day and age of rushing and hurrying and “me first” mentalities, a simple smile can be a major witness for Christ!  So smile at those you pass…at the people in the grocery store and the teen behind the counter, the folks in the fast food line and the customers that come to you.  Smile at your siblings even when they interuppt your studies, smile at your friends and your family at the table.  It’s such a simple gesture, it takes no effort or time, and it can brighten someone’s day and warm their heart.  A smile is a reflection of the joy you have in Jesus!

Moral of the story??



Some of the info from the Christa-Taylor blog.

Forget Not Those In Chains…Beijing, China

2008 Olympic Opening Cermonies in Beijing, China

2008 Olympic Opening Cermonies in Beijing, China

Last Friday, August 8th, the opening ceremonies of the 39th Olympiad happened at the National Stadium in Beijing, China.  Gigantic fireworks in the shape of footprints marched through the city until the Stadium (“The Bird’s Nest”) was reached, erupting into magical bursts of fireworks and announcing the beginning of the Beijing Games.  My family gathered around the big screen TV at our friend’s house, instantly mesmerized by the thousands of dancers, martial artists, percussionists, and other performers as they beautifully told the story of China’s history.  A child sang as 56 children, representing the 56 ethnic groups of China, brought the red and gold Chinese flag forward and the beautiful ceremony began.  From the invention of paper to the astronauts China has put into space, each story was told as no story has ever been told before.

For seventeen days, China is the center of the world’s attention.  No matter how much controversy, no matter how many scandals, all eyes will be watching.  America watches its gymnasts like Jonathon Horton, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Luiken as they fight for a spot on the podium.  Softball pitcher Jennie Finch will lead her team to the last year of Olympic softball to be hosted.  Swimmer Michael Phelps, last night, won his eleventh gold medal, setting a new record and becoming possibly the greatest Olympic champion of all time.  Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers battle it out on the beach volleyball court.  Every event has a story, every athlete has walked a long road to get where they are now.  And the world is watching.

For years, China’s oppression of miniorities and religious groups and dissenters has been well-known throughout the world.  During the opening ceremonies, a vivid display of the famous Great Wall of China was depicted as being torn down and replayed by beautiful pink blossoms…the Chinese symbol of openness.  The symbology and meaning was vivid and evident: China wants to move on.  With these Olympics, the hostile nation is taking steps…opening its doors and letting the world in.  These Beijing Games, some have commentated, are as important to China as the Apollo mission to the moon was to the USA.  Everyone who watches these Olympic Games is watching history in the making.

But what of the Chinese Christians?  President Bush, in a recent interview with Bob Costas, expressed his desire that China register these underground churches, citing the fact that he attended a state-sponsored church on Sunday.  “It gave me a chance to say to the Chinese people, religion won’t hurt you, you ought to welcome religious people. And it gave me a chance to say to the Chinese government, ‘Why don’t you register the underground churches and give them a chance to flourish?'”

Thousands of our brothers and sisters in China are imprisoned and tortured…and sometimes even killed…for their faith in Jesus Christ.  Some estimate that Christians make up six percent of China’s population.  In June of 2004, a Christian woman named Jiang Zongxiu was beaten to death for her faith.  In September of that year, Pastor Cai Zhuohua was kidnapped and imprisoned, where he was tortured with an electric cattle prod.  His wife was kidnapped just days later.  The Chinese government takes a strong stance against these undeground churches and their patrons, calling them “evil cults” and showing them little mercy and no tolerance.  Often, religious dissenters are “re-educated through labor”, keeping hundreds of thousands of the Chinese in work camps throughout the nation.  The only churches allowed are those which register with the government, and which are strictly monitored and forced to follow policies on religious belief and practice.

While our athletes fight for Olympic gold, how many men, women, and children fill the prisons of the host country, their only crime being a firm and unwavering faith in the God of the Bible and in the saving grace of His Son Jesus Christ?

