Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"She Gave Strength to the Weak and Courage to the Fainthearted"

Burford Cathedral, Burford, England

I’ve been thinking about words lately. Probably because our Women’s Bible Study started up at church and we’re studying the book of John this year. John starts out in chapter 1 with all this talk about words and “the Word” and the Word being with God and the Word being God Himself. It’s all kind of mystical and confusing if you don’t recognize that the Word is Jesus.

Do you ever wonder why the Bible does that? Speaks in mysteries, I mean. Why doesn’t it just come out and say, “Jesus is God. He was there when God created the world. He spoke words and made everything”?

But I also think about words because that’s just how I’m created. I love a beautiful phrase. I love interesting words. I love taking them apart and thinking about the origins of words.

A couple of my kids are like me in this way, so you can just imagine the fun conversations we have.


I’m also thinking about words lately because I need to come up with some. A lot, actually. I’m speaking at a women’s retreat in November, and they would like me to speak twice for an hour each time.

That’s a lot of words, folks!

Personally, I’d like to speak for about 10 minutes each time, and then run off the stage and bury my head in the sand, but that’s not exactly the type of speaker they’re looking for.

Some of the words are written, but not all. I’m having a hard time coming up with just the right things to say. I want to encourage. I want to challenge. And I want to do it all within the context of the Bible.

It’s a heavy responsibility, taking words and making them do all that. And it’s not one I take lightly.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to joke around and have fun when I speak. I love to make my audience laugh, and laugh we do. But when it comes down to the serious stuff, I want to get it right.

Because, really, God’s words are on the line, not mine. And they are powerful enough to change lives, I’m so aware of that.

Words can change lives. I just think that’s amazing.

The words I speak to my children can make the difference between a good day or a bad day.

The words I speak to my husband can lift him up or bring him down.

The words I speak to my friends can be either encouraging or discouraging.

The words I tell even myself can build up or tear down.

My words have an incredible power to do good or to destroy. What an amazing responsibility.

As I was looking through some pictures from our England trip this summer, I came across this one that is, I think, one of my favorites. It’s a grave marker or a plaque or something like that from a cathedral in a little town in the Cotswolds. The same cathedral where we found a bookshelf with books written by a couple of our friends.

Anyway, here’s the stone.

Just in case you can’t read it it says this:

In memory of
Elizabeth Popham Lobb
Who lived at the Quarries.
She gave strength to the weak,
And courage to the fainthearted.

I’ve thought about her a lot. She must have been someone very special to be given her very own marker in this cathedral filled with art and statues and beautiful architecture.

I imagine that she was a church lady, but not just some mamby pamby lady who quietly served coffee (well, tea) to the men. I imagine that she spoke some powerful words into the lives of the people around her. I imagine that she was not afraid to tell the truth. I imagine that she said what needed to be said, but in a way that built up the people she loved.

I imagine that she was an encouragement to everyone she met.

I want to be that kind of woman. A woman who uses her words to give strength to the weak and to bring courage to the fainthearted.

Will you pray with me that I will find just the right words to speak at the retreat in November? Your words will then bring strength and courage to me as I prepare to bring strength and courage to others. Thanks.



  1. i just know that god is preparing to give you the exact right words for your talks! you are clearly seeking Him with all of your heart and thank goodness we can hold the promise that we shall find what we seek in these circumstances! hopped over from twitter! looking forward to meeting you at blissdom! xoxo

  2. Praying for you Shelly. I can relate to how you feel the responsibility to get it just right. I know that because you are seeking Him and want Him to be glorified and move in those meetings that He will give you the words to speak both before as you prepare and even while you are up there speaking.

    Love the story of the plaque. Oh to be able to that said about me one day.

  3. Our Father in Heaven, I pray for Shelly today. God I ask that you pour out Your Spirit upon her and anoint her to bring Your message to the hearers that You will appoint to be there on that day. I ask that You fill her mind with Your message. I pray that you give her confidence and boldness to speak Your Word, and to open her heart to Your will, whatever that may be. I ask that even now You would be gin to prepare the hearts of those who will hear this message and that they would not just hear it, but take it into their Spirit and use it to glorify You. I thank you Father for my sister, and for her obedience and for her desire to serve You. I ask that you bless her and encourage her and strengthen her. In Jesus name. Amen.

  4. I didn't know you were a speaker! I live with a speaker and occasionally I, too, am asked to speak. I will be doing so in Alabama in February. I've already begun to think about how loooong an hour is to talk with so many eyeballs staring at me!
    I love what was written on the plaque. I love even more thinking about that woman and what she must have been like!

  5. I really enjoy speaking at retreats, MOPS groups etc. I always reach a point in each preparation time . . . a crisis of faith. . . why did I take this speaking engagement? Then God comes through and give me the details of my talk and it is all a blast after that.

    Praying for you in each step. Enjoy the journey.

    Fondly, Glenda

    "Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it." I Thess 5:24 (my moms life verse.)

  6. I love this quote! How beautiful! I am praying your speaking thingy goes wonderful!