My mother recognized the power and influence that women were going to have in my life. Instead of leaving that influence to chance, seeing who I might naturally be drawn to who may or may not have pointed me toward God, she took charge. Throughout middle school and high school, she found women who she believed would have a positive spiritual impact on my life. She asked them if they would be willing to mentor me.
Carolyn Searway, Tenley Ireland, and Laurel Lufholm (two of these women are no longer living) all had a part in shaping who I am today. They drew from their experience, had me read certain books that we’d discuss, baked cookies with me, prayed with me and for me, held me accountable…they changed my life. Carolyn taught me what to look for in a husband—challenging me to think long term even when I was in high school. Tenley taught me how to have daily quiet time and the importance of it. It was Tenley who challenged me to choose something that I wanted to be an expert in—something I was going to be passionate about and take to the next level. I debated making my one thing the theater, but I chose the Bible instead. She introduced me to the idea of living your life according to priorities and giving God first place. Laurel taught me that it isn’t so important that we be charismatic when we talk about Christ—it’s far more important that we be faithful in the hidden places.
My mom didn’t wait to see if this was what I wanted to do. Quite honestly, I didn’t. But one thing I could not deny, these women cared about me. I knew they were busy and were offering me what was precious: their time. They kept showing up, and I kept showing up, and without even realizing it, I was learning life principles that I still go back to today. I wonder how often they wondered if what they were doing was worth it. Perhaps they did. But they didn’t give up. They made a mark on my soul.
There comes a point when kids naturally want some independence from their mothers. When my mom saw that coming, she chose someone to step in; she chose who she wanted speaking into my life. This is something you can arrange for your children, but what I really want you to think about is being that person.
You may feel ill-equipped. But I promise you, God has given you everything you need. In the words of St. Paul, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
My friends, this next generation is ours to raise. All of us. We all are needed. Godmothers, aunts, stepmothers, grandmothers, sisters, coaches. The words they listen to matter. The words we speak matter. So we choose to speak life—about this generation and to this generation. We look in their faces and tell them there is hope. We tell them that they are beautiful and beloved. We tell them they are needed, and they have an important place here in our hearts and here in the world. We encourage them to love well and extravagantly, to sacrifice for others, to be kind, to search for truth, and to persevere. We do all we can so they can stand on our shoulders—so they can reach higher. Don’t underestimate the power of your words, written and spoken. But not just the words spoken to them; also the words spoken about them.
The next generation is listening, and more importantly, they are watching. Young women are looking at our lives for evidence that Christ really makes a difference. They are asking the perennial questions that we need to wrestle with, too.
Everyone asks, “Who am I?”
Is your identity rooted in Christ, or in your achievements, possessions or reputation?
Everyone wants to know, “How can I find real love?”
Do they see selfless, other-focused, forgiving love in your life?
We all ask, “What does it mean to be happy and live a good life?”
Does your loved one see Christ in you, resulting in joy?
People are asking, “How can I find lasting peace?”
What is seen more in your life: peace or worry?
I know that we are all on our own journeys. None of us is perfect. But if we are serious about passing the faith to the next generation, then we’re going to have to take a serious look at our personal witnesses. Do young people want in on the quality of our lives?
This next generation is ours to raise.
So we will not let go. We will not give up.
We will not allow the flame of faith to be blown out—not on our watch.
P.S. This month we’re inviting the WWP community to send messages of gratitude and encouragement to the faithful women who have prepared the way for Christ in our lives—women like Carolyn, Tenley, and Laurel. Join us as we build up our sisters in Christ and pay it forward to the next generation at the same time. Learn more here.
She scrolled through the list on her phone -- at least fifty names -- one name after the other, along with a description of how far she had gone with each. Most of them she'd slept with on the first date. Longing desperately for love, she wondered if she would ever find it. With confusion in her eyes, she asked why they never came back for a second date.
I can't get her question out of my head. This is not because I don't know how to answer it; it's because this precious young woman is not an anomaly in the millennial generation. The level of lostness, confusion, sexual experimentation, lack of purpose, and anxiety among young women has reached a crescendo that I find deeply concerning. They cannot answer the most important questions: Why am I here? Who am I? What is my purpose? How can I be happy? I am talking about our daughters. Our granddaughters. Our nieces. Our loved ones.
