By Julie Clinton
Behind the razor wire of a Florida State Penitentiary, a mother waits to visit her only son. Instead of allowing her own sorrow to completely engulf her, she looks around and notices the needs of the inmates’ family members waiting with her.
Carol Kent, a professional speaker and author, is also the co-founder of a ministry she never guessed she would have imagined into existence, Speak Up for Hope is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting inmates and their families.
Pain and adversity can easily strip us of energy and heart. All three of these women have been challenged by difficult circumstances, and all three made courageous decisions to stand by their men. They know two important things about their relationships and adversity—who they are and where they’re going.
Years ago, a Christian group on a college campus advertised a seminar titled: “Givers, Takers, and Other Kinds of Lovers.” We use the word “love” to mean almost any kind of connection today, but this leads to lots of misunderstanding. Needing someone isn’t loving them, and controlling them by any form of manipulation isn’t in their best interests. Real love is a choice, it’s open and freeing, demanding nothing in return. In Romans 12, Paul dives into what it means to live out love in our daily relationships.
Your child is dishonest to you. A friend betrays you. Your boss disrespects you in front of other co-workers. Your man lied; even cheated, breaking the trust you worked so hard to build. The result is often burning anger, resentment, fear, or a pillow drenched in tears night after night. You can feel sick to the stomach as the frustration, stubbornness, and bitterness from being hurt well up inside.
Imagine losing your husband. It is during a time of famine in the land andyou are also filled with personal emptiness, hunger, and sorrow. You are alone. Discouraged. Grieving. Then, your mother-in-law decides to move back to her homeland. A mother-in-law who had loved you. Accepted you. One who came alongside you as a godly influence in your life. What would you do? In today’s story, Ruth chooses to leave her people, her country, and everything familiar to her…and cling to her relationship with Naomi.
We Clintons seem to have a million things in our home that distract us. We’re often blitzed with several conversations and things going on at the same time. Phones ring, text messages arrive, TV shows blare… and when we have a meal together, someone in the house wants SportsCenter on in the background! I’ll bet your life is the same.
Hiding and healing are not the same thing. You and I don’t gain anything by denying our brokenness. We might like to resolve troubles immediately, but when it comes to our hearts, there are no quick fixes. We aren’t equipped to instantly heal. Instantly move on. The woman in today’s story learns that healing begins with coming out of hiding…and running to Jesus. Crying out to him. Being gut honest.
Did you know between 40 and 45 percent of adults in America make New Year's Resolutions to start January 1st. However, almost 100 percent of those resolutions are forgotten by January 20th. I myself, am guilty of this conundrum of a cycle. For the past few years I have set goals for myself that are forgotten as my schedule picks up and life becomes crazy again. Instead of persevering into the wondrous goals I have set for myself, I end up making the same goals each year between the week of Christmas and New Years Day only to find my failures around the beginning of February.
A recent Harris poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans, and 76 percent of women, believe angels exist. In my mind, angels have always been beautiful creatures. They’re safe, warm, and protective. They watch over us and our children. Psalm 91:11 (MSG) says, “He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they'll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.” I love that.
In the midst of life changes, including unemployment, illness, loss, relocation, and retirement, you can be comforted by knowing that God’s love doesn’t change. He’s with you in the unemployment office, in the hospital, and in the moving van. He’s with you in the infertility clinic and as you begin to collect Social Security. Actually, He’s not just with you in these places, He’s in you in these places. And that’s a powerful piece of knowledge.
I don’t know about all the other Extraordinary Women out there, but Christmas shopping is one of my favorite things! I love buying special gifts for the people I love. From the anticipation of Black Friday to...
Who are the most important people in your life?
Right now every mother knows whether she is close to her children—she just knows it. Every wife knows whether she’s close to her husband. And you know whether you’re close to God.
I was sitting with my daughter Megan as she read through this chapter’s outline. When she read the title “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not,” she giggled comically.
“What’s so funny over there?” Tim asked, watching TV from the sofa nearby. He had just asked me if I used to play that game with daisies when I was little.
Did you play tag when you were a little girl? I did.
Nestled in the plains of Northeastern Montana was a small church my grandfather had planted years earlier. Each week my sister and I, along with all of the other kids in the church, were anxious for the Sunday School bell to ring. It meant we had 20 minutes to play together before the church service officially began. Tag was the game of choice, and most of the time the boys were...
Gratitude fuels faith. How do you feel when you’ve cooked a wonderful dinner for your family and they wolf it down and jump up from the table…without even a “Thanks, Mom!”? Instead of expressing gratitude, they turn on ESPN or jump on Facebook. Sound familiar? How do you feel when you’ve spent lots of time helping a friend, and she seems to take your availability for granted? I think that’s how God feels when we don’t stop to thank him for his blessings.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, God may have had a dream for me, but I missed it. Or I’m too far along in life for God to be able to use me. Or God might want to use me, but my life is a mess right now!
Regardless of what your circumstances are, what your background is, how much money you have, or what your skills are, God is looking for is a willing heart. And that’s something you can develop—even if you’re not quite ready to commit at this point. God’s is ready whenever you are.
Getaways. Some time off. A break. We all need them, and our bodies usually tell us when it’s time.
For one Chicago couple, it was time. Having just buried their son and lost their entire real estate business in a massive fire, the mom, dad, and four daughters needed to get away. The destination: England.
At age four, all little girls love their daddy. I remember our daughter, Megan, dancing on Tim’s feet as a little girl. She looked up at him with dazzled eyes and a glowing smile. She knew she was the apple of his eye and basked in that assurance. She still does.
In his bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes, “God will never ask you to dedicate your life to a task you have no talent for. On the other hand, the abilities you do have are a strong indication of what God wants you to do with your life.”
While I was growing up, my dad always called me his little angel. I was beautiful in his eyes, and it made me feel special. And even though he died a few years ago, far too young in this life, I still wake up at night hearing his encouraging and compassionate voice. Do I miss him? Yes. Long for him? Yes. Am I encouraged by him? Always. In my heart and in my spirit.
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Connect With Julie Clinton
Connect with Julie Clinton at EWomen
Julie Clinton M.Ad., M.B.A. Is president of Extraordinary Women and host of Ewomen conferences all across America. A woman of deep faith, she cares passionately about seeing women live out their dreams by finding their freedom in Christ. Julie and her husband, Dr. Tim Clinton, live in Virginia and are the parents of Zach and Megan, who is married to Ben Allison.
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