Loyalty and Kindness

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.
Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT

I’ve been reading in Proverbs the last couple weeks. I had gone through other New Testament books and was trying to find my next read when God put wisdom on my heart. The bible is the best place to look for wisdom – it has guidance for every situation we face in life. And Proverbs is literally a book of wisdom that was written in part by the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon.

When I read over Proverbs 3:3-4, I felt a stirring in my heart. I had struck fire. King Solomon felt that loyalty and kindness were so important that you should tie them around your neck as a reminder, and write them deep within your heart. These two simple nouns are keys to finding favor with both God and people. I feel like these are two words I need to both study and put into practice.

Kindness is straightforward enough in what it means, but not as easy to practice. Never let kindness leave you. That means in whatever situation I find myself in, with whomever I may be talking to or working with, I need to let kindness be my mode of operation. I need to be friendly, generous, and considerate with everyone.

Loyalty goes a little deeper. I’m not a scholar, so I don’t know if my interpretation is completely correct, but when I think of loyalty I think of my “people”. My husband, family, friends. When it comes to them, I need to be loyal. I need to have their backs, not speaking bad about them to anyone. I need to fight through the hurt to keep the relationship. I need to give them my undying support and love. I need to defend them and be their advocate. I need to stick by their side, just as Sam stuck by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I can see why these two words are so incredibly powerful. Think about how relationships, how your work and home environment, might change when these are put into action.

I hope this inspires thought and action like it did for me. And I hope you’ll join me in praying that God will develop these things within us.

 

Please don’t kill me in the process

What started out as the lowest point in our marriage has turned into our greatest testimony.

I was going back through some of my old journal entries, and came upon an entry from last June, right after our anniversary. This was the start of realizing that Luke and I needed to seek help to get our marriage back on track.

It was a very painful time.

We would have a few bad nights, reconcile, have a good few days, only to plummet further down the next time. This pattern made us realize that we needed to seek out help no matter how long that “good” stretch went. There were clearly things going on under the surface that we didn’t know how to handle.

Reading that journal entry brought it all back.

The morning of this journal entry I had felt like God told me to camp in his presence. So I did. And in that place I told him what was on my heart. I wrote, search me and know me. You’ve already started a work in me, so finish it to completion. Keep digging and refining me. Please just don’t kill me in the process.

I stopped reading for a second and closed my eyes…remembering. That’s exactly how I felt at that time…do your work, whatever it takes. But I’m going to need your strength to get through it.

To look back on this now is a testimony to my own heart. I laid myself down and opened every piece of my heart to the Lord. “Let your will be done. Do what you need.” I didn’t want to seek out counseling…it felt like admitting defeat. It scared me. Even though we were in that tough place, I loved my husband dearly and I hated to admit that I needed help.

Submitting to the Lord goes against our sinful hearts and human nature. It’s engaging in a war of spirit against flesh. But the result of submitting to the Lord brings life to our souls in a way that we never could have expected.

When we humble ourselves and submit to the Lord, that is when restoration begins. We found marriage counselors through our church and they walked us through biblical counseling. Through them, the Lord shed light on lies we were believing and replaced them with truths. He revealed our pride to us and began to teach us humility. He taught us how to forgive. He showed us how to love.

I look at our relationship now, and see that he has once again proven himself merciful and faithful. He has redeemed and restored and made something new and beautiful out of something that was hurting and broken. He has turned our mourning into joyful dancing. What started out as the lowest point in our marriage has turned into our greatest testimony. It became our springboard into a new life that we would not have apart from God. I can’t stop talking about how faithful he has been to us!

God is faithful to those who put their trust in him. He will redeem and restore. Your current trial isn’t the end. Have faith in the goodness of God, and he will direct your steps. So hold on a little tighter today and take it to the Lord. He has the answer.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Psalm 30:11-12 NLT

Guest Post: I would have lost heart…

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

My precious husband and I are celebrating 40 years of marriage this month. I honestly didn’t think we’d make it to 40 years – its been a very frightening year but we’ve also experienced the grace, mercy, and closeness of our Lord in so many ways.

In January, my husband fell ill and was experiencing horrible physical symptoms: He lost 40 pounds in just a matter of weeks, had severe jaw, neck and shoulder pain, a constant fever that ranged from 99 to 103 degrees, drenching night sweats, sore eye sockets, periods of uncontrollable shaking, bruising on his palms and legs, weakness, exhaustion and difficulty breathing. As he would rock back and forth in pain sitting on the edge of the bed I would sit next to him and gently run my hand over his back and pray, finding it hard to breathe myself because I was so terrified. The only whisper of a prayer that I could get out was, “I trust You, I trust You.” It took weeks of blood draws, scans, x-rays and biopsies to finally come up with a diagnosis. He had Large B cell Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

During this time we would encourage each other the best way we knew how, reminding each other of the goodness and trustworthiness of the Lord. Through our mustard seed-like faith, He grabbed hold of our hands and walked us down a path of amazing blessings. I started making a list of the surprise gifts from the Lord that grew to a couple of pages which gave us an expectancy of how He would “show up” each day. Out of the many different kinds of this type of cancer he was diagnosed with the one that is not only treatable but curable and had very little to no side effects from chemotherapy. In addition to having enough money stashed away to get us through the eight months he was out of work, people randomly handed us money – we even found a $100 bill lying in our back yard partially covered with leaves. The other financial miracles left us awe struck. We had the awesome love, support and help from our daughters and their husbands, many prayers, the tireless help from my sister-in-law who has uncanny medical knowledge and came to every doctor appointment with us. God used the many kind words, gifts and gestures from so many people to remind us He was moving, working, and fighting our battles.

After making it to full remission in May and being back to work just a few short weeks he had a major heart attack while on the job. He drives semi and thankfully was at his first stop when it happened. He was airlifted to St. Mary’s hospital in Rochester where, through an angiogram, it was discovered that the widow maker artery was totally blocked and two stents were put in. If it wasn’t for the quick action of an employee calling 911 and the first responders that were readily available, he wouldn’t be here today. God was still showing us His faithfulness.

The Lord chose to give divine wisdom and insight to the medical professionals in both cases to save his life. For those of you who are going though a similar situation, let me encourage you not to lose hope and to trust fully in the Lord. We don’t know what the coming year will hold, but we have come to understand on a deeper level just how good God is. He is faithful, He cares, He knows, and He’s concerned about every little detail of our lives. My husband’s latest scan still shows no cancer and the oncologist doesn’t expect it to return. He’s back to work and is continually gaining back much of his strength. Praise!


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Kathy lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota with her Super Hero husband, Joel. She has two adult daughters and two over-the-top smart grand children. She divides her time between painting, gardening, and the joy of taking care of her home and family.