St. Paul spoke prophetically about our times in 2 Timothy 3:1-7:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman...haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it…Among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (emphasis added)
By the millions, young women scroll through their social media feeds, listening to anybody, but never arriving at a knowledge of the truth. This isn't just true of them; this is true of our society.
In his book How Now Shall We Live, Chuck Colson writes:
When we embrace nonmoral categories to explain away moral evil, we fail to take it seriously,and we fail to constrain it. When we refuse to listen to the true diagnosis of the sickness of the soul, we will not find a true remedy, and in the end, it will destroy us.
In any society, only two forces hold the sinful nature in check: the restraint of conscience or the restraint of the sword. The less that citizens have of the former, the more the state must employ the latter. A society that fails to keep order by an appeal to civic duty and moral responsibility must resort to coercion-either open coercion, as practiced by totalitarian states, or covert coercion, where citizens are wooed into voluntarily giving up their freedom.
When morality is reduced to personal preferences and when no one can be held morally accountable, society quickly falls into disorder. Entertainers churn out garbage that vulgarizes our children's tastes; politicians tickle our ears while picking our pockets; criminals terrorize our city streets; parents neglect their children; and children grow up without a moral conscience. Then, when social anarchy becomes widespread in any nation, its citizens become prime candidates for a totalitarian-style leader (or leader class) to step in and offer to fix everything. Sadly, by that time many people are so sick of the anarchy and chaos that they readily exchange their freedom for the restoration of social order-even under an iron fist. The Germans did exactly this in the 1930s when they welcomed Hitler.¹
My friends, in this regard, we are vulnerable. It is time for us to stop wringing our hands, and go after the hearts of the next generation. How do we do this?
First, we pray. This is not a second-rate action item to be used only after we've tried everything else first. The biggest block to God reaching the hearts of our children is stubbornness and pride. Yes, the cultural myth that faith and science are contradictory has, unfortunately, been taught to and embraced by many of our children. Yes, the difficulty of reconciling a good God and the suffering and evil in the world can create a barrier. Yes, many of them have been convinced that faith in God is just a crutch. All these things get in the way of our children finding God. But if a heart is proud and stubborn, it doesn't matter how much proof is presented. The heart will still resist. And the only one who can get into the heart and soften it is the Holy Spirit. So praying for this softening is critical and the first step.
Second, we cling to hope while taking action. I realize our children are leaving the Church in droves. But how many of them are setting off on this path, hoping for misery? That would be zero percent. They are all searching for authentic happiness, and we know that true, transcendent happiness is found in Christ. It is possible to be fulfilled, satisfied, and clear about who you are and why you are here. There are answers to their deepest questions. But it's critical that we meet them where they are, help them to explore the questions they care about, and give them space to journey at their own pace. You may be wondering exactly how to do that. I have spent the past two years noodling on this very topic with a sense of urgency and passion that I haven't experienced in a long time, and things are starting to become much clearer to me. This is why we are throwing open the doors to all women (ages 18+) for Flourish 2020, our first-ever women's conference on March 13-15, 2020.
We are creating a curated experience that encounters women on their search for happiness, and leads them to the only One who will satisfy. Please join us. Please bring your daughters. I am writing this content for them. I know it isn't easy to work out the costs and logistics for a women's conference, especially if it isn't in your neck of the woods. I know it's hard to talk your daughter into coming to something that sounds religious, but getting yourself and your loved one to this conference is going to be worth the effort. Instead of a birthday or Christmas gift, ask your daughter to give you the gift of her presence with you for the weekend. I promise you, God will meet her there. And He will meet you, too. The deepest desires of your daughter's heart are likely your desires as well. God alone will quench the thirst.
¹ Chuck Colson, How Now Shall We Live (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), 191, 199.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
We all have people in our lives that we'd love to see experiencing the love of God in a dynamic, transforming way. It might be someone who has lost all hope, sees no way anything will ever change, and is stuck in the rut of destructive habits. Or maybe it's a friend who feels empty and lacks purpose. Perhaps your loved one doesn't see his or her need for God at all. Life seems good as it is. Yet you know that something critical is missing.
