Why is it that we are able to quickly point out the negatives but finding the positives can be so challenging? My mother and I were having a discussion about this yesterday, and I find it true in so many areas of my life. My pastor's wife in Georgia once said something so completely revolutionary that I couldn't believe it at first: Strengthen your strengths. I was stunned when she said this and asked her to repeat it. Strengthen your strengths. It's true, isn't it? God has given us specific gifts, abilities, etc. and expects us to exercise them, to strengthen them, to use them in order to be a blessing. Yet I have spent so much time working on my weak areas, trying to strengthen those instead. And I tend to focus on areas in my children's lives that need to improve versus focusing on their strengths and encouraging them first and foremost in those areas. We do need to be aware of weaknesses but focus much more on the positive. Strengthen our strengths, strengthen our children's strengths. I could probably make a list of my faults, weak areas, flaws, etc. quickly, but what are my strengths? What are yours? I challenge us to a list :-) What are your strengths? What are you good at? What's your favorite part of you? My strengths: I am sensitive, organized, intelligent, creative, thoughtful, lively, passionate, fun, expressive, quick to respond, honest. I am good at: detail oriented things, taking great photographs, baking, designing rooms and clothes. My favorite parts of myself include my brain, my creative abilities, my voice as far as expressing myself, my face and hair. That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! And I feel good after writing it down - hurray! May this be a daily habit of rejoicing in how God created us and focusing more on the good - in ourselves, our beloved mates, our precious children and others around us. How do you strengthen your strengths? I plan on recognizing what I am good at and going to that first - for example, I can bake well and will plan more meals that require baking versus other kinds of cooking that intimidate me. I will use my camera as a creative outlet more often than other projects that I get overwhelmed in doing. I will approach housework as an organizational and design project and do the things I do well first in order to encourage myself. I will try to find a creative way to approach the things I dislike and don't do well that need to get done anyway. I will use my strengths (like communication, artisitic creativity, organization) in homeschooling, rather than trying to force myself to live up to some standard of what I think a homeschooling mom should be. And I will write reminders in my planner and around the house to focus on the positive and on the strengths of my dear family and others. I feel like a burden has been lifted off of me! Without realizing it, I think the pressure of not measuring up, not exceeding expectations, seeing failures all around and in me, etc. have been oppressing me. I can actually breathe better right now; I actually found it hard to breathe earlier today. Wow... I sense the presence of our wonderful Lord drawing close and whispering that we are His precious ones. He loves us with an everlasting love. He created the good and placed special gifts in all of us. He formed each one of us specifically and knows us so completely. He knows the weaknesses but delights in our uniqueness. I sense the urge to turn to Him more openly and to share more transparently in the struggles but also in the celebration of all that is so strong. Our God is so sensitive and loving, and He wants us to love ourselves, His wondrous creation. Then we can truly love others well. Selah.