Pray for this nation and for our persecuted brothers and sisters there.  As the Chinese government strives to open doors, ask God to open hearts to the truth and power of His Word…a power that comes not through torture and forced allegiance, but through the gentle love and divine healing of an infinitely kind God.  Ask that our nation, with its history of religious freedom, and others like it will have a positive impact on this country.  As hundreds of athletes compete for these seventeen days of the Olympic Games of 2008, working for gold which perishes, ask that God will show them the true and living gold of faith in Him…and that they will store up for themselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and thieves cannot break in and steal.

The treasure that so many of the Chinese faithful have died in hope of seeing, choosing momentary pain rather then the eternal sacrilege of denying their beloved Savior.


Click here and here for some beautiful shots of the opening ceremonies at the National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) in Beijing, and here for a detailed report from Voice of the Martyrs on Christian persecution in China.

Look Behind You

A weary traveler leaned against his rod, pausing to wipe the sweat from his forehead.  Below him stretched the valley, above him the sky.  Both seemed equally vast and unchanging and inpenetrable, and the journeyer was tired.  How much longer?  He lifts his face to heaven and prays.

The answer comes, as most do, without shouting and fanfare.  It comes on the wind.

The road ahead of you is long…but so is the road behind you.  Look from where you have come, and see that I am faithful.  I have never left you.  Beside every sandal print is Mine.  Wherever you fell, I paused to lift you up.  When you were thirsty, I was the living water.  When you were hungry, I was the bread of life.  I provided for your physical needs.  When you prayed, I came to your aid.  Because I love you…because I promised and I am faithful.  Look to your past…and know that I was there.  Why should I leave you now?

You do not know how many times you have come near the edge of this precipice, dear one…how many times I was there protecting you and guarding your heart.  Under the shadow of My wings you found refuge, at the foot of My throne I gave you help.  Solace by My heart, safety behind My shield and protection through My sword.

Look at every turn in your road.  Do you think you came to this place by accident?  No, loved one, for every turn, every stone in your path, every rainfall, every sunshine, every thornbush, every rose, every mountaintop, every valley low, every lion, every lamb, every smile, every scorn, every meal, every drink, I planned and placed in order to lead you to where you are today.  You are on the path I have made for you, and I go before you and behind you.  I make your way clear…and I use the hard times to draw you closer to Me and to make you a man after My own heart.

Because I love you.  Because I promised and I am faithful.

This is my promise to you, wherever you go.  In life or in death, in trials and in joy, I will be here.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  Look behind you.  See how I have used every event in your life for good, leading you and guiding you.  Look at the roses on your path…I grew them just for you.  I know what you love and I delight in your joy.  See the thorns and the stones, I placed those and I am using them to strengthen you.  I know what you need and I am glorified in your growth.  Look to your past, dear heart, and know…I have never left you yet.  Why should I change now?  I am steadfast, I am true, I am the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Your future is even more beautiful then this.  So much have I planned for you.  Stay faithful to Me.

The pilgrim lifted his staff and walked on…his sandals making prints in the dust of his path.  He could not see prints beside them, but he knew he would never be alone.

Strength in my Weakness

I heard a quote this weekend…it said something like “strength is perfected in concious weakness”. The preacher went on to say that too often we ask God to give us strength…maybe we should ask Him to be our strength.

What I’m realizing is that rather than asking God to make me strong to deal with the trials I’ll face…I need to realize that that strength is already available to me. As a child of God, in Him and Him alone I already have all the strength I will ever need.

I am human…I am drastically imperfect. I have so many failings and weaknesses. When I am conscious of them, though, then God can use them in my life. He can change me from the inside out.

We tend to think that we are strong when we ignore our weaknesses.

I think we are strong when we admit to them.

God can use that humility to change us more into His image.

Lord, be my strength this week…and help me to see my weaknesses as clearly as I should. But don’t let them stop me from serving You and being sold-out for Christ.

I am weak, God is strong. His grace is sufficient. He is my strength.

God bless,