But most of us, if we're honest, hope that we don't have to be the one to bring up the sticky issue of religion. We'd rather do just about anything else. We don't want to offend by sharing faith with others. We don't know what to say. So we figure, “I'll just quietly live out my faith through my actions, and that should be enough.”
But then we're reminded of Jesus' words in the Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).
These words weren't just meant for the early Church. They are directed at us today. In his first homily, Pope Francis I said, “We can walk all we want, we can build many things, but if we don't proclaim Jesus Christ, something is wrong.”
In 1983, St. Pope John Paul II spoke of the pressing need for us to pass on the gift of faith in Christ. In speaking of the New Evangelization, he said, “Entire groups of the baptized have lost a living sense of the faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the Church, and live a life far removed from Christ and His Gospel.”
What is the “new” evangelization? Sharing the Gospel with the people God places in our path. We can't assume that just because someone attends Mass, or is a baptized Catholic, she experiences the transforming love of Christ. How many of us grew up in the Church, yet never heard the Gospel explained in a way that really resonated and impacted our lives in practical, relevant ways?
Our churches have many, many people that are not experiencing all that God has for them. Will you reach out by sharing faith with others? Will you point them toward the resources that will help them to experience the life-changing power of a friendship with Christ?
It's easy to stay in the holy huddle-sharing faith with others who affirm our beliefs. It's hard to go out into the zone of the unknown and connect with people we don't know. Research shows that the longer a person attends church, the fewer interactions she has with people who believe differently than she does. The circle gets smaller. Our circle of friends tends to be just like us, and as a result, fewer people hear the Gospel.
The gospel is most effectively shared when we walk alongside someone who sees what a difference Christ makes in our life. Friends see that it's not all rosy, but that when the trials come, Christ gives a strength and peace that surpasses all expectations. Fewer people see this witness when our circles are small.
I'd like to offer you three suggestions for ways that you can try sharing faith with others.
1) Develop friendships
Purposefully expand your circle of friends to include people who don't believe what you believe. Reach out to your neighbors. See family functions as great opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ. Look at people the way that Jesus did; see their potential. What might this person be like in a transformed state? Look deeper-speaking to their need instead of to what appears on the surface.
2) Discover stories
Intentionally discover people's stories. Learn what life has been like for them. What do they dream about? What is going well in their estimation and what needs work? Learn to ask good questions. Be a safe place for a friend to share what's really going on. One day, the opportunity will come to share “the reason for your hope.”
3) Invite a friend to Walking with Purpose
We're coming to the point in the year when registrations are beginning for Walking with Purpose this fall. If Walking with Purpose has made a difference in your life, who could you invite to join you on this journey? Pray and ask God to reveal to you the women in your life who would benefit from WWP.
Grateful for the opportunity to walk with purpose by your side!
*This post first appeared on the WWP website in April 2013.
“Beauty will save the world.” Fyodor Dostoevsky
What do you think of when you hear the word beauty? My mind first goes to breathtaking sunsets, softly falling snow, a blue sky reflected on a still lake. When I move beyond nature and think of beauty in people, it isn't exterior beauty that comes to mind, but what emanates from the soul. That's what truly takes my breath away.
When asked how to evangelize in a culture that is indifferent to God and religion, Bishop Robert Barron has said that we should begin with the beautiful, which leads you to the good, which points you to the truth. We need to show that Christianity is attractive. As Blaise Pascal famously said, we are to make good men wish it was true.
So how do we do this? How do we begin with the beautiful? One way is to increase our exposure to beautiful and good literature, art, and music. The imagination can offer a spiritual opening as we begin to consider the possibility that there is something of meaning, something that moves us, something more than the superficial things that surround us. But nothing beats the beauty of a life well-lived. This is especially true of someone who is able to find beauty, meaning and hope while suffering. When we see this, we lean in. We wonder how it is possible. When a person of faith faces adversity with grace and grit, a watching world wonders if perhaps their beliefs are true.
While beauty can be found in the ashes, that's not the only place we find it. There is something incredibly attractive about a woman who knows who she is and what she is here for.
Our world is disarmed by genuine transparency. People know how to spot a hypocrite. This means that the way we live is critical. Who we are is intricately tied to what we do. We can't separate the two. The choices we make are forming who we are. Our actions, our choices, are not disconnected from the person we are becoming. In the words of author Brittany Rust, “The definition of who you are belongs to the Creator of the Universe and it is left to you to decide who to become.”
Have you ever said, “I'm a good person deep down, despite what I did last weekend”?
There is a serious disconnect in a statement like that. Why? Because in large measure, you are what you do. If I were to tell you that I'm a good soccer player despite the fact that I never make a goal and don't know how to dribble the ball, you would say, “I'm sorry, but you're actually not a good soccer player. Your desire, your good intentions, don't translate into that actually being who you are.”
So once you determine who you are at the core- a beloved, precious, chosen, daughter of God, you then need to decide, “What kind of a person do I want to be?” When we feel lost-like we can't figure out who we are-it's often because we have never answered the question, “Who do I want to be?”
At the end of your life, how do you want people to remember you? What kind of a person do you want people to say you were? I challenge you to write your answer down. Not a treatise-just five things that you want to be true about you, things that for you would make you feel that you were a person who had lived life well. Then use your mind to start making the choices that are consistent with those goals. Some of those choices will be really hard because you will have to suffer in the short term in order to get what you want in the long term. But as you consistently make those choices, you will start to know yourself and be known as the kind of person who is…whoever you have chosen to be.
Your current actions and choices are forming who you are-right now. You are becoming a certain kind of persona-and this plays out especially in the little things.
I've heard it said that there's no treading water in the spiritual life-you are either moving forward or going backwards. Each and every action is reinforcing a habit and all the habits together are forming who you are becoming-what kind of a person you truly are.
As Coco Chanel said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” When your true self is a beloved, chosen, forgiven daughter of God, you have an irresistible beauty to share with the world. I pray that we would bring beauty, goodness and truth to a world aching for all three, whether it realizes it or not. In doing so, we will be pointing them to Christ.
I have tremendous hope for tomorrow. My hope lies in the power and faithfulness of God, the indestructibility of truth, and the youth I witnessed at SEEK 2019.
A year ago, Walking with Purpose hosted a booth at the FOCUS Student Leadership Summit (SLS 18). This was a high energy gathering of 9,000 young adult, Catholic leaders. I had the privilege of giving the closing keynote and we sold thousands of our new young adult Bible studies. We were scattering seeds and praying that they would take root. Our greatest desire was to pass on a passion for God's Word to the next generation.
January 3-7, Walking with Purpose hosted another booth at a national FOCUS event, this time at SEEK 2019. SEEK drew 18,000 Catholic college students to Indianapolis, IN, and we were excited to launch our newest young adult Bible studies series- Harmony, Perspective and Exhale. We experienced hundreds of conversations with young women who were back for more, because the seeds that were planted a year ago had taken firm root. These young women had been delving into our Bible studies, using them for personal growth and also leading small groups of other students all over the country.
The Holy Spirit is on the move on our college campuses. I know that depressing statistics abound, telling us that this next generation is walking away from the Church. And I don't deny that many are. But what I witnessed at SEEK was thousands of young people determined to chart a path to holiness, service, and intimacy with Jesus. I have never been more inspired and encouraged in ministry. What a mountaintop experience.
While having incredible heart-to-heart conversations with young people was the highlight of my week, it was also an enormous joy to give a talk titled “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.” I shared that after the decision regarding whether or not to follow Christ, the next most important decision we will ever make is who we marry. I challenged everyone to start thinking about their future marriages with their eyes wide open, and to pay attention to the ways in which our culture has lied to them about marriage.
We explored the following five lies and debunked them with truth:
~Getting Married will fix what's broken in my heart.
~It doesn't matter if he/she shares my faith if he/she is a good person.
~My porn use won't damage my marriage.
~Tinder and other dating apps are a good way to find a life-partner.
~Living together before getting married is a good way to see how compatible you are.
The lies make sense, but each one represents a pitfall that moves people farther away from a successful, happy marriage. It's my prayer that the openness I saw in the students is an indicator that they will grasp hold of truth and stay on the path to good and healthy future marriages.
As I came to the end of my talk, I acknowledged how hard it is to navigate the current “dating world”. But my belief in the strength and conviction within these students gives me great hope that they are going to make great choices, some better than the ones those of us in our generation have made.
What do I see within them?
I see an inner-strength, power, and desire to have a healthy, good life.
In a world that longs for comfort and often settles for superficiality, I see their hunger for truth, justice and holiness. It sets them apart.
I wish that their desire to grow closer to God meant that the enemy would just give up and leave them alone. But I know that nothing scares him more than young men and women who know their true identity as beloved children of God, and he is terrified of the ones who take their faith seriously. The more committed to God they get, the more the enemy will tempt them to settle for mediocrity.
Because of that reality…
I pray that we all would exhale any sense of powerlessness- the feeling that nothing will ever change. May we inhale the spirit of hope.
May we exhale any sense of complacency that wants to settle where it's comfortable. I pray we would inhale passion for holiness and a willingness to take risks and pursue greatness.
May we exhale any religiosity which might tempt us to equate outward religious appearance with inward conversion. May we inhale God's grace.
I pray most of all that God would have our hearts- that most precious part within. May He meet us in that hidden place, bringing balance, rest, and peace.
With you on the journey,
Watch Lisa's talk at SEEK 2019 and share it with a young adult!
“In your anger, do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26
Scrolling through Facebook and other social media sites, it is clear that we are increasingly feeling free to express our rage, disgust and disappointment however we choose. Regardless of the issue and which side of the fence we land on, emotions are running strong and a lot of blood is boiling. Differing opinions are nothing new. There have always been issues where people don't see eye to eye. But the way in which we are discussing those differences has changed in recent years. And the consequences are anything but good.
It seems we have lost our ability to listen first, to only post something we would be willing to say to someone's face. Distance demonizes, and the social isolation that results from communicating screen-to-screen, instead of face-to-face, is hurting us.
We are relegating character and integrity to the backseat as our emotions are unleashed, and sadly, Christians are not the exceptions to the rule. And all the while, a watching world observes us not practicing self-control becoming unhinged by our hatred and disgust.
When I travel across the country and speak, there is one thing that remains consistent no matter which state I am in. We are worried about passing on the faith to our children. We see that they are disengaged from our faith and are bored by it, and we aren't sure what we can do about it. A 2015 study of Catholic family life found that 68% of Catholics with children under the age of 18 have not given their children any form of religious education. One in three parents did not find it important that their children celebrate their first Communion, and one in four didn't consider it important that their children be confirmed.
In the words of Kathleen Cummings, the director of the Cushwa Center for the study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, “For the first time in history, young Catholic women are more disengaged than their male counterparts. That is a huge, important shift. If you don't have women, you lose the children.”
What part does our lack of practicing self-control with our anger and expression play in this? Studies of Millennials reveal that they greatly value authenticity and are repelled by hypocrisy. Is it possible that they understand enough of our faith to wonder why our religion isn't impacting the way we talk about our enemies or those who are different from us? James 1:26 reminds us, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.”
In Colossians 4:6, St. Paul writes, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Salt enhances flavor-it makes food more appealing. In the past, salt was used to preserve meat. When St. Paul compares our words to salt, he's encouraging us to communicate in a way that is winsome, drawing someone closer, preserving unity whenever possible. Being behind a screen or in the midst of an angry group does not give us permission to let graciousness go by the wayside.
Shifts in culture and moral decline unsettle us. Many Christians are feeling increasingly powerless as we see that in a very short span of time, we lost a seat at the table and no one is really listening to us anymore. And it's true. Millennials will not listen when what they hear smacks of judgment, anger, and a sense that we are looking out for our own interests instead of caring for the poor and defenseless.
We might look to politicians to fix the problems we see. But the truth is, it begins with us. The hard work of reaching your hand across the aisle, of being an agent of reconciliation-that begins in our communities, our churches, our neighborhoods, and our homes.
Nowhere in Scripture will you find Jesus exhorting us to defend our rights. But there are countless times when He implores us to lay down our rights for another. We are able to do this because we have our eyes fixed on heaven. We have a sure hope as an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19), and because of this, we don't need to be afraid. God is in control-His purposes and plan will not be thwarted.
As our children watch us engage in a culture very different from the one we grew up in, they do not need to see our fear; they need to see our courage and hope. They do not need to see our rage; they need to see us practicing self-control. They do not need to see our judgment; they need to see our mercy.
Is there someone in your life who you long to see experiencing the more that a relationship with Christ brings? Do you find you lack the right words to articulate just how much your faith means to you, and wish that you could communicate it in a way that really has impact?
One of our main focuses this year at Walking with Purpose has been encouraging everyone to take seriously the call from Christ to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). We've encouraged you all to prayerfully consider who you can invite to WWP in the fall. We've worked hard to bring you a top notch new Bible study, Opening Your Heart, which will both challenge the veteran and lay a solid spiritual foundation for the beginner, allowing you to grow right alongside the woman you invited.
When we step out of our comfort zone and invite someone to join us on our spiritual journey, lives are changed. We are able to experience the rush of being used by God and there is, quite simply, nothing like it. That being said, I think there's a real opportunity for us to do some wordless preaching this summer, and it might have the greatest impact of all.
I recently came across the writings of a Romanian pastor named Josef Tson. He considers suffering well to be the greatest way of preaching. Suffering well shows others that God is real.
When I read something like that, I have to pause. I can think of a lot of ways that I would prefer to preach than to suffer, and suddenly the thought of explaining why my faith matters to me sounds like the more appealing option. But at the same time, I know that suffering inevitably crosses my path no matter how often I try to avoid it. The thought that it can have an impact on the people I love-the ones who are watching to see if my faith makes a difference, the ones who aren't asking me to give them a theological explanation of anything, but who are looking for hope and peace- that makes me want to hear more of what he had to say.
Pastor Tson was arrested and imprisoned several times for his faith. While being interrogated by six officials, he said the following:
What is taking place here is not an encounter between you and me. This is an encounter between my God and me . . . My God is teaching me a lesson [through you]. I do not know what it is. Maybe He wants to teach me several lessons. I only know, sirs, that you will do to me only what God wants you to do and you will not go one inch further-because you are only an instrument of my Lord.
During an earlier interrogation, an official threatened to kill him. Pastor Tson replied with these words:
You should know your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. Now here is how it works, sirs: You know that my sermons are on tape all over the country. When you shoot me or crush me, whichever way you choose, [you] only sprinkle my sermons with my blood. Everybody who has a tape of one of my sermons will pick it up and say, “I had better listen again. This man died for what he preached.” Sir, my sermons will speak 10 times louder after you kill me and because you kill me. In fact, I will conquer this country for God because you killed me. Go on and do it.
After he said this, Pastor Tson was sent home. He later heard that a different official was interrogating another pastor and told him, “We know that Mr. Tson would love to be a martyr, but we are not that foolish to fulfill his wish.”
There is something incredibly powerful about a person who loves Jesus enough to suffer with grace and without fear. A life lived on a platform of suffering is challenging, and there are certainly days when it feels unbearable. But one thing it most definitely is not, is meaningless.
Even the smallest bit of suffering can be replete with meaning when it causes us to preach without words. A woman who suffers graciously leaves people utterly dumbfounded. Everyone expects her to fall apart, to be bitter, to give up. But when she stares down fear, people begin to wonder if her God is real. They wonder if she's drawing from a difference source of strength than what they are accessing. They sense that there's something more in her life, something more than what they are experiencing.
I don't know what's going to cross each of our paths this summer. I'm guessing it won't all be rainbows and sunshine. Let's make a choice to receive all that comes our way-both the pleasant and the painful-with a determination to not waste an ounce of it. May we take every beautiful moment and make it an opportunity to thank God who sent it. And may we take every challenging one, and thank Him for the opportunity to shine in the darkness. People we love are watching to see what makes us different. May our words, actions, and attitudes quietly reveal that God is real, and that His grace is